As we Americans prepare to celebrate our independence, we are reminded of the rights afforded us by our Constitution, and how we support those freedoms above all else.
Yeah, that’s what we say, but….
The Newseum Institution– a think tank devoted to promoting the rights of our first amendment (religion, speech, press, assembly and petition)- just released the results of this year’s annual State of the First Amendment Survey. What did they learn?
23% of Americans think the rights of the First Amendment go too far. That’s almost 1 in four Americans who believe free speech should be curtailed. 43% of us believe colleges should be allowed to ban controversial speakers, and 55% of us believe racist views should not be allowed on social media.
While 68% of us believe the news media should be a government watchdog, over half of us (53%) prefer news from outlets that align with our political views. Only 43% of us believe the news media report without bias, but that’s better than last year, when only 23% of us thought the media was unbiased in its reporting. Of those of us who identify as conservative, only 27% believe news media should be a government watchdog.
59% of us believe religious freedom should extend to all religions. However, one-third of us believe the government should be able to, “hold Muslims to a greater level of scrutiny, even if it infringes on their religious liberty.”
While these results are somewhat heartening, the results from a recent poll conducted by Middle Tennessee State University found that more Tennesseans trust President Trump (38%) than mainstream media outlets (26%). However, they trust Yelp and other online recommendations far more than Trump (62%). We Tennesseans are most likely to trust people we know (91%).
So what is my takeaway from the survey results?
While we’re still divided in our beliefs, we are more trusting of the news media than we have been. As for who do we trust the most, it’s each other.
But, unfortunately, too many of us are willing to give up our own Constitutional rights if it means we also deny those rights to voices with whom we disagree.
Happy birthday, America. I know you’re battered and bruised right now, but you’re still standing. Hang in there.