August Beginner's Tourney R1: Prophett and OpinionPersom121
August Beginner's Tournament
TheProphett vs. Persom121
Topic: Resolved: When in conflict, an individual's freedom of speech should be valued above a community's moral standards.
First of all, I would like to thank the organizer of the tournament, 1harderthanyouthink, for allowing myself and my opponent to be included in this debate. I am sure we will both get tons of experience out of it. Secondly, I would like to wish my opponent good luck, and may the best debater win. Without further ado, I present the structure of the debate, the rules, and the definitions that we will have to abide by.
Thanks to my opponent for the debate. I will present my opening case.
For the second time, I would like to thank my opponent for taking on this debate. Now I will present my first argument.
Our debate is about the importance of an individual's freedom of speech over a community's moral standards. Moral standards are standards that the majority of the community believes should be enforced. Such as, "Murder is wrong," or, "Stealing is illegal." These standards are designed to make sure the community is safe and functional for all people residing in it. But what happens when the standards don't apply to everyone?
Legislators in the government years ago had racist and discriminatory opinions. They created moral standards, in the form of laws that made it permitted for African Americans to be made slaves, treated as non-humans, and permitted discrimination. Moral standards failed when human rights were ignored. They are controlled by a majority of the plurality that may or may not have discriminatory opinions. The receiving end of these unjust standards needs to have a way of expressing their struggle and pushing for change. That way is freedom of speech.
Argument 1: Violence
If people are ignored while using free speech to protest, they will resort to violent measures because they feel like they have no other outlet to vent their emotions and opinions. The Black Panther Group (1) started out as African Americans who wanted to speak out against unjust rights and racial discrimination. When they were ignored over the moral standards of that era, they resorted to violent measures, because that was the only way they could be heard. As the claim stated, they were unable to get anywhere with their own right of speech, and descended into violence. See the later Uighur example as well. If people feel like they cannot bring about change peacefully using free speech, they will be more likely to see violence as the best option to effect change.
In fact, countries with higher rates of press freedom (2) tend to have less political violence (3). This supports the logical point that free speech reduces the need for political violence.
Argument 2: The Marketplace of Ideas
The widely used theory, "The Marketplace of Ideas," is of great relevance in regard to this topic. Professor Robert G. Larson states that, "[T]he marketplace of ideas theory holds that unencumbered free speech is a public good because it enables members of society to evaluate and compare their ideas, beliefs and assumptions. In doing so, they are able to exchange incorrect or unsound notions for better ones...[G]overnment prohibition of the dissemination of or access to information...'undermine[s] the effectiveness of a 'more speech' solution.' Without sufficient access to and the ability to share relevant information [or opinions], some speakers will be unable to participate in the marketplace." (4) Based upon this theory, using freedom of speech to allow the flow of ideas opens the door to create new moral standards and improve on the existing ones. For instance, the recently abolished anti-gay marriage law was a bad moral standard that the community (our country) had chosen to approve and uphold. Free speech brought about awareness to the issue and helped change this flawed standard. While there are many moral standards that are perfectly fine, freedom of speech is necessary to challenge old and flawed ideas and make way for change.
Steven Pinker summarizes this point nicely when he writes: "Perhaps the greatest discovery in human history...is that our traditional sources of belief are in fact generators of error and should be dismissed as grounds for knowledge. These include faith, revelation, dogma, authority, charisma, augury, prophesy, intuition, clairvoyance, conventional wisdom, and subjective certainty. How, then, can we know? We come up with ideas about the nature of reality, and test them against that reality, allowing the world to falsify the mistaken ones...We offer these conjectures without any prior assurance they are correct. It is only by bruiting ideas and seeing which ones withstand attempts to refute them that we acquire knowledge." (5)
Argument 3: Minority Rights
Minorities groups also need to utilize freedom of speech because they are more vulnerable to majority oppression. Groups such as the LGBT community in the United States and the independence advocates China are widely oppressed by majorities. In China's western Xinjiang region, in the city of Urumqi, there have been several demonstrations by the Uighurs suppressed by the Chinese Police (3). The reason the Uighurs have resorted to rioting is because they do not have an outlet for their struggle. If minority groups cannot express themselves through free speech, they will resort to violence to make their voice heard. Governments always have obligations to all people under their jurisdiction, and also allowing moral standards to take away rights from a certain minority group is no different than taking away Universal Human Rights. Article 1 of the UDHR states that, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." (6)
Argument 4: Psychological Wellbeing
Freedom of speech is necessary for people to fulfill themselves and express their opinions and emotions. Professor Robert G. Larson (4) states that, "In order to maximize the benefit of the relationship for the both society and the individual, the individual requires a right to access knowledge, so as to form ideas and opinions...Apart from the value of free speech to society, the self-fulfillment theory also views freedom of expression as a purely individual right. Because human beings have an innate capacity for abstract thought, reasoning and imagination, the sharing of those internal thoughts and emotions with others--who are able to understand them--is an intrinsic and necessary part of humanity...'For expression is an integral part of the development of ideas, of mental exploration and of the affirmation of self. The power to realize his potentiality as a human being begins at this point and must extend at least this far if the whole nature of man is not to be thwarted.'...'[A]ny time a person engages in chosen, meaningful conduct, whether public or private, the conduct usually expresses and further defines the actor's identity and contributes to his or her self-realization...'To engage voluntarily in a speech act is to engage in self-definition or expression'." (4) Without being able to fully utilize freedom of speech, individuals can be psychologically burdened and have a feeling that they have not fulfilled themselves. Free speech is good because, in their minds, it gives people a sense of self-fulfillment.
As you see above, freedom of speech is useful in many circumstances. Not only can it shed light on immoral standards, but it can also create new standards, help minority groups escape majority oppression, eliminate slavery and racial discrimination to a lesser extent, and help people express their ideas. Moral standards have many flaws. Because they have flaws, people need a way to change, discuss, and ultimately reform them. That way is free speech.
Lastly, I would like to thank my opponent and the judges. Thank you for taking your time to engage in this debate with me, and good luck to you. Please Vote Pro!
4) Robert G. Larson, Professor of Journalism, U. Minnesota, 2013, "Forgetting the First Amendment: How Obscurity-Based Privacy and a Right to be Forgotten are Incompatible with Free Speech," Communication Law and Policy, 18 (1), 91-120
OpinionPersom121 forfeited this round.
Due to the forfeiture of my opponent, I extend all arguments from the first round. Opponent, if you are busy and do not think you can get around to making an argument, simply say so. Thank you!
OpinionPersom121 forfeited this round.
OpinionPersom121 forfeited this round.