Protecting people from hate more important than free speech to Brits, eye-opening poll finds

Piers Morgan smokes a cigar whilst watching the racing on day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2019 in Ascot, England

There are more people in Britain who value protecting others from hate speech than those who value free speech, a new survey on cancel culture has shown.

The YouGov poll, conducted in November, had 1,677 respondents and questions focused on topics surrounding so-called “cancel culture”.

Despite the almost constant drone of big names claiming they’ve been cancelled, while raking in millions from books and films, appearing on TV and having theatres named after them, two-thirds of people in Britain have no idea what “cancel culture” means, and 38 per cent say they’ve never even heard the term.

Many of those that decry cancel culture use freedom of speech to back up their argument: That people should be able to say whatever they like, at any cost to others.

But the YouGov poll showed that Britons are actually more likely to prioritise protecting others from hate speech (43 per cent), than protecting free speech (38 per cent).

Strangely enough, privilege seemed to have some effect on respondents priorities – while the greatest proportion of men (47 per cent) were more concerned about free speech, more than half of women (51 per cent) thought that protecting against offensive and hateful speech was more important.

Young people and Labour voters were also more likely to prioritise preventing hate speech, while older people and Conservatives were more likely to defend freedom of speech.

The survey also found that those with “less progressive” views were more “reluctant to express” them in public.

Giving some clue as to why they might not want to express them in front of other human beings, these views included not believing that trans women are women, and thinking that gay people in the UK have things “just as good as straight people”, and “British people from ethnic minorities have things just as good in the UK as white Britons”.