“If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, come sit next to me!” I have always admired that saying of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the good President Roosevelt’s daughter, and I wish she were around to stir up some deserved obloquy against the odious monarchs of Thailand, who make your common or garden variety Islamic radical seem like a staunch defender of free speech. According to the BBC, a hapless Australian novelist called Harry Nicolaides has been jailed fro three years for “insulting” King Bhumibol and the royal family of that unfortunate principality. “Nicolaides.” the BBC reports, “was arrested as he was leaving the country last August.”
His self-published book, called Verisimilitude, was hardly well-received; in fact the only copy which is still known to exist sits on the shelf of the Thai National Library, freely available to the public.
Shackled in leg irons, and wearing standard-issue prison pyjamas, Nicolaides pleaded guilty to the charges against him at Bangkok’s Criminal Court on Monday.
King Bhumibol is revered in Thailand He was quickly found guilty, with a judge telling the court: “He has written a book that slandered the king, the crown prince and Thailand and the monarchy.”
Clearly, though, that king, crown prince, and the rest of the gang deserve all the calumny Western wit can muster. I hope that, even now, some Danish newspaper is rounding up some choice cartoons of the preposterous Thai royal family. “Royal” forsooth!