The following is Part I of a two-part series on the state of freedom of speech in America today and how it is being driven by extremists:
In a nation founded on the freedom to speak freely, more and more Americans are afraid to speak up — not because of their government, but because of what has become a standard of acceptable views largely driven by extremists — including Antifa, anarchists and cultural Marxists.
That standard has led to peer speech policing, employment termination, doxing and political violence as a response to what is used to be known as expressions of free speech.
According to a recent poll, more and more Americans of all political orientations admit they’re afraid to speak up.
The wildest data point is that over half of liberals—not strong conservatives, regular ol’ conservatives, or moderates, but *liberals*—feel uneasy voicing their beliefs in our current political climate. pic.twitter.com/CvrpQVJHCB
— Berny Belvedere (@bernybelvedere) July 22, 2020
A July 22, 2020 CATO poll found that self-censorship is on the rise in the United States, with 62 percent of Americans saying they have political views they’re afraid to share. That figure is up by four points from 2017 when it stood at 58 percent.
- 52 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents and 77 percent of Republicans all agree they’re afraid to express their political opinions
- 32 percent are worried about missing out on job opportunities because of their political opinions
- Highly educated Republicans, those with post-graduated degrees, are most worried that their political views could harm their work prospects and security
- While 58 percent of “staunch” liberals feel they can enjoy free speech, 52 percent of liberals feel they have to self-censor. That number hikes to 64 percent of moderates and 77 percent of conservatives
The survey mirrors the findings of a 2020 Gallup and Knight Foundation poll: Students felt greater pressure from peers rather than professors in tailoring their views to fit into the more “accepted” narrative.
Yet, ironically, at the same time:
- 50 percent of strong liberals support firing Trump donors
- 36 percent of strong conservatives support firing Biden donors
Preventing violent extremism expert Liam Duffy narrows in on why these data points are so significant:
This is cancel culture. Not a few people losing their NYT columns or cushty academic positions. It is a deeply unhealthy degree of self-censorship that will breed deep volatility. Truth is difficult. No one owns it. https://t.co/tXqWq0Ou34
— Liam Duffy (@LiamSD12) July 23, 2020
Apparently some people think they do own truth, which is part of the culture ultimately leading to the disintegration of free speech in America.
Rock and roll legend David Bowie’s 1997 hit track “I’m Afraid of Americans” wasn’t about hostility to Americans, but as the star phrased it, about the “invasion by homogenized culture … [that] narrows expression of life.”
While Bowie was referring to the eruption prefabricated consumerist culture (like finding a McDonald’s or Disney World in remote parts of the world), the phrase has taken on a whole new meaning in today’s world.