Everyone but far-left feels intimidated into silence, new survey finds
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July 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Conservatives, centrists, and moderate liberals all feel afraid of speaking their minds for fear of reprisals, according to a disturbing new survey released this week by YouGov and the Cato Institute.
Sixty-two percent of respondents find that the current “political climate these days prevents them from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive,” with almost a third fearful that expressing disfavored opinions could get them fired, according to the survey.
Conservatives and Republicans felt self-censorship most intensely at 77 percent, though majorities of Democrats, Independents, centrist liberals, and moderates also answered that they felt the same way. “Strong liberals” were the only category in which a majority (58 percent) said they felt safe openly expressing themselves.
Every group feels less safe in speaking out than they did when the question was asked in 2017, with the most pronounced shifts occurring left-of-center. Only “strong conservatives” remained relatively constant, shifting just one percentage point.
The survey also found differences in how the two ends of the ideological spectrum would pressure others for contrary politics. Half of “strong liberals” endorsed the prospect of firing business executives for personally contributing to President Donald Trump’s re-election, whereas 36 percent of “strong conservatives” would do the same to executives who donated to former Vice President Joe Biden.
The results follow another survey finding the vast majority of Americans think social media has too much power and influence over U.S. politics, and come as little surprise given the country’s ongoing debate over “cancel culture” and left-wing activists’ aggressive efforts to stigmatize dissenting viewpoints – from the alleged firing of a Michigan high-school coach for supporting Trump, to the rise of “safe spaces” on college campuses, to America’s leading corporations in a variety of fields buckling under pressure to endorse and donate money to Black Lives Matter (BLM).
Perhaps the most telling example is that of Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who is a doctrinaire liberal on most issues yet has been deemed a bigot by pro-LGBT activists for refusing to go along with the notion that gender is a social construct which may be changed by merely declaring one’s self to be a woman.
“But this needed reckoning (from BLM) has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second,” reads an open letter signed by Rowling and 149 other left-of-center figures, published this month in Harper’s Bazaar.
“As writers, we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes,” the letter continued. “We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.”
On the Fourth of July, President Trump called cancel culture “the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.” Speaking at Mount Rushmore, he vowed that his administration would “expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children, end this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life.”