What does free speech mean to you?

Megan Tran, Faith DuFresne, and Thasin Kamal

Nationwide, citizens and lawmakers alike grapple with the implications of limiting free speech. From the controversy surrounding Twitter’s new guidelines under Elon Musk’s ownership to the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, many argue that unfiltered speech is dangerous and often leads to violence. 

Freedom of expression is an undeniably difficult and complicated issue. On college campuses, students and faculty often grapple with what kinds of rhetoric are acceptable. While some argue that certain viewpoints are harmful and must be prohibited, others believe that this is a slippery slope to censorship. 

In this forum project:

Gina Masullo, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and associate director of the Center for Media Engagement, believes that while freedom of speech is an integral part of being an American, it doesn’t come without consequences. 

Carter Moxley, a government and corporate communication junior, argues that diversity of viewpoints and political perspectives at UT will create a healthy and beneficial on-campus dialogue.

James Sam, a philosophy junior, contends that context is crucial when deciding whether it is appropriate to censor certain speech and content. 

While you look through the perspectives of our contributors, we ask you to consider the following questions: 

Are there any inherently harmful forms of speech?

Should freedom of speech be an absolute, protected freedom? If not, what forms of expression should be limited? 

Is freedom of speech in jeopardy? 

When professors only teach certain ideologies or perspectives, is that detrimental to students’ learning? 

Do colleges have a unique duty to either protect or limit views that students express on their campuses? 

The forum team consists of forum editors Faith DuFresne, Thasin Kamal and editor-in-chief Megan Tran. As always, if you have any thoughts on this topic or any other, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].