I was originally going to call this blog “The Death Photo of David Carradine”. But, at the last minute I decided to change it to “It is not a Good Idea to Die in Thailand”. The topic is still the same but the new title will probably be better for the health of our server. On Saturday, Thai Rath published a picture of the front page of their newspaper of the naked body of the late David Carradine. The shockwaves of this went around the world and became big news in the Sunday newspapers in America. Everyone was naturally shocked. How could those Thai people do this to our beloved Hollywood hero. A family member said in a statement that they were “profoundly disturbed by the release in Thailand of photographs taken at the scene of David Carradine’s death… The family wants it understood that any persons, publications or media outlets will be fully prosecuted for invasion of privacy and causing severe emotional distress if the photos are published.”
If you live in Thailand then the revelation of the news that the Thai Rath decided to run a picture of a dead body on the front pages won’t come as a shock. As much as I detest this practice, I guess I have become used to it and it doesn’t shock me as much as it used to do. However, I still say that Thailand is not the best of places to die while on holiday. I have seen too many close-up pictures of dead foreigners on the front pages of the newspapers. If I go then I don’t want the last image of me to be in full colour on the front page. A few weeks back, a Canadian teenager jumped to his death from a building in Bangkok. His picture, with blood spreading out from a head wound, was shown on the front page. Other foreigners who died in accidents have also been shown on the front pages. A bad situation is made worse when the rescue teams are involved. They tend to line up the bodies for a photo and then stand or crouch behind them as if they had just come back from a safari hunt. Sometimes they are asked by newspaper photographers to point at the bodies.
As some of you may know, there was a sucide at my school recently. A student jumped from the 6th floor of the school building. The school administrators quite rightly refused entry to any of the local media. The last thing they wanted was a posed picture of terrified students being forced to point to where he had jumped. I have seen this kind of photo before. If you live in Thailand then tell your relatives or friends not to allow photographers to come to see your deathbed. There will be no respect for your dead body. If you die in a hotel then you will have no rights. Many of us still remember that very disturbing picture of a university lecturer from a well-known institution in Bangkok. He died while on holiday in Chiang Mai. He was entertaining a lady in bed at the time. The next day, a picture of his dead body was on the front page of the Thai Rath. He was completley naked and the only decent thing the newspaper editor had done was put a black “x” over his private parts.
I still don’t understand why the police allow photographers and cameramen to enter a crime scene so quickly. Don’t they watch CSI? Don’t they know that the footprints of news media would contaminate the crime scene? I still remember watching television pictures of the New Year bombing at Central World. Bombs had gone off in the telephone booths. A short while later cameraman were there filming close-ups. They even moved things to get a better shot! Then a few hours later we saw the local road-sweeper cleaning up the glass! The same goes for murders. Do you remember the backpacker that was murdered in a guesthouse in Chiang Mai? I am not surprised that they haven’t caught the murderer yet as the reporters were walking all over the crime scene a short while later. Grisham would be so shocked to see this.
This doesn’t mean that all Thai people accept this. I know that Thai Rath is the biggest selling newspaper in Thailand and these kinds of pictures are the kind of thing that helps to sell it. However, there is a growing distaste among Thai people. On television this morning, a group of Thai news presenters were voicing their outrage of this matter. They said that they were embarrassed to be Thai at this moment. They also said that they hoped that the family of David Carradine kept their promise and sued the Thai Rath newspaper. Someone needs to stand up to them and to make a precedent in the Thai courts. We need someone to stand up in court and say that this is not right and guidelines need to be both written and then enforced. We should all be allowed the right to die with dignity and in the privacy of close family and friends.
At the end of the day, it is not fair to blame the Thai people for the release of the death photo of David Carradine. Newspapers in other countries are much the same if not worse. I guess it is human nature to stare at grisly scenes like this. How many of us slow down when passing an accident on the highway? What are we hoping to see? At the same time, how many of you went onto the Internet yesterday and googled “David Carradine Thai photos”? Or something like that. Our sister blogs at www.thaiphotoblogs.com received over 12,000 visitors in a short time and it nearly crashed the server. Our forums at www.ThailandQA.com also faced a similar situation. It is maybe true that Americans and Europeans were so shocked that the Thai people had published a photo of David. But then, hundreds of thousands of them then went onto the Internet to search for this photo. What does that tell you about the human race?