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Facebook crossfire hits US Embassy

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The US Embassy in Bangkok got a taste of sorts of the "freedom of expression" medicine after Thai political rivals faced off with plenty of obscenities on its Facebook page over the past few days.

With some comments disappearing from the Facebook page yesterday, questions were asked if the embassy really adheres to the democratic principles it preaches. In a reply to a Twitter user, American Ambassador Kristie Kenny said, "As you know, we welcome a vibrant exchange of views. Just ask that it be kept civilised and respectful of all involved".

It was unclear what sparked the war of words on the embassy's Facebook account. The heated exchanges followed the ambassador's "chat" session a week ago with fellow Twitter users, during which "freedom of expression" was a dominant topic. The session came a day after Thai-American Joe Gordon was sentenced to two and a half years in jail for translating parts of the banned book "The King Never Smiles" on a website.

The issue of a 61-year-old Thai-Chinese man recently sentenced to 20-year imprisonment for sending obscene and threatening text messages deemed offensive to the monarchy also came up during the chat.

The past few days saw a highly unusual increase in the number of posters visiting the embassy's Facebook page. "Everyone was in there - royalists, anti-royalists, yellow shirts, red shirts, people who agree with Article 112, people who disagree with Article 112 - you name it," said a visitor to the Facebook page, who did not leave any comment.

Some posted messages were simple expressions of love for the Thai monarch. Others asked the United States to "stay away from Thai affairs". "Embassy, are you Thai?" one poster asked, apparently half jokingly. Much profanity was used by those squabbling on the page, prompting one person to write "Embassy, do something. This is a big mess".

Messages came in both Thai and English, some supporting US policy on human rights while others suggesting they saw hypocrisy.

"We support the USA because we support human rights," one wrote. "Why don't you [the US government] go and check out your best friends in the Middle East instead of picking on Thailand," another said. Some alluded to cases like that of a man who went to jail for writing a poem featuring a plot to assassinate US President Barack Obama.

The embassy's Facebook team was apparently frustrated and overwhelmed. A message was posted yesterday asking everyone to calm down.

"Dear Facebook friends - As always, we welcome your discourse and diverse views on our wall and pages. Please be mindful of our existing terms of service, however, by refraining from using language that is profane or abusive," the embassy said.

"This is not worth it," one poster calling himself "Khun Wit" wrote in Thai. "Any signal of attempts to interfere with the Thai justice system would face opposition from the silent power of Thai people. And I can tell you that the silent power is not that silent."

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Facebook-crossfire-hits-US-Embassy-30172003.html

I'm always amazed at how polarizing this issue can be.

Personally, I think it is an insightful look into the way many people think. If Ambassador Kenny would have said "Gee, Thai food is the best," everybody would be "Oh, the US ambassador loves Thai food. Americans are so jai dee." But if the US says, "Hey, we don't approve of how you restrict people's freedom of expression," then it's "You can't understand, you're not Thai!! Don't pick on Thailand! Shut up!"

Wasn't it just last month that the Thai government was using US military resources (helicopters, boats) and supplies to help with the flood situation? Now, it's "Shut the fuck up. We don't need your meddling in our business."

As someone posted on my Facebook wall once, "Thailand is a lot like Facebook, you only have the option to 'Like' it" :-)

For me, I don't plan on making any derogatory remarks about the monarchy so the law really doesn't impact me. Keep the law, get rid of the law, same thing as far as I'm concerned. What does bother me is that based on the blowback on the embassy website it's obvious Thais need to be having this debate amongst themselves instead of waiting for someone else to say something and then attacking/praising them.

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I think a lot of it goes back to Thais just not being able to debate constructively. You either agree with someone, deflect questions/answers, or get in a tense battle of sorts...none of which helps find answers.

That was one of my pet-peeves about Thais. It was either agree with them no matter what, or face the stress of arguing with an angry wall.

Being back here has really showed me how much I love and missed constructive debate.

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"Thailand is a lot like Facebook, you only have the option to 'Like' it" :-)

10 points for that.

I still don't get it, why they jail Joe Gordon for translating "the king never smiles". I know someone (Thai) who translated the whole book and it's been sending to many Thai for months. About that 61 years old Chinese guy, I have no idea what the heck was about.

I have read some of those "free speech" comments on FB about the King and so on. As Rob said, Thai can NOT debate constructively. Most of those who adore "freedom of speech" were just use nasty words against the others. It's given you nothing but annoyed.

I'm all for freedom of speech also, for example I will let them talk if someone told me how bad TF admins were etc, but I will tell them to shut the fack up IF they start calling you guys names or be nasty with your wives and your children and if I love you guys enough I might give that "freedom of speech" speaker a nice strong ***** slap.

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Hey :(

Someone help...PANDOREA!!

Piss off...

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

Originally, the First Amendment applied only to laws enacted by the Congress. However, starting with Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652 (1925), the Supreme Court has held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the First Amendment to each state, including any local government.

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We are Americans. They only free country in the world. I don't think you're even allowed to use US quotes without your Queen giving you permission.

I can see you're American by your fantastic grasp of the English language.

Actually Americans need to get their English language contract renewed every 5 years. Whichever suit you've got in the White House comes over to see Liz and she decides whether or not to allow you to continue (ab)using our language.

You guys are skating on thin ice these days. We might just leave you to it... Within 10 years, you'll all be speaking Mandarin or Arabic, depending on who buys your country.

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You guys are skating on thin ice these days. We might just leave you to it... Within 10 years, you'll all be speaking Mandarin or Arabic, depending on who buys your country.

Says the guy who can't even pronounce an "ar" or "er" at the end of a word (just like the Chinese). Once you learn how to speak a reformed and refined version of the language you have butchered, please come back for your fortune cookie.

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Says the guy who can't even pronounce an "ar" or "er" at the end of a word (just like the Chinese). Once you learn how to speak a reformed and refined version of the language you have butchered, please come back for your fortune cookie.

Let me clarify that post. You're saying I don't have a rhotic accent. You're assuming that Americans have rhotic accents (that's what you were trying to describe) and Brits don't. And you're also assuming a rhotic accent is correct. Technically accents aren't right or wrong, but grammar, spelling and punctuation are.

However, you won't hear a rhotic accent from a Chicago native and people from Bristol, UK pronounce the final 'R' very distinctly.

Come back when you need another lesson (and a fortune cookie).

:-)

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Let me clarify that post. You're saying I don't have a rhotic accent. You're assuming that Americans have rhotic accents (that's what you were trying to describe) and Brits don't. And you're also assuming a rhotic accent is correct. Technically accents aren't right or wrong, but grammar, spelling and punctuation are.

However, you won't hear a rhotic accent from a Chicago native and people from Bristol, UK pronounce the final 'R' very distinctly.

Come back when you need another lesson (and a fortune cookie).

:-)

Correct English is when there is no accent...That's the point. For the most part, it's a phonetic language. Thus, every letter and letter combination should be heard. My English is "better" than yours, not "bettah."

You want sping row wit dat?

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Correct English is when there is no accent...That's the point. For the most part, it's a phonetic language. Thus, every letter and letter combination should be heard. My English is "better" than yours, not "bettah."

You want sping row wit dat?

'Bettah' is a Southern English accent.

'Bedder' is a North American accent.

I have neither... And my English is about the clearest, easiest to understand and grammatically correct of anyone's on the forum.

And let's not forget the first part of your screenname... How's your Engrish, Lob?

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'Bettah' is a Southern English accent.

'Bedder' is a North American accent.

I have neither... And my English is about the clearest, easiest to understand and grammatically correct of anyone's on the forum.

And let's not forget the first part of your screenname... How's your Engrish, Lob?

The day your English is clear will be the day Ciaran stops drinking beer!

If you can pronounce an "r" at the end of a word properly, I'd be amazed. Yes, your grammar is great, but it is laughable that you honestly believe you speak cleaRRRRly (not clealy...I can hear it now). Your age must be eating at your zombie brain.

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The day your English is clear will be the day Ciaran stops drinking beer!

If you can pronounce an "r" at the end of a word properly, I'd be amazed. Yes, your grammar is great, but it is laughable that you honestly believe you speak cleaRRRRly (not clealy...I can hear it now). Your age must be eating at your zombie brain.

Of course I can pronounce a final 'R'... I do it all the time, when I'm impersonating redneck yokels from the colonies.

Also in a conditional sentence (such as the first one in your previous post), try not to mix past and present tenses. eg

If you could pronounce a final 'R', I'd be amazed.

or

If you can pronounce a final 'R', I'll be amazed.

Each sentence has a different meaning. Yours is a mixture of both and is incorrect. You're confusing first and second conditional sentences. Don't be embarrassed, it's a common mistake amongst new students.

Y'all come back fer anudder lessin nex' week, y'hear?

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Correct English is when there is no accent...

Really?

So that would also be known as 'silence' would it? I only suggest this as it is IMPOSSIBLE to speak without an accent. Even 'BBC English' or 'General American' (which war was he in again? Yes, yes; the war of words of course) are accents in themselves.

"There is not a single correct accent of English. There is no neutral accent of English. All speakers of English need to cope with many different aspects and learn how to understand them. Some accents are associated with social groups who have high prestige (the kinds of accents spoken by highly educated people, for example), but there are also many of these high prestige accents, all of them regionally based. The accents that are traditionally taught to non-native speakers of English are high prestige accents from various places."

(http://linguistlist.org/ask-ling/accent.cfm)

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So that would also be known as 'silence' would it? I only suggest this as it is IMPOSSIBLE to speak without an accent. Even 'BBC English' or 'General American' (which war was he in again? Yes, yes; the war of words of course) are accents in themselves.

"There is not a single correct accent of English. There is no neutral accent of English. All speakers of English need to cope with many different aspects and learn how to understand them. Some accents are associated with social groups who have high prestige (the kinds of accents spoken by highly educated people, for example), but there are also many of these high prestige accents, all of them regionally based. The accents that are traditionally taught to non-native speakers of English are high prestige accents from various places."

(http://linguistlist.org/ask-ling/accent.cfm)

Thank you, Iain.

Wow! Rob, it's almost like deja vu... (That's French, that is.)

Technically accents aren't right or wrong, but grammar, spelling and punctuation are.

So, just to conclude, Rob, you're saying my spelling, punctuation and grammar are better than yours. But you can say words that end with 'R' better than I. Well done. I bet your Mum is very proud of you.

;-)

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Of course I can pronounce a final 'R'... I do it all the time, when I'm impersonating redneck yokels from the colonies.

Also in a conditional sentence (such as the first one in your previous post), try not to mix past and present tenses. eg

If you could pronounce a final 'R', I'd be amazed.

or

If you can pronounce a final 'R', I'll be amazed.

Each sentence has a different meaning. Yours is a mixture of both and is incorrect. You're confusing first and second conditional sentences. Don't be embarrassed, it's a common mistake amongst new students.

Y'all come back fer anudder lessin nex' week, y'hear?

Again, you're skirting around the point as usual when you're wrong. You saying that your grammar is better than mine when I say your accent isn't clear is like you telling me you can dance salsa better than me after I say I can run faster than you!

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