A new poll conducted by the University of California Berkeley reveals that a majority of California Democrats oppose the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and assembly, at least as it applies to extreme right-wing groups. A plurality (46%) of all Californians feels the same way.
The San Jose Mercury News reports:
Forty-six percent of California voters say we’ve gone too far in allowing white nationalists to demonstrate while 43 percent say the rallies should not be restricted and 11 percent had no opinion.
And Democrats, especially, appear to be grappling with the complex issue in deep blue California.
In the wake of violent protests from Charlottesville to Berkeley, more than half, a full 53 percent of California’s Democratic voters, believe we have gone too far in allowing those demonstrations. Some 50 percent of California Republicans, meanwhile, believe the right to demonstrate should not be restricted, compared with 39 percent of Democrats.
The poll’s results reportedly surprised the pollster who conducted it. “I would have thought the liberals would be defending the right to demonstrate in general,” Mark DiCamillo told the Mercury News.
According to the Sacramento Bee, which reported the polling data in further detail, 58% of those describing themselves as “liberal” said that America had “gone too far in allowing white nationalist groups to hold public demonstrations.”
The poll was conducted among 1,200 registered voters, with a margin of error of 4%.
The results come as UC Berkeley prepares to host a series of conservative speakers later this month, including former Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who was prevented from speaking on campus in February after Antifa activists and left-wing students rioted. Police are expecting similar violence.
In related news, the Berkeley city council voted 6-3 on Tuesday to allow police to use pepper spray for crowd control. The council had banned police from using pepper spray for 20 years.
UC Berkeley is known as the birthplace of the campus Free Speech Movement in 1964. In recent years, it has struggled to uphold the principles of that movement, at least with regard to conservative views and speakers.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.