Why Thailand’s demigod king and military junta are cracking down on ‘blasphemy’

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King Bhumibol Adulyadej

RNS photo by Brian Pellot

A poster of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej in central Bangkok on March 16, 2014.

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Thailand’s lèse majesté laws shield a deified king from criticism, an outdated monarchy from reform and a military junta from accountability.

  • “Like the country’s blasphemy laws protecting Buddhism from insult, Thailand’s lèse majesté laws should be scrapped.”

    Exactly.
    Dictatorships are fundamentally theocratic religions. “Kill the blasphemer” is the defensive position of every dictator since the beginning of history; including Moses, Mao, Hirohito, Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin and Jesus himself:

    “Don’t throw your pearls to unholy pigs!” – JESUS (Matthew 7:6)
    “Execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

  • George Nixon Shuler

    Go into any Thai restaurant in the U.S. and you’re likely to see a pic of the saxaphone-playing monarch behind the counter. The Thais are an exceedingly practical people but they don’t allow you to muck with the King. I suspect in that regard they are where the Japanese were before 1945. Thanks for reporting what I figured was happening anyway. While they could learn from us how to better approach fundamental freedoms, we could sure learn from them how to treat trans folk and sex workers better than we do. The business about how the right-wing nuts have a cow when a transwoman steps into the loo like she’s gonna flatten your grandmother is the sort of stuff that makes the Thais think we are all amuk over here.

  • These are sorry little generalizations that in no way apply to All Thai people, for anyone who is paying attention. So not beheading gays makes up completely for guys in prison for 50 years for a Facebook post? This is not only vapid but disproportionate on a nearly unimaginable scale.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    My friend, you are the one making the generalizations, not me. Of course not every Thai is exactly the same just as every American, every Greek, and every Zambian is not the same. And Of course I did not say “not beheading gays makes up completely for guys in prison for 50 years for a Facebook post.” I did not even mention gay men at all, or facebook. If anyone is making an overgenralization, it is you.

    Have you ever heard of The Marquis de Sade? The somewhat unconventional fellow was definitely not a sexual sadist, he just was a bit of a libertine who took advantage of his servant girls to the disliking of his strict mother-in-law, who was a noblewoman who had the power to issue a “Letter of Marque” against him which resulted in his imprisonment for the rest of his life. And yet we still think of France as a model of freedom.

  • PB

    Thailand has some people who are willing to speak out but really very few. It’s basically controlled by brainwashed cult members. Thais will often try to defend the royals but their case is only built on lives of propaganda as that’s what the Thais royal institution forces into the media, schools and the rest of the institutions. Not alternative information or views. And if you don’t go along with the cult and speak out well you’re an enemy of the nation.

    I’ve spent 20 years here. In the beginning I was apathetic to much of it just enjoying the everyday pleasures but over time I’ve taken more interest in what’s really going on. It’s a sad state. I won’t look at Thais in the same way especially those in my nation the US who enjoy free speech while they take it away from others in Thailand.

    Freedom speech and an end to the privilege system would end Thailand’s out-of-control corruption and give hope to the masses. The royals and their cronies don’t want this.

  • RickBangkok

    Thanks for the article. I think you need a deeper dive to understand what is going on in Thailand. I have only been studying Thailand for 20 years and lived in Bangkok 5 years. Thais have an expression “mai bpen rai krub” which means it doesn’t matter. Your article goes off track by suggesting that the current regime is the only one that prosecutes people for Lese Majeste. PM Thaksin used it against his opponents and they used it against him and his family, and its been used by regimes before WW II. Another expression in Thailand, “His Majesty the King does not “play” politics. That means Thais know their politicians are corrupt and nothing really gets done by them to improve the lives of Thais. HM the King has no political power. There have been many constitutions which most Thais could care less about. They do care about HM the King, and think of him as a father and that is their private business really. HM the King generally pardons most foreign violators on his…

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