Another View re Thailand's Sleazy Image

Discussion in 'General Global Topics' started by Adam's Apple, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    Question: If pedophilia is not tolerated in Thailand, as this author states, how does it thrive there to become such an international magnet?

    Sleazy Image Not Accurate Portrayal of Thailand
    Erick Gjerdingen, Herald-Times
    August 28, 2006

    Had I not lived in Thailand for the last two years, I might picture Bangkok as a lawless and decrepit wasteland inhabited by pedophiles instead of the vibrant and culturally rich industrial capital of Southeast Asia that it is.

    The vast majority of foreigners living in Thailand are there because it is a wonderfully pleasant place to live. Rather than a fugitive, an expat is far more likely to be a former Peace Corps volunteer who finds that Thailand is the perfect mixture of the exotic they came to crave in Africa with the stability and opportunity for creature comforts found at home.

    With abundant work opportunities, the low cost of living and medical care, and weekend island escapes, many foreigners believe their overall quality of life is higher in Thailand than at home. A friend of mine from Nebraska often said that once someone had spent three years in Thailand, it was impossible to leave because they could not readjust to the complicated daily routine of their former lives.

    These people are fleeing the cubicles that once held them captive, not the FBI. I taught at a university where I often screened the applications of foreign teachers. Our typical teacher would have been a divorced mother of two from Oregon with years of experience in public health administration taking advantage of early retirement or a Scottish professor who had fled his native climate. The vast majority of applicants seemed to have lived remarkably normal lives and had come to a crossroads where they chose a radical change of pace.

    Yet, I did find myself suspicious of the motives of others. There were occasionally red flags in applications that made me uneasy. These ranged from a fake doctoral degree from an unaccredited alma mater to impressive work histories without dates or former employers' contact information to demands that we return all copies of their resume.

    Whenever the red flags flew, and people's behavior did not add up, I thought of Eric Rosser, caught after raising a potential employer's suspicions, and I Googled.

    As a former foreigner in Thailand, I have to admit that a certain segment of the expat population seemed shrouded in an aura of suspicion but, far more often than not, they were hiding from child support payments or reveling in escaping memories of failed business deals of the past for an anonymous present. No matter why they felt the need to flee, I think they fled to Thailand due to the ease and inconspicuousness with which they could obtain a high quality of life.

    Thailand's large sex industry could be regarded as symbolic representative of tolerance of all kinds of behavior, and as perhaps nurturing a criminal element, but this is simply not true. While there are relaxed attitudes towards prostitution, homosexuality and trans-gendered lifestyles, many Thai cultural norms are more conservative than in America. It is generally considered inappropriate to hold hands with the opposite sex, and Thais prefer to swim in public beaches fully clothed. Suffice it to say, pedophilia is not tolerated.

    Thai newspapers, particularly in heavily foreign areas, often contain stories about child prostitution rings with the stated purpose of focusing public attention on the issue to help create long-term solutions. Much like our own sex offender registries, Thai newspapers inform the public so that they can collectively make their communities safer.

    While reader responses on the Bangkok Post Web site noted an embarrassment over this latest incident reinforcing any reputation for Thailand being a "pedophile-friendly place," the arrests of Eric Rosser and John Mark Karr made communities around the world safer. That they were caught in Bangkok after stops across the globe is a testament to Thailand.
     
  2. erickgj
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    erickgj Rookie

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    When you suggest that pedophilia is tolerated in Thailand, how do you mean it is tolerated? Do you mean that it is culturally tolerated, that it is tolerated by police forces, or do you mean something else? I think it is important to make this distinction clear.

    And, out of curiosity, did you get permission to reproduce this article in its entirety? I'm just kidding. I wrote it and tried not to say that pedophilia doesn't exist. Instead, my intent was to suggest that our perception of Thailand is skewed.

    To respond to your question, I think I made an explanation of this in the article. Here some of the main points:

    1. Though Thailand has a reputation, most people don't actually fit this reputation. Those that do are the exception, not the norm.

    2. The quality of living in Thailand is relatively high, and this can be obtained anonymously. Thus, and this is perhaps the biggest point, people come to Thailand for this reason. For some pedophiles, this is an attraction, as it is for those who are escaping stress or many other things. In the article I wrote, "No matter why they felt the need to flee, I think they fled to Thailand due to the ease and inconspicuousness with which they could obtain a high quality of life." This brings many, many people to Thailand, a very small percentage of which are pedophiles.

    3. I make the point that part of the reason Thailand has a reputation for pedophilia is that people are caught there, where they are not in many other countries, and this affects our perception.

    4. Finally, I reiterate that pedophilia is not culturally tolerated. The fact is, police aren't perfect and can't stop everything they would like. Do people get away with things they shouldn't? Yes. Does Thailand as a culture tolerate this? Not a chance. That's key.
     
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  3. CSM
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    Good points, IMO. I suspect too that some of the perception is fostered by sensationalism in our own press (maybe not MSM but certainly in some of the more titallating rags found on the news stands).
     
  4. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    Welcome to the board, Erick. Thanks for the post. I think you're the first author who has actually posted a comment about his article on this board.
     
  5. Gunny
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    Gunny Gold Member

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    Maybe a little sensationalism, but having made port calls in Thailand, while I cannot attest to what is accepted by Thai culture, I CAN attest to the fact pedophilia exists and in some places the underage prostitutes are obvious. Patong Beach rings a bell.
     
  6. 90K
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    90K BANNED

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    I know all the times I was in thailand from 86-93 it was wild and anything went. Although as time had gone by thailand became more filthy and I lost my charm to visit. Yeah Pattaya Beach was a wild joint and I liked it better than Subic Bay/Olongapo City Philippines---->Station deto NAVMAG.
     
  7. CSM
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    CSM Senior Member

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    I bow to your first hand experience. I cannot help but wonder however, what a tourist thinks when he/she some parts of our country that are less than pristine...some places on the west coast come to mind.
     
  8. 90K
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    90K BANNED

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    Well maybe it is not looked at as badly as we might think? I mean in Thailand and in PI it was all over, it was the social make up of the local ecomony. Unlike our country we don't solely make our livings off beer and strip joints. Oh how can you not hide them in our world today. Refering back to the world cup in Germany. That was straight up chaos and it was legal so what gives? After a while when I lived in Asia you just got used to it. Hong Kong, Thailland, Korea, Philippines were the worst Singapore on the other had was different not in your face, but you could find what you were looking for and I spent a lot of time in Singapore when the Fleet wasn't there. I mean even in Australia on either coast Perth (WA) or Sydney had Kings Cross. I guess it depends on how dependant a society is depends on the tolerance.
     
  9. Gunny
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    Gunny Gold Member

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    The flaming homos might raise some eyebrows; otherwise, it's quite tame here in the states compared to Southeast Asia. You know how they show it in all the Vietnam war movies? It's pretty-much still the same.

    Apparently 90K and I have been to a few of the same places and I agree with is assessment. Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Bali and the PI are the most blatantly obvious dens of "anything goes." Singapore likes to keep that facade up and pretend it doesn't exist.

    Whether or not it gets the "wink and nod," it's pure exploitation. Most of those people have no other means of support. All of the jobs in the knock-off clothing store, knock-off cologne/perfume stores, taxis that want to drive you ten feet, and restaurants are already taken.
     
  10. CSM
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    I believe you...I know that the movies barely scratched the surface when portraying VN...Saigon was a pit and place like Vung Tau were nothing but government subsidized brothels with beaches. I only got to either place once each tour...didn't miss much in my opinion.
     

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