October 27, 2021

Milne News

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New study finds free speech is under more threat than previously believed

4 min read
New study finds free speech is under more threat than previously believed

A new poll conducted by the Campaign for Free Speech found that the majority of Americans would like the First Amendment to be rewritten to reflect the current climate – including updates such as being able to punish ‘hate speech’ and media who publish content that is ‘biased, inflammatory, or false.’

The poll from the Campaign for Free Speech, found that some 51% of people in the United States believe that the amendment – which was first adopted in 1791 – ‘should be updated to reflect the cultural norms of today.’

According to the Campaign for Free Speech, findings from the study ‘indicate free speech is under more threat than previously believed.’

Of the 1,004 people who completed the online study, 51% of Millennials (those between the ages of 21-38) believe that hate speech should be against the law.

In comparison, some 46% of Gen X (ages 39-54) and some 46% of Baby Boomers (ages 55-73) felt like hate speech should be against the law.

As far as punishment for hate crimes, some 54% of those Americans surveyed found that they would prefer ‘possible jail time’ while another 46% said they would want ‘nothing more than a ticket and fine.’

The survey takers also wanted to crack down extensively on the media and ‘alternative news’ sources.

57% felt that the government ‘should be able to take action against newspapers and TV stations that publish content that is ‘biased, inflammatory or false.’

Taking things a step further, 54% of respondents felt like consequence for media personnel should be nothing more than a ticket while another 46 percent wanted jail time for offenders.

Turning to social media – specifically Facebook – some 38% of survey takers felt that the social media giant should allow all speech while another 49% felt ‘Facebook should monitor and restrict offensive speech and views.’

Specific groups were also targeted as being groups that should have their ‘free speech restricted’, with 63% of survey takers wanting some form of restrictions.

52% of survey takers wanted racist to be restricted, 50% of respondents also wanted neo-Nazis restricted while 46% said radical Islamist and 35% said Holocaust deniers. 20% of survey takers wanted anti-vaccine advocates restricted and 18% said climate change deniers.

The Campaign for Free Speech determined that most don’t actually understand what the First Amendment protects after some 79% of respondents believed that ‘the First Amendment allows anyone to say their opinion no matter what, and they are protected by law from any consequences of saying those thoughts or opinions.’

According to Bob Lystad, executive director of the Campaign For Free Speech, the findings are ‘frankly extraordinary.’

‘Our free speech rights and our free press rights have evolved well over 200 years, and people now seem to be rethinking them,’ he explained to the Washington Free Beacon.

Lystad explained that ‘hate speech’ was not defined in the survey, allowing respondents to draw their own conclusions by what it meant.

‘I think [our findings] are fueled in large part because of a rise of hate speech, but traditionally, hate speech is protected in the First Amendment,’ Lystad added. ‘The Supreme Court has upheld that principle time and time again.’

Lystad and the group believe hate speech should be denounced but don’t believe censorship to be the solution.

‘Hate speech should be condemned, but legally, the answer to speech we don’t like is more speech, not censorship,’ he said. ‘Our primary focus is education, and to help people better understand the First Amendment, free speech, free press, and why it’s so vital to our democracy.’

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