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Should freedom of speech be absolute?

I was wondering about your opinions on freedom of speech as we currently know it in most western countries. Except for a few exceptions such as very drastic personal insults, extreme racial slur, making Hitler salutes etc the freedom of speech, no matter what the opinion, is not punishable.

It all sounds great to have such freedom, but I fear people cannot really handle it. I see far right parties scoring all time high scores all over Europe, people spreading very racist and intolerant comments in the press, political parties spreading a propaganda of hatred and xenophobia and then hiding behind that freedom of speech. The day a law opens the door to abuse, it may be time to review it.

I do support freedom of speech generally but also support a very few restrictions. This basically would come down to personal insults in public media, racist propaganda, propaganda spreading intolerance in society (homophobia, islamophobia, racism in general, ...). I actually wouldn't mind to see these things punishable or even censored, because clearly the current situation has lead to political and other organisations abusing the law to spread a climate of anxiety and intolerance. The few restricitons I named would not affect any person that is generally accepting and openminded anyway.

So should we stick to an absolute freedom of speech, or would you say that certain exceptions (or call it restrictions) are needed to protect the well-functioning of our societies that grow more cosmopolitan?

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