Campus Hate Speech on Trial

Second Edition, Revised

Timothy C. Shiell

Ten years after publication of the first edition of Timothy Shiell's pathbreaking study, restrictions on faculty and student speech on college campuses continue to be hotly contested in the mainstream media, on the internet, in the journals of academic disciplines, in courtrooms, classrooms, and chatrooms. This revised edition adds substantial new material that updates cases and conflicts during the past decade, expands the original's coverage of the relevant literature, and dramatically reinforces Shiell's original argument.

In the first edition Shiell noted that, despite commitments to free speech and the open exchange of ideas, American colleges and universities had increasingly ignored such principles by implementing numerous hate speech codes designed to protect students from racial, sexual, and other forms of harassment. Taking their cue from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which guarantees the right to a non-hostile workplace environment, those regulations had posed seemingly unresolvable conflicts between the ideals of free speech and equal protection.

“An accessible book that synthesizes the vast literature on this topic. . . . A model of clarity and fairness, it is an extremely valuable book for anyone interested in a balanced treatment of the background of campus speech codes, the experience under them, and the difficult issues they pose.”

Journal of American History

“A well-written work [and] required reading for anyone interested in the debate.”

Library Journal
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Shiell explored both sides of the fiery debate over campus hate speech codes to bring out their philosophical and legal underpinnings, clarifying classic free speech arguments as well as the ideas of harm and hostile environment, and analyzing numerous case histories. Pointing out that Title VII wasn't meant to apply to academia, Shiell also encouraged readers to consider the role of the courts in eliminating prejudice in this setting and presented a strong argument for the form the codes themselves should ideally take.

The new edition adds substantial new material on developments concerning the Deterrence Argument, the hostile environment approach, new judicial decisions, and the International Argument. It also updates the comprehensive bibliography and list of legal decisions, significantly increasing the value of both for scholars and policymakers alike.

Shiell eloquently makes the case that campus speech codes—no matter how well grounded in history, law, or philosophy—have tended to be overbroad, arbitrarily enforced, and used selectively to protect only certain groups at the expense of others. For that reason especially, his book will continue to challenge academics and general readers to reconsider how we deal with this important issue.

About the Author

Timothy C. Shiell is professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and editor of the volume Legal Philosophy: Selected Readings.