There are several questions regarding speech which which have huge sample sizes in the GSS:
SPKRAC (Allow Racist to Speak), SPKHOMO (Allow Homosexual to Speak), SPKCOM (Allow Communist to Speak) and SPKATH (Allow Anti-Religionist to Speak) all have sample sizes of 53,000. This means that one can look for trends at a relatively granular scale. I decided to check how people lined up as a function of Age, belief in God, political views and intelligence (vocabulary). Lots of charts below.
1) Age goes from 18-89, left to right.
2) God goes from (left to right) atheist, to agnostic, to higher power, to some belief, to mostly belief and some doubt and finally those who know god exists.
3) Politics goes from extremely liberal on the left to extremely conservative on the right (with liberal, slightly liberal, moderate, slightly conservative and conservative in the middle).
4) Vocabulary scores go from 0 out of 10 on the left to 10 out of 10 on the right. Dumb to smart.
1) The young support free speech more robustly than the old…but, the very young are waning in their support for free speech compared to the older genration. The strength of the second trend varies by question; Gen Y is far less absolutist on free speech for racists than Gen X than on the other questions.
2) There’s a pretty clear monotonic relationship between stupidity and support for censorship. I won’t bother to report the data by degree attainment because it’s what you’d expect.
3) It looks like extremism in position might have some relationship for intolerance of socially marginalized stances. Look at peaks in support for free speech among the agnostic. Remember that the sample sizes here are large, so the small but consistent difference between atheists & agnostics are likely real and perhaps reflect the difference in mental outlook between the two groups. Additionally, there is little gain in support as one becomes more liberal.
4) Political moderates are relatively stupid. I suspect that explains some of their aversion to offensive speech…but even when I filter for intelligence it looks like moderates have an inordinate aversion to absolutist free speech. I guess one can chalk that up to the fact that as moderates they’re averse to extremism in general. The political charts exhibit an interesting dynamic, as moderation, extremism and Left-Right variables are all at work.