YouGov poll: Majority of Republicans think media should publish satires of religion, plurality of Dems disagree

In case you’re wondering which party is the anti-blasphemy party. Remember this the next time you stumble across a lefty thinkpiece on how Christian theocrats run the GOP. The top line is “should publish,” the second is “should not,” the third is “not sure”:


Some caveats are in order. For one thing, when asked whether the media has an obligation to show controversial but newsworthy images even if they might offend the religious views of some, both parties are heavily in favor. Democrats split 76/24 while Republicans split 82/18. (The overall public split is 80/20.) That means that outfits like CNN and people like NYT editor Dean Baquet are crossways with fully 80 percent of the public in suppressing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, at least for their stated fig-leaf reason of “sensitivity.” Another caveat: When asked if it’s acceptable or unacceptable to ridicule Christianity, both parties tilt narrowly towards “unacceptable.” (Democrats split 38/44 while Republicans divide 45/47.) When asked if it’s acceptable or unacceptable to ridicule Islam, both tilt towards “acceptable” — 42/38 for Democrats and a clear majority of 53/30 for Republicans. It’s actually the age split that’s more interesting on that question though. For some reason, young adults and seniors are more circumspect while the middle-aged say “go for it.”


Actually, far more interesting than the partisan divide throughout YouGov’s poll is the divide between the sexes and, especially, the races. Spend some time with the crosstabs (they’re in two separate files for some reason) and you’ll find a reliable, often sharp split between men and women and blacks and whites on when it’s appropriate to offend. Here’s the result when people are asked whether Charlie Hebdo was acting responsibly or irresponsibly in publishing its cartoons:


A 20-point difference based on gender between those who say the magazine behaved responsibly and a 26-point difference based on race. Among blacks, the number who say the magazine behaved irresponsibly is nearly twice the number who say otherwise. If you think that’s a fluke result geared to the specific question, here’s what happens when you ask whether the media should publish satires of a particular religion:


The spread this time is 25 points between men and women and 27 points between blacks and whites. Women clearly, to an almost majority extent, believe religious satires shouldn’t be published; among blacks, that opinion is held by a clear majority. None of this goes as far as Bill Donohue did in accusing the Charlie Hebdo staff of having “played a role” in their own murders, but the position that religious ridicule should be voluntarily suppressed is the same basic idea that Donohue was pushing last week. He doesn’t want anti-blasphemy laws, or so he claims, he wants anti-blasphemy norms. And so do a lot of women and blacks. That’s what explains the partisan divide on this, in fact: Because so many women and black voters identity as Democrats, they’re driving the Dems’ plurality opposition to publishing religious satire. Ask Democratic men and/or white Democrats, specifically, whether it should be published and you’ll probably get a much different result. Good luck to the Dems in resolving that intraparty split.

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on February 04, 2023