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Americans revel in their ability to mock powerful figures, both living and historic. But we don’t grant the status of divinity to our elected executive leaders (well, most of us, anyway). Who doesn’t like a good James “Doughface” Buchanan joke? But Thailand loves King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Or else.
Thanks to lese majest laws, disrespecting the man is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. And a video posted to YouTube disrespecting the man? The Thai government determined this week such an act justifies banning the entirety of the site.
This is nothing new — India also banned YouTube after discovering clips which some felt cast Gandhi in a bad light, Turkey got mad about videos depicting Ataturk. Brazil and Japan have had their issues as well — funny by comparison, Brazil was pissed about a sex tape depicting a supermodel. In just about all the cases, the countries stopped banning YouTube soon enough, once they felt their demands were addressed.
Thai Communications Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom told the BBC that YouTube would be reinstated after the video was removed, so presumably that will happen soon enough.