Americans are OK with Non-PC Speech

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

A recent poll predicts that, while a majority will agree, this essay will somehow offend a handful of readers. I – along with eight in ten adults and the U.S. Constitution – don’t care.

A Morning Consult poll of more than thirteen thousand American adults found that 81 percent – 94 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of independents and 70 percent of Democrats – agree that “These days, people are offended too easily.” The other 19 percent may be highly-offended by the majority’s aversion to political correctness, but they’d do better to examine the data and adjust their behavior.

Thirteen thousand nationwide is a huge, representative polling sample. As President Hillary Clinton found out, political polls that typically survey fewer than 10 percent of thirteen thousand can be unreliable.

According to Morning Consult, only 16 percent agreed that “It’s alright for society to give up parts of free speech so as not to offend others.” Frankly, considering that 16 percent’s normal decibel level and the attention they hog, it’s reassuring to learn that 84 percent of American adults still value everyone’s First Amendment rights – the “speech” part, at least.

In fact, 65 percent of those surveyed agreed that “People should be able to say what they really think, even when it might offend people.” The Constitution protects speech, including the right to criticize or argue in opposition to speech one doesn’t like, so there is no constitutional right to shut down speech simply by calling it “offensive.” The First Amendment’s architects may have known some antecedents of today’s politically-correct busybodies – those who actively ferret out trivialities to find “offensive.”

There’s more such people won’t like: Overwhelming majorities of those polled said it’s acceptable to express one’s own opinions about immigration (72 percent), politics (71 percent), gender (69 percent), religion (68 percent), sexuality (65 percent), race (63 percent) and even “People who are different from me” (59 percent). Getting 59-plus percent of any vote is pretty much a landslide.

Morning Consult reports that, while half of American adults say there’s prejudice in the country (only 21 percent think there’s “too much”), about half also say there is too much political correctness. People are self-censoring to avoid offending anyone, even inadvertently. Three-fourths admit they are careful of words or actions around people who may be “different.”

Polite people have always been discreet around strangers, nonetheless there is an uneasiness among Americans, a clear weariness with political correctness and the resulting awkward social dynamics driven by a relative handful of self-appointed, thin-skinned, willfully-divisive activists and advocates. Indeed, political correctness and the “social justice” warriors who attempt to enforce it are effectively impeding free association, free expression, mutual understanding and integration in a society that has a long history of mainstreaming and elevating legal arrivals and minorities – the reasons they come and/or stay here.

Morning Consult’s poll results suggest that ordinary Americans have lost patience with cultural warfare. One fervently hopes that, unless they stop, culture warriors will suffer consequences for their narrow-minded, anti-constitutional, genuinely offensive aggression.