Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The April Fools Arrive Early: Winning the Lottery in Ft. Worth, Irony in Bangladesh, and Defending the Crown in Thailand

Every so often the April fools show up early. Unfortunately many times when they do tragedy and unspeakable mayhem accompanies them.
Take the case of Terry Martin and Laurice Hampton. Reuters reports the couple had lived together for a number of years in Ft. Worth, TX. According to Tarrant County authorities their time together could best be described as, "volatile."
That's one way to put it. Either Friday night, or early Saturday morning one of the pair bought a lottery scratch ticket which turned out to be a $500 winner. Proving the definition of a "big jackpot" is all in the eye of the beholder, the two love birds quickly began arguing over either who would get the cash, or what they'd spend their new found fortune on.
The scene quickly degenerated and because this is America a loaded gun was laying around for just such a moment. Terry Martin shot Laurice Hampton multiple times before turning the weapon on himself. He was declared dead at the scene. Ms. Hampton, despite her wounds, was able to call 911, then tell responders what had happened. She died later at a local hospital. The story didn't mention who would inherit the lottery ticket.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Mr. Washiqur Rahman was attacked and killed on the mean streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is the second blogger to be murdered there in the last month. In February, American/Bangladeshi writer, Avijit Roy was also dispatched with sudden and savage prejudice. Roy, an avowed atheist, had been using his blog to attack Islamic extremism while Rahman's recent posts had expressed his solidarity with the victim of the earlier assault. 
The gang who attacked Avijit Roy with machetes has been described as anywhere from conservative to radical Islamists. Rahman's assailants were knife wielding students from local madrassas. Since the members of both groups aren't the brightest of bulbs it probably never dawned on them their gruesome crimes simply validated everything Roy and Rahman had written about their religion. Hey, let's face it, such ironies are usually far too subtle for the average true believer.
Then we come to Mr. Tiensutham Suttijitseranee and Thailand's criminal code 112. Code 112 makes it a crime to defame, insult, or threaten the king, queen, heir to the throne, or a royal regent.
Current Thai Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha takes the law pretty darn seriously. He is described as a staunch royalist and he's been in charge since a coup last May ran the previous government out of office.
Suttijitseranee was described in a Reuters report yesterday as a 58 year old businessman. After he posted five photos with captions on his Facebook page he was accused of violating code 112. Although the photos weren't displayed, or described in the story they must have been doozies, because Brother Suttijitseranee was looking at ten years apiece for them.
He went before a military tribunal the other day, because they're the ones actually running the country and honestly, you really can't count on civilians to bring the hammer down on these irreverent swine. In the end, the defendant's attorney was able to cut a deal with the court. Mr. Suttijitseranee copped a guilty plea and now he is going away for a mere 25 years. If he does the whole sentence he'll be 83 when he gets out.
The Reuters story says that when he isn't defending the crown from insidious Jon Stewart wannabes, Mr. Chan-ocha is urging, 87 year old King Bhumibol Abulyadej to lift the "temporary" state of martial law which has been in force for the last 10 months. He wants it replaced with what amounts to--you guessed it--permanent martial law.
Yes, it's good to be king, but in most places, Thailand included, it is even better to be in command of the army and air force.
And so there we have it--deadly stupidity, murder in the name of God, and the complete lack of a sense of humor.

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