Most Americans believe the government should protect free speech, including false or offensive speech, rather than censor and regulate it.
Overall, 80 percent of Americans support free speech without government-imposed restrictions, according to Scott Rasmussen’s national survey from early June.
Only 9 percent of Americans said the government should decide which speech is permissible, and 11 percent were not sure how the government should treat speech.
Freedom of speech fared better among Republicans than Democrats, men than women, the elderly than the young, whites than non-whites, college-educated than non-college-educated, and rural than suburban and urban Americans.
Every demographic group, however, expressed at least 70 percent support for unregulated free speech.
Ninety-one percent of Republicans—the highest percentage for any group—said the government should allow free speech, compared to 5 percent who said the government should regulate speech.
Four percent of Republicans were unsure.
Only 71 percent of Democrats said the government should allow free speech, while 13 percent thought that the government should regulate speech.
Sixteen percent of Democrats were unsure.
Scott Rasmussen found in February that 49 percent of Americans considered government restrictions on free speech a greater threat to the nation than dishonest or false news.
Thirty-eight percent of Americans said they worry more about fake news than censorship and regulation. Thirteen percent were unsure.
Fake news has dominated the corporate media’s headlines for years, but American voters do not seem inclined to believe dishonest reporting.
For the past year, media companies either censored or belittled anyone who thought that COVID-19 originated in and escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Yet, 66 percent of Americans believe the virus came from the lab.
In part, Americans may distrust any government effort to regulate speech because they do not believe it serves their interests.
Fifty-nine percent of Americans said the federal government primarily serves its own interests.
Only 34 percent of Americans said the federal government protects freedom, equality, and self-governance.