Is the Bill of Rights Hateful?

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

About a decade and a half ago, our friend David Horowitz proposed an academic bill of rights for students but back then collegians were a bit more familiar with the original.

A recent Brookings Institution survey, for example, found that 44 percent of students believed so-called “hate speech” is not protected by the first amendment while another 16 percent answered “don’t know.” Similarly, according to the Brookings web survey, 51 percent of students thought it was okay to shout down a speaker.

As you might expect, the study drew detractors from academe. “I must say that from the start I was skeptical,” Hank Reichman wrote on the academe blog maintained by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). “The numbers simply didn’t jibe with my experience and that of almost every colleague I know.”

Reichman also pointed out that the study was funded by the Koch Brothers. Nevertheless, he argues that “Last year, a different, more nationally representative survey of American college student opinions on free speech on campus conducted by Gallup found strikingly different results, as John Wilson reported on this blog in April.”

“That survey of more than 3,000 college students, who had been selected in a carefully randomized process from a nationally representative group of colleges, had asked students the same question. It found that 78% of students said colleges should create an ‘open learning environment.’”
Yet and still, that poll contains some other interesting findings. For example, it found that 48 percent did not trust the media very much, which makes a striking ying yang juxtaposition with the percentage who were okay with shouting down a speaker.