Concerning Survey on How College Students View Free Speech


free speech

It’s Free Speech Week and organizers say they want to “raise public awareness of the importance of free speech in our democracy and to celebrate that freedom.” College campuses should be the one place students can express their free speech and debate different ideas but the trend seems to be going in the opposite direction. Is free speech in danger?

People are too willing to give up their constitutional rights and when you see this tendency in the youth, it’s alarming.

A Yale survey released October 26th reveals some alarming views held by college students when it comes to free speech. There was some good news.

Most of the 800 college students surveyed said campus free speech is important and nearly nine in ten agreed that there is value in listening to differing opinions but when the details fleshed out, it showed a lack of understanding of the First Amendment and its importance.

Nearly one-third of the students didn’t know the First Amendment was the amendment that protected free speech and another third said the First Amendment does not protect hate speech.

So-called hate speech is exactly what the First Amendment protects of course.

More than half want speech codes, another 72% want disciplinary action against a student or faculty member who uses language that someone deems to be racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive. Almost half would be too intimidated to share their beliefs with professors if they differ in opinion and 76% prefer “trigger warnings.”

A total of 82% said that their professors were tolerant of diverse opinions.

A whopping 52% believe that people should be forbidden from speaking on campus if they have a history of engaging in alleged hate speech.

It’s not clear how they would define hate speech or who the guardians of virtue and vice would be.

The breakdown of the students interviewed was: 42 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican and 29 percent independent.

The report did not compare prior research and it’s not clear if this is a trend but there are some bad signs. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reports at least 240 instances within the last decade where students and/or faculty made concerted efforts to block speakers because they thought their views objectionable.

Two websites people might want to go to are The College Fix and Campus Reform. They give a good idea of what is happening at some colleges which have become decidedly more Progressive.

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

[Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States, August 8, 1950]”
― Harry S. Truman

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