The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to review the constitutionality of laws in Florida and Texas that aim to prevent social media companies from banning users over contentious content. These laws, supported by Republicans, are seen as responses to alleged conservative speech censorship by liberal-leaning social media platforms. The court’s decision, expected next year, comes amid ongoing debates about the influence of social media companies on society, with Republicans critical of content moderation and Democrats concerned about the spread of “hateful content.”
The Florida law restricts social media companies from banning political candidates and curbs “shadow banning,” a practice that makes certain user content less visible to others. The new Texas law prohibits platforms from banning users based on their expressed views. Both laws also mandate transparency by requiring companies to disclose their content moderation policies.
But there is a growing segment of individuals who are displeased with the idea that opposing viewpoints should ever be allowed to see the light of day. According to recent polling by Real Clear Politics, Democrats support the idea of silencing those who disagree with them and even punishing them for daring to do so.
Republicans are more inclined to support minimal government regulation of free speech compared to Democrats, a notable shift in the stance of the Democratic party when considering the First Amendment. Meanwhile, the poll reveals that Democrats support nearly unlimited restrictions on free speech, especially the speech of “political extremists.”
Per the poll, one out of three Democrats think that Americans have “too much freedom of speech.” By contrast, just under 15% of Republicans feel the same. Traditionally, liberals supported the First Amendment, but this poll underscores a major shift in attitudes among liberals regarding censorship.
Opposing censorship, whether imposed by the government or corporations, has historically been a fundamental principle of liberalism in the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), established in 1920, was dedicated to promoting and safeguarding free expression. This idea was central to liberal thinking, legislation, and legal interpretations throughout much of the 20th century.
But now, while most Republicans and independents believe that speech should be legal “under any circumstances,” Democrats are divided, with 47% believing it should be legal only under specific conditions.
Not surprisingly, younger generations, specifically Millennials and Gen-Z, are more inclined to prioritize “national security” over free expression, with 42% of them supporting this view, while only 26% of those aged sixty-five and older share the same view.
A significant majority of Democrats, around three-fourths of liberal respondents, believe that the government has a duty to regulate “hateful” social media posts. In contrast, Republicans are more divided on the issue, with 50% thinking that the government should be responsible for limiting such posts. Independents, as often seen, fall in the middle ground on this matter.
When poll respondents were presented with the statement: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” only 31% of Democratic voters “strongly agreed” with this sentiment, while 51% of Republicans held a similar view.
A 2017 Cato Institute poll revealed that when asked about who should be banned from speaking on college campuses, Democrats were more inclined to base their decisions on the political affiliation of the speaker, often leaning towards canceling conservatives but not liberals. In contrast, Republicans were more cautious about endorsing any form of censorship.
Libertarian writer John Tierney noted in 2019 that there was a growing desire among mainstream media figures to stifle their opponents and call for the censorship of politicians and fellow journalists with opposing views. This trend has become even more evident as the Biden administration took censorship to unprecedented heights, pushing their agenda and hiding information that was potentially harmful to the president.
These poll results highlight the Democrats’ devolving stance on free expression and their support for censorship, putting a new spin on what defines “hate speech” and “national security breaches.” The alarming push for censorship in the media, coupled with the Biden administration’s actions, shows that the party of acceptance is anything but accepting.
Even more frightening still, the new and very vocal “thought police” is run by the party without the ability to have any original thoughts at all.