Survey: Majority of Americans Say Colleges Aren’t Teaching ‘the Value of Free Speech’

Two-thirds of Americans believe that colleges and universities aren’t doing enough to teach students the value of free speech, according to a new survey by the Cato Institute.

The wide-ranging survey captured American attitudes on a variety of topics surrounding free speech and tolerance.

“Two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans say colleges and universities aren’t doing enough to teach young Americans today about the value of free speech,” the survey report reads. “When asked which is more important, 65 percent say colleges should ‘expose students to all types of viewpoints, even if they are offensive or biased against certain groups.’ About a third (34 percent) say colleges should ‘prohibit offensive speech that is biased against certain groups.'”

Also revealed through the survey, 65 percent of Americans say that public colleges shouldn’t advise students on how to avoid offensive Halloween costumes. 65 percent said that universities should discipline students who shut down invited speakers. 61 percent say people call others racist or sexist to avoid debate. An overwhelming 70 percent of respondents said that America has a big problem with political correctness. 58 percent also said that the politically correct climate restricts them from saying what they believe.

Paradoxically, the majority of Americans surveeyed expressed support for the “heckler’s veto.” 58 percent of students said that colleges should cancel controversial speakers if students threaten violence. Under the heading “patriotic correctness,” the survey found that 53 percent of Americans believe that flag burners should have their citizenship revoked. 39 percent of conservatives said that it is “hate speech” to say that the police are racist, while only 17 percent of self-identifying liberals agreed. 87 percent of liberals said that it is offensive to say that women shouldn’t fight in military combat roles.

Less than half of Americans said they were familiar with certain social justice buzzwords and phrases including cultural appropriation (50 percent), trigger warnings (49 percent), “check your privilege” (48 percent), microaggressions (43 percent), and “mansplaining” (41 percent).

 

 


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