Pew Poll: Americans Lead the World in Commitment to Free Speech

Photo credit: Ted Mielczarek via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: Ted Mielczarek via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Yale students may be so traumatized they feel they need protection from Halloween costumes, but overall Americans lead the world in our commitment to freedom of speech as a principle, according to a new Pew global survey.

Ninety-five percent of Americans say people must be free to criticize their government publicly. When asked whether people must be free to say things that are offensive to “your religion or beliefs,” Americans chose freedom, with 77 percent acknowledging that freedom means the freedom to offend me. (Around the world, just 35 percent of people agree.) Even in the hardest case for American liberals, saying things that are offensive to minorities, 67 percent of Americans choose freedom, compared to a worldwide average of just 35 percent.

This is a very precious and unique heritage we must not lose to a set of angry adolescents, no matter how genuine their grievances.

Thank God for the First Amendment.  I mean that literally.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.