Results of the Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey were released on Tuesday. It indicated overwhelmingly that 71% of Americans state that political correctness is silencing the discussions that should have taken place. 58% felt it resulted in a political environment where they cannot share their own political beliefs. The result mostly came from Republicans. In contrast, 53% of Democrats felt no need of self-censor while 73% of Republicans and 58% of independents felt the need to censor their political beliefs.
59% of Americans felt they should be allowed to express unpopular and seemingly offensive opinions in public while 40% wanted the government to block hate speech. Still, Americans were willing to censor, regulate, or punish a wide variety of speech and expression deemed offensive by them. For instance, 51% of staunch liberals stated punching Nazis as morally acceptable while 53% of Republicans felt people burning the American flag should be stripped of US citizenship, the list was long.
Americans were also not on the same page on classification of speech as hateful, offensive, or simply a political opinion. For instance, only 59% of liberals and 17% of conservatives agree stating transgender people having a mental disorder as hate speech. Likewise 39% of conservatives and just 17% of liberals feel calling police racist to be hate speech. 80% of liberals but just 36% of conservatives feel stating that illegal immigrants should be deported as hateful or offensive. Despite the 59% of Americans not agreeing with outright bans on public hate speech, 79% stated it to be 'morally unacceptable' to make offensive remarks about racial or religious groups.
The Difference about the way of operations of free speech was also seen amongst Black, Hispanic, and White Americans. Contrary to white Americans, the Hispanics and the African Americans are more inclined to believe that: •Free speech predominantly protects majority opinions and not minority viewpoints. •Supporting right to make racist comments is as bad as holding racist views. •People disrespecting others do not deserve the right of free speech. •Hate speech is equivalent to violence. Thus, society should bar it while protecting free speech. •People expressing offensive opinions usually have bad intentions.
However, all three groups agree that free speech would ensure that the truth will ultimately prevail. Most also agree that it is difficult to ban hate speech as its definition is very hazy. About 66% of Americans feel the colleges and universities have failed to teach young Americans, the value of free speech. 65% feel that these bodies should expose students to 'all types of viewpoints even if they are offensive or biased against certain groups.' In contrast, 34% want colleges to 'prohibit offensive speech that is biased against certain groups.'
The conflict was evident here as well. While they craved viewpoint diversity, 53% percent felt that 'colleges have an obligation to protect students from offensive speech and ideas that could create a difficult learning environment.'