Friday, October 26, 2007

May I Hate Now, Please?

Readers of my post on borderline issues that have beem dominating the news and postponing the consideration of hard questions may have been disconcerted by my inclusion of the scandal of 418 likely carriers of the Hepatitis C virus who have never been contacted by the manufacturer of a blood-based drug that infected them.

The story of the sufferers, most ( if not all) of them women--and their treatment by the company is sickening.

However, one has to be skeptical. Why is this matter, which the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry knows only the bare bones about due to privacy rules, being used to beat the Ministry over the head? With an estimated 700,000 hepatitis C infections in Japan, many of them related to blood products and blood transfusions, why are these 418 tragedies being given such prominence? The matter is being handled, however slowly and insufficiently, by an ongoing massive lawsuit.

It should surprise no one that the company involved in the lawsuit is Green Cross--a.k.a. Mengele Pharmaceutical. The medical products company founded by the vivisectionists of Unit 731, the guys who escaped prosecution and likely execution by turning over the results of their experiments on human subjects to U.S. intelligence agencies--and who upon their return to Japan were put in charge of the nation's blood supply. The company that prevented the sale of safe, heat treated blood products from overseas in favor of its own stocks, infected with the AIDS virus.

An evil organization.

Safely evil.

A target of sanctioned and permitted repulsion.

But does not the focus on Green Cross leave other companies and other victims out of the spotlight, in the dark?

Of course it does...and that's point.

We are given a set of signifiers, sanctioned targets of our derision and disgust. Persons and organizations who become representatives of societal ills,the designated targets of permissible abuse.

In the novel nineteen eighty four, the citizens of Oceania had their "Two Minutes Hate." Here in the scandal media we have our fortnights of ritualized disapproval. This week the target of our permitted taking-of-offense is the straight-from-central-casting former Vice Minister of Defense Moriya Takemasa. Before Moriya, however, the target was boxer Kameda Daiki, before that the model Sawajiri Erika (who in a spectacular collision of teenage petulance, Gallic temper and a complete lack of acting skills provided an answer to the question, "What would happen if someone, someday, just refused to cooperate in a ceremony of enforced jollity?"). Before that we were offered yokozuna Asashōryū, former prime minister Abe Shinzō, MAFF Minister Akagi and his bandages...

I do not know the process by the symbolic enemies of the community are selected, by which the switch is thrown across the length and breadth of society, loosing a flood of obloquy against select individuals and organizations.

How is it that just a few are chosen to be the targets of society's sense of resentment...when so many others are just as deserving of exposure and disgrace?

Sociologists, your answers?


Jun Okumura said...

By contrast, American hate has staying power. Or maybe it’s that we don’t have consistently compelling figures like Hillary Clinton, George Bush, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears to keep satisfying our lust for indignance for years on end. I know, why don’t we launch an Operation Enduring Enmity against Kim Jong Il… wait…


As for the rest of the hepatitis C cases, there must be good (if unsatisfactory) reasons why only the fibrinogen cases (by way of Midori “Oops I did It Again” Juji of AIDS infamy and less-famous Nihon Seiyaku) – a fraction of the total number of virus carriers – appear to be legally actionable. There does seem to be lot of material available online if you are interested. In any case, according to this and this, the ruling coalition has been looking at the big picture for a while and will be coming out with a seven-year plan interferon treatment plan that is aimed at covering a large portion of all carriers. Yoichi Masuzoe, the Health, Labor and Welfare Minister in announcing this to the press with his typical shoot-from-the-hips hyperbole guessed, “in seven years, it is possible that nobody will have to suffer over this disease.”

MTC said...

Okumura-san -

Thank you for the links to the articles on the plans for expanding interferon treatment.

Anonymous said...

Paris Hilton is "consistently compelling"?