Monday, June 11, 2007

Open letter to my hero of censorship

Dear Sitthichai, head of Thailand's Ministry of Information Technology

I write to you today to offer my most sincere thanks to you and your esteemed team at the MICT and my huge gratitude for your services to my family and the entire nation.

I saw in yesterday's Nation newspaper that some sad, misguided young people actually held a demonstration at your office concerning the nature of your work. These people are clearly uneducated and ungrateful of your selfless deeds for Thailand.

After all, when you took over the post of MICT chief a couple of years ago, you did so for the good of all people. OK , so you weren't actually chosen by the people, you were chosen by the men who took power with tanks and guns, but hey, you knew that you could do the job right? Popular democracy is over rated anyway.

See, that's the problem with people nowadays, they aren't very good at making decisions for themselves, they are just so damn busy trying to get by on minimum wages (Thank goodness you earn at least a thousand times more than that, you need to eat to keep up your good work!) and they sometimes really don't know what's for the best. People like that need a little guidance in their thoughts and moral decisiveness.

And that's where you come in. As soon as your were appointed you followed in the work of your predecessor and very clearly laid out your policy: you would censor sites that were either not suitable for the family, insulting to Thailand or "a threat to national security".

Now as a family man myself, your first target means a lot to me. I'm truly grateful that you have taken the burden from me - a responsible father - and decided on my behalf what it is that my son (and therefore his father too) is allowed to see on the internet.

That's something these ungrateful protesters can't comprehend - can't they see that you and your team of five unelected colleagues are that selfless that you have taken away the pressure and pain of personal choice from every parent in Thailand and placed it onto your own shoulders?

And are they truly that short sighted that they don't fathom all the time they would have spent communicating with their siblings, they can now spend watching soap operas on any of the five TV channels? (Each and every one owned by your buddies in the army and therefore also the government)

You replace inconveniences like freedom of speech and thought with the blessing of censorship and your chosen form of (non) reality and how do we thank you? With protests!!! You bestow upon us this gift of wholesome moral purity from above and how do we respond? With complaints!!!! I feel so ashamed.

Those others just don't follow your master plan. Only the strongest minds can encompass your ideals to wash the minds of Thai people by letting them know that there are NO true criticisms of Thailand or the junta! There are NO Thai people who take pictures of themselves naked! These things only exist in foreign countries! That's why all foreign criticisms are hypocritical! You said so yourself. Your verisimilitude is humbling to lesser mortals such as me.

Those common people clearly don't appreciate your work rate either. Web statistics say you gentlemen now block over seventeen thousand web sites and that number increases by ninety a month. Now that's at least three new sites a day. You sure must spend a lot of time examining these sites and deciding if they should be banned. I wager you donate countless hours of your time meticulously examining graphical images. After all, you said yourself that pornography accounts for many of the sites you expurgate from view.

It must be so strenuous for your nearly all male team to spend so much perusing sickening sites with naked women, all in the name of national interest. I bet you have to take a lot of bathroom breaks just to muster the will to carry on. I'm certain none of those anti - MICT parasites stopped to mull over your ordeal before they proceeded on their silly protest motion.

But my admiration doesn't stop there. Not only am I in awe of your actions, I am subjugated by your words. Each time you speak, my mind is filled by bewilderment at your thoughts and difference. Just two months ago you explained that your ministry was now only blocking about "sixteen sites" and you were "more democratic than the previous administration even though we are unelected".

Sir, I sat down and I thought, and thought and thought. Yet try as I might, my tiny cerebellum could not muster an answer to such a simple question: If you are blocking more websites than the last MICT - which you are - then how could you be more democratic? I strained to apprehend your deeper meaning, but I couldn't. Just as I was beginning to forgive my own insolence, another question hit me : If you are blocking only ninety sites a month, why has the number of blocked sites increased by about ten thousand since May 2006?

I simply can't answer these questions, but that's why I'm not in your place. I am a fool, a fool who is fortunate to have you here to police my thoughts. After all, who am I to question the MICT? I'm so stupid, I still enjoy web surfing.

You meanwhile, have better things to do. You told The Nation that you feel the internet "Is not an exciting tool" and you only "check e-mails" and nothing more. It's only right that someone with such high ideals that they have no interest in the web should be responsible for monitoring and making decision for fifty million plus people who love to use it.

But those fifty million people need safety. We all need to feel safe and no respectable group working for the country would think any other way. That's why your heroic squad have taken the time to block any sites which "threaten national security". I must confess I wasn't exactly sure what this phrase meant, but luckily the papers were generous enough to report on MICT activities so I managed to learn a little. The MICT defines a "threat to national security" as a university web forum, a blog , a web site for parties that try to take power via free elections , people's groups , authors and of course Google Youtube!

It's yet another example of the difference in our greatness. There I was, with my public school education, thinking that 'threats to national security' meant agenda such as North Korea, nuclear armaments and global warming. And yet all this time the real danger to the mighty military government was a bunch of bespectacled university geeks, a writer with a pen and a few computer nerd bloggers! In other words, anyone so damn petty they had the nerve to complain that you guys took power by force and not through elections! (Honestly, some people just look for things to complain about don't they?)


Forgive my mistake and please be assured it will never happen again, I now understand that a full list of "threats to national security" should be declared at your discretion only. Wretches such as I will only waste it.


Speaking of waste, I saw your comments at a computer exhibition recently where you stated that "Foreign technology simply takes money away from Thais. To be truly proud, we should build computers ourselves".

I was shocked to hear this. So shocked in fact I threw out every foreign object in my house. My TV (Taiwanese) , my PS2 (Japanese) , my fridge (Korean) , my car (bloody Japs again!) , all the fruit in my fridge (except the pineapples, they grow here right?) , my cell phone (Where the hell are Nokia from anyway?) and pretty much everything else in the house except the noodles! Hell, once I'm done typing this I'll throw my laptop away! If it ain't built in Thailand we should be ashamed to use it! Thank god your logic is here to help your countrymen progress.

I know you are a busy man Mr Sittichai - there's always some evil web site showing naked Thai women that you need to carefully examine to save your country - but I want to ask you one humble favour.

You see, I'm English and my wife is Thai Chinese (you know, that mixed race bunch that control most of the rich business sector) and we have a child.

Henceforth, my son is half English. Have you been to England? That's a big Thai community out there, maybe you remember a sizeable group of them protesting outside the Thai embassy about you guys after the coup?

I know we're good friends and all. We gave you David Beckham and Harry Potter and you gave us some of the greatest food and holiday spots in the world. We live and play together in good and positive spirit. But still some things are just different.

England has some crazy ideas. For one, there's little censorship because the government actually believes people should think for themselves. They cite some nonsense statistics showing that critical thinking is mutual to academic development and progress and, consequently, a nation's well being. Governments are so weak that they actually get punished for corruption and the people are so stubborn and cynical, they don't accept blatant lies from those in power. The army is so backwards it believes all the same nonsense about national security as I did (You remember, right? terrorists, bombs and missiles and stuff) and stays out of politics.

In short, English people don't like being told what the fuck they can and can't do or think. They are so primitive, I'm absolutely certain if you guys tried to do in England what you did here, every English citizen would go outside, find a soldier and shove his gun so far up his backside he'd be spitting bullets for a year. That's just the way we are.

And that's my fear. My son is both English and Thai. He has both passports, both citizenships, both languages and both mindsets. He's not alone of course. So many inter marriages these days means we have a whole little platoon of these hybrids!

Now think about that fact for a minute, isn't that scary? These kids are all Thai, they love Thailand and its people, but they also have that cynical western streak that says "Who are you to tell me what to think?!".

And that brings me to my dream, or should I say my nightmare? See, I have this vision that my son will grow up to love Thailand but will learn something from me about politicians , oppressors, liars, crooks and cheats. I harbour this deep fear that he'll become educated in a free thinking, critical culture and then return to Thailand to begin his twisted ideas of democracy, progress, freedom of speech and liberty. And what then would become of our saviours? Our mental mentors and our thought control specialists like you?

What if they held you all responsible for what you've done? What if my son was one of those who stood up and marched against you guys - regardless of how hard you oppressed their right to vote and how much blood you shed like you did in 1992 ?

What if he was one of those who told you to stick your bullshit,pusillanimous, hypocritical, dishonest , pedantic , oppressive, cowardly, undemocratic , patronising , fake , duplicitous, self important , discriminatory , outmoded , medieval , dictatorial, totalitarian , arrogant , smug , deceitful , insulting , libellous censorship up your fat, ugly, middle aged arses?

What would become of the nation's personal saviours then? We'd be lost in a sea of young, modern - thinking Thais and half Thais working in a progressive political environment. And if I do my job as badly as I fear, my son would be so dumb he would even resist awarding himself all the dubious perks and directorships that you guys did! He'd be content to put that money towards those working class peasants who caused you all these headaches in the first place!!!!!

So I feel I must ask you - please keep up the censorship. I fear what might happen otherwise, or heaven forbid............ maybe it will happen regardless?

So for one last time Mr Sittichair of MICT, ignore those whining ungrateful morons on the streets. You have done a great job by selflessly taking the burden of logic, decision and critical thinking away from over fifty million people.

From one Buddhist to another - may you get everything you deserve for your actions.

Yours sincerely,

A lesser mind

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand











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6 comments:

hobby said...

Personally, I would like to see more governments block pornography, particularly anything hardcore - preferably by putting the onus on the ISP to block it with hefty penalties to ensure compliance.

I cannot think of any redeeming factors associated with pornography and am sure the world would be a better place without it.

In case you were wondering:
I am male, heterosexual, not religious and I have viewed pornography.

As for freedom of speech - I agree in principle but it also comes with responsibilities which often seem to be overlooked - hence the need for strong vilification laws.

Red and White said...

Some good points hobby. I'm not against all censorship, just the hypocritical form.

With the issue of pornography, I agree that extreme forms should be banned because they usually involve acts which are clearly illegal and immoral (eg bestiality).

However, the MICT simply bans pornography involving Thais. All other forms - as far as I'm aware - are still out there to see! The message from MICT seems to be "Thais don't do any naughty things but foreigners do" which is ludicrous in definition and motivation.

I also agree freedom of speech comes with responsibility, but that responsibility is for everyone. It is not for a group of arrogant middle aged men chosen by a coup and who seem utterly unaccountable for their actions. Censorship and vilification laws are opposites.

hobby said...

I agree about the hypocrisy.

Say No To Censorship said...

To live in a truly free and open-minded society, shouldn't all forms of censorship be banned?

Banning extreme forms of pornography sounds logical, but let's not forget though that some countries consider wearing a bathing suit or kissing in public pornographic.

Often, it's in these countries with very strict rules that the demand for illegal material is high (not just sex, but sometimes alcohol).

Shouldn't mature adult be allowed to choose for themselves what they want to read and look at? Why not put more effort into preventing children from viewing inappropiate materials? I don't need a cybernanny for myself!

Finally, I have the impression that censorship isn't done for the good of all people, but to exercise power and crush opposing opinions.

hobby said...

Banning extreme forms of pornography sounds logical, but let's not forget though that some countries consider wearing a bathing suit or kissing in public pornographic.

That's a cop out - It's perverse to allow sicko porn just because you cannot agree on a definition.

Ben said...

I think the point was that the definition of what exactly perverse is varies. How is having one person define what perverse is for everyone else be different from our current situation?

Having said that I agree that some content should be censored, but the mechanics of exactly what and how elude me.