Thailand to YouTube: Don’t Diss the King

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LA is a media town, and arguably the most-wired in the world – so even though events are taking place in Asia involving a company based in the Bay Area, this is pretty interesting news about a “local” network:

Our sister site, Metroblogging Bangkok, reports that Thailand is so ticked off about the recent posting of a video criticizing their beloved (and military-backed) monarch that they have filed suit against YouTube and Google

Last month, the Thai government blocked YouTube from all computers in-country. Agence-France-Presse explained:

The military-installed government banned YouTube this week after it failed to block the first video deemed insulting to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, regarded by many Thais as semi-divine.

One of the new clips showed pictures of the king that had been digitally altered to make him resemble a monkey, and carried messages saying Thailand’s leaders are “evil and hate free speech.”

It also used an expletive to denounce the king and the government.

Daniel, the captain of Metroblogging Bangkok, wonders:

Now this brings up an interesting legal dilemma, and questions that first pop in my head are:

– Was the crime commited in Thailand, if so, does Lese Majeste apply?
– What are the views of His Majesty?
– How much is being set aside in legal fees? Would this money come from the taxpayer, if so surely the money would be better spent elsewhere (Dengue fever treatment and flood displacement comes to mind)
– Is this some pubicity stunt? Suing Google???
– Is the charge against the poster or Google as the parent owner of

7 thoughts on “Thailand to YouTube: Don’t Diss the King”

  1. Mack,

    A little cultural perspective for you:

    The king is not “military-backed”. He has been king for over 60 years (the longest-serving head of state in the world), and if anything, every (short-lived) government that comes to power in Thailand implicitly needs the king’s backing. He is incredibly revered in Thailand – indeed, his picture is on the wall in almost every restaurant in Thai Town. Criticism of the king is very rare and almost universally frowned upon by the general population.

    I saw “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” in Bangkok, and the audience was more colorful than the action on-screen – Thailand is famously gay-friendly. Yet before the movie, when they played the national anthem and showed the stock footage of the king, as is done before every movie in Thailand, all the freaks and trannies stood up and sang like everyone else.

  2. A figurehead monarchs…gotta love ’em!

    I’ll never understand the fascination with people just because of who they were born to. Doubly so when it’s some other country’s figurehead–I sure as hell wouldn’t wait any amount of time to see Britain’s queen, unlike those people in Virginia.

    I’m not saying a monarch can’t be a nice person, they just serve no point in a modern world.

  3. I spent 10 days in Thailand recently, and I was nothing short of awed at the respect and adoration that the Thai public has for their king. The way I understand it, Thailand is an incredibly family oriented society and in some way, the king and his family are a part of everyone’s extended family to some extent. So when you insult or criticize the king, you’re essentially insulting a family member as far as most Thais are concerned.

  4. To me, raised in a western democracy, it strikes me as an unhealthy adoration of an authority figure.

  5. Evan,

    The Thai royal family is actually pretty cool – for example, one of the princesses (king’s daughter) is a leading AIDS researcher. They are always championing causes for “the people” – e.g. last time I was there, the queen led some expose of bad school food. I believe the king also essentially fired the military government after they violently put down some protests a couple decades ago.

    So yes, unelected, but not really a figurehead.

  6. Mack,

    No, I live in LA but have spent a few months over there – not in the last couple years though.

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