20 novembre 2015 | 17:35

Le persone sono favorevoli alla libertà di espressione, ma bisogna stare attenti ai temi trattati (INFOGRAFICA)

Anche se molti osservatori, negli ultimi anni, hanno documentato un declino a livello globale dei diritti democratici, le persone, nonostante questo, continuano ad abbracciare valori fondamentali (compresa la libertà d’espressione).

Una nuova ricerca del Pew Research Center, riportata da Pewglobal.org, evidenzia che, nelle oltre 38 nazioni sondate, la maggioranza delle persone dichiara di voler vivere in un paese con libertà di parola, stampa ed internet. E, circa il 50% (o più), considera queste libertà come molto importanti.

Il supporto a libertà di parola, stampa, Internet (Foto pewglobal.org)

Le idee sulla libertà di espressione variano da nazione a nazione. Gli Stai Uniti si mettono in mostra per la loro forte opposizione alla censura governativa, come lo fanno i paesi dell’America Latina (Argentina e Cile) e dell’Europa (Germania e Spagna). Anche le maggioranze in Asia, Africa e Medio Oriente lo fanno, ma con più intensità. Se la libertà di espressione è popolare lungo tutto il globo, gli altri diritti democratici sono ancora più largamente condivisi. Nelle nazioni occidentali e non la maggioranza delle persone vuole la libertà di religione, la parità fra i sessi, onestà ed elezioni competitive. Gli americani sono i più forti sostenitori di questi diritti, mentre gli europei prediligono gli ultimi due.

Importanti la libertà religiosa, fra sessi ed elezioni competitive (Foto pewglobal.org)

Nel mondo, però, ci sono diverse vie di concepire i singoli diritti e i parametri della libertà d’espressione: gli americani, comunque, sono più disposti rispetto al resto del mondo a tollerare queste forme di discussione. Una larga maggioranza negli Usa pensa che le persone potrebbero essere in grado di dire cose che possono essere offensive nei confronti di minoranze o del credo religioso. Circa la metà (52%) dice questo riguardo ad argomenti sessualmente espliciti ed il 44% pensano dovrebbe essere consentito un bando alla violenza.

Gli americani supportano più di altri forme di libertà ed espressione (Foto pewglobal.org)

Gli americani, infine, sono i più forti sostenitori della libertà di parola e di stampa. In alcune nazioni come Canada, Australia e Sud Africa emergono lo stesso tipo di supporter.

In molte nazioni Internet ha creato un nuovo tipo di spazio pubblico, dov’è possibile parlare di politica e tematiche sociali. In 32 delle 38 nazioni sondate, la maggior parte delle persone è dell’idea che sia importante vivere in un paese dove tutti possano usare la Rete senza la censura governativa.

Un forte supporto della libertà per Internet è presente in Argentina, negli Stati Uniti, in Germania e Spagna. E’ molto basso in Burkina Faso ed Indonesia.
La libertà di Internet tende ad essere specialmente importante per i giovani, ma anche per coloro che dichiarano di usarlo saltuariamente o dal proprio smartphone. C’è infine una forte correlazione tra le percentuali di persone che usano Internet e la percentuale di chi dice che questi è un mezzo molto importante. Ciò suggerisce che l’accesso al web continuerà a crescere negli anni a venire e, allo stesso tempo, crescerà anche il desiderio di libertà nel cyberspace.

I pubblici che hanno il più alto tasso di uso di Internet è probabile difendano la libertà in Rete (Foto pewglobal.org)

Global Support for Principle of Free Expression, but Opposition to Some Forms of Speech

Americans Especially Likely to Embrace Individual Liberties

Although many observers have documented a global decline in democratic rights in recent years, people
around the world nonetheless embrace fundamental democratic values, including free expression. A new Pew
Research Center survey finds that majorities in nearly all 38 nations polled say it is at least somewhat
important to live in a country with free speech, a free press and freedom on the internet. And across the
38 countries, global medians of 50% or more consider these freedoms very important.
Still, ideas about free expression vary widely across regions and nations. The United States stands out
for its especially strong opposition to government censorship, as do countries in Latin America and Europe
– particularly Argentina, Germany, Spain and Chile. Majorities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East also
tend to oppose censorship, albeit with much less intensity. Indonesians, Palestinians, Burkinabe and
Vietnamese are among the least likely to say free expression is very important.
While free expression is popular around the globe, other democratic rights are even more widely embraced.
In Western and non-Western nations, throughout the global North and South, majorities want freedom of
religion, gender equality, and honest, competitive elections. Yet the strength of commitment to individual
liberties also varies. Americans are among the strongest supporters of these freedoms. Meanwhile,
Europeans are especially likely to want gender equality and competitive elections, but somewhat less
likely than others to prioritize religious freedom. The right to worship freely is most popular in sub-
Saharan Africa. Across all regions, people who say religion is very important in their lives are more
likely to value religious freedom.

Even though broad democratic values are popular, people in different parts of the world have different
ways of conceptualizing individual rights and the parameters of free expression. Publics tend to support
free speech in principle, but they also want limitations on certain types of speech. While a global median
of 80% believe people should be allowed to freely criticize government policies, only 35% think they
should be allowed to make public statements that are offensive to minority groups, or that are religiously
offensive. Even fewer support allowing sexually explicit statements or calls for violent protests.
Americans, however, are more willing than the rest of the world to tolerate these forms of speech. Large
majorities in the U.S. think people should be able to say things that are offensive to minority groups or
their religious beliefs. About half (52%) say this about sexually explicit statements, and more than
four-in-ten (44%) think calls for violent protests should be allowed.

When Can Government Stop the Media from Publishing?

Overall, global publics oppose government censorship of the media, except in cases of national security.
There is widespread agreement that media organizations should be able to publish information about large
political protests in the country – across the nations polled, a median of 78% say this. Vietnam is the
only country where fewer than half (42%) hold this view.
Most (a global median of 59%) also think media groups should be able to publish information that might
destabilize the national economy. The Middle East is the regional outlier on this question – a median of
just 44% in the region say the press should be allowed to publish economically destabilizing information,
while 51% believe the government should be able to block these types of stories in some circumstances.
Globally, a median of just 40% think media organizations should be able to publish information about
sensitive issues related to national security, while 52% believe it is acceptable for the government to
suppress such information. But opinions vary widely across countries and regions. Latin Americans and
Europeans tend to think the press should be allowed to publish sensitive national security information,
while Middle Easterners, Asians and Africans mostly oppose this idea. On this issue, most Americans
support government limitations on press freedom – 59% say the government should be allowed to stop this
type of publication.

Ranking Countries on Support for Free Expression

To further explore how countries compare on views about free expression, we constructed an index based on
respondents’ answers to five questions about allowing specific types of speech, as well as three questions
about whether the media should be allowed to publish certain types of information (see Appendix A for more
details on the index).
Analyzing the data in this way reveals that Americans are the most supportive of free speech and a free
press. Several European and Latin American nations also emerge as relatively strong supporters, as do
Canada, Australia and South Africa. Meanwhile, Senegal, Jordan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Burkina Faso and
Vietnam are at the bottom of the index, indicating relatively low levels of support for free expression.

Prioritizing Internet Freedom

In many nations the internet has created an important new public space where debates about political and
social issues thrive. Even though internet freedom ranks last among the six broad democratic rights
included on the survey, majorities in 32 of 38 countries nonetheless say it is important to live in a
country where people can use the internet without government censorship. Across the 38 nations, a median
of 50% believe it is very important to live in a country with an uncensored internet.
Intense support for internet freedom is highest in Argentina, the U.S., Germany and Spain – roughly
seven-in-ten in these four nations consider it very important. It is lowest in Burkina Faso and Indonesia
(21% very important in both countries).
Internet freedom tends to be especially important to younger people, as well as to those who say they use
the internet at least occasionally or own a smartphone. There is a strong correlation between the
percentage of people in a country who use the internet and the percentage who say a free internet is very
important, suggesting that as access to the Web continues to spread around the globe in the coming years,
the desire for freedom in cyberspace may grow as well.