A majority of Americans, and an overwhelming number of Democrats, no longer support the First Amendment’s protections for free speech.
The government should restrict “false” information online, even if doing so blocks people from “posting or accessing information,” 55 percent of Americans said in a big survey published on Thursday. Only 42 percent disagree.
Antipathy to free speech represents a radical change in attitudes in just five years. It is driven by a powerful new hostility to First Amendment rights on the left.
In an identical poll five years ago, Democrats and Republicans favored free speech online by roughly 3 to 2 margins. Today, Republicans still support the First Amendment. But Democrats have turned against it even more.
(FREE SPEAKING SUPPORT… WHILE YOU CAN)
Support for government suppression of “false” speech clearly violates the First Amendment, which does not distinguish between “false” and legal speech, or online or traditional platforms for speech and debate.
The surprising finding comes from a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center, a Washington think tank. Pew’s online survey covered more than 5,000 adults, and Pew has asked the same question three times in five years; the trend is unmistakable.
(Freedom? We don’t need no stinkin’ freedom!)
(Note that the second part of the survey questioned whether tech and social media companies should also censor. Americans also support such private censorship, but this is a less radical position. Private companies are generally not subject to the First Amendment unless they act at the behest of the government, although companies considered “common carriers” may have to carry all speech whether they want to or not.)
When Pew divided respondents by political party, the divide—and the shift in attitude—was even more striking.
In 2018, Democrats supported free speech by a 57-40 margin, nearly identical to the Republican view. them now to oppose by 70-28, a massive swing in the last five years, while Republican views have not changed.
(Maybe we should call it a cultural revolution; I feel like I’ve heard that phrase before?)
The poll had almost no good news.
Younger adults favored freedom of speech slightly more than those over 50, but they have moved even faster than older adults in the last five years, probably because they tend to lean to the left.
The survey did not examine the reasons Because views have changed very quickly so far. But, presumably, endless alarmism about the dangers of “disinformation” and “disinformation” from the left-wing media has been a big factor.
In any case, the survey puts the strange New York Times into context article Thursday suggesting that free speech, rather than being a basic American right, presents “thorny issues.”
The left – the whole left, readers i writers, consumers i producers of information – is clearly losing faith in the First Amendment, telling itself a story about the dangers of too much speech and trying to cover up opinions and even facts it doesn’t like.
And those of us who hoped that the end of Covid and the manifest failure of mRNAs would mean the end of censorship, or at least a serious rethinking of its pros and cons, seems to have been sadly mistaken.