James Madison Weeps
A Brookings survey finds college students are clueless about free speech.
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The Editorial Board
Sept. 19, 2017 7:13 p.m. ET
‘Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government,” wrote
“When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved.” Imagine what Franklin,
and the other Founders would make of a new Brookings Institution survey showing that American college students have no clue what the First Amendment means.
surveyed more than 1,500 undergraduates, and among the alarming findings: Most American college students do not know that even hate speech is constitutionally protected; half agree that it’s okay to shout down a speaker whose views they don’t agree with; and nearly one of five believe it is acceptable for a student group opposed to a speaker to use violence to keep him from speaking. Some of the answers vary by political identification, but overall the findings suggest great confusion. Mr. Villasenor’s conclusion is blunt. “Freedom of expression,” he says, “is deeply imperiled on U.S. campuses.” We’d take that%