It seems every week there’s an uproar on Facebook in Thailand about a new issue offending ” Thais and, this week, it’s no exception. What have gone viral on Facebook in Thailand over the last few days are two photographs of portable toilets in the Netherlands, decorated with photographs of Buddha. The portable Buddha toilets were created by a Dutch designer, likely in an attempt to make pretty something that is usually downright ugly. Thais, however, are offended.
Of course, the usual pundits were out on Facebook and other social media sites saying “When Thai student stop dressing in Nazi uniforms, we’ll stop using images of Buddha on toilets” in reference to a story that went viral in Europe last year when Thai students dressed in Nazi uniforms as part of a high school parade and celebration. But does that cause the Buddha photographs on a public toilet to be less offensive or more acceptable? Not really.
The same goes for every country, Thailand, the Netherlands, the US, the UK, China etc. Maybe THINK a little bit about using images for advertising or social circumstances that could be seen by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world and ask yourself “Would this be offensive to Thais, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Zulus, Spanish matadors?” You name it.
Although, quite frankly, when Thailand is a country with no freedom of speech, where Rohingya refugees are being sold by Thai police to traffickers and where people are put in jail for over a decade for simply ‘having an opinion‘ then, no, I personally don’t think these Buddha pictures on toilets are offensive. I find Thailand’s complete lack of respect for human rights far more offensive. Frankly.