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‘Students Of Color Increasingly Agree That The First Amendment Goes Too Far,’ Survey Finds

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Luke Rosiak Investigative Reporter
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High school students of minority racial groups increasingly believe the First Amendment “goes too far,” an annual survey by journalism philanthropy the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation found Wednesday.

Since 2011, minority students have tended to agree with that statement on average, while white students tended to disagree, according to Knight, based on averaging out responses on a four-point scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. White students’ position is holding steady, while minority students are increasingly turning against the First Amendment, the Future of the First Amendment survey found.

As groups, girls were more likely to agree with the statement while boys were more likely to oppose it, the survey found.

Minority high schoolers tended to be more supportive than white students of the idea that they should not be punished for posting opinions about teachers to social media, but more likely than white students to agree that “websites should be punished for publishing comments from the public that many people would consider offensive.”

Opposition to the First Amendment is linked to lack of civics education, and assessments suggest that only one in four U.S. students are able to score “at a proficient level” at civics, the survey stated, citing the 2014 Civics Assessment. (RELATED: Democrats Push A Return To Busing, Despite Their Own Data Suggesting It Doesn’t Help Poor Kids)

“On average, students who have taken a class that dealt with the First Amendment are more supportive of various rights and protections, and less likely to think the First Amendment goes too far,” it stated.

All groups oppose burning the flag on average, but since 2016, students of color have become less opposed to it, while white students have become more opposed.

“It is worth noting in this context the substantial public discussion that has evolved since several events with national visibility took place, including the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the various criminal justice protest movements, including Black Lives Matter,” the survey found.

Large majorities of black and Hispanic respondents supported athletes’ right to protest during the national anthem, while 52% of white respondents supported the right, according to Knight.

Yet minorities were more likely than whites to oppose the idea that musicians should be able to sing offensive lyrics.

“On every survey, a central question has been asked about whether the First Amendment goes too far in its promises. Accompanying this question on each survey has been the plain-language text of the amendment itself,” the survey stated.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

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