No Joking Matter: Survey Finds Six Out Of Ten Students View Offensive Jokes As “Hate Speech”

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

We have been discussing the growing intolerance for free speech on our campuses and the ever-expanding scope of both hate speech and “microaggression” definitions.

Now, College Pulse has released s survey of 2,000 college students that finds six out of ten view offensive jokes to be hate speech – a view shared by many European countries which now regularly prosecuted people for such jokes.

There is a considerable contrast between the views of Democratic and Republican students. The poll found that 76 percent of Democratic students “believe offensive jokes can constitute hate speech” while only 36 percent of Republican students who hold that view.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in Europe (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). We have seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here and here). 

Notably, comedians are refusing to perform on our campuses because of the threat of protests and shutdowns over jokes deemed by some to be offensive or discomforting. Comedy has always occurred on the edges of propriety and constitutes a long-valued form of social and political commentary. The effort to chill jokes and parody is part of a broader anti-free speech movement on our campuses.