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New Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Free Speech

Our friends at The Center for Security Policy have shared the results of a new national public opinion poll conducted by the respected McLaughlin and Associates firm. The poll found the vast preponderance of those surveyed favor the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression – and reject the notion that some Freedom of speechshould be denied that right.

This finding confirms that of a recent Rasmussen poll.  Together, these distinguished pollsters’ data represent a powerful warning to government officials, lawmakers and activists intent on restricting free speech if, in their view or others, it gives “offense.”

Key results of the McLaughlin survey conducted last week included the following:

  • *  By a margin of 85 percent to 8 percent, respondents said that, in the aftermath of the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia last month, “all Americans are entitled to free speech,” not “just some of us.”
  • *  84.9 percent of respondents regarded “freedom of speech as a fundamental right.” Only 9.3 percent thought “it should be restricted if it offends some people.”
  • *  63 percent opposed the violent leftist group Antifa’s attempts to silence those whose speech it disagrees with, while only 21 percent supported Antifa.
  • *  A plurality of 42.8 percent opposed the use by Internet companies of a list compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that accuses “many mainstream conservative groups” of engaging in “hate speech.”  Only 31.8 percent supported such use.

Frank J. Gaffney, the president of The Center for Security Policy, observed about the poll:

Americans clearly understand the dangers associated with attempts to censor speech and other forms of expression:  Today, it might be someone else who is being silenced.  Tomorrow, it may well be you.  And, to the extent that organizations funded by the likes of radical leftists like George Soros – including the Southern Poverty Law Center and Antifa – are allowed to act as the arbiters of who is allowed to communicate, about what and how, it’s just a matter of time before many millions of us are gagged.

The Left and the Islamist allies it enables have clearly crossed a line.  Organizations like the SPLC, the Anti-Defamation League and the Council on American Islamic Relations are engaged in political warfare pure and simple, aimed at denying their opponents’ free speech rights in academia, in the media, on the Internet and in the public square.  Politicians – and most especially Republican ones – acquiesce to such anti-constitutional conduct at their own electoral peril.

The reality check for public office-holders offered by the McLaughlin and Rasmussen polls on free speech could hardly be more timely. 

After all, in April 2017 – even before the bloodletting in Charlottesville spawned relentless, bipartisan demands for limiting “offensive” expression – the U.S. Senate unanimously approved S.Res. 118, co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.  It was described as “a resolution condemning hate crime and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States.”

Animus is a sweeping term that can include such highly subjective sentiments as hostility, ill-feeling and strong dislike. The resolution also called for Federal investigation of not just hate crimes but “hate incidents” and “hate threats,” both undefined.  A counterpart resolution is awaiting action in the House of Representatives, as are actual bills with names like the “NO HATE Act” in both the Senate and the House. 

Speaking of Soros and his ilk, the McLaughlin poll also found that by a nearly two-to-one margin, 48.5 to 26.3, respondents agreed that President Trump should not employ “subordinates who can be shown to be colluding with George Soros, Barack Obama or others associated with them to undermine President Trump’s administration.”  Among Trump voters, the spread was even wider, 67.6 percent to 18.4 percent.

The Center for Security Policy release said the organization strongly agrees with the prevailing sentiments documented in the McLaughlin and Associates poll – and so do we. 

We urge every American who loves liberty to exercise their First Amendment rights. That should, among other things, entail insisting that their lawmakers uphold freely sworn oaths to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

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