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[Op-Ed] Temptations of Nighttime Rallies

Posted March. 14, 2009 09:43,   


The novel “Burn My Sword” by Ryotaro Shiba is about the old tradition of a 19th-century Japanese village. When a predetermined day of a year comes, young men and women gather at a temple on a pitch-dark night. It is too dark to see who is walking right next to someone. On a signal, the men and women have sex with the person nearby. A European masquerade shows a similar tradition. Though now a tourist attraction, it was originally an opportunity to vent one’s long suppressed sexual desire anonymously.

Night loosens people’s sense of morality and makes them vulnerable to crow psychology, as the darkness becomes a huge mask and provides them with the shade of anonymity. An example is last year’s candlelight protests over the resumption of U.S. beef imports. Would the protesters have ganged up on police officers and vandalized police buses during the day? This is the reason for the law on banning outdoor rallies and demonstrations at nighttime. Night protests can easily turn violent and spiral out of control.

Rallies held by so-called progressive or leftist groups are usually at night. They begin in late afternoon and hold up lit candles when it becomes dark. They insist that their rallies are “cultural events,” but this is just a guise. They must have in mind the anonymity and the agitational effects of night when they insist on holding evening rallies by taking advantage of legal loopholes. The memories of several successful candlelight rallies must have tempted them to hold rallies at night.

The groups even claim that the ban on nighttime rallies is unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court held a public argument on this Wednesday after they filed a petition questioning the constitutionality of the law. They aim to make nighttime rallies legal. What do they want to achieve by doing so? When it comes to the term “progressive,” people have images of brightness and conscientiousness. “Progressives” who lurk in dark nights are cowards, however. Are they afraid of revealing their true identity in broad daylight? Such progressives are fakes who resort to illegal acts and violence.

Editorial Writer Hong Chan-sik (chansik@donga,com)