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[Opinion] Stigmatization of Bills

Posted January. 07, 2009 04:20,   


The world’s greatest master of stigmatization was Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister for Nazi Germany. He said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” “If you give a sentence, I can send anyone to prison,” and “A victor will never be asked if he told the truth.” No one promoted the power of propaganda and instigation with such simple and concise descriptions than Goebbels. The Nazis labeled the “Star of David” of the Jews as a method of stigmatization.

The theory of stigmatization derives from the theory of criminology, which suggests that rules, traditions and institutions devised to keep social order also cause crimes. An individual who is stigmatized as a deviant can eventually becomes a criminal. That is, if children brand one of their peers an “idiot,” this child will eventually believe he is an idiot and could turn into one. The group who most often use this method of stigmatization is Korean politicians. The most notable are members of the main opposition Democratic Party, who triggered violence at the National Assembly around New Year’s Day.

The party collected ideas to stigmatize bills proposed by the ruling Grand National Party, even offering prize money of one million won (761 U.S. dollars) in a parliamentary session last year. Examples include the labeling of proposed cuts in the comprehensive real estate, corporate and capital gains taxes as “bills on tax cuts for the rich”; the easing of the cap on cross-subsidiary shareholdings and separation of finance and industry as “favoritism toward conglomerates”; allowing cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcasters as “the law for controlling broadcasting”; and the introduction of the class-action suit against damage from demonstrations and regulation of Internet portals as “new anti-public security acts.” The Democratic Party was responding to the Grand National Party’s labeling as “four bad bills” on the revocation of the National Security Law, amendment of the Private Education Foundation Act, history and media that were proposed by the now-defunct Uri Party and the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration.

In this National Assembly, the Democratic Party is unconditionally labeling bills with names like “real estate bombs,” “tax cuts for the top one-percent income bracket,” and “Will you hand broadcasters to conglomerates,” things which are completely unrelated to the bills. This is retaliation against the Grand National Party’s prior attacks on the two previous administrations, like calling the comprehensive real estate tax a “tax bomb’; the 10 years of the Kim Dae-jung and Roh administrations the “lost decade”; and national pension payments “pocket money pension payments.” Stigmatization is a tactic used by communists aimed at confusing the public into blaming an intended target. The public will surely recover its judgment at some point and realize the truth.

Editorial Writer Yook Jeong-soo (sooya@donga.com)