Political correctness is stifling freedom in the United States and it’s making people refrain from expressing their political beliefs.
According to the Cato Institute’s 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey of 2,300 U.S. adults:
71% Americans believe that political correctness has silenced important discussions our society needs to have. The consequences are personal — 58% of Americans believe the political climate prevents them from sharing their own political beliefs.
These feelings are strongest among Republicans (73%) and independents (58%). Unsurprisingly for Democrats, 53 percent don’t feel any need to censor their political thoughts.
Though nearly 60 percent believe even unpopular opinions should be allowed in the public square, 40 percent wish the government would pass laws to stop perceived “hate speech.” The vast majority, nearly 80 percent of respondents, said it's “morally unacceptable” to say offensive things to different races or religions.
But what constitutes hate speech? No one agrees, according to the poll. A majority of blacks and Hispanics believes that free speech only protects majority opinions, but not those of minorities. Those groups also believe that having the right to say something racist is as bad as having racist views. And most feel that people expressing offensive opinions have bad intentions.
Check out this mixed bag of opinions on free speech:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it’s “morally acceptable” to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people’s preferred gender pronouns.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
- 59% of liberals say it’s hate speech to say transgender people have a mental disorder; only 17% of conservatives agree.
- 39% of conservatives believe it’s hate speech to say the police are racist; only 17% of liberals agree.
- 80% of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say illegal immigrants should be deported; only 36% of conservatives agree.
- 87% of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say women shouldn’t fight in military combat roles, while 47% of conservatives agree.
- 90% of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say homosexuality is a sin, while 47% of conservatives agree.
One thing most people agree on across the political spectrum is that institutes of higher learning are failing students on free speech. By the same token, almost half (plus or minus a few points) wouldn’t want someone speaking at a college if they said “all white people are racist,” or a Muslim shouldn’t be allowed in the country, or whites have higher IQs than minorities, or men are better at math than women.
The most aggressive leftists are always carrying on about microaggressions, but the Cato poll found that most people of color don’t care. Here are the precentages of minorities who aren’t offended by so-called microaggressions:
- Telling a recent immigrant: “You speak good English” Black: 67% Latino: 77%
- Telling a racial minority: “You are so articulate” Black: 56% Latino: 63%
- Saying “I don’t notice people’s race” Black: 71% Latino: 80%
- Saying “America is a melting pot” Black: 77% Latino: 70%
- Saying “Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough.” Black: 77% Latino: 89%
- Saying “America is the land of opportunity” Black: 93% Latino: 89%
However, a majority agrees that the microaggression, “You are a credit to your race,” is offensive.
A majority of Democrats believe it’s okay to fire employees who have opinions against the acceptable forms of identity politics. Republicans don’t agree, but find it acceptable that employees be fired if they burn the America flag at a weekend protest.
Republicans and Democrats are split on the belief that journalists are the enemy of the people — 63 percent on the Right agree, 89 percent on the Left do not.
There is much more to explore in the poll over at CATO. One thing’s for sure: the great American divide isn't closing anytime soon.