Pew Research recently surveyed a broad selection of Americans on the subject of offensive speech, and their findings do not bode well for the future of America. The respondents were asked if the government should step in to prevent speech that is offensive toward minorities, to which 28% of Americans agreed. Mind you, this wasn’t about speech that called for violence against minorities. It’s anything that could be deemed “offensive,” an increasingly vague and inclusive term in this day and age.
What was more shocking, however, was how different generations of Americans thought about the issue. 40% of millennials aged 18-34 thought that the government should prevent people from saying these things, which appears to be the latest in a long-term trend that favors free speech restrictions. Only 12% of those between the ages of 70-87, 24% of those aged 51-69, and 27% of Americans aged 35-50, supported government restrictions.
When the statistics were broken down by education level, those with college degrees had the lowest support, whereas those who had a high school degree or less were the most supportive. Depending on how you look at that, it either suggests that younger Americans are less enthusiastic about free speech rights than the generation that came before, or those who want to restrict speech aren’t as educated. Pew also found that woman and minorities were more likely to support government intervention, as were Democrats and Independents.
The only good news to come out of the survey, is that Americans still support free speech more than the citizens of other nations. “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.” However, given the trends that we see in this poll, it doesn’t sound like Americans will be very tolerant of free speech in the future.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.