Aussie Author Jailed in Thailand for Insulting Thai King, CNN won't repeat insults for fear of similar fate.

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90 Responses to “Aussie Author Jailed in Thailand for Insulting Thai King, CNN won't repeat insults for fear of similar fate.”

  1. Takuan says:

    “minister of ANY religion”…. heh heh…. head on down to the fish market folks, a squid draped over your head is all you need. Except Mr. Hong of course. Some insolence will not be countenanced.

  2. Jonathan Badger says:

    Be outraged if you like, from the other side of the world, of a culture you don’t understand, but this Australian author must’ve known exactly what he was doing, and deserves all he got.

    That’s just blaming the victim. I believe in giving other cultures all due respect — but some cases absolutely none is due. Being imprisoned for writing a book is just not acceptable in the 21st century. Period.

  3. hokano says:

    To the contrary, in most countries kings are mere pawns to be used by competing factions in revolving door dictatorships. To focus on the royals is to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. That’s exactly what the real dictators want.

    yeah, but if you succeed in getting rid of the king then they are revealed. Either way, behead the lot.

    I have to largely agree with Takuan. (Full disclosure: I also enjoy the crunchy sour goodness of his namesake.)

    The existence of a monarchy cannot be excused by its abuse by political opportunists. No need to take the heads off the royals, of course. Just send them to a comfortable retirement, disabused of any notions of their superiority to the rest of their fellow humans.

    Absolutely behead the political opportunists.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The main issue isn’t the King here, it’s the Crown Prince. He is very much disliked by its own people, for the reasons mentioned in Versimilitude and many others. The vast majority of Thais are well informed about him, despite not being able to publicly discuss the topic. The author made the mistake to pick up that gossip and write it down, he does seem a bit of an idiot, but like I said, that’s not the point. The King is getting old and weak and succession is at hand, anti-monarchism is growing in the country, the only thing that is holding them back is the relative ignorance of Thai people towards their own Kings actions in the past. The monarchy has never supported democracy in the past, there is a well known book about this topic (Paul Handley’s The King Never Smiles). The government and social elite are well aware of these growing sentiments, and try to keep it down by making les majeste laws even more harsh ! They are currently arresting Internet users for making comments about the monarchy, they have banned thousands of websites, many more to come, social activists are being arrested. Don’t be fooled, this is not about an australian actors stupidity of not being able to follow simple laws.

  5. blitz says:

    >It is illegal to impersonate a person of the clergy in the US. If someone did so and incurred the penalty of the law – would you all freak out about it with such vehemence?

    Hell yes I would!

    - Father O’Donnell

  6. Takuan says:

    crunchy sour goodness is what I aspire to.

  7. Vydra says:

    I’m also married to a Thai national, and I’ll have to fully agree with #69 here. It’s really that simple of a rule.

    I think imprisonment is harsh (esp in a Thai prison), and my in-between-the-lines reading of the situation is that the author possibly did something else to annoy/p.o. someone in power (police, gov’t, etc) and they are using this reason to detain / punish him.

    -v

  8. Simon Cameron says:

    This story really has much more to do with the anti-flag burning bills which are debated from time to time then with any insults towards (ex)President Bush.

  9. merreborn says:

    This is one of those stories that makes you appreciate having the freedom to publicly criticize, and even mock your own government.

  10. guy_jin says:

    copy: every version of “the aristocrats”.

    Remove: “the aristocrats”.

    Replace with: “the Thai Royal family”.

    Come and get me, motherfuckers.

  11. kevin143 says:

    So what did he say?

  12. jacobian says:

    The appropriate response is to copy what he said and post it to every blog and every place where a comment can be made on the story until everyone on earth has memorised the passage. What a bunch of authoritarian maniacs the Thai royal family are.

  13. rasz says:

    first link in google leads to indymedia with scanned copy of the book. Something about killing wifes and their whole families just to be able to remarry.

  14. JoshuaZ says:

    Funny, I was in the middle of writing a blog entry about this very topic. Unfortunately scooped. Ah well. In the meantime: The King’s name is Bhumibol Adulyadej. So let’s put it this way: Fuck you Bhumibol Adulyadej.

  15. OM says:

    …The Thai Royal Family is a bunch of thin-skinned schmucks. There. Let them come after *me* now. I -dare- them.

  16. cycle23 says:

    I have no respect for outsider cultures.

  17. ackpht says:

    Yeah, we Americans are hot stuff- we can diss a President all we like and get away with it- but if a cop pulls us over for speeding, we zip our lips and pray that we don’t get a ticket.

  18. sixister says:

    Bye bye plans to vacation in Thailand. Blow it out your ass Mr. Thai King. I fart in your general direction. I throw my size 11s at you.

  19. Lauren O says:

    That’ll teach him to put an unnecessary comma on the cover of his book!

    Oh, you mean he’s being jailed for…? Oh, that’s fucked up.

  20. Takuan says:

    so what happened to anyone who stood up and said: (in the USA) “I’d like to shoot that fucker Bush in the face!”?

  21. james says:

    “Only 50 copies of the book were published, and only seven were sold”

    dude’s been punished enough.

  22. Brainspore says:

    This story really has much more to do with the anti-flag burning bills which are debated from time to time then with any insults towards (ex)President Bush.

    Thank you for providing a far more appropriate analogy to this ridiculous law than a death threat against a sitting head of state.

  23. Anonymous says:

    For cooking up insults, an easy approach is to feed the guy’s name into an online anagram generator.

    The Thai king, for example, is Bhumibol Adulyadej, AKA “A Ham Bullied By Judo.”

    I’ll bet he feels bad now!

  24. happykittybunny says:

    so what happened to anyone who stood up and said: (in the USA) “I’d like to shoot that fucker Bush in the face!”?

    Making a threat against someone is different from insulting them.
    If I call your daughter a whore, that is an insult. If I tell her I am going to cut her throat, that is a threat. See the difference?

  25. JoshuaZ says:

    Takuan, it doesn’t take much to see a difference between insulting someone and threatening to kill them.

  26. Takuan says:

    a ludicrous threat made by an obvious mental incompetent results in jail in America. Insulting a monarch in a country that retains one strikes at the base of the monarchy. Same diff. Now, kneel! kneel before your president, peasant scum!

  27. Sal Paradise says:

    It’s good to be the king.

    Wait for the shake…..

  28. Anne Wayman says:

    or throw shoes at bush?

    cnn lacks guts that’s for sure and the king? oh my – glad my ego isn’t that delicate

  29. Takuan says:

    see examples cited. Those were no more “death threats” than your “provocative sweating” the last time the TSA violated you. Also “head of state” can never apply to “trained monkey” and “sitting” in that context can only mean “squatting on stolen throne”.

  30. Anonymous says:

    The Thai royal family aren’t the ones to blame. The King always pardons foreigners who are convicted. He has publicly asked that these laws not be abused like this, and continues to be ignored.

    The laws were created and are enforced by other people, the powerful elite who actually run the country. They say they are doing it to “protect” the royal family but they are actually using it as a tool to control the public. The public are indoctrinated from an early age to worship the royalty, and imprisoned if they make even the slightest critical comment. So things can be done “in the name of the King” that keep the poor masses in their place.

    The royalty is not part of the government – Thais can criticize the government all they want and they do it all the time.

    It’s useful to know just a little background before shooting off your mouth and directing insults at the wrong people.

  31. grimc says:

    Excerpt can be found here (scroll down to press release):

    http://www.akha.org/content/bookreviews/verisimilitude.html

    The offending paragraph is basically about rumors that the Thai prince once exiled his wife and her family when he found someone new, and that it’s not uncommon for Thai nobility to “disappear” old wives and their entire families. In context, it doesn’t seem to be about murder, just erasure from the public record.

  32. Rob says:

    Visited Thailand last year… nice place, except for the uber-creepy king worship.

    Whole sides of buildings covered in king portraits – [pic here http://relaxedfocus.blogspot.com/2008/08/thailand-miscellany-and-on-being.html ] – and having to stand before movies as montages of Hallmark-y sappy videos proclaiming “we love the King” play.

    Very, very screwy.

  33. Fred H says:

    Guys (and gals), this is ROYALTY. Why are you stunned by how they are acting? My slim historical knowledge suggests Nicolaides ask for a written pardon directly from the King or Queen. After a lot of noise, he can get out and then REALLY tear them apart. Shame on CNN for clamming up. Best of luck, Nicolaides.

  34. GuidoDavid says:

    We silly occidentals do not understand this culture, how do we dare to criticize?

    The same can be said about genital mutilation and honor killings, by the way.

  35. rasz says:

    insulting royal family – check
    threatening the President – check

    but how about a President isnulting his constituents? We got one in Poland, Lech Kaczyński :(

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FMp9Ec3pcY
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spieprzaj_dziadu!

    Wikipedia is weird, someone translated it to “Piss off, old man!” while literal meaning is “fuck off you bum”

    Kaczynski already lost defamation case against another man, and is currently being sued by couple more people.

  36. JoshuaZ says:

    Fred, Great Britain has royalty. You know what? I can insult the Queen without this happening.

    Takuan, if you think the individual in question wasn’t mentally incompetent that is a distinct issue. You do agree that threats to kill someone are materially different than insults yes?

  37. Superfluous Moniker says:

    @ Takuan #12
    Jonathon Sharkey, I remember that guy! He ran for Governor in Minnesota once; it was all over the local news. Total crackpot.

  38. linenoise says:

    “From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The Crown Prince had many wives major and minor – with a coterie of concubines for entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed indiscretion. He subsequently remarried with another woman and fathered another child. It was rumored that if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever.”

  39. JoshuaZ says:

    Latex, it failed in the Senate by 1 vote but that’s not the full ratification procedure. Such an ammendment would then need to be ratified by the state legislatures. So saying it was 1 vote away is sligtly misleading.

    To Vydra and other people saying that it is a simple matter of following a rule: how would you feel if the rule were “don’t criticize the government” or “don’t criticize specific religion X”? In either case we would find it completely unacceptable. In this case, the indinvidual has made a series of statements about the King that no one has even tried to argue are factually inaccurate. He is being imprisoned regardless of the truth of his statements. That should bother you.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      To anonymous from Perth who complained bitterly about us censoring comments,

      A) If you create an account, your comments go straight through. Anonymous comments require approval.
      B) Reading BB and commenting here costs you nothing. Did you really just complain that we aren’t standing by to serve you?
      C) Threatening to complain to our advertisers was pretty funny. Blog the results and maybe BB will link to it.

  40. Derek C. F. Pegritz says:

    Well, I know exactly what I’m GOING to do in the next story I start work on….

    The king’s name, by the way, is Bhumibol. It’s gonna get positively scatological ’round here.

  41. wayneco says:

    Chilling. Time to take Thailand off my tourism list.

  42. Antinous / Moderator says:

    You know, the Thai royal family didn’t create this law, nor do they enforce it. In fact, the king’s only relationship to it seems to be to undermine it by issuing pardons. It’s just one of the many tools of repression of the Thai government. Blaming the king is like blaming the American flag for being a jingoist symbol.

  43. J France says:

    Update: Guy got a royal pardon, is back in Melbourne as-of this weekend (21/2/09)

  44. Angstrom says:

    One thing to try and appreciate here is that Royalty worship in Thailand is very, very strong. As (#21) Rob said, it is evident everywhere.

    Think of it in the same way that USAvians appear to worship their flag. Really, Imagine yourself defacing the stars and stripes in a US sports bar and then tell me how ‘free’ you are to go against the prevailing social current.

    It is not really applicable to say “Thai Royalty are being evil, oppressing this author”, in fact the Thai people are like a river made of King love.

    I made a policy of always complimenting the Thai’s on their wonderful country and their marvelous King. because
    1: I’d like to go back one day
    2: they would have broken me into pieces if I had said anything different.
    3: actually the King has historically done some quite good things in what has been a turbulent country.
    4: did I mention “please don’t kick me to death?”

    Signed: Mr A. Coward

  45. kryptik says:

    It sounds like a trivial crime, but it’s a charge that can be thrown around by Thai police with quite unpleasant consequences, as my brother’s friend found out recently: ‘Traveller speaks of Thai Terror (Watford Observer)
    He was lucky that the British consul got involved and there was no basis for the charges – a Thai prison sounds like a very unpleasant place to be.

  46. fnc says:

    I’d insult this king but I’m not sure he’s worth the synaptic activity. Besides, cognitive dissonance from someone who came to a position of power without deserving it is really nothing new.

    It’s CNN that really deserves heaps of scorn for this.

  47. JoshuaZ says:

    Antinous, 1) the King doesn’t pardon everyone who does it. 2) Given his influence he could just open his mouth and say “Hey I think these laws aren’t a great idea” and they’d be gone. Until he does that he deserves to be insulted.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Given his influence he could just open his mouth and say “Hey I think these laws aren’t a great idea” and they’d be gone.

      He has said that. He’s a figurehead. The crime of insulting the Thai king is like the crime of insulting Turkishness. It’s a crime against a national symbol, not against a person.

  48. Anonymous says:

    The guy was a political science lecturer at a Thai university. You think he didn’t know what he was doing? Full points to him for trying to push the boundaries of what was acceptable under Thai law, but now that he got caught, he should cop it on the chin and deal with the consequences. Ignorance of the law is not a defence, and pre-knowledge of the law isn’t either. The fact remains that it IS the law, regardless of how unjust other countries or people may think it is.

  49. J France says:

    This guy is losing his marblkes – he’s been locked up for 5 months already in a very, very poor jail system (bars and concrete, rats, overcrowding, not alot else) and seems like he’ll crack well before the sentence is up.

    Hopefully the pardon they’re going for this week with the, er, King will go through, but that seems unlikely.

    Although this guys a nong – seems he knew of the law, but went ahead with a pretty insignificant passage in his book anyway. If you are going to go to the SE Asian islands… do yourself a favour and check out the laws and more importantly the penalties. Harsh and brutal, and not really worth the risk for an elephant ride and some beautiful scenery.

    Also just like to point out that H.R.H. Bush has been indiscriminately throwing people in jail for saying bad things. And just saying bad things – threats with no teeth made by incompetent loonies.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      An example of the real point of the law:

      “Accusations of lèse majesté are often politically motivated. Premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his political opponent Sondhi Limthongkul both filed charges of lèse majesté against each other during the 2005–2006 political crisis. Thaksin’s alleged lèse majesté was one of the stated reasons for the Thai military’s 2006 coup.”

      Wikipedia article

      The interesting part of this story was that CNN chose not to report the facts.

  50. Takuan says:

    yeah, but in Thai jail tradition they dipped him in a tank of human prison shit before letting him out. He probably now has AIDS and Hep and a few other diseases.

  51. rosyatrandom says:

    I have it on good authority that Bhumibol Adulyadej’s mother is a hamster, and his father smells of elderberries.

  52. hokano says:

    His Majesty’s a pretty nice guy
    but he doesn’t have a lot to say.

    His Majesty’s a pretty nice guy
    but he changes from day to day.

    I want to tell him that I love him a lot
    but I’ve gotta get a belly full of wine.

    His Majesty’s a pretty nice guy.
    Someday I’m gonna make him mine.

    Oh yeah, some day I’m gonna make him mine.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Good for you for posting this!

    While the royal family may not be responsible for this policy, someone is, and as a consequence an author is in jail. However it came about, it is offensive and dangerous.

    As for this country (USA), I would say that overall we enjoy a very great freedom in being able to criticize (and insult) our leaders. As a counterexample to the story mentioned about President Bush, look at the number of people who have insulted and accused of crimes, up to and including murder, President Bill Clinton. As far as I know, many of those insulters and accusers remain at large, and some have very successful media programs.

    I do not intend to be partisan – your feelings one way or the other about President Clinton are not the point. The point is, I would rather have people’s opinions out in the public, where their merits can be decided upon, and not suppressed. Every time I hear about someone being persecuted for the simple act of making a statement, my blood boils, and I want to say something even more “offensive,” which I shall refrain from doing here.

  54. kiltreiser says:

    I love Thailand and indeed almost moved there last year. The people, food, culture, everything about the place is amazing. Even though I’m a staunch anti-monarchist I did believe that their king was actually a chilled out kinda guy. However actions like this disgust me. If the king doesn’t see the insanity in this law and demand that it be repealed then he can go fuck himself in the ear.

  55. LatexSolarBeef says:

    If you have never been to Thailand it´s hard to understand the way people feel about the king. Like others have said, he´s much more important as a national symbol than as a real person. Everyone loves him and he´s even done some good for the country.

    This guy must have known exactly what he was doing, and while I don´t think the punishment fits the “crime”, it´s pretty much his own fault.

    I wouldn´t come to the U.S. as a guest and sht on your flag either, even if it felt right to me.

  56. dr80085 says:

    Nonetheless, the author is likely to be stuck in jail for another 3 years. For saying something.

    I repeat:
    “From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The Crown Prince had many wives major and minor – with a coterie of concubines for entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed indiscretion. He subsequently remarried with another woman and fathered another child. It was rumored that if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever.”

  57. Anonymous says:

    The Economist recently published a couple of very interesting articles in the wake of the recent Thai conflict between Royal and Thaksin supporters which resulted in a paralysed airport.

    The issue was subsequently banned in Thailand.

    Go search for them online if you care. Most revealing is the many comments which resulted from these online articles. These reveal distinct schools of thought which as far as I can tell can be summed up as:

    1: The king is most concerned with continuation of personal power, which has resulted in the gross underfunding of education and health.

    2: Thaksin is corrupt but his ideas are welcome because he is empowering those who have long been disenfranchised through rampant cronyism.

    3. We love the (glass-eyed) king and everything he has ever done is perfect.

    The truth? Who knows. You certainly won’t find it here.

  58. Zarniwoop says:

    Okay, so I’m living in Thailand at the moment. The king (who is probably dead, it’s worth noting) is easily the most loved person in Thailand. The whole royal family are. There is no comparison in the west for the way the Thai king is idolised.

    Be outraged if you like, from the other side of the world, of a culture you don’t understand, but this Australian author must’ve known exactly what he was doing, and deserves all he got.

  59. GuidoDavid says:

    Dainel:

    I know that. But the same argument can be summoned to not criticize honor killings.

  60. Anonymous says:

    #41(anonymous)

    “The point is, I would rather have people’s opinions out in the public, where their merits can be decided upon, and not suppressed.”

    That’s fine. But it’s not your country. Do you posit that the US invade Thailand to “spread Democracy” and change these laws ?

  61. thecussingnews says:

    @zrn: knw… tht mks m wnt t bld m ht t f pp nd lv n tht nstd f th cty. N, w dn’t ndrstnd… w jst g t th mn nd stff lk tht bcs w’r brd. Th pnt s… mngld… y shld b bl t sy whtvr th fck y wnt. Y r th n wh dsn’t gt t. n fct, f thr sn’t smn thr t “rl” y… thn y wldn’t knw whthr t sht r g blnd nd mch lss wld gt dn thr thn lrdy ds… whch s lk… bldng hts t f pp. nytm y gt rdy t stp lvng n pp ht, hllr.

  62. Takuan says:

    “As a counterexample to the story mentioned about President Bush, look at the number of people who have insulted and accused of crimes, up to and including murder, President Bill Clinton. As far as I know, many of those insulters and accusers remain at large, and some have very successful media programs.”

    that is not a “counter example”, it is more proof Bush was an unaccountable tyrant.

  63. Kimrod says:

    Kudos to #21, 31 & 32. Sums up what I would have said being married to a Thai national and having visited the country many times.

    It appalled me to read the blind ignorance here on BOING, I really expected better from the lot who jumped on the insult wagon because of this article, without doing any research about the King, much less the country.

    Yes, the King is respected and revered in Thailand. He really doesn’t play much into every day politics, but, if needed by Thai society, will step forward and ask for simple resolutions to complex problems. Like peace and restraint in the recent government overthrow. I would compare him to the Dali Lama.

    Many movies about Thailand have been banned in the country because they are perceived as unfair to the King or to the country of Thailand’s image of past, notably, The King and I, starring Jodie Foster.

    I look at it this way…I would not visit a Muslim country and walk around saying, “Fuck the Koran and fuck Muslims!” Nor, would I tour the Vatican yelling, “You bunch of boy-diddlers, you suck!” You are bound for a good ass-kicking or temporary discomfort, either way.

    Please try to show some respect for other cultures other than your own before spewing rants of uninformed ignorance.

  64. Santa's Knee says:

    If you want other nations to respect the laws of your own nation, then you best well respect theirs.

    It is illegal to insult the sovereign of Thailand, especially when IN Thailand. If you do so, you have broken their law. He knew what he was doing – he took a chance and got busted for it. Why is this such an affront to everyone?

    It is illegal to impersonate a person of the clergy in the US. If someone did so and incurred the penalty of the law – would you all freak out about it with such vehemence?

  65. Takuan says:

    a person of the “clergy”? There is a state religion?

  66. JoshuaZ says:

    Antinous, do you have a citation to back up the claim that the King has said that he disagrees with these laws? I’ve heard this claim before but no one has ever given me a citation for it.

    Re: impersonating clergy- such laws are bad also and I suspect that if any serious prosecution with those laws occurred they’d be declared unconsitutional very quickly.

    Latexsolar, by all means come here and shit on our flag and burn it. We let you do that. The flag stands in part for the right to do that sort of thing.

  67. Anonymous says:

    there’s a decent explanation this case, in the context of thai politics, in this WSJ story from a few months ago:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122411457349338545.html

  68. dainel says:

    #84 Guidodavid, this is the wrong place for honor killings. You should go a couple of thousand km westward.

  69. Brainspore says:

    Takuan, as much as I like to agree that Bush was an unaccountable tyrant (at least as “elected” officials go) I still can’t see equating a threat to an insult.

    Bush got away with a lot, but even so free speech managed to thrive in ways that many other countries might envy. Do you really believe that there could be a Thai equivalent to “The Colbert Report”?

  70. Zarniwoop says:

    That’s just blaming the victim. I believe in giving other cultures all due respect — but some cases absolutely none is due. Being imprisoned for writing a book is just not acceptable in the 21st century. Period.

    Sure, imprisoning people for writing a book is wrong (though it must be nice to live in a world where the century we’re in makes the slightest bit of difference to anything). But this writer isn’t a ‘victim’, he’s an idiot. Thailand is a wonderful country, full of friendly, laid-back people. They have one rule- don’t insult the king. This is not a hard rule to follow. He got what was coming to him.

  71. Pedro says:

    Please everyone, this is peanuts.

    Monday, in downtown Moscow, a 25 year old journalist was shot dead as she was trying to avoid the murder of Stanislav Markelov, the lawyer of the family of a 18 year old girl that was raped and strangled by a Russian army officer (who is free).

    Let us all never forget Anastasia Bubarova and Stanislav Markelov, who gave their lives for human rights in Russia.

    Fight the silence!

  72. Takuan says:

    monarchy is based on agreed nonsense like “the mandate of heaven”, “divine right” yadayada. Openly crapping on kings by dissing them, is the same as taking a shot at them. Wish it would happen more.

    In any case, go to Siam and lip off the guy with the most elephants and see what it gets you.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Openly crapping on kings by dissing them, is the same as taking a shot at them.

      To the contrary, in most countries kings are mere pawns to be used by competing factions in revolving door dictatorships. To focus on the royals is to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. That’s exactly what the real dictators want.

  73. billstewart says:

    If the excerpts from his book that have been quoted here are the only things he was accused of publishing, I don’t see why they should have convicted him. He was making potentially factual statements about the actions of the royal family, and indicating that there were rumors of more actions. He wasn’t directly calling them reprehensible; while modern Western values view them as bad, they’re the kinds of things that Kings can do and can get away with because they’re Kings, they’re not Presidents.

    Having said that, of course, he probably was a fool. And if his book only sold seven copies before he got busted, what did he do, send advance review copies to the Thai government?

  74. CharlieDodgson says:

    SK@54: Can you site when the text you quoted was in a law passed by Congress? That’s what makes it a federal offense.

    FWIW, the compiled text of all such laws currently in effect is the United States code; it’s online from more than one source, and doesn’t include that text. A google search does find it listed here, exactly as you quoted — but credited as a state law of Alabama (and hence, not binding elsewhere).

  75. LatexSolarBeef says:

    Joshuaz: You´ll let me do that, but barely if Wikipedia is to be believed in this matter: “The most recent attempt to adopt a flag desecration amendment failed in the United States Senate by one vote on June 27, 2006.”

    Thank you for the kind offer, let me return the favor and invite, even encourage you, to shit on and burn the Austrian flag. Patriotism is for nitwits anyway.

    Also, it probably wouldn´t matter to a lot of folks what the law said if they found me desecrating the U.S. flag. And that is the point: You just don´t visit another country and culture and shit on their idols. It´s a matter of basic decency, but nonetheless a concept lost to some people.

  76. Palilay says:

    Ok I should have expected as much ANTINOUS, so I will go to the trouble now.

    Nobody here (save the odd one or two) seem to understand Thailand at all.

    The guy mentioning the Paul Handley book fails to mention the book is fairly even handed, it’s not a critique, it’s more like an expose. The fine print reading between the lines is that while a lot of the King’s actions seem “anti-democratic” to Western eyes, they did actually stop the spread of Communist rebels and state agitators in Thailand in the 70′s, which would have been a far more destabilising force for the country. He points out that it was actually the CIA who paid for a lot of this – for obvious reasons.

    Nonetheless, and I repeat myself (hopefully this time I will not be charged with boing majeste and flushed down the memory hole), but to claim this guy was ignorant of the law is hilarious to say the least. Every person travelling to Thailand sees in plain English (or French, Chinese, Italian etc.,) on their immigration card that there are two things in Thailand that you -will- be busted for. One is drug smuggling, the other is lese majeste / insulting the Royal family. They don’t mess about on these.

    To say that Anti-monarchism is growing in Thailand is a statement of statistical manipulation. The same regional upcountry areas (tradtionally populated by people who are not ethnically Thai) have -always- been less than loyal to the King – because they historically were less than loyal to “Siam” – they are Khmer, Lao and hilltribe people with different cultural heritage.

    If the king can be credited with anything it’s uniting these dozens of tribes under an admittedly nationalist banner over the decades, which has seen standards of living rise, employment and job prospects improve, and seen Thailand grow up as the most powerful and free (yes, free) Democracy in Asia. Political parties parry and repose in Thailand, but you rarely see the open bloodletting in the streets like in Indonesia or Burma. If you like Thai Papaya Salad, you’ve eaten food that came from “Anti Monarchists”, that has been assimilated into the Thai gestalt. There are many such examples from food to music to art and culture.

    Anyway, all that has grown in the past few years is the influence of the anti-monarchist lobby – primarily because their biggest benefactor was the ousted dictator Thaksin Shinawatra – who actively bribed and fomented dissent amongst these ethnic minorities. The majority of ethnic Thais (primarily in the cities) are still staunch monarchists – and are increasingly distressed at what they see as the seeds of civil war being sown. They percieve the king is all they have left to protect them – the alternative is a Thailand where corrupt(er) despots like Thaksin will rule the roost and Thailand will sink back into the dark ages.

    The truth is the situation is now extremely volatile, thanks to the anti-monarchists’ tendency to employ violent tactics, and they have the Police on their side, while the Royal Family for various reasons have the Military on their side.

    For commenters here to glibly opine about freedom of speech in a country they know nothing about from the comfort of their armchairs is incredibly saddening. The Lese Majeste laws are not great, and they -are- used as political weapons, but the King has nothing to do with that.

    Furthermore, once again, to suggest that this guy had no idea what he was doing is just laughable, really really laughable. He should not get three years, and the king will probably pardon him. But if you’re in another country, you respect their laws, no matter how much you disagree with them.

    If you disagree with them that much, you should use the UNHCR or Amnesty to do something about it. Hurling abuse at a Monarch who is one of the only stabilising influences in that country is not helping the problem.

    When the King dies, the Prince will try to take over. THEN there will be problems and you will see the anti-monarchists use him truly as a Manchurian Candidate. That will make this incursion on “free speech” look like a golden era, I guarantee it.

  77. Takuan says:

    yeah, but if you succeed in getting rid of the king then they are revealed. Either way, behead the lot.

  78. Santa's Knee says:

    Not interested in taking the Turing Test today, my friend.

    And the full text of the US law is as followsL

    Section 13A-14-4
    Fraudulently pretending to be clergyman.

    Whoever, being in a public place, fraudulently pretends by garb or outward array to be a minister of any religion, or nun, priest, rabbi or other member of the clergy, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500.00 or confinement in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment. (Acts 1965, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 273, p. 381; Code 1975, §13-4-99.)

    That includes ANY clergy, making it a federal offense.

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