How many contradictory headlines can we generate from exactly the same set of General Social Survey data on attitudes toward free speech?
Some of these articles reach opposite conclusions even while displaying the same charts! I’m not going to play the relativist; I actually think there’s a clear, two-point story here:
1) Liberals and college-educated people have the highest levels of support for free speech. This is obviously true of free speech for communists, homosexuals, and atheists, but it’s maybe even just a tiny smidge true for racist or militarist speech – it’s a bit hard to tell visually in the graphs.
2) Over the past decade liberals, college-educated people, and young people have become quite a bit less supportive of free speech for racists than they used to be. This is an especially sharp contrast with…well…every other demographic category and every other kind of speech.
So is “everything you think you know about political correctness” wrong? I guess it depends on what exactly you think you know. Many kinds of people are more tolerant of many kinds of speech than they used to be, but it’s also crystal-clear that there’s a large and growing minority of young, college-educated liberals who want to censor speech they consider racist.
A final tip: If you wanna play catch-the-hypocrite with right-wingers, you’re gonna have to go for some questions that the General Social Survey doesn’t ask…like whether they’d accept free speech for: