The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Charities should be banned from using graphic or overly-emotional images of suffering

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/4/2016 Category: People
Updated: 3 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 215 times Debate No: 93345
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)




Round 1 is for accepting only. Rounds 2 - 3 are for arguments and replies. Round 4 is for conclusions and Con is prohibited from introducing entirely new arguments since he/she will have the very last word (though new rebuttals are perfectly acceptable).

Con will be arguing that charities should be allowed to show images that are overly emotional, depict graphic suffering, etc. These images can appear just as still photos or as television ads. I will be taking the position that they should be prevented from doing so.


I accept the debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank HeavenlyPanda for accepting the debate and look forward to an interesting discussion. I have typed the main taglines of my arguments in all-Caps since I cannot find a way to get them in bold or underlined (if someone knows how, please comment on the debate. Thanks in advance).


I imagine that both Pro and Con will agree with this premise. A large number of charities rely on donations from either for-profit organizations or from individuals (e.g. food banks rely on people to donate non-perishable food items). However, it is inappropriate for a charity to obtain these donations through morally bankrupt means (e.g. lying to the public, stealing, etc). Like any other organization, charities need to be held accountable for its actions and needs rules of conduct. I would argue that in order for charities to legitimately receive donations, they must at least:

a)Truthfully educate the donor to an extent. That is to say, the donor knows what issue the charity is targeting, what is required of the donor, and where the donation is going (for instance, donor need not be an expert on poverty in India, but he/she should at least know that the charity is going to send the donated money to India to help support the development of grassroots movements and businesses in an attempt to alleviate poverty)

b)Accept the donation through entirely non-coercive ways. Donations must be given to the charity voluntarily by a donor who is capable of making rational decisions for himself/herself, otherwise the charity accepting the money is committing theft, an act that is morally wrong


The difference between images and any other form of mass media (radio, print etc.) is that images evoke a far more visceral and emotional response from viewers. Just compare for instance, the statement "Hundreds killed in Baghdad" and an image of dead men and women lying in the streets of Iraq.

The image, I argue, creates far more emotion in the viewer because it is capable of bridging the gap between the viewer and the victim whereas other forms of media cannot (or at least do so to a lesser degree). With images, the viewer can directly connect and visualize who or what is being impacted, allowing for the formation of more intimate bonds between the viewer and the subject. In contrast, the average viewer cannot intimately bond with the words "killed" that he/ she sees on newspaper page, nor can he bond with the words "murdered" that he/she hears on the radio.

Therefore, the ability for images to emotionally impact people more means that it needs to be treated different from other mass media. Of course, our society recognizes this fact and already does this (e.g. nude photos are almost universally censored by mass media outlets, but newspapers are allowed to print stories describing lewd acts).


Since it has been established that images can create very emotional responses in viewers while other forms of media cannot, it naturally follows that the more graphic and sensational the image, the larger and more emotional the response. This is what separates excessively graphic images from regular ones and is why Pro supports the use of non-graphic images by charities: the degree to which the viewer will be provoked.

At the point where the image has no other reason but to shock viewers and stimulate them into donating money or other goods, Pro would argue that donors are being intentionally misled and manipulated by charities. Excessively graphic images and the serious emotions that they cause means that individuals are less likely to focus on rationally analyzing the charity (e.g. where is the money going, is the charity acting responsibly with funds) and instead focus more on his/her emotions and conscience (e.g. the image of people dying from malnutrition makes me very upset, to stop this overwhelming feeling of sadness and anger, I will donate money to this charity that promises to feed millions of people). At this point, donations can no longer said to be entirely voluntary since the charity has manipulated the way you feel, which in turn manipulates the way you think. Moreover, the charity itself can no longer be said to be acting in a justified manner because it cannot be said to be truthfully educating the donor. Instead, the charity is undoubtedly cherry-picking the worst cases of suffering to advertise to the public (which in and of itself is a harm since it diminishes the meaning of charity and charity work to just the suffering people face, which ignores aspects like generosity and empathy).
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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by HeavenlyPanda 3 months ago
I don't get what you meant. What are you for?
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