Monday, May 23, 2011

The PAD Billboard and Free Speech

The free speech police in have been at it again. This time they’ve targeted the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).  According to police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri, the PAD were told to remove their “Vote No” campaign billboard which features animal heads in suits because it was “improper.”

The billboard states, "Don't let these animals into Parliament!"
Either somebody with power was offended or they must have felt that the billboard may hurt the ruling democrat party in power in the upcoming election. For whatever reason, it’s too bad that the Thai Constitution doesn’t actually protect freedom of speech when it is anti-government.

As much as we don't like to admit it, you gotta say, the freedom to bash any government is a unique and beautiful phenomenon... When done with a certain degree of panache!  Those flip flops of Abhisit and Suthep on them were a great example. Unfortunately, those flip flops were no match for governmental Thai jackboots either.  

Admittedly, I’m an ardent free-speecher. And I will always argue the slippery-slope:  if you muzzle free speech, before you know it, we're living in 1984 and Big Brother is picking out our ties.  Maybe Big Thai Brother didn’t like the ties the animals were wearing on the billboard.

I have no problem with people who respond to what they don't agree with.  What I do have a problem with are the people who fail to see the glaring hypocrisy of screaming the words "shut up" into a bullhorn.

Why should even the most repugnant ideas receive the same freedom of expression as more accepted ones? Because freedom of speech should be less a "free marketplace" of ideas than it is a playground.  And the best way to dispense with unpopular ideas is to let them roam free, so they can have their asses kicked up and down the jungle gym by the cool ideas.

We need to let those who repulse us (like the PAD) have their say alongside those whose speeches make us rise to our feet in applause. How else will the shiny pearl of wisdom stick out against the black velvet of stupidity? It's better to just let the PAD keep their billboard up than it is to waste your time and money trying to stop them.  Instead of challenging their right to free speech, use your energy to point out to your children the irony of the violent misanthropes in the pee-stained shirts calling anybody else on this planet an “animal.”

By the way, I don’t know if it’s relevant or not but the pictures on the billboard remind me of those portrayed in the following music video.  

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