Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Nation Continues its Hysterical Right Wing Campaign Against YouTube


Freedom comes with responsibility

The Nation

The government is right to demand that YouTube remove video clips deemed offensive to Thais

Should video clips insulting His Majesty the King posted on YouTube, the video-sharing website, be protected as freedom of expression? We definitely do not think so. Far from it, we condemn the individuals responsible for posting several clips on YouTube that seek to degrade our King. Moreover, we also question the actual motivations of YouTube, which has insisted on keeping the ugly videos posted.

Question the motivations? WTF? What motivations would YouTube have? I'd wager a lot of money that the executives at that company could care less about the monarchy of Thailand.

"While we will not take down videos that do not violate our policies and will not assist in implementing censorship, we have offered to educate the Thai ]Information and Communication Technology] ministry about YouTube and how it works," said YouTube spokeswoman Julie Supan.

In effect, Supan is implying that video clips insulting the Thai King do not violate YouTube's policies. What kind of twisted policies was she talking about? Will YouTube tolerate video clips that defame the religious icons of other countries?

The Nation's writers really are shameless liars without a bit of integrity amongst any of them.

1. She was implying that the offensive videos could be blocked without blocking the whole site.

2. King Bumibol is a king. He is a mortal man who will die soon. End of story. Kings, queens, and other politicians are mocked on YouTube. King Bumibol is not Jesus, Mohamed, Zeus, Thor, Krishna, a boddisatva or the Lord Buddha himself.

3. The right-wing fanatics at The Nation are nuts. Their notion that King Bumibol is a religious icon is frightening.

When the ICT authorities learned about the controversial video clip posted in the US last week, they immediately sought cooperation from YouTube. They asked that YouTube remove the clip. If YouTube had done so, the matter would have ended there. But YouTube said "no". This forced the ICT to move last Wednesday to block the entire YouTube site. There followed much criticism that the military-installed government of Thailand had once again imposed censorship without any regard for freedom of expression. This subject has received widespread attention. The Nation has received a great deal of letters, most of which denounced the ICT Ministry's action and also suggested that Thailand could not keep up with the Internet world.

I agree with YouTube. I would have told those fascists at ICT to go fuck themselves also. Why should a US company bend its knee for Thailand? Would a Thai company cave to the US government? Yes, you can stop laughing now. If the US government ever made threats or demands against a Thai company concerning matter of free speech, I guarantee every right-wing Thai kook would come out of the woodwork and you would have protests and flag burnings in front of the US Embassy. They would be banging the drums of Bang Rajan and burning George Bush in effigy.

Would The Nation remove anything from their website that could be offensive to Americans? We know the answer to that. The answer would be a resounding no. And The Nation would be right for sticking to its guns.

It has been six months since the coup and after all that has happened I still can't comprehend how journalists from what was once known as a fairly progressive newspaper can still take the side of a military dictatorship, especially when it comes to censorship.

We are amazed by the whole episode. First, they let somebody insult our King. Then they lecture Thailand on how to embrace the Internet without any reservations.

Why the hell should YouTube be responsible for what individuals do? Thailand is backwards. These idiots at The Nation are part of the problem.

All students in US journalism school have to take a course on the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which protects freedom of the press and freedom of expression. One can go to a public place to air grievance against the government or a public leader and be protected by the First Amendment. But if one were to cry "fire" in a packed theatre during a movie, then one would not be protected by the First Amendment.

This example is pure fallacy. That offensive video was political speech and it would be protected under the US Constitution. It is not the equivalent to crying fire.

In short, freedom of expression must come with responsibility.

This is a lesson the hypocrites at The Nation have never gotten at all.

YouTube is preaching freedom of expression on the Internet. But it fails to exercise that freedom with responsibility.

Although the original clip was removed by the YouTube user who created it, similar videos have popped up since. By yesterday morning, some 20 clips related to the controversy were reportedly posted on the site. Most of them mocked the King and the Thai government, but others featured YouTube users discussing free speech, censorship and cultural sensitivity.

In many circumstances, Thais will cave to authority in public life. When you challenge a free people with censorship in a public arena where there is anonymity and freedom, they will fight back, which is what makes the internet so great, because people can express themselves outside the traditional media that limits the parameters of political debate. Many people from oppressive countries are able to express themselves on the internet. What The Nation is denouncing is a good thing. I say the more political discussion the better.

In Thailand, the King is held in utmost reverence. He is not only head of state but also a spiritual leader of Thailand. It is wrong on the part of YouTube to equate the Thai King with George Bush by suggesting that Bush has been the target of similar ridicule. By tolerating the insulting video clips, YouTube is also holding up the Thai people's faith in the monarch to ridicule.

This is a bullshit argument. It is the same thing. George Bush is the head of state. King Bumibol is the head of state. Also, YouTube has nothing to do with the video itself. This argument is specious. The only person ridiculing the king is the video maker.

Yesterday, Sitthichai Pookaiyaudoom, the ICT minister, vowed to continue blocking YouTube until the offensive clips about the King are removed. Anybody in his capacity would have done the same. Sithichai was also right to have accused the firm's parent company, Google, of practising double standards.

"Those clips are very harsh to the feelings of Thai people and our culture," Sitthichai said in an interview with a Thai television channel yesterday. "Google has said they have no censorship policy, but they earlier agreed to censor their website in China when the same kind of dispute occurred, because China is so much more powerful compared to Thailand."

Again, another bullshit argument. How can a stupid video that nobody saw be offensive to Thais and Thai culture? Do these idiots think Khun Somchai working 12 hours a day in a field in Nakhon Nowhere without a computer could give two shits about this?

Also YouTube and Google are not the same thing. The situation is completely different. Whether one agrees with it or not, Google and the Chinese government made an arrangement before launching Thailand has no such arrangement with Google or YouTube about politics and censorship, at least as far as I know.

We understand that it is impossible to go after all these stupid video clips, but at least YouTube must try to do something. Quite to the contrary, it does not take Thai sensitivities into consideration at all. This matter really needs broader debate. We are ready to listen. But for now, we do not accept YouTube's arrogance.

Why should YouTube act as a censoring arm of the Thai government? The argument is just crazy.

As for arrogance, this editorial says it all.

By the way, The Nation is not ready to listen to any counter arguments. They took their comment section down recently, probably because of my constant harassment, so there won't be any debate on this editorial or on this topic except in the blogosphere.

This is from the Bangkok Post

YouTube's director of marketing and global spokeswoman Julie Supan noted that YouTube also hosts scurrilous videos which attack US President George W. Bush. This is breathtakingly insulting. She seems oblivious to the difference between a monarch and a politician. Even more troubling, she doesn't appear to know or care that YouTube has many videos attacking Thai politicians including the current prime minister. No one has a problem with that.

The unfortunate yet repeated comparisons of the Thai monarchy and the US presidency by Ms Supan display a deep and endemic lack of knowledge about the world and its vast differences. But despite this cavalier dismissal of the Thai nation's and government's complaint, YouTube is far from the libertarian, say-anything service that Ms Supan implies. Pornography aside, the website routinely removes tasteless and political videos. Anti-Muslim videos are removed if any viewer complains, not just governments or religious bodies.

The Thai education system is a disaster, because most educated Thais don't seem to get that the President of the US is the head of state as well as the head of government.

King Bumibol is the head of state. George Bush is the head of state.

So, yes, it is the same thing. A head of state is a head of head state, regardless if s/he is a king or president.

Also, when King Bumibol endorsed an illegal military junta and abrogated the 1997 Constitution, he set himself up for attack by those who wish to live under a constitution rather than an ad hoc monarchical/military/bureaucratic system. Some people are pissed off and they are expressing themselves online.

Also, as Bangkok Pundit has pointed out here, Thais have no problems insulting and ridiculing the heads of state of other countries, and the Thai press does it frequently. This is a crime in Thailand, but only lese majeste for the Thai Royal Family is enforced.


Anonymous said...

But indeed, I agree with the note from Bangkok Post that Youtube does, so Post claims, remove videos flagged as inappropriate against muslims for example. SO indeed, why Youtube does not remove these Thai videos then if they are flagged? I do indeed see the similarities...

Anonymous said...

Good blogging Shark but I'm afraid you partially misread the entire scenario of this rage against the machine. Why do you think these people are right-wingers? 'Nationalism' in Thailand is very specific. It links across political shades. Sometimes the Thai lefties are even stauncher nationalists than right wing royalists. The problem about Thais- left, right, or centrist is that they all have xenophobia with a combination of distrusts in capitalism, market, globalisation, international community, trade exchange, and anything they see fit for being 'un-Thai'. Thais don't give a monkey's about how other people see themselves. When they look at Bhumibol, they find their sense of nationhood. Bhumibol gave them their identity. This is a reason why they can't afford to have anyone mocked or ridiculed him. Nationalism at deepest level of human psyche, I would say.

Anonymous said...

I agree Anon. The King is an icon because decades of brainwashing have made him so. Like the little clips shown at the cinema, at least 2 of which attempt to attribute magical powers of making rain and magic rice seeds. It is sometimes subtle and sometimes laughable, but *always* reveals how deeply insecure and immature the Thai is.

The Bangkok Sino-Thais keep the ethnic Thais poor and stupid solely so they can be exploited. Most Thai businesses would fail if they had to pay the same proportion of their turnover in wages as Western companies do. Thailand is a human factory for the benefit of the Sino-Thais and that (I am afraid) is all.

Of course the Thai identifies with the King. The Thai has no identity except te King and you can see the puffed up little buggers strutting down the road in their yellow shirts. It is just like I remember at school, the acolytes of the bullies would swagger arund, basking in the reflected glow of awe tht the bullies inspired. Same same. Even though HMK may not be a bully, I question his effectiveness. Thais say that he has guided the Nation and looked after his people for 60 years. Given the proportion of filthy rich and the proportion of dirt poor that still exist in the country, I would argue he hasnt done a spectacularly good job of developing the Thai nation. propaganda notwithstanding.

The adulation he gets is demeaning and sickening, and those who just love to abase themselves on their bellies before him provide eloquent demonstration of just how unworthy the Thais really feel about themselves. This is just a chance to express it.

hobby said...

The Bangkok Sino-Thais keep the ethnic Thais poor and stupid solely so they can be exploited. Most Thai businesses would fail if they had to pay the same proportion of their turnover in wages as Western companies do. Thailand is a human factory for the benefit of the Sino-Thais and that (I am afraid) is all.

And yet look what the majority did with their vote - What's the sense in electing another corrupt Sino-Thai, tax avoiding billionaire with designs on becoming the next icon.

In my opinion the continuing income disparity is in spite of the king's wishes, and the situation would be even worse if he was not trying to moderate the worst effects of rampant capitalism.
The king is not perfect, but I will take his vision of unity, communal work & sufficiency over the heartless individual greed alternative.

Fonzi said...

I have a favor to ask. I allow anonymous comments because I believe people should have it as a choice. But I'd like the anonymous to at least distinguish themselves. So please sign off with some sort of name that distinguishes who you are at the bottom of your comments.

As for the comments, I agree with the anonymous remarks number 2 and 3 to a certain extent.

I have made the same remarks about Thai nationalism.

There really is no "universal" left in Thailand. Most Thais are right-wing reactionaries--even if they have leftist economic views, and even if you scratch the surface of these Thai leftists, none of them actually believe that the poor should own or control Thailand's modes of production. These leftist intellectuals believe they should be the managing class (with all the benefits of the bourgeoisie) with the poor crawling on their hands and knees begging for their intellectual insight.

As with the Soviet Union, China and Vietnam, destroying capitalism didn't really uproot the old feudal structures. In Thailand, capitalism really hasn't revolutionized social relations that much.

There really is only one official political ideology that is tolerated in Thailand: right-wing royalist-nationalist.

When I say right-wing, in economic terms, it means nationalist capitalism, with imperial control/influence over the neighboring countries, because as you may have noticed, the Thai left is rarely critical of Thai economic imperialism of it own government and capitalist class in relations to Burma, Cambodia and Laos.

Thais get upset when anybody attacks their right-wing royalist nationalism because as you guys have pointed out, that is all they have. That is all they have because the Thai elite have brainwashed them into believing that is all they have. And if they don't believe this right wing bullshit, then the country will be destroyed.

Look at the hysterical comments of all these lunatics at The Nation, especially Thanong's latest piece.

Look at the king's comments from his remarks to the judges last night. His remarks are always cyptic. If you don't do as I say, the country will be destroyed.

I think Bumibol is considered sacred because every other institution in Thailand is rotten to the core. And the monarchy is the last pure thing that the Thais can hold onto that is pristine and unadulterated.

I think all these little outbursts of rebellion against the king lately demonstrate that some are tiring of the charade. The monarchy is not pure. Bumibol is not a God.

His barami is running out and he will kick the bucket soon, which makes the institution vulnerable to attack.

Thais are in panic mode, because they have not been prepared for the future, and they are not prepared because the king has no prepared them for a life without him and his mythology.

My personal belief is that death of the king might actually liberate the country from all the bullshit.

Instead of looking to the king for their own identity, Thais may have to look to themselves and do some soul searching for the first time in their lives.

Charles Edward Frith said...

The Youtube episode also highlights the hypocrisy of Google their owners who are perfectly capable of self censorship to position their search engine in the China market. It comes down to money where Thailand is a big player for the tourism dollar which gives Thais a distored view of their importance in the world hierarchy, but when it comes to the internet. It's just not an important S.E. Asian market. HK, Sing, Korea, Malaysia are worth a lot more to Google.

Why doesn't Thailand ban the Google search engine. Same company as Youtube.

Anonymous said...

Fonzi: I agree with your perceptions of what is coming when the King dies. Unfortunately Thailand may well melt down in the process of discovering who they really are. Yet I am contiually impressed by the difference between the xenphobic zealots in Bangkok and the hospitable, pleasant yet dirt poor ethnically Laotian Thais in the Issan. It is confusing for a mere foreigner so I may just follow the example of others and go home, never to return. And I will take a good few million with me.

I dont know, it seems very sad, but I do feel this place is becoming a hostile place in which to live.