Friday, November 24, 2006


When My American friend from 60 years ago visited Bangkok a while ago he was surprised when I told him about the censoring of TV programming. There did seem to be a certain dichotomy since Bangkok is sometimes called the sex capital of the world. The Thai government definitely has a split personality in that regard. The bars, clubs and massage parlors are generally ignored since, they reason, these are for the tourists and bring in huge amounts of international currency. On the other hand, they further reason, TV is for the Thai population and the morality must be policed.

I have written in previous posts how they edit all nudity, tobacco smoking, and guns firing into people. Well recently the censorship got more severe. A section of a Jerry Lewis movie, The Bellboy, was cut out completely. In the picture, a lady came on stage to do some kind of an act. The screen went black. The word, Censored appeared in large letters. And then the movie went on to the next scene. Wow. A Jerry Lewis movie? I thought his stuff was mostly for kids.

Now I learn the Thai censors are busy on the internet. There was an editorial in today’s Bangkok Post. I seldom agree with those people but this time they seem to have everything in proper focus.

Here is part of what they write:

The Thaksin Shinawatra government occasionally tried to turn censorship into virtue by claiming it was all done on behalf of children. This is the familiar claim of all censors of course _ that they selflessly protect victims. But predictably, internet censorship under Mr Thaksin immediately turned from an anti-pornography crusade into a political act.

Meanwhile, internet news sites now show Thailand as just slightly better than Burma or China at allowing net access by citizens _ and far below the openness of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Before the Police Bureau on High Tech Crime stopped public reports earlier this month, it bragged it had blacklisted 34,437 websites. Of these ''illicit websites'' filtered since 2002, the police themselves said just 60% were pornographic. Nearly 4,000 were ordered closed by police because they allegedly violated national security. This, of course, is a well-known accusation and dodge by Thai censors. It is a carryover catchall, used to shutter newspapers and imprison innocent people decades before the internet came into existence.

This stuff was all news to me. I have to congratulate The Bangkok Post for pointing this out and taking a stand.

Good for them.

You can read the entire editorial *HERE*.

IN ADDITION: (Almost entirely off subject but interesting) In doing a little bit of reading for this post I came across this gem:

Not that Jerrymania was strictly a French thing. Lewis was voted director of the year three times in France, but he won the same honor in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands.


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