Are Americans In Favor of Free Speech?

Are Americans In Favor of Free Speech?


Periodically you see a poll that suggests support for free speech in the U.S. is weak, and that the First Amendment wouldn’t be adopted by contemporary Americans. But this Rasmussen survey finds something quite different:

A new national telephone and online survey by Rasmussen Reports and The National Pulse finds that 72% of American Adults believe cancel culture – a form of censorship that harms the careers and reputations of public figures for doing or saying things that are considered offensive – has gotten out of control. Only 15% disagree, while 12% are not sure.

These were the questions asked:

1* How familiar are you with the concept of “cancel culture”?

2* “Cancel culture” describes a form of censorship that harms the careers and reputations of public figures for doing or saying things that are considered offensive. Has “cancel culture” gotten out of control?

3* Which is more important, protecting people from speech that is offensive, or protecting freedom of speech?

In 2016, Donald Trump ran as an opponent of political correctness. Cancel culture is basically political correctness, with an added element of viciousness. For 72% to say that cancel culture is “out of control” is remarkable. This, too:

Among those who are Very Familiar with the concept, 78% believe cancel culture has gotten out of control.

There is no racial division here; if anything, whites may be slightly more sympathetic to cancel culture than other groups. Which makes sense, actually, if you pay attention to Facebook and Twitter:

Strong majorities among Americans of every race – 71% of whites, 73% of blacks and 76% of other minorities – think cancel culture has gotten out of control.

This is the most important question:

Seventy-five percent (75%) believe protecting free speech is more important than protecting people from speech that is offensive. Just 16% disagree.

I suppose those 16% are mostly college students or recent graduates, having been incubated in an anti-free speech environment. Happily, they are a small minority. Of course, Democrats are far more likely than Republicans and Independents to be anti-free speech, but even among Democrats, it’s only 27%.

Take that as one more bit of good news in a week that has plenty already.



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