The Clash of Expression – The Economist

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The Economist has published an editorial questioning whether free speech is indeed free in today’s political climate. 


THIS is a golden age of argument. Social media let anyone broadcast their opinion as soon as they formulate one. Politicians can speak directly to their constituents—and their constituents can message them straight back.  This should also be a golden age of free speech. But somehow, the ubiquity of argument is convincing some people that we have too much of it—even in America, where the First Amendment, and the robust jurisprudence stemming from it, offers the world’s strongest protections for free expression.

In February 2017 the Knight Foundation released a survey of American high-school students that found just 45% believed people should be permitted to say what they want in public if it is offensive to others. Only 43% believed people should have that right on social media. University students shout down speakers they deem too offensive. Officials at the University of California, Berkeley cancelled a speech by Ann Coulter, a right-wing author, because they feared violent protests. The British National Union of Students has voted to give “no platform” to speakers with views deemed racist and fascist.

Read more here.