Monday, January 19, 2009

The King and You

Perhaps you have read the recent news story about the Australian man who has gotten sentenced to prison for publishing a book FOUR YEARS AGO which sold less than ten copies and was then recalled. Apparently, in his book "Verisimilitude: Is the Truth the Truth", author Harry Nicolaides said some rather nasty things about the current king and crown prince of Thailand.
In Thailand, it's illegal to say anything not nice about the royal family, whether or not it is true or is valid criticism. Insulting the King carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Mr. Nicolaides was on his way home to Melbourne, when he was arrested at the airport. One thinks that this could be a political statement--if you're going to arrest a man for slander, why wait three years? Three years, sadly, is what Nicolaides will be spending in a Thai oubliette--the prosecution decided to go "easy" on him because he plead guilty.
Anyway, what struck me the most about the articles I read, and I read about five, was that none of them would say what exactly it was that Nicolaides said that was so insulting to the king! The above article insinuates that it was something bad concerning the love life of the crown prince. The reason for this lack of full coverage comes out in the frank Christian Science Monitor article.
What? International reporters are too chicken-shit to do their job because they're afraid that they'd be thrown in jail or barred from reporting in Thailand? Ok, I guess that this is one thing that Blogs are good for.
So, since I am not ever planning to go to Thailand*, I did do a little internet research as per the CSM's suggestion, and here is what Nicolaides wrote that has gotten the pants of Thailand's government in such a twist.
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 rumoured 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.”
Oh, come on! Like this is something that everyone on the planet who has seen "The King and I" didn't already know.
The censorship is even extending into the blogosphere, with this site removing the copy of the book that it posted because of fear of retributions towards Mr. Nicolaides. However, if you request a copy of the book, they'll send you one. I encourage you to do so!
This is bullying by the Thai government on people who are NOT Thai citizens. That a person who is not a Thai citizen could be coerced into censorship for fear of retributions upon an innocent person is twisted and wrong. The royal family of Thailand has shown themselves to be petty tyrants paying lip service to justice--the 81 year old king himself has expressed displeasure with this law but has not made any action to change it!
If I had a curse to wish upon the royal family of Thailand, it's that they be the subject of the next stupid 4chan internet Meme, but until then, I encourage everyone to find their Thai embassy and send them a letter, email or call of protest. You can also do a video response to one of the many Free Nicolaides clips on Youtube.
I encourage people to blog about this and to get the word out. The more people know about this heinous affront to liberty, the better.
Since GOD himself apparently can't punish people for criticizing him, the King of Thailand should get no better.

*From what I have heard, you can't walk through the airport in Bangkok without getting offers for hookers, drugs, and the latest scam directed at people who can't speak the local language. It seems like a totally tiresome place to visit where the harassment outweighs any pleasure one might get from getting to know the local culture. Thailand has real issues to work out while their court system is busy apparently wanking and prosecuting imaginary offenses like this one. Until they get their act together, I have no intention of visiting.

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