First Amendment Studies

The University of Texas at Austin

2022 Freedom of Speech Essay Contest


Submission Deadline – February 28, 2022



  • First Prize - $1500
  • Second Prize - $1000
  • Third Prize - $700


  • All undergraduate students at The University of Texas at Austin, regardless of their area of study.
  • Students who may have participated in previous years’ versions of this contest are eligible, regardless of whether they won a prize.


  • Essays must be between 1600-2000 words in length.
  • Essays must be original, unpublished work of one student; only one essay per student may be submitted.
  • Essays must identify which question (of the two options) you are answering and must be typed in 12-point font in English, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins and numbered pages.
  • Submissions will be judged anonymously. Identifying information is requested on the accompanying Entry Form (see below), but no identifying references, such as your name or professors’ names, should appear in your essay.

Choose between the following 2 topics

Misinformation – Should the Government Allow It?:

Misinformation can be deadly. Should legal restrictions be used to silence it? Under what conditions would restricting the expression of falsehoods violate individuals’ rights to freedom of speech and under what conditions would it not?

Speech that Offends – Why Protect It?:

Jonathan Rauch has written (in his book Kindly Inquisitors, pp. 126 and 124) that “A no-offense society is a no-knowledge society” and that “Practically all knowledge of any importance began as a statement which offended someone.” Do you agree? What are the implications of this view for the propriety of legal restrictions on speech that some people find offensive?



  • Entries must be submitted electronically as WORD documents, in attachments to email sent to: Roxy Becker at 

Caution: no formats other than WORD; no attachments to texts, etc.

  • Also attach a completed and signed Entry Form.
  • Emails must be sent by midnight on Monday February 28, 2022.

NB: Entries that do not comply with all the above rules will be excluded.

Questions? Contact Roxy Becker at


Congratulations to the 2021 Winners!!!

Mary Orms

Gabriella Cate

Nicolas Savignon


A Sampling of Prize Winning Essays

2019 Essay


2018 Essay 


2017 Essay 



Sponsored by the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and the Department of Philosophy