Citizens are more willing to restrict statements on the sensitive issues of economic stability, epidemics, and national security or offensive statements toward minorities and national symbols than they are to restrict standard government criticism. We also find that willingness to restrict outright antidemocratic statements is relatively modest in comparison with offensive statements and statements on sensitive issues, and that principled support for free speech is a poor predictor of actual willingness to restrict. Our findings imply that citizens’ (lack of) demand for fundamental democratic rights such as free speech may play a key role in democratic backsliding.

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