Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thailand bans YouTube

We don’t have access to YouTube. The Thai government blocked our access to it and other internet sites containing materials that denigrate the country’s monarch. The ban came after Google, YouTube owner refused to remove the video clip that depicts the most loved and honored monarch with clown features painted onto his face and an image of feet pasted over his head. This gesture having the feet over one’s head can be considered as an insult in Thailand.

I am not a Thai, but I admire the King just like the Thais do. I believe the King deserves the honor, love and adoration that his subjects are giving to him. Thailand is what it is right now because of the character and the influence of its monarch. It is hard to imagine Thailand without its King. The King loves freedom and it is because of his benevolence that Christians today are enjoying so much freedom preaching the gospel and doing their social ministries.

There is certainly free speech in Thailand but there are two subjects that should be avoided to be discussed openly and those are the Royal family and Buddhism. Nobody should publicly denigrate either institution. Recently, a Swiss national was sentenced to 10 year imprisonment for spray painting over images of the King and Queen while drunk.

Thailand Hospitality Tattler rightfully says that:

The ban on YouTube seems to have touched off a wave of retaliation with Thaifreespeeches’ video leading the way, according to one newspaper report we read. Whether or not this will play out as they predict is subject to conjecture. The next few days will probably tell. But why does anyone have to do something like this in the first place? It is just because they can? Or does showing disrespect to the Thai King serve some greater purpose, and if so what could it possibly be? We have no answers to these questions and even though we’re journalists and believe strongly in the right to free speech we cannot condone this sort of mindless disrespect for someone who does not deserve it. Some things still should remain sacred and while we don’t believe there are a lot of them remaining in this day and age, the Thai monarchy is certainly one of them.


D.W. Congdon said...

Why should the Thai monarchy be any more sacred than anything else in the world? What sets it apart? It seems like the Thai governmemt is enforcing a kind of idolatry.

Derek said...

I have no ties to the Thai monarchy, and have no personal opinion regarding why or why not it should be respected. However, I think this post gets at bigger issue that with websites like YouTube, and more generally the Internet as a whole, nothing is sacred any longer, and in the interest of free speech, or what we interpret as free expression (not speech), we are all supposed to be okay with that. If even the journalists and Christian missionaries in Thailand find it repugnant to depict the Thai monarchy in such a way, how can we, who know nothing of the situation and have no personal experience with the monarchy, have the audacity to question that which we're completely ignorant of?

All we have to work from is an idea -- an idea so ingrained in us that indeed it's sacrilege even to question it -- that of free expression, even if that expression extends throughout the entire world and can be viewed by anyone and everyone who has an internet connection and the gall to type in the web address, no matter what sort of damage, or, yes, disrepect, it unnecessarily incites in its viewers.