Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Stephen Turner, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Hugh LaFollette, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Colin Heydt, Ph.D.


critical race theory, First Amendment, censorship, liberty, offense, university


In this essay I explore efforts at regulating race-related speech on publicly funded colleges and universities. In the first section, I present the scope of the current debate about the topic: what speech is, contexts in which it is found, etc. In the second section, I present the case for unrestricted speech on campuses for the advancement of knowledge and social progress. The third section addresses standard problem cases for free speech like the non-scientific nature of racist epithets, existential threats to the university, and involuntary exposure to racist speech. The fourth section explores arguments for regulating speech coming from critical race theorists and those who question the cultural narrative surrounding speech these days. In the fifth section, I lay bare the irreconcilable incompatibilities of free speech proponents and advocates of speech restrictions in several areas. The conclusion points the way forward toward by calling attention to the lingering questions about the values of knowledge and social progress.