Many countries have a law designed to crush dissent that masquerades as something else. In Korea it is the National Security Law (국가보안법), often mistakenly understood as a law meant to outlaw support for North Korea. In reality, as recent events have shown, it is simply a tool used to attack and witchhunt radical left or even social democratic groups that are seen as a threat to establishment politics, regardless of their attitude toward the DPRK. It strikes me that Thailand’s lèse majesté law is rather similar: a way to attack political opponents and generally create a climate of fear rather than a law protecting the dignity of the royal family.
The latest victim of Thailand’s repressive lèse majesté law is Giles Ji Ungpakorn, who has recently fled Thailand only weeks after an Australian writer was jailed for three years for supposedly insulting the Thai royal family and that bastion of radicalism The Economist was banned from Thailand for the same.
Of course, as far as I’m concerned even if these laws were restricted simply to punishing those who openly supported North Korea or openly defamed the Thai royal family they would still be wrong on the grounds that the right to criticise those in positions of power or authority or to support other political systems (even fundamentally unpleasant ones) is a crucial element of freedom of speech.