Instead, say: "I really think the King of Thailand is doing a good job. I really think he cares about his people."
And then pat your little rubber-boned prepubescent playmate on his still-closing fontanelle and cook up, because if you don't -- if you instead imply that things are seriously fucked up in Siam -- you may find yourself facing fifteen years in prison like Australian novelist Harry Nicolaides.
In 2005, while teaching English in Bangkok, Nicolaides wrote a novel called "Verisimilitude," which was very short and mostly a failure. He self-published it and printed up fifty copies, out of which he sold seven. However, one of the seven copies was read by the police, and the novel unfortunately contained the following paragraph:
"From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The Crown Prince had many wives "major and minor" with a coterie of concubines for entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed indiscretion. He subsequently remarried with another woman and fathered another child. It was rumoured that if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever."
The paragraph was deemed offensive according to Thailand's "les majeste" laws and Nicolaides was arrested while trying to board a plane late last year. Thailand's laws recommend a healthy decade-and-a-half prison term for any person who "defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the regent."
As a result of Nicolaides' incarceration, humiliation, and censorship, now we KNOW that the Crown Prince has been exiling his bastards and building secret families in the shadows to keep his seed bouncing around -- hard for his enemies to burn at the roots and salt. We KNOW the Crown Prince is insecure, vindictive, and cruel.
According to the New York Times, Nicolaides has spent the past five months awaiting trial in a Thailand prison, surrounded by murderers, rapists, and (presumably) other amateur novelists. On Monday, Nicolaides pled guilty at his trial and had his sentence reduced to three years for his crime. The Thai government sees this as a fair compromise.
From the London Times:
"He was found guilty under criminal law article 112 and the court has sentenced him to six years, but due to his confession, which is beneficial to the case, the sentence is reduced to three years," a judge told the court.
Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit and shackled at the ankles, Nicolaides earlier choked back tears as he described his jail time as like being in Alice in Wonderland.
"This is an Alice in Wonderland experience. I really believe that I am going to wake up and all of you will be gone," Nicolaides told reporters.
"I would like to apologize. This can't be real. It feels like a bad dream.
"I respect the king of Thailand," he added. "I was aware there were obscure laws (about the monarchy) but I didn't think they would apply to me."
During his time in jail he said he had endured "unspeakable suffering", but would not elaborate.
I'll go ahead and elaborate. In order to maximize resources -- in order to both coerce a confession from Nicolaides and to placate some of the more violent sexual criminals that comprise the population of a third-world detention facility -- the Thai government has tossed Nicolaides into a stone dungeon where he has been raped and beaten so hard and so often that he has forgotten what it means to dream and to prefer. There has been more Thai semen dripping out of his asshole every night than from between the bamboo slats of the King's personal torture-brothel, an elevated bamboo shack renowned for the revolving population of underage Thai prostitutes who are forced to perform sexual acts on livestock for the benefit of the King's guests: visiting businessmen, congressional representatives, musicians, and chess geniuses.
Fiction writers take note: the governments of Thailand and Australia have ruined Nicolaides' life because he wrote one true paragraph, the kind of thing that we take for granted here in America and which we evidently won't defend elsewhere, because we don't want to cause a big fuss.
Hell, in America we can LIE about our leaders if we want. We can practice verisimilitude with impunity.
A lengthy profile on Nicolaides at "The Age" reveals that Nicolaides had been trying to break into fiction for years, but found it difficult as both an expatriate and a full-time teacher. His first book was a discontinuous narrative centered around the adventures of a hotel bellhop, which he wrote while on the job. I bet he didn't think those would be the days he would remember with fondness: wearing a stupid hat and carrying wealthy people's luggage.
To keep some perspective, the last Westerner to be jailed for breaking Thailand's "les majeste" laws was Swiss citizen Oliver Jufer in 2007. Jufer got so pissed that no one would sell him beer on the King's birthday that he went all around town shitting on the King's portrait and defacing it with markers. He was arrested and sentenced to 75 years, but he was instantly pardoned.
In other news, the 81-year-old King of Thailand sent a nice letter to President Obama yesterday as a result of Obama's coronation:
"The message from the Thai King expressed his goodwill to Obama on his commencement of the U.S. presidency, and wished Obama to have success and happiness for the benefits of the people and the country.
The King also expressed confidence that the already close relationship and cooperation between Thailand and the U.S. and both people will be strengthened.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also delivered his congratulations to Obama, on behalf of the Thai government and the people of Thailand.
The message stated that, "I believe that, under your strong and energetic leadership, the United States will overcome the many daunting challenges ahead and bring about positive changes to the world community at large. Thailand as a long time ally stands ready to continue working closely with the United States."
Hey Thailand, isn't your whole bullshit economy based on Western tourism? How are you going to turn this into a commercial? Next time you need foreign aid because your resorts are destroyed by a routine tsunami, are you really going to hit Australian liberals up for cash?
Until Nicolaides is released, the Fiction Circus will be hosting his novel, where you will be able to read it for free of charge:
"Verisimilitude," by Harry Nicolaides
Nicolaides is not being punished for a cultural misunderstanding or a breach of etiquette. The Thai government specifically targeted Nicolaides, dragged him to prison, and have made an example out of him because he is a foreigner with whom no one will sympathize. They have done this in order to centralize power as a result of the precarious position of the monarchy: the old king is about to die and the new king fears his people.
Instead, the new king should fear the power of world opinion. He should fear keyboards, ink, and the fiction writers who are still free.
Posted by miracle on Wed, 21 Jan 2009 16:07:00 -0500 -- permanent link