Posted April 4, 2007 4:46 pm by

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Yep, they’re at it again: user posts something offensive to country on YouTube, country blocks YouTube. First it was Brazil protecting beloved soccer star Ronaldo, then Turkey in a conniption over insults aimed at its founders. Now Thailand is upset because a video insulted their king. As Search Engine Land quoted Mail & Guardian:

The most offensive to Thai Buddhists was the juxtaposition of a pair of woman’s feet, the lowest part of the body, above his head, the highest part of the body.

Uh. . . okay. I’m not sure how to deal with this, but according to the Thai Communications Minister, Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom, YouTube is:

Sitthichai said YouTube had told Thai officials it did not find the clip offensive, so it turned down the request to remove it.

I’m not sure which I should take bets on: the next country to block YouTube or how long it will be before Thailand unblocks it.

Let’s go for the next country to block YouTube. Whoever guesses right will get something from my house that I don’t want anymore a lovely prize.

  • Well i bet in another asian country. Must we say the name of the country or the continent is enought? 🙂

  • I can’t believe this.. I think its embarrassing for a country to block a site.. especially a site that promotes freedom of speech.

  • Thai people love their King.

    It may seem strange to us but the people adore their King, and are grateful for his steady guiding hand through several decades.

    This is not an issue about freedom of speech. It is about respect. Imagine this is your Father, how will you feel if insulting material is posted online? This is how Thais feel. Most Thais would think it appropriate to block a site that hosted offensive material, regardless of their views on freedom of speech.

    Who is to blame if a media channel cannot be bothered to learn and understand about what certain cultures consider insulting and offensive?

  • I suppose it’s the age-old question of censorship at play again. It people find something offensive, they’re perfectly free to avoid that material.

    The question is, are the Thai people happy that their access to YouTube material, and potentially all the other streaming media sites has been cut off?

    My bets are on Thailand lifting the restriction …

    You cannot stifle something as subversive as the Internet just by blocking one site.

  • Jordan McCollum

    And is it even possible to block everything that one culture deems offensive? There won’t be much left on YouTube at all.

    (Imagining my father as a clown… Can he be Pagliacci? I think he’d like that.)

  • Maybe the point is being missed. Has technology not yet caught up with the NEED to be able to be able to accomodate the sensitivities of certain cultures, even if the MINDSET of YouTube has made that jump (which apparently it has not)?

    If this was a video clip that was outrageously insulting to Mohammed and an Islamic country officially asked for it to be withdrawn, the western world would think YouTube/Google idiotically insensitive not to respond. Thais are Buddhists and wont be burning flags and effigies on the streets over this, but does that mean that their sensitives are less important? Or that YouTube has less need to understand and take action?

  • Jordan McCollum

    I think the point is being missed. I have seen a screenshot from the video since the last time I commented on this, and I agree that it had the potential of being offensive to some people.

    My religious subculture finds a lot of things on YouTube and the Internet at large offensive. Would I like that material removed? Yes. Would I be willing to have YouTube blocked to accomplish that? Perhaps.

    On the other hand, in the United States political speech (as this Thai video could be construed to be) is constitutionally protected. Look out for the EFF.

  • Sorry. This is not about politics.

    It is about respect for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is revered in Thailand and acknowledged around the world for his exemplary life and guidance of his country.

    Also, I would not call nation of 60 million people a ‘subculture’.

  • Please, don’t turn this discussion in a racist issue. No one here are saying that Thailand is an inferior race, no one here is “hitler”, at least i think not. It’s just a question of words, and like the video, words can get the wrong direction, it depends on the view of the reader.

    For me everything should be free and without too many restrictions, but i agree that some persons abuse the freedom that they’ve.

  • Jordan McCollum

    And were YouTube governed by Thai law, I would readily agree. However, YouTube is owned by a US company, registered in the US and operated in the US. Despite the fact that, like just about every other website, it is accessible from Thailand, it isn’t governed by Thai standards or law. If the member that uploaded the video was from or in Thailand, then s/he can face the legal reprecussions in Thailand. YouTube doesn’t actively monitor the videos its users upload and isn’t responsible for what people say in those videos.

    Political speech doesn’t mean partisan speech. How would we react if this were President Bush demanding that the site be shut down? How many videos on there insult him?

    At no point did I imply that Thailand was a subculture. I was making an example, not an analogy, of my own subculture, which has 13 million members worldwide.

    It isn’t about respect for the king of Thailand, his character or anything even close to that. It’s about holding YouTube accountable for content that it didn’t create and doesn’t monitor. Please be aware that YouTube is actively working with Thailand.

    What are you trying to prove here by debating a moot issue and a closed case?

  • “What are you trying to prove here by debating a moot issue…?” Great choice of words. Did you know moot also means debate/discussion and has the same ancient root as meeting or assembly?

    I have nothing to prove, just enjoying debating a moot point. 😉

    re Political: the Thai King is apolicial. As the monarch he is generally not involved in politics. Hence my statement that this is not about politics. (Not sure where the partisan thing came from?) Mocking satire and outright lambasting of political figures is healthy and fun! There is plenty of enjoyable material about Bush, as there is about the Thai government and former premier Taksin.

    re YouTube accountable: they don’t need to monitor, this was brought to their attention. They refused to take down the material. The creator did, voluntarily, which demonstrates a humanity that a US corporation was unable to at the time. Yep, I certainly believe that corporations should be accountable to some degree for their actions either direct or indirect, even if those actions cross national boundaries and especially if they cross cultural boundaries. Don’t you agree? It’s a moral thing, freedom of speech (of which I am a devout supporter) comes second to decency and respect for others in my book.

    re Respect for the King of Thailand not being the point: um, … doh!



  • Jordan McCollum

    I have a degree in Linguistics, so I do find etymologies interesting. Did you know that ‘political’ means “Of, relating to, or dealing with the structure or affairs of government”? I assume that the king is part of the constitutional monarchy in Thailand, figurehead though he may be. I think you’re confusing the popular definition of politics with what is more precisely defined as ‘partisanship.’

    I agree that corporations have to be responsible for their own actions. YouTube didn’t make the video. Perhaps you missed today’s story on YouTube working with Thai authorities.

    You said: “re Respect for the King of Thailand not being the point: um, … doh!”

    But earlier you said:
    “It is about respect for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej…”

  • *Sigh*. I refer to my original comment, the purpose of which was to explain things from a Thai perspective. The typical Thai has no understanding of the phrase ‘constitutional monarchy’. The King is the King. He is not part of the partisan and sordid world of politics. Thais love their King and an video insulting him is not political speech to a Thai, it is just downright offensive. There are no word games here, my meaning is clear.

    I saw the story about YouTube/Google working with the Thais. It’s very pertinent to the point I raised about technology catching up with the need to accomodate cultural sensitivities. The story is still unfolding so I was a bit surprised to see your comment about the case being closed.

    HEY! I’m really impressed about your degree in linguistics! Did you get as far as the word ‘irony’?

    “re Respect for the King of Thailand not being the point: um, … doh!” *he wrote, trying to remember what it was that started the whole thing.. oh yes, it was Respect for the King*

  • Jordan McCollum

    The simple fact of the matter is that it is just not possible to censor absolutely everything that one culture, nation, group or person find(s) offensive. Where would we stop?

    But this one stops here. Please see our comment policy.