In my 10/15/2005 post, I promised to expand on the dynamics of a shame-based culture, largely because most Americans cannot imagine a group organizing a campaign of hate mongering such as I have outlined. It is simply so far outside their experience that the possibility is dismissed as ridiculous. It is simply easier to impeach my experiences, rather than to acknowledge that it may spring quite readily without bidding from imperatives of a very a different culture.
All cultures rely on a combination of guilt and shame to control individual behavior. Most Western cultures are predominantly guilt based. As for Americans, it is often said, not entirely in jest, that they have lost the capacity to feel shame at all. Many when using the terms guilt or shame don’t really make a distinction between the two. However, as control mechanisms they have very different implications for the individual, for group behavior and for the society at large.
I know I am using the passive voice far too regularly in my posts. It is one of my many failings as a writer. However, in addition, composing these posts is excruciatingly painful, as I am required to recall experiences that to this day remain unhealed and have left me in utter despair. The process is much like trying to swim through molasses. Each stroke requires enormous resolve and effort. In part, the passive voice is simply a reflection of my emotional exhaustion
I am going to post my shame based material in a series and combine it in one post when I am finished. The original article was difficult for me to write. Losing it when the hard drive went down has left me somewhat demoralized and depressed. Consequently, it will be redone in tiny steps, which suits my mood and my time.
It’s been approximately 21 years since the precipitating event that was used to destroy my life. It’s ironic that I don’t even know the date it started. I only know that it was a Friday evening sometime in the Spring of 1985. It was event that was so unimportant to me that the date passed without notice. Indeed, it was nothing more than a fascinating and humorous misadventure.
"There are 869 forms of lying, but only one has been squarely forbidden. Thy shall not bear false witness against they neighbor." Mark Twain
"A lie gets half way round the world before the truth gets it's boots on." Usually incorrectly attributed to Twain. The actual author is unknown.
Over the years, I have spoken of this outrage as a crime. I wasn't speaking figuratively. I can't imagine that a group effort, motivated by nothing but malice, designed for the sole purpose of severely damaging or killing outright another human being is not covered by statutes. However, I am not a lawyer. I have tried to get the local authorities to investigate and prosecute, at least, some of the individuals involved. My pleas have been ignored or brushed off. No one has suggested that there aren't sufficient statues to cover this outrage. I simply encountered indifference or apathy. However, at this point in time, the question of criminality is academic, although I am furious that a group of people could perpetrate such a crime without consequence.
I have been under siege for twenty years. My life has been destroyed. The pain that I live with is compounded by constantly encountering people who take obvious pleasure in the damage done to me. Make no mistake about it, that damage is comprehensive, encompassing every aspect of my being-spiritual, moral, financial, physical and emotional.
I don't know where I go from here, but I do know that I can't begin to live again, until I put an end to this abuse and obtain some kind of justice. Perhaps, my greatest pain comes from the knowledge that there are millions, who have observed something, but haven't come forward to offer their testimony. I am left in this wretched state, while so many withhold help that could put an end to this ordeal and, in doing so, help me heal
For most Americans, the crime I relate here lies so far outside their experience that my allegations are dismissed as either hyperbole or dementia. Many doubt that any great number of people would actively become involved. Others doubt that anyone would take the time and energy to organize such an effort. For some, the motivations of the Koreans involved are hard to fathom. Others do not understand how those perpetuating such a crime, could easily rationalize it. In subsequent posts, I will elaborate on each of these cavils as required, which will give you, dear reader, something to contemplate either with relish or horror. For the moment, I will simply deal very briefly with each in turn.
First, although uncomfortable to contemplate, it is easy to acquire and audience for such a crime. Once begun, it quickly becomes self-sustaining. Tens become hundreds, hundreds become thousands and thousands become tens of thousands. Continued success requires only that the object remains a stranger, has no means of countering the lies and continues to circulate throughout the city.
Secondly, regarding the organization of this crime, little is required if you are part of an ethnic group spread strategically throughout the city. I must speculate at this point since the actual details are unavailable to me. I rely on my experience and what little has been related to me by others. I have been told that a picture was utilized, which would surely explain how such an effort could be organized so readily on a citywide scale. I assume that pre-existing immigrant and business groups were co-opted for this effort. This much I do know. I immediately started encountering hostility with a very distinct personality wherever I traveled. Initially the perpetrators were individuals of an East Asian appearance. As time passed, however, I increasing observed East Asians stopping people on the street, pointing to me as they engaged them in conversation. The reactions of those buttonholed varied considerably, but many took an unseemly interest. The hostility I was experiencing escalated rapidly. I would test my observations by walking leisurely through a strange neighborhood, casually noting those around me. I would return in a day or two, taking the same route at more or less the same time of day. Not only was I no longer a stranger, but I was distinctly recognizable-an object of hate, amusement or contempt. I have been asked quite innocently how I knew "it" was going on. I think on a moment's reflection, dear reader, that if something comparable happened to you that you would know immediately.
Thirdly, regarding motivation, I can only offer informed speculation. Just prior to the onset of this crime, I was treated with extreme hostility in quick succession at two different Korean delis in my neighborhood. I was shocked, particularly since I had so openly expressed my delight that they had opened businesses in the area. A friend, who lived in the neighborhood, told me that one of "their women" had said something "nice" about me. I suspect that it was a little more than that as he asked me, if I had ever flirted with any of the women working there. I answered no, of course not. I did nothing more than smile and offer the most conventional pleasantries. At the time it didn't seem important. I know that I didn't do anything. In hindsight, knowing what I do regarding the traditional roles of women in Korean society, I am convinced that I simply became some sort of symbol in a difficult, ongoing conflict within this community regarding the status of women that was provoked by moving to this country.
Fourth, regarding rationalizing an organized effort such as this, in a shame-based culture few would question the appropriateness of the action. In these societies social norms are maintained by collective activity designed to wound or isolate the identified transgressor. The conformity that one observes in East Asian society rests on an intense fear of the potential punitive action of their fellow citizens. Once the Koreans had convinced themselves that I was morally deficient and a public health threat, their culture would not only condone their behavior, but would endorse it. Obviously, this is a gross simplification. I will expand on the dynamics of a shame-based culture in subsequent posts.
Occasionally I meet people who question my attitudes towards East Asians or, especially, Koreans. Ironically, I believe that some of the difficulties I have encountered are attributable to the very hospitable reception that I offered to Korean merchants, who were moving into the neighborhood. Their reputation for hard work, discipline, law-abidingness and enterprise had been reinforced by my personal experience. I was delighted to have Korean opening retail establishments in the area. My attitudes have not changed as a result of this crime. Korean merchants have made a valuable contribution to the economic health and social dynamic of this city. I most particularly would like to thank those individual Koreans, who have directly or indirectly offered their support and encouragement.
In the June 1993 material, I made an analogy with the Holocaust. Occasionally I encounter individuals, who insist on misinterpreting the reference, suggesting that I am engaged in grandiosity or, alternatively, in trivializing the Holocaust. Frankly, no one is that obtuse. It is clear that the parallel refers to the means, not the end, i. e. an organized campaign of hate mongering and vilification directed at a minority. In this case, I represent the ultimate minority-an individual. Fortunately, most understand the reference immediately. Some make the connection without prompting, although far too few are prepared to take full responsibility for their own participation.
I know that many, who participated in this crime, feel guilt or ,even, shame for the damage they have done to me. I do understand. I have tried over the years to put myself in your position, imagining how I would feel, if I had been conned into inadvertently hurting another human being-particularly one who is essentially defenseless.
I have spent a lifetime trying my best to live a moral life. I am constantly confronted with my own failures. We learn to live a righteous life not through our successes, but through our failures. However, in this case, it is not enough to simply feel guilt, acknowledge your failure and move on. As long as the damaged party continues to suffer from your transgressions, more is required. You must help. After all, I am not asking for much-only the truth as you know it. Thank you.
I have been systematically mauled over the past twenty years. The pain and despair that I live with daily is compounded by constant exposure to those individuals who either deny outright or trivialize what I have endured. For the "gainsayers," I simply invented it all. My experiences are simply the product of an over-developed imagination, manufacturing a crime involving millions out of whole cloth. I am the delusional paranoid(or is it paranoid delusional?) For these individuals I am the "psycho, the crazy one." I am not dangerous-merely laughable and ridiculous.
On the other hand, the "trivializers" are prepared to admit that something untoward occurred, but it's of no importance. "It's no big deal" or "He's just an a**hole" or "I thought it was just local" are some of the typical comments from this bunch.
Neither the "gainsayers" nor the "trivializers" are prepared to admit that I have suffered a terrible injustice or that I have been materially damaged in any way, BECAUSE IT NEVER HAPPENED.
My plea is a simple one. If you have observed anything relating to this outrage, no matter h0w seemingly trivial, please leave a comment or get in touch by email. I will make no demands on anyone who responds. I only ask for the truth, as you know it. Thank you.
This is an unpalatable subject, but one that invites comment. As I have traveled around this city, I have routinely encountered those individuals, who I refer to as the "spitters." They may be pathetic, disgusting and laughable, but they are in earnest. My presence sets off lots of hocking and spitting. Their discharges accompany me everywhere. Many have even attempted spitting on me from moving vehicles, which is particularly inept, as their spittle more often than not ends up right back in their faces. I have encountered tens of thousands of these individuals over the years. Largely male, with a sprinkling of particularly absurd females, these people are not dangerous. Indeed, their affect and particularly their eyes reflect intense fear. I tested this on occasion, when given the opportunity, by approaching them in a non-threatening manner. I would simply position myself in close, but not intrusive, proximity and await developments. Occasionally I would comment, "Do you understand homophobia?" or "What do you imagine?" Virtually without exception, I would encounter either paralysis or instant flight, as though they had encountered a particularly dangerous predator.
These expectorating low-life's have been with me since day one. I was shocked not only by their intense involvement, but also by their need to comment in such a manner. I am loathe to speculate on motivation, but they are dealing with an absolute stranger. I am merely someone that they have heard something about. Could this behavior be based on the lie that I use prostitutes or is it some other imagined failing? I am sure that they would maintain that they are merely indicating their displeasure with my rumored inclinations. What I observe in these individuals is a powerful need to eliminate some aspect of their own being. The discharges come from them. It is a visceral need to expel a part of their own persona.
Their lack of self-awareness is stunning. They are projecting wildly without the slightest hesitation, triggering the most extraordinary and revealing behavior. My rumored sexual inclinations are embraced without a second thought, which, of course, is just the point. Both their immediate acceptance of the lies and their reaction in such a manner suggests that this is their conflict. Their loathing and disgust is of their own persona not mine.
When this crime first began, I was shocked by the number of people who were attracted to it. Most were individuals who simply needed someone to look down on or someone to invest with their own particular loathing. As I have said previously, as a stranger, I am simply an empty vessel. Their imagination is supplying the details. For people like this, any lie that allows them to gratify their own particular emotional needs will suffice. Many clearly took delight in having someone to feel superior to. Others, showing disgust or loathing were clearly being emotionally gratified in other ways. I have often wondered about the emotional deficits so evident in their behavior. However, their particular pathologies were so apparent I merely noted it. I was not confused by it( I know I promised to be less judgmental, but these people are truly grotesque. I loathe them and they are very dangerous to any person of good will. I know there were individuals who were seduced by this campaign and do feel remorse for the damage they have done to me. I will address that subject in a later post.)
However, one sub-group, principally male, truly mystified me. The mere sight of me provoked rage. Their faces became distorted and their bodies tensed as their hands unconsciously formed fists. Clearly they were intensely, viscerally involved. I would find myself wondering, "What could they think? What do they imagine? Why does it matter so much?" I know I sound terrible naive, but I had never experienced homophobia. I realized that gays were victims of hate crimes, but it was an abstract knowledge that as much as I deplored it, never intruded on my life. I have generally been comfortable with homosexuals. I have had many as friends and in my younger years attended many social events that were predominantly gay without giving it a second thought. Over the years I have had to confront and come to terms with various forms of prejudice, but for whatever reasons I have never harbored any prejudicial feelings towards homosexuals. My thoughts about gays never went much beyond, "Good. That leaves more women for me."
I just couldn't get my mind around these profoundly hate-filled men. I had absorbed the cliche that homophobes were mostly latent homosexuals without having actually thought about it. It wasn't until someone told me simply to think it through that I began to understand it. Actually, I almost became sympathetic when I realized how much pain these individuals must experience. They are literally at war with their own sexuality. I thought about my own early sexual longings and the confusion they generated. It was exciting, but often the intensity was almost paralyzing. I remember the first time I danced "close" with a girl. I couldn't breath. I couldn't talk. I knew from that moment that life would never be the same. I quickly became obsessed with my sexual desires and with finding on outlet for them. As confusing as this period was, I was spared one conflict. I had the "right" sexual longings, ie heterosexual. It must be a particular kind of hell to begin to experience sexual feelings and to be told that your desires are "disgusting, abnormal, unmanly, against God's will", etc. I can certainly understand the impulse to deny or unconsciously repress these desires.
Their mere existence can seem life threatening or triggering such an identify crises that death may seem preferable. The existence of these feelings would certainly become hateful, triggering rage whenever they were encountered.
I hope it is clear that when I discuss homophobia, I am not including mild prejudice or certainly not religious belief that precludes acceptance of homosexuality. I am restricting my comments only to those that manifest a deep-seated loathing or hatred.
The belief system of this society has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. Certainly the broad acceptance of "alternative" life styles is a development that most of us can only applaud. We are all better for it. Certainly some "conflicted" individuals will find it far easier to deal with homosexual feelings when they occur and, consequently, become better people for it. Additionally, if my experience contains any lessons, heterosexuals can be as severely damaged by homophobia as any homosexual when homosexuality is in the eye of the beholder.
I received an email recently suggesting that I over-editorialized in the June, 1993 material. It's a valid point. The material was written in a state of considerable agitation designed with one overriding purpose: to keep me alive. A hate campaign that I had assumed would dissipate had continued to grow almost exponentially. Writing and distributing the material was an act of desperation, which I didn't really expect to have much effect. Remarkably, it worked. To my surprise and relief, the response was almost immediate. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, individuals started to seek me out. Although for many it was an opportunity to gloat or mock me, the majority were clearly motivated by curiosity or compassion. Over time the numbers acting out against me declined dramatically. Quite obviously, although damaged, I am still here.
Although I am prepared to defend everything in the June, 1993 material, I am well aware that there are instances of speculation, excessive judgmental characterizations and intemperate language. Although I remain furious that I have had to spend twenty years as I have, that my life has been systematically dismantled and that I am still without a resolution to this outrage, I promise to be more measured in subsequent posts.