Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Less Majeste, more Filling

I am very disappointed to find that Google bowed to pressure from the Thai government and removed videos from Youtube criticising the Thai King, Bhumibol Adulyadej. Lese Majeste laws, closely linked to cults of personality (and perhaps laws prohibiting flag-burning), are a kind of social engineering that I think governments should not be involved in. It should be possible for even an autocratic society to still permit open criticism of the state and its prominent members - at least for my ideas of societal health, the attitude behind Lese Majeste laws is unhealthy for society and needs to be fought. I predict that the animutation folk, if this comes to their attention, will do all sorts of crazy things with Bhumibol Adulyadej, putting spider legs on his head and having him dance around, etc. When society demands that all its members respect certain symbols, mockery of those symbols is probably the best way to fight for health.

I'm amused to find that in Western countries, Poland and Germany are those with the strongest resemblance to Lese Majeste on the books. Much of the middle and far east still have laws of this sort, some regarding monarchs and modern-day religious figures (see especially Iran), and many more protecting foundational religious folk (e.g. Moses/Musa, Jesus/Isa, Mohammad, etc). While I don't stand for absolute permissiveness in speech, I don't think a country is giving its people enough autonomy unless people are free to mock the heads of state, the gods and prophets, the royal family (if present), and any crime syndicates that happen to operate in the area without fear of repercussion (arrest/detention, being beaten, being marked for less access to societal resources, etc. This does not include people shunning them). (note that suggesting a threat to their person and mocking them are two different things)


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