Americans oppose restrictions, but report feeling less free to speak about political matters.
Freedom of expression wins strong endorsements around the world when people are asked, say researchers, so why have protections for speech consistently slipped for over a decade? Part of the problem is that many of those surveyed embrace a convenient attitude toward the issue: they support protections for speech of which they approve, but not of speech that offends them. Unfortunately, a right you’re willing to extend only to yourself and your allies is no right at all and leaves freedom available only to those who wield power.
“Support for free speech is generally expressed by great majorities in all countries when people are asked their opinion,” finds Who Cares About Free Speech?, a report recently published by Danish think tank Justitia, Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression, and Aarhus University’s Department of Political Science. In February of this year, researchers surveyed an average of 1,500 respondents each in 33 countries to come up with that seemingly encouraging result. The devil is in the details, though.
Read the full piece in Reason.