Liberal democracies are passing online speech laws. They’re inspiring autocrats.
Nothing more sharply differentiates liberal democracies from authoritarian regimes than the former’s commitment to freedom of expression. Despite controlling vast bureaucracies with near-infinite resources and overwhelming coercive powers, democratic governments generally accept that their actions are scrutinized, criticized, and ridiculed by the media, opposition, and ordinary citizens. Outspoken critics of Boris Johnson or Emmanuel Macron don’t have to zealously guard their teacups for fear of being poisoned, as happens routinely to critics of Vladimir Putin in Russia, nor are they at risk of being dismembered by a death squad, as happened to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.