Opinion: Debating the merits of social sanctions against families and people behind the system

While the pandemic may keep people at home, the spirit of the pro-democracy protests has been reignited to protect the dissidents currently in Jail. Many protesters say they want to employ the ‘witch-hunt’ tactic against those in power and their families.

However, some are concerned that such provocation would cast the protesters as a group ‘no different than the forces they are fighting.’

While personally, I agree that there is a legitimate argument to maintain moral high grounds for the cause, as always, the reality of the situation is more complicated. And even if Martin Luther King Jr. was right, his system of protest worked best under his set of circumstances.

Thailand is different.

Before we begin, however, I would like to make my position clear to everyone that a peaceful demonstration, as well as tranquil revolution, has always been the cornerstone of my belief.

I wrote an article back in August 2020 recommending a ‘one small step at a time’ approach to bring about social change. However, much has happened since the article came out. While I maintain my beliefs as is, reality has a way of affecting ideals, especially in a country so totalitarian as ours so that we may have to employ tactics beyond the original accepted boundaries.

One of which includes the social sanctions against members of the establishment, or supporters of the government.

While I recognize that if we were do away with civility and decency, the repercussions could be harmful for us all. But there must be a baseline, we cannot be treated as traitors to the country and accuse of high treason without fighting back. One must remain vigilant in one’s society of basic decency afforded to all its citizens such as the protection of rights and maintenance of fairness within the justice system.

Both these qualities are found wanting in Thailand at the moment. The particular act of social sanctions against the family of a Deputy Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, while called detestable by some, would not be an unreasonable approach, given that this family particularly thrived on the misery of Section 112 victims like the infamous ‘Ar Kong’ case, or even with Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak, who was a classmate of one of the deputy chief judge’s son.

In the end, it was all about the unequal power dynamics between those who thrived under the system and those whose miseries were caused by those in power.

Those who have not experienced extreme prejudice from the system would find it hard to understand why some people are resorting to witch hunts and social sanctions.

I would argue on the point that given these circumstances, no one should be able to say definitively which is the best for the movement and for the people themselves to make their own decisions. While it might not be the best decision, I think we can at least agree on the notion that something must be done.

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