Americans cherish exercising their constitutional rights: The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and freedom of religion, the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, among the dozens of others.
But how well do Americans truly know their constitutional rights? According to a recent survey on the First Amendment, not well.
What did the survey show?
The annual survey from the Freedom Forum Institute found that 23 percent of Americans believe the First Amendment “goes too far” but 74 percent of Americans disagreed — yet 40 percent could not name even one right First Amendment protects.
In fact, the First Amendment guarantees Americans five explicit rights:
- free exercise of religion,
- freedom of speech,
- freedom to assemble,
- freedom of the press, and
- freedom to petition the government.
Of the 1,009 American adults surveyed, only 36 percent could correctly name one First Amendment right, only 12 percent could name two, and all five? Just one respondent correctly recalled each of the five rights protected by the First Amendment.
Meanwhile, the incorrect answer respondents recalled most was the right to bear arms, which is protected by the Second Amendment. Others cited the “right to vote,” which numerous constitutional amendments guarantee for different classes of people, but isn’t included in the First Amendment.
What else did the poll say?
Other interesting facts from the poll include:
- 70 percent said colleges should remove invited speakers whose remarks might incite violent protests or threaten public safety.
- Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support the removal of campus speakers.
- 72 percent said social media companies should censor “hate speech,” but an overwhelming minority said the government should oversee such a process.
- The majority of respondents believe the First Amendment protects a baker from forcibly baking a cake with a message he or she disagrees with.
The survey comes at a time when America’s younger generations are rethinking free speech and what the First Amendment should protect. An increasing number of people believe “hate speech” should be censored, violence is OK to use when protesting “offensive” college speakers, and religious protections don’t cover people who “discriminate” against the LGBT community.