According to a new poll, a majority of Millennials want the First Amendment to be rewritten to bar “hate speech” and a majority of Americans overall think the right to free speech amendment is “outdated.”
The Campaign for Free Speech poll released this week reveals that nearly 60% of Millennials—or people ages 21-38—believe the Constitution “goes too far in allowing hate speech in modern America” and should be rewritten. Forty-eight percent (48%) of Gen Xers and 47% of Baby Boomers agree.
Most Millennials also support making “hate speech” a crime. Of those that do, 54% say violators should face jail time.
Overall, 51% of Americans think the First Amendment—which protects freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and petition— is “outdated and should be rewritten.” Forty-eight percent (48%) of Americans believe “hate speech should be illegal” and punishable by ticket or fine. Of those, nearly half believe jail time would be a just punishment.
Shockingly, the poll also reveals that 80% of respondents do not know what the First Amendment actually protects:
“Those polled believed this statement is true: ‘The First Amendment allows anyone to say their opinion no matter what, and they are protected by law from any consequences of saying those thoughts or opinions,’” writes the Campaign for Free Speech. “It’s actually not true. The First Amendment prevents the government from punishing you for your speech (with exceptions such as yelling “fire” in a crowded area to induce panic).”
“But more broadly, freedom of speech does not mean you are protected from social consequences for your speech,” the group continues. “You may have the right to say something extreme or hateful and not get thrown in jail, but others in society have the right to shun you.”
In more promising news, most Americans are becoming increasingly more aware of media bias in the press and fake news. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of respondents agree that the "government should be able to take action against newspapers and TV stations that publish content that is biased, inflammatory, or false,” meanwhile 35% disagree and 7% poll unsure. Of those that agree, 46% say possible jail time is “an appropriate consequence,” meanwhile 54% say it should be “nothing more than a ticket and fine.”
Many would also like to see a crackdown on the free press. Nearly 60 percent of respondents agreed that the "government should be able to take action against newspapers and TV stations that publish content that is biased, inflammatory, or false." Of those respondents, 46 percent supported possible jail time.
The poll of 1,004 respondents was conducted Sept. 3-5 and has a margin sampling error of 5%.
(Image via John S. Quarterman / Flickr)