Subordination of racial tolerance to freedom of speech: Some considerations for education in contemporary multicultural societies

Authors

  • Rivka T. Witenberg

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
      School of Behavioural Science, Department of Psychology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3061, Australia, Tel. +61 3 83446377, Fax: +61 3 93476618, E-mail: r.witenberg@psych.unimelb.edu.au
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School of Behavioural Science, Department of Psychology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3061, Australia, Tel. +61 3 83446377, Fax: +61 3 93476618, E-mail: r.witenberg@psych.unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

Of particular importance for contemporary multicultural societies are basic human rights such as freedom of speech and tolerance. Studies show that children as young as 6 years of age can conceptualise such basic human rights as freedom of speech and tolerance. However, when freedom of speech is in conflict with other human rights or with tolerance, older adolescents and adults subordinated tolerance to freedom of speech. More specifically, students between 15 and 24 years subordinated racial tolerance to freedom of speech, with appeal to free speech increasing with age. In contrast, students between 9 and 12 years rarely subordinated tolerance to free speech, and this was never observed among students between 6 and 7 years. The findings have implications for education.

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