Americans Have Little Confidence in Free Speech on College Campuses, Poll Shows

( – Most Americans are finally acknowledging what conservatives have known for years—liberals have more freedom of speech on college campuses than conservatives do. According to a poll by the Associated Press—NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the University of Chicago, 47% of Americans say liberals have “a lot” of freedom to express their beliefs on college campuses, while only 20% say that conservatives have the same freedom.

Of the Republicans surveyed, only 9% believe that conservatives can share their views on college campuses without fear of retaliation, though nearly 60% of Republicans said they believe Democrats and liberals are able to share their views without being retaliated against.

The issue of free speech on campuses has been hotly contested in the past decade, with liberal college students shouting down and widely protesting conservatives who are invited to speak on college campuses, essentially eliminating the concept of free expression of ideas at colleges. A conservative judge was shouted down by students at Stanford University earlier this year, and a conservative professor from Princeton University was silenced by an angry mob of students while ironically discussing free speech at a small college in Maryland.

This is a troubling trend across campuses in America. According to free speech group the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), six planned campus speeches ended in significant disruption so far this year, while there were 11 disruptions last year.

Some scholars have pointed out that colleges, which most Americans believe should be places where people can freely exchange and debate different ideas, have become less focused on the classic ideal of free inquiry in academia. Ilya Shapiro, a conservative scholar and director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute, who himself was shouted down at the University of California’s law school, said an even bigger problem than guests being shouted down is the fact that both students and faculty feel like they aren’t allowed to discuss certain subjects.

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