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Freedom of Speech Is Superior to Freedom of Assembly

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/16/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,112 times Debate No: 31246
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




This is a negative position against freedom of speech that emphasizes how one's freedom of speech is not entitled to impose upon others freedom of assembly. Many forget that freedom of speech is not the only right which exists, so it's paramount that all rights get treated with respect.

What seems to have happened in Western Civilization is that since 9/11, pragmatism has suggested that sensitive personalities who endure duress, intimidation, harassment, negligence, and provocation are obligated to endure rugged individualism. Otherwise, they're fundamentalist, terrorist, Islamofascists who are attempting to regulate others without consent.

In fact, the lack of consent arrives when people are exposed to images and messages in the universally entitled public sphere which they don't consent to assemble with. Security has been inverted towards freedom of speech where people are supposedly entitled to security in broadcasting themselves, telling the broadcasted upon that "If they don't like it, they can leave." This is qualitatively equal to telling someone that if someone doesn't want to get punched in the face, someone should move out of the way. For example, those who are bombarded by advertising are told to simply put up with it. Otherwise, go somewhere else that advertising doesn't exist.

The only difference between speech and getting punched in the face is the degree and style of quantitative force, but these are subjective value judgments which FURTHER compel people to assemble without consent. That is people are compelled to assemble with the judgment of others they haven't previously agreed to. Instead, people are told that the social contract is implicit such that newborns are expected to conform to authority.

To be clear, this isn't arguing against freedom of speech, nor does it advocate emotional repression such as what's found among Middle Eastern Islamists. This simply recognizes that freedom of speech is not superior to freedom of assembly.


I would first like to thank my opponent for presenting this argument.

My opponent has taken an interesting approach to wording the resolution. It is obviously not true because all amendments (and pieces of amendments) must carry equal weight. Not to mention, my opponent is not exactly arguing all sides of their resolution. This resolution indicates that I must prove that the theory of freedom of speech should be superior to the theory of freedom of assembly. However, my opponent has gone on to argue only which is currently the status quo. Therefore, I have decided in this argument today to forgo the wording of the resolution in favor of maintaining a sense of real back and forth debate. I will simply be affirming the opposite of my opponent"s view point. This means that the real resolution I must affirm today is that the status quo does not indicate that the freedom of speech is superior to the freedom of assembly.
With this in mind, I will begin my case:
a.I agree with my opponent"s generalization of "freedom of speech" and "superior".
b.I will be focusing a few of my counterarguments around my opponent"s theory of the freedom of assembly. I define freedom of assembly as the individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests as stated by Jeremy Mcbride in Freedom of Association in 2005. I choose to uphold this definition versus any other because of the common definition of assemble (rally together to achieve a common purpose from Merriam-Webster).
(2)Core Argument (all others will be addressed during my rebuttal statement)
a.The wording of the constitution ensures that neither the freedom of speech nor the freedom of assembly can be abridged.
i.If neither can be abridged, a law cannot uphold one over the other without abridging one.
1.Therefore, the court system cannot ever rule that one is superior to the other.
Rebuttal of my opponent"s case:
My opponent"s core argument in this round is that free speech is imposing on the right to freedom of assembly; therefore, free speech is made superior.
To begin with, I cannot understand why my opponent has chosen to include the bit about the Middle Eastern Islamists. Their freedom of speech has never been upheld over their freedom of assembly, nor have these two rights ever been abridged in the good ole" US of A. While it is a nice argument, it is not topical to the resolution put forth.
The supposed breach of the right is in broadcasting. They state that when people tune into a broadcast they are told to either put up with the advertisements or don"t listen. The main flaw in this argument is that tuning into a broadcast is not under the freedom of assembly. Just because everyone has chosen to tune into the same channel does not mean they are assembling. My definition of assembly is when people rally together to achieve a common purpose. In what way here are people rallying together? The answer is that they aren't. Since they aren't rallying together, the advertisements are not breaching their right to exercise the first amendment.
All in all, I hope that I have fully expressed the misguided points of my opponent"s definition of freedom of assembly. Please remember that we must uphold the resolution I have stated today because the only way to continue the flow of debate is to address my opponent"s core arguments since it is obvious that freedom of speech is not upheld over the freedom of assembly in the US justice system.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for accepting the proposition.

To begin, it's important to note that assembly is a multisided affair. In law, this is recognized as "offer and acceptance" where an offeree consents to accept an offeror's offer. My opponent only recognizes expression from the offeror's perspective, ignoring the offeree.

This is vital because an offer itself can violate an offeree's freedom of assembly. In law, this is recognized as "harassment". Three classic examples of this which many are aware of are indecent exposure, predatory advertising, and stalking. An offeror harasses an offeree by expressing unreliable information and unwanted attention. That is an offeror presumes a common interest when in fact, one does not exist.

In fact, even the Supreme Court has overturned FCC regulations over indecency, particularly over TV:

In fact, the matter of indecent exposure in predatory advertising has even grabbed psychologists' attention as having widespread negative social effects on the preservation of freedom of assembly:

In fact, freedom of speech has been allowed to overarch workplace harassment which is often recognized as a form of stalking:

Furthermore, even Constitutional law scholars are concerned that freedom of speech goes beyond this in terms of property rights. That is freedom of speech is romantically overarching freedom of assembly by compelling people's property to be subject to practical reason: (p.331-332)

Lastly, I'm not sure my opponent understood the reference to Islamofascism and Middle Eastern Islamists, but if he refuses to press that point, that's his choice.


My opponent"s case:

My opponent says the problem with my arguments is that I am not acknowledging the right of the person who chooses to accept the offer to assemble and that people are assembling unwillingly due to the right of free speech of the other party. I must then pose the question to my voters, how does someone unwillingly rally to achieve a common goal? My opponent is still mistaking the definition of assemble.

Under this mistaken definition my opponent has presented me with a few sources. Let me deconstruct each one for you.

Source Numero Uno: The New York Times article discussing free speech on television. As I have continuously stated, this has nothing to do with the right to assemble. In no way is this article proving that speech is being upheld over assembly because no one"s right to rally to achieve a common goal is being affected.

Source Number Two: While this article has nothing to do with this debate, I at least enjoyed reading it. My opponent says this source explicitly shows how, "Indecent exposure in predatory advertising has even grabbed psychologists' attention as having widespread negative social effects on the preservation of freedom of assembly." When I opened the article I was yet again surprised to find no mention at all of the right to assemble. Again, this article is examining the right of free speech on television. Must I repeat the definition of assemble? The other flaw in my opponent trying to use this source in a debate concerning the right to assemble is the inherent lack of a link between their two arguments. They state that the indecent exposure/language used leads to negative effects on the right to assemble. The article gives no proper link between these two arguments.

Sourcer Number Three: Big surprise, this article also does not mention the right to assemble anywhere. This article is discussing how a recent court decision valued the right to free speech over workplace harassment laws. My opponent"s link here was that since workplace harassment laws constitute as stalking, and stalking prohibits a person"s right to assemble, the right of free speech is being upheld over the right to assemble. While I commemorate my opponent"s logical organization, I must point out the link that brings the whole logic path crashing towards the ground. My opponent expresses that stalking prohibits a person"s right to assemble. How does stalking prohibit a person"s right to rally to achieve a common purpose? Again, it doesn"t. While it definitely impedes on other rights, it doesn"t on this one.

Source Number Four (and the last one!): I will not be wasting anyone"s time today by typing up another paragraph that would only contain rehash. See my definition of assembly to understand why this also does not fall under the correct definition. Not to mention the article is following the pattern of not mentioning the word assembly whatsoever.

From what I understand, the Islamofascism point once again refers to a wrong definition of assemble.

My case:

The reason I have not, and will not, provide any sources today is because I believe that the dictionary should suffice in bringing down my opponent"s argument. Under my definition of assemble, the right to free speech and the right to assemble share a mutual bond. Free speech leads to assembly and assembly leads to free speech. If one increases, the other increases right along with it. Because of this, they will always remain equal in the United States of America.

Please excuse any quotation marks where there should be apostrophes. My computer shows me that it is correct but then reformats my work once I have submitted it. :)
Debate Round No. 2


To start, Pro is not considering how offers themselves can constitute harassment by forcing offerees to "unwillingly rally" with the offers of offerors. In law, there is another term that deals with this called "duty of care". Those who exercise freedom of speech must exercise duty of care so they don't harass others.

The first article considers indecent broadcasts on TV. When people watch TV, they consent to assemble with decent broadcasts, not to "unwillingly rally" with harassing indecent broadcasts.

The second article leads with saying, "Although indecent speech is protected by the First Amendment, speech in broadcast media has been restricted because of its omnipresence and its accessibility to children." Omniscience and accessibility involve assembly. Later, the article refers to "community standards" and how "sexually explicit media" can "negative affect how men behave toward women" and is concerned about "the effects of profanity on behavior". These are all concerns of how people assemble peacefully with one another.

Regarding the third article, I'm not sure how my opponent honestly believes stalking and harassment don't contradict freedom of assembly. The victims of stalking and harassment are being forced to assemble without consent.

Regarding the fourth article, I will directly cite the segments. Pardon me for its length, but my opponent's poor conduct in refusing to "[type] up another paragraph that would only contain rehash" merits its necessity. Also, pardon the lack of indentation. Formatting wasn't working:

Many scholars presently believe that “no single value or interest explains the speech
clause [of the First Amendment] and no simple formula [i.e., no “grand” or “unified”
theory] can implement it” (Cass 1987, 1490; Shiffrin 1984). This belief has cleared
the way for theories, such as those of Justice Brandeis, driven by “romantic” notions of
what the amendment ought to protect (Shiffrin 1990). Critics of constitutional romance
correctly point out that the approach is shallowly rooted in the subjective values dearest
to the interpreter, including such values as individual development, democratic
government, social stability, and the search for political and philosophical
truths (Cass 1987, 1411).

Some scholars, also laboring in a romantic vein of sorts, argue that First Amendment
issues must be decided on a fluid bed of “practical reason,” because “foundationalism
cripples our ability to resolve constitutional issues by limiting our
analytical tools to deductive reasoning. Practical reason allows the use of the full range
of cognitive abilities. Solving constitutional problems . . . requires no less” (Farber and
Frickey 1987, 1617). The difficulty with both constitutional romance and practical
reason is that they are rhetorical rather than logical methods, consisting of little more
than “a grab bag that includes anecdote, introspection, imagination, common sense,
empathy, imputation of motives, speaker’s authority, metaphor, analogy, precedent,
custom, memory, [and] experience” (Posner 1990, 73). Theories developed from such
foundations necessarily represent a skillful weave of desired outcomes. For example,
“To have pragmatic value, a theory of First Amendment construction must ensure
stable protection of fundamental speech and press liberties, must be directed against

the actual threat posed to those liberties, and must not upset the delicate balance of
power among the branches of government and between the public and private sectors
” (Emord 1991, 119). In sum, romantic traditions contribute relatively little to the
formulation of robust First Amendment theory, although they are highly descriptive
of contemporary First Amendment doctrine. The existence of that descriptive power
correctly suggests that the scope of speech freedom enjoyed today is not so much
a product of substantive First Amendment principle as it is a product of substantive
due process wrought through the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, a point to be
developed shortly. Methodological difficulties aside, however, constitutional romance

clearly has resulted in private expression rights being protected to a far greater extent
than property rights in general have been protected by other, more restricted
constitutional theories. So great is this disparity that classical liberals (economists
mostly) cite the high protection accorded expression rights as the appropriate
constitutional standard for protecting all property rights, while neoliberals (lawyers and
social scientists mostly) conversely cite the low protection accorded property rights as
the appropriate standard for protecting expression rights.

The justification for this reference goes as follows:
  • The first bolded section refers to subjective values which are how people choose whether or not to assemble with something. Those values also include the integrity of freedom of assembly itself, and how it's subject to "practical reason" as mentioned before.
  • The second section refers to the first amendment in general, but prioritized freedom of speech in particular.
  • The third section refers to conflict previously described between freedom of speech and property rights, a form of freedom of assembly.
To conclude this round, my opponent seems to believe that speech and assembly are necessarily complements. The problem is that speech can be used to harass others into assembling without consent.


I would like to first thank my opponent for entertaining a fun weekend of debate.

On my opponent"s case, I will hit each of his or her arguments in chronological order.

I am happy to see that my opponent has utilized my definitions. However, you cannot just rally. You must rally to achieve a common goal. What offer would force someone to rally to achieve a common goal? One example my opponent gave was when you are watching television. He or she says that people are forced to unwillingly rally when watching an indecent broadcast. However, there is no common goal that needs to be achieved in mind when turning on your television. Therefore, my opponent"s argument about unwillingly rallying in front of a media device is invalid.

My opponent"s link on their second article is a logical fallacy called slippery slope. A slippery slope fallacy is, "Asserting that if we allow A to happen, then Z will consequently happen too, therefore A should not happen." In this case it would be is asserting that if we allow the freedom of speech to remain superior to the freedom of assembly, then *insert all of my opponent"s impacts here* will consequently happen too, therefore allowing free speech to remain superior to assembly should not happen. While this is not a valid reasoning for their argument to be wrong, I would just like to point out that my opponent"s argument for their second source is a fallacious argument.

Moving on to the real argument, my opponent says the impacts of this heightened free speech are affecting how people assemble. However, my opponent isn"t showing that it prevents people from assembling peacefully. While they provide that the indecency and such on television leads to men acting negatively towards men, they do not prove that this is affecting their ability to assemble peacefully.

My opponent has completely disregarded my argument on their third article. I stated that stalking/harassment does not impede on an individual"s right to rally to achieve a common goal. Nor are they being forced to rally to achieve a common goal. While stalking is completely illegal in other aspects, it does not lead to the right of free speech being held over the right to assemble.

Finally, I have come to the fourth article. I did not mean for the rehash statement to be taken in bad light. I simple did not feel it was necessary to repeat what I have said continuously in the last three paragraphs. The problem with my opponent"s argument here is the link in their third bullet point. They state that property rights are a form of the right to assemble. Again I will pose the notorious question, how do property rights affect an individual"s right to rally for a common purpose?

As my opponent has dropped my final definition question of their use of the Islamofacists, it looks like we must assume that my point was correct from the previous round.

My opponent"s final statement did not refute my idea that the right to free speech and the right to assemble were exponential. They simply state that, ""speech can be used to harass others into assembling without consent." However, I have proved that in no way speech can be used in this way when you utilize the correct definition of assemble.

The voting issues for the round go like this:

1.I proved that my opponent was not using the correct definition of assemble. Under the correct definition, stalking, harassment, watching TV, or property rights do not have anything to do with the right to assemble
2.I must win this debate because I have defeated all of my opponent"s arguments and I have shown that the relationship between the right to free speech and the right to assemble is exponential in the status quo (utilizing my new format of the resolution).
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by josephd 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro was better