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Lèse-majesté

Some time back, I learnt that insulting the monarchy in Thailand is a grave criminal offense. At the time, I was taking a quick look at the headlines on the BBC news website and my initial amusement turned into horror when I saw that the offender in question had been sentenced to a lengthy jail term. A little bit of digging revealed that the relevant law is called “Lèse-majesté” which is French for “harming majesty” or something like that and it is deadly serious over there.

The Thailand story came to mind when I first heard of Kakwenza’s arrest and the more I think about it, the more I question why on earth we pretend to be a democracy when a monarchy with Thailand’s rules would be much better. The truth, which practically all MK’s fans refuse to acknowledge – including some you’d otherwise assume to be enlightened enough to know – is that Kakwenza broke no law by saying (or rather typing) what he did about the General. Yes, the words he used were pretty offensive and they’re not the kind I’d personally ever use regardless of target. But it is not illegal to insult people by way of speech in this country. It’s as simple as that. As some tweeps succinctly put it, our prison population would outnumber the free if insults were a legitimate reason to lock people up. But let’s not kid ourselves – chances are even the security people that abducted him know what he did only qualifies to be a crime because of the person who was offended. If you – ordinary you reading this – reported someone to those same officers for saying the same or worse about you, they’d probably think you were crazy. You’d be lucky not to be locked up instead of the person you were reporting.

This then raises the question – if insults are only a crime when they target the First Family, why not codify it in the law officially? The ruling party has a handy majority which should make this a breeze (POMA style). At least, with our own Lèse-majesté laws, such arrests would be “justified”. But why stop there? Just go the whole hog and declare the Presidency a monarchy. That way, we wouldn’t even have to do much editing as we copy/paste Thailand’s Criminal Code Section 112.

And I’m not jesting by the way. The only reason Kakwenza was commenting on the General in the first place is because a cross-section of tweeps (some real, others bots) is preoccupied with promoting him as a worthy successor to his dad. They use terms like “generational leader” (whatever that means) and point to his rapid rise through the ranks as evidence that he would fit in his dad’s boots comfortably. Funnily enough, others present the same meteoric rise as proof of nepotism, corruption and all those other ‘isms. That is beside the point though, the point being that declaring the president king and turning the whole thing into a monarchy would save us all the wogo-seeking incessant promotion. It would be great for the country too – no more elections which bring about death and misery to many (remember November 2020?) with no realistic chance of change at the top. And a monarchy would remove the need for the patronage driven bloated parliament and cabinet allowing His Majesty to focus on the actual important aspects of running the kingdom other than retaining power. Who wouldn’t want that? Other than the wogo-seekers…