Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

Number of Pages



Nevada's legal brothels offer a unique opportunity to study the problem of defining commercial speech. Although state law forbids advertisements of houses of prostitution in counties where brothels themselves are against law, brothel messages are abundant in Clark County, where any form of prostitution is illegal. The publishers of these messages claim they are constitutionally protected editorial speech rather than advertisements which enjoy little or no First Amendment protection, thus confounding the efforts of prosecutors who say they would otherwise move to remove such messages from public display; The thesis examines the development of the U.S. Supreme Court's commercial speech doctrine and those definitions of commercial speech which have been suggested by jurists and scholars. The limitations of these definitions are illustrated by applying them to the Nevada brothel messages; Finally, a heuristic definition of commercial speech, based on the Masses standard currently used in adjudicating sedition cases is suggested. The position is taken that the line between commercial and non-commercial speech is the line between abstract economic discussion and incitement to a specific economic transaction. The strengths and weaknesses of the proposed definition are also illustrated by applying it to the brothel messages.


Brothels; Commercial; Definition; Heuristic; Ideas; Marketplace; Speech; Toward

Controlled Subject

Mass media

File Format


File Size

4853.76 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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