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Poll Reveals How Many Students Believe Violence Is Warranted to Suppress Speech

How many students on American college campuses really think it's OK to interfere with free speech? I don't know about you, but I really wanted to believe that the numbers weren't that high. I wanted it to be a loud minority that simply overpowered the much more moderate and sane students on these same campuses.

Unfortunately, according to a report in Campus Reform, that hope was just plain silly.

A new survey  published by The Brookings Institution finds that about one-in-five undergraduate students approve of using violence to shut down controversial speakers.

A majority of undergraduate students at U.S. four-year colleges and universities also agreed with a hypothetical protest in which a group “opposed to the speaker disrupts the speech by loudly and repeatedly shouting so that the audience cannot hear the speaker.”

According to the survey, 51 percent of students agreed that such a demonstration would be acceptable, while 49 percent disagreed. Not surprisingly, the response to the hypothetical scenario was also largely partisan, with 62 percent of Democrats approving of the protest, compared to just 39 percent of Republicans .

“I find the numbers in the above table to be highly concerning, because they show that a very significant fraction of students, across all categories, believe it is acceptable to silence (by shouting) a speaker they find offensive,” wrote John Villasenor, the author of the survey and a Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow.

The study further found that 19 percent of responders said that they approved of using violence “to prevent the speaker from speaking.” An 81 percent majority, on the other hand, did not approve of the violent approach.

In other words, a large number of college students support violating others' right to speak or listen to speakers who disagree with their special snowflake sensibilities.

Over half of those surveyed see no problem with trying to block speakers by using either violence or the heckler's veto to keep unsavory ideas from people's ears. Over half.

We have seriously failed America's youth.

If you want to beat ideas, you beat them with better ideas. Silencing those ideas won't do any good. Hell, silencing those ideas may make more people want to seek out those ideas just to see what is so objectionable. It's happened before. It can happen again.

But to beat those ideas with better ideas, you first need some better ideas, and that's what's lacking from the Snowflake Brigade's arsenal. They don't have any. They've got tired, worn Marxist rhetoric peppered in with an unhealthy dose of intersectionality -- but they don't have anything particularly new. Their ideas are based on a philosophy that has failed literally everywhere it's been tried, but they keep pushing it.

They know they don't have better ideas, so they simply want to block people from hearing anything but their own rhetoric.