Short Talks: 'Don't Say Gay' and the Polarizing Effect of Speech Narcissism

Danielle Weatherby
University Relations

Danielle Weatherby

In this month's Short Talks from the Hill, Danielle Weatherby, professor of law, spotlights issues that Americans are struggling with right now.

Can we express opposing viewpoints without attacking each other or threatening the First Amendment? Can parents gain more control over the education and upbringing of their children without marginalizing some students and muzzling classroom teachers?

Weatherby addresses these questions and offers commentary on what college professors can do to excel as teachers and serve their students during times of political and cultural polarization.

This gap, which probably isn't as wide as it seems, has created problems in the marketplace of ideas, including the American classroom, Weatherby says. One problem is so-called "speech narcissism."

"Speech narcissism is a term that characterizes what I perceive to still be a serious American problem and one of the reasons why we as a country are as polarized as we seem to be today and often find ourselves at an impasse on matters of public policy," Weatherby says in the podcast. "What I mean in the research is that the narcissism reflects the sort of egotism or fixation with one's own worldview and life experiences that makes us essentially unable to listen to opposition viewpoints. Instead of being open to different perspectives, speech narcissism is causing us to vilify individuals who express opposing viewpoints, leading essentially to a chilling effect in discourse and a breakdown in communication and in the exchange of ideas."

Weatherby's research focuses on the intersection of religious exercise and public accommodation laws and First Amendment jurisprudence and its impact on student speech, education law and legal protections for transgender individuals.

To listen to her discuss these issues, click the link above or go to Arkansas Research, the home of research and economic development news at the University of Arkansas.

Short Talks from the Hill highlights research, scholarly work and economic development news. Previous podcasts can be found at the link above or by visiting

Thank you for listening!


Jennifer Holland, director of content marketing
University Relations


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