Artistic Expression

A pro-Trump mural vandalized with the slogan “stop white supremacy.” A television reboot canceled after a racist remark from its star comedienne. A painter denied a venue after previous sex offenses came to light. University productions of vintage theater works canceled because of language that now seems insensitive. Artists are traditionally seen as having broad creative freedom to express themselves, yet the national climate and divisions along lines of identity have demonstrated just how political art can be. These cases underline that no art form — from theater to sculpture to music — is free from society’s battles about speech.

Reflection Questions

  1. Are the arts a testing ground for the ongoing struggles over Free Speech in the United States? Do they tend to foster greater freedom or invite restrictions?
  2. Does a time of political and cultural tension tend to promote greater or lesser artistic freedom?
  3. Can we count on U.S. educational institutions to support and sustain creativity, or have many of them yielded to darker impulses and pressures and failed to defend artistic expression?



The entries on the Free Speech Tracker can be classified into many themes, including the 12 listed below; most entries relate to several different themes. Click on a box to bring up a list of entries related to that theme, or select two or more to narrow the list down. You may also click or unclick the categories below this box to make the lists specific to Education, Civil Society, Government, or any combination of the three.



Tracker Entries