Sometime today I had my 2000th reader Follow me on WordPress and 750th Follower on social media outside of WordPress. Wow! Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog, as well as to the many people who have responded to my blog with numerous “Likes” and even more views. 2750 Followers as of today’s date.
Blog Statistics January 1st, 2019 to January 15, 2020
TOTAL POSTS 60
TOTAL COMMENTS 472
AVG COMMENTS PER POST 8
TOTAL LIKES 4,194
AVG LIKES PER POST 70
TOTAL WORDS 44,081
AVG WORDS PER POST 734.68
When I first started writing this blog in 2011 I expect to have only a very few followers, likes and views, and didn’t really take blogging all that seriously until spring of last year, when I started to blog about the health challenges I am currently facing, as well as about various strategies related to a lot of different issues. Still, it is currently focussed around health issues, with a subtext running through about the story of my family and my romantic relationships.
So my blog is being read by a lot of you, and I really appreciate your genuine responses and comments over the past year. You’ve given me a lot to digest, and have made me feel both heartbroken, from time to time, and inspired, from other letters and comments. Your courage at facing real physical and emotional health problems inspires me to continue with this blog. If the information the blog conveyed gives anyone comfort knowing that they are not alone, or inspiration to take action to improve their situation, or simply education that allows them to understand someone with these problems, then I have done a service.
I am a true believer in the concept, “Tu Um Est”, which roughly means, It is Up to You! which is the motto of my undergraduate university, The University of British Columbia. I’m also a strong believer in lifelong learning, and acknowledge that while knowledge and information are purely temporary, changing moment by moment in ways we can’t even begin to anticipate, learning is an abiding, persistent process resulting in our constant evolution as human beings.
This blog celebrates these processes, and are in themselves evidence of constant change in my understanding of life today. Diseases thought to be incurable are now cured on an everyday basis. Things we thought were immutable truths have been proved false, or, if not totally false, incomplete. As I write into the future I will continue to seek out new ways to improve the quality of my life, through sharing the wisdom of others, passing on the things I’m learning as I go, and hopefully continue to illuminate and educate my followers, casual viewers, and fellow readers.
Once again. Thank You. It is humbling to realize that people appreciate what I’m writing, and are kind enough to say so.
People who have been abused as children have a really hard time as adults, especially as young adults trying to formulate romantic relationships. Without a solid foundation established early in life, emotions can feel like quicksand and you soon feel like you are drowning. People become desperate for love and accept all sorts of inappropriate behavior that seems like it must be some kind of love, or it wouldn’t be so intense. So this is the story of one such person, after an abusive and destructive marriage
Even after years of counseling, he still feels the desperate self-criticism of his youth, pulling him back into depression and suicidal thoughts. At the end of his first marriage, he actually tried to kill himself by sleepwalking in front of a bus
The transit bus driver drove his bus into the side of a building to avoid hitting the patient, most likely saving his life.
He went to see a doctor after this because he felt that he was in danger because of his actions. He consciously knew that he was a danger to himself and potentially others, but so deeply depressed about losing his wife that he was wandering around in a complete daze.
This was despite the fact that the relationship was fundamentally dysfunctional, and she used and abused him virtually every day from the very first moment he laid eyes on her. His self-worth was so low that he actually believed that everything that ever went wrong was his fault. He allowed himself to be her emotional and physical servant, charged with somehow making her feel good about herself.
Although she was highly intelligent and won many academic awards she required constant affirmations of her intellect, and couldn’t accept any opposition to her opinions on any subject at all. To whatever degree he differed from her point of view, she called him out and accused him of trying to undermine her and make her look like an idiot to their friends or families. He also took on responsibility for taking care of every aspect of her life, including paying all the bills, providing her with funds to pay for her advanced education, and a constant stream of extravagant gifts. Their life together was one of extraordinary social adventures, with a stream of her unusual friends variously moving into and out of their home and their lives together.
They were together for nearly ten years and had a daughter. Their divorce was highly acrimonious and as a result of an emotional breakdown, she intimidated him into giving into virtually all of her demands, including extremely restrictive access to their infant daughter, who is now almost forty years of age.
Because of his blindness to her faults and unwillingness to acknowledge her abusive behavior, He simply was not in any position to provide adequate co-parenting to their daughter, who ended up with her being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by his ex-wife and her mother, who had previously done the same things to his ex-wife.
It wasn’t until their daughter ran away from her mother’s house to live on the streets that he became aware of all that she had gone through in her mother’s care.
The daughter suffers from multiple psychological disorders including acute anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD as a result of multiple sexual assaults starting with her grandmother as early as five or six years old. After she ran away, at thirteen years old, from her mother’s home when she came to live with his current partner and him. It was only then that he heard her story and got her into counseling. The road was very difficult, and they were not very successful in helping the daughter overcome her many conditions.
Never in all the years he had been married to his ex-wife did he realize how destructive her constant personal attacks and total narcissistic behavior had been to him. After he more or less recovered from his breakdown and hospitalization after their marital breakdown, he still blamed himself for everything that had gone wrong in their marriage.
But no more. His daughter suffers from many psychiatric and emotional defects, some of which would have been there no matter who raised her as a young child. She also has many physical disabilities including muscular and skeletal problems that have resulted in her living life in chronic pain, and incapable of independent mobility. She also had two children, which he had to have taken from her because she is incapable of providing the minimum care level necessary for their physical and emotional health. He doesn’t blame his ex-wife or her mother for all of it, as it would unfair to do so.
But what is fair to say is that without the abuse by her narcissistic mother and a grandmother who barely survived Nazi rule in Holland as a young girl before abusing her own daughter and granddaughter, their daughter didn’t have a chance at any reasonable life. Despite years of counseling himself, He still knows that he has blinders on regarding his ex-wife and still has hard time understanding what he allowed to happen in his marriage, or what really took place in all the years she had total control over their daughter’s care and custody.
He had even blamed himself for that restricted access, and his lack of involvement in his daughter’s life. The extreme anger his ex-wife expressed towards him made a more normalized co-parenting arrangement impossible. Even spending thousands of dollar on legal fees trying to get better custodial arrangements failed.
If you are a survivor of an abusive relationship and have gotten out, don’t try to deal with this all on your own. Find a good counselor and make every effort to deal with your own demons before they drag you into yet another dangerous quagmire.
Unfortunately, you may find yourself repeating your mistakes, over and over again. Learn to recognise the cycle of abuse in your own life, and take action to change your circumstances. Leave.
Happiness is not only the absence of unhappiness, but also an affirmation of a kind of state of grace, which encompasses all the good and bad in life, but as a kind of continuing sense of gratitude. Happiness is not necessarily always being a happy person, but is rather the presence of a profound sense of joy in life itself, for good and ill alike.
The happiest person I ever met is my sister Kathryn, who had a life altering car accident in her early twenties which left her paralysed Although she died a couple of Christmas seasons ago, her joyful embrace of life made everyone around her more aware of the reasons to celebrate, even in the face of massive disabilities and chronic pain. She suffered from serious pain, life threatening deficiencies caused by her disability, and severe restrictions in mobility, or even taking care of herself physically. It used to take hours each and every morning just to get out of bed, go to the bathroom and get ready for the day.
Through it all she spread joy to everyone she knew.
I am making only one New Years Eve vow this year. To bring an attitude of acceptance and joy to my everyday life, and to celebrate the joy that all of the people in my life bring me every day.
Global Warming is not the most important crisis facing the world’s human population at the moment.
One of the things that really concerns me about the current mass political movement around global warming is that it is distracting the human race from several other issues that are of far more immediate concern, and which also require a global response if there is not to be catastrophic outcomes, some of which are already far advanced.
And I am NOT saying the Global warming isn’t a serious danger to the health and quality of life of millions of people around the earth, mostly in the mid to long term, anywhere from twenty-five to fifty years from now. And while I believe that it is important, if we don’t address several other, far more pressing issues, half of the population of the globe with sick and dying, directly because of these other issues.
I specifically referring to serious medical problems arising from really bad lifestyle choices being promoted by governmental agencies, national and international disease associations, doctors, international food industry giants, dieticians, and the public media.
So what the heck could I possibly be ranting on and on about? There are three health crisis catastrophes happening right now that can have a bigger effect on the human race, today and tomorrow, than global warming.
Antibiotic resistance and superbugs
The explosion in pollution of the world’s oceans
Religious and political fundamentalism in the political area, and erosion of political and religious freedom
Industrial corruption around the world, and its impact on the peoples of the world.
No one article could even begin to explore these five serious hazards to humanity, and the quality of our existence on the planet Earth.
Personally I’m optimistic that the human race will figure out how to reduce or eliminate the human contribution to global warming. It won’t stop the climate from changing, either continuing to warm for the next few hundred years, or crashing into a new ice age, which is what many scientists were concerned about only a few years ago. It took a lot of effort to stop using fluorocarbons in spray cans, which was attacking the ozone layer only a couple of decades ago. Global warming is more of a concern than fluorocarbons, and will require a much more consequential response if the human race is to find solutions that will resolve our contributions to it. But call me Pollyannaish but I do believe that we will find technological solutions to a problem fundamentally caused by technology. As someone said to me, “it’s not rocket science.” No, it’s harder. But it be done.
I’m far less optimistic about our response to Metabolic Syndrome. Only recently have scientists started to realize the breadth and seriousness of the syndrom, which is directly caused by the consumption of excessive carbohydrates and sugars by populations of all ages, and is a now a global problem facing all of the nations of the globe. Recent research and publication have demonstrated a direct causative relationship between the over consumption of carbohydrates and sugars to the following disorders and diseases.
Cancers of the pancreas, heart, liver, kidneys
Chronic lung disease and cancer
Heart disease including cardiac arrest, arrhythmia and death
May be related to several mental disorders underlying depression and mania
The number of deaths in the world from the above categories of diseases, in 2019 caused by carbohydrate and sugar far exceeds the projected loss of life in the world from Global Warming by 2050 or even 2150 assuming that we don’t do anything to stop it. There is now solid evidence that over a third of all human beings alive today are suffering from Metabolic Syndrome, and many many many people die from it every single day. Far more than from wars, automobile accidents, distracted driving, alcohol abuse and drunk driving – all put together.
Superbugs present a slightly less ominous threat, if you don’t think about the fact that without effective antibiotics we are all vulnerable to diseases we once believed we had wiped out.
One in four infections is already resistant to antibiotics and other known forms of treatment, and 5,400 Canadians died last year from infections that until recently had been treatable. That’s according to a comprehensive peer-reviewed report presented by the Council of Canadian Academies this week.
That’s roughly double the number of Canada’s annual traffic fatalities and homicides combined.
These infections range from pneumonia to infections of the urinary tract, the blood stream and the skin. And their numbers are rising everywhere as international transportation carries every infection-causing microbe to every part of the world.
The report, When Antibiotics Fail, was prepared for the federal government by an expert panel. I was a member of this panel, chaired by Brett Finlay of the University of British Columbia.
Oceanic pollution, including plastics and other waste
Ocean Pollution: The Dirty Facts
We’re drowning marine ecosystems in trash, noise, oil, and carbon emissions.January 22, 2018 Melissa Denchak
The fate of our seas is not only up to the government or industry. Our individual, daily actions matter, too. You can start by reducing water pollution and runoff at home, being more mindful of your plastic consumption, or organizing a cleanup of your local waterway. You can also support the work of NRDC and other environmental advocacy groups as well as other businesses and organizations that work to preserve our coasts and waters.
Religious and political fundamentalism in the political area, and erosion of political and religious freedom
The news is full of examples of political terrorism around the world, including bombings and individual acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. This is terror on a retail scale and pales into insignificance against the damage being done to our political and religious freedoms around the world as a result of religious or political fundamentalism that denies people the right to their own religious beliefs, personal development and gender identification, even the right to exist as ethnic minorities in various parts of the world.
There are more people in concentration camps today, than during the second world war, with the vast majority of them in China. We in the west have been negligent in this, but mostly because we are also complicit in our own attacks on minorities and aboriginals. The United States and Europe are split right down ideological and religious seams that threaten the future safety of the world because of the increasing intolerance being shown to people with different religious or political beliefs of large parts of the population. Christian, Muslin and Atheist fundamentalists deny the very right to exist for anyone who dares believe something different than they. The intolerance of a pulpit bully today is the concentration camps of tomorrow.
Industrial corruption around the world, and its impact on the peoples of the world.
A new report has alleged that international medical and pharmaceutical companies are complicit in China’s organ transplant scandal.
The report has, for the first time, named 20 global companies profiting from China’s transplant trade, where innocent people are murdered in a state-sponsored campaign of forced organ harvesting.
The report supports China Tribunal’s Final Judgement in June 2019 which exposed China’s ‘wicked’ organ harvesting crimes and murder of innocent people as ‘Crimes Against Humanity’.
Western companies allegedly involved
The new report emphasises that China’s transplant system is ‘dependent on the import of devices for organ preservation’ from the West and has accused the Western pharmaceutical companies of using Chinese prisoners for testing transplant products.
Over 1.5 million people detained in Chinese ‘camps’ are seen as ‘ideal source of organs’ according to the report and the authors are calling for companies named in the report to answer to allegations or for state offices to “investigate international criminal activity”.
Global pressure is now mounting on China to stop the brutal murder of prisoners of conscience in a scandalous industry estimated to illegally earn the People’s Republic of China over $1bn (~€0.89bn) per annum.
Susie Hughes, Executive Director, International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), stated: “These companies are in a very powerful position because China’s transplant industry would falter without them. It is imperative they withdraw from China immediately to help save innocent people who are being killed for their organs.”
Hamid Sabi, Counsel to the China Tribunal, who recently raised the issue of forced organ harvesting in China for the first time at the United Nations said: “I welcome all new research confirming this horrifying issue. Organ transplantation to save life is a scientific and social triumph but killing the donor is criminal.”
Industrial greed and complicity in the dangers to human survival, both individually and collectively cannot be pursued with enough vigor. Companies are responsible for causing untold health hazards and killing millions upon millions through smoking, dietary corruption of the food chain, false information distribution to the public over years and years.
Global Warming is a Safe Enemy
I started this blog by saying that I don’t think that Global Warming should be at the top of our concerns about the future (and present) of the human race. There are lot of things to be concerned about, and Global Warming is just one of them.
The massive obsessive focus on Global Warming is a little like the obsession in the 1960’s with the nuclear threat and the idea that the Russians were going to wipe out the human race in their global arms race with the USA and the West. The obsession wasn’t totally misguided, it just missed the point that there were other things which should have been addressed and were not. The consequence of obsessing over one significant challenge facing the world, without paying attention to many of the other issues is highly risky.
I appreciate your feedback to my blog which is couched as a question, but by which you really mean as a statement of your convictions and societal beliefs.
First of all, polyamorous relationships may or may not be “open marriages” and in fact most people in poly marriages prefer to de-emphasize sexual aspects of poly life in favour of the “loving” aspects.
Polyamory means loving more
Polyamory means loving more than one person at a time but doesn’t automatically include sex. True, if often does, but the ideology of multiple relationships rests more on a person’s right to engage in intimate personal relationships outside of a formal hierarchical structure. In some respects it’s the social and familiar extension of the ideas of the Libertarian philosophy, which postulates that the free will of an individual is the highest freedom. Anything that impinges on individual freedom and the personal right to control her/her own life is contrary to this philosophy, and that includes the traditional marriage customs of almost all religions and legal systems.
“Free love” is the lowest expression of the idea of polyamory, included but hardly the point of it for most of us. Many in this community are part of the LGBTQIA community as well, with certain blurring of the lines of gender identity and sexuality as well. It also includes BDSM and other types of experimental behaviour for many followers. What Polyamory shares with this community is a conviction of many that they are “born this way” rather than this being a “choice” which is what was believed to be true about homosexuality and transgender issues until very recently.
Almost all of the women I know in this community contend that polyamory is the fundamental nature of women, only controlled and managed by organized religions and public policy. Men in this community are often less certain that it is so, I think, because they feel enormous guilt about their inability to exist in traditional relationships without “cheating” and being outlaws of a sort.
But Polyamory is also not necessarily kink.
A kinky person may be polyamorous or a traditionalist believing in the one man/one woman type of marriage. But he/she may also be extremely interested in maintaining their own independence of thought and action, regardless of choices made as to their sexual partners or co-parents of their children.
I respect that your concerns have more to do with maintaining a stable, loving home, both for the benefit of children having two parents in the home, as well as for the husband and wife, who can have the comfort of maintaining lifelong stable relationships.
However, families such as you describe are rapidly vanishing in contemporary society, and seldom, in history, were seldom more than a minority of the population. Single parent homes now out number two parent homes in many communities, especially in millennial families.
Families may be stronger in polyamorous relationships.
Recent social trends and statistics suggest that polyamorous relationships are on the rise, radically so. On a recent CBC TV special recently it is now believed by certain social scientists that more children have multiple parents (ie: more than two) than are being raised in two parent families.
There is strong historical precedence for this. If you take the issue of sexual fidelity out of the question, and simply look at the number of children raised in homes with only one adult or two parents in the historical past, the number was small.
Families often included the two parents, at least one grandparent, often a couple of aunts or uncles, and siblings of the partner. Even today, in Vancouver’s East Asian families, there are many many homes which house as many as twenty five people at once, including the children. The same is true of many families from China, where the one child rule pushed people together to collectively raise children for their welfare.
The nuclear family is inherently unstable, even in the best examples of western values. Do you have any idea of the number of these traditional families who break up over and over again, reforming into new arrangements and new parenting partners? It can scarcely be better for kids to go through repeated divorces and remarriages than to live in long term polyamorous families with multiple parents in constant attendance. My poly friends mostly have a number of children, and their children are raised in the wider family community.
Traditional marriage is a financial disaster for most, even for those it works for emotionally.
One last point. The nuclear family, and its necessary companion, the single parent family, are financially a disaster for most people. The addition of more than two people to help share the load makes all the difference in the quality of everybody’s lives, including the children. When there are multiple people earning incomes it is much easier to be able to afford a home, feed the family, have nice cars, and afford family vacations together every year.
So don’t be quite so quick to judge. Those quirky people who live in these weird situations may have it much, much better than you realise.
FIRST / PREVIOUS / NEXT For as long as I can remember, the Polyamory community has had a strangely sex negative segment that was largely born of the desire to distance themselves as much as possible from the widespread assumptions by people outside of the community that polyamory was all about fucking around indiscriminately. It’s […]
This train goes between cities, further between nightmares and dreams, it travels on track laid by dying men that form the body nightmares.
Familiar faces, human, leave our darkening world, shadows answering no cries in the fog.
Do we forget who ride the empty boxcars still searching for places to live in a dream country for their own sons,
We travel with their souls, here in the dining car, distinctly uncomfortable with the smell of broiled lobster and sizzling steaks.
Have we the right to say or the guts to whisper: You have it all WRONG and can we take the pervasive laughing clacking of the tracks
I wrote the poem above when I was in second year university, many years ago, influenced mostly by my experiences working on the Canadian National Railway. In the poem I am present to the existence of the thousands of workers imported into Canada to build the railways, and how many of them died in the process.
Many of the construction and railway workers were sent back home, mostly back to China, where they reunited with their families. Many, however, ended up staying in Canada, effectively separating them from their wives and children forever.
It is easy to forget that modern civilization was built on the backs of indentured and enslaved people, who still are denied any recognition for their real lives and losses.
In the current era, in a Canada now highly ethnically and racially diverse, these ancestors can finally have a say in who we are as a people. Acknowledging these people also opens the way to rediscover the indigenous peoples who have always been here. Long before European settlement the first nations were already here.
Before we can truly be the civilization we could be, we need to see and acknowledged these people, as well as the part of ourselves still enriched by their sacrifice.
My experience in the aftermath of acting in a scene.
Last week I played a violently sexual Christopher Columbus in a scene in a documentary film. As an inexperienced actor (my first paid gig) I did my best to follow the directions of the Director, a Vancouver woman with many film credits and obvious confidence, and to keep my own feelings about the subject and the scene somewhat suppressed. I know that the character is not me, and it’s unlikely I will find myself typecast after only one scene.
The young indigenous woman actor who played the victim in the scene was raised in an adopted non-native family. She is reconnecting with her native roots, including her birth mom and blood siblings who she hadn’t met until her twenties. It was moving to hear her talk about finding her birth mom and siblings.
She and I had a good opportunity to connect as human beings before the scene was shot, and I was comfortable at the time that she felt positive about her experience in playing this role with me, despite her playing an extreme traumatic scene with implied violent sexual assault, which was also designed to be symbolic of the assault on the first nations of the Americas. The opportunity to meet and chat casually together before acting out the scene actually made it harder, in some ways, for me to act the villain, against this young woman, who seemed rather remarkable.
In the short time we spoke I learned enough about her to have a great deal of admiration for her search for her roots, her education in aboriginal history and laws, and the courage it took for her to seek out her birth mother and blood siblings. She is also a mom with a five year old child, raising the girl largely by herself, as the father is living far away in Haida Gwaii where he works as fisher. She’s also attending college to become a social worker, with ambitions to work with troubled teens and aboriginal youth.
She is a great actor, and her performance was extremely credible. Her defensive struggles included physically attacking the rapist with her nails and fists, while she made loud and shrieking cries. I’ve never heard anyone sound so much like she was being actually raped and attacked, while we struggled to make the implied attack as convincing as possible, including beating her with a rope and tying her up, while I ripped off her blouse exposing her breasts. There was a lot of pushing and pulling with her fighting off her attacker as best she could. I was directed to make it look as if I was actually having intercourse, and kissing and sucking her breasts, without actually doing so. It’s likely that anyone seeing the film will wonder if the she was actually being violated during the filming.
However, it was all make-believe, and there was no actual contact between my lips and her breasts, nor was I ever pressing against her body in the way that the film will probably make it appear. During my attack against her, after I ripped off my shirt and was ripping open her blouse, she tore open wounds on my back and shoulders with her fingernails, with such ferocity that she actually opened wounds which bled during the filming. She was quite apologetic about injuring me in her enthusiastic performance but I felt that she gave the scene gravitas and believability with her focus and intensity.
The makeup artist took the minor wounds and made them look a lot more serious than they actually were, but nonetheless I have scratch marks on my back and shoulders that have only now begun to fade. Her defensive struggles only made Christopher Columbus become deranged and even more violent in his assault. Which made her cries and screams even louder and more emotionally expressive about what was happening to her.
This documentary is about two separate but related themes – the violent assault on indigenous women as a part of the conquest by the Spanish fleet and the enormity of the humiliation and defeat of the nations of the Americas by European invaders. My scene is only a part of the documentary, and obviously I haven’t seen any of the rest of the film.
What making this film has done to me however, is give me a lot to think about and to process, particularly in regards to the sexual and violent assault of a young woman, by a much older and more powerful man. I doubt that the invader would have given her a second thought once he was done with his depraved behavior, and simply would have gone on to the next act against the native peoples, including more attacks on defenseless women and children.
History is largely silent on what happens to vulnerable women and children during wars, although recently there has been a lot more discussion and literature on the subject. What I did as an actor was play out the most vile behaviour in as convincing a fashion as I could. That was my job, and the Director and the Producer were very complimentary about how the two of us did our scene together.
I still dreamt about the scene, and her pitiful cries during the scene, and her heartfelt weeping during the rape scene itself. At the time I felt my heart pounding, and my body was trembling with the emotional impact of this close encounter. The sweat on my face and my body wasn’t all from the makeup artist. I’ll carry a visceral memory of this scene with me for a long time, and this memory will inform me in ways I never would have expected about how intensely personal and intensely evil is sexual assault actual. The very fact that she was able to express the terror, the outrage and the aftermath so eloquently with her body and her voice means that I’ll never again hear or read about a sexual assault without being deeply moved.
During the filming, the actress kept in character the whole time, until the very end. After the shoot was over she was very subdued, in the aftermath of shooting such an emotionally draining scene. I’d feel a lot better if I could be sure that filming the rape scene isn’t haunting her dreams in the way it has mine.
Happy Frigg and Freya’s Day Disclaimer: The topics covered in Freya’s Chambers include serious discussions of sex, sexuality and related issues. If it isn’t your thing; you can move along, otherwise enjoy and feel free to discuss. Given the nature of some subjects be prepared for nude images as there may be some. I avoid […]
b : an offense violating the dignity of a ruler as the representative of a sovereign power
2 : a detraction from or affront to dignity or importance
Lèse-majesté (or lese majesty, as it is also styled in English publications) comes into English by way of Middle French, from the Latin laesa majestas, which literally means “injured majesty.” The English term can conceivably cover any offense against a sovereign power or its ruler, from treason to a simple breach of etiquette. Lèse-majesté has also acquired a more lighthearted or ironic meaning, referring to an insult or impudence to a particularly pompous or self-important person or organization. As such, it may be applied to a relatively inoffensive act that has been exaggeratedly treated as if it were a great affront.
For most of us, living in Canada or most western countries, think that criticism of our government is a fundamental human right, acknowledged and supported by our laws and courts. Within some limits, defying authority or calling authority into question is one of the most crucial of our human rights to the maintenance of democracy.
This fundamental human right is not so fundamental if you live in Thailand. To most Canadians Thailand is just a great place to go on a vacation, not a place where human rights take a backseat to the monarchy. In Thailand, criticizing the government comes with very real consequences, including long jail terms.
And you don’t have to be the author of the criticism, just ask Chanoknan “Cartoon” Ruamsap, who made the mistake of “sharing” a controversial Facebook entry. A pro-democracy activist, Chanoknan “Cartoon” Ruamsap fled into exile on Sunday, ahead of arrest by military order for sharing on her Facebook account a BBC profile of His Majesty the King.
But in the end, it’s me who made the decision. The time I spent to decide was so short and quick. I had less than 30 minutes to decide whether to stay or to leave. What is difficult is the fact that I won’t return after this journey. Then I went to say goodbye to dad and mom. Everyone was shocked but agreed. No one wanted me to be in jail for five years merely because sharing a BBC news story. On the first day I arrived here, I only cried because I saw no way out. Everything seems puzzling and confusing. I didn’t know how to deal with them. I kept asking myself a question whether I made the right decision to seek refuge or I should go back, and I can meet family and friends as usual after serving the jail term. But I got the answer that I couldn’t backtrack now.
And lest you think that these laws are unique to Thailand, with its backward government and oppressive system of administration of justice, think again. There are current laws in Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, and Spain, in Europe against insulting the crown, and committing lese majeste, under which an offender could also spend years in jail, or face significant fines or other penalties. Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well as the African nation of Morocco, and the Asian nations of Malaysia and Cambodia all have similar laws on the books, which are various enforced in modern times.
So why would a modern nation, like the Netherlands, or Denmark, maintain what seems like something out of medieval times. Don’t they understand civil rights, and the right to speak out to authority? Well, it turns out, not so much. Both of those countries, as well as Thailand, do allow criticism of the government, or of government policies. What they don’t allow is insulting and gratuitous attacks on the crown, or on the government leadership.
In Canada there are no lese majeste laws, as such, but even in Canada it is important to frame critical comments against the government or the crown in language that is not personally insulting to her majesty, the Queen or her family. But not because there is laws against it, but because it is unnecessary to personalize criticisms against the government or crown.
It’s fine to attack the monarchy, if you would prefer a republic, for example. Just do it with class and reasonably good manners. Most Canadians would be quite unhappy to hear someone committing lese majesty, even if its not illegal.
Even in countries like Canada or the United States freedom of speech has some limits.