Violence / Threats

Professors fearing for their lives as they receive death threats. Shattered storefronts in Washington, D.C., blocks away from a presidential inauguration. Bedlam in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a self-avowed neo-Nazi drives into a crowd of counterprotesters. The link between violence or threats thereof and Free Speech only seems to be getting closer in the United States, and it seems to defy all reason that these incidents continue to occur when the highest court has historically held that speech that incites or directly leads to violence can be restricted.

Reflection Questions

  1. Do the last 100 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence provide adequate guidance in distinguishing between annoying speech and dangerous speech?
  2. Is it easy to imagine circumstances in which one person’s assertion of principle or belief is perceived by another as a threat?
  3. Can words do harm, or only credible threats of physical violence?


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