In the United States we have the free speech built into the law, so it is somewhat a moot point. Of course, as evidenced by comments in many other Western countries the limits to speech are bounded by public consensus. So I decided to look at the GSS in terms of response to one question:
After I read each statement, please tell me if you strongly agree, aggee, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, or strongly disagree with the statement.
a. Under the First Amendment guarnateeing free speech, people should be allowed to express their own opinions even if they are harmful or offensive to members of other religious or racial groups.
Here is what I found….
1) Across politics there doesn’t seem to be a strong trend. Extreme liberals do tend to go bimodal where a large minority support speech restriction, but the N is small. Interestingly, moderates are the most open to speech restriction. Perhaps because moderates are the least like to need protection because they’re so inoffensive 😉
2) A very moderate trend while increasing intelligence and free speech absolutism. But far less than I’d expected.
3) A rather noticeable trend toward free speech absolutism from junior college on up in terms of education…but the N for junior college isn’t large. It seems actually the trend is weaker than I’d thought it would be here, the less educated aren’t that much more open to speech suppression!
4) Little difference across races.
5) Some differences across regions.
I checked a few other variables. There doesn’t seem to be much difference. I’m pretty surprised, and happily so! Someone else can check the regression or correlations, but where there are trends the N‘s are suspiciously small for those categories, so I’m skeptical that there will be many statistically significant differences. The tables are below the fold.