Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Support for free speech among young college graduates has plummeted over last several decades

These are not unreasonable objections based on what was presented in the previous post. If the general tendency was for people to become more supportive of free speech as they aged, in fact, it could even be misleading. That, however, is not the case, as is illustrated below. People tend to become more conservative as they age, and their tolerance for disagreeable speech is no exception.

To show that the previous results are not simply an artifact of asking boomers about their positions on free speech when they are middle-aged while asking subsequent generations the same question when they are in their teens and twenties and also to show that, contrary to Steven Pinker and Fatt Yglesias, it is not the young, college-educated pups who are currently raising the torch of free speech, the following graph shows percentages of respondents who favor allowing "racists" to speak in public, by the decade they participated in the survey and by their age at the time of participation (N = 5,411):

In the seventies, then, we're looking at college-educated boomers (born between 1941 and 1960, concentrated most heavily among those born in the late forties and early fifties) on the green trend line. This is among the highest level of support for free speech shown in the survey's nearly half-century of existence. Boomers, both in their youth and in their later years, expressed more support for free speech than their parents did and than their children would.

The next batch of college-educated under-thirties (late boomers and early Xers) express less support for free speech than the cohort preceding them. With each passing decade, support for free speech among college-educated under-thirties declines. It is on pace to be a minority position among young college graduates a generation down the road--at about the same time whites become a minority in the country their ancestors built, in fact. Purely coincidentally, of course.

As a member of the twitterverse put it:

To repeat, free speech faces a bleak future. Diversity may well be its downfall.

Liberty, equality, or diversity: Choose one.

GSS variables used: SPKRAC, AGE(18-29)(40-60), DEGREE(2-4), YEAR(1970-1979)(1980-1989)(1990-1999)(2000-2009)(2010-2016)


akarlin said...

Sorry if you already covered it, but what happens if you filter by race? Esp. whites.

Black Death said...

Interesting and disturbing. Back in the 1970's, support for free speech was greater among the younger cohort than the older. I wonder if that was due to the massive protests against the Vietnam war, which were orchestrated mostly by leftists (who were, IMHO, mostly correct, although for the wrong reasons). Now, of course, lefties believe that those who disagree with them are all RACISTS!!!! Their MSM fellow travelers actively promote this idea. No doubt many of them believe this, but it's also a handy way to suppress speech that they don't like. What could be finah? Of course, this is a slippery slope; once certain ideas are banned from discussion, all ideas become subject to the same treatment. Where does it end? Nowhere good.

Kentucky Headhunter said...

Mark Steyn interviews Lindsay Shepherd on free speech on college campuses.

Audacious Epigone said...


Not over time. Will do!

Black Death,

By just looking at the data by year, Pinker/Yglesias disguise the generational decline in support. Simply put, does anyone believe that when whites are no longer a majority that there will be any serious political protections provided for speech non-whites find disagreeable? Rhetorical.

Kentucky Headhunter,

Looking for another podcast addition. Will check Steyn's show out, thanks.

Feryl said...

Those born in the 40's and 50's didn't face any of the hardships associated with the Depression or World War. As such, they were (and are) much more libertarian than other generations who came of age in a time of great peril and struggle. Interestingly, 60's births are much more pro-life and culturally conservative in general than earlier Boomers, suggesting that concern for MUH rights and liberties only happens to generations who luck into a time of economic prosperity and (relative) peace. The lion's share of really sick pervs (e.g., kiddie f'ers) were also born in the 40's and 50's; there's something hollow, something missing from the hearts and souls of the "war babies" (those born in the early 40's) and earlier Boomers. Which I blame on a culture and society that treated their children as Dennis the Menace style accessories to idyllic suburban and small town mid-Century America, rather than insisting that children be seen and not heard (which is what those born in the 20's and 30's were told).

Those born in the 60's and 70's were often treated like unwanted nuisances when they were kids, which sent the message that if you wanted respect, you'd have to earn it. Meanwhile, those born in the 80's and 90's were told that they were special.....But a different kind of special than the war babies and post-war babies. Millennials/Gen Z were expected to listen to their elders and make them proud, whereas the war/post-war babies were encouraged to question things, experiment, and become free agents. Boomers want those under 40 to be Company Men, whereas the Boomers themselves were content to be privateers, social and occupational Free Agents who don't want to be tied down to any instititution. Gen X-ers are somewhere between the two extremes. with Late Boomers and early Gen X-ers forming a bridge between the canonical Me Generation born from 1940-1960 and the post-Me Generation born from about 1977-the present.

Neil Howe has said that the portrayal of kids is tied closely between cultural cycles. In the era of good feeling that was the mid-40's-early 60's, we had Dennis the Menace types charming adults with their antics. In the "heavy" period of the late 60's-early 80's, movies like Halloween depicted children and younger adolescents as "bad seeds" who could stab or shoot Me Gen adults who had lost interest in family care taking. In the late 80's-2000's, children were portrayed as capable, as having "potential" and even a borderline magical quality, which compels Boomer and Gen X adults to admire kids, instead of treating them like household accessories (like the Me Gen was) or Super Predators (like late Boomers and most Gen X-ers were). During the current crisis era, we are now treating children like we once did in the 1930's-early 40's; neutrally, believing them to be valuable and worth protecting, but nothing to get excited about. Those born over the last 15 or so years are going to end being a lot like the generation born in the 20's and 30's; feeling under appreciated and bitter about it. The Me Gen and Millennials are accustomed to being in the limelight, while Gen X-ers don't care one way or the other about how society treats them or remembers them. Those born in the 20's and 30's, and those born in the 2000's and 2010's, never get over being essentially ignored. Not abused or neglected, or feared, but ignored.

Anonymous said...

Children are now being made into eunuchs ("transgender") or blasted out of their minds on Ritalin/Adderall/Prozac so they can grind away at their standardized tests and homework all day. Children have lower social status than at any time in history. They simply aren't valued at all and this is reflected in the fertility rate.

College leftists still get better networking and social opportunities than the nice kids trying to make high grades so they can earn their way into establishment careers based on merit. This is in reality looking quaint and quixotic.