Fri, Dec 23, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Taking the `K' out of Taitung

By William Meldrum

The popular party drug ketamine (also known as K or Special K) is a dissociative drug, a drug that blocks signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain, most often the physical senses. Is this drug the reason that voters in Taitung County elected a commissioner whose corruption conviction is under appeal and who is an alleged vote-buyer on bail, or are criminal politicians acceptable?

If one presumes that voters do not approve of corruption, then K might be the answer. In the lead-up to the election, perhaps in order to find some relief from the mud-slinging, cacophony of improbable promises and low-rent slapstick that passes for a campaign, 62,189 people, or 59.18 percent of Taitung's voting population, may have been under the influence of ketamine.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, says that at a medium to high dosage level users may experience difficulty in perceiving distance and duration as well as suffering from visual update lag. There have been reports of users seeing surroundings in two distinct images, as if the brain was unable to merge what each eye sees. There were, after all, three candidates in the County commissioner election. Seeing three of them twice would make six heads in total, and that could have been the reason behind the focal folly when it came to placing the chop on the voting slip.

Even at a low dosage, K users may experience hallucinations, especially in dark rooms, or in this case, curtained polling booths. Deprived of the blue, orange and green representing the parties on ballots, voters may have overcompensated for the dearth of color heralding the three independent candidates and been victim to the darker shades of illegality when voting.

In the event of an excessive dose, users may go into a `K-hole,' a state of deep dissociation wherein other worlds or dimensions are perceived without any recognition of personal identity. Kindhearted voters may have succumbed to utopian fantasies in which convicted criminals appeared as avuncular avatars of the common good, son of Sam becomes Santa Claus and so on.

And yet, if Special K is simply a breakfast cereal and the good folk of Taitung County are not the hipster K crowd imagined here, there is real cause for concern that both the rule of law and democracy are both so cynically mocked. The authorities need to move swiftly to show that criminals in public office are not OK and that politics in Taiwan is not the K-hole that it so frequently appears to be.

William Meldrum

Taipei

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