Newly published research shows that Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to support censorship and are more willing than Republicans to tolerate misinformation if it advances their political causes.
The new data highlights the vast, and widening, chasm between the two main U.S. political factions and how they each approach censorship on topics ranging from mask mandates to transgender rights.
Survey results from RealClearPolitics (RCP) show that Democrats are more willing to allow government to regulate speech than Republicans.
“On the issue of free expression, at least, Republicans are not the authoritarian party. That distinction belongs to the Democrats,” RCP said in a summary of its findings.
Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of Republicans believe speech should be legal under any circumstances, while only 53 percent of Democrats agree. Nearly half of Democrats (47 percent) say speech should only be legal “under certain circumstances.”
The survey also shows that three-fourths of Democrats believe government has a responsibility to limit “hateful” social media posts, while only half of Republicans agree.
The study also found that Democrats are more likely to support removing content deemed false.
“It was Democrats who more often employed situational ethics, giving a pass to misinformation that helped their side,” RCP wrote. “Most Republicans didn’t differentiate based on which way the false headline cut.”
Additionally, some of the divide America is seeing over censorship is generational, as younger people who have grown up in a digital environment have fewer expectations of privacy.
“Those under 30 are most open to censorship by the government,” Spencer Kimball, who directed the RCP survey, said in the summary.
More than a third (34 percent) of Democratic voters say Americans have too much freedom, compared to just 14.6 percent of Republicans.
On the question of whether Americans have too little freedom, 46 percent of Republicans agreed, while only 22 percent of Democrats backed that idea.
When presented with the statement, “I disapprove of that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” only 31 percent of Democratic voters agreed, compared to 51 percent of Republicans.