Author of Be Ready for Anything and Build a Better Pantry on a Budget online course
Of all the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution, the First Amendment is arguably the most important. And despite the fact that we are country built on glorious dissent, a poll undertaken by the Campaign for Free Speech found that more than 51% of Americans are ready to give up the rights guaranteed by that amendment, deeming it “outdated.”
A Quick Primer on the First Amendment
First things first (pun intended), most folks don’t even know what the First Amendment protects.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The basis of freedom lies within that small paragraph. If you want to be able to access information other than that which is provided by the government, or be able to speak out when you believe that the government is in the wrong without fear of governmental prosecution, then you should be utterly horrified that more than half of Americans are ready to just get rid of it.
But that might be because a whopping majority of Americans don’t understand the First Amendment. CFS reports:
80% don’t actually know what the First Amendment really protects. Those polled believed this statement is true: “The First Amendment allows anyone to say their opinion no matter what, and they are protected by law from any consequences of saying those thoughts or opinions.”
It’s actually not true. The First Amendment prevents the government from punishing you for your speech (with exceptions such as yelling “fire” in a crowded area to induce panic).
But more broadly, freedom of speech does not mean you are protected from social consequences for your speech. You may have the right to say something extreme or hateful and not get thrown in jail, but others in society have the right to shun you. (source)
This is something we’ve mentioned repeatedly here: just because you have the “right” to say something, it doesn’t mean that others don’t have the “right” to think you’re a terrible person and no longer do business with you. The freedom to say something doesn’t free you from the repercussions of what you say. It just means you can’t be prosecuted for it.
Here’s what the Campaign for Free Speech’s survey found.
Despite (or maybe because of) not understanding the First Amendment, 51% believed that the First Amendment is outdated and needs to be rewritten to “reflect the cultural norms of today.” Nearly half of those surveyed (48%) believed that “hate speech” should be illegal, with half of those people considering jail time a reasonable punishment. The poll did not define “hate speech,” leaving it up to the respondent.
Bob Lystad, the executive director of the Campaign for Free Speech (CFS) told the Washington Beacon that “free speech is under more threat than previously believed.”
“The findings are frankly extraordinary…Our free speech rights and our free press rights have evolved well over 200 years, and people now seem to be rethinking them.” (source)
More than 60% of those surveyed wanted to see free speech curbed in some way.
Of the 1,004 respondents, young people were the most likely to support curbing free expression and punishing those who engage in “hate speech.” Nearly 60 percent of Millennials—respondents between the ages of 21 and 38—agreed that the Constitution “goes too far in allowing hate speech in modern America” and should be rewritten, compared to 48 percent of Gen Xers and 47 percent of Baby Boomers. A majority of Millennials also supported laws that would make “hate speech” a crime—of those supporters, 54 percent said violators should face jail time. (source)
And since “hate speech” is such an arbitrary term dependent upon the whims of popular culture in many cases, that’s some pretty alarming stuff.
More alarming still are opinions on the free press.
Here at OP, we point out the shortcomings, biases, and inflammatory reporting of the mainstream media all the time. But that doesn’t mean we want to see them silenced.
That’s not the case for many of the respondents of CFS’s poll.
57% of those surveyed wanted to see the government crackdown on newspapers and TV stations that published “biased, inflammatory or false” content. 54% wanted journalists punished with a fine or a ticket, while 46% felt they should face jail time.
They differentiated between the mainstream media, who they felt “check facts, even if they are occasionally wrong or slanted” and alternative media, whom they opined “allow anyone to say anything.” 36% wanted to see a government agency reviewing alternative media content and 47% did not want to see that happen.
We believe that the alternative media is an important balance in this day and age of constant propaganda and that the attacks on alternative media support the fact that this type of independent journalism threatens the establishment. I’ve gone so far as to say that the destruction of alternative media and unpopular opinions can be likened to virtual book burning, a terrifying comparison for those who are familiar with the history of censorship.
68% of those polled wanted to see restrictions placed on social media speech.
Facebook was a particular topic of contention. (Beginning on page 13 of the survey.)
38% of respondents believed all speech should be allowed on the platform while 49% felt that “Facebook should monitor and restrict offensive speech and views.”
There are specific topics that rose to the top of the list of things that people wanted to see restricted on social media:
- Racist content: 52%
- Neo-Nazi content: 50%
- Radical Islamic content: 46%
- Holocaust denial content: 35%
- Anti-vaccination content: 20%
- Climate change denial content: 18%
Facebook and other social media outlets have taken great strides toward making the internet an echo chamber with the purge of alternative media accounts, the demonetization of alternative media, and widespread censorship.
Social media itself may be to blame for the shift against the First Amendment.
Lystad cites an incident in which some college students recorded themselves shouting racial slurs at people of color and the video went viral.
Lystad said such incidents and the rise of social media may be behind the increased willingness of Americans to curb speech rights.
“I think [our findings] are fueled in large part because of a rise of hate speech, but traditionally, hate speech is protected in the First Amendment,” Lystad said. “The Supreme Court has upheld that principle time and time again.”
“Hate speech should be condemned, but legally, the answer to speech we don’t like is more speech, not censorship,” he said. “Our primary focus is education, and to help people better understand the First Amendment, free speech, free press, and why it’s so vital to our democracy.” (source)
When there is no free press, there is no free thought.
If people can only access one government-approved point of view, freedom is dead. The free press, the freedom to speak our minds and not be prosecuted, and the freedom to peacefully dissent are all the very foundation on which liberty is built.
We’re far more restricted than we were decades ago and the trend seems to be taking us downhill into complete censorship faster and faster. But the answer isn’t more legislation because as we learned by the Patriot Act (anything but patriotic) and the Affordable Care Act (far from affordable for most Americans) when the government gets involved, the results are generally to the benefit of the government and its cronies, and quite the opposite of how they’re portrayed.
What’s the answer?
It’s simple. Learn to scroll past things with which you disagree or even engage in a productive discussion. Stop tattling on one another over words. Quit being a crybaby because somebody said a mean thing on the internet.
You can choose not to engage in circles with which you disagree, but trying to shut them down only leads to censorship.
Free speech and free press are the only antidotes to propaganda. You may not like hateful people or anti-vaxxers or voters of a different ilk, but when you silence them, you have to know that you’re opening the door to be silenced yourself when your line of thinking becomes unpopular.
Then you’re looking at a world with only one point of view – the approved point of view of the government. Selco has warned us what happens when that world occurs and we need to look no further than China to see that world in action today.
What do you think?
What do you think about this? Are you surprised or is it what you expected? I think that the end of free speech and free press would be the end of our country as we know it. I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
As much as I dislike untruths and half truths being foisted on us I still don’t want to be silenced by those who disagree with my politics or religious views. I’m quite opinionated and one of the beauties of this nation is that others have the right to strong opinions.
I agree. In the voicing of opinions, allegiances are declared. The opportunity exists both to enlighten and identify opposition. And failing persuasion, we all know where to point the finger of blame. I’m all for the peaceful settlement of disputes whenever possible. When speech is taken off the table, only one remedy remains.
What we get today from the MSM is propaganda preaching in place of the reporting of facts…a one sided argument. That isn’t dialogue. It’s a soliloquy…a demented rant based on unthinking (and naked) emotion.
If there was doubt in anyone’s mind that we are headed for violent confrontation in America, this issue should put it to rest once and for all. Things are going to change, and right quick I might add. How that happens is entirely up to the radical Left Commies.
To quote Kevin Costner in Yellowstone,”From now on, ‘Or else’ is all you get!”
I’m sorry, Daisy, but I have a real problem with calling anyone who doesn’t support the Constitution an “American”. How about we call them what they actually are…subversive, baby killing, Satan worshiping, Communist scum.
A lot of REAL Americans swore an Oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against ALL enemies, both foreign AND domestic. Once sworn, still sworn. I sincerely hope the degenerate scum infesting this country truly understand what that means, because they’re about to step over a line from which there is no turning back.
It would be better for them if they just left the country now while they’re still able.
Gold stars and likes and thumbs up.
Beware of him that is slow to anger; for when it is long coming, it is the stronger when it comes, and the longer kept. Abused patience turns to fury.
“Beware the fury of a patient man.”
The U.S. House democrats have a bill 1111right now to give the UN authority over us. That is treason and each member who votes for it or sponsor it should immediately removed from office, tried for treason. Americans did not want foreign rule. This more than just taking away of the first amendment.
Blue helmets make great targets.
Well 51% of the respondents are totally lobotomised by MSM propaganda then & are too stupid to know what’s good for them. Their vote doesn’t count!
I wanna ban stupid speech….. like this.
Only allow people who can think & think for themselves to speak & the world will be a lot better off….even the stupid people will be better off.
Who’s gonna define what stupid speech is or who’s to stupid to speak?
Um that would be the same people who arbitrarily define what hate speech is on the fly.
& that would be defined as “ anything they don’t like”.
To do this you’ll loose the ability to have any kind of honest connection or conversation with anyone at all & it will undermine the social fabric.
It already has!
Complete idiots at the top spewing forth so much hate speech themselves call anyone who challenges their hatred as “ hate speech”
It’s a one way street.
Take note of this 51% & shut them up quickly.
They too stupid for words.
Watch who you’re calling “stupid” and “idiots”. I’ve been blessed with somewhat above average intelligence, enough to recognize that some of the most foolish things I’ve heard (I don’t remember any at this moment) have come through the lips of some very intelligent people. There’s a difference between smarts and wisdom. A person with his head screwed on straight who has an IQ of 98 can be wiser than a fool with an IQ of 160.
But then some of those very smart people spouting folly may be doing so with the goal of destroying us.
Did you know, 67% of all statistics are made up on the spot? I would like to know if they used median, mean, mode or range stats to make the numbers appear how they want. Also, what is the +/-.
The very first link shows the methodology: https://www.campaignforfreespeech.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Free-Speech-Survey-Standard-Banners.pdf
Ouch! Mommy slapped daddy at the dinner table! LOL!
don’t feel too bad, Liberate80. We all miss a detail now and then…myself included.
Thanks, Daisy. The format of the question says it all. It implies that the 1st amendment is outdated and a reasonable person would want it updated.
I call that slanted at best, manipulation at worst.
Censorship is not dangerous and evil because we never know where it will end. It is because we do know where it will end.
“Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people.” – Heinrich Heine
ONLY if we let them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Based on the first Amendment, we have the right to pray in public places without fear of government interference!!!
A Right not exercised is a Right relinquished…as true for the 2nd as it is for the 1st.
It is time to pick up that which we had so foolishly set aside in days not long past.
And you are wrong on the point that public prayer is protected only from government interference. It is the governments’ purpose to protect those Rights against infringement not only from itself, but also from ANYONE else…be they public or private. Such was the vision and intent of our Founders.
And equally importantly, we have the right to NOT pray, if we so choose. In fact, we have the right to mock those who pray, though that is pretty disrespectful. The great thing about free speech is that it permits divergent thinking, which ultimately can produce great benefit to society. Or great disaster, depending on whose public expression is more convincing. Gandhi versus Hitler.
These “polls” are either garbage or this is the result of brainwashing the young in indoctrination centers known as public schools.
America will burn. We have killed 70+ Million Babies in the womb. The Father in Heaven is guaranteed to be pist.
When the Civil War goes Hot, America will probably be hit by a multi nation attack that will be Nuclear.
Our own government doesnt even protect this nation. Trump wants to bring all the troops home, HE KNOWS WHAT IS COMING. And half the country hates him for trying to do what hes supposed to do.
Changing the Constitution is just more smoke and mirrors to keep people busy.
The millennials who want to curb free speech are those who have been asked by the profs in college and university,what words offend you?Let me know and we will ban their use.These are the same people who have been told socialism is the best thing for the United States.They don’t listen to opposing views.They live within their own safe space bubble.They believe we have to think the way they think.If you don’t listen to opposing views,you will never learn new things,or learn what others are about.Millennial need to learn that it is okay to agree to disagree.
The problem is, Americans have had it too good for too long. How many would understand what it is like growing up in a country with no freedoms at all, when they have been born into rights and freedom. It is why so many are so eager to give them up, because they do not appreciate what they inherited. One can blame stupid parents who would not train and educate their children on history, and the idiocy of the school systems dumbing down students for the last thirty years. For this is what America has now reaped. If these same said people had to grow up in the country I grow up in (Soviet Russia), they would perhaps understand just how important the First Amendment truly is. Sad to say, maybe they need to lose all their rights, and suffer before they will ever learn anything.
I say what I want, when I want and HOW I want. PERIOD
Social media is the problem. Get rid of that. Problem solved.
Isn’t shutting down social media also stopping free speech?
L J B,
No one is going to “get rid of social media”. What they WILL do is get rid of YOU. Problem solved. See how that Commie ideology works? It always comes back to bite you in the ass. ALWAYS.
No problem ever gets “solved”. At best, it gets temporarily abated. Sooner or later, some dim witted moron (or an acolyte thereof) who caused the problem in the first place swings back to the belief that it should be done again. This is why countless idiots on the Left can ignore the fact that Socialism has failed miserably every time it has been tried. “It just hasn’t been done properly. Hold my beer while I show you all how it’s done!”
How many times have you heard someone say, “There ought to be a Law against (fill in the blank) ! ” ?
No. We DON’T need yet another law on the books. What we need is a moral and educated society exercising common sense on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we opted for the donkey behind curtain number three instead. So we get what we’ve got until we roll up our sleeves and purge the hell out of America once again.
The world is too complicated and vast to be governed by the idiotic ideology of “everything that is not mandatory must be banned”.
This is false information that 51% don’t want freedom of speech. You made yourself not credible.
Who are you anyway? Agent?
Comments that are awaiting MODERATION, are being CENSORED. CENSORING IS COMMUNIST.
Keep your pants on and stop ALL CAPPING at me, Morrisey. I don’t know who you are – you’ve never commented here before. The moderation of new commenters is how I protect my website from spammers. It’s a Saturday, and I’m not glued to the computer all day just in case someone comments and would like it to be cleared immediately.
It literally took 36 minutes to clear your comment. Get ahold of yourself.
Moderation is NOT censorship.
It is a sys admin function that has to be done in order to prevent SPAM bots overloading a site with SPAM.
It takes an actual person to review a post, then approve it. Once done then the user is added to a whitelist and then that user can post with out the need of the sys admin to approve it, or MODERATION.
Daisy, i think the results give one pause, but, before i give any survey a second thought, i want to know the sample size, demographics of the participants, and especially the questions and response choices. The last can be manipulated to give any result desired.
Hi, Rick! Check the very first link in the article – that may have the answers to your questions 🙂
I don’t believe that the MAJORITY of TRUE Americans want this. I believe that the MAJORITY of those who were Polled in this 51 Percent are Foreigners in our Country, NAMELY: Legals. I hope that those doing these Polls DO NOT poll the Illegals. HOWEVER, I would not be at all shocked if they do. We ALL KNOW about the CROOKED POLLS, don’t we?
I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. So I take our Bill of Rights seriously. Restricting freedom of speech/expression is something both sides are guilty of. Calling those who express a different viewpoint than us leads to such names as “snowflakes “ or “nazis”. Or when certain sports figures take a knee during the National Anthem. Or others protesting the removal of statues honoring the dead of a defeated army. We need to make a decision that applies to both sides of the argument. If we say we believe in that freedom, then we need to support those that we may not agree with, and they need to support our freedoms as well.
Name calling IS protected speech whether you like it or not. To argue against it IS to argue against Free Speech.
We already MADE a decision that applies to everyone…It’s called the 1st Amendment. I’m sorry you swore an Oath to protect something you don’t even understand, but that’s ALL on you.
I don’t have to support ANYONE who I disagree with…full STOP.
I support their Right to voice their opinion, but that’s as far as it goes. I reserve MY Right to call them an idiot or any other preferred adjective or noun you can imagine.
That’s how free speech works. Stop conflating civility with free speech. They have nothing whatsoever to do with one another!
Charles in VA: yes you do have to support those with whom you disagree. Money is taken from you at the point of a gun to support government schools that brainwash our children into beliefs with which we disagree.
Thomas Jefferson called being forced to support beliefs with which we disagree “tyranny”. Every time I see those yellow school buses connected with government schools, and the schools themselves, I’m reminded of that tyranny.
What does any of that have to do with Free Speech, Richard? Nothing as far as I can see.
We’re discussing support of the content of a person’s speech here, not some financial quagmire BS you seem to want to drag me in to. Try staying on topic.
I see what you’re saying Richard. You are talking about free speech as being able to express an opinion without having to pay for the majority’s prevailing opinion which puts your money into the public coffers. That’s the kickback of majority rules if you live in a democracy. You have to tolerate it, just like you have to tolerate potty-mouthed people in public.
I don’t WANT to believe this poll may be right, but that would be me not keeping up with the times. The Cultural Revolution is beginning to prevail because key players in education and the MSM are ramming it through in the public forum.
The revolution means to offend us. It doesn’t apologize for offending us. It only wants to castigate those who are the way of their Brave New World. They are projecting their offense onto us who believe that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are as valid as the day of ratification. Our speech and beliefs are in their way. The tenets of their BNW are primitive, immature, short-sighted and unrealistic as history has proven in the 20th century.
But there has been myriad of hands helping these jokers along the way — now that they are gaining momentum they are getting nasty. So it’s really hard not to respond to them in a way that sounds hateful — even if you’re not a hater. They are baiting the holdouts to behave in a way that gives them the social condemnation and marginalization weapons they’re looking for to shame as many people as possible into submission. The end justifies the means for these Machiavellian peeps. Hypocrisy much. Rant over.
I think you give Richard too much credit, but I like where you took it.
Well, looks like 51% need to be jailed for “hating” free speech. 😉
Any time I see a “poll” I wonder the circumstances surrounding how it was done, especially how the questions were worded, and who was actually polled.
Something about lies, damn lies, and statistics.
There is a difference between free speech and inciting a riot, and the amendment
states, “peaceable assembly”. They assumed people would behave in a social and considerate way. They never expected such hateful and inciteful behavior,
I suppose you covered this, but I already scroll by anything that is
hateful, and that is why my daughter left FaceBook.
It had become a site where the evil and cruel run amok, and good people just trading
news and other daily interests were in the minority, in her opinion.
I DO agree that it is good to know what is happening and to watch what
those who would incite or disturb the peace are doing….
And I whole-heartedly support journalists.
There’s a lot of open ground between peaceful assembly and inciting a riot. The 1st Amendment protects offensive Speech. It isn’t there to insure or enforce civility. Nowhere in the Constitution is there an Article asserting your right to not be offended. The Supreme Court has ruled on that definitively.
You said,” They assumed people would behave in a social and considerate way. They never expected such hateful and inciteful behavior,
Really? The same people who were involved in The Boston Tea Party and Concorde Bridge didn’t consider that people might be disposed to uncivil speech? You need to refresh your historical perspective. Seriously. If our Founders assumed we were all angels, and always would be, why would any laws at all be necessary?
Unless a person has mental problems or serious impulse control issues, there is no reasonable basis to assume that speech alone is reason for physical violence (incitement).
I would simplify what the 1st Amendment means for those who have the wrong idea by saying that it means that Congress doesn’t have the power to pass laws prohibiting the freedom of speech, religion, or press. Sticking to what it says should be enough.Wnadering far afield in describing things to people who don’t want to know is frustrating.
Yes. The first amendment is all about GOVERNMENT violating rights…not private business. It also means that these platforms can delete accounts or comments as they see fit since they are private business and not government. Just the same as letters to the editor in newspapers were not published if the paper didn’t want to publish them. Just as I can ask you to leave my house or place of business if I don’t like what you are wearing, or saying, or doing. There is no law prohibiting you from speaking your mind just as there is no law preventing someone from kicking you out of their private business or home, or off their blog or website. The problem nowadays is the rising fascism whereby the government is colluding with these private internet platforms to squelch viewpoints they don’t like and requiring them to turn over data on users in order to spy on them.
Come on, guys. These polls are about as accurate as Helen Keller pitching a baseball game. Doesn’t anybody have a memory. Trump supposedly didn’t hardly register on the polls, yet he won.
Thanks, Daisy. I hope all is well with you and yours.
Wonderful to see you, Dave – we’re good and hope you are too!
that is 51% that is going to have their a$$ handed to them if they try to make good on any of it..
Society obviously cannot function properly, and becomes a nightmare, when the majority believe in slavery of all under an all-powerful dictatorial fascist state. CENSORSHIP IS FASCIST.