No justification for Smith's actions
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No justification for Smith's actions

Ironically, despite many important things happening in our world, people have spent more time in the past few weeks talking about superstar Will Smith and his "Oscars slap heard round the world" than the Russia-Ukraine war, the pandemic or climate change.

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you must have seen the footage or at least heard the news about Smith invading the Oscars stage and slapping Chris Rock, a comedian and the host of the Oscars after Rock made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia. Shortly after, Smith was awarded the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard and he used his speech as an opportunity to make a tearful apology to the Oscars and his fellow nominees saying: "Love will make you do crazy things." We also learned that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences later decided to ban Smith from the Oscars ceremony for 10 years.

While I'm not here to talk about celebrity gossip, I found it interesting how the incident divided people and showed everything that's good and bad in the world. An on-stage biff between two celebrities over a silly joke quickly became a hotly-contested topic as millions debated what was the right or wrong thing to do. But while the percentage of those who agreed or disagreed with Smith's actions in the US could be split 50/50, what surprised me was that the majority of people in Thailand somehow agreed and supported Smith's actions and said it was the right way to respond.

"How he stood up for his wife meant so much to me. Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives who live in a world of daily ignorance and insults. Thanks to Will Smith for setting such a good example," said a housewife on a Pantip post.

"I know some of you may disagree with me, but I want to say that Will Smith did the right thing. I would have done so much more than just simple slapping if someone ever hurt my wife and my family," said another male user.

Since when is physical assault the answer? Such incidents remind me a lot of what happens in Thailand. How often do we see re-enactments in local news stories about brutality often triggered by anger against a suspect from relatives of the victim? Why do many people think that in order to protect our loved ones, we all have the right to commit a crime and break the law?

For the Oscars incident, sure, it was perhaps cruel for Rock to make fun of someone who has publicly struggled with a medical condition. But does that mean that Smith was right to hit Rock, as well as ruin the night of others who attended the event? Of course not. Smith's reaction cannot be condoned. And it absolutely must not be justified as an acceptable reaction to Rock's words. He doesn't have the right to walk up on stage and slap someone just because of what they said. While I don't want to go deep into what was in Smith's mind at that moment or news about the issues he had with his wife or his dysfunctional family life, it is clear that Smith's decision at that moment was made for himself and not for the sake of his wife. That's not an act of protecting someone you love, but it was pure ego. He wanted to show his wife his love and how tough he is.

It really doesn't matter where you fall on the spectrum of this debate, using violence is wrong, and we should not defend such actions. What would you teach your children about this? Should we resort to the same type of violence as Smith? And if we do, should our children follow that behaviour? Or should we teach them how to control their emotions and develop effective conflict resolution skills? I vote for the latter.

Tatat Bunnag is a feature writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Tatat Bunnag

Life Writer

Tatat Bunnag is a feature writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

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