Internet censorship

Apparently Youtube reached an agreement with Thai authorities concerning the blocking of pictures that are deemed insulting to the Thai royal family. In effect, the Thai authorities now have the capability to selectively censor Youtube.

While I disagree with Internet censorship in general, I can sympathize with the Thai point of view. In Thailand the royal family is an extreme symbol of national identity. Thailand has always been a sovereign state, except for a Japanese occupation during World War II. King Bhumipol is now the longest reigning monarch in the world, with more than 60 years in power. He is the ninth king of the Rama dynasty. The royal family remains a stabilizing force. As recently as last month, the queen averted an attempt to declare Buddhism a state religion, which helped cool down tensions.

Every home, shop or other public establishment has pictures of the king. In Thailand, I ran into several shops dedicated to the sale of pictures and yellow polo shirts (see picture). Every Friday, lots of people wear yellow shirts to display the love of the Thai for their king. To what extent should such a society be allowed to protect itself against insults?

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