Saturday, November 10, 2018

Remembering the Deceased Koreans and Nepalis on Gurja Himal

The fatal accident on Gurja Himal in the western Nepal last October has still very powerfully lingered on the community of Korean mountaineers.  The lost is more than a disaster of sorrow but still a passerby that is unaccountable and beyond grasp.  Kim Chang-ho, the leader of the expedition, was such a person with a huge role in them: an active climber with an unquestionable top carrier, mountaineer with an alternative goal in his head, explorer-researcher in his own foot and eyes, philosopher of nature-loving and reflections, and man of ethics open to the future.  Korean friends lost track of a star that was believed to lead them to the next decades of Korean tradition of mountaineering.  

Having said that, no other life lost in the team is less significant than Chang-ho at all.  To mention a few notes on each of them could be a starting point we may pay a deserved respect to all deceased friends on mountains like them.  As one of close friends of Chang-ho, I also acquainted with most of the dead Koreans and Nepalis on Gurja Himal.  The deceased Koreans were Kim Chang-ho (49, Seoul University Alpine Club), Yoo Young-jik (51, Corean Alpine Club), Lee Jae-hun (24, Pukyong National University Alpine Club), Jeong Joon-mo (54, Corean Alpine Club), and Rim Il-jin (49, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Alpine Club). Those Nepalis were Chhiring Bhote (31, Sankhuwasabha), Lakpa Sangbu Bhote (23, Sankhuwasabha), Phurbu Bhote (22, Sankhuwasabha), and Natra Bahadur Chatel (29, Myagdi). 

Kim Chang-ho
He was known in some media as "the fastest person summitting all fourteen eight thousand meter peaks." Yes, he did it in seven years, ten months, and six days, about a month shorter than Jerzy Kukuczka nearly thirty years ago. Also he did it without using supplemental oxygen.  But most of his climbs on the giants, relying on the series of expedition organized by the alpine federation of the City of Pusan, was to him, in my view, a necessary step for his real achievements that followed and would follow.  The list of his climbs in this side is below: 
  • First ascent: Batura 2 (7762m, 2008), Himjung (7092m, 2012)
  • First ascent, solo: Dehli Sang Sar (6225m), Atar Kor (6189m), Haiz Kor (6105m), Bakma Brakk (6150m), all in Pakistan, 2003.
  • New route: Gangapurna (7455m, 2016), Gangapurna West (7140m, 2016), Dharamsura (6446m, 2017), Papsura (6451m, 2017), Nanga Parbat (Variation of Messner route, 2005)
Chang-ho was much more than a best-talented mountaineer.  He was an Himalayan explorer, geographical researcher, mountaineering expert, climbing compiler, and expedition leader.  I cannot even attempt here to summarize what kinds of person he was and to what extent his legacy extends in mountaineering, which I will in a separate article.  

Kim Chang-ho, June 2013. Photo by the author.

Yoo Young-jik
The climb to Gurja Himal had for awhile been planned as a duo of Chang-ho and Young-jik, though the two had never been together in Himalaya before this expedition.  Young-jik, free-minded climbing enthusiast, therefore lacking a good, firm social connection with the mainstream climbing circles in the country, had a handful of Himalayan experiences, the most recent being a new-route attempt on the east face of Ama Dablam (6812m) in 2013. 

Yoo Young-jik. Photo from the Gurja Himal expedition brochure.
Lee Jae-hun
Jae-hun was still a university student, former presidents for the Pusan Student Alpine Federation and for Pukyong University Alpine Club.  For three times he had participated in a Himalayan mountaineering expedition.  In 2017 he climbed Dharamsura in India with Chang-ho.  At the last moment he joined the Gurja Himal expedition.

Lee Jae-hun. Photo from the Gurja Himal expedition brochure.

Rim Il-jin
Il-jin was a documentary producer and cameraman for the expedition.  In 2014, as a mountaineer himself he led a first-ascent expedition to Lugula in Nepal.  He participated in a number of Himalayan expeditions and took in his camera a series of rare spectacles of high-altitude climbing, including the South Col of Mt. Everest.  Il-jin struggled hard on the ethical approach of mountaineering as well as his own identity as a filmmaker, asking questions such as "Who am I sucking up those who are in the fabled name of alpinism struggling between heroism and climbing authenticity?"

Lim Il-jin at a Sherpa house in northern Sankhuwasabha, northeastern Nepal, during his filming trip in August, 2013. Photo by the author.

Jeong Joon-mo
A full-time mountaineer in the 1980s, Joon-mo had climbed Nanda Devi and Annapurna 4.  Though retired from active climbing, and instead a successful businessman, he had been still involved in mountaineering administration by serving as one of the managers for Corean Alpine Club (one of the two nationwide climbing and mountaineering association).  At the time of the accident he happened to be at the base camp during a short visit in order to encourage the climbing members. 

Jeong Joon-mo (second to the right) is confirming his sponsorship for Il-jin's film project of the Gurja Himal expedition, entitled "Hidden Valley." September 15, 2018. Photo by Corean Alpine Club.

Chhiring Bhote
Chhiring and Chang-ho had long been a real partner: for almost all of Chang-ho's Himalayan expeditions, as well as for many other Korean Himalayan expeditions and trekking groups, Chhiring was hired as a cook.  He was fluent in Korean but also well versed in most sorts of cultural custom among Koreans.  Being a Bhote, a minority ethnicity, however, he had not been able to be promoted to a more lucrative position such as climbing guide.  When he was a child, he lost his parents and so was raised by his aunt.  Chhiring had a son and a daughter, both attending schools in Kathmandu.

Chhiring Bhote. At the Amphu 1 base camp, Khumbu, Nepal. September 2013. Photo by the author.

Lakpa Sangbu Bhote
The aunt who took care of Chhiring had a daughter and a son, and he was Sangbu.  Sangbu had little experience in participating in Himalayan expedition, because tourism had not been in the range of his potential career.  He was well educated, graceful in all personal and social manners.  Sangbu joined the expedition as a kitchen helper.

Lakpa Sangbu Bhote with the author (right). In Gola, northern Sankhawasabha. December 2013.

Chhiriting's aunt and Sangbu's mother at her home in Parang, near Hongguong, northern Sankhuwasabha. December 2013. Photo by the author.

Bhote village Hongguong, northern Sankhuwasabha. December 2013. Photo by the author.

Phurbu Bhote
A distant cousin of Chhiring and Sangbu, participated as a kitchen helper.  Phurbu had a number of experiences working in expedition kitchen with Chhiring.  Phurbu was an honest, diligent person, a kind of truth in such the personality was loved so much by many expedition members.
Phurbu Bhote. At the Amphu 1 base camp, Khumbu, Nepal. September 2013. Photo by the author.

Natra Bahadur Chantel
Little is known about who he was.  He was apparently hired at Darbang, the town at the end of the road, to not only carry the luggage of but also guide Joon-mo to the base camp.  Also, I can therefore imagine that Natra was a member of the small ethnic group Chantel, the most of whom reside around Myagdi and Bhaglung districts -- Myagdi is the region where Gurja Himal is located.  To investigate the region Chang-ho visited before this expedition Gurja Khani (2620m), the nearest village to the base camp of Gurja Himal.  Chang-ho told me that culture and language of the villagers was quite distinctive.  I guess they are Chantels.  The local guide-porter Natra was perhaps from Gurja Khani.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Everest expedition price. part 1

There is a widespread rumor in the Western media and among pundits that states some Nepali expedition operators offer poorer services with less experienced Sherpa guides, by paying less salary to them, thus falling clients into more unsafe conditions (for example, see Mark Horrell's recent article).  This kind of claims is simply a speculation, with no down-to-earth factual basis but only unguided suspects and criticisms.

Instead, those western operators such as Adventure Consultants, Himex, IMG, Alpine Ascents, Altitude Junkies, etc. which once occupied a major portion of over-8,000-meter-peaks expedition industry, have recently experienced a shortage of experienced Sherpa guides.  They are known to charge clients between 40,000 and 65,000 USD for Everest.  This cost range is generally higher than those of Seven Summit Treks, 14 Peaks Club, Pioneer Adventure Treks, and others operated by Sherpa owners.  These Sherpa-owned operators charge between 30,000 and 40,000 USD.

Why the price difference?  Pasang Sherpa, the managing director of Pioneer Adventure Treks, told me: "Those old agencies have to charge more expensively because they have Western organizers on top of Nepali organizers. The Western organizers 'eat' money, giving less money to Nepali organizers. Moreover, while they talk to clients they don't work. It's Sherpas who work on the mountain."

With Pasang Sherpas (right) in front of his office in Kathmandu

"Why on earth does the money have to travel to the Westerners?" Pasang reasoned.

The claim that those Nepali (Sherpa) owned organizers have less experienced Sherpas with minimum wage is also refuted.  Laughing off to this question of mine, Mingma Sherpa, the directing manager of Seven Summit Treks -- the expedition organizer that has sent the largest groups to Everest since 2013 till this day -- said: "We are paying between 1500 and 8000 USD to my climbing Sherpas on Everest, depending on their performance on the mountain.  If other agencies pay more money, then why have they, the most experienced among other Sherpas, worked with us?  How could we have held them to work with us?"

Monday, July 30, 2018

Transregionalism, Hierarchy, and Belonging Dynamics in Himalayan Mountain Tourism

A few days ago I have participated in the Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya, Shanker Hotel, Kathmandu, July 25-27, where I presented my paper titled "Transregionalism, Hierarchy, and Belonging Dynamics in Himalayan Mountain Tourism."  The paper's abstract can be found here from the conference website.  The caveat of my paper is on three observations on the industry of Himalayan mountain tourism: 1) Kathmandu-centered transregionalism, 2) industrial hierarchy and Sherpa monopoly, and 3) Sherpa identity politics. 

The discussant of the panel, Stefanie Lotter from SOAS University of London, commented on my paper with generous complements, which considered my positionality of being a non-Western, mountaineering, and multilingual anthropologist highly valuable regarding the fieldwork and overall perspective.  I admit that my peculiar position of mountaineer-cum-researcher has allowed me to be critical of the two popular views widespread not only among the Western public but also among the scholars.

The first is the perspective of Himalayan mountain tourism as a form of encounter between Nepal and the West or between the Sherpa and the Westerners, and this is simply false.  Foreign tourists cannot be generally called the "westerners."  In our conversation, Thaneswar Guragai, a Kathmandu-based researcher and compiler for and Himalayan Database, agreed with my observation that non-western mountaineers are now at least about 40% of all non-Nepali climbers on Himalayan peaks.

The second false view on Himalayan mountain tourism is the assumption that social scientific study about mountaineering occupies a morally vantage point as opposed to mountaineering.  According to this view, mountaineering is something deemed to be criticized by social scientists.  But from my point of view, both mountaineering and anthropological research are touristic and can occur out of a romantic view of human. Mountaineering, furthermore, may strive for a "better" life of humanity and thus has a potential to provide something good to human.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Dying Differently: Sherpa and Korean Mountaineers on Everest

My recent article on Sherpa and Korean Everest climbers has been published in the minnesota review.  The paper can be reached here.  In the article, I have argued that death is a precondition for mountaineering, although ways mountaineers experience death may differ widely.  The following is the abstract of the paper:

  • A Sherpa laughed off his colleague’s death, stunning a Korean teammate on Mt. Everest. In the face of their friends’ deaths, Korean and Sherpa mountaineers behave quite distinctively from each other. Based on anthropological research on Sherpa and Korean mountaineers on Himalayan peaks, this essay makes a case revealing a cross-cultural and prepsychological aspect of mountaineering that upholds death as a principal component of the sport. A combination of highlander lifestyle, quasi-matriarchy, Tantrist ontology, and neocolonial relationship has historically shaped the reciprocal processes of Sherpas’ success in the industry of Himalayan mountain tourism and their characteristic joviality, which discounts the negative side of the sport. In contrast, Korean mountaineers, being reticent and meditative with respect to mountaineering accidents, exhibit a longstanding tradition of Taoist idealism, Buddhist dualism, and Confucian hierarchy as the set of norms and values they bring to the highest mountain peaks.

This article is supposed to be read as a philosophical piece for an insight over (mountain) climbing, rather than a social-scientific and historical study.  I have employed a brief anthropological analysis using language of jargon in order to stress out the production of different cultural reactions to mountain experiences.

Six years have passed since the fieldwork, and the main idea of the contrast made between the Sherpas and the Koreans in the paper seems to me still valid in general.  However, I must admit that in the paper there are things unsaid yet maybe significant for a more realistic understanding of each group's perception of climbing and death.  These include, among many others, fear and antagonism against death and risks publicly shared by those and other Sherpas and Koreans.

It should also be entertained that "mountaineering" has never been a "vocation" for anyone in any cultural group.  It might be the case that at some points in mountaineering a mountaineer negotiates climbing problems as if a matter of life and death; however, I can't imagine anyone with some experiences in serious mountaineering who practically takes his/her life nothing but that of a mountaineer.  They know they have alternative options than mountaineering for their future life; they have family; they have things to take care of back home.  In short, when they negotiate in any stage of mountaineering, their choice is made first of all between mountaineering and not mountaineering rather than between life and death.  This aspect of a mountaineer-as-a-whole-person has been ignored so frequently.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

What Makes Americans American: Yellowstone National Park

For five days, Su and I drove to and from Yellowstone National Park.  It is a 1,000-mile trip from Southern California.  On the way we stopped by Zion National Park for two days, so indeed we spent just one full day at the America's first National Park.  A few things struck me during the trip.

National park experience is an American way of expressing a widespread longing to get away from the sameness of everyday and to recapture the relation to the planet.  The biggest thing which seems to me to make American National Park experience distinct and even eccentric is that we "drove" through the park: the concept of National Park in the US revolves around driving, another key component of most Americans' individuated lifestyle.  Essentially the entity you tour with through the landscape is defined by a vehicle you drive.  You drive, park, take photos, read descriptions in panels, ponder on geologies, get on the car, and drive to the next destination as the road leads.  You view the scenery from your car, or even eat and sleep in the car.  Some national parks have tram or shuttle bus systems, where their landscape hardly allows enough space for parking lots.

wild animals (bison) seen from the car window at the Yellowstone. The gap created between human and the wild felt so wide.

William Zinsser, the author of American Places: A Writer's Pilgrimage to 15 of This Country's Most Visited and Cherished Sites (1992), suspects that the reason why so many Americans are eager to visit the Yellowstone has something to do with "ownership," especially "family possession."  You, as a child, make a visit with your parents; by yourself becoming a parent you lead the family visit.  The renter-car manager also told me that he visited the Yellowstone when about 10 years old.  As George Greenia (2014) calls, the national park visit seems to have become an American cultural pilgrimage.

Zinsser also interestingly mentions about the history of the park.  Nathaniel P. Langford in the Washburn Expedition of 1870 to the soon-to-be national park wrote about "feelings of mingled awe and terror" which recalled him his "entire dependence upon that Almighty Power who had wrought these wonders."  Langford's talk in Washington, D.C. inspired politicians to create a "Yellowstone National Park," leading to, on March 1, 1872, President Grant to sign the first bill setting aside wild lands "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people" under the management of the federal government.

hundreds of people are waiting for the "faithful" Old Faith to spring up.

It is also interesting to see the early connection with the military service at the park management.  Before the creation of the National Park Service in 1916, for about 30 years the army managed the Yellowstone and protected it against poachers and mischievous tourists.  The soldiers later quit the army and served under the Park Service as lifelong rangers.  The pseudo-militarization of park service and sheriff-styled ranger service characteristic to the American national park system seem to have originated from this early connection. 

Yet Zinsser, and the bulletin of Yellowstone National Park as well, does not mention the thousands years of Indian residence in the area.  For the several decades since the inception, the Park had deliberately ignored and misinformed the presence of American Indian tribes inside the park.  The killing of several dozens of American Indians in the process of making the park has long been ignored.  The system of National Park, in the US and around the world, is still relying on the idea that a non-human place demands superintendence from human forces in order to remain intact and "natural."  

The idea of National Park in the US is therefore ironic: a human-created non-human area to be enjoyed under voyeuristic eyes from cars.  

Friday, June 22, 2018

님 웨일즈의 <아리랑>

아리랑 (The Song of Ariran, 1940, 일어판 <아리랑의 노래>, 한국어판 1984년 동녘 1판, 1992년 개정1판, 1993년 개정2판 발행. 조우화 역)

뜨겁고 처절하면서도 명철한 철학에 바탕을 둔 김산의 생애를 1인칭 시점으로 흥미진진하게 그린 저작이다. 김산의 세계관과 인간관의 일부를 적어본다.

이 책은 헬렌 포스터 스노우(필명: 님 웨일즈, 1907~1997)가 중국에서 활동한 조선인 공산주의 혁명가 장지락(1905~1938, 이하 책에서 사용된 이름 김산)을 몇 차례에 걸쳐 인터뷰하고 쓴 책이다. 1937년 김산이 32세일 때 역시 30세에 불과한 작가 사이에 우연한 만남이 이루어지고 이는 인터뷰와 저작으로 이어진다. 

혁명가의 눈으로 본 1930년대 동북아 정세와 혁명가의 삶과 인간관계를 그리고 있다. 집요하고 활발하게 진행된 항일투쟁은 전반적인 배경을 형성한다. 한 예로 1935년에만 조선에 주둔한 총 22만에 달하는 일본 경찰병력이 체포한 조선인 항일운동가들은 20만 명을 넘었다. 그만큼 30년대 조선은 "일본인의 심장을 겨냥하고 있는 비수"(304쪽)였던 것이다.

김산의 독특한 성격은 책 전반에 강렬하게 흐른다. 김산은 스스로도 "용서를 모르는 단호한 성격의 소유자"라는 것을 알고 있었다. 주변으로부터 로베스피에르라고 불리기도 하였고 그래서 정적도 많고 모함도 받았다. 결국 인터뷰가 있었던 바로 다음 해 반혁명, 간첩 혐의로 동료 공산주의자들에게 처형당하고 만다.

책의 제목 '아리랑'은 김산에게 "죽음과 패배의 노래"(232쪽)다. 일본의 감옥에 갇힌 당시 와세다대학 출신의 일본 사복형사가 인터내셔널가를 불러달라고 요청하자 김산은 거절하며 아리랑을 부른다. "승리의 노래"를 부를 수 없다는 이유다. 그가 "부를 수 있는 오직 하나밖에 없"으며 이는 아리랑이었다. 

노래 아리랑이 김산에게만 의미가 있었던 것은 물론 아니다. 천여 명의 조선인 독립운동가들이 처형된 신의주에 있는 감옥에서 김산은 이전 수감자들이 벽에 손톱과 수갑으로 써 놓은 낙서들을 읽는다. 군데 군데에서 아리랑 가사도 많이 있었다.

이런 죽음과 패배를 숱하게 몸으로 겪으며 김산은 스스로에게 국가에 대응할 수 있는 엄청난 힘이 있다는 것을 배웠다고 한다. "국가와 나는 대등" (232쪽) 하다고까지 주장한다.

가장 큰 사상가를 꼽으라면 마르크스와 톨스토이다. 김산은 마르크스주의에 정통한 혁명가, 교사, 저술가로서 십여 년의 처절한 활동 동안 다음과 같은 결론을 내린다.

중요한 것은 단 하나뿐이라는 사실을 나는 배웠다. 민중과의 계급관계를 유지하는 것. 왜냐하면 민중의 의지는 역사의 의지이기 때문이다. 이것은 쉬운 일이 아니다. 민중은 깊고 어두우며 행동에 들어가기 전까지는 단 한 마디도 말을 하지 않기 때문이다. 그대는 소근거리는 소리와 침묵의 웅변에 귀를 기울여야 한다. 개개인과 집단들은 큰소리로 고함을 지른다. 그리하여 그 때문에 혼란에 빠지기 쉽다. 그러나 진실은 아주 작은 목소리로 이야기되는 것이지 큰소리로 이야기되는 것이 아니다. 하지만 민중들이 이 작은 목소리를 들을 때, 그들은 손에 총을 잡는다. 마을 노파 한 사람의 긴박한 속삭임만으로도 충분하다. (296쪽)

30세가 되었던 어느 날, 아주 똑똑한 20대 중국 여성 공산당원과 토론하던 도중 그는 스스로가 무척 늙었다는 것을 발견했다. "인간정신의 성장에는 한계가 있는 것 같다. 어느 일정한 지점까지 가면 인간정신의 성장은 정지하고 그 이상 신장되지 않으며, 더 이상 새로운 사실을 파악하지 못하고 도리어 이미 옛날이야기인 10월혁명에 대한 향수에 빠져들게 된다." (298쪽) 서글픈 이야기다. 그러나 강렬했던 "10월혁명"의 추억에 견줄 새로운 사건을 스스로의 삶에서는 더 이상 도모하기가 어렵다는 사실을 알아냈을 때 추억으로 회고하려는 것뿐이지 않을까. 즉 성장의 한계는 세상을 알아 나감으로써 어쩔 수 없이 맞이하는 성숙이겠다.

김산의 혁명적 깨닮음은 마르크스보다도 마르크스의 변증론을 전 인류에 대한 인간애로의 성찰로 이끈 톨스토이에게서 더 짙게 묻어나온다. 김산은 중학교 때 처음 톨스토이를 접한 이후 줄곧 톨스토이의 저작들을 품에 간직하며 거의 매일같이 읽고 또 읽었다고 한다. 김산이 이해하는 톨스토이는 "현실을 여러 가지 모순의 충돌이라고 묘사한다." (125쪽) 즉 "작중인물은 언제나 투쟁하고 있으며, 절대로 동의와 해결에 도달하는 법이 없다." (125쪽) 따라서 김산의 톨스토이 이해는 혁명으로 나아간다. "현실의 이 변증법적 사실을 이해하게 되면 명확하게 행동의 길을 택할 수밖에 없다." (125쪽) 이처럼 변해가는 현실이란 자연도 또 자아도 포함된다. 김산은 "변화하는 자연"을 좋아했으며 인간의 본성도 이처럼 변하는 것이며 또 변해야 한다고 봤다.

그렇다면 삶의 진리도 변하는 것인가. "나는 무엇이 선이고 무엇이 악인가, 무엇이 정이고 무엇이 사인가, 무엇이 올바른 것이고 무엇이 잘못인가 하는 것을 논함으로써 사람을 단죄하는 짓을 더 이상 하지 않는다." (299쪽) 1933년 북경의 차디찬 감방 안에서 그는 다짐한다. "타인의 거짓말이나 변절을 절대로 마음에 두지 않겠다"고. "나 자신의 방식으로 하다가 설령 이기지 못한다 하더라도, 내게 그 실패는 명예이고 승리인 것이다."(271쪽) "내가 묻는 것은 무엇이 가치있는 것이고 무엇이 낭비인가, 무엇이 필요하고 무엇이 쓸데없는가, 무엇이 중요하고 무엇이 부차적인가 하는 것이다. 다년간의 마음의 고통과 눈물을 통하여 '오류'가 필수적이며 따라서 선이라는 것을 배웠다. 오류는 인간 발전의 통합적인 일부분이며, 사회변화 과정의 통합적인 일부분인 것이다. ... 사람들은 실험을 통하여 비로소 지혜를 배우는 것이다. ... 비극은 인생의 한 부분이다." (299-300쪽)

김산의 인생관, 인간관은 비관론의 유희다. "나는 불행한 사람들을 좋아한다."(253쪽)고 선언한다. "즐겁고 행복한 사람들이 내게는 멍텅구리처럼 보인다."(253쪽) 아! 이 책을 통틀어 현재 미국에 거주하고 있는 내게 가장 와 닿는 말이었다. 모든 것이 손에 가깝고 편리로 가득차, 삶의 의미와 목적, 질곡과 그를 벗어나 새 하늘을 보려는 소망까지 모든 것에 벽을 쌓아두고, 삶의 의미를 물을 기회조차 박탈당한 세상의 끝이 바로 이곳 미국에 있었다. "그들은 삶의 표면 위를 날아다니고는 있지만 절대로 그 의미는 알지 못하는 것 같다. ... 그들은 인간의 참마음에 가까이 붙어 있는 것이 아니라 멀리 떨어져 있고 고립되어 있다. 아마도 그 때문에 그들이 즐거운 상태로 남아 있을 수 있으리라." (253쪽)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Rise of Extremism

Extremism is a doubtful concept.  What kind of standpoint does the extremity of so-called extremism arise out of?  Are we not encroaching into an extremism ourselves when we curse someone "extremist"?  This afternoon on campus, an interesting scene attracted many students near the Bell-tower, the symbolic central place.  Two elderly men were delivering public speech condemning "sins" of secularism such as homosexuality and abortion with signboards written, "Why You All Deserve Hell," "Islam = Terrorism, Rape" and so on.  A horde of students sitting in front of them often responded with mocking and laughing.  

Religious extremists were they, liberal extremists the counterparts seemed to be.  The campus newspaper, run by a student editorial board, already opined at the current issue "Don't feed the trolls by the Bell Tower."  "Their words," notes the editorial, "carry very little weight for those who are not religious and do not believe in their brand of hell in the first place."  It seemed so.  The students responding them seemed more interested in how they could ridicule them by finding fault with the speech, sentence to sentence.  

Rather, their speech and presence could, the newspaper continues, help the campus community learn the reality of our society where there are "lunatics ... who have extremely deluded convictions."  It was said "undoubtedly problematic" even though such a speech act is not illegal.

The Op-Ed piece is depicted with a cartoon where a few angry-faced people stand with pickets on a small island named "Island of Ignorance."  I suspect the editorial, not they, as well as most of my fellow liberals, standing on one.

The view states that the speakers as extremists incorrectly represent an "otherwise peaceful and tolerant group of people" who are lay Christians and practicing their religions with good sensitivity.  Really?  Is it that no public evangelism and being quiet outside churches means peace and tolerance?  The identification of hell and Islam--and, for that matter, any religion except Christianity--is by no means extrinsic to most church communities in the US.  Besides, all humans are essentially sinful according to the biblical point of view, so no one without Christian born-again will evade the final judgment and following hell.  The speech act itself is so distinctive in the sense that few Christians attempt evangelism in such a provocative way that may well drive the whole mood of the campus to liminality and punkyard. 

Those who are concerned with the national history and ancestry of religiosity will find the recent feat of relativism in matters of sexuality and immigration hurting the core of their identity.  The extremity of religious extremism sprinkled against the church advocates shot out of the bystanders who make mockery and the editorial harshly sided with none but the campus evangelicals. 

It is also frustrating to read from the paper that it is "improbable that [the speech acts] will actually influence any individual with a conscience and brain on this campus."  From an evangelical perspective, this extreme kind of conveying ideas is one of the most frequently used and highly effective strategies.  I even presume that the speech would potentially have created a place for conversation, understanding, and reconciliation with those who hold different perspectives.  A blunt obstinacy from the side of campus community unfortunately dazzled  off actions that might calm down lateral extremity of any kind.