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[Editorial] US Congress Tough on Impolite Comments

Posted September. 12, 2009 03:56,   


Republican Congressman Joe Wilson has shouted “You lie,” blaming President Barack Obama in his congressional speech. The beleaguered Wilson is under fire from by fellow party members as well as Democrats. He apologized 90 minutes after his remark, and President Obama said he accepts the apology. Nevertheless, the stir caused by the remark has yet to subside. Even senior members of Wilson’s support group in his constituency resigned, citing shame over the incident. Wilson’s fate is at stake due to his ill-mannered remark made at Congress.

What would have happened if the same incident occurred in Korea? Even if a lawmaker uses abusive language, colleagues from his own party oftentimes commend him, saying “good job,” rather than resorting to censure. If one demands an apology for another’s impolite behavior, the latter scornfully criticizes the former, saying, “He is behaving overly sensitively to a trivial matter.”

Every single word and behavior of a lawmaker, who represents the public, not only shows the overall level of rationality in society but also heavily influences the public. In advanced countries, rules for parliament are very strict as well. Congress bans personal attacks, violent behavior, and interference in meetings. When the congressional spokesman submits bills or make remarks, lawmakers cannot walk across the main chamber. In the British parliament, the speaker or a standing committee chairman orders the immediate ousting of a lawmaker who disrupts order. In the French parliament, a lawmaker who engages in a noisy dispute or uses abusive language against the National Assembly speaker or violence gets censured or a temporary suspension from.

In comparison, Korea’s National Assembly is shameful at best. In many cases, lawmakers insult the parliamentary speaker or other lawmakers through inappropriate behavior and remarks, disrupt order, and interfere in parliamentary meetings through violence. Even if they are legislators, they do not follow the law that they made themselves. What other evidence is needed since certain lawmakers have gone so far as to using iron hammers and a machine saw and breaking items? Violence and abusive language have become so prevalent at the National Assembly that even if shameful events occur, such events are only disputed for several days and forgiven. The offending lawmakers raise their voices as if they are just rather apologizing.

A U.S. congressman’s political career is in jeopardy because he said “You lie” to the president. This should make Korean lawmakers realize something. What will Korea’s children learn by watching news on the National Assembly, let alone lawmakers advancing parliament and politics. If lawmakers fail to behave rationally, the public must step in to get them realize the situation.