A recent poll shows the First Amendment is growing increasingly unpopular among Americans.
The upcoming documentary “No Safe Spaces,” featuring Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla, sponsored a poll that found 48 percent of Americans believe Nazis should be banned from campus, with 40 percent feeling the same about white supremacists, 32 percent about Holocaust deniers and 24 percent about communists.
Millennials were slightly more likely to support banning Nazis from campus and slightly less likely to support banning communists.
Prager said he was troubled by the poll, arguing that all speech, including so-called hate speech, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Prager himself is no stranger to censorship. He has filed a lawsuit against YouTube and its parent company Google for censoring his videos.
A number of polls in recent years show an increasing number of Americans, especially students, believe they should be protected from hearing alternative viewpoints. A LendEDU poll with a sample size of 1,659 students, found 36 percent of students believe “safe spaces” are “absolutely necessary.”
Polling by Quinnipiac also shows a majority of 18-34 year-olds say President Trump’s election makes them feel “less safe.”
In Virginia, where the white nationalist Unite The Right rally in August ended in the death of one protester and two state police officers, 50 percent of Virginians believed in protecting “everyone on campus from discrimination, even if it means there are negative consequences for voicing one’s opinions.”
Only 40 percent believed freedom of speech was the most important value.
A detailed study of the opinions of college students conducted by Gallup in 2016 found most college students, in theory, support free speech. Almost 80 percent said it is more important to create an open learning environment on campus, even at the cost of permitting “offensive” speech, than it is to create a “positive” learning environment in which “offensive” speech is banned.
However, when it comes to specifics, a substantial number of students favored concrete restrictions on free speech. More than a quarter of students said political views “that are upsetting or offensive to certain groups” should be restricted, with a third of women supporting such restrictions and more than 40 percent of blacks supporting them.
Almost 70 percent of students, including almost 80 percent of blacks, believe “slurs and other language on campus that is intentionally offensive to certain groups” should be banned. Finally, more than 60 percent of students, including more than 70 percent of Democrats and almost 80 percent of blacks, say “wearing costumes that stereotype certain racial or ethnic groups” should not be allowed.
State legislatures have been taking action to guarantee free speech on campus, with North Carolina, Colorado, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia passing laws requiring universities to sanction anyone who interferes with the free speech rights of another. Other states are also considering passing such laws. The Department of Justice has also warned schools must “protect free speech” and not prevent students from “communicating religious messages.”
But with sizable minorities opposed to free speech on campus, riots against conservative or libertarian speakers have become a common occurrence. And while many students still say they support free speech in principle, the desire of many students to portray themselves as victims is having a chilling effect on many college campuses. This has even led to the formation of “Bias Response Teams” at colleges such as the University of North Colorado.
Prager believes the collapse in support for free speech makes it more important than ever to fight for it.
“It’s precisely offensive speech that our founders intended to protect and that we are compelled to defend,” he was quoted as saying in the Washington Times. “I decided to participate in this film because if we don’t get this right, we will literally lose our country and our freedoms.”
It’s not education, it’s indoctrination. It’s not equality, it’s hate. In America today, there’s “No Campus For White Men.” Read up-and-coming conservative superstar Scott Greer’s devastating indictment of the race-based attack on white people and Western civilization on college campuses. As Tucker Carlson says, “After reading Greer’s account, you’ll think twice before sending your children off to school.”