Study Finds Majority Of College Students Think Government Should Punish ‘Hate Speech’

The Federalist – by Evita Duffy

An overwhelming majority of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison think the government should be able to punish “hate speech,” according to a new study released Thursday.

An online survey of 530 undergraduates, conducted by the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Survey Center, asked students, “How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement: The government should be able to punish hate speech?” More than half, 63 percent, responded that they agree, 29 percent disagreed, and 6 percent were unsure. 

What constitutes “hate speech” is very subjective and a hot-button issue on college campuses. Left-wing activists are constantly trying to expand what the ambiguous term includes. Statements that veer from the leftist orthodoxy on issues such as abortion, gender, race, and immigration are often deemed “hate speech.”

In fact, 40 percent of students agree the government should be able to restrict the speech of “climate change deniers,” and 50 percent of students believe the government should be able to restrict the speech of “racially insensitive people.” An unsettling 53 percent believe that employers’ religious beliefs should give way when it comes to providing goods or services, such as contraceptives or abortion coverage, that violate their religious beliefs.

The report says that “these results show that many students find it difficult to distinguish between, on the one hand, the moral concerns of speech or activities that are contested or even detestable and, on the other, the long run value derived from free speech and religious liberty.”

The survey also found that female students are much less supportive of free speech than males. Of the male participants, 47 percent said they “slightly,” “somewhat,” or “strongly” agree that the government should be able to restrict hate speech, while 75 percent of female students believe so.

Self-identified liberals were another group more likely to support speech restrictions compared to self-identified conservatives. More than half of liberals (62 percent) agree that “hate speech” should be restricted, but only 18.1 percent of conservatives supported speech restrictions.

UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone told The College Fix that the school believes strongly in the rights to free speech and expression provided in the First Amendment. “University campuses are fertile ground for the free exchange of ideas, and UW-Madison has a legacy of promoting free and open expression,” McGlone said in an email.

The Thompson Center disagrees, arguing the survey results “are at odds with UW-Madison’s stated dedication to academic freedom and freedom of expression” and insisting that the school “must do more to instill in its students a deeper respect for and understanding of the First Amendment, its protections, and the importance of an unfettered marketplace of ideas.”

The report says the survey is consistent with other recent polls of students’ attitudes toward free speech and expression. “The results are further troubling when taken in conjunction with other findings that the views between younger and older generations are ‘as wide as they have been in decades’ and that younger people are more supportive of limiting speech than older generations.”

Evita Duffy is an intern at The Federalist and a junior at the University of Chicago, where she studies American History. She loves the Midwest, lumberjack sports, writing, & her family. Follow her on Twitter at @evitaduffy_1


10 thoughts on “Study Finds Majority Of College Students Think Government Should Punish ‘Hate Speech’

    1. So what are we supposed to do if we don’t understand someone’s accent? Just walk away with a dead attempt at communication? Pretend we understood? Coddle the speaker? We aren’t offered an alternative here. But more censoring, silencing, and censuring.

      “Cancel culture” is really about genociding non-Communists.”
      — Author Unknown


  1. This is no surprise, considering that the majority of college graduates are blithering idiots. We have a whole generation of kids who were sheltered, coddled, and babied right into adulthood by liberal parents who all thought their baby would be the next Einstein if they forced arithmetic down their throats at three years old. What you have is a generation of idiots who cry like babies whenever they see or hear anything they don’t like. People like that don’t live in freedom, because they’ll never endure the hardships required to secure it. They’ll immediately suck up to anyone who promises to protect them, because being protected is all they know.

    Today’s PhD: “I know nothing about the Bill of Rights because that was never discussed in school. I spent eight years studying how the lesbians of the Congo are fighting global warming.”

    1. There are a good amount of college graduates who are NOT “blithering idiots.” They fight the good fight but get little coverage/exposure, their voices snuffed like a candle in a blizzard. Yeah, the liberal slant on child-rearing certainly dominated in the previous decades, but in the last decade the tide started to turn and the snowflakes were exposed and shamed. What a good thing that was ’cause it showed who was still standing: those who were thinking for themselves. A plethora of “conservative” groups rose up on campus, started to speak out, even in the face of accusations of racism and privilege. In some ways it played into the left/right paradigm, but in other ways it SCREAMED: WE WON’T BE SILENCED. It is in those youths that I see some promise, and hopefully their numbers are expanding. I just hope they can see through the corporation, all the way to The Bill of Rights. It’s up to us to make sure they do. So (and I see this from my own family), not all of that past generation are, as you say, “idiots.”


  2. Does anyone really care what college students and faculty think at this point? Yawn!

    Colleges and Universities are nothing more than expensive political think tanks designed to recruit naive individuals to promote the elites agenda.

    1. I care, NC. Those kids are being brainwashed and denied teaching on our Bill of Rights. The universities are one of the strongest arms of communism and need be watched like a hawk and then halted in their Marxist Madness. They have done so much damage. Time for them to be stopped.


      1. If they’re paying enormous fees for an indoctrination that doesn’t help them when they get out and puts them further in debt without realizing it, then I have nothing to say to them. They get what they deserve. Maybe they need to find a trade or something.

        I have an English degree and look where that got me. Teaching overseas and being a manager here in the US. That English degree is nothing more than paying for a piece of paper that no one looks at nor verifies and people can print out off the Internet after some quick editing.

        1. It’s the Community Colleges, too, with some that even give free tuition. They’re everywhere doin’ their indoctrination. You know, NC, I envision us again one day having institutions of higher learning (in fact, I want us to) where we can study, explore, expand, challenge. And with The Bill of Rights in place, all can learn in freedom. ‘Till then, I’m goin’ after the communist, mind-polluting liars.


  3. “…Only now, at the end, do you understand. …You have paid the price for your lack of vision” sound familiar?

    We were warned again and again and again.

    Now, here we are.


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