October 6, 2016

"I was really tired that night and woke up to the noise. I was very angry and assumed that children were playing music."

"I told them to lower the volume of the loudspeakers before I unplugged the amplifier, and they didn’t understand me. That’s why I unplugged it."

Said Klaas Haijtema, a 30-year-old Dutchman, to the judge in Mandalay, Myanmar. He'd been staying in a hostel and the chants blasting from the Buddhist center annoyed him.

Haijtema was sentenced to 3 months in prison — at hard labor.

Previously, in Myanmar:
A bar manager from New Zealand and two Burmese men were sentenced to two years in prison in Myanmar on Tuesday for posting an image online of the Buddha wearing headphones, an effort to promote an event.

The court in Yangon said the image denigrated Buddhism and was a violation of Myanmar’s religion act, which prohibits insulting, damaging or destroying religion. “It is clear the act of the bar offended the majority religion in the country,” said the judge, U Ye Lwin.
Why do people travel with no awareness of the problems of violating the law in a place they don't understand? Do they believe that their lack of understanding is a laudable interest in exposing themselves to the exotic?

64 comments:

EDH said...

Why do people travel with no awareness of the problems of violating the law in a place they don't understand?

Because they've been told that to enforce such laws is "racist" and "xenophobic"?

Robert Cook said...

It strikes me that punishing people for insulting the Buddha does not demonstrate the love, compassion, and wisdom that Buddhism is supposed to engender. Those doing the punishing are insulting the Buddha!

Unknown said...

It worked for Hillary, I am sure their intent was not to break the law.

John said...

Why do people travel with no awareness of the problems of violating the law in a place they don't understand?

Because we have too many people who speak about how we are 'one world' and don't understand that diversity is about DIFFERENCES, not SAMENESS. If we just had one world government, this would all be solved. #sarcasm

traditionalguy said...

Buddha wants obedience.

Paddy O said...

"It strikes me that punishing people for insulting the Buddha does not demonstrate the love..."

Ah, but it does demonstrate that all of life is suffering. And for the true Buddhist there is no difference between punishment and not punishment. What Klaas needs is to learn there is also no difference between the noise and the silence, his self or the judge.

bagoh20 said...

In a world full of safe space no one is safe.

Laslo Spatula said...

I propose the following when visiting foreign countries: The Jar of Urine Test.

Put a figurine of their most revered religious figure in a jar of urine. Now decide whether you can show this to anybody without being punished or killed.

Determine your following interactions based on your answer to the above.

I am The Replacement Laslo.


Paddy O said...

bagoh gets it.

To which I will add. In a world full of safe space there is no space.

Big Mike said...

Hell! Ignorance of local laws is not an excuse driving from state to state across country.

MadisonMan said...

Trying to force cultural appropriation on other countries is not recommended.

Paddy O said...

Just try to pump your own gas in Oregon.

DKWalser said...

I believe it is simply too difficult for some to imagine just how different another country's laws may be. For someone growing up in a country with Western attitudes about freedom of religion and freedom of speech, it simply doesn't occur to them that another country would not respect these freedoms. So, they just assume they know how to behave and don't bother with "unnecessary" reading. I mean, if you are moving across the country, you might not realize you were violating New Jersey's gun laws by having your firearm with you in your car.

rhhardin said...

It depends on how corrupt the laws are.

PB said...

Because they're arrogant idiots.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Put a figurine of their most revered religious figure in a jar of urine. Now decide whether you can show this to anybody without being punished or killed."

The Pinata to be swung at here is not putting Christ in urine in the US, but putting Mohammed.

Now we would find out if Free Speech still exists.


I am The Replacement Laslo.

Original Mike said...

"Why do people travel with no awareness of the problems of violating the law in a place they don't understand?"

Is it possible to know all the laws, written and unwritten, of every corner of the world? Hell, supposedly we all unwittingly commit several felonies a day, in our own country, through ignorance. Perhaps the problem is the law and intolerant religions.

Laslo Spatula said...

Post-Christians in the Real World outside our door.

I am The Replacement Laslo.

Kristian Holvoet said...

Do they believe that their lack of understanding[...]

Isn't that what we are teaching these days, from Hillary's e-mail to safe spaces? That understanding laws, rules and others isn't important?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Do they believe that their lack of understanding is a laudable interest in exposing themselves to the exotic?

I suspect a few months in a Burmese prison will expose them to a whole new level of the exotic.

Sebastian said...

"Why do people travel with no awareness of the problems of violating the law in a place they don't understand?" If they are Americans, because they know a country must accommodate any stranger with any strange belief for the sake of cosmopolitan diversity. Coexist, you know. Wait, what is that you say? Other people think respect for difference means they get to hold on to their own culture? And punish you for not fitting in?

Curious George said...

"Why do people travel with no awareness of the problems of violating the law in a place they don't understand? Do they believe that their lack of understanding is a laudable interest in exposing themselves to the exotic?"

Let's ask the millions of muzzies who are raping and killing and turning Europe into Eurabia.

Meade said...

Really tired / Woke to noise / Very angry / Pulled the plug / Assumed wrong / Now I'm meditating in the big house
Burma Shave

Bill said...

"If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him - but do not depict him wearing headphones."

Ann Althouse said...

"It strikes me that punishing people for insulting the Buddha does not demonstrate the love, compassion, and wisdom that Buddhism is supposed to engender. Those doing the punishing are insulting the Buddha!"

But that is, I assume, an outsider's interpretation of a religion that is not his. Why are you not more sensitive to the offense your idea of Buddha might convey to the insiders?

Big Mike said...

Oh gosh, Meade! I remember reading those old Burma Shave signs. I don't think I've seen any for forty or fifty years.

Amexpat said...

Why do people travel with no awareness of the problems of violating the law in a place they don't understand?

Short answer: Some people are self-centered assholes.

Longer answer: I've met some tourists who actually believe that since they are spending money in a country locals should adapt to their needs and ways. Part of this attitude is due to travel being presented as a consumer product, both by travel companies and by some countries' tourist bureaus.

I work part of the year with tourists here in Scandinavia and Americans are, if anything, over sensitive to offending locals. The notion of the "ugly American" tourist no longer applies. Germans, Russians and Chinese are another story.

Rob McLean said...

Two excellent reasons to stay the hell out of Myanmar. (And most foreign countries, really.)

LordSomber said...

"When in Rome…"
-- Ron Burgundy

Fred Rawlings said...

I'd like to buy the world a Coke. But they have to come to the US for me to do it. Screw all of them in their own little Bailiwick. They come here and we treat them well. We go there, not so much.

Pennie Marchetti said...

Because they think they are citizens of the world. They don't realize that the rest of the world doesn't consider them their citizen.

Char Char Binks said...

I'll leave the US when it becomes intolerable. I have no interest in traveling to countries where my rights are not respected.

Thorley Winston said...

I think DKWalser is correct. However in these cases I don’t think I’d run afoul of the local laws because I know that (a) you don’t touch someone’s speakers (there are neighborhoods where that will get you beaten up), (b) the rest of the world doesn’t believe in freedom of speech like most of us do in the United States and (c) you need to assume that unless you are dealing with a Christian in the United States, that anything that might offend or be deemed a mockery of their religion or culture could carry legal consequences.

Original Mike said...

I've got no problem with the speaker-puller facing consequences. Two years for Buddha-wearing-headphones is bullshit.

William said...

The punishments seem a bit harsh, but not barbaric. I had always assumed, perhaps mistakenly, that Buddhists were a bit more laid back about their religion than most folks. Perhaps that's because in America Buddhism is practiced and explained mostly by hippies....... If I were God, I would prefer the worship of Buddhists to that of Muslims. I would even prefer Jehovah Witnesses.....Is self righteousness a sin in any religion? Among the religious left, it's a goal rin itself. The self righteousness that surpasses understanding.

Larry J said...

Why do people travel with no awareness of the problems of violating the law in a place they don't understand?

The whole "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" line is a bunch of nonsense. There are thousands of federal laws in the US and some 450,000 pages of regulations that can have the force of law. Add to that countless more state and local laws. There's even a book that claims ordinary Americans can commit Three Felonies a Day without even knowing it. I defy anyone who claims to know all of those laws. What are we supposed to do, consult a lawyer before doing anything? Is this yet another "Lawyer Full Employment" schemes?

If it's impossible to know all of the laws in our own country, how unrealistic is it to expect people to know all of the laws of other countries? Sure, it's easy to know that most major crimes here (robbery, rape, murder, drug smuggling, etc.) are also crimes in other countries. However, there are a lot of things that are legal here that aren't legal in other countries. The National Geographic Channel has a show called Locked Up Abroad that's full of examples of people being imprisoned for doing stupid stuff in foreign countries. I wonder if the show is sponsored by the State Department. I imagine a good deal of their workload is dealing with stupid people busted overseas for doing stupid things. Not that there's a lot the State Department can do about it when someone is arrested overseas.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

William said...The punishments seem a bit harsh, but not barbaric. I had always assumed, perhaps mistakenly, that Buddhists were a bit more laid back about their religion than most folks.

Wiki: Buddhism & Violence

BBC News Mag: The Darker Side of Buddhism

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Why are you not more sensitive to the offense your idea of Buddha might convey to the insiders?

What? Why wouldn't you instead encourage them to "get over it," let them know their mindset reflected an "old way of thinking," was "outdated" and "hateful," something like that? Now we have to be sensitive to giving offense to people with deeply-held fundamental beliefs with which we disagree!? Man, I thought "we won, get over it, we've moved beyond you" was supposed to cover it. Saying and doing things that offend believers/insiders is ok as long as we're on the side of love, right? Love wins!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Curious George said...Let's ask the millions of muzzies who are raping and killing and turning Europe into Eurabia.

Now now CG there are probably only a few tens of thousands of rapists and murderers within the millions of immigrants you're talking about, let's not exaggerate. Besides, that's different because that's a question of the West's values--don't forget that the West is always wrong/always the bad guy, so when foreigners come to the West their strange, backward ways are correct and the West is wrong and has to adapt. To not do so, of course, is evidence of racism and that's intolerable.

When we go there we should be sensitive to their customs, mores, and laws. When they come here we have to respect the fact that they don't have the same customs, mores, and laws, and since we don't want to be racist we must change our own customs, mores, and laws to accommodate them. It's very simple, you see.

Marc Puckett said...

The Burmese (well, more specifically, the Burmese lawmakers and police &c) don't really believe in their own religion.

Robert Cook said...

"Let's ask the millions of muzzies who are raping and killing and turning Europe into Eurabia."

Curious George, your xenophobic fever dreams do not correspond to reality. Chill.

dbp said...

A few years ago, I was staying with my wife and kids in Kapu in Karnataka India. We were there for a few days and there was a seemingly random assault of noise most nights. My father in law recognized the noise as some kind of prayer or mantra.

It was very loud, on very poor quality of speakers and far enough away that we never figured out where it was coming from. All of the locals I spoke to agreed that it was very irritating, but what can you do? They all seemed surprized when I told them that in the USA, if the police didn't shut the offender down--the flood of lawsuits would soon bankrupt them.

It was but one irritant to an otherwise fairly paradisiacal locale. If I lived there, I am confident that "technical problems" would soon bedevil the cult responsible for the nightly disturbances. And continue as long as necessary.

Robert Cook said...

"The Burmese (well, more specifically, the Burmese lawmakers and police &c) don't really believe in their own religion."

Ha! Just like us!

Original Mike said...

Blogger HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said..."Why are you not more sensitive to the offense your idea of Buddha might convey to the insiders?"

HD replied: "What? Why wouldn't you instead encourage them to "get over it,"..."


Exactly. I don't respect a religion (or its practioners) who show such little tolerance for outsiders. Lately, that would be most religions on the planet.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"The notion of the "ugly American" tourist no longer applies. Germans, Russians and Chinese are another story."

Germans in the National Parks are laugh out loud ignorant. And if you find an empty plastic water bottle in a place of stunning natural beauty, odds are better than even that an Asian threw it there.

Robert Cook said...

"'William said...The punishments seem a bit harsh, but not barbaric. I had always assumed, perhaps mistakenly, that Buddhists were a bit more laid back about their religion than most folks.'

"Wiki: Buddhism & Violence

"BBC News Mag: The Darker Side of Buddhism"


This simply illustrates the tendency of human beings--primitive, emotional creatures that we are--to take any precept, no matter how tolerant, peaceful or forgiving, and turn it into dogma, to be violently imposed and heretics just as violently punished.

The fault, to paraphrase the Bard, lies not in our spiritual concepts, but in ourselves.

cubanbob said...

Once again a reminder when traveling in a the Third World country that there is a reason it's a Third World country.

RC
"This simply illustrates the tendency of human beings--primitive, emotional creatures that we are--to take any precept, no matter how tolerant, peaceful or forgiving, and turn it into dogma, to be violently imposed and heretics just as violently punished."

Coming from a progressive that just broke the irony meter.

Richard Dolan said...

You don't have to go to the ends of the earth to find yourself in prison for uttering speech others deem offensive. The Europeans are already there -- in London, Paris and Berlin you can be prosecuted for racially or ethnically offensive speech, among other categories. Once a society decides that free speech isn't worth the trouble (and it does bring trouble), it's just a matter of deciding what kind of offensive speech will qualify as criminally offensive speech. Knowing the preferences of the crowd that runs the place will tell you how that will come out.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"This simply illustrates the tendency of human beings--primitive, emotional creatures that we are--to take any precept, no matter how tolerant, peaceful or forgiving, and turn it into dogma, to be violently imposed and heretics just as violently punished."

A beautifully compact history of the Baby Boom Left.

jacksonjay said...

With SJW, trigger warning, safe spaces and like growing by leaps and bounds, can anyone deny that it's only a matter of time? What did that creepy woman at Mizzou call for, "... some muscle"? Does anyone dare resist BLM warriors on the street, backed by the President? Seems rather naive to tsk-tsk this event in Asia when it's coming to America soon enough! Needly to say, especially if the corrupt candidate is elected!

Robert Cook said...

"A beautifully compact history of the Baby Boom Left."

Of course, because it's the history of the human race.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Oh, but not you, Robert. Not you!

JaimeRoberto said...

The punishments are harsh, but they could have been avoided by following one simple rule: When you are a guest in someone's home, don't be a dick.

eddie willers said...

WOW!

Meade made me laugh.

Ken B said...

People underestimate how shitty most of the world is.

Ken B said...

Why assume Robert Cook doesn't know his comment would offend such believers? They deserve offending, and RC is right to offer some.

rcocean said...

I don't understand it either. I don't have any sympathy for foreigners going into someone else country and breaking their laws and then whining about it.

rcocean said...

Does anyone ever go to Israel and break the law about the Sabbath?

You never hear about it.

madAsHell said...

He really wishes he could say......"No, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

Jon Ericson said...

Terrible blog, but the commenters are golden!

Alex said...

It's all part of the YOLO-concept. Part of 'living large' is not ever checking into anything. You just bounce around like a molecule and par-tay. That and lots of blow.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oso Negro said...

It is a preposterous notion to think that people can be aware of all laws in their own country, let alone ones in which they might travel. Nonetheless, the seasoned traveler who observes local custom and social practice will not only seldom go wrong, but frequently delight their hosts.

DrMaturin said...

Having spent a good deal of time abroad I can tell you it isn't hard to avoid getting into trouble, since most people are pretty tolerant of foreigners. It just requires an open mind, open eyes and an ability to adapt. And never, ever, ever get involved with drugs.