Law & the Courts

Survey: Only 39 Percent of College Students Know That Hate Speech Is Protected Speech

A man attends demonstrations following the cancellation of Anne Coulter’s speech at Berkeley in April. (Reuters photo: Stephen Lam)
That’s not an encouraging result.

In a recent survey of college students, only 39 percent responded that they that believe that the Constitution protects hate speech — which, by the way, it does.

John Villasenor, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor at UCLA, surveyed 1,500 college students on free-speech issues. In response to the question of whether or not hate speech is constitutionally protected, only 39 percent correctly answered “yes,” 44 percent answered “no,” and 16 percent answered “don’t know.”

Yes, a whopping 44 percent actually said that it isn’t protected. Not that it is protected but they think that it shouldn’t be, or that they’re not sure whether it’s protected or not, but that it is definitely not protected and they know that for a fact.

It truly is terrifying, and in case you think this is just a case of dumb snowflake libtard kids not knowing how merica works, only 51 percent of the Republican students surveyed said that hate speech was protected, which is far from an impressive number. (To be fair, they did do better than the Democrats: Only 31 percent said yes.)

Now, what makes the results of this survey especially enlightening (in that horrific, we-are-f***ing-doomed kind of way) is the context that it provides for what we’ve been seeing on college campuses. There’s been story after story about students protesting appearances by certain speakers on the grounds that they’re “hateful” and “offensive” — and now we know that, for an alarmingly high percentage of them, it’s not just that they think the school should have rules protecting them from speech, or even that there should be laws protecting against this kind of speech — it’s that they think there already are those laws. Apparently, a lot of those idiots who are sitting there writing anti-speech op-eds or standing on the streets holding anti-speech protest signs actually think they’re on the side of the law. You’d think this would be something that they would have at least Googled by now — given how savvy millennials are supposed to be on the Internet and all that — but apparently, that would be asking too much.

Oh, and it gets worse: 19 percent responded that they actually believed that violence was an “acceptable” way to stop a speaker.

And 19 percent said they actually believed violence was an ‘acceptable’ way to stop a speaker.

Look, kids: Not only does the Constitution protect hate speech, but it should protect hate speech. Is that because hate speech is good? No, I don’t like the speech that I consider hate speech, and that’s the point — everyone is going to have a different opinion of what is and is not “hate speech.” What some people consider “hate speech,” others might consider to be hilarious or even virtuous speech, and it would be dangerous to allow the government to decide what qualifies. Any time you start thinking the government should intervene to stop speech that you don’t like, realize that those exact same rules could eventually be used to stop your own speech.

READ MORE:

The Comforting Thing about Hearing Speech You Find Offensive

Yes, Let’s Rethink Free Speech

I’m the Target of Hatred, and I’ll Still Defend It as Free Speech

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