Nearly 60 percent of Americans believe there is “a growing cancel culture that is a threat to our freedom,” according to a survey from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
More than 74 percent of Republicans “strongly” or “somewhat” agree the republic is threatened by cancel culture, whereas over 60 percent of independents feel the same. Nearly 45 percent of Democrats agreed as well.
One effect of cancel culture, according to the survey, is an increased tendency for persons to take self-censorship measures, with nearly 25 percent responding that they “fairly often” or “very often” do not voice their own opinions for fear of losing their job or their “standings in school.” Nearly half of respondents (47 percent) reported being at least occasionally “afraid to say what [they] believe” out of fear of potential consequences. Eight percent said they “often feel pressure to say things they don’t believe ‘in order to fit in.’”
The FIRE survey also found strong support for protecting “all viewpoints … even those considered extreme,” showing 62 percent overall support. When broken down along partisan lines, more than 73 percent of Republicans believe in the free speech protections, and 62 percent of independents agree. More than 54 percent of Democrats also agree.
Similarly, 57 percent of Americans believe the First Amendment protects “hate speech,” with 59 percent, 57 percent, and 54 percent of Republicans, independents, and Democrats agreeing, respectively. Despite this, only 38 percent of Americans believe that the fundamental right “should” protect “hate speech,” including a minority of Republicans (47 percent).
Sixty-three percent of Americans, however, either “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed with the statement: “Laws protecting free speech aren’t enough. The American people have to celebrate and nurture free speech for it to be fully protected.”
“Cancel culture isn’t just about what gets said and then punished,” FIRE Vice President of Communications Nico Perrino said in a press release. “It’s also about what never gets said for fear of punishment. The chilling effect of self-censorship is real — and can have an alarming effect on how Americans communicate.”
Overall, 83 percent of Americans believe that democracy can only thrive if there is free speech.
The survey was conducted among 2,500 American adults by the research arm of FIRE’s communications partner, DeVito/Verdi.
Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.