A surprisingly high number of American millennials - 40 percent - believe that the government should be able to prohibit people from saying things that are offensive to minority groups, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.
American millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 "are far more likely than older generations to say the government should be able to prevent people from saying offensive statements about minority groups," Pew said.
While four in 10 millennials said that the government should be able to prevent people from publicly making statements deemed offensive by minorities, 58 percent said that the government should not have the power to limit offensive speech.
Pew called the results "striking," considering "that only around a quarter of Gen Xers (27%) and Boomers (24%) and roughly one-in-ten Silents (12%) say the government should be able to prevent such speech."
When broken down by political ideology, Democrats were almost twice as likely to favor limiting free speech when compared with Republicans. Thirty-five percent of Democrats supported limitations, compared to only 18 percent of Republicans. Among independents, 27 percent supported the same.
The racial divide was also quite apparent, with non-whites more likely to support government censorship of offensive speech than non-Hispanic whites, 38 percent compared to 23 percent.
Education came in to play, too. Compared to people with a high school diploma or less, college-educated Americans were about nine percentage points more likely to believe that the government should not be allowed to limit free speech.
However, Pew noted that compared with people in other countries who were asked the same question, "Americans as a whole are less likely to favor the government being able to prevent speech of any kind."
Overall, only 28 percent of Americans said that the government should be allowed to limit speech, while 67 percent said that people should be allowed to say offensive things about minorities in public.
In the other 38 nations polls by Pew, a median of only 35 percent said that people should be able to say whatever they want about minorities.
American attitudes towards free speech were more favorable than European views, with the exception of Germany, where there are clear laws against hate speech, Pew said. Seventy percent of the German public said that the government should not be able to prevent people from saying offensive things to minorities.
German and Spanish millennials were less censorious than their American counterparts, while young people in Britain held similar views as Americans.
As Pew notes, free speech has become a hot topic of debate around the world lately - from U.S. college students debating racial issues to concerns about free speech in regards to refugees in Europe, especially after terrorist attacks in Paris last week.
This week, Dutch police seized a popular Facebook page that featured extensive discussions about refugee issues and the arrival of asylum seekers.
And in September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was overheard on a hot mic telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel that his website was working to censor posts that were critical of immigrants seeking refugee in Europe from the Syrian civil war, as HNGN previously reported.