Cato survey: “The State of Free Speech and Tolerance in America”

I’m a bit late getting to this major survey from my colleague Emily Ekins and associates. Some highlights good and bad:

* By 71% to 28%, Americans lean toward the view that political correctness silences discussions society ought to have, rather than the view that it is a constructive way to reduce the giving of offense;

* Liberals are much more likely than conservatives to say that they feel comfortable saying things they believe without fear that others will take offense.

* By a 4-to-1 margin Americans consider hate speech morally unacceptable, while by (only) a 3-to-2 margin they do not want the government to ban it.

* “47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques,” notwithstanding the First Amendment’s protection of free exercise of religion.

* “51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people’s preferred gender pronouns,” also notwithstanding the First Amendment.

* Upwards of 80% of liberals deem it “hateful or offensive” to state that illegal immigrants should be deported or that women should not serve in military combat, with 36% and 47% of conservatives agreeing respectively. “39% of conservatives believe it’s hate speech to say the police are racist, only 17% of liberals agree.”

And much more: on college speaker invitations, microaggressions, whether executives should be fired over controversial views, media bias, forced cake-baking, and the ease of being friends across partisan lines, among many other topics.


  • If it is hate speech to argue that illegal immigrants should be deported, then they are saying that 1) the laws should not be enforced and 2) we should have totally open borders. But open borders in a world with lots of poverty is an invitation to 100 million people to come here. Why do they think it wouldn’t happen? I know people who immigrated legally and they worked incredibly hard to make it happen because they knew their life would be so much better here.
    That 51% of Dems support a law about gender pronouns shows that they are insane. In most of our working/school life we do not know enough about the people we interact with to know if they are trans–if they are doing a good job of transitioning we can’t tell and if they only “feel” like the other sex we also can’t tell. We have to know them personally to do this. Then we encounter the problem that there are lots and lots of made up words that people are using that no one knows. Finally, “pronouns” are like “he”, “she” but the real issue is titles “Mr. Ms” (I would like for you to meet mr smith) and no one has yet come up with an alternative to these.

    • “But open borders in a world with lots of poverty is an invitation to 100 million people to come here.”

      Not necessarily at problem if you eliminate the welfare state first.

      • Why can’t we put the world on welfare. Why do you hate the world?

        • We can’t afford to put our own citizens on welfare. The world will have to take care of itself.

    • Do you think the Democrats are the biggest limit free speech offenders? How would you rank Trump?

  • One of the cities near me (and others may have similar “rules” but I don’t know about them,) bans “negative comments about city employees during public comments at Council / Commission meetings. The same thing goes true for a negative comment about police in another city. Such comments will get you removed from the meeting.

    There is also an insidious movement toward a “civility pledge” in the area modeled after a similar pledge in the Florida Legislature. Local entities have extended that “pledge” (which no citizen ever signs) to comments in meetings by citizens. Comments such as “are you that stupid?” or “you are ignorant of what is happening” will get you admonished and if eventually thrown out of the meeting by the police.

    The so called “civility pledge” extends to whatever the elected officials can hear, not just comments addressed to the Commission / Council.

    If you are sitting with a friend and say “Commission Jones is an absolute idiot” and some official hears you, they can have you removed from the meeting.

    Welcome to life on the front lines of dealing with elected officials.