Posted on September 20, 2017

Thugocracy Rising: 19% of College Students Support Violence to Silence Dissent, Study Shows

Douglas Ernst, The Washington Times, Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Early results from a Brookings Institution study on the First Amendment’s standing among college students foreshadow an ominous future for free speech rights.

University of California at Los Angeles professor and Brookings senior fellow John Villasenor released preliminary findings this week.


“Freedom of expression is deeply imperiled on U.S. campuses,” the professor said Monday. “In fact, despite protestations to the contrary (often with statements like ‘we fully support the First Amendment, but…), freedom of expression is clearly not, in practice, available on many campuses, including many public campuses that have First Amendment obligations.”

Some questions included:


  • 51% of all students said shouting down speakers to silence them in a public forum is acceptable. Over 60% of Democrats agreed compared to roughly 40% for Republicans.

  • 19% of students supported violence as a means of shutting down speech deemed unacceptable. 20% of Democrats, 22% of Republicans, and 16% of Independents supported violence to censor opponents.

“These results are notable for several reasons,” Mr. Villasenor said. “First, the fraction of students who view the use of violence as acceptable is extremely high.”


“Any number significantly above zero is concerning.”