Thai Guy Convicted Of Insinuating Something About His King

First, some background: Thailand‘s government is not exactly the poster child of stability, and coups d’état happen about once a decade. But the country has been a constitutional monarchy since 1932, and for most of that time, they’ve had the same king — the world’s longest-reigning monarch. Also, like most countries that aren’t America, unfettered freedom of speech is as foreign to them as Phuket is to us. Case in point: there’s a law, which gets used quite a lot, making it illegal to insult the king. Most of the time, the accused pleads guilty and they get a pardon for saying they’re sorry.

Red shirt protest in 2010 in Bangkok, like the one this guy attended

 

In 2010, an adviser to the Commerce Ministry took part in a protest against the administration and gave a speech in which he listed a number of people that were against the dissolution of the administration. which is something that happens in parliamentary democracies. At the end of the list, he said there was one more person to name, but that

“I am not brave enough to say it. But I know what are you thinking right now. So I will keep my mouth shut.”

The insinuation being he was talking about the king without actually talking about the king, so that he wouldn’t be guilty of insulting the king — because apparently saying the king is a proponent of the administration is some sort of insult. Well, the authorities weren’t just going to let him skirt the law by not actually committing any crime, so they arrested him anyway. And then a judge convicted him, because his silence spoke volumes. In the Newspeak from 1984, this was known as thoughtcrime. He’s currently awaiting an appeal, after which he can get up to 15 years in prison — for not saying something.

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From The New York Times, via Slashdot

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