The Knight-Gallup Freedom Of Speech Survey

A survey just released by the Knight Foundation and Gallup shows that More than 75% of the college students surveyed want “safe spaces” on  campuses that are free of “threatening actions, ideas, or conversations.” However, a majority of the same students support President Trump’s threat to withhold taxpayer dollars from universities that restrict speech.

Though 97% of college students believe that free speech is “an essential pillar of American democracy”, a  majority of students support policies to restrict of speech on campus. 78% of students support “safe spaces” where threatening ideas and conversations would be barred. 80%  favor the establishment of a “free-speech zone” where pre-approved protests and the distribution of literature are permitted.

The whole thing is filled with similar contradictions. Only 26%  support censoring “political views that are upsetting or offensive to certain groups,” but more than three-fourths support restricting  “language on campus that is intentionally offensive to certain groups.” 71% want to ban “costumes that stereotype certain racial or ethnic groups,” whatever that means.

The survey polled 3,319 college students, aged 18 to 24, from 24 different schools. The whole report is here.

My conclusions:

  • So while most students support specific policies restricting free speech, most students also say they support the principle of free speech and the right to express political views on campus. Got it. They have no understanding of what free speech means, and don’t comprehend the First Amendment.

They should have been taught this in high school.

  • About 20% of college students want strict censorship of speech. Those are the young totalitarians.

I wonder…what political party do they support?

  • Not only do college students largely fail to comprehend the concept of free speech, they lack critical thinking skills as well.

Note: Speaker Pelosi backs lowering the voting age to 16.

  • 63 % of students apparently feel that their campus climate deters students from expressing themselves openly, a rise from 54 % in 2016. Conservative students experience greater barriers to openly expressing their opinions, the surveyed felt, with Democrats feeling more comfortable than Republicans about sharing dissenting views in class.

Evette Alexander, the Knight Foundation’s Director of learning and impact  said that survey respondents felt greater pressure from their peers, rather than their professors, about voicing their dissenting opinions. What sense does that make, if 97% believe that free speech is a “pillar”?

“We understand that [pressure] mostly comes from peers,” Alexander said. “The professors would be open to hearing different thoughts, but the people who feel uncomfortable usually have a point of view that doesn’t align with the most vocal students in the room. And so they feel like by speaking up, they would expose themselves to retaliation.”

I don’t believe her.  If the faculties were not indoctrinating the students into believing there were clear distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate points of view, thus creating a rationalization for campus censorship, and instead properly conveyed the American value that freedom of expression should be near absolute, the situations Alexander describes would not exist.

What the survey really shows is the abject failure of our education system.

I think we knew that.

12 thoughts on “The Knight-Gallup Freedom Of Speech Survey

  1. Nancy Pelosi says, “I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16,”, “I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about government, to be able to vote.”

    Pelosi is an idiot.

    Over on Quora someone asked the question…

    Should age for voting be reduced to 16 as our teenagers are mature enough to shape their own destiny?

    Here is my answer…

    Resounding No!

    Even though 16 year old’s are already in the process of shaping their own destinies, just like 13, 14, and 15 year old youth, they are not mature enough to shape the destinies of the rest of the populace.

    My opinion:
    There should be one age across the board that our society deems that a youth is an adult and that age should and remain at 18 years old for everything! Eighteen for military service, voting, alcohol consumption, smoking, eighteen should be adult for absolutely everything – no exceptions!

    • My answer is if there is going to be one age for adulthood, make it 22. With higher education turning adolescents into toddlers, we just can’t trust college age folks with anything.

      • Currently I’m fine with anything between 18 and 21 but I’m lean heavily towards 18 because otherwise it would take a Constitutional Amendment to change voting rights and that just not going to happen in the current hyper partisan political environment. I honestly think that everything should go back to 21 across the board but the military would have real justification to oppose that.

  2. So while most students support specific policies restricting free speech, most students also say they support the principle of free speech and the right to express political views on campus. Got it. They have no understanding of what free speech means, and don’t comprehend the First Amendment.

    My suspicion is that this is intentional. The mostly Leftist curricula in place in high schools these days apparently wants students ignorant of history and the Constitution, and teach a version of the First Amendment that allows certain speech to be restricted because it is socially irresponsible or destructive.

    The concept of “freedom,” I suspect, is downplayed generally except in the context of government or social approval and/or value. Freedoms which erode the “values” of a society may be restricted or eliminated, including the freedom of speech where it conflicts with the “good of society” (whatever that is). When these students say they support free speech, they mean it only in the limited context of societal “values,” I suspect. That would explain the apparent conflict, anyway.

  3. Each semester I usually get one comment on my course evaluations about how grateful they are I did not inject politics into my classroom. This is commonly followed by a statement how other professors do.

    I take those comments as a badge of honor especially since I’m the faculty sponsor of the college Republicans.

  4. I think I must vociferously Come out against the Niggardly Principle and Level 10 apologies (at least as vociferously as one can be as one pecks away quietly on a smartphone).

    If the Stoics teach us nothing else, it is that it is our view if things that cause us offense and not the things themselves. The fact that Jack’s typos delight us and mortify him should prove that the problem is not with the typos, it is all in the way we view them.

    Nonetheless, while Jack’s goal of typographical perfection is laudable, his failure is neither inherently harmful or offensive.

    The Niggardly Principles implicitly condone ignorance. No wonder we have safe spaces that cater to people’s misconception that their feelings are the responsibility of someone else.

    We only make the behavior worse by giving it any power.

    Likewise, apologies for “those who were offended” is perfectly appropriate. A pretend apology for a pretend injury.

    It is only because we condone this behavior that we are in this situation.

    -Jut

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