AP - Movies in Thailand are always preceded by an on-screen patriotic anthem honoring King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a ritual that sees viewers spring to their feet.
It's a gesture most Thais don't think twice about, but activist Chotisak Onsoong says it violates his freedom of choice — and he says he's willing to risk a 15-year jail term to make his point.
Prosecutions, however, are relatively rare — usually a handful a year — not surprising in a country where the 80-year-old king is almost universally revered as a selfless and hardworking benefactor of the people.
Chotisak's case is apparently the first meant as an explicit challenge to the lese majeste law. Formerly a student activist, the 27-year-old continued his political activities by joining an antimilitary group after a 2006 coup deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Chotisak says all he is concerned about now is freedom of choice.
"Thai society tells everyone in the world that this is a democratic society," he told The Associated Press. "I think everyone in Thailand should respect differences."
RLCC Comment: Well, those who have complained here in the U.S. about people not wearing flag lapel-pins and such might think the young man should spend 15 years in prison for being unpatriotic. Perhaps they think that only Americans ought to be patriotic, or perhaps they think Americans should have to serve a prison term for not wearing a flag pin.
Which would be un-American, not wearing the pin or thinking people should go to prison for not wearing a pin?
The Thai activist is being a better American in spirit than the pin-fanatics in America.
Yahoo! News: Asia News, April 25, 2008, 12:31pm, obtained via:
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And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)