What Americans Think “Free Speech” Actually Means

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Knight Foundation: Free speech for all? Poll reveals Americans’ views on free expression post-2020

Most people believe other groups have an easier time exercising their free speech rights without consequence than they do. For example, Democrats see conservatives as having an easier time, while Republicans believe minority groups, such as Black, Hispanic, Asian, or LGBTQ people, have an easier time than whites, conservatives, or people like them.

Interesting numbers in here as well.

  • 30% of people see COVID misinformation as an expression of free speech
  • 22% of people see the January 6 attack on the Capital as a legitimate expression of free speech
  • 73% of people think the 2020 demonstrations around racial justice were legitimate expressions of free speech

Also interesting, but not surprising, that Democrats see conservative voices having an easier time expressing themselves, while Republicans believe Democrats, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and LGBTQ folks have it easier.

And I think this question was quite telling. Republicans are the only group that think white Americans have it hardest when it comes to free speech. They also think black people have it easiest, which is interesting considering black respondents had the most pessimistic views of their own speech rights being protected.