Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stay classy, Joey.

A few days ago I saw in the Los Angeles Times the story of an eighteen-year-old Korean-American student at USC who had died after suddenly passing out in her dorm room. It caught my eye in part because the woman's name is similar to that of a friend's younger sibling.

While it was not her, the tragedy of the story gripped me nonetheless, and in my head I played out possible scenarios of causation, including alcohol poisoning and the object lessons this. (For the record, the article lists no cause for the death nor any reason to speculate drugs, alcohol, or any other self-inflicted cause; I only thought of that possibility because of empirical knowledge with such outcomes.)

With binge drinking an unfortunately prominent activity in South Korea and among some Koreans outside of South Korea, the K-blogosphere is always ripe for a fresh warning of the signs of alcohol poisoning (see the latter half of this post), so I went back a few days later to check on updates on the story. Still no updates, but in the comments section I found something entirely different that compelled me to write about it anyway.

From commenter "Joey":
this is horrible. I didn't know fan death existed in America too! My heart goes out to her family.
Well, Joey, your heart apparently doesn't go out to her family enough for you to forgo taking a wholly gratuitous dig at South Koreans in an article about their loved one's tragic death. I mean, really, Joey? You're just adding impishly imbecilic insult to unfathomable injury by your glib comment. ("Joey's" comment was only one of eight, so it wouldn't be hard to notice.)

It really makes me wonder what makes some people tick. What kind of people possess such antagonism toward Koreans that they ignore the humanity of their target group? I was all set to write a post on Internet anonymity in light of this New York Times article, with a requisite nod to this Marmot's Hole post from 2006 that suggests a concomitant problem among South Korean netizens, when along came this object lesson.

In the pantheon of insensitive anonymous drive-bys on the Internet, "Joey's" isn't all that outrageous. It wasn't nearly as egregious as what happened in this post about the brutal rape and murder of a Korean-American woman in Los Angeles, which quickly deteriorated into a maelstrom of bigotry and lewdness which saw long-time troll Mizar outed in the worst of ways (I explain this in more detail here).

But just imagine what these people's families or friends might feel when one of them inevitably runs across this crude response to their cherished one's death. Imagine how you might feel?

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