The Illusion of Freedom – Part 1/4

Three things happened leading to this series of posts examining what freedom means to different people.

First, I was reading Return to Cambodia” in the February 2012 issue of “Travel + Leisure” magazine. One paragraph gave me cause for thought.  Thomas Beller, a free lance journalist, said, “Phnom Penh, once a lawless haven for adventurers, layabouts, and hedonists of all stripes for whom freedom was just another word for no real law enforcement is now praised in similar terms but for different reasons by a new class of small-business owners who see the place as an opportunity.”

Beller returned to Cambodia recently after a 19 year absence and says that the country experienced an average of nearly 10% annual growth until 2009 leading to an improved economic environment due to Hun Sen, “the despotic prime minister”.  It’s worth reading the “Travel + Leisure” piece to see how a “despotic” leader improved the quality of life for millions of his people.

In case you do not know, “despotic” means: a ruler with absolute power; a person who wields power oppressively; a tyrant.

Just how important is “freedom of speech” anyway, which may be the reason Hun Sen is considered a despotic leader — “The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia Surya Subedi wrapped up his fifth visit to Cambodia on Friday expressing concern about the lack of progress on land rights and freedom of speech in the country.” Source: Voice of America

HBO Documentary of Freedom of Speech in five parts – Part 1

 Yet, according to Beller’s report, the quality of life in Cambodia has improved dramatically in the last nineteen years. Maybe this improvement came about because of restrictions on freedom of speech that might stir up the emotions of the population/mob, which might lead to unrest, an economic downturn and suffering such as starvation and death.

Of course, to many that don’t spend much time thinking about it, it is more important to have freedom of speech and freedom to join any religion/cult one wants to join than starving or living in fear of criminals that take advantage of cultures that allow too much freedom that may lead to anarchy and chaos.

Next, a comment appeared in this site from Jo Ann—she said, “I admire this person wanting to see the world but I am an American and I believe in this country more than a country that doesn’t allow too many freedoms.”

If you think about it, there are only two freedoms that are restricted in China that may lead to jail time: one is freedom of public political speech/expression criticizing China’s government and the restrictions of religious choice. Other than that, the Chinese, if they have the money, may enjoy life as much as any American—maybe even more so.

Then a friend sent me an e-mail with a link to Carolina Journal, which reported that “State Threatens to Shut Down Nutrition Blogger.”

In this series of posts, I’m going to focus on freedom of expression/speech.  Later, I’ll touch base about the freedom of religion.

What do you consider freedom and does it really exist?

Continued on May 8, 2012  in The Illusion of Freedom – Part 2


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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