Poll: Clear Majority of Democrats Want Free Speech Restrictions
A new poll has revealed that almost half of Democratic voters think that free speech should be legal only “under certain circumstances,” with three quarters of Democrats also saying that the government should restrict “hateful” social media posts. The poll results indicate a continued emphasis toward censorship on the part of left-leaning voters, even in the wake of intense controversy over recent revelations that government actors worked in tandem with social media companies to censor speech.
On Friday, RealClear Opinion Research released the results of a survey showing that a slim majority of Democrats (53%) say that speech should be legal under any circumstances, with 47% saying it should be legal “only under certain circumstances.” Meanwhile, almost three quarters (74%) of Republicans affirmed free speech under any circumstances.
Regarding freedom in general, almost one-third of Democrats (34%) said that Americans “have too much freedom,” with just 14.6% of Republicans saying the same.
When it comes to government censorship, three out of four Democrats said that the government should in fact restrict “hateful” social media posts, with about half of Republicans saying they would also support such censorship.
The poll results appear to fall in line with a trend among institutions controlled by the Left toward curtailing free speech. Following the release of the “Twitter Files,” a compilation of internal emails released by Twitter owner Elon Musk between December 2022 and March 2023 after he acquired the social media giant, it was revealed that Twitter routinely prevented tweets by prominent conservatives from being widely seen.
It was further revealed that Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other social media outlets “developed a formal system for taking in moderation requests” from government agencies including the FBI, DHS, HHS, DOD, and others. Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki publicly admitted that Biden administration officials were “in regular touch” with social media platforms to combat “misinformation.”
Observers have noted that efforts by social media companies to censor conservatives is not surprising considering the political persuasions of employees at places like Twitter, where before Musk’s takeover, 99% of employees donated to Democrats leading up to the midterm elections.
In academia, where liberal professors outnumber conservatives 17 to 1, there has been a sustained effort to censor conservative speech for at least a decade. This has produced an environment in which the ratio between left-leaning speakers versus right-leaning guests allowed to speak on campuses has reached as high as 32:1.
When conservative experts actually make it on campus to speak, they are often not allowed to give remarks due to being shouted down by left-wing protestors. In one recent academic year, at least 11 shout-downs were reported. Threats of physical violence by left-wing activists to shut down speech have also been employed multiple times in recent years, most recently when women’s sports advocate Riley Gaines was physically assaulted while being rushed to a barricaded room midway through her speech at San Francisco State University in April.
In 2019, City Journal writer John Tierney catalogued another censorship movement occurring within mainstream media outlets, in which writers and editors at The New York Times, The Atlantic, and other outlets were forced out of their jobs due to internal pressure over their political views.
The RealClear poll appears to show that even after the public exposure of free speech censorship movements happening within social media, government, academia, and journalism, a clear majority of Democratic voters still have reservations about Americans of all political persuasions having full First Amendment rights.
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.