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Thai Gov't Welcomes Twitter's Censorship Plans 113

Posted by timothy
from the man-vs.-king dept.
patiwat writes "The Thai government has called Twitter's tweet censorship move a 'welcome development.' Tweets may now be blocked at the request of the Thai government; the system will be used to discourage and punish lese majeste (criticism of the Thai King). The government previously declared that Facebook users worldwide 'liking' a lese majeste Facebook link would also be prosecuted; over 10,000 Facebook pages have been removed and hundreds of individuals, including children and academics, have been jailed. Calls to reform the lese majeste laws have been fiercely criticized by no less than the Army Commander, whose backing is critical to the government's stability."
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Thai Gov't Welcomes Twitter's Censorship Plans

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  • Travel Alert... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khr (708262) <kevinrubin@gmail.com> on Monday January 30, 2012 @10:41AM (#38865213) Homepage

    The government previously declared that Facebook users worldwide 'liking' a lese majeste Facebook link would also be prosecuted

    Yikes! I haven't knowingly liked any lese majeste posts or links, but you never know... I guess I'd better make sure none of my international travels involve a stopover at the airport in Bangkok, I'd hate to get a surprise arrest for something like that...

  • State of Affairs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TempusMagus (723668) * on Monday January 30, 2012 @10:48AM (#38865297) Homepage Journal
    First off I'd like to suggest that anyone with even the smallest passing interest in this read these series of articles here: http://www.zenjournalist.com/download-thaistory-123/ [zenjournalist.com] it is without a doubt the best resource ever published in terms of providing context on the situation. As someone with a personal interest in this (my wife and her family are Thai) I will say that the entire thing is a disgusting mess and has nothing to do with HRH King Bhumibol directly. The Lese Majeste laws are used by Bangkok elites to quell dissent. Pure and simple. If anything it degrades the monarchy more than anything since it turns the kings "face" into a symbol of oppression. This is veering the country into a dangerous direction since it is the monarchy who was perceived (perhaps wrongly) as a moderating force between the Bangkok elites and the more agrarian populace (who are mad to be middle class). The smallest shift from perceiving the monarchy as a force of moderation to one of oppression in the country is something that the country won't long tolerate. Even with national censorship, don't think for a second it will have a lasting effect - facts that range from the socially important (like the Queen's tacit support of yellow-shirt violence) to the sordid (like the prince's sexual escapades) still get talked about amongst friends. Young Thais are connected internationally and they are interested in this material no matter their political leanings. What complicates it further is the fact that the military's ranks are now filled with many red shirt supporters even though the top brass supports the elites using the king as a figurehead. There is not a lot that outsiders can do. You can boycott thailand as a tourist destination or write letters to the companies who manufacture there letting them know that you are not pleased that they financial support such a regime (which they do).
  • Re:Moron (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mistlefoot (636417) on Monday January 30, 2012 @10:51AM (#38865333)
    Yes. These foreign governments that cannot take critisism or understand jokes are ridiculous.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2093796/British-tourists-arrested-America-terror-charges-Twitter-jokes.html
  • Re:Moron (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday January 30, 2012 @11:28AM (#38865783) Homepage Journal

    I'm pretty sure that in Thailand's case, it's not to keep people from saying bad things about the government, but to keep them from saying bad things about the king. The king's picture is on Thai money, and if, like us westerners do, you step on one to keep it from flying away in the wind you're likely to be severely beaten by the outraged populous.

    The king of Thailand was on an American talk show in the '70s, and they would not show it in Thailand because the show's host's foot pointed at the king.

    I was there in 1974 in the USAF, it was weireder than I could imagine. Absolutely nothing was the same as here; not even the colors of the dirt or grass. It was truly an alien place, and their culture is more alien to American culture than the fictional Klingons or Romulans.

    Culture clash is the the internet's #1 enemy. What is a right to a Muslim in Iran (such as "honor killings") is a felony that could have you put to death in Texas. Freedom of expression is our right in America, but drawing a picture of Muhammed could have you jailed or killed in Iran.

  • Re:Moron (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ltap (1572175) on Monday January 30, 2012 @03:06PM (#38868553) Homepage
    Actually, I'm not aware of a single example of honour killings in Iran. If you want a better example of a "pinnacle of Islamic rule" Saudi Arabia (the US puppet/ally) would be much more appropriate. Other candidates would be Indonesia, for complicated reasons. Since Indonesia is primarily ethnically non-Arabic, yet Arabs are given higher social status and considered more "true" to Islam (due to "Arab supremacist" themes embedded in the Koran, not the least a prohibition (often ignored) against translating it), much like Spanish-descended people in Latin America (who have not "bred" with natives and are technically a non-Latino minority). You could probably make a decent argument for why Indonesia's Muslim population is so fervent -- compensation for feelings of inferiority due to not being Arabic is the likeliest.

    It's also important to realize the context of why they believe what they do. Essentially, it's a form of semi-primitive tribalism focused on the family unit. Most societies, as they progress, inevitably abandon this model or heavily reduce its importance, but it is a very major underpinning to the Abrahamic religions. Essentially, it is patriarchal and focused on the absolute divine right of the patriarch to do whatever he wants. The fact that the prohibitions in the Old Testament limiting the power of a patriarch are so weak attests to the fact of how much control a man might have over his family. This sort of tribalism, applied on a larger scale, is the root for racism and nationalism, as well as other evils. Its primary focus is simple: defining a group so the members know whom they should include or exclude. Culture is another form of in-group/out-group xenophobia, which is why liberals tend to embrace multiculturalism, while conservatives tend to be far less adventurous.

    As far as Sharia goes, it has parallels in Judaism and Christianity (and, indeed, parallel groups attempting to practice similar systems) because it is based on the concept of the supposed authority of the patriarch. This is something which supports not just calcified familial systems, including caste systems, but also feudal monarchies (the concept of divine right having been directly invoked by European kings). In this case, honour and prestige become huge factors -- anyone who has read about the Victorian high society would realize that, while there wasn't a whole lot that was illegal for upper-class people, but that they relied so much on being seen as "gentlemanly" and on being approved of by their peers that they were forced to hide any behaviour not condoned by their society. It's similar to the Inner Party of Nineteen Eighty-Four, with the proles being far more free (albeit while undergoing deprivation) than Party members.

    In the cases of feudal societies or societies transitioning out of feudalism, rising egalitarianism could compel the remnants of the feudal nobility/aristocracy or of the general elite class to struggle to maintain their illusion of control and authority -- for instance, through censorship, as in the case of Thailand. In other cases, religion can be used as a proxy in an attempt to bolster authority (which, in the Middle East, has been well-documented with Saddam Hussein's increasing fundamentalism and religious authoritarianism as his rule went on, likely as a cynical attempt to keep Iraqis under his thumb). Many dictators tend to be adaptive opportunists who will adopt a tool (like religion) if they need it to get into (or stay in) power. Another good example is Hitler's embrace of Catholicism (and acknowledgement of Lutheranism) during his rise to power, in an attempt to gain more followers and to turn a largely ethnic conflict into a religious conflict as well, with the simultaneous replacement of pre-existing religion in his inner circle with a home-grown cult, complete with mystic origins. The rub for Hitler was that too much alignment with Catholicism would put him into the classic conflict that had dominated Germany for centuries -- the authority of the Pope versus the

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