Andrew MacGregor Marshall, a Scottish journalist and writer currently persona non grata in Thailand for breaching Article 112, and creator of the iconoclastic blog, Zen Journalist, has thrown down the gauntlet to Michael Yon, a celebrity American journalist currently working in Bangkok supporting the overthrow of the government.
Marshall and Yon
Since Yon has been in Thailand an ongoing comment box battle has been taking place on Facebook between these two men, men of very different standing concerning their view of Thailand and Thai politics. Yon, who is stocky in size and character, is the one who has been criticized the most, by Marshall, who is more verbose, and yet abashedly aggressive, and antagonistic. While Marshall works from Cambodia, sending his free, sprawling missives into cyberspace, Yon strolls around the capital begging for change from anyone that will support him while writing Twitter-esque messages to the masses. Marshall’s criticism is that Yon is ultimately a self-serving egoist with a myopic understanding of Thailand, and to compound this he’s a pretty cruddy journalist. Ironically, he’s also accused of invoking populist cliches into his writing, even though he works for the guys using populism to bring down their enemy.The Cambridge educated Marshall, who at times in his posts seems as quick to temper as an old bitch protecting her pups, seems chagrined by the popularity of the ever-smiling, florid-faced Yon, in view of what he deems are his own brilliant, historic texts on a changing Thailand. Marshall may see himself as the unsung mythical hero, waiting for his chance to enter the city of sin, and right some wrongs, and yet, The Castle, is no easy place to enter. Yon on the other hand is the picture of fine-living, having gorged himself on the scraps thrown out by his bosses.
This could be seen as some kind of journalistic celebrity death match, between a sometimes paranoid academic with a penchant for philosophy, late nights, and fisticuffs, and a fat blusterous propagandist who spends most of his time reading Clancy and clamoring for funding. Yon’s towel man, in the yellow corner, is Abhisit Vejjajiva, while in Marshall’s corner a bloody sponge sits on an empty stool, lit only by a far away spotlight hanging in a dark corner of the room. But it’s more than just a beat-down, it’s also a clash of mythologies, two opposing narratives going head-to-head.
The argument, and the comments, are worth reading, for many reasons. Yon is obviously a supporter of the people Marshall accuses of being the elites who are to blame for many of Thailand’s woes, for the enslavement of the poor, and while Marshall is obviously not a supporter of the Shinawatras, he is neither a staunch detractor of the family, as Yon is. Marshall seems seem more like an unwavering disciple of democracy, in spite of it’s wretched past, and disfigured face. He seems to support freedom no matter what, though talks less about the evils inherent in freedom. It’s hard to understand Yon’s political stance, or philosophy, because I’m not sure he has one. The word reform is talked about a lot, but located somewhere within the rubric of oppression. A paradox, the man is. But don’t listen to me, check out the ongoing battles, muggings, and hit-and-runs on Facebook.
Become a spectator. Both men are on Facebook.
Here’s Marshall laying down the gauntlet:
“I hereby challenge Michael Yon to a debate on Thai politics via Skype or FaceTime. The debate can be moderated by a mutually acceptable third party and whether I win or lose, I will share the video uncut and unexpurgated on Facebook. I am not a big fan of lame macho posturing but since Michael appears to be, I will make the challenge in language he will understand — are you man enough to debate me, Michael, or are you a coward? I am ready to debate you any time, and the only condition is that the full video should be shared online. No cuts, no editing, no excuses.”
This is Yon’s response:
“I do not read his words or pay attention to him. He failed as a war correspondent and as a journalist. His dishonesty is astounding. The accusations that he works for Thaksin are disturbing because he acts like he works for Thaksin.
There appears to be a dedicated staff on the payroll whose sole mission in life is to write about and stalk me. This has been happening since 2010, but in the past it centered on the US/Canadian militaries after I said two of their star generals should be fired. (Both were fired — one from my work, and the other from the work of a journalist.) The current staff defends Thaksin and terrorism.
And so now the failed war correspondent cum failed journalist seeks my endorsement by honoring his actions with a public debate.
My answer to one of his acolytes:
“I would consider accepting a challenge from an honest man, but not from this one. He is humping my leg in an attempt to gain my endorsement and approval. He will get neither. I do not endorse this person and no amount of his public begging for approval will change this.”
Another stalker from the past exhibited the precise traits that we see in Marshall. He was dishonest, constantly sought publicity, and would do absolutely anything to get attention. I warned about him and was mocked by many, but others could see the truth. He is a US Army soldier, but he went so far off the deep end that the Army will not even allow him to carry a firearm. So he carries a toy gun…
He also became a convicted criminal, and is facing more charges now.
This is a scene of him being arrested in Texas. I see Marshall as precisely this guy. Their behavior is parallel:
In a counter response Marshall has now offered Yon: “50% of my royalties from my upcoming book “A Kingdom in Crisis: Royal Succession and the Struggle for Democracy in 21st Century Thailand” to debate our views openly online,” so that yon can be paid for his time.