Another day, another survey paints a worrying picture of the attitudes to freedom of expression in the home of the First Amendment. Commissioned by the Campaign for Free Speech, the poll of 1004 people shows the Americans falling out of love with freedom for the sake of “niceness”. A sample of the results:
“The First Amendment goes too far in allowing hate speech in modern America and should be updated to reflect the cultural norms of the day”
Agree – 51%, Millennials – 57%
“Do you think that hate speech should be against the law?”
For – 48%, Against – 31%, Don’t know – 21%, Millennials agreeing – 51%
(Of those who believe it should be against the law) “What is an appropriate consequence to hate speech?”
Possible jail time – 54%; Nothing more than a ticket and fine – 46%
“The government should be able to take action against newspapers and TV stations that publish content that is biased, inflammatory, or false.”
Agree – 57%, Millennials – 62%
(Of those who believe the government should be able to take action) “What is an appropriate consequence for newspapers and TV stations that publish content that is biased, inflammatory, or false?”
Possible jail time – 46%: Nothing more than a ticket and fine – 56%
“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.”
Agree – 61%
Oh boy. The only ray of sunshine is that a larger plurality doesn’t believe a government agency should be reviewing the content put out by alternative media.
The poll shows that a very large majority understands what the First Amendment is about – they just don’t like it.
A prediction: within the next ten years we will see serious constitutional efforts to repeal or significantly change both the First and the Second Amendments. Welcome to the land of the not-so-free, the home of the scared by mean words.