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Patch Adams and free speech

Patch Adams and free speech

I felt a mixture of admiration and sadness to read about the generous work of Patch

Adams as a clown and his strong attack on the US president and politics ("Patch

Adams: honk if you hate Bush," Phnom Penh Post, Oct 21).

I greatly respect Adams' commitment to helping sick people around the world to have

a moment of joy by using his humor as a talented doctor and comedian.

However, I was quite disappointed at his criticism of capitalism (which is an aspect

of liberal democracy) and his praise for communism.

Of course, there might be something bad about President George W Bush and his policies,

but I think that the US democracy as well as other genuine democracies in general

are the only best model of governments we should all champion.

In a real democracy, people can enjoy all sorts of civil and, especially, political

rights which differentiate men from animals. (A philosopher defines human being as

"a political animal," because a human has the ability to think. So, if

we have no political rights and freedom to think and express our opinions, we are

not truly better than other animals.)

Actually, Patch Adams was lucky to be born a US citizen, which has enabled him to

enjoy all kinds of rights and freedoms. He could even get away with his verbal attack

on the US president. Had he lived in a communist or authoritarian society or even

in some "absurd" democracies, he would surely be jailed or punished for

"defaming" the president or the prime minister.

It was useful, though, that he made his fierce remarks about President Bush and his

administration's policies. It could serve as an example to other leaders of "democratic"

countries around the world that this is what free speech and free press in a free

democracy are all about. And that you wouldn't be imprisoned or murdered just by

expressing your opinions - including harsh criticism of the government.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, Independent Media Trainer Phnom Penh

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