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What’s really behind America’s ‘free speech problem’

A recent New York Times op-ed reigned the debate over whether or not America has a free speech problem.
A recent New York Times op-ed reigned the debate over whether or not America has a free speech problem.

“America has a free speech problem.”

That New York Times headline recently reignited an ongoing debate over free speech and how it’s applied.  

New polling from Times Opinion and Siena College shows that84percent ofadults said it is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem that some Americans don’t “speak freely” because they fear retaliation or criticism. The editorial board equates this anxiety with losing what it calls a “fundamental right [for] citizens of a free country: the right to speak [our] minds.” 

Critics were swift to debunk that Times’ argument online and across national editorial boards, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Portland Press Herald. And, the Knight Foundation surveyed that 63 percent of Americans think it’s one of the most important rights. 

So, does America have a free speech problem? And how has cancel culture affected people’s engagement with free speech? 

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