The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
20 Points

Censorship is irrational

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/16/2015 Category: Society
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 685 times Debate No: 71754
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (5)




Clarification: The censorship referred to here is not about government censorship of citizens speech, a popular topic recently, nor an other types of opinionated information filtering. This is not a debate about the freedom of speech. I apologize if the title misled.

1) First round for acceptance.
2) Format being introduction, rebuttal and conclusion (no new points).
3) Profession maintained at all times (no trolling, carelessly crude spelling/grammar, etc.)
Violation of rules results in 7-point victory for the other side.
The character limit is set at max but debater is advised to keep points concise.
BoP is shared.

The debate is about the act of censoring, verbally or visually, of "inappropriate content". By inappropriate content I mean two main categories of such "content" - sexual and rude. I will not go into the other potential definitions of inappropriate content by others such as comments of racism and feminism, since that is going into another debate entirely.

By sexual content I refer to videos and pictures of people with exposed private parts.
By rude content I refer to words such as f**k, b***h, c**p or s**t being either written or said.

I look forward to the debate with my opponent.


I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for accepting the debate.

Since I separated the topic into two categories, I will give separate arguments for each one.

I would also like to further clarify on the rules of the debate. The two different topics, rude language and nudity, are chosen together because of their tendency to get censored in the same manner which Pro is arguing against, and of their interrelatedness - many profanity includes references to private parts, and the two actions are often grouped together by society as behaviors exhibited by vulgar people and assumed that one often implies the other. Since BoP is shared, victory is immediately achieved if Pro or Con is considered to have won the debate for both points. In the case that each side is seen as having won one point, then the voter may have the options to simply not vote, put in a neutral vote or vote based on conduct and other factors as they see fit.

Rude Language Censoring

I will first argue that the concept of profanities itself is irrational. Swearing is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary to be "to use profane or obscene language" [1], profanity itself being defined by the same source as "offensive language" [2]. However, the concept of "offensive" is very subjective - no two people contain the exact same standards. So why is it that "dumba**" is considered a swear word while "moron" and "imbecile" is not? Why is it that "bulls**t" is considered a swear word while "nonsense" and "rubbish" is not? Why is it that "ni**er" is considered a swear word while "white trash" is not?
Indeed, most profanities do not even mean anything offensive originally. A** meant donkey in the beginning, and has evolved to also carry the meaning of one"s posterior, but neither are offensive. So are words like f**k and s**t. Indeed, profanities has became a mere medium of expressing extreme anger/insult, or a means of showing exclamation, neither with any regards to the actual meaning of the word. This also shows the immaturity of our society - the majority, if not all of the profanities refer to private body parts, the act of sexual intercourse, or excretes, all subjects that mature individuals will not react upon but of which a group of elementary students will readily react with repulsion or amusement (to understand better, visualize a group of surgeons discussing a patient"s injuries to his posterior area, and all that are present immediately shy away, become embarrassed, offended, or burst in laughter).
Thus the act of censoring profanities is rather irrational. Blocking out the word in question does not achieve anything, as the mere beep/moment of silence or asterisks (depending on the method of censoring) will indicate that the person has intended insult (with certain asterisk censoring such as the type I am using it is even possible to determine the actual word), and if that is not enough the specific meaning can be gathered through context. This makes the censorship of those words rather obsolete.
Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, profanities also carry the function of showing exclamation, in which case it makes even less sense to censor them. Being words spoken in surprise or frustration, their meaning are little more than other words such as "oh", "ouch", "hey", or "agh". There is no reason to censor words that carry the equal meaning of a verbal exclamation mark and directed at no one. (unless it is words such as "Jesus!" or "Hell!" in which case it would still be offensive to certain religious people, but that reaches into the realm of another debate concerning whether discriminating or offensive comments against groups such as females, blacks, and religious communities should be censored which we will not go into)
An alternative, less desirable but still acceptable rational action is to simply censor all words carrying similar offensive meanings, regardless of whether they are "idiot" or "d**khead". This shows equality of treatment between "swear words" and "non-swear words" over meaning rather than spelling.
Language is devised so that we can convey meanings to one another. One does not need any tools to form an idea, only to communicate it, and language is that tool. If that is so, then, why are words with the same meaning being treated differently? Are we still using language (or at least, the English language) to communicate effectively? Or, maybe, we have become instead limited by the constraints language puts on us.
I thus conclude that the censoring of profanities is irrational.

Nudity Censoring

I will first argue that the concept of shame or inappropriateness for private body parts is irrational. Private parts is defined by the same Merriam-Webster dictionary as above to be "the external genital and excretory organs" [3]. The concept of profanities and nudity both have religious background as being religiously offensive, but swear words have since evolved beyond being merely religious (and the religiously offensive portions of it has been deemed for another debate - but let it be known that if it is considered, it would be regarded as equally having no need for censorship based on the same arguments above), and I see no point in hiding private parts behind clothing beyond religious contexts. There is no practical reason for hiding nudity - several possible reasons is that it is for protecting children, it is for preventing sexual offense/behavior becoming more common, and offensiveness (I trust that Con will provide more points like such, but as my main justification for censoring nudity being irrational is that there is no reason to do so, I shall refute some possible arguments that I can fathom first). Yet none of those "reasons" are justified. They will be prebutted in turn.
Children already understood one half of the world"s existing sexual organs, and do not know enough to commit sexual behavior intentionally (this is not suggesting that every children should go outside nude - if only to prevent children accidentally committing sex, or for warmth which are valid reasons for clothing but not incessant censoring). Teenagers will have already learned of private body parts of both sexes and have enough responsibility/knowledge to make their own decisions regardless of nudity.
No matter the nudity status, sexual offenses are unacceptable and punishable, thus there should be no cause for its increase if nudity is allowed. Furthermore it is understood that lust is a part of human nature, however little or abounding depending on the individual, and those who decide on nudity will need to understand and accept the consequences.
Nudity will only offend certain people. Mostly being religious people due to the origin of shame for nudity, and since it is not directed at them, there is no reason to justify it being offensive enough to prompt worldwide hiding/censoring for certain groups. As an example, Hindus consider cows to be holy and do not eat beef, yet that does not mean the world will need to stop eating beef in order to avoid offending them. Nudity is also considered offensive simply because they are repulsing organs. The penis and vagina is for sexual intercourse purposes, and the posterior is for excretion purposes, which may be considered repulsing. Yet again this shows immature behavior as stated above - sex is a natural process and a sexual intercourse occurred for every living human being, many instances of rape and sexual abuse happen but the hand is not similarly repulsed just because it is the body part used to commit other types of physical abuse; the eye, the nose and the ear also similarly excrete body waste but aren"t treated with the same disgust; and the female breasts do not even contain any cause for repulsion at all (again showing the immaturity of our society - the only "widely accepted must-hide" part of the breast is the nipple, and it does not carry any offensive, suggestive, or embarrassing function, only to nourish the children that the mother bears - by the same logic, should belly buttons/uteruses be censored as well, since that"s the place mothers give babies nourishment from their body before they are born?)
Having argued that the concept of shame or inappropriateness for private body parts is irrational, it is a natural corollary that the censoring of them are irrational as well.
I thus conclude that the censoring of private body parts is irrational.

Thank Con again for accepting. I look forward to his rebuttal, and to learn from a senior member of DDO.



What I must do

To win this debate I must prove that some form of censorship is not irrational. Although censorship of cusswords is silly, I will argue some nudity censorship makes sense. I needn’t even rebut my opponent’s case but merely provide an argument that some pornography should be prohibited. My opponent’s arguments against this are that children already know what sex organs look like and that it doesn’t make sense to prohibit people from seeing human nature. Note that censorship does not necessarily entail a ban, but a restriction. All I have to do is prove that some type of pornography is wrong and should be partially censored—to children, or in general (e.g. have to call your ISP to get porn. UK did this).

C1) Child pornography should be censored

Child pornography is nude content—exactly what we are debating. I am arguing that censorship should remain in place for child porn and is not irrational.

a) Children cannot consent

This is pretty self-explanatory. Even if you think a 13, 14, 15, 15, or 17 year old can consent—can an 8 year old? Honestly it seems odd to assume a 13 or 14 year old can rationally consent for sexual activity. Pornography like this, although censored, still exists—and for good reason. There is, at some point, an age where a child cannot consent. Children who are young should not be exploited.

b) Child porn = likelihood of rape

Unless my opponent wishes to contest this, child porn in and of itself often includes molestation or rape. But people who watch child porn may become desensitized to the idea and eventually act upon those urges. Child porn should be censored if nothing else to reduce child rape-rates.

It is pretty obvious that child nudity should be censored—thus, censorship is not irrational.

C2) Pornography should be censored

a) Pornography increases the rape rate and abuse rate

A meta-analysis of all of the studies finds that pornography consumption increases violence rates.

“[T]he current results showed an overall significant positive association between pornography use and attitudes supporting violence against women in nonexperimental studies. In addition, such attitudes were found to correlate significantly higher with the use of sexually violent pornography than with the use of nonviolent pornography, although the latter relationship was also found to be significant.” [1.]

Another study found that women of women has found that violence against women is higher in the group which indulges pornography compared to those who do not.

“[T]he partners of the battered women read or viewed significantly greater amounts of pornographic materials than did the partners of the comparison group. In addition, 39% of the battered women (in contrast to 3% of the comparison group) responded in the affirmative to the question, "Has your partner ever upset you by trying to get you to do what he'd seen in pornographic pictures, movies, or books?" It was also found that battered women experienced significantly more sexual aggression at the hands of their partners than did the women in the comparison group.” [2.]

b) Pornography harms the actors

Although more porn actors are not victims of human trafficking many of those who are trafficked are forced to do pornographic scenes. “Many traffickers are found with filming equipment and cameras to create and sell pornography.” [3.]

Of 200 prostitutes surveyed, a quarter of them say abuse they have encountered has been related to pornography through accounts of the man making references to pornography. Other studies expand upon this conclusion, “a number of studies using representative samples of men have found a link between pornography consumption and higher levels of sexual aggression on the part of men. … after viewing pornographic images, men looked at women more as objects than as humans.” [3]

c) Pornography harms the viewers

“[A] number of the men whom he treated in the mid- to late- 1990s had become so dependent upon pornographic images to become sexually aroused that they were no longer attracted enough to their wives to have intercourse with them. Moreover, research suggests that exposure to pornography decreases sexual satisfaction with one’s partner for both men and women. … chronic pornography use is associated with depression and unhappiness. … internet pornography is increasingly a feature of divorce cases.” [3]

Thus, I conclude that some censorship is not irrational. Although pornography arguable should not be prohibited, it definitely should be controlled and, especially child pornography, should be censored no matter what.

Debate Round No. 2


My opponent had made the statement that "To win this debate I must prove that some form of censorship is not irrational. ", "I needn"t even rebut my opponent"s case but merely provide an argument that some pornography should be prohibited." This is untrue. In round two I have clearly stated with my clarification of the rules that "In the case that each side is seen as having won one point, then the voter may have the options to simply not vote, put in a neutral vote or vote based on conduct and other factors as they see fit.". Which, since my opponent have already forfeited his rebuttal for my argument pertaining to profanities, means that Con cannot achieve any "win" status concerning his arguments for the debate, while I can achieve either a win or a tie for arguments depending on whether I successfully rebut my opponent"s points on the nudity portion of the debate, and even then Con only addressed the point partially. Any final win for Con will have to be the result of conduct, grammar or source votes. I also make note of the fact that my opponent accepted the debate knowing that he harbor no interest whatsoever over half of its explicitly stated contents.

Even disregarding my clarification and looking only at my introduction in round one, I have stated that Burden of Proof is shared. In the "New members read me" posts in the forums (which acts as a tutorial/rules section of sorts) it states under its "TUTORIAL - Introduction to writing a debate resolution and setting up a debate" section that "In some situations, both opponents have an equal burden of proof. What this means is that PRO must prove that the resolution is true, and CON must prove that the resolution is false. For example if PRO states "The minimum wage should be abolished" it might be CON's burden to also explain why the minimum wage should remain." [1] Notice that the given stand for Con is not "the minimum wage should remain on some counts" or that "some forms of the minimum wage should remain." With a shared BoP, Con has to argue for an opposing position, and not merely a conflicting one. For instance, in a debate with shared BoP where the Pro instigator makes the claim "God Exists", Con does not win the debate by claiming that some gods from certain religions does not exist. The debate is won by Con when they prove that no god can exist. Consider other examples of shared BoP debate topics such as "The American court is ineffective" (the American court is effective on some counts) or "Global Warming is damaging Earth" (Global Warming is not damaging some parts of Earth) - they demonstrate that partial disproof is unacceptable. This is the essence of debates, to achieve a resolution where there is a clear result over whether Pro or Con's position is correct - since if the burden of the Con side is as my opponent claims, then a large number of debates will end in Con partially proving Pro's statement wrong, resulting in no definitive end as Pro also have partial arguments that stand (and especially in this case, child pornography isn't just a partial, but a small portion of overall pornography). Thus Con will have to prove that ALL pornography should be censored, and even then only achieving a tie status.
Last, note that throughout his arguments Con has opted to address less and less of the debate's content and my standing, from forfeiting rebuttal on the irrational censorship of profanities, to arguing over partial instead of full censorship, to focusing arguments on child pornography.

I will now provide rebuttals to my opponent"s points.

Child Pornography
There is more to videos of children than porn. A child also cannot consent if their parents posted an embarrassing video of them online, such as their first stumble, bath, et cetera. Children belong to their parents and so before the consent age parents have authority over which videos of their children they post. If the poster is not the child's parent, then they violate the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which as stated later below goes into problems of legality and prohibition.
Note this is not to say child pornography isn't morally wrong, This is only to say that it is not rationally wrong.

Our society is full of such material that "may" desensitize people. Scenes of war in movies (violence) and depiction of black slaves/women in books (racism), for a start. We trust ourselves and others to contact those things to achieve further understanding of our society and not be influenced by them - though there certainly are others who break that trust. Regardless, we do not censor those things solely because a part of our population misuses it. The intent of child pornography is pleasure, but like the examples listed above may not have that effect. It may even have the opposite effect - prompting repulsion to child porn for those who are watching the videos with the actions involved. As this problem is not solely in child pornography, everything is based on speculation, and from speculation results both positive and negative are possible, this point is null.

Finally, child pornography is illegal [2], and as such is not merely censored, it is prohibited entirely, steering the topic into one of legality rather than rationality and censorship.

Actor Harm/Human Trafficking
As my opponent has said, "Although more porn actors are not victims of human trafficking many of those who are trafficked are forced to do pornographic scenes." That statement can be framed differently by being expressed in the inverse - although many of those who are trafficked are forced to do pornographic scenes, more porn actors are not victims of human trafficking. As such pornography actually benefits some of its participants by allowing them to make a living when they have little or no other talents (though I acknowledge the risk of STD in that industry, the actors participate knowing the risks), and censoring porn will benefit some while harm others. Furthermore, many porn (including and especially child porn) are distributed underground, and as such censoring porn will have more of a negative effect on the legitimate actors than on the porn traffickers.

Rape/Abuse Rate
Another meta-analysis in 2000 has found the opposite result [3]. It suggests that violence from pornography depends significantly on the type of pornography watched "... Here it was found that violent pornography resulted in significantly greater increase in attitudes supporting aggression than did nonviolent pornography ...", and violent pornography is a portion of overall pornography and more of a statement on all violent depictions (films, video games, books) than on pornography. It also suggests that we do not have a complete understanding of the effects of pornography as in some studies "... Exposure to nudity alone (9 studies) was found to reduce aggression ...". Last it concludes by "... The current findings do suggest that for the majority of American men, pornography exposure (even at the highest levels assessed here) is not associated with high levels of sexual aggression ..." and gives a hypothesis for what has been observed: "Associations between pornography consumption and aggressiveness toward women could be explained by a circular relationship between high coercive tendencies and interest in certain content in pornography, whereby aggressive men are drawn to the images in pornography that reinforce and thereby increase the likelihood of their controlling, impersonal, and hostile orientation to sexuality ... "

Decreased Sexual Desire/Attraction
A study in 2015 has, again, found the opposite result - that viewing porn may actually prompt higher sexual desire for both partner and individual sexual actions [4] - "Those who viewed VSS (visual sexual stimuli) more also reported higher desire for both partnered sexual behaviors and solo sexual behaviors." At most, this study shows that porn, contrary to popular belief and past research, contain positive effects and should definitely not be censored. At the very least, it shows that the effects of porn is not fully explored, and that it can be a double-edged sword - which does not provide sufficient reason for censoring.

I extend my arguments for the irrational censorship of profanities from the previous round, thank my opponent for an increasingly interesting debate, and eagerly await his rebuttals next round.



I thank my opponent’s response.

It is a fact that I only need to rebut either (1) nudity or (2) language. There is no reason to refute both because of the way the resolution is crafted. My opponent’s R1 explains how censorship *is* rational in regards to *both* metrics. If I can debunk only one I win the debate because the entire resolution is not upheld. “[E]ven then Con only addressed the point partially” – Indeed, that is all I must do to win. You listed two criteria where censorship is irrational. If one is debunked you lose the debate. “I also make note of the fact that my opponent accepted the debate knowing that he harbor no interest whatsoever over half of its explicitly stated contents.” – So what? If all I need to do is refute one thing, why spend energy refuting the whole thing? All I have to do is prove that censorship sometimes is rational and I win the debate. And really what I am doing is not abusive since there is some burden put upon me—to prove either child porn or normal pornography is worthy of *some* censorship.

I accept that the BOP is shared—I never said that it wasn’t. I must prove that there is some censorship which is rational and you must prove the opposite. If I provide one—just one—case of rational censorship, I win. If anything, I have increased my burden, not decreased it. All of the examples my opponent cites really do nothing to harm my case. If we were debating minimum wages, you are for them being bad. All I would have to do is prove that some minimum wages—even low ones—are good (or at least do no harm). I have done exactly done that tactic showing that there is a point where censorship is rational under a set parameter (nudity), just as I could argue for a $1 minimum wage in the other debate. For global warming I could actually argue for lower climate sensitivity, which means parts of the world will benefit and others will be harmed, weigh it, and still win. The examples prove nothing against my case except that my tactics are sufficient for a vote to go either direction based upon who wins my contentions.

C1) Child Pornography

My opponent claims, since a parent owns a child, he/she can post videos of her child doing anything. This logic is extremely weak when you realize the fact that child abuse does exist and that a child is not allowed to abuse their child physically, verbally, or sexually [1]. So we actually can rationally limit what a parent does to their child rationally based upon a utilitarian perspective: that it harms the child more than it harms for adult, or from one based upon rights: it infringes upon the rights of the child to do such things. Just as it may be rational for a parent to do this for profit it would also be rational to prohibit that behavior based upon the moral (and physical) harms it inflicts upon the child. Say I was a hitman. It would be rational for me to murder for profit, but it would also be rational to prohibit that behavior because it is destructive. My opponent’s rebuttal fails to prove that child pornography censorship is irrational—it is very rational, and the resolution is negated because of it.

My opponent seems to argue if we allow child porn it may cause people to be repulsed by the idea and cause its consumption to decline, so we need no censorship because it will fall out of favor naturally. This doesn’t even make sense. There will always be a segment of the population who indulges child porn, and legalization will increase its consumption amongst those groups. It would be like saying we do not need to ban slavery because it will fall out of favor overtime—which obviously didn’t happen because it existed 11,000 years ago and continued to be legal in the US until 1865 [2]. And I mean sure, it was banned because people saw the harms, but it took ten thousand years for it to be banned. Censoring child porn naturally (through disgust) is an inefficient way to prohibit material which harms anyone—and at least for slavery, it led to a war. Also note something being prohibited is censorship. Hitler banned books, which is a form of censorship. Censorship is merely the “suppression of speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.” [3] Banning child porn is exactly that: banning information seen as harmful as determined by different authorities. Unless my opponent is willing to argue for child porn legalization, he admits that censorship of lewd material is rational—meaning censorship can be rational, and is not fully irrational (as is entails that everything is bad, nowhere in R1 or the resolution does he say ‘on balance’).

C2) Normal Pornography

My opponent here seems to want me to argue for a ban—although child porn should be banned, normal porn should be censored. We could censor it merely by making you call your ISP to give you access, making it harder to access sites while you are under 18, etc. Those would not really harm legitimate porn actors. But we should prohibit illegal porn—which can be done. We continue fighting against traffickers to reduce production—which is censorship, just as attacking newspapers for publishing would be censorship—and we find videos post-production and remove them if trafficking is suspected. All of this is rational as it prevents harming those who are trafficked. Further, my opponent’s line of logic that censorship mostly harms porn actors and not underground people is absurd. Drug bans may harm ‘normal’ drug users but they also reduce supply by increasing prices and preventing hard drugs from being consumed [4]. Let’s also take this from a utilitarian perspective, which my opponent seems to take: censorship would reduce consumption, thus reducing revenue, of trafficked porno. This means less production and bam, less abuse. Does the life-long abuse, rape, and humiliation reduced outweigh a few porn actors losing a job? I would argue that it does.

My opponent’s argument benefits mine! It proves that censorship of violent pornography is a good thing because it leads to less rape and violence. This means some censorship of nudity is rational, and he just rebutted his whole case! The fact that the study argues “violent pornography resulted in significantly greater increase in attitudes supporting aggression” proves my point—that you cannot issue blanket statements saying censorship is irrational because there are cases where it is not only rational, but preferable. The study does say some of this is because aggressive men watch aggressive porn, but also that the aggressive porn increases and reinforces their previous dispositions. My opponent thus lessens the impact I originally argued, but accepts the fact that some pornography leads to violence—thus some censorship is rational. Also note I do not even need to prove that censorship is preferable, but that there are rational reasons (e.g. reducing violence) which means holding such beliefs are not wholly irrational as the resolution states. Another analysis confirms both of the evidence my opponent and I presented, reviewing 161 studies and concluding pornography is linked to more sexual aggression, especially among men predisposed to violence [5]. So, with this we have (1) evidence that porn in general causes aggression, (2) STRONG evidence that violent pornography causes violence, and (3) violent men should not be watching porn. So we should either (1) censor all porn, (2) censor some porn, or (3) prevent certain segments of the population from watching porn—all forms of censorship, all rational courses of action.

It doesn’t make sense that pornography wouldn’t cause a reduction in sexual pleasure. Pornography causes orgasms, which causes dopamine, which causes addiction, which causes desensitization. Same things happen with drugs: you like it, you start to need more of it. So people’s sexual needs become greater and more extreme content is consumed. Porn consumption actually does cause desensitization [6]. I mean, if you are needing violent porn to get off, you are not gonna have an easy time getting off in bed. Plus, my opponent’s study uses a small sample size (N = 280) whereas studies using larger sample sizes (N = 531) have found happily married couples are less likely to view porn, and one of the strongest symptoms of using porn stems from a weak relationship [7].

Back to you. I have proven both C1 and C2, which refutes the blanket statement that censorship is irrational. I do not need to—though I have been—arguing that we should censor anything, only that it can be rational to do so. I have proven both that we should and that is rational, which is enough to negate the resolution that both censoring nudity and profanities are irrational.








Debate Round No. 3


I believe my opponent has sufficiently rebutted my points, and I have no further rebuttals against child pornography or violent porn which are enough to disprove the resolution. I have not taken care in setting the topic and did not understand the burden of Pro sufficiently, leading to me arguing on a rather weak stand. I thank 16kadams for an invigorating and educational debate. Win goes to Con.


I thank my opponent for his concession. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by FourTrouble 1 year ago
LOL @ normal pornography... child porn yes; not normal.
Posted by Liberals 1 year ago
Censor child porn, but limit it only to that
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by tejretics 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Graceful concession by Pro, so conduct goes to Pro. Arguments to Con because of concession.
Vote Placed by simonstuffles 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro gracefully conceded the debate to Con.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession
Vote Placed by Illegalcombatant 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conceded by Pro