The first amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”. With this being said, questions are being asked in many colleges on whether hate speech should be protected by the first amendment, or if hate speech should be allowed on college campus. This question is important as it pertains to college campuses because freedom of speech is a human right, and the protection of these rights should be looked upon highly by college campuses, as they mean a lot to students. Firstly, hate speech has many different definitions, which makes hate speech tricky to explain for many college students. In FIREA, which is a survey conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and YouGov, it analyzed 1,250 college students’ attitudes toward free expression on college campuses.
The survey included questions about self-expression and censorship, students’ reactions to the speech of their peers, guest speakers, disinvitations, and how students identify and perceive hate speech. In this survey almost half (45%) identified hate speech as a speech with a racist component. This shows the first reason why many college students are persuaded that hate speech shouldn’t be protected. The same survey found that thirteen percent of students associated hate speech with violence, basically meaning the encouragement of violence towards another group. Many college students have a very negative attitude towards hate speech. When the survey asked students if hate speech was protected by the first amendment, the results came out pretty split: twenty-five didn’t know, twenty-nine percent said no, and forty-six percent said yes. The correct answer is yes, hate speech is protected by the first amendment. It protects freedom of speech which would include the right to express hateful and offensive opinions.
This part of the survey just shows how many students didn’t know the truth on whether or not the first amendment does protect hate speech; which is an issue because the government hasn’t provided a legal definition of hate speech and has consistently rejected any hate-speech exceptions to the first amendment. If college students were more properly informed on the definition of hate speech and the first amendment, less of them would be pushing for hate speech regulation.When the survey asked students if first amendment of the constitution should protect free speech the results were surprising. The students responded with forty-eight percent saying that it shouldn’t be protected compared to thirty-five percent saying yes. This means almost half of the students surveyed believe that hate speech should not be protected.
As it pertained to the different political parties, a majority of very conservative students (60%) and almost one-half of Republicans (46%) think hate speech should be protected. In contrast, the majority of both very liberal students (64%) and Democrats (57%) think hate speech should not be protected. This shows the different stances of the students as it pertains to there political views.In conclusion, one thing is for certain many students have different views on whether or not free speech should be protected by the 1st amendment. But according to the data shown in this survey, it seems as if the students are leaning to one side; hate speech shouldn’t be protected because hate speech is defending hate towards other which is not what the U.S stands for.