Interesting Words - Lèse Majesté

Lèse majesté (usually written Lese Majeste because no one can find the right symbols on their keyboard) is the crime of violating majesty, an offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state.

(The 2007 Constitution of Thailand, and all seventeen versions since 1932, contain the clause, "The King shall be enthroned in a position of ) revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action." Thai Criminal Code elaborates in Article 112: "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years." 15 years!

Missing from the Code, however, is a definition of what actions constitute "defamation" or "insult". From 1990 to 2005, the Thai court system only saw four or five lèse majesté cases a year. From January 2006 to May 2011, however, more than 400 cases came to trial, an estimated 1,500 percent increase.

Neither the King nor any member of the Royal Family has ever personally filed any charges under this law. In fact, during his birthday speech in 2005, King Bhumibol Adulyadej encouraged criticism: "Actually, I must also be criticized. I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong, because then I know." But of course it's usually not the Royals who are the problem in the world, they are just one person, it's the hangers on, the sycophants and boot lickers who are frightened of losing their power base.

And it's not just Thailand, in Germany, Switzerland, and Poland it is illegal to insult foreign heads of state publicly, which implies it's ok to insult them privately and it's OK to insult your own heads of state.)

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