Roy Green: Political correctness is gagging freedom of expression

A crowd gathers around speakers during a rally for free speech on Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif.
A crowd gathers around speakers during a rally for free speech on Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Berkeley, Calif. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The CATO 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey has recently shown that nearly three-fourths (71 per cent) of Americans believe that political correctness is shutting down people’s comfort to speak openly with each other, and “has done more to silence important discussions our society needs to have.”

While the conclusions of the study are based on experiences of our southern neighbours, it would be foolish to dismiss the information as non-relevant to Canadians.

According to researcher Dr. Emily Ekins, 71 per cent of Americans say political correctness has silenced discussions that society needs to have and 58 per cent have political views they’re afraid to share.

While the latter may go far to explain recent wobbly election outcome predictions of pollsters, it is the former which may, if not arrested, severely damage a cornerstone of true democracy.

People are sharply divided along liberal and conservative philosophical paths. CATO reports 59 per cent of liberals say it’s hate speech to say transgender people have a mental disorder. Only 17 per cent of Americans adopt this view.

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Eighty per cent of liberals argue it’s hateful or offensive to say illegal entrants to the nation should be deported. Only 36 per cent of conservatives support that position.

Eight-seven per cent of liberals say it’s hateful to say women should not fight in military combat roles, while 47 per cent of conservatives are onside with this belief.

The issue of hate speech is where agreement between conservatives and liberals can be found. Seventy-nine per cent state it is morally unacceptable to say offensive things about racial or religious groups.

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Breaking down society into Black, Hispanic and White Americans, majorities in all three groups agree banning hate speech outright would be difficult because they cannot agree on what hate speech is.

When it comes to journalism, a majority of conservatives (63 per cent) consider journalists to be the “enemy of the American people.” Sixty-four per cent of the rest of Americans disagree.

The racial divide shows itself as 65 per cent of African-Americans and 61 per cent of Latinos agree that “supporting someone’s right to say racist things is as bad as holding racist views yourself.” Only 34 per cent of white Americans are in agreement.

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The CATO study asks many more questions and they consistently break down between liberal and conservative points of view, perhaps even more so than along any racial divide.

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This is something I have noticed on air. When a subject which might be described as politically incorrect is broached, participation by callers at first may be somewhat hesitant, but as soon as strong views are expressed, the self-imposed barriers are quite quickly set aside, and useful, even co-operative speech, emerges. Following such a program though, it is not uncommon for those who truly support political correctness to make their views known by way of, particularly, emails.

I will be speaking with Emily Ekins on tomorrow’s program, after which we’ll take calls and gain a sense of how closely Canadians resemble their southern neighbours on the question of political correctness generating a repression of freedom of expression.

Roy Green is the host of The Roy Green Show and a commentator for Global News.

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