Teaching in university education programmes, can, at times, involve the uncomfortable situation of discriminatory speech. A situation that has often occurred in our own teaching, and in those of our colleagues, is the citation of homophobic and heterosexist comments. These are comments that are more likely to occur in foundation subjects such as philosophy and sociology of education. The occurrence of such situations has prompted debate regarding ‘silencing words that wound’. This has prompted the question, ‘should we keep students from stating such discriminatory speech?’ Our article takes up this issue, and considers it from the perspective of the importance of critique. Working with Foucault's What is Critique? together with his discussion of subjectivation in the 1981–82 lectures at the Collège de France, we set out to make the case for the significance of the relationship between truth and critique. This leads us to a position where we ask the question, if we silence, what do we risk doing to critique?