Kate Middleton Gives First Speech Abroad
Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wave to staff as they leave Hospis Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. REUTERS

If anyone wants to see the difference between a more or less free country like Great Britain and one where the totalitarian mind-set remains one only needs to look at the reactions to the publication of pictures of a topless Kate Middleton and to the airing of a ludicrous anti-Islam film in California.

Perhaps the worst aspect of totalitarianism is the way it apparently warps the mind of otherwise normal people, indeed the most terrifying thing about North Korea is not it's laughable claims to be a paradise but the fact that so many of its pitiable people still believe it to be true.

Recent events in Libya have shown that even after the dictators are thrown down it still takes a while for the old way of thinking to die out with them.

To any right thinking person in the democratic West it seems bizarre that the government should even be aware of, let alone ban, every crank who decides to make a film such as Innocence of Muslims, a film that can't even be described as third rate without being overgenerous.

Sadly in places such as Benghazi, much as they may have hated Gaddafi, isn't it possible that decades of dictatorship have accustomed them to the idea that it is the government's job to ensure that bad and blasphemous films simply will not get made?

When you believe such things the US embassy might actually be the natural place to go if you don't like a film made in the US, after all isn't it the job of the US government to police the films made in its own territory? Actually no, but this has yet to sink in with everyone in the new democratic Libya .

Contrast the riots and the killing to the British reaction to a French magazine publishing topless pictures of Kate Middleton.

You could say this is another example of culture clash (after all for the French it's not unknown to see the head of state's wife undressed) but surely there must be quite a few Brits who find the publication of semi-naked images of the future queen extremely distasteful and disrespectful if not actually blasphemous. Even an online poll on the Guardian, spiritual home to the nation's republicans showed a clear majority against publishing the pictures.

Despite the disgust they may feel it seems unlikely that a band of British monarchists, roused to fervour by the Diamond Jubilee and the Royal Wedding, are about to storm the French embassy in London and commit atrocities against the people working there, nor would said band expect the French government to shut down Closer magazine. One might hope though that the magazine would have the good taste not to publish pictures which are bound to upset the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the very least.

The difference is night and day and shows that holding "fair and free elections" is not the only thing necessary for a democratic and ordered society. The people themselves need to have a mind-set that allows for disagreement and for the propagation of ideas and beliefs different to their own without resorting to violence.

Sadly in many places blighted by totalitarianism this has yet to happen.