back to article Thai King video wag pulls YouTube clip

The creator of a 44 second skit on Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, which yesterday prompted Thailand to block YouTube, has voluntarily removed the video, Reuters reports. The offending vid outraged Thai Buddhists principally because of "the juxtaposition of a pair of woman's feet, the lowest part of the body, above his [Adulyadej …

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Re: Thai King video wag pulls YouTube clip'

It's good that the offending video clip was finally pulled. As an American living in Thailand I can tell you that all Thais love their king dearly and are extremely offended by any disrespect to him or his likeness. This issue is so important to Thai culture that Thai law (lèse majesté) forbids disrespecting the king, or any of the royal family.

It seems the only people that commit these acts are foreigners that haven't got a clue. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is currently the longest reigning monarch in the world, having just celebrated his 60th anniversary on the throne. To say that he is revered by the Thais is like saying Bill Gates is wealthy; quite the understatement.

In Thai culture the head is the most sacred part of the body as it is the highest. Since the feet are obviously the lowest it follows that they are the least sacred. To display someone's feet above the head of the king is the ultimate insult to the king and to all of the Thai people.

Also, right or wrong, Thai culture is a patriarchy. The fact that the feet depicted were those of a female adds severity to the insult, in the eyes of the Thais. This is not a minor infraction. If the person posting this video happened to be caught in Thailand, he or she would face at least 15 to 20 years in prison. Of course, that is assuming that the offender survives the term since not only the prison guards, but also the other Thai inmates might not roll out the red carpet treatment on this one.

What is really sad is that corporate America, and unfortunately most Americans, have their heads up their asses when it comes to basic knowledge of other countries and respective cultures. It's obvious to everyone in the world, except most Americans who don't travel abroad, that under the Bush administration the U.S. doesn't play well with others. I guess it's natural for corporate America to follow suit like a bull in a China shop.

For the Google/YouTube spokesman to make the feeble comparison that posting unflattering videos of a complete idiot like George Bush somehow makes it OK to ridicule another culture's beloved leader without taking the time to research the seriousness of the cultural taboo, is extremely alarming. Hopefully this might be a small setback in Google's plan for world domination.

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Ok. so Tialand is sensitive about...

people mocking their monarchy, I can understand that, though inthe described case, I'm pretty sure that any 12 year old could come up with a MUCH more offensive statement.

Can they understand that I am greatly offended by censorship, performed by any government? I think the world has a lot more people that support free speech and human rights than it has those that are offended by feet being higher than heads....

we're they similarly offended when Mork from Ork read his watch or sat on the couch? wow.... a "Mork and Mindy" Reference. I have no idea why it popped out of my subconscious after 25 or so years, but there it is anyway.

enjoy,

Frank

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Anonymous Coward

Censorship... hmmm....

This is a lousy situation. My company sells a rather high end entertainment / training product which, as luck would have it, is rather heavily promoted by YouTube users. And we're currently working on an order which is going to Thailand - and for a small company building expensive, high end kit, that's not just like Amazon selling a book.

So we succesfully sell our product in Thailand but now one of our main (albeit accidental) means of promotion is cut off. The thrill of victory... the agony of da feet.

Meanwhile, there are apparently some people who are very easily offended by a cultural taboo, but completely fail to understand why the rest of the entire world might be a little bit upset (as Frank points out) at having to excise every shred of creativity that might offend anyone anywhere from the view of everyone, everywhere.

I find it particularly interesting that the first poster justifies his advocacy of world-wide censorship of anything which offends Thais by saying that anyone who made a snarky video is likely to be jailed and brutally murdered in prison.

Good to see you've got your moral priorities straight.

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Why???

I have to ask why they pulled the whole of YouTube? Surely if it offends you then don't watch it.

I know that there is loads of stuff available on the internet that will offend me, so i don't watch / view it. Is that not just simple common sense? or is the rest of the world joining the UK in the "nanny" state where no-one is allowed to make a choice for themselves...

It's a sad day when things like this become the norm...

Cheers

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Appearantly most of foreigners don't understand our cultures!

Hi there

i'm Thai girl & i found out that most of you guys don't really understand our cultures!

i do agree w/ Mr.Jim Murphy

i realize it's quite difficult 4 foreigners who have never been here (or even for some who live here) to understand how we feels when someone did things like that!

i havent seen that vid yet & yes i dont even want to watch it!

the details of vid that i knew is only our king's pic was stomped by some one.. it's enough for hearing to make me feel so depressed by that person's action...

one thing.... since i was born, no one has ever teached me how to respect The King .. but every Thais has learned by themselves naturally... The king is untouchable person!

he's been doing many things 4 Thai ppl...

and we do respect him as " the highest DAD" in our life

which means we dont want any bad things to happen to him

and we all do care & love him!

this's all what i could say... hopefully it can makes u understand us a little bit more!

best regards

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Every Thai blood will make this personal matter

To "Frank Thomas" If you're so smart you should know how to use "FREE SPEECH" and "Human Rights" as a civilized people. You can't even type "Thailand" correctly, please try to understand us before you give any opinion.

To "Censorship... hmmm...." You just don't understand, do you? If I do something that insulting your love one greatly I'm sure that the world don't care about this too.

To "Russell Hancock" It's depand on "how much" are offend's been made. I'm sure that if it hit you too hard you problably don't just turn around.

To "Jim Murphy" Thank you, thank you for your understanding.

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Thailand's Dad

This King is Thailand's Dad.

Do you love your dad?

Can you allow some people hit your dad?

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Nice one, Jim

Well done Jim, I can't agree more with your sentiments. Living down south in Malaysia, I was very surprised to see that someone had posted a clip like this. Thailand isn't like here or Singapore where censorship is politically driven, more that it's self-censorship driven by respect and affection, at least for the royal family.

My love for Thailand (I married my wife there (and she's not Thai before the flamers start) so I have fond memories of the place and the people) notwithstanding, I understand why the Thai posters above are so vexed. If you don't understand a culture (and I'm not suggesting I even understand Malaysian culture, let alone Thai), then you shouldn't post the stuff that was on youtube. IMHO, anyway.

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abc

whose fault? youtube? or the government?

copy from Narissa's Notes

so the military government blocks youtube... are we supposed to feel angry at the government for limiting our access to info?

Youtube people refused to remove the clip that mocks the Thai king, claiming that it's freedom of speech, of expression, of action or whatever. Foreigners just dont understand many of delicate culture embedded in Asian society. And sometimes blame those culture as an obstacle to development:source of our forever lacking behind the rich countries. No matter what, people living half way across the world will never understand and probably never try to. How ignorant!

This clip will create so much controversy in Thailand, Have they ever fucking consider that? What if the issue escalated into something violence like in the case of that cartoonist mocking the Prophet Mohammad? Will youtube do anything to resolve the matter? NO.

maybe this is youtube's new philosophy; whatever happen in other country is none of our business, even if it's caused by their extreme ignorance!..umm..sound familiar? just like many of the american foreign policy.

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Another Overreaction with Bad Consequences

You know, the North Koreans felt the same way towards Kim Il Sung, and feel the same way towards Kim Jong-il, and the Americans felt the same way towards John F. Kennedy, as the Thai feel about King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Every person gets offended to some degree when their loved ones are insulted, but not everyone believes that censorship (which always hurts others beyond the person who committed the offense, as 'censorship's response shows), and 15-20 year prison sentences with the possibility of execution by fellow prisoners, are the right way to counter such offenses.

Frankly, those methods don't strike me as appropriate under the tenants of Buddhism either, but what do I know?

Unlike the real world, the internet allows me to ignore whatever I want, including the content I find insulting and inappropriate. Unless the creation of that information harms people (like child pornography, or various types of fraud), I'm not going to make a crusade out of it, no matter how offensive or hurtful it may be to me.

I will however counter with comments defending that person, as many of you have done here for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

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Censorship

The incident of someone defaming Thailand's king is truly unfortunate. I know the Thais who saw the video were hurt by the insult and many took it personally, for them I am sorry. But, censorship is a form of repression and as such limits information flow, both bad and good. In a free society we are left to govern our own level of censorship. We deem what is good or bad for us, we censor what we and our children are exposed to. Why then would we ask, no demand, that a commercial enterprise censor information for us? If we allow that to happen we will be surrendering part of our freedom to Google. Don't like Google don't use them, don't like youtube don't visit, but don't shoot the messenger just because yoiu don't like the message.

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thai's dad

i jus signed up to post this comment.

although i'm a backpacker and been in thailand a few times, i know how much the thai's love their king. although when i heard that some rasict git put some offending stuff onto youtube, i never really understood why get so upset about it. sure, you would only get upset about it if you search for it, or you a hearless person for searching for it in the 1st place.

but when 'MARY' stated that the king is everyone's dad, she hit the nail on the head and i truely understand how much love for their king they have. [although we love our queen in UK, it hasnt got the same love, so we can 'take the piss' about them and its fine] but its true. i love my dad, and i would feel hurt too if he was the most popular man.

this will never go away. there will always be someone uploading this as they know it offends the thai's, and thats what they want. to hurt

thank you mary for saying those words.

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Free speech and acceptable behaviour

Hard to comment on a movie that I haven't seen, but a couple of quick thoughts...

Freedom of speech is an interesting thing. There are always cases where the distaste or offence of a statement renders it beyond accepted boundaries. Who gets to judge those boundaries? Would you expect Youtube to remove white supremacist or holocaust denial postings? What about anti-islamic rhetoric? wife beating? child porn? footage of iraqi snipers shooting US soldiers? Janet Jackson's nipple?

Personally I don't think that the Thai government's reaction is appropriate. BUT I also think that youtube should be more sensitive to the fact that it is hosting content that is offensive to a large population's beliefs.

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Re: Thai King video wag pulls YouTube clip'

Personally I think there needs to be an understanding of someone's culture before judgements can be made on their actions.

While censorship is, in general, a bad thing, free speech has much worse consequences when it is abused. Something's offensiveness is subjective - what I don't like is different from you. When it offends an entire country a line has to be drawn, in my opinion.

"Unlike the real world, the internet allows me to ignore whatever I want, including the content I find insulting and inappropriate. Unless the creation of that information harms people (like child pornography, or various types of fraud), I'm not going to make a crusade out of it, no matter how offensive or hurtful it may be to me."

This video has hurt people, as it seems to have offended a country. To me, that vastly outweighs one person's apathy.

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Grow up!

How would the Thais feel if any portal they had that mocked Bush or Blair or any other world figure was blocked from that country? A light satire on Bush and then suddenly the site is banned from millions of Americans? Are you going to tell me that there is no anti-bush website on Thai webspace?

It's time some of the posters grew up, stop being offended at the works of a third party and learn that satire is a very necessary counterpoint to the influence of the rich and powerful. You also need to accept that other people are free to have their own opinions and don't need to love the things that you do.

So while you are free to control your own borders don't act all surprised if the boot is on the other foot.

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Anonymous Coward

To Matt Kemp:

Presumably, if you feel that the litmus test for censorship is whether given media offents 'an entire country' (presumably by-and-large), you will favor the banning of videos which offend the most conservative Arab emirates by showing women without their faces covered?

Presumably you will also ban any videos which claim the Holocaust is a myth, or videos which insult Palestinians, or...

The only response to my earlier post (Censorship, hmmm) seems to be, "But, but, we like the king very much!"

The entire point of my post was that it doesn't matter how much you like the king.

And when it comes down to it, if *not* liking the king in Thailand is a crime punishable by 15 years in prison, and if being angry with someone who professes dislike for the king is very nearly a legal obligation, how, precisely, does anyone know who really likes the king and who doesn't?

How can we claim to be having a real debate on the issue when any posters in Thailand could be sent to prison for agreeing with me?

If all your friends were legally required to like you, and would be jailed for fifteen years if they insulted you, how well-loved would you feel?

So, let me rephrase the question: Does the presumption that the King needs legal protection for his reputation do him honor?

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oh

btw , google and youtube said so that there r pictures of Bush worse than that , is Bush a king , is he loved by all american , is he really helping america or does he just want power and reputation and oh.. money,

and look at THAI KING , he dont have to do anything for thailand we would respect him as our king already , he would have money , and power not politically but power , but he works hard to help thai people , thai king and thai royals is not like other's king and royals that just go to some company , interview , smile, waving, dress nice , gain money, thai royals actually goes visit peasants and helped them create these programs but it was never in youtube or google , then u guys are someone who dont know anything just pop up and start to comments badly about thai royals and kings because of a vdo and a case , u guys dont know anything do u think we just say we love our king because we 've been taught we r not stupid or simple minded we actually sees and think about what he did , he didn't do it for power well do u think democratic leader would for all his life doing so much for the country he led , no he wouldn't he would do it for 8 years or less to get reputation and money ,

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the reason

the reason youtube was blocked in thailand is not because it's offended to watch but it's impossible for us , who called ourselves THAI , to watch without leaving pursuasive or nasty comments ,and the goverment knows that so they blocked it they dont want this to ended up being a big deal which will get everyone to understand us all wrong again , oh yeah and in many thai websites and forums , there are millions of people mad and create topics to comments these stuffs already , i would want those comments to be on youtube so bad but as everyone know it being blocked in thailand

look at u guys now pathethic being blinded by ' freedom of speech' u dont get the true purpose that it was developed for . it's not for flaming so it's ok to say bad words if it's freedom of speech then why do we get in trouble for that and why isn't anyone stands up for it then,

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Bronze badge

Lowest of the lowest common denominators

The problem with censorship is that any idea of substance is going to offend someone. Are we going to sink to the lowest level of total inoffensiveness?

Yes, we should consider motivations, and you shouldn't be allowed to yell fire in a crowded theater because your motivation is to see people killed in a stampede for the exits. However, in general we need to err on the side of permitting the free expression of ideas.

In this specific case, maybe 99.9% of the Thai people love the king. However, maybe there is someone who does not love him, and perhaps that person's grievance is legitimate and deserves to be aired. (Actually, it's a certainty that someone doesn't love him, but that's mostly a different question. There's also the possibility that it was an innocent mistake, though in that case I think it should be mostly regarded as an opportunity to teach people about why it was troublesome.)

The alternative? We'll be reduced to the lowest of lowest common denominators. I suppose the entire media will be reduced to toothpaste commercials of the least offensive sort.

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Anonymous Coward

By E.Ittapol

Well. I'm thai and I really upset when government banned all content of youtube at first. But when I hear the reason, I became to understand readily.

The reason about the king and thai people relationship is explained above...

Our king do nothing wrong, the cause which make the first clip to appear is the sentence of 15 years in jail to Swiss guy who paint his graffity into pictograph of the king. But right now it's gone far to some 'freespeech' matter and insultation ot our king is bigger and bigger...

No, the king did nothing wrong to this matter, he didn't even wrote that law.(Not that he was even agree to it as well.) I think he don't mind who will paint anything on his picture too.

It's not the law that make us love him. Please don't misunderstand us. It's truth there's a law...But there's not important to us, Because we love him by all of our hearts and will love him to the end of our life, there's no way that we will insult him like that.

the government and the law did what they must (for king-respected country such as thailand) if there's no law, some naive fool will hurt himself by doing that...just like that guy

I hope they stop making clip that insult our king. He's a good man and never done things to be hate. I'm sure every thai people love him and give respect to him. If someone hate him please tell me, I want to know the reason.

And for the Swiss guy who paint his graffity to the pictograph of our king...

I can say, that Swiss guy is just an ediot who don't know how to act properly with foreigners and their country. I feel sorry to his native fool.

And It's kind for thai people,thai law, to send him to jail for only 15 years. (yes, I said 'only')

If he was act such insultation like this to even the word 'Allah' in Islamic country such as Pakistan, he would not survive to be cought by police. he would die painfully, right there, under thousand pairs of feet, by deeply angrily people.And if he's not, well, they will hunt him to the end of the world.

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Government Loosing Control

I also live in Thailand and have for many years. Whilst I respect the views of my Thai hosts I do believe in this case they have overreacted.

The problem with people like Jim (1st post) is that they now feel that they are Thai, therefore preach to the rest of us who "don't understand Thai culture" You can see this by there referance to "foreigners" what are they?

You cannot expect everyone in every nation of the world to know and understand every single culture of the world. Its quite ridiculous to even begin to suggest that, which many people seem to be suggesting.

YES PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND YOUR CULTURE IN THE SAME WAY THAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND THERES (and for those Thais' reading this, most of you don't understand western culture at all, which in some areas is more conservative than yours).

Get over it, have some compassion and understanding, help people learn...but blocking an entire site for this? All it has done in Thailand is generate publicity for it so that people who might otherwise never have come across it have gone to view what all the fuss is about.

But at the end of the day this isn't about protecting the king, its about a government installed by a military coup loosing control of the country. This is just a bit of propeganda by the Thai government to try and instil a bit of support.

Also remember that Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom the ICT Minister has a big "anti-foreigner" chip on his shoulder so anything he can do to show foreigners as being bad people he will do.

If you want to talk about restrictions in freedom of speech and expression then I suggest that The Register look into the recent blocking of the popular Thai webboard www.pantip.com where the same Ministry involved in this case has also removed the ''Ratchadamnoen'' political forum due to "national security"

Do they really believe that blocking a forum will stop people talking? If anything it will drive people together......

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Anonymous Coward

Oblivious....

maybe it's just me, but does it seem these Thai people seem to overlook that we do not have to follow their beliefs or appreciate their culture. the beauty of being a "free" people is that we can more or less do as we please. this extends to the internet, in that you do not have to visit every site out there and view every piece of content. in the case of youtube, you have to go through several steps just to find anything. why can't they simply refrain from visiting it? because it's illegal for you to negatively comment on your idol does not mean we can not. we do not live in your country nor does the internet. is this an arrogant "american" attitude? it should be the attitude of any people that claims to be free! if you don't like that country, move. that's why we are here and you are there. from what can be comprehended from this story, the poster may have been Thai, so what does this say about this idea that ALL thai people love the king? i'm an american of mexican descent and fully understand that mainstream "america" is retarded, but the beauty of it is that we have the choice to be here and voice whatever we please to. CHOICE!

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Shannon hit it right on the head

Well said, Shannon. The world lately seems to be made up of people who are willing to say and do nothing for fear of offending the people who benefit from the status quo.

Motiviation is a factor - and in this case I suspect that the video was created for no other reason than to cause a stir. But, the sad thing is that if someone (your 0.1%) did have a legitimate gripe about the King, it would likely be treated the same way -- with censorship.

As to the issue of Americans not understanding other cultures, I would hazard a guess that those other cultures don't understand us any better. The truth would seem to be that most people don't ever look past their own back yard, regardless of where they were born.

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I see where the Thai's are coming from

I think the majority of people who have their panties in an anti-censorship wad don't know much about Thailand.

The video that set of the event featured a woman's feet above the kings head. Its hard to give an equivalent analogy for western cultures - but in Thailand - its horribly offensive to point your feet at another person. A woman pointing her feet at a man is more offensive. Its a little an adult bending over and spreading open their balloon knot in school playground here.

There's also the increased significance of visual iconography in Thailand. Half the county wears Yellow t-shirts, because the king was born on a day that is a yellow day. That sort of visual significance is incredibly prevalent in Thailand. It makes video's and pictures a lot higher impact then it would be in the west.

The closest equivalent I can think of would be if the Piss Christ photo was recreated daily, with an encore of the Crapy Christ and the Lumpy Jism Christ as part of a live show in art galleries, and they tried to tour through Italy and the Vatican City.

Compared to say the Islamic reaction those offensive cartoon depictions of Muhammed, I think the reaction was quite mild and understandable.

Thai's in general are really lovely people - there are certainly assclowns's in thailand - especially in the Patpong markets... but the people are generally so laid back and mellow, its mind blowing after leaving Camden at 7:30 on a Monday morning for a flight out of Heathrow. When Thai's actually muster up the energy to get upset about something - its usually pretty important

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Anonymous Coward

Does the King REALLY want Lese Majeste enforced?

Let's get past the idea that the slideshow was childish in the extreme and designed to upset Thai people. I'm more concerned with whether the King (who after all is the one really being targetted by this clip) could really care less.

In his birthday speech last December he came out saying that he was just a man and quite open to criticism. Perhaps it's time he went further and demanded the end to Lese Majeste laws. He has the natural loyalty of his subjects and that moral support does not require a legal offense.

IMO this law is not enforced for the kings benefit or the Thai peope's benefit, but as a legal instrument of censorship for the governement, and I find it suspicious that an undemocratic military junta should start enforcing it so enthusiastically.

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Jan

Thailand pulls access to register on grounds of open and free comment

Does this mean that the Thai government is going to pull access to this website because of items that might offend?

Personally I will defend your right to offend who ever you like, to the death! Even if it's something about that bozo called Voltaire who gets acredited for every smart saying that there is.

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Anonymous Coward

Lets look at the people of Thailand

When I see a legless beggar crawling past a gilded temple, a dog (the King loves dogs) riddled with diseases, a street littered with refuse, or a bus belching out pollution, I wonder what the citizens of Thailand are doing to create a better environment and a better society.

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Understanding a Culture

I usually don't post twice on things like this, but there have been a lot of comments stating that most foreigners just don't understand Thai culture, such as...

"It seems the only people that commit these acts are foreigners that haven't got a clue."

...However, the YouTube clip in question had to have been created by someone with an EXTREMELY good understanding of Thai culture and taboos. Someone ignorant of Thai culture could never have pushed buttons so accurately.

That clip was a message created by someone who understood Thai culture, and featured cultural symbolism that for the most part only Thai people would fully understand. And that means it was either created by a Thai who was willing to mock their king, or a foreigner who understands Thai culture quite well.

But both of those are nigh impossible, if the comments here are anything to go by. ;)

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Anonymous Coward

it's not about sensitivity

i'm sure that the goverment act is very well support by thai people. it's not that we don't support free speech here in thailand, but there's limitations and rules. and if u don't follow the rules when u r in thailand, then u go to jail, simple as that. for those who went to jail for defacing the poster of the kings have received a royal pardon. i'm sure there's some stupid laws in other countries that everyone think it's absurd, but hey...it's a law. by saying that u have a bomb in usa, u can go to jail for that....(oh..free speech?) in some countries u don't. does this mean usa is backwards country? public disturbance here does not have the same equivalent somewhere else. y can't you just call black people by n word...u just don't, cuz it's disrespecting. and if u do, do you think those people gonna support your organization? people in different places have their own cultures and believes. we love our king, everyone here have a very high respect for him. so as a country, we want to show that we don't support someone who disrespect our king.

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