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64 percent view 'cancel culture' as threat to freedom: poll

A majority of Americans say they view "cancel culture" as a threat to their freedom, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill on Monday. 

Sixty-four percent of respondents said that there is "a growing cancel culture" that is a threat to their freedom, while 36 percent said they did not view it as a threat to their freedom. 

Additionally, the poll found that 36 percent of Americans said cancel culture is a "big problem," while 32 percent called it a "moderate problem." Another 20 percent said it was a "small problem" and 13 percent said it is "not a problem." 

The findings come amid the growing societal debate over cancel culture, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure."

British media personalities Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan are the latest public figures to be wrapped up in the growing debate. CBS announced on Friday that Osbourne, a longtime co-host of CBS's "The Talk," will be leaving the daytime program following an internal review of a heated conversation on race earlier this month. 

The conversation had been about Morgan's departure from "Good Morning Britain" following backlash he received for comments about Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, including saying he did not believe her when she said she struggled with mental health issues and had contemplated suicide in the past. 

Osbourne had defended Morgan on the show, saying, "I feel even like I'm about to be put in the electric chair because I have a friend who many people think is a racist, so that makes me a racist." 

Morgan penned an op-ed in the Daily Mail last week, defending Osbourne. 

"Sharon Osbourne's quit The Talk, driven out for the crime of defending me," he wrote. 

The poll found that 54 percent of respondents said they were "concerned" that if they expressed their opinions online that they would be banned or fired, while 46 percent said they were not concerned. 

"It is a chilling finding that most people in the country now are afraid they would be fired if they expressed their real views on social media," said Mark Penn, the director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey.

"The public generally gives negative ratings to social media companies and sees the movement as more about censorship rather than trying to correct wrongs. It is growing as a national issue," he added. 

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey of 1,945 registered voters was conducted from March 24 to 25. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval. 

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