DANISH CARTOON CONTROVERSY
CUTS BY GENDER AND RACE
Republican / Democratic Dialog
Nine of 10 New Jerseyans have heard something about the worldwide flap over the publication in Denmark and elsewhere of cartoons insulting Islam and the prophet Mohammed. But less than a third (29%) have actually seen any of the cartoons, according to the most recent results of Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Poll.
Though the cartoon controversy has had political effects around the world and provoked political questions about the boundaries of free speech, the reaction in New Jersey breaks more along gender and racial lines than by party or ideological lines. Men are more likely than women (37%-23%) to have seen any of the controversial cartoons and men are more likely to have read or heard a great deal about the controversy (59%-44%).
New Jerseyans are split on the question of whether American television and newspapers should show the cartoons to the public: 45% say they should and 47% say they should not while just 8% are undecided. But a majority of men (56%) say television and newspapers should show or print the cartoons while a majority of women (55%) say they should not. "Women are more likely than men to be empathetic to the plight of others, and to do the 'nice' thing," said Irene Thomson, Professor of Sociology at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and author of the book In Conflict No Longer: Self and Society in Contemporary America (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000).
Republicans are somewhat more likely than Democrats (49-40%) to say that the cartoons should be shown but the more pronounced split is along racial lines. White voters split evenly (47%-46%) on whether the cartoons should be shown but a majority of non-white voters (55%), including black and Hispanic voters, say the cartoons should not be shown. But should government protect minority religious groups from this kind of attack? What about minority racial groups?
Three-quarters of voters (74%) say the government need not regulate television and newspapers to ensure they don't run stories and pictures that are insulting or hurtful to religious groups--and four of five (79%) white voters agree. However, only about half of minority voters agree with that view, and two in five say televisions and newspapers need that regulation. Two in five young voters, 18 to 34 years of age, also say the government should step in.
Similarly, a large majority (69%) of all voters say the government should not regulate TV and newspapers to keep them from running stories or pictures that insult or are harmful to racial minorities. But only half of non-white voters agree with that view, and two in five say that television and newspapers do need such government regulation. “Minority groups are more likely to see the issue as one of protecting minority rights rather than one of freedom of the press,” said Thomson. “Women, non-whites, and young people are more sympathetic with the plight of racial and religious minorities, and more likely to want government to prevent offensive materials from making matters worse.”
The PublicMind poll of 601 randomly selected registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from February 27 through March 6 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
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Copyright © 2006, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 060313]