Free speech: Are we getting the balance right? You spoke out and told us your views.
by Harris MacLeod in Politics Lab
Fri June 15, 5:13 p.m. BST
Striking the right balance between protecting people’s right to speak freely, while also promoting respect, sensitivity and tolerance, seems to be a perpetual issue in the UK and other liberal democracies.
YouGov’s PoliticsLab invited you to speak out and tell us your views on freedom of speech:
Has society become too politically correct and oversensitive? OR are too many people still making racist, sexist and homophobic comments that need clamping down on?
The largest proportion of those who took part in the debate were of the opinion that political correctness has gone too far in Britain, to the detriment of public debate, and that both regular people and the media have become overly sensitive.
A smaller proportion of participants said that too many people are still making offensive remarks against certain groups, and that the right to freedom of speech should not be used to evade accountability for inciting hatred.
A very small proportion of you said you thought the balance was about right. Those who were of this view, said that while there are extreme examples on both sides, it is a natural tension in a modern democracy that is managed fairly well in Britain.
So what sort of things did participants say on this subject?
Below we look at the two opposite views represented most in this Labs discussion.
VIEWPOINT: ‘Society has become too easily offended towards people making politically incorrect comments’
- Those of you who argued that the idea of political correctness has gone too far, said it stifles what could be constructive debate on important issues.
- You also said that a culture of fear has taken hold, where people feel nervous about saying what is on their minds because people are too easily offended and eager to label someone as prejudiced.
VIEWPOINT: ‘Too many people still making racist, sexist and homophobic comments’
- Those who argued that is still too much racism, sexism and homophobia in society, said that people who make offensive remarks should be more harshly criticised, and held to account for what they’ve said.
- You also told us that the right to freedom of speech should not act as a shield for those who incite hatred, including anonymously online, and that in some cases people making offensive comments should be prosecuted.
Not yet taken today’s poll of the day, or signed up to the YouGov panel?