13
Jul
12

JOE GORDON IS FREE

This past December I did a piece on an American citizen of Thai descent named Joe Gordon, who was put in a Thai prison for insulting the King of Thailand while living in America. It’s rare that I get that riled up by something I see in the news but that one got me pissed. Gordon is a fellow blogger and should not have to worry about being jailed for what he says online. Certainly not when he’s a fucking American citizen living in the US.

Well, this morning I saw the news I didn’t think I would see. I’m a deeply cynical person but every once in a while, through these often small and easily missed stories, I find proof that the free will of a single individual is a force more powerful than even the most feared and firmly entrenched aristocracy.

“An American imprisoned in Thailand for insulting the king has been released after being granted a royal pardon, the man’s lawyer and a U.S. Embassy spokesman said Wednesday.

The American, Joe Gordon, left Remand Prison in Bangkok late Tuesday, according to his lawyer, Anon Numpa, who said King Bhumibol Adulyadej approved the pardon Monday. Numpa said his client was likely to return to the United States but gave no time frame.

Gordon was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison last December after being convicted of translating and posting online portions of a book, “The King Never Smiles,” which is banned in Thailand. In the book, a biography of King Bhumibol, the author Paul M. Handley accuses the king of consolidating royal power during his reign and slowing the development of democracy in Thailand.

Gordon, 56, was born in Thailand – his Thai name is Lerpong Wichaikhammat, – but he had lived in the United States for the past three decades prior to his arrest in May of last year during a visit to his hometown in Thailand. He was living in the United States when he put portions of the book on the Web.” – SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

You saw that right. An American citizen, living in America, was jailed in Thailand for doing something which is illegal only in Thailand. And while I am not suggesting that our laws take precedence over those of other countries, when you’re a US citizen in America you have the right to speak freely. If King Ramble Babble and his giant dumpling of a wife (seriously, look at a picture of her) think they can rule outside of Thailand through fear and intimidation they have another goddamn thing coming.

Bloggers around the world, of all political and ethnic stripes, are still a family. The views and reasons that brought us here may be vastly different but I really believe we are the future of free speech. Untainted, unsponsored and brutally honest. The power to think freely is only as effective as the power to speak with equal freedom. And Joe Gordon is only one example of our fellow bloggers being attacked around the world. Indeed, with this joyous news today there was also this story:

“A prominent Ethiopian journalist and blogger has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for violating the country’s anti-terrorism legislation.

Eskinder Nega and 23 others were found guilty last month…

…Eskinder was arrested last September after publishing an article questioning arrests under the anti-terrorism legislation, especially that of well-known Ethiopian actor and government critic Debebe Eshetu.

In 1993 Eskinder opened his first newspaper and has been detained at least seven times by the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Right group Amnesty International said the trial fell short of international standards.

“The imprisonment… is emblematic of the Ethiopian government’s determination to gag any dissenting voice in the country,” Amnesty’s Ethiopia researcher Claire Beston said in a statement.

“The Ethiopian government is treating calls for peaceful protest as a terrorist act and is outlawing the legitimate activity of journalists and opposition members.” – BBC NEWS

So the war goes on. And the very fact that we go online every day and do what we do means we as a collective group of individuals have the power to shake the system to its rotting, rusting and decaying core. If they weren’t afraid of us, they wouldn’t be arresting and jailing us. And while there will always be more Joe Gordons, we can at least celebrate today because one of us stood up to a tyrant and won.

And the next time you think about trying to thumb your nose at the free world, King Bumble Apple Ding Dong or whatever the hell your name is, remember this about the red, white and blue: These colors don’t run, motherfucker!

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