Freedom of speech has been a very hot topic across the world in the wake of the brutal murder of 12 editorial staff at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and other related killings. So in our latest poll we thought we’d find out how committed people were to the principle, even in much less deadly situations.
The results were sobering.
PEOPLE SHOULD BE PROSECUTED FOR OFFENSIVE, BUT NON-THREATENING, COMMENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
Net agreement: +10
Net agreement: +9
Scotland/rUK gap: 1 point
We couldn’t have made the question much clearer. We’re not talking about threats of rape and murder here, just people being a bit rude. And despite all the outpourings of support for free expression in the context of cartoons, it seems the people of the UK are united by the belief that the police should get involved if you say that someone’s a smelly bumface on Twitter.
There was more agreement between Scots and rUK citizens on this than all but two of our 31 questions. Scottish men backed prosecution by just +3%, but women were in favour by +17. The young were more forgiving than older people, though there was little difference between social classes.
SNP voters backed the proposition by +12, Lib Dems by +10, Labour by +15 and the Tories were the most tolerant at just +2. South of the border the figures were Tories +20, Labour +5, Lib Dems +19 and UKIP +15.
We’re not sure why rUK Tories are 10 times as sensitive as their Scottish brethren, but those are the numbers. Perhaps they’re just a lot less used to being insulted.
*Our poll sampled 1007 respondents in Scotland and 1031 across the rest of the UK. Fieldwork 9-14 Jan 2015. Full data tables will be available on the Panelbase website.