Journalist jailed for speaking against royals

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Photo by the Associated Press -- Activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk arrives at criminal court Jan. 23,in Bangkok, Thailand. He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Photo by the Associated Press — Activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk arrives at criminal court Jan. 23, in Bangkok, Thailand. He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In Thailand, an editor was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison because of something he wrote about the royal family.

Samyot Pruksakasemsuk, editor of a magazine called Voice of Taksin, published two articles that authorities said defamed Thailand’s monarchy, according to the Associated Press.

“You don’t say bad things about the king,” said Rebbeccamay G. Derbyshire, junior biblical languages major who lived in Thailand for 18 years. “It’s just completely against the culture.”

Journalists’ responsibility in the United States is to the people. It is their job to inform the public of what is right and wrong and to determine social norms and morals. A major duty of journalists is to provide the readers with the proper knowledge to be self-governing.

However, under the monarchy that exists in Thailand, a journalist’s duties and rights are completely different.

Although the role of journalism in Thailand is different than in America, most people within Thailand, in the public’s eye, are aware of their boundaries.

“Everyone knows that you just don’t talk about the king, so to say something against him in print is an invitation to be arrested,” said Dr. Katherine Chute, director of communications at California Baptist University who lived several years in Asia and traveled extensively

throughout the region, including Thailand.

The editor in question did not actually write the article, so normally he would not be found guilty by the Thai court system.

“But if it has to do with saying anything about the institution of the monarchy, then it’s viewed as a national security issue,” Chute said.

The journalistic boundaries in the United States are different. In the U.S., journalists are free to write about the government, and they are protected by their freedom of speech guaranteed in the constitution.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that Americans have much more freedom than any other place in the world,” Chute said. “The First Amendment specifically says the government cannot infringe on the freedom of the press, and it guarantees freedom of speech.”

About Catrina Head

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