Alarming number of college students approve of using violence to shut down offensive speech

by WorldTribune Staff, October 5, 2020

Some 1 in 5 students said in a new survey that it is acceptable to use violence to shut down free speech at their college if they find it offensive.

The survey by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Real Clear Education, and College Pulse polled 20,000 students from 55 American colleges. It found that 18 percent of college students approve using violence in certain situations to stifle campus speech. That number rises to 21 percent at Ivy League schools.

“Liberal students expressed a higher acceptance of violence,” FIRE said.

“Students identifying as extremely liberal said violence to stop a speech or event from occurring on campus was ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ acceptable at a rate double that of students identifying as extremely conservative: 13 percent to 6 percent. More than a quarter of extremely liberal respondents said it is ‘rarely’ acceptable, compared to 8 percent of extremely conservative respondents.”

According to the poll, 25 percent of atheist students and black students expressed some level of acceptance for violence to shut down speech, as did 27 percent of LGBT students.

The survey also found that the atmosphere of political correctness, wokeness and cancel culture is leading conservative college students to self-censor to avoid conflict. While 55 percent of liberal students said they self-censor, 72 percent of conservative students said they felt the need to self-censor.

Over 60 percent of extreme liberals in the poll said that it is “always” or “sometimes” acceptable to shout down a speaker on their campus, compared to only 15 percent for extreme conservatives.

The survey found that an overwhelming 87 percent of students would welcome former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak, but only 69 percent would allow President Donald Trump to speak on campus.

The survey found that 71 percent of strong Republicans support Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden coming to speak at their campus. Meanwhile, only 49 percent of strong Democrats would allow Trump to speak at their college.

FIRE has also ranked the best and worst colleges for free speech.

The best colleges for free speech:

The University of Chicago
Kansas State University
Texas A&M University
University of California, Los Angeles
Arizona State University

The worst colleges for free speech:

Syracuse University
Dartmouth College
Louisiana State University
University of Texas
DePauw University

FIRE ranked the worst free speech higher learning institutions by “rating for colleges that explicitly prioritize other values above free speech.”


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