The majority of young Americans, even those who of college-age, support “hate speech” laws according to a report from Campus Reform.
Campaign for Free Speech conducted a survey asking 1004 people about their views regarding the First Amendment. The results, which were published on October 23, 2019, revealed that a majority of young adults view the First Amendment as going “too far in allowing hate speech” and “should be updated.”
Although 78 percent of people from the ages of 18-34 understood the First Amendment’s meaning as a freedom that allows “anyone to say their opinion no matter what, and they are protected by law from any consequences of saying those thoughts or opinions,” most endorse the idea of changing the amendment in some shape or form. Seven out of ten of this age cohort support restricting the speech of certain ideological groups.
When questioned about whether the First Amendment should be modified to account for hate speech and “reflect the cultural norms of today,” 59 percent of people in the range of 18 to 34 favored such a change. Only 33 percent opposed hate speech modifications, while the remaining 8 percent said they were on the fence.
After being asked more directly if “hate speech should be against the law,” 50 percent of young adults replied “yes.” In addition, 47 percent said that an appropriate punishment for “hate speech” would involve incarceration.
An astounding majority of young adults believe that the government should be allowed “to take action against newspapers and TV stations that publish content that is biased, inflammatory, or false.” 63 percent of people within the 18-34 age demographic agreed to such a change in free speech policy. 36 percent indicated their support for possible jail time as a punishment for individuals at media outlets that publish the aforementioned “biased, inflammatory, or false” content.
The survey also inquired about “alternative media, such as online podcasts,” which “allow anyone to say anything, regardless of its accuracy.” 34 percent of young adults declared they would “support a government agency reviewing content put out by these alternative media sources.”
The surveyors then presented those surveyed with a number of controversial ideological groups, and asked which of each group should “have their free speech restricted.” The respondents were given the following list of groups: racists, Neo-Nazis, Radical Islamists, Holocaust deniers, anti-vaccine advocates, and climate change deniers.
70 percent of young adults aged 18-34 chose at least one of the groups.
Similarly, a majority of young people of the same age demographic also supported restricting speech by time and location, with 61 percent in agreement with the statement “While I agree in principle with the idea of free speech, there are places where free speech should be restricted. For instance, in universities or on social media where there is the potential to be hurtful or offensive.” Only 28 percent of those survey were in disagreement with such restrictions.
Regarding the results from this survey, Speech First President Nicole Neily told Campus Reform in a statement, “these numbers are absolutely devastating. They reflect a profound misunderstanding not only of the importance of free speech, but also of the history of free speech and the First Amendment.”
“Free speech is not a partisan issue,” Neily added, “it’s a right that benefits all Americans, and in particular, the powerless, the unpopular, and minority viewpoints. A government that has the authority to decide what speech is acceptable and what is not can very easily squelch dissent – and that should concern everyone.”
College campuses these days are becoming more radicalized and, consequently, hostile to basic civil liberties such as free speech.
It’s incumbent upon liberty advocates to continue fighting against political correctness and leftist thought-policing at universities. These are the places where the majority of young people start to formulate political views, and if the Left beats liberty conservatives to the punch, they will continue to dominate politically and culturally for years to come.