Documented history is not so vast. What happened in the past of the west (~3000 years) is more or less written. Current democracies are not even comparable to the Athenian one. Yet, it was all lost. And the greeks were insightful enough to document the reasons.
Plato, for example, explains how diversity of opinions leads to diversity of morals that gives lot of free space to the extreme morals (immorals), leading to unsustainable governance and tyranny.
That’s why, during the peak of direct democracy, it was forbidden to even mention in public the contents of Eleusinian Mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια).
Penalty not for criticising the mysteries.
Not for ridiculing them.
But just … mentioning them was punishable by death.
According to Herodotus, the Persians (military superpower) offered a generous treaty to Athens (a city). Athenians not only refused to accept exchanging absolute freedom w/ privileges, but murdered (by stoning) the Athenian representative who voted in favour. Zero tolerance.
“κερδαλεώτερόν εστι ομολογέειν τω Πέρση μάλλον ή περ πολεμέειν’ (it would be more profitable for us to accept the Persians rather than fighting against them)
Athenians had a unique conception in what consists profit & value. Gold & privileges had no longterm value.
After beating the vast Persian army (with careful strategy), the Athenians were considered “mini Gods” within the ancient world. Other greek city-states were shocked & amazed.
The pragmatic approach on liberty is why Athenian education became the model of “liberal arts”.
Ironically, the purpose of religious blasphemy laws is being inactivated (written in the hearts and minds of citizens).
The activation of blasphemy laws was the sign of the fall of Athens (e.g. condemnation of Socrates to death).
Same trend today
Note: See Benoux thread on Hate Speech