Democrats and young people – who often are of the same group – have had an increasingly disturbing preference for government censorship as opposed to believing in free speech, even though it was once the other way around. So strong is the fear of that boogeyman of “misinformation” that the Biden administration bullied social media platforms into colluding to censor Americans over COVID, even for information that wasn’t actually false. The Biden administration has faced losses in the courts (Missouri v. Biden) when it comes to censorship, and we’re now waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court, which put the decision on hold earlier this month, will weigh in.
RealClear Opinion Research did a poll on free speech and censorship that was recently released. Fortunately, over 90 percent of respondents responded that free speech is a good thing. “This is agreed upon across the demographics, like party affiliation, age, and race,” poll director Spencer Kimball said.
Notable partisan differences do exist, though. The poll’s write-up included a headline asking, “Is Censorship a Partisan Issue?” It would appear that that is indeed the case. When it comes to those demographics mentioned above, however, here are some troubling takeaways, with added emphasis:
Painting with a broad brush, Democrats grant significantly more deference to government than do Republicans when it comes to regulating free speech. This wasn’t the only fault line revealed by the RCP survey.
Some of what is dividing these differences is generational, as Millennials and Gen-Z have come of age in a digital age environment in which reasonable expectations of privacy seem a relic of the past. “Those under 30 are most open to censorship by the government,” Kimball noted, adding that 42% of this cohort deem it “more important” to them that the government protect national security than guard the right to free expression. Among those over 65 years old, the corresponding percentage was 26%.
Although majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree the news media should be able to report stories they believe are in the national interest, this consensus shifts when it comes to social media censorship. A majority of Democrats (52%) approve of the government censoring social media content under the rubric of protecting national security. Among Republicans and independents, this percentage is only one-third.
Poll respondents were read this statement: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Only 31% of Democratic voters “strongly agreed” with that sentiment, compared to 51% of Republicans.
Fully three-fourths of Democrats believe government has a responsibility to limit “hateful” social media posts, while Republicans are more split, with 50% believing the government has a responsibility to restrict hateful posts. (Independents, once again, are in the middle.)
As the poll’s write-up acknowledges, “Democrats grant significantly more deference to government.” That’s certainly a concern, not merely because it highlights how the party that once did no longer prioritizes free speech, but because it’s worth asking where the line is drawn.
Here’s the wording of certain questions, which are chillingly vague. “Do you think the government has a responsibility to restrict hateful posts and disinformation on social media platforms or should they be an open forum of free speech even if that speech is hateful or inaccurate?” one question asked. A majority of all respondents, 61.3 percent of them, answered that the government does.
“Which is better – allowing free speech without government interference or letting the government decide what types of hateful or inaccurate speech should be banned?” another question asked. Over three-fourths of all respondents, 76.7 percent, chose the former.
Other questions asked about national security, but again, that’s not defined.
“Which is more important to you: that the government be able to censor news stories it feels threaten national security or that people may be able to report stories they feel are in the national interest?” one question asked. A majority, at 68.4 percent, chose the latter.
Another question similarly asked, “Which is more important to you: that the government be able to censor users/content on social media platforms it feels threaten national security, or that the social media users be able to post content they feel are in the national interest?” A majority, at 59.2 percent, still chose the latter.
Concerns with what happens when stories are censored aren’t just hypotheticals.
Recall how just weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the Hunter Biden laptop story covered by the New York Post was censored over social media at the behest of the Biden campaign. We were told at the time that it was a Russian disinformation campaign, with so-called security experts signing on to testify as much. The effort was led by now Secretary of State Antony Blinken. It wasn’t until over a year later that mainstream media outlets, such as the Washington Post, admitted what so many of us already knew to be true.
Polls have shown that had more people known about the story, it might have changed the outcome of the election.
It was the Republican-controlled House that called for a hearing on government censorship, which the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government did in July. Democrats on the committee were all too happy to let their pro-censorship colors show.
The poll also looked to whether or not respondents felt “Conservatives are unfairly censored on social media platforms” and if “Liberals are unfairly censored on social media platforms.”
The breakdowns are illuminating. While a plurality of respondents, at 29.3 percent said they “somewhat agree” that conservatives are “unfairly censored,” a plurality said the same thing about liberals, at 32.2 percent. While 26.6 percent said they “strongly” agree that conservatives are censored in such a way, just 11.6 said the same about liberals. A significant amount of respondents, 29.6 percent, said they “strongly disagree” that “Liberals are unfairly censored on social media platforms.”
We know more about conservative accounts being censored from social media thanks to revelations from the Twitter Files and more recently the Facebook Files. Non-conservatives have been censored too, though, in the case of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is challenging President Joe Biden in the Democratic presidential primary.
Among those championing censorship are those that have gone after Townhall, such as the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), as the Facebook Files revealed. The CCDH website is a liberal, progressive activist’s paradise for the pro-life issue, climate change, and vaccine skepticism.
The poll’s write-up also acknowledges how “times change.”
“On the issue of free expression, at least, Republicans are not the authoritarian party,” the poll’s write-up noted, perhaps in response to how those in the White House and other Democrats have lashed out at Republican-controlled states, like Florida, for daring to protect school children from sexually explicit content being freely available at the library. Liberals have thus claimed that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has been engaging in so-called book bans, despite him debunking that hoax.
As Guy pointed out when explaining leftist reactions to a supposed book ban, Florida law is a response to demands from parents who actually want to know what materials are available to their children. School districts must report to the state any books that parents have challenged as inappropriate, The Washington Times highlighted earlier this year about the law.
For over a year now, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has gone after DeSantis, claiming there’s more freedom in California than Florida, in part due to the controversy over so-called book bans.
It was just announced earlier on Monday that Newsom and DeSantis will debate one another on November 30.
“That distinction belongs to the Democrats, the party launched by Thomas Jefferson,” the write-up goes on to mention, reminding how fiercely devoted to free speech the Founding Father was.
“This is a relatively new development. Traditionally, opposing censorship — whether imposed by government or corporations — was a bedrock principle of liberalism in this country.”
Liberals are also opposing free speech when it comes to recent examples like Lorie Smith, who serves all customers but could not design a website celebrating a same-sex wedding since it conflicted with her sincerely held religious beliefs. The same goes for Jack Phillips, a baker who designs wedding cakes. Both have had wins at the U.S. Supreme Court, though liberal activists continue to force Phillips to be embroiled in legal controversies.
My other blogs. Main ones below:
http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)
http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)
http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)
http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)
http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)
https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)
https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)
http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs
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