40% of millennials want the government to be able to restrict 'offensive' speech
I want to extend my heartiest congratulations to educators all over the country who have spent the last few decades working to undermine the First Amendment.
The most recent Pew survey found that 40% of millennials would like to see the government restrict what they deem "offensive" speech. Overall, just 28% of all Americans feel that way.
The divide on the question is significant:
Even though a larger share of Millennials favor allowing offensive speech against minorities, the 40% who oppose it is striking given that only around a quarter of Gen Xers (27%) and Boomers (24%) and roughly one-in-ten Silents (12%) say the government should be able to prevent such speech.
Compared with people we surveyed in dozens of nations, Americans as a whole are less likely to favor the government being able to prevent speech of any kind. The debate over what kind of speech should be tolerated in public has become a major story around the globe in recent weeks – from racial issues on many U.S. college campuses to questions about speech laws in Europe in the wake of concerns about refugees from the Middle East and the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Overall, our global survey found that a majority of Americans say that people should be able to say offensive things about minority groups publicly. Two-thirds of Americans say this, compared with a median of 35% among the 38 nations we polled.
In the U.S., our findings also show a racial divide on this question, with non-whites more likely (38%) to support government prevention of such speech than non-Hispanic whites (23%).
Nearly twice as many Democrats say the government should be able to stop speech against minorities (35%) compared with Republicans (18%). Independents, as is often the case, find themselves in the middle. One-third of all women say the government should be able to curtail speech that is offensive to minorities vs. 23% of men who say the same.
Furthermore, Americans who have a high school degree or less are more likely than those with at least a college degree to say that speech offensive to minority groups should be able to be restricted (a 9-percentage-point difference).
Even Boomers favor unrestricted speech by a 3-1 margin. But the decline in American education can pretty much be tracked by age – the younger you are, the less you support freedom.
How worrisome is this trend among the youngest Americans? You would think that as someone ages and takes on the responsibilities of adulthood, he would recognize the virtues of the First Amendment and alter his attitude toward restricting it. But other surveys have found that by age 25, one's politics are pretty much set in stone.
I fear that unless there is a backlash against illiberal education, we're less than a couple of generations from seeing the end of constitutional freedoms in America. The rot that infests the educational system must be removed, or all that Americans have fought and died for will become a distant memory.