Hayes said... the local political climate for individuals may be more important than the national climate. Self-censors probably are more concerned about how their opinions will be viewed by their immediate friends, neighbors and co-workers
For these shy people the first ammendment is already half dead. By citing the rancorous incivility that increasingly characterizes political speech, the research makes me wonder if a larger than ever before and a growing segment sit out the game, as if determining our nation's leadership had become a spectator sport only played by mean, overendowed professionals. The lack of particpation in political debate on the part of individuals impoverishes the election results even if this silenced minority does vote. Nominally, we are citizens by merely having been born here. But the laws affect every one. I don't grant the title "citizen" to any who have not worked to affect the laws through the democratic channels of vote and free speech. "Citizen" is a rank above any office but only if one does the work of citizenship. If you vote like cattle, you get a cowboy for president.
Note: According to the top US law enforcement official, A. Gonzales, doing the job he was appointed by the president to do, the laws do not apply to the president. The congress has put up with this state of affairs. That really ought to get you off your butts to do something about this congress.