A few days ago the King of Thailand died and I wrote an incredibly irreverent piece about the continued existence of the monarchy. The first half was essentially covering the news and the second half was talking about how much Thailand could be economically and socially if they replaced their hereditary head of state with a democratically elected president. I also have previous with the Thai royal family. I cited the institution’s fragility in a piece bemoaning the existence of the country’s lèse-majesté laws, and I have also written a case study on the flaws of the Thai monarchy. Why do I bring this all up? The Thai government have begun cracking down on anti-monarchy sentiment and someone who doesn’t live within that government’s jurisdiction must continue to speak, even if it means repeating myself.
A woman in Thailand posted comments on the internet that were deemed as disrespectful the late King Rama IX, who by definition cannot be offended because he’s preoccupied being dead. So much was the outrage at this woman’s comments that the police apprehended her, citing the countries lèse-majesté laws, and publicly shamed her. How did they shame her? The police forced her to kneel before a portrait of the recently deceased golden dress enthusiast and pray for him. This was done in front of her local police station and also before a crowd of angered monarchists who don’t like people pointing out their hilariously ridiculous views about politics.
Let me now say that I commend Umaporn Sarasat for her convictions and I do not blame her for her actions; if I was faced with armed police and a baying crowd I’d probably pretend to be a monarchist for a half an hour as well.
The furore around Ms Sarasat is not new. Since King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death authorities have been arresting a number of people who have expressed, or who are perceived to have expressed, anti-monarchy views. Indeed on social media many Thai people have been lamenting that fact that some people have dared not wear black to mourn the passing of the king. There are even some people, who definitely have a mastery of social skills, who have berated people in the street for daring to not look sad enough.
This is unbelievably moronic. In a society there will be some people who you disagree with, some of which with every fibre in your very being. Rather than protest that those opinions offend you, and that you want the government to imprison people who disagree with you, grow the fuck up and learn to side by side with these people. Bhumibol Adulyadej was not a god, he was just as much a human being as anyone else, and he wouldn’t want arch-royalists going around persecuting people. How do I know this? Because he said he didn’t. In his 2005 Birthday Speech, the then alive and breathing King Rama IX said: “If the king can do no wrong, it is akin to looking down upon him because the king is not being treated as a human being. But the king can do wrong”. The anti-free speech protesters are ignoring the will of the man they claim to love beyond all rationality. These fucking idiots need to do some reading.
When I first wrote about Bhumibol Adulyadej I thought it would be a one-off cursory mention, but that was before I understood the extend of Thailand’s lése-majesté laws. Indeed if I was in Thailand and had written all the anti-monarchy articles I mentioned at the start I could be imprisoned for up to 15 years. This is madness. Thailand have officially entered a year of mourning. I personally can’t sustain sadness for a year, and ultra-royalists should force everyone in a country of 67 million people to be devastated as if Satan himself tortured their family in front of them. These stupid laws encourage stupid behaviour and anyone who stands by these laws is an enemy of liberty.