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Research Shows Countries Divided on Extent of Free Speech Rights

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Pew Research Center

According to a new Pew report, beliefs in the freedom of the press vary substantially by country, reports NiemanLab.org. Large majorities across the globe believe that people should be able to criticize their governments publicly. But the situation gets trickier when issues grow more specific. When it comes to the right to print things that are offensive to minorities or religious groups, countries are divided. Likewise when it comes to whether the press should be allowed to publish sensitive issues related to national security.

The Pew authors surveyed people in 38 countries. Americans and Canadians are more tolerant of “being able to say things in public that are offensive to minorities.”

But many other countries say governments should be able to prevent speech that is offensive to minority groups. Members of minority groups everywhere are less likely to support this type of offensive speech.