by Justin Antitheist
“40% of Millennials OK with limiting speech offensive to minorities” reports the Pew Poll Research Center on November 20th, 2015.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”
– Evelyn Beatrice Hall
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation, must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
– Benjamin Franklin
The headline refers to millennials in America. While there is no universal agreement on exactly when a given generation begins and ends, Millennials, also known as Generation Y, includes people born about 1980 to the mid 1990s, according to some, or the early 2000s according to others. As of the current year, 2017, this would be people who are in their teens to about the age of 37. Pew defines a millennial as a person between 18 and 34.
“American Millennials are far more likely than older generations to say the government should be able to prevent people from saying offensive statements about minority groups…”
I knew that millennials in America are generally more opposed to free speech than previous American generations, but I was still shocked that a Pew Poll would show such a high percentage, 40%, would be in favor of the government preventing people from saying things that are offensive to minorities.
I was even more shocked to read that, according to the Pew Research Center, 27% of Generation Xers were in favor of the government preventing people from such speech. I would have guestimated a far lower figure. Generation X which is generally considered to include people born between the mid 1960s to the late 70s or early 80s – my generation. That would be people from about the age of 34 to about 52. Pew defines Generation X as people between 35 and 50. This is my generation. Now generation X has faults; we tend to be too cynical, too negative, pessimistic, apathetic, etc. and we have good qualities; we were the first generation to openly reject homophobia and sexism and we are also a very anti-authoritarian left wing generation. As anti-authoritarians, we generally do not want the government to enforce political correctness and “social justice”, unlike millennials. It’s basically the difference between running to mommy, daddy, or the teacher to deal with issues with other kids or just dealing with other kids. So, 27% is higher than what some might expect. Shame on you Gen X. 27% is far too high.
Of the Baby Boomer generation, 24% are in favor of such limits on free speech. Again, I am shocked. The Baby Boom generation roughly includes people born from about 1946 to about 1960, being people about 53 years old and about 71 years old, again, this is as of the current year of 2017. Pew defines this generation as people between 51 and 69.
The silent generation includes, roughly, people born from the mid to late 1920s to the early to mid 1940s; so people from about age 72 to about age 92. Pew defines them as being between 70 and 87. According to the Pew Research center, 12% of the Silent generation are in favor of such limits on freedom of speech. The Silent generation, of course, is the generation that saw the rise of authoritarian ideologies and regimes; dictatorships, Fascism, totalitarianism, Bolshevism, Stalinism, communism, Imperialism and Nazism, so it seems natural that they would be more opposed to authoritarianism. But 12%? That’s still far too high.
According to Pew, out of 38 nations surveyed, the USA is still the least likely to support the government limiting freedom of speech of any kind. Two thirds of Americans, that’s about 66%, want no limits to even speech that is offensive to minorities, whereas the average of the other 38 nations polled is 35%.
The poll also claims that fewer White Americans (23%) are in favor of such limits to free speech than non-whites (38%).
Women in general weigh in at about 33% and men about 23%.
Apparently, 35% of Democrats are in favor of such limits compared to 18% of Republicans. Also, it seems that those with less education are more likely to want the government to put such limits on speech than those with more education.
Results in Europe vary from nation to nation, but on average, 49% of the people polled in Germany, Italy, Poland, France, Spain and the UK want governments to limit such speech. That’s even more than American millennials. Pew suggests that this has much to do with the very high racial tensions in Europe related to the intense pressures involved in the migrant crisis. To be fair, the difference varies considerably from 38% of people polled in the UK to 70% in Germany.
As in the USA, millennials in the UK are more likely to want the government to enact such limits on free speech than older generations. However, the opposite is true in Germany and Spain, according to their poll.
Now let’s look at an other Pew Poll Global Support for Principle of Free Expression, but Opposition to Some Forms of Speech – Americans Especially Likely to Embrace Individual Liberties. This Pew Research Center Survey was conducted in 38 nations among 40,786 respondents from April 5 to May 21, 2015. As you can see, out of the nations they polled, the United States is still more, on average, in favor of freedom of expression than other nations. According to this poll, America is 71% in favor of freedom of speech as opposed to 69% for Latin America, 65% for Europe, 50% Asia/Pacific, 46% for Africa, 43% for the Middle East, with a 56% Median. So America is 15% more in favor of freedom of speech.
However, look at the figures for “Media can report the news”. According to these polls, only 67% of Americans think the news should be allowed to report the news. (Who the fuck are the other 23% and why would they think that the news should not be allowed to report the news?) Compare this with Latin America – 71%, so Latin America is actually more in favor of a free press than the USA!
The report goes on;
Although many observers have documented a global decline in democratic rights in recent years, people around the world nonetheless embrace fundamental democratic values, including free expression. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that majorities in nearly all 38 nations polled say it is at least somewhat important to live in a country with free speech, a free press and freedom on the internet…The United States stands out for its especially strong opposition to government censorship, as do countries in Latin America and Europe – particularly Argentina, Germany, Spain and Chile. Majorities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East also tend to oppose censorship, albeit with much less intensity. Indonesians, Palestinians, Burkinabe and Vietnamese are among the least likely to say free expression is very important.
While free expression is popular around the globe, other democratic rights are even more widely embraced. In Western and non-Western nations, throughout the global North and South, majorities want freedom of religion, gender equality, and honest, competitive elections. Yet the strength of commitment to individual liberties also varies. Americans are among the strongest supporters of these freedoms. Meanwhile, Europeans are especially likely to want gender equality and competitive elections, but somewhat less likely than others to prioritize religious freedom. The right to worship freely is most popular in sub-Saharan Africa. Across all regions, people who say religion is very important in their lives are more likely to value religious freedom.
Even though broad democratic values are popular, people in different parts of the world have different ways of conceptualizing individual rights and the parameters of free expression. Publics tend to support free speech in principle, but they also want limitations on certain types of speech. While a global median of 80% believe people should be allowed to freely criticize government policies, only 35% think they should be allowed to make public statements that are offensive to minority groups, or that are religiously offensive. Even fewer support allowing sexually explicit statements or calls for violent protests.
Now let’s cut through the bullshit here; if you are against freedom of speech that is offensive to some people, then you do not believe in freedom of speech. Some people are trying to redefine certain speech as being non-speech. In other words, “Hate speech is not speech!”. No. Hate speech is speech. If you disagree with this then you disagree with the definitions of the words “hate speech”, “is”, and “speech”. If you are against some speech, then you are against freedom of speech. That’s just how reality works folks. You can redefine things all you want. It’s not going to change reality. 2 + 2 = 4 no matter what you think. You can say that 2 + 2 = 5, you can believe it all you want, you can convince every human on earth and you would still be incorrect. I have news for you; make-believe does not make things real. Unlike what Disney told you, wishing upon a star does not change reality. If you think beliefs determine reality, do me a favor – go to the top of a tall building, belive you can fly and jump off. Getting back to the article;
Americans, however, are more willing than the rest of the world to tolerate these forms of speech. Large majorities in the U.S. think people should be able to say things that are offensive to minority groups or their religious beliefs. About half (52%) say this about sexually explicit statements, and more than four-in-ten (44%) think calls for violent protests should be allowed.
Note that in the USA, according to Constitutional law, calls for violence are actually not protected speech. Things like yelling, “Fire!” in crowded theater when there is no fire is illegal, as is calling for people to be hurt. In other words, you can not say, “Hey let’s go out there and lynch somebody!”
I am not going to cover everything in this report. It goes on for an other 6 and a half pages, so I will include a link to this poll and to the other poll below. It’s too bad that the Pew Research Center does not also line up the Iqs of the people polled with their answers. Of course this would be impractical because it takes a lot of work to determine a persons IQ. However, I do think such information would be fascinating because I think that if you were to line such information up you would see a correlation between low IQ and lack of belief in freedom of speech. So if you’re against freedoms, know this; intelligent people (I argue) disagree with you and stupid people (I would bet) agree with you. Now how does that feel?
“If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all.” – Noam Chomsky
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – Orwell
There is a song by the band Fishbone called, “Fight the Youth” from the early 1990s. I did not know who they were referring to back then. But at any rate, I think the lyrics are applicable to millennials;
…And every time I see the hatred that engulfs these children
It makes me wonder if the quest for peace will someday subside
I`m not afraid to wage the hopeless battles I must fight
For I could never lose, I know my cause shines in the light
Take a look around
We`re not hiding anymore
Your weapon`s cowardice
And we won`t take it anymore… Anymore
Fight the Youth
The Youth with poisoned minds
Ignite the truth
Restore sight to these blind
Fight the youth
The youth with poisoned minds
And if they suffer it`s no fault but their own
And all the feelings of a generation fed with anger
Make all the choices for a future where all nightmares come true
I choose to fight for youth, to fight for truth, to fight for justice
I choose to heal the wounds of sacrifice made by the children
Paushter, J. (2015, November 20). 40% of Millennials OK with limiting speech offensive to minorities. Pew Research Center. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/20/40-of-millennials-ok-with-limiting-speech-offensive-to-minorities/
Wike, R., & Simmons, K. (2015, November 18). Pew Research Center: Global Attitudes & Trends. Global Support for Principle of Free Expression, but Opposition to Some Forms of Speech | Pew Research Center. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/11/18/global-support-for-principle-of-free-expression-but-opposition-to-some-forms-of-speech/