The Nation


Letters to the Editor

English lessons from the protests

English-speaking foreign observers of the protests might be confused by the fact that the actions of self-proclaimed civilised and law-abiding saviours of the country are being described in words that denote very uncivilised criminal acts. It may be useful to provide some explanation of the words that go through the minds of foreign observers, just in case these terms are not familiar to the law-abiding, peaceful crusaders. The following definitions are from Merriam Webster's Online dictionary:

"Extort: (verb); extortion (noun): the crime of getting money from someone by the use of force or threats."

In most places in the civilised world, extortion is something carried out by mafia gangsters and other lowlife, and is considered a serious crime. In Thailand, however, it is carried out by a merry band of thugs led by a man wearing the robes of a Buddhist monk, demanding money from businessmen and government agencies, and is considered a legitimate action.

"Intimidate: (verb); intimidation (noun): to compel or deter by or as if by threats."

In the civilised world, intimidation is considered a crime. In Thailand, however, intimidating others - making it impossible for government officers to perform their duties, preventing bankers and businessmen from conducting their work, and even obstructing citizens from entering voting booths - is considered a "right" of "non-violent", "peaceful" protesters.

"Harass (verb); harassment (noun): to annoy persistently; to create an unpleasant or hostile situation, especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct."

In the civilised world, harassing government officials, media persons and others whose opinions differ for yours is considered a criminal offence. In Thailand, however, it is considered the constitutionally protected right of uncivilised thugs.

It is truly amazing how, in Thailand, when actions that can only be described as extortion, intimidation and harassment are committed by these protesters, the words are somehow transformed into "good" words and the actions they describe considered - even by the courts - the righteous actions of righteous people.

No wonder the world is laughing at Thailand.

Laughing through My Tears


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