June 28, 2004
"The 2004 survey found that just 30 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement, 'The First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees,' with 65 percent disagreeing. The nation was split evenly, 49 percent to 49 percent, on that same question two years ago, in the survey following the '9/11' attacks," said Gene Policinski, acting director of the First Amendment Center.
"Despite the ongoing war on terrorism worldwide and regular warnings from authorities about domestic attacks, a significant majority of Americans continue to support a free and open society," Policinski said. "Still, having about one-in-three Americans say they have too much freedom is a disturbing figure."
Other findings in the survey also show that Americans' support for First Amendment freedoms falls in specific areas or circumstances. Large numbers of Americans would restrict speech that might offend racial or religious groups and would restrict music that might offend anyone. Also, about four in 10 respondents - a figure typical of findings in prior surveys - said that the press in America has too much freedom.
The survey also finds a majority say current federal regulations on broadcast television content are "about right," and parents have primary responsibility to keep "inappropriate material" in media from children.
The State of the First Amendment 2004 survey is available online at the First Amendment Center's Web site, www.firstamendmentcenter.org. Additional findings will be released Aug. 1 in American Journalism Review.
Among the key findings of this year's survey:
The annual State of the First Amendment survey, conducted since 1997 by the Center for Survey Research & Analysis at the University of Connecticut, examines public attitudes toward freedom of speech, press, religion and the rights of assembly and petition. The survey was done this year in partnership with American Journalism Review magazine. The national survey of 1,000 respondents was conducted by telephone between May 6 and June 6, 2004. The sampling error is plus-or-minus 3 percent.
Copies of all of the annual State of the First Amendment surveys, along with commentaries and analysis, are available on the Web. Printed copies of the survey can be obtained from the First Amendment Center, with a written request to: "2004 State of the First Amendment," First Amendment Center, 1207 18th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212.
The First Amendment Center works to preserve and protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free- expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, the right to assemble and petition the government. The First Amendment Center, with offices at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and Arlington, Va., is an operating program of the Freedom Forum and is associated with the Newseum.
American Journalism Review
is a national magazine that covers all aspects of print, television,
radio and online media. The magazine, which is published six
times a year, examines how the media cover specific stories and
broader coverage trends. AJR analyzes ethical dilemmas in the
field and monitors the impact of technology on how journalism
is practiced and on the final product. The magazine is owned
by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University
Source of News Release: