These are oft-used phrases and are the cornerstone of fair society – we ARE all entitled to form our own opinions.
But if they are then used as justification for spouting malice online that, in a civilised and fair minded country, is not acceptable.
South Ribble Council, or specifically individual councillors and officers, are the latest to say they are victims of a campaign of hate via social media.
This is a council that in the past year has fallen under the spotlight and had failings exposed after investigation by ourselves at the Post and latterly through the correct processes of official scrutiny.
This does not, however, make it acceptable to target individuals in a hateful way with unsubstantiated claims and personal attack.
Any council as a body must be robust, expect criticism and be above reproach in its administration.
It must be open, stringent in its policies and expect to be held up to that by the Press and through its internal and external scrutiny processes.
But the individual humans that make up that body, while expected to maintain highest standards, must be allowed to live without vile abuse.