I Didn’t Catch Your Name

A national uproar in Thailand over three teenage girls dancing topless in the streets of Bangkok has exposed what the New York Times called a conservative streak in an otherwise socially liberal society:

“‘We will take legal actions against them,’ a police official, Maj. Gen. Suwat Jangyodsuk, said of the dancers in an interview on Monday. ‘This has damaged a traditional Thai ceremony. The charge is doing a shameful act in public by indecently exposing oneself.’

Thailand’s minister of culture, Nipit Intarasombut, demanded that ‘society come out and criticize’ the dancers, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Intarasombut said that the dancers should atone by reading books about traditional Thai celebrations to nursery school children.”

Child sexual abuse and trafficking has long been a documented problem in countries like Thailand and the sudden conservative outpouring may be a reaction to a social situation many feel are out of control. Or, as one Thai professor put it:

“Chalidaporn Songsamphan, an associate professor at Thammasat University in Bangkok, said Thais were uncomfortable when sexuality was displayed in public. And, she said, the anger directed at the topless dancers was a way for people to channel their frustrations about wider social problems, like alcoholism, low test scores among students and teenage delinquency.

‘Thais need someone to blame,’ Professor Chalidaporn said. ‘It’s easier than fixing problems in the country.'”

Notice her name – Chalidaporn. It sounds like “Child Porn.” In an article about topless teenagers in a country notorious for child sex trafficking, the Times reporter sought perspective by interviewing a professor whose name sounds like the words, “Child Porn.”

You gotta love it – her name, that is. Because there’s nothing funny about sex trafficking or social conservatism.

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