Via WaPo, it’s worth noting that the question asked by Morning Consult here mentioned “universities,” not public universities specifically. The latter implicates the First Amendment, the former doesn’t (or rather, doesn’t always). But there’s value to the broader wording: What they’re testing is people’s moral commitment to tolerating “hate speech,” stripped of any legal niceties that might influence their opinion. Forget what the Constitution says for a minute. Should higher education let people speak on campus if what they say is regarded as hateful or offensive by some? Emphasis: Some.
Sure, says a narrow plurality of Democrats. And they’re one of the few demographics who do.
Among the dozens and dozens of subgroups for which Morning Consult has numbers, only four crack 40 percent support for barring speakers based. One is Democrats generally at 41/39 and two others are parts of the Democratic base — African-Americans, who split 42/31, and Democratic women, the single most supportive subgroup of hate-speech bans in this poll at 47/33. (The fourth group is homemakers, who split evenly at 40/40.) Women, in fact, are significantly more willing to ban speakers from campus than men are regardless of their political affiliation. Both among Democrats and Republicans and across the wider population, the gap between females and males is double digits.
The ceiling on support for banning hate speech from campus is only half the story, though. The other half is the floor. Only a single subgroup of the dozens tested here sees less than 20 percent support for keeping offensive speech out of universities — that’s Republican men, at 18 percent. Virtually every other group is 23 percent or better, and overall among registered voters support approaches one-third. This is a partisan issue to some extent but not nearly to the extent that civil libertarians would like, and who knows what the numbers would look like if academic culture weren’t so one-sided ideologically. If, in other words, there were hundreds of conservative campuses where liberal provocateurs a la Coulter or Milo Yiannopoulos were eager to speak, would Republican opinion about tolerating “hate” look different? Hard to say, but either way, the censors of the future have a base to build on. Although we knew that already.