A new poll reveals a concerning decline in support for free speech, particularly among young people, according to Newsweek. The Redfield & Wilton Strategies survey found that a plurality of millennials, 44% of those aged 25 to 34, believe that “misgendering” should be a criminal offense. This radical viewpoint is even shared by a significant portion of those aged 35 to 44. Surprisingly, Gen Z respondents were less likely than millennials to support pronoun censorship. However, all these groups were more likely than the overall American public to back the idea of criminalizing “misgendering.”
This shift in attitudes among young Americans toward censorship is alarming as it demonstrates a rejection of freedom of speech in favor of “inclusivity” and “tolerance.” Yet, they fail to consider the consequences of such a dark shift. Firstly, proposals to criminalize “misgendering” would likely be struck down by the courts as a violation of the First Amendment. Despite the misconceptions propagated by some progressives, there is no “hate speech” exception to free speech rights. Even offensive words and slurs are protected. Pronouns would likely be treated no differently by the courts, rendering any attempt at criminalization unconstitutional.
Moreover, young Americans should not desire to ban or criminalize offensive speech. Such an approach opens a Pandora’s box that would extend far beyond protecting transgender individuals from being “misgendered.” Many words and phrases used by woke young people may be considered offensive by conservatives or moderates. If progressives argue that they have the right to legally ban terms like “cisgender” because it offends them, then they must also acknowledge that their own slang and vernacular could be subject to criminalization.
Additionally, coercive measures are ineffective at fostering respect for transgender individuals’ pronouns. The survey shows that more Americans are willing to accommodate preferred pronouns than to refuse them. However, when preferred pronouns are treated as an order rather than a request, through cultural pressure or government coercion, resistance is likely to increase. Forcing compliance can lead to backlash and people refusing to go along simply out of politeness.
In conclusion, young Americans’ support for criminalizing “misgendering” is flawed and counterproductive. It disregards constitutional protections and fails to recognize the potential consequences for free speech. It also overlooks the fact that their own slang and language could be targeted under the same logic. Instead of resorting to coercion, respectful dialogue and understanding should be encouraged to foster genuine acceptance and respect for all individuals.