Which country has the most generous free-speech laws?

Just wondering which country in the world has the loosest, most generous free-speech laws - I imagine that has to be one with even broader limits than the USA, but can’t think of one off the top of my head.

The USA.

If you were tempted to say Canada, Google David Ahenakew. He made a speech to a FSIN and subsequent interview where he made some pretty disgusting remarks about Jews. He was a moron but entitle to his opinion. He was charged in 2003 of “willfully promoting hatred” and convicted, got a retrial on appeal, and finally by 2009 was acquitted - only because the exchange with the reporter was “heated” therefore it may not have been “willful”. However - the lesson stands; in Canada, if you espouse a politically incorrect point of view, you can be charged and without a good lawyer, convicted.

Nah … USA is the Gold standard for Free Speech … we can wave Swastika flags any time we want …

Cite in support of the obvious answer being the correct one:

No, I was not thinking Canada at all, in fact I knew Canada is quite more restrictive than the USA on matters of speech.

I’m not aware of a country that has freer free speech laws than the US.

That’s not to say that there isn’t one. What you’re trying to measure is an absence of restrictions, and absences are harder to measure than presences.

Plus, of course, there may be countries which have restrictions that the US does not, but which at the same time lack restrictions which the US has. The US does have many restrictions on what you can say or write - laws on defamation, obscenity, the protection of confidentiality, data privacy, intellectual property, incitement, etc, etc. If another country has laws which restrict blasphemy, say, but which are lax as regards the reproduction of another person’s intellectual property, does that country have freer speech or less free speech than the US?

Taking the rough with the smooth, when it comes to balancing free speech versus other rights and/or societal interests, I’d say that the US tilts towards free speech to a greater extent than probably any other country. But actually demonstrating this with objective, empirical data might be hard.

There might be some microcountries which haven’t had enough body of judicial decisions to put in place the standard restrictions yet. But of course, then we have to decide what microcountries count as “real countries”.

Canada is still much better than much of Europe.

Though I’m pretty sure you can say whatever you want in Bir Tawil.

A classic free speech question arises about “shouting fire in a crowded theater”


Which countries would prosecute this and which wouldn’t when there was a loss of life/serious injuries?

I don’t think this is really controversial. This limitation is valid everywhere.

The tricky and controversial areas that do vary widely are things like banning “hate speech”.

I don’t think a restriction on free speech requires that you be capable of being prosecuted. If in these circumstances someone can bring a successful civil action against you for damages, an injunction or other relief, that’s a restriction on freedom of speech.

What damages are there for Speech? … how is a dollar amount attached to hurt feelings? … if I burn an American flag, and the fire gets out of control and burns your house down; well, you can sue me for burning down your house, but you cannot sue me for burning an American flag …

If I put up a sign in my yard condemning XYZ … what are your damages? … just saying I’m against XYZ is what’s protected … no one can sue me to shut up … no court can prohibit me from writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper …

The OP isn’t asking where Free Speech is unlimited, only where it is less limited than the USA … I don’t think there is a place anywhere in the world … there are limits in the USA, I’m not saying there isn’t … I’m just saying it is less limited here … any Oregon resident has the right to fly a Jefferson flag, but we still have to pay Oregon income tax … no one can sue me for flying that flag on my property, nor can anyone force me to take it down … thus Free Speech is protected the most in the USA …

Another vote for the United States. Most countries either regulate speech that offends the government or regulates “hate speech”.

There is a tort called “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” If the conduct was egregious enough, a court can in fact attach a dollar amount to emotional distress. (The last big case involving the Westboro Baptist Church was an IIED case. The church won.)

I’m pretty sure most Western countries don’t prosecute for desecrating the national flag.
I’m pretty sure most Western countries wouldn’t even notice if one did.

Nearly all republics have laws against defiling national honour etc., but it is wearisome to persecute the offenders. If the last proposed Flag Protection act had passed a decade ago then watchwolf49 could easily be fined for damaging Old Glory. Up to $100,000, or $250,000 if it was gov’mint property.

On the other hand, the US Flag Code is already enough of a work of humorous art as it is.

Depends what you mean by “generous”: some people’s freedom of speech might be other people’s harrassment and oppression, so the latter might not feel the law was that generous to them.

The EU also has the “right to be forgotten” court decisions. Companies like Google and other content providers can be legally asked to remove content in some circumstances because it upsets the subject, even if true and valid. One thing IIRC that the USA’s freedom of speech provisions specifically don’t allow.

What other nations have an organization as vigorous as the A.C.L.U. standing up for free speech rights of bigots (like the ones marching in Charlottesville)?

By the way, successful prosecutions for “flag desecration” in the U.S. are a rarity at best.

I read about a high school student who got a bug up his butt about the ACLU and was handing out anti-ACLU pamphlets at school. The school shut him down. Guess who defended him in court? You guessed it, the ACLU.

If you mean from the national government, Somalia has the least restrictive laws of any country, on any topic, because of the simple fact that there is no national government. How the fragmentary parts of it deal with free speech are unknown to me, but the country as a whole has no laws at all, so certainly no laws regulating speech.

Well, apparently there is a national government now, but it’s pretty fragile.