Survey Confirms What Many Suspected: Free Speech Is in Trouble

(From The Weekly Standard)

Comes this week from the Brookings Institution a new survey by John Villasenor demonstrating that undergraduate students at four-year colleges and universities have no idea what the First Amendment means.

Most believe that hate speech is constitutionally unprotected. Half think it’s fine for a student group to disrupt a speech by a very controversial figure whose views it disagrees with. Almost 20 percent say it’s OK for a student group to use violence—yes, violence—to prevent the speaker from speaking. A majority believe that compliance with the First Amendment requires a student group sponsoring a controversial speaker to also offer a speaker who takes an opposing view (it does not). And a majority think their schools should create an environment on campus that shelters them from offensive views. A rather anodyne place, no?

We have known anecdotally that “freedom of expression is deeply imperiled” on American campuses, as Villasenor says. The data in this survey support that depressing assessment. What can be done?

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