Famous' Unofficial Tournament: R1
I would like to thank famousdebater for allowing me to join the tournament as a replacement, and I would like to thank my opponent for agreeing on a topic with me on short notice. This should be a fun and interesting debate, and I look forward to what it has in store.
Resolved: When in conflict, an individual's freedom of speech should be valued above a community's moral standards.
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Pro Opens, Con Opens
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Defense of rebuttals (2nd rebuttals)
Conflict: be incompatiable or at variance; clash.
Freedom of Speech: the right to express beliefs or opinions without government restriction.
Community: the people collectively, especially in the context of social values and rsponsibility.
Moral: relating to the principles of right and wrong, the distinction between right and wrong, ethics.
1. No forfeits.
2. No semantics.
3. No kritiks.
4. BOP is shared.
5. All citations or footnotes must be included in the debate.
6. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives the right to add resolution affecting definitions of their own.
7. Violation of these rules should be taken into account by the voter.
Passing round one, as agreed to by both missbailey and I. The round structure will follow as Opening Arguments and rebuttals.
This debate revolves around the conflict that arises when freedom of speech and new ideas clash with the societal norms, the status quo, or the moral standards of the community as a whole. Community moral standards reflect the general opinion of the community as a whole, and represent things that they think should be enforced. Common moral standards include, “Murder is wrong,” or ,”Stealing is illegal.” These are examples of what the community believes should be enforced. The reason communities have these moral standards is to make the society fair for all and keep the members who inhabit it safe. However, more often than not, community moral standards do not accommodate all of the members in a community.
Legislators in the government years ago, and arguably now, had racist opinions and discriminatory opinions, and it showed in the legislation they sponsored and authored. These legislators etched community moral standards at the time in stone through the passing of law. Laws and moral standards of the past permitted African Americans to be bought and sold into slavery, treated as non-human beings, and allowed for systemic and societal discrimination. History shows us that when moral standards fail, human rights can be ignored. These standards are controlled by the majority of the society, which always results in a minority opinion being left out. This minority voice, outnumbered and outgunned by the majority both in society and in government, needs to have a way to express their plight and gather people behind their cause. The way they do this is through freedom of speech.
Argument 1: Violence
When people are ignored using free speech to protest against non-conforming moral standards, it is not uncommon for them to resort to violence because they feel they have no other outlet to express themselves. The Black Panther Group (1) is a good example of when peaceful protest against community moral standards, utilizing freedom of speech, had been ignored, forcing those in the group to resort to violence as a means of getting their message heard. As my claim stated in the beginning of the argument, if freedom of speech is ignored as a means of protest, it is a very real possibility that peaceful protest could descend into violence. See the later Uighur example as well. If freedom of speech fails to bring about peaceful change, people will resort to violence.
In fact, countries with high rates of press freedom (2) tend to have less political violence (3). This statistic supports the contention that freedom of speech reduces the need for violence.
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)
(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
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 (6). 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." (7)
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.
I'd like to thank my opponent for presenting his arguments. Here are mine.
B. How Misuse of Free Speech Can Endanger Individuals
C. How Misuse of Free Speech Can Endanger a Community
II. General Welfare
III. Social Good
Let's get started!
To clarify, here's the First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." 
The Supreme Court has ruled that there are two types of speech that aren't protected by the First Amendment, those being obscenities and "fighting words" or threats. 
B. How Misuse of Free Speech Can Endanger Individuals
"Verbal abuse (also known as reviling or 'verbal bullying') is described as a negative defining statement told to the victim or about the victim, or by withholding any response, thereby defining the target as non-existent." 
In fact, there are at least fifteen different types of verbal abuse, which include the following:
4. Verbal abuse disguised as jokes
5. Blocking and diverting
6. Accusing and blaming
7. Judging and criticizing
11. Name calling
15. Abusive anger 
But just how harmful can verbal abuse be? According to Harvard, it can be even worse than physical or sexual abuse in some cases.
"The report suggests that, when verbal abuse is constant and severe, it creates a risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, the same type of psychological collapse experienced by combat troops in Iraq. The research on which the report is based points out that children who are the target of frequent verbal mistreatment exhibit higher rates of physical aggression, delinquency, and social problems than other children." 
On top of that, verbal abuse can cause depression, anxiety, PTSD, stress, intrusive memories, memory gap disorders, sleep or eating problems, hyper-vigilance and exaggerated startle responses, irritability, anger issues, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, self-mutilation, and assaultive behaviors.  This proves that misuse of freedom of speech can be quite dangerous. It can even cause unnecessary violence like this.
Also, may I add, it's moral wrong to verbally abuse others. But how so? Well, think of it this way: it's like burning an ant under a magnifying glass; the ant didn't do anything inherently wrong, yet it's being fried underneath the magnifying glass simply to see the reaction of the ant and to see it slowly shrivel up and die. There's only one real difference, and that is that it's purely emotionally charged rather than physically like the ant example.
C. How Misuse of Free Speech Can Endanger a Community
Again, like people can misuse their freedom of speech to commit verbal abuse towards individuals, they're able to do the same but to seriously harm a community of people, rather than just one. In fact, the increasing number of hate crimes have been tied to the hate speech. 
In other words, hateful words can lead to individuals starting hate crimes against many people, hence, the harm against a community.
"Bigotry has no place in a free society. It is fundamentally anti-freedom by nature, and its proliferation violates the basic freedoms of vulnerable minorities as recognized by the international community. Vulnerable minorities are much less free when bigotry is allowed to exist." 
General Welfare - The concern of the government for the health, peace, morality, and safety of its citizens. 
Like I explained before, misuse of freedom of speech can result in the endangerment of certain individuals or even an entire community. Again, if you look at the definition above, you'll clearly see that this can't be seen as promotion of the general welfare.
To emphasize my point even more, here's the Preamble of The Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” 
In our very Constitution, the "supreme law of the land",  It states that we need to promote the general welfare (among other things) to create a more perfect union.
In the same website that I pulled the Preamble from, I found a list of parts of Preamble dissected to understand the meaning even more. Here's the dissection of general welfare:
"Promote the general welfare: This phrase meant that the well-being of the citizens would be taken care of as well as possible by the Federal government."  With the possible misuse of this freedom of speech, is it really promoting the general welfare?
Social Good - A good or service that benefits the largest number of people in the largest possible way. Some classic examples of social goods are clean air, clean water and literacy; in addition, many economic proponents include access to services such as healthcare in their definition of the social or "common good". 
But the real question is this: how important are morals?
"Consider what the world would be like if there were no traffic rules at all. Would people be able to travel by automobiles, buses and other vehicles on the roadways if there were no traffic regulations? The answer should be obvious to all rational members of the human species. Without basic rules, no matter how much some would like to avoid them or break them, there would be chaos. The fact that some people break the rules is quite clearly and obviously not sufficient to do away with the rules. The rules are needed for transportation to take place.
"Why are moral rules needed? For example, why do humans need rules about keeping promises, telling the truth and private property? This answer should be fairly obvious. Without such rules people would not be able to live amongst other humans. People could not make plans, could not leave their belongings behind them wherever they went. We would not know who to trust and what to expect from others. Civilized, social life would not be possible." 
We as humans are built upon morals. Quite simply, if we rejected morals over freedom of speech, we'd be in anarchy. This relates back to the social good. Essentially, morals benefit everyone, as they show civility and proper behavior among all.
In conclusion, the misuse of freedom of speech can harm individuals and communities and the use of morals promotes the general welfare and social good. Thank you. So long and goodnight!
Safety - Introduction
My opponent starts out with quoting the first amendment, and listing exceptions to the freedom of speech promised within our Constitution. She says that there are two types of words not protected by the First Amendment, obscenities and fighting threats. I do not know how this applies to the resolution, since the freedom of speech that comes into conflict with societal moral standards is used to hopefully bring about change through peaceful methods. This study on the history of Freedom of Speech and Press (1) reveals that, “For that reason, profane words that are not accompanied by any evidence of violence or public disturbance are not “fighting words.” To come into conflict with the moral standards of a community would mean to verbally challenge the norm of society using free speech, therefore making an effort to bring about change. I would argue that when the ability to bring about change using freedom of speech has been exhausted, those seeking to speak out against moral standards would go so far as to incite violence, which carries the same weight as committing it, transforming into something far worse than freedom of speech.
Safety - Verbal Abuse
Without a doubt, this is the argument that impacts the resolution of this debate the least. Speech unrestricted by the government, coming into conflict with societal norms, will not “hurt” anyone or “traumatize” anyone. It is purely to bring about change, which I cannot emphasize enough.
My opponent introduces a number of examples of verbal abuse and their possible side effects on others. I do not know how this impacts the resolution, because we are clearly arguing about freedom of speech v. societal norms, not whether hurtful words can harm anyone. This point is rendered null and void as it contributes nothing to the resolution.
Safety - Endangering Communities
In this contention, my opponent makes the observation that in some cases free speech can be misused to harm a community as a whole, specifically minorities. My opponent also uses a quote to state that bigotry is very harmful to vulnerable minorities and bars them from attaining true freedom.
Clearly this argument is being presented as a scenario of majority v. minority in society. My opponent portrays the minority group as vulnerable and unable to achieve freedom with bigotry from the majority group. This contradicts the basis for all of my opponent’s arguments. I am arguing for the individual’s utilization of freedom of speech as a means of change, my opponent is arguing in favor of established societal standards, which should be challenged as time moves on. In source seven of my opponent’s argument, it points out that hate speech and bigoted rhetoric are directly linked to rising hate crimes. While this may be true, the article displays struggles in various communities in which the majority group is speaking against the minority group. As a matter of fact, in lots of cases, it is a societal standard of the majority group to discriminate against the minority group, like in the 1960’s when it could be argued that African Americans were treated as second class citizens.
Take the current situation in Burundi for example. The Hutu (majority ethnic group) controlled government is spreading murderous and hateful rhetoric against the Tutsi minority group, generating echoes of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide (2). The President of the Burundian Senate has called for “the extermination of those who are only good for dying,” and has time and time again displayed a willingness to spread divisive rhetoric against the minority group and government opposition. Also, the president of Burundi vowed to have security forces use violent methods to search the homes of citizens for weapons and hiding opposition members.
I cannot comprehend how “freedom of speech can be used to harm minorities” can be used as a contention when it is the standards of the society that my opponent is arguing for. Bigotry and hate for minority groups has existed for thousands of years and still exists around the world today. Freedom of speech is what minority groups utilize to speak out against the majority, against those who would spread hate speech, so that they are able to achieve greater freedoms in their society. Only when freedom of speech is ignored as a means of change by the majority will the utilizers of freedom of speech be compelled to commit acts of violence as their only outlet of protest.
This argument is made up of several paragraphs in which my opponent confusingly repeats the idea of promoting the general welfare. Those who would seek to change the moral standards of a community are either a minority group left out of society or a citizen committed to the struggle of the minority group. For a government to sanction peaceful discourse, utilizing freedom of speech, IS promoting the general welfare, by allowing all citizens, regardless of color, race, or gender, to have an equal playing field. By allowing societal norms to be unchallenged by questioning or interpretation is an example of NOT promoting the general welfare. Therefore to allow freedom of speech to be utilized by those who think they are unfairly treated by a community’s moral standards is undoubtedly promoting the general welfare.
This is perhaps the most preposterous of my opponent’s contentions. In one of the first paragraphs, my opponent presents the end all, be all question. “How important are morals?” Wow. My opponent, following this question, brings up traffic rules, the completely misplaced analogy. The reasoning for having traffic rules is to… well... control the flow of traffic to maximize efficiency. My opponent states that basic rules are needed in order to keep society in check, or chaos ensues. I’m perfectly okay with that observation. However, traffic rules have nothing to do with moral standards in a community. Freedom of speech is needed to raise questions about the legitimacy of moral standards, not traffic laws (hint voters).
Next my opponent brings up the reasoning for morals, which every sane person on the plant would agree with. It is the moral standards that society constructs that put a certain part of the population at a disadvantage that need to be challenged through freedom of speech. I am not arguing for the total removal of morals in our society, I am merely arguing that individuals utilizing freedom of speech to speak out against unfair societal standards should have their voices heard and their messages considered, so that our moral standards can adapt to changing times and values. It is not about rejecting morals over freedom of speech, it is about moral standards and causes that utilize freedom of speech coming into conflict, and weighing the message of freedom of speech so that society is able to move forward and bring about change. Lastly, morals do not benefit everyone (slavery, civil rights, Burundi, Uighurs). This is why freedom of speech should be valued above societal norms in order to shape moral standards to fairly fit all.
Throughout my opponent’s argument, I frequently found contentions that contributed no or little substance to the resolution. Secondly, my opponent did not show why, when in conflict, the moral standards of a community should be valued above an individual’s freedom of speech. Therefore my opponent’s burden stands unfulfilled.
This debate revolves around moral standards and the individual’s ability to use freedom of speech to question those standards. If this is not allowed in our country, these individuals can resort to violence as means of getting their voice heard. Therefore I stand with my claim that freedom of speech, and the questions that it raises about community moral standards, is worth more than moral standards when the two are in conflict. Given my points of contention and the critique of my opponent’s arguments, Vote Pro!
missbailey8 forfeited this round.
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