Corrente

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"One small rebellion at a time"

There are touchstone posts that I return to, and MsExpat's 2010 "Thailand: One small rebellion at a time" is one:

"But then," [Song] continued, "The police he asked me to pay him 500 baht a month 'rent'. I laughed and told him no. What do you think, I'm making big money here, I said to him?"

The policeman kept haggling, trying to bargain with Song for his bribe. He said, well, then, buy me a bottle of whiskey every month. She refused.

"Look," Song told me. "I know this man. I am happy if he comes by in the evening, he can sit down, eat rice with us, drink our beer. Everybody happy. This is fine, this is respect and I have no problem with it. But I'm not going to pay him for doing his job."

Song, the working class immigrant to Bangkok from northeast Thailand, has put down her foot and drawn the line. This is enormous. Twenty or even ten years ago, her refusal to kowtow to the policeman would have been unthinkable.

The corrupt system in Thailand will not be changed by dumping Ahbisit, restoring Thaksin. A new election will help, but only if it brings into power a team that understands these problems need to be addressed at a policy and structural level, not by simply doling out patronage like the Big Men.

Thailand will, in the end, be transformed slowly, in increments. With the courage and guts of Thais like my friend Song, who in fits and starts, at this micro level, are changing Thailand, one small rebellion at a time.

Fast forward to Happy Valley in 2011:

No one said no to Jerry Sandusky.

That's the underlying message from those closest to the alleged victims in the child-molestation scandal that has engulfed Pennsylvania State University.

After all, Jerry Sandusky, once the heir apparent to legendary football coach Joe Paterno, had been an assistant football coach at Penn State, a longtime community volunteer, and the founder of a well-known charity to help troubled youth.

"[My son] is really, really afraid of Jerry," one mother told the Harrisburg Patriot-News. "He told me numerous times when he started backing away from him, you just can't tell him no. I said, Why not?"

Her son told her, "You just don't do that." ...

But in interviews, all anonymous, relatives of some of them describe Sandusky as a man who seemed to have carte blanche access to the youths - even pulling them out of high school study halls to meet him. ...

The grand jury report lays out a scenario in which Sandusky was able to summon Victim One from class, and no one said no because Sandusky assisted the high school with coaching varsity football and could come and go there as he pleased.

That access didn't change, even when a wrestling coach discovered Sandusky and Victim One lying face to face in an unused part of the high school gym one evening, the report said. ...

Victim One's mother told the Patriot-News that officials at Central Mountain High School urged her to think twice about how she wanted to handle the situation, "how that would impact my son," she said. ...

Victim One became the first person to say no to Sandusky. "He's a brave kid," his mother told the Patriot-News. "And his major concern in the whole thing was for anybody else. He said, 'I just don't want this to happen to anybody else.' " [honor]

Although forms differ, elite impunity is the same all over the world. Remember, there are not very many of the 1%. Many Songs, many "victim one"s, and the elite will start to feel pressure on a personal and intimate level.

Or, ya know, you could heave a rock through a Whole Foods window.

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