A handful of videos offensive to the Thai king have caused Thailand to ban YouTube access in the country. Apparently such acts in Thailand can lead to serious prison time.
Apparently the king is regarded as semi-divine – he is 79 and apparently the world’s longest-reigning monarch. I kinda think the hat could make him a comedy target, but then it never hurt the British Beefeater guards at Buckingham Palace.
The Thai communications minister claims that YouTube told him that there was “much worse ridicule of President Bush on the site” which is kept there. One of the offending clips replaced the monarch’s face with a monkey’s face – imagine that with Bush and decide for yourself how many people would bat an eyelid – good ol’ USian free-speech. These are clearly different cultures. While Thailand holds its monarch in high regard, it also has a quite public thriving hospitality industry 😉 which the US would frown upon for the most part even if it has a similar industry covertly operating too (as do um… most countries?).
This brings up the discussion of Internet culture borders and jurisdiction. Quite frankly I’m surprised that a more blunt stance is not taken in Thailand (compared to say China). If YouTube is under the jurisdiction of the US constitution, which would seem to allow rights that are most definately not in line with Thai national laws and morals (once you’ve figured out who is in charge after the 18 coups in 75 years), then why would Thailand condone access to it in the first place?
If you don’t like something on TV (allowing for the fact that in some countries like UK there are watershed times during the day before which mature content is not allowed), you can turn it off. If Thailand doesn’t like US morals, they can turn it off too – in fact why did they even allow it in the first place?
These Turks know how to do it. But then again, it makes me wonder if the only really effective remaining democratic action one can take is moving country. It’s just a shame you can’t make your own with its own set of rules – ah well there’s always Second Life or um Weblo(?) but even the US Feds are starting to look into those.