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The Fear and Loathing of Lèse Majesté

December 11, 2010

It’s been nearly 4 months since I left Thailand. I have neglected Autarchy & Liberty in the meantime, getting on with my life in London. Yeah, I’ve been tweeting a lot, but generally speaking I was rather keen to avoid posting anything significantly over 140 characters. A temporary hitch you may call it, trying to understand my past, trying to see the future… Earlier today I tweeted: “The change will come to Thailand when people stop watching their tongues, just to avoid Lèse majesté. No regime can imprison hundreds at once.” Not surprisingly, a few moments later I got several answers that prompted me to put down, rather hastily written, several lines over the Twitter shorthand limit on fear and Lèse majesté. I truly loathe myself for all that cheap,  syncopathic, and thoroughly wrong speech….

…And still, I’d like to say my thanks  to my Twitter followers, and especially to Tony Hedges who offered his view, saying: “it wouldn’t be in the hundreds, you’d be surprised how many people talk about it behind closed doors…” That made me truly wonder, and… anyone else who cares…read my take on reasons behind this  anxiety from my, rather peculiar, perspective:

The fear of Lèse majesté, or rather specifically, uneasiness that accompanies any meaningful discussion about Lèse majesté abolition or thorough reform is perfectly justified. This fear is nearly overwhelming, and in some mysterious ways, it is laid bare by those who insist that Darunee Charnchoensilpakul and others  are foolish, mean, stupid, mentally unstable and thus deserving to be heavily reprimanded…

All this reminds me of times when, a quarter century ago, being the “immature adolescent”, I despised and feared Czech and Russian Communists, listening to VOA, Radio Free Europe and BBC on a huge transistor radio, semi illegally and behind the closed doors, with volume down and all that…

In Thailand, it seems, they’ve gone about it all in smarter manner – it is not illegal to listen to and watch foreign media, and, to my knowledge,  never has been. The regime is more accommodating – making sure the consequence of  breaching Lèse majesté laws are properly understood by exemplary punishment and consequent leniency afforded to victims by the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and therefore safeguarding that any anti Royalist resistance is ridiculed and propagandized as absolutely un-Thai. As with Chinese Communists, the Thai Royalists make sure they’re a step ahead. In China “everyone” supports the Communist Party. In Thailand “everyone” supports the Royalist establishment.  The question is…for how long… , and I have no answers here…

And indeed, I equate Chinese Communists with Thai Royalists. Call me naive, but I somehow believe most of both Thais and Chinese would strongly disagree with me. Or perhaps they will stay quiet, saying nothing, thinking how ridiculously vile I am. Or maybe not?  Am I just “Western foreigner” who doesn’t get it?


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