FACTorial: กูไม่รักพ่อ กูเหี้ยมะ? So what?

June 10, 2012

I may have be called ‘tactless’ in the past for my own strong opinions but I shall attempt to mediate between FACT signer Pravit and FACT signer Andrew.

When I posted Pravit’s article about Andrew based on Twitter exchanges, Andrew instantly commented that my statement, “More censorship…for morons” was directed at him. So, if I may say so, Andrew is a little hypersensitive. Pravit regularly ignores some of my actions in extremis but we remain friends and colleagues.

FACT has always called for the use of existing laws within their precise legal definitions to deal with various offences rather than the present system which is to censor without regard to law.

Laws in any democratic rule of law exist by virtue of precise definitiion. The L-M law, Article 112 of the Criminal Code, is a perfect example. To be guilty of L-M, an accused must have threatened, insulted or defamed the monarch: nothing more, nothing less. And yet we see ludicrous trials resulting in long prison sentences when none of these conditions had been met.

There’s freedom of expression and then there’s real life. Threats of murder, rape, beheading (or incitement to the same) are illegal in any rule of law—they are criminal acts. They relate to the sense of personal safety which civilisation allows us to feel and considers some ‘lone gunman’ might actually follow through on these threats.

Such statements are not protected speech nor do they fall under anyone’s definition of freedom of expression. To think otherwise would mean our society would degenerate into chaos and likely become an armed camp as a means of ensuring our personal protection.

Equally unprotected speech, in FACT’s opinion, are campaigns of vilification (I could use the term “hate speech” but that’s such a loaded concept) which result in the loss of one’s good reputation (Amphon, Chiranuch), livelihood (Jitra) or education (Kanthoop).

Manager is absolutely guilty of all of these against these folks and many, many others. However, the ordinary Thais Manager attacks are hardly in any position of time and finances to take Manager to court for defamation. Frankly, I’m certain there must have been such instances from the Red side but none leap to mind perhaps because of the decentralisation of the Reds with none of the power or money of Manager’s Sondhi.

At root of all of these is the basic concept of tolerance for the views of others. Censorship of genuine freedom of expression of viewpoints and opinions (not used for attacking anyone) has resulted in a kind of hypersensitivity where commentary is considered insult. For example, Pravit calling Andrew a foreigner (undeniable) seems to have made Andrew crazy. Then Andrew calls Pravit privileged. So effing what? These are not insults, boys, simmer down.

We’re not burn victims here! Grow a skin. Suck it up and shut up! So what?

Photos of Redshirt corpses with incendiary comments of Facebook obviously violate Facebook’s terms of service. So complain to Facebook don’t try to get MICT to block the offensive page.

I have read and re-read Pravit’s article to see if I’d missed something. I simply can’t see how he’s defending Manager identifying this young woman; surely it can be easily construed as an invitation to violence against her as evidenced in the comments to this article. (It remains to be seen who will be charged with L-M for posting Orm’s picture with her sign!)

However, journalist Pravit thinks it would be wrong to shut down Manager on the basis of ‘hate speech’. FACT concurs—censorship is not the answer. How many Red magazines, TV stations, community radio stations were shut down? Somyot is a political prisoner exactly because of censorship of his magazine. The actions we take against others are the actions can be used against us.

Pravit sensibily suggests warning and censure of Manager from governing organisations and also that the young woman should consider filing a complaint. (I can’t imagine she’d get much legal satisfaction and might well earn herself a L-M charge.) I strongly disagree with Pravit, however, that the young woman is guilty of anything other than her Constitutionally-protected freedom of expression. Certainly the views on her sign are in no way extreme. So she doesn’t love the King…so what?

I get the sense Pravit is mentioning canine pedigree as humour; there is no indication he felt insulted. More than once I myself have felt pity for those who insult me because…well, because they’re so damned stupid!

Thinking people need to take care of one another, not sow needless divisions between us. I think Andrew may not have carefully considered what Pravit was saying before he tweeted. He may be have blinded to open-mindedness for what exactly Pravit was saying/  Andrew, this is also evidenced in your follow-up article in which you question Pravit’s background and connections. It’s quite simply amazing the conservative Nation didn’t sack him long ago! (Maybe he has their secrets!)

I have no such respect or connections despite long residence and obvious passion for Thailand. I express my opinions without fear. I have certainly been insulted and threatened from time to time. So what? (Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke!)

When we founded FACT in 2006, the int’l freedom of expression NGO, Article XIX, refused to join our initiative because our position was, and is, NO CENSORSHIP! NO COMPROMISE! They wanted our position changed to advocate censoring hate speech. There’s a line between freedom of expression and incitement to violence. Holocaust-denial is crazy, for sure, but it’s protected speech.

Andrew quite correctly states that the UK protects public debate “free from threat and intimidation” by broadcast and press regulations which sanctions include fines and the recension of broadcasting licences. This method starts out by a warning shot across the bows of media getting too aggressive not by outright censorship. I think Pravit would agree this is a sensible and egalitarian approach.

I intend to read The Media and the Rwanda Genocide for further insights; it is available for free on Google Books. But we’re not Rwanda here (machetes and rape hardly fit anyone’s definition of free speech) but we’d better mitigate censorship in Thailand if we don’t want to be the next Burma.

We should be mature enough to use laws not censorship. Existing laws are in place to combat defamation, threats and intimidation. Should we need broadcasting and press laws as in the UK, then the NBTC is the proper forum for advocacy.

We have posted both Andrew and Pravit frequently to FACTsite. The only reason I’m writing here is because I respect both of them. We need more of their thoughtful opinions. We need solidarity not division among the few progressives not silenced by fear. So…make it up, boys, and play nice!

CJ Hinke

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

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