Defining Free Speech

What is free speech? While it may seem self-evident, many people have differing definitions of what constitutes protected or unprotected speech. In this section, you can find clear definitions of what qualifies as protected speech, unprotected speech, hate speech, and freedom of speech in regard to controversial speakers.

Protected Speech

The First Amendment protects the exercise of free speech in ways that can make us uncomfortable.

Unprotected Speech

Certain limited categories of speech do not receive First Amendment protection. 

Controversial Speakers

One of the great strengths of USC is that we are a place where interesting and sometimes provocative speakers representing a diverse range of talents, expertise, and viewpoints want to come and engage with our community.