Most U.S. voters don’t support banning so-called hate speech, but despite the vagueness of exactly what “hate speech” is, a sizable number are prepared to bar people who supposedly engage in it from elected office.
And the definition of “hate speech” seems inextricably tied up with one’s personal politics.
For example, 32 percent of Democrats polled call it racist for any white politician to criticize any of the political views of a nonwhite politician.
That is, if a nonwhite politician supports stoning adulterers or sacrificing children, it would be racist to criticize them.
A new Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports telephone and online survey found just 27 percent of likely U.S. voters think the federal or state governments should ban speech that a majority of Americans finds offensive, including speech deemed racist or sexist. Fifty percent oppose a ban on such speech, while 24 percent are undecided. (Survey question wording can be found here.)
However, 38 percent believe those who say or write things that offend a majority of Americans, including speech deemed racist or sexist, should be banned from holding elected office. Forty-four percent oppose banning offenders from office. Nearly 18 percent are undecided.
Among people who want to ban offensive speech, 48 percent say offensive speakers should be punished with jail time. Thirty-five percent disagree; 17 percent are not sure.
Interestingly, 49 percent of Democrats consider voters who support President Trump to be racist. One-in-three Democrats (32 percent) say it is racist for any white politician to criticize any of the political views of a nonwhite politician.
Women (30 percent) are bigger supporters of a ban on so-called hate speech than men (23 percent) are. Those under 40 are nearly twice as likely as their elders to think there should be such a ban.
Black and Hispanic voters like the idea of a ban on offensive speech more than whites and other minorities do.
Among those who favor a ban, younger voters are the strongest supporters of jail time. Voters under the age of 40 are also more likely to say that offenders should not be allowed to hold public office.