I always find it strange when a country needs to order a “period of mourning”. Isn’t mourning a personal decision, or even a reflex? What if you just cannot be heart-broken about the death of King Bhumibol of Thailand because you think that 88 years is a good age to leave, particularly in a country with a life expectancy of 74 years? What if it doesn’t bring tears to your eyes that an unelected king is no more?
Well, bad luck. Because the government wanted to set a new record for longest mourning period and ordered a whole year of mourning. That’s right, a whole year! You will have to wear black, to weep and be sad, to refrain from dancing and laughter.
Also, business will be impeded. I received this message from Facebook:
Now we know what works even better than an ad blocker: a death of a monarch. Not only with that in mind, I call for the death of all kings and queens! And Thailand, if you have a whole year without alcohol and distractions, maybe you can contemplate a constitution without a monarchy.
Like today Turkey?
That would be a bad example. Other countries’ constitutions are available as role models. – But admittedly, a constitution is not everything, although as a lawyer I naturally look at it first.
Sounds ridiculous to me. Though I may run the risk of being termed inconsiderate. But really, I agree with your thought here. Mourning should be a personal decision not a state dictate.
Regarding the word »mourning«, I agree. Nevertheless, I’d justify some public rituals of memory for a person of public interest who just passed away.
Maybe, but this example was chosen deliberately, as I shall explain below.
I have nothing against regarding the constitution first. The constitution is particularly important because it can lower the importance of the regent’s personality, avoiding that a good regent’s demission or death becomes a catastrophe for the citizens.
My issue is something completely different but still within the constitution: Much more imprtant than whether the head of the state – especially a politically powerless one – is elected or not is what inalienable rights do the citizens have, especially if they are against the government and especially if belong to a little minority. A state without those rights is a tyranny regardless of whether »the people is in power« – if so, it is a tyranny with millions of tyrants.
Regarding the question about political opponents, I fancy the Finck criterion: »Ich stehe hinter jeder Regierung, unter der ich nicht sitze, wenn ich nicht hinter ihr stehe.«
(»I stand behind any government under which I don’t ›sit‹ (do time) if I don’t stand behind it.«)
In the case of Thailand, my problem with the king is less the monarchy itself (after all, the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands are quite well-functioning liberal democracies), but that he is beyond any criticism and that any “lèse-majesté” is severely punished. This creates an illiberal climate, although the military dictatorship probably contributed more to that.
Well while were on the subject of mourning what about September 11. I understand that it was a “catastrophic” event that took many lives, but it was over a decade ago and we still have to treat it like its a fresh wound.
Unlike in Thailand, nobody forces you to mourn.
And a terrorist attack with more than 3,000 victims is indeed more catastrophic than the death of one 88-year old.
Depends on the successor …
And that leads us back to my general problem with monarchies. People who defend monarchies often look to enlightened monarchs, but forget the many monstrous kings who came before and after. In any case, if Queen Elizabeth II for example is so wonderful and popular, she can run for Parliament and try to become Prime Minister.