When Parliament Is For Porn

This past week, the Thai parliament has become recognized around the world for its appreciation of carnal sensuality, in two separate and seemingly unrelated incidents [1]. First, a half-naked image of a woman was shown in front of Thailand’s parliament. Originally the pro-opposition press (like the Bangkok Post) assumed it to have been a hack from the government, but eventually it was discovered that the image had come from Parliament technicians who accidentally zoomed to the wrong image instead of the vastly more dull powerpoint slide they were probably looking to show to support a speech from the former prime minister and head of the Democrat party. In the second incident an image was taken of an MP showing him hard at work during a debate enjoying pornography on his own iphone, and it was later found that the MP in question was a fairly young elite Democrat MP from Bangkok, who claimed it was a prank from friends [2].

What is the significance of such matters? Despite the name, the Democrat party remains the only acceptable governing party according to the palace and military elite, if not according to the people of Thailand, as evidenced by the fact that the Thai Democratic party is the civilian party chosen to lead coalitions after military coups despite not having won an election since 1992. We might therefore say that the Democrat party represents the traditionalist mindset in Thailand and those who support the elite and current social order, as opposed to any insurgent or emerging social order that naturally threatens such people.

This becomes problematic because the assumption is that the Thai Democrat party is going to represent not only the traditional social structure of Thailand, but also its supposedly high standards of morality. Naturally, those who claim to be the defenders of traditional morality cannot be open consumers of pornography, but must take one of two paths: either they must struggle against their lusts or they must be hypocrites who talk a lofty moralistic tone while being hypocritical in their actions.

It goes without saying that while the Thai people appear more tolerant than India or Indonesia’s population with similar sins [3] [4], or even the well-known hypocrisy within Singapore [5] and Malaysia [6] concerning this matter, that political problems may result from this rank hypocrisy. Nor is our own culture in the West devoid of such similar problems. It is lamentable that people want the reputation of moral virtue without the deep and often unsuccessful struggle against our own sinful nature. They want to point the fingers at others (especially political rivals) as immoral while enjoying immorality themselves, if behind close doors (usually). Thus such elites attempt to have the best of both worlds–a virtuous reputation as well as the enjoyment of the temporary pleasures of vice.

The difficulty is particularly serious when people present themselves to be authorities above question or accountability when their own behavior is so unjust and partial. Admitting a personal struggle against the many vices that ensnare us would reduce the distance between elites and ordinary people. It would remind us that we are all human beings with the same sorts of struggles regardless of where we stand. But where there is a deliberate attempt to mark elites as being high above others, supposed differences in behavior are often used (illegitimately) to show the difference between elites and everyone else. In addition, the lack of accountability tends to absolve those elites from actually going through the trouble of attempting to actually behave virtuously, so long as they keep it secret enough.

But in this day and age secrets are growing increasingly difficult to maintain. Our lives are uncomfortably public. We might not wish it to be so, but the greater reach that ordinary people have (and the greater reach that media has into our lives) carries with it tradeoffs. Everyone can see and be seen, can tell on others and be told on in their turn. We must therefore become increasingly aware that our options are limited. Those who wish to be above questioning and accountability have the choice of either working on their conduct so that they can be seen as blameless or at least decent in their lives or they must try to silence and attack anyone who would question them. Naturally, most societies and governments nowadays appear to be taking the second course, because the first is so difficult and often unpleasant.

Ultimately, I believe that even those governments that currently consider themselves to be free will eventually move into a very harsh totalitarian regime of censorship in order to avoid the nearly constant embarrassment that results from human frailty being seen and shared among a skeptical and critical public. We seem to be growing increasingly thin-skinned around the world these days (I certainly recognize such tendencies in myself) and are quick to condemn and shut down that which we do not condone. So we should not be surprised that our governments have these same tendencies, and that they share our own two-faced nature of presenting appearances of virtue and propriety while lacking the reality in our lives. Our leaders, after all, come from ourselves, and if we find their hypocrisy unacceptable we ought to be at least as critical at ourselves for pretending that virtue would exist among that class of people who looks down on their fellow man.

[1] http://asiancorrespondent.com/80830/on-porn-jokes-and-thai-lawmakers/

[2] http://www.nationmultimedia.com/breakingnews/Democrat-MP-admits-accidentally-watching-porno-pho-30180248.html

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-09/indian-mps-busted-for-watching-porn/3819490

[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13032128

[5] http://asiancorrespondent.com/80763/underage-prostitution-scandal-stokes-gossip-in-singapore/

[6] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-whores-of-northern-malaysia/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When Parliament Is For Porn

  1. Pingback: And If She Is A Door, We Will Enclose Her With Boards Of Cedar | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Jesus Is Better Than Porn | Edge Induced Cohesion

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