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Nov. 18, 2015, 11:35 a.m.
LINK: www.pewglobal.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   November 18, 2015

A new Pew report finds that beliefs in the freedom of the press vary substantially by country, with support for both free speech and a free press “contingent on the topic.” In general, while “large majorities across the globe” believe that the people should be able to criticize the government publicly, there’s less consensus on “things that are offensive either to minorities or religious groups…that is sexually explicit or that calls for violent protests.”

People are also divided on whether the press should “freely publish on sensitive issues related to national security,” according to the report. And there are differences in how younger and older people look at these issues.

The report’s authors surveyed people in 38 countries. Among the findings:

— There’s widespread support for a free press, but “roughly half or more in 27 of the 38 countries surveyed say the government should be able to prevent the media from publishing information about sensitive issues related to national security.” There are demographic divides on this issue:

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 11.01.36 AMIn 16 of the 38 countries surveyed, people ages 18 to 29 are more likely than those ages 50 and older to say that people should be able to make sexually explicit statements in public. And young people in Europe, Canada, the U.S., Australia, South Korea, Russia and Senegal are more supportive than their elders of the press being able to publish sensitive information about national security issues.

— Americans and Canadians are more tolerant of “being able to say things in public that are offensive to minorities,” but in many other countries, “majorities say the government should be able to prevent speech that is offensive to minority groups.” Members of minority groups are less likely to support this, however:

For example, in the U.S., non-whites (57%), including Hispanics, are much less likely to agree that people should be able to say these types of statements in public than are whites (72%). Similarly, Arabs in Israel (15%) are less supportive of this form of speech than Jews (39%).

You can look at a sortable table here, and read the full report here.

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