Donald Trump has succeeded in one area since he took office. He coined the first new phrase added to our international lexicon for 2017, “fake news”. But “fake news” isn’t coming from CNN or BBC. Most of it is coming from steaming piles of nonsense like Britain’s glaring example of yellow journalism meets internet click-bait, “The Sun”. In February they ran a story proclaiming Pattaya as the “sex capital of the world”.
Like most trashy tabloids nowadays, they’d like to take their viral post with all the website traffic it created and move on to the next misleading yet titillating headline. Not-so-fast lads, This Pattayan has a bone to pick with you.
The only thing that’s needed to debunk this fairy tale is to consider the source. The article credits three authors, but only one claims to have actually been to Pattaya, a Mr. Luke Williams. He is an Australian freelance journalist whose previous claim to fame was covering a story on meth addiction and becoming an addict himself. He then proceeded to milk his new found love of inhalable amphetamines by writing a book about what it’s like to be an ice-head in May of last year. In the book, Mr. Williams recounts a downward spiral where at the bottom he finds himself fantasizing he was a porn star and masturbating for 16 hours straight. It is not hard to imagine Mr. Williams gathering the information for his “Sex Capital” story while roaming the streets of Pattaya looking for a score of one kind or another.
And he is writing for a publication that openly solicits articles for money without any requirements for fact checking or disclosure of sources. Methinks Mr. Williams may have financed a few good party nights in Pattaya with his mud-slinging comparison of Pattaya to Sodom and Gomorrah. (Journalists secret: Headlines containing any form of the word “Sodom” are guaranteed to go viral)
The pictures used to illustrate the article show an arrested prostitute and a police man arresting and searching a person of the third sex, but Mr. Williams says at the very beginning that police turn a blind eye to the illicit sex trade. H-m-m-m-m … which is it Luke? Another blurry picture borrowed from a Facebook video allegedly shows a vicious attack by a drunk Brit on a Thai bar manager. Can someone explain what this has to do with sex for sale or Sodom and Gomorrah?
There’s also a photo of two smiling Thai girls walking hand in hand and the caption reads, “Women on Walking Street where bars and sex scenes are common place”. How dare those Thai women walk around close to bars! Don’t they know how oppressed and victimized they are? And exactly what is a “sex scene”?
Another picture shows a young Thai lady talking to some foreign men and the caption reads, “A girl negotiates price with some men for her services”. Really? I see her talking to one man. How did he know what they were talking about? He certainly didn’t interview those people. In the article Mr. Williams only manages to quote two people and they are both fellow Aussies that recommend he chill out and have a drink. Luke Williams, he’s not exactly and intrepid investigative reporter now is he?
What’s more, Luke is a little Trump-like on the facts. He asserts that there are 27,000 sex workers in Pattaya but sites no source for such a ridiculous figure. He goes on to claim that 1 in 4 of the male population of Pattaya are big fat white guys looking for sex from young girls, Look Luke, I understand that when your body has been ravaged by meth, it must seem like everyone is a fat guy. And when your very soul is screaming for that next hit of Ice, one has a tendency to lose touch with reality. But a guy who was once an award winning journalist should know these kind of unsubstantiated absurdities just wipe out any shred of credibility you once had. Get yourself some help mate.
For some reason, this tripe got the Thai public and politicians in an uproar. Everyone from Police officials to the Minister of Tourism and Sports felt the need to take action. Police, while denying that anyone traveled to Pattaya for sex, shined up their jackboots and cracked down hard on everything from Ugandan hookers to Cambodian beggars. The Minster of Tourism spoke up and said she would turn Pattaya into a huge sports destination starting with jet skis. I don’t know anyone who knows exactly what that means.
I wish someone would tell them its fake news. The Sun is a smut-rag that thrives on this kind of titillation.The editors of The Sun use stories about Thailand’s famously relaxed attitude towards the sex trade to stoke the lustful fires of a repressed public hunkering down in a cold damp winter and needing some salacious reading material for their morning visit to the loo. It’s not real news Thai people; it’s just low-brow farang entertainment.
The internet and social media have given the institution of “yellow journalism” a new platform from which to spew their slanderous bilge. It allows losers like Luke Williams to finance their sex and drug orgies with the money they earn from it. This is the sick-but-true reality in 2017. The public doesn’t know what is fact and what is fiction. And everyone just repeats crap they heard.
Look, Pattaya certainly isn’t the Garden of Eden, but it doesn’t deserve to be branded with the unsavory title of World Sex Capitol. Especially by a has-been drug addict writing for a grocery store tabloid. Next time our intelligence is insulted by such bombastic clams, let’s all consider the source and see it for what it is … fake news.