Survey: Roughly Three-Fourths of Princeton Students Believe Shouting Down Speakers is Acceptable

A new survey by Princetonians for Free Speech shows that roughly three-fourths of students believe that it is acceptable to shout down a speaker. The distressing results are consistent with other studies and surveys that have been discussed on this blog. Of course, some faculty maintain that it is better to “shoot down rather than shout down” conservatives.

Princeton has tried recently to reinforce free speech principles, but the survey shows these anti-free speech views have been reinforced continually in elementary and high schools. They were told by teachers that free speech is harmful and triggering.

That is evident in this survey:

This is a view actively supported by faculty. When Professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech” at CUNY law school, CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech. (Bilek later cancelled herself after using a controversial term in a meeting and resigned).

The lessons are taking hold with the rising generation of speech phobics and censors. A chilling poll was released by 2021 College Free Speech Rankings after questioning a huge body of 37,000 students at 159 top-ranked U.S. colleges and universities. It found that sixty-six percent of college students think shouting down a speaker to stop them from speaking is a legitimate form of free speech.  Another 23 percent believe violence can be used to cancel a speech. That is roughly one out of four supporting violence.

Most schools expressly bar such disruptions, but few hold students accountable when they prevent others from speaking. A recent example can be found at Stanford Law School where the Law Dean denounced the cancelling of a federal appellate judge, but then said that no students would be sanctioned for their actions.

There is also the increasing justification of violence by the left on our campuses by declaring speech itself “violence.” It is part of the license of our age of rage for many who want to silence opposing viewpoints.

The view was evident recently as Hunter College professor Shellyne Rodríguez trashed a pro-life student display in New York. Most were focused on her profanity and vandalism, but there were familiar phrases that appeared in her diatribe to the clearly shocked students.

Before trashing the table, she told the students, “You’re not educating s–t […] This is f–king propaganda. What are you going to do, like, anti-trans next? This is bulls–t. This is violent. You’re triggering my students.”

The same week as the Rodríguez attack at the State University of New York at Albany, sociology professor Renee Overdyke shut down a pro-life display and then allegedly resisted arrest.

While the university has emphasized the need to support free speech, Princeton’s President, Christopher Eisgruber, sent a mixed message this year in his speech at the freshman orientation session focused on free expression. He warned that “opponents of diversity and inclusion are sometimes using outrageous speech to provoke a backlash.” He reportedly added that students should “do our best to avoid inappropriate backlash.”

Blaming conservatives for tensions is a curious way to call for speech tolerance. More importantly, students should not be told “to do our best to avoid inappropriate backlash.” They are required to avoid inappropriate backlash and, if they seek to bar others from speaking, they should be disciplined (including expulsion in the most serious or in repeated offenses).


42 thoughts on “Survey: Roughly Three-Fourths of Princeton Students Believe Shouting Down Speakers is Acceptable”

  1. 𝐁𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐮𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐢-𝐒𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐂𝐔𝐍𝐘 𝐋𝐚𝐰 𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐮𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐞𝐜𝐡
    • Congressional lawmakers are proposing the ‘Stop Anti-Semitism on College Campuses Act’ after a CUNY School of Law commencement speech that has been condemned as anti-Semitic.
    • The bill would cut federal funding for schools that ‘authorize, facilitate, provide funding for, or otherwise support any event promoting Anti-Semitism on campus.’

    Austin Browne ’24 | Senior Ohio Campus Correspondent
    June 6, 2023

    𝐏𝐑𝐎𝐅 𝐆𝐈𝐎𝐑𝐃𝐀𝐍𝐎: 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧 𝐀𝐝𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐳𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐞𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧
    • Millions of taxpayer dollars have been funneled into universities for the creation of sophisticated tools designed to surveil and suppress speech.
    • As higher education continues to be politically weaponized, the unholy alliance between academic elites and government bureaucrats casts a chilling effect on college campuses,

    By Nicholas Giordano | Professor, Suffolk Community College
    June 6, 2023

  2. “Survey: Roughly Three-Fourths of Princeton Students Believe SHOUTING DOWN SPEAKERS is Acceptable”

    – Professor Turley

    Only the owners of the private property, Princeton University, may “claim and exercise” dominion over that esteemed institution of free enterprise.

    And they have done so very effectively, whatever they’re allowing or denying.

    They’re not dissimilar to an eminently and irrepressibly lucrative rock band that tears out the walls in its hotel.

    “Princeton Endowment Earns 46.9 Percent, Topping $37 Billion and Outpacing Peers”

    Princeton’s endowment earned a 46.9 percent return for the year ending June 30 — the largest rate of return since the Princeton University Investment Co. (Princo) was established in 1987 — and increased in overall value to $37.7 billion, according to a University announcement.

    – Princeton Alumni Weekly

  3. Lately poll after poll has come to the conclusion that the woke philosophy is damaging the nation. In many instances in the past public opinion has changed. There are voices of resistance to the madness that are making the public aware of what is happening. A change is happening among independents and even Democrats. The way to fight back is by supporting the people who are willing to stand up and say “No More.” Matt Walsh would be a good start.

  4. The authoritarian hive mind has always been willing to shout down and use violence against those they do not agree with. What is ironic is that the authoritarian hive mind calls people fascists while employing fascist tactics to reach their desired outcome. The means of operation used today by students is if shouting them down doesn’t work stomping them into submission is an entirely acceptable ultimate alternative. Its not too hard to think of where all of this has happened before.

  5. White privilege is actually woke, not reactionary. Nothing like piles of privileged money to insulate one from reality. Media and academia–the conclaves of theory and make-believe–the domains of unreality–could not exist without all that silly-money.

    There’s always a market for quack remedies, and if it’s really stupid, it’s gonna be a luxury good.

  6. Shouting down speech you don’t like is a way of fooling yourself that you have some power. Unfortunately, it demonstrates that you are too immature and intolerant to use that power decently. In fact, it’s actually a cowardly act since it’s always done in the comfort of a mob. The Democrats are gambling on mob power to keep the opposition in line.

    1. Well said GioCon. Well said. Like many others have noted, ruling by simple majority is just mob rule dressed in fine linen. That’s why we have the Electoral College for these screamers.

  7. I am convinced at this point that we have a lost generation on our hands; either that, or we have allowed a Red Guard to be created right under our noses, largely because we didn’t pay attention or heed warnings. There are still older liberals who are certainly good people, but more than ever, their scrutiny of their party boils down to, ‘Dems good, everybody else bad.’, as they vote a straight blue ticket. Alternately, some are simply cowards petrified of losing status by not riding the woke wave. It may have ceased to matter if these people wake up.

    Obama unleashed a tsunami on this nation in 2008, we are have just finally reached the endgame. Between the Trump indictment, the disinformation board, and now a federal education board proposed to keep pornography in school libraries, the ‘transition’, and myriad other things – our Republic hangs by the slenderest of threads. Even if we take our power back, what do we do with these millions of young agitators afterward?

    Western civilization is in deep trouble, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear way forward when our rights and laws are mere suggestions to them and their handlers with little to no consequence. The CHAZ ‘autonomous zone’ was a sneak preview. B-A-N-A-N-A.

    1. James,
      “Even if we take our power back, what do we do with these millions of young agitators afterward?”
      We leave them in the basements of their parents homes. After all, their parents are the ones who breed them. Let them suffer the consequences of their actions or inaction.
      We ignore their college degrees in DEI, CRT, underwater basket weaving and let them continue their career as baristas.
      If and when they do become agitators and break the law, send them to jail.

      1. @Upstate

        I have no doubt that at heart the woke are cowards that have simply been emboldened by complicity. I suppose I feel if we are lucky, marginalization will win out as it did after the radical shenanigans of the movements of the 1970s. I guess time will tell. Regardless, I honestly don’t know how we dislodge the forces at work in our government if they take another election. The precedents set by the Obama administration were poison to a free society.

        I do know that the elders in my milieu are in their last stages of life, and far too many express gratitude that they will not be around to see what the world becomes. I can’t imagine how new parents in possession of sanity must feel.

        1. James,
          I previously I thought of those radicals in the 60-70s went on to become the yuppies of the 80s and eventually families thinking our current radicals would follow a similar path.
          However this batch of radicals seem to have no shame at the idea of living in their parents basement, useless college degree and working at some gig job or a low paying non-profit that allows them to continue their ideology.
          They are not really contributing to society and just fomenting their ideology generally based on juvenile emotions, hate and division.
          The one good thing is, as Estovir pointed out, is they are not reproducing. Most cite climate change or pregnancy is slavery for a woman.
          To which I say, outstanding!

      2. The government now is having discussions to lower the voting age to those in high school. If enacted of lowering the voting age their immaturity and lack of parental guidance would prove to be a danger to this nation.

        1. The voting age is already too low. Science knows the brain is not fully developed until 25 or so. Can’t be a Congressperson until 25 for the same reason. 25 should be the voting age. And drinking age. And don’t give me this crap about denying the vote to a kid who can serve in the military. Totally different qualifications and activities.

    2. James, young women have become increasingly radicalized compared to previous eras. Since 2000, young women have steadily trended more and more left. Young men are not that different politically from previous eras. It’s this leftward tilt by young women that’s driven the rise of leftism.

      I have three observations: first, conservatives need to better address the issues that are driving this trend with young women. I still don’t fully understand why this is happening, though I have some suspicions. There needs to be more discussion about this.

      Second, woke womanhood is a self-correcting problem. Many of these women are engaging in polyamory, using dating apps to share the same Chads and rejecting men who would be more suitable. Wokism’s hatred of white men probably has a lot to do with this social phenomenon. Ultimately, if woke women aren’t having children in the same numbers, traditional women will inherit the world, but that may not happen soon enough to save our democracy.

      Third, because of the above, the relations between young men and women have never been worse. To some extent, young men have internalized this ostracism. Fewer and fewer men are gearing up for education and families, and many who do have to take a knee to the cannibals. This may explain why young men have been more resistant to wokery. They’re not the target audience; they’re the target.

      There’s a lot here to digest. Jordan Peterson or Karlyn Borysenko might have some explanations or remedies.

  8. The right to be shut up. DEI, ESG, you name it. The pitch is always to remedy claimed evils. Where is the damn as built drawing of what the final work product looks like? Where is the articulation of the whole vision? Absolute freedom of expression is the only way to get the blueprint on the table if it even exists. Does it look like an American society of H. G. Well’s Elois and Morlocks? Who knows?

  9. Well, well, well!

    I’ll be on the lookout for those regimental ties with orange & black. Those colors in combination, just so, now represent young people with a high probability of having no common courtesy or respect for tradition. Too bad women grads don’t fly their colors so blatantly.

    ORANGE & BLACK stripes.

    1. Feminists wear their character on their head.

      The politically congruent (“=”) wield Rainbow symbols and rhetoric to celebrate albinophobia.

      Others exercise liberal license to indulge diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry).

  10. Jonathan, I see that almost 50% of the students said that they would interrupt “rarely.” I share the free speech issue with you but might hit the “rarely” button. Perhaps these numbers are not so bad as about 75% would never or rarely interrupt.

    1. Rarely means whenever one disagrees to a degree that validates in their mind the interruption, yes? And, as we’ve seen time and again, the “rarely” crowd is disruptive even when the discussion is about the importance of free speech.

      Most people don’t want to admit they are authoritarians at heart. I would suggest this explains “rarely”. We should put meat on the bone though. You say you would interrupt and perhaps, implied, shout down a speaker. What topic would drive you to this anti-liberal result?

  11. This is small group of Marxist radical activists who are at the base of this movement to tear down the principles of this nation. They have a really big megaphone right now and have demonstrated that they are serious.

    Rank and file citizens must wake up and stand strong against this insanity that is spreading like a virus.

    This will not end well if this trajectory continues. The mindless who follow the latest narrative mindlessly may ultimately get what they wish for, totalitarianism and a dystopian reality.

    Freedom is not cheap nor is it a gift to be taken lightly.

  12. We need a down ballot routing of the entire Democrat ticket in 2024 to put this lot and the rest of their ilk back into line. Let them crawl back into their safe spaces, shiver, shake, and rot!

  13. In reading wiki it seems the legal definition of the hecklers veto is different than what I or most people believe it to be. It’s when the government prevents a speaker from speaking to avoid violence from protesters, if I’m reading it right. More recently at Irvine it was used to prosecute based on the more normal interpretation.

    The whole idea of people disrupting to keep someone from speaking is anathema to what I’d think a regular person would consider free speech, and the support of violence by even the minority similarly disturbing. I’d like to see a court case such that disrupters are arrested in the future.

    I wouldn’t want protesters to be silenced, but I’d like them to accept that others have a right to speak. Protest peacefully and legally prior to a speaker. Don’t block sidewalks or roads, or otherwise obstruct others from going about their business.

  14. This won’t end well for America. Violent revolution is inevitable. The losers will be the WOKE.

    1. Whig98,
      I agree.
      Traditional liberals (small l), like the good professor, are becoming rare or extinct.
      This new, woke leftists Liberals (some call them illiberal) have taken over the Democrat party.

    2. Agree. Sadly. This is what happens when society becomes detached from the horrors of war and communism. Kids (I’m including anyone born after 1980ish) are disconnected from the realities of the Soviet Union and the horrors of WWII to understand that they are behaving in the same fashion as the citizens who supported this sort of behavior in Russia in the 19-teens and later in Germany and the Reich-occupied countries. We ARE living in the 1930s.

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