A new poll of college and university students around the country finds that a huge majority of them are in favor of “safe spaces” where they can’t be exposed to “threatening actions, ideas, or conversations.” Strangely, a majority of these same students support the Trump administration’s policy of cutting off federal funding to schools that don’t support free speech on campus. Are you confused yet? Probably, but I’m guessing you’re not nearly as confused as some of these students. Let’s see if we can make any sense of this. (Free Beacon)
More than three-in-four college students want “safe spaces” on their campuses that are free of “threatening actions, ideas, or conversations,” even as a majority support President Trump’s threat to withhold taxpayer dollars from universities that restrict speech, according to a new poll.
While 97 percent of college students believe that free speech is an essential pillar of American democracy, a significant majority of students also support policies to restrict specific types of speech on campus. The poll, conducted by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, found that 78 percent of students support “safe spaces” where threatening ideas and conversations would be barred. More than 80 percent favor the establishment of a “free-speech zone” where preapproved protests and the distribution of literature are permitted.
As far as the 80% who favored “free speech zones” on campus go, we’ve got a quick tip for you. We already have a free speech zone. It’s called the United States. Welcome to the party, pal.
Moving on, take a moment and consider those numbers and then add in the fact that the same survey also found that 63 percent of students feel that their campus climates deter students from expressing themselves openly. But while nearly every one of those figures seems to contradict the rest, there’s probably a good explanation for this.
A lot of this comes from the same crowd that claims hate speech isn’t protected speech. (Spoiler alert: It is.) But much like the debates over racism in this country, everyone seems to believe that they can generate their own definition of hate speech. And when everything is hate speech, nothing is hate speech. It’s the same principle that informs my belief that when everything is racist, nothing is racist.
One other point I wanted to bring up was the fact that a majority of these college students (58%) said, according to the linked article, that they “supported President Trump’s threat to withhold taxpayer dollars from universities that restrict speech.” Given that the President is about as popular as the coronavirus on most campuses, that sounds rather shocking, right? But there’s an explanation for that as well. If you go to the crosstabs of the poll and scroll down to question number 53, you’ll see the way the question was actually phrased.
“As you may know, many colleges receive funds from the federal government. Do you think the federal government should or should not be able to deny those funds to a college if it believes that college is not adequately protecting free speech rights on its campus?”
As you can see, it was not mentioned that this was a policy put in place by President Trump. The survey simply asked if the federal government should be able to do that. I can assure you that if it had been phrased the way it showed up in the Free Beacon article, describing it as “President Trump’s threat to withhold taxpayer dollars…” the percentage supporting the exact same policy would be in single digits at best. As Steven Crowder is so fond of saying… Change My Mind.