Can We Still Talk Things Out?: A Case Study of Campus Hate Speech Regulations at the University of Texas
20 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2017
Date Written: April 19, 2017
Hate in the United States is on the rise. Or at least, it persists without indication of subsiding. The Southern Poverty Law Center found that the “number of hate groups operating in the country in 2016 remained at near-historic highs”—nearly a thousand. Since 2015, the number of anti-Muslim hate groups has doubled. The meme “Pepe the Frog” became a common racist and anti-Semitic symbol in the last year, with captions like “kill Jews, man.”
In February 2017, students at the University of Texas at Austin woke up to find hate-filled fliers on campus. These fliers expressed anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments. Some fliers read: “Imagine a Muslim-Free America.” And others read: “A Notice to All Citizens of the United States of America[:] It is your civic duty to report any and all illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement[;] they have broken the law.” Soon after the discovery of the fliers, the University attributed the hate speech to a group called American Vanguard, which is unaffiliated with the University of Texas.
In response, the University of Texas implemented two policies. In Part I of this article, I explain the recent hate speech incidents at the University of Texas and the University’s response. In Part II, I assess the constitutional issues in the University’s responses, and I identify a potential future difficulty that the University may have to face. Then, in Part III, I address what else might be done without stifling speech.
Keywords: hate speech, campus speech, college speech, free speech, college, campus
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation