The Instigator
tsmart1770
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
Mdal
Pro (for)
Winning
37 Points

Freedom of Speech

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/16/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,043 times Debate No: 559
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (16)
Votes (12)

 

tsmart1770

Con

I agree with the First Amendment of the Constitution, however I do not believe that the right of freedom of speech should include all people. I believe that the rights given by the first amendment should not include hate groups such as the KKK.
My reasoning behind this is simple. The constitution was created to advance our nation as a whole, and if we allow groups - created to incite violence or hatred in others, our country cannot continue to succeed as a country.
Mdal

Pro

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it." - VOLTAIRE

I am basically going to go along with Voltaire on this one.

The crux of your argument as given so far is:
"The constitution was created to advance our nation as a whole, and if we allow groups - created to incite violence or hatred in others, our country cannot continue to succeed as a country."

Go-Go concise arguments! (I like them better than unnecessarily verbose arguments)

First I will accept for the purposes of this debate that the constitution was made to advance our nation as a whole. Now what the constitution is advancing us towards is a good question. I think it wouldn't be controversial to say that the constitution is advancing us towards a stable, liberty driven, peaceful, prosperous state. Does that sound about right? (People have written novels on the end goal of the constitution so rather than go into that I am merely giving a quick and dirty explanation)

A quick question about your argument, who gets to say what is ok and what isn't? Is it the congress? The Supreme Court? is it a referendum (direct democracy)? Is it you? (for the sake of our argument that is fine)

Mdal's actual arguments! (hurrah, finally!)

Argument ONE: Free speech is one of the founding principles which keeps our government accountable.
Logic: Allowing free speech gives us a great tool to keep our government honest. By allowing free speech we have the ability to blow the whistle on wrong doings of people in power. We can even say things which the majority might not like to hear, but might need to in order to look at the world in a different, and sometimes, better way. If we begin curtailing the right to talk about things which the majority of us find offensive or distasteful, then we begin eroding the power of freedom of speech has in keeping the people in power on the straight and narrow.

Argument TWO: Free speech allows for a market place of ideas.
Logic: If everyone is allowed to talk about what they want to talk about no matter how crass, wrongheaded, or cruel, than the population as a whole is allowed to sift through a huge amount of ideas and the good ideas will rise to the top. Freedom of speech allows for the junky ideas such as those espoused by the KKK or the Aryan Brotherhood to fall to the ground and be seen as the worthless claptrap they are, it also allows for people to freely talk about brilliant ideas which can change the course of our society. Freedom of speech allowed Martin Luther King Jr. to speak out against something which the people in power thought was acceptable. By putting limits on what is "good" and what is "bad" we suddenly take way the "freedom" part of the free speech and we begin to dictate what can and cannot be said, thus removing the benefit of a marketplace of ideas.

Argument THREE: Where does the abridging of free speech stop, once it has begun, is there a logical halting point?
Logic: This is a perfect example of the so called, "slippery slope" argument. Once the people in power (or whomever is deciding what speech is ok and what isn't) make their mandates and stop some speech (the mostly negative ones lets say), what then? Is that it? People in some groups can't talk about what they believe in? What if something is border line, like a person who has a nuanced view about racism (I can't think of an argument like that but lets just imagine that one exists) can we listen him or is that speech illegal too? Isn't this power to make something we don't like illegal really tempting? By stopping some free speech we open a door to allow more free speech to be halted, this is what we like to call a precedent, and precedents usually breed more situations which are similar to the first.

I could go on, however I will leave it here with those 3 arguments.

A quick reminder, freedom of speech is limited when it poses a clear and present danger to others. Using an old standby example, yelling fire in a crowded theater (when there is no fire) is illegal because people will be harmed. Spreading hate filled and ignorant messages is not illegal because it doesn't present a clear and present danger to people. If the message spread was something which would constitute a clear and present danger such as "We the KKK are going to poison all the people we hate" (a message which could cause panic and harm) it would be deemed illegal and not fall under the protection of the 1st Amendment.
Debate Round No. 1
tsmart1770

Con

To begin, I am greatly happy that you, Mdal, joined my debate. It appears that your arguments appeals to logic, which is, in my opinion the most persuasive type of argument. I will primarily be appealing to logic, however will also touch on the ideals of value, as it is one of the main moral reasons I support this idea. I have also adapted the format of my arguments to suit your style.

Voltaire, an enlightenment thinker, regarded with as intuitive and influential a mind as Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Locke. All influential people who host beliefs that influenced the framers of the Constitution, and all of which created ideals that support, and influence my own belief on restricting the rights of the first amendment to hate group's gathering in public areas.

I agree with your definition of what the constitution is advancing us towards, "a stable, liberty driven, peaceful, prosperous state" and would in turn like to define hate groups as any groups that gather with the intentions of breeding fear, terror, hate, or violence towards any particular group of people (defined as a group of similar races, religion, or belief [such as sexual orientation].) More specifically, I will be focusing on, and discussing the two groups you mentioned, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Aryan Brotherhood.

Now, before I begin my own arguments, I will answer your question: "who gets to say what is ok and what isn't?"

I have long meditated in search of a proper way for our nation to adapt to such a monumental change as I have proposed. The only way that I could think of was to add a fourth branch to our current system of checks and balances. This branch would be in charge of adapting the constitution to better suit the nation as it evolves (including any exceptions the members of this branch deem necessary to create.) They would have equal power to the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and would their adjustments would be checked by both the legislative branch (requiring a majority vote as opposed to the current two thirds vote necessary to create an amendment) and the judicial branch to make sure that any and all changes and exceptions created by this new branch follow the main ideals that are upheld within our nation, and do not violate the main intentions of the framers ideals. I realize that this is also a very controversial topic, and would love to hear any and all concerns you have regarding this issue; however, I do not want this to distract us from the main topic of our debate.

Rebuttal #1: In response to the "slippery-slope" argument
Logic: The system of checks and balances was created in order to stop one particular group from gaining power. Adapting this system by creating another branch should quite any worries you had about the "slippery-slope" that may occur, as the extent of the branches power will be modified by two other branches, the Legislative and the Judicial. Therefore, the new branch will not be able to abuse this power, and they, because of these restrictions, would not be able to quiet the entire, "market place of ideas."

Rebuttal #2: In response to the argument that this will limit the market place of ideas
Logic: You brought up the argument that if we allow bad ideas to mix with good ideas, then the good ideas will "rise to the top." In response to this, I would like to bring up the case of Osama Bin Laden, a terrorist who has, what are commonly assumed to be "bad ideas." Because of Bin Laden's influential abilities, his bad ideas were able to rise above the good ideas, and eventually led to a great influx of new members into terrorist beliefs, and further led to the tragic destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001.

I am in no way saying that the KKK or the Aryan Brotherhood has equal power to Terrorists, but I am instead proposing that they have similar bad ideas focused on fear and hatred towards a group of people. If the KKK were to gain an influential leader (horrendous, but influential none-the-less) as Osama Bin Laden, who's to say whether or not our current small national terrorist group the KKK would turn into a world-wide terrorist organization such as that created by Osama Bin Laden?

It is better to regulate the public meetings of these organizations now, as opposed to later when their power may exceed that of the government they are encompassed by.

Rebuttal #3: In response to the argument that Free speech keeps our government accountable.
Logic: As the government is not a group of people regulated by race, religion, or belief (refer to definition of groups of people). And the branch will only have the power to regulate hate groups from publicly discussing (note I am not restricting their right to gather in privacy, purely in public) their ideas, the proposition will have no effect on those who wish to speak out against the government.

Now onto my main argument:

Argument: We are currently not fully acknowledging people's natural rights
Logic: According to the natural rights originally proposed, and supported by enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau all people are born with the right to live his/her life any way he/she likes without causing physical harm to another individual, directly or indirectly.

What I question within this right is the restriction, "without causing physical harm to another individual, directly or indirectly." I concede that I am working under the assumption that hate groups gather with a common goal to assert their superiority (through violence or terror) over a different group of people. I also concede that I work under the assumption that mental harm can become so intense that it can eventually harm a person physically (I only state this because this was not common knowledge around the time of the enlightenment, and therefore was not included in their right.) I believe that these are fairly common assumptions, and therefore will continue with my argument. If we allow groups that have a goal of asserting superiority over a specific group of people, whether they currently act upon this goal, or whether they plan on accomplishing this goal in the future, they either directly or indirectly threaten the safety of others.

I also could go on, however do not wish to state all of my arguments in the first round of our five round discussion.

Thank you again for accepting this debate, so far it proves to be quite promising.
Mdal

Pro

Finals are done which gives me plenty of time for debating.
Lets dive right in.

I will first respond to tsmart's rebuttals to my 3 opening arguments, from there I will counter tsmart's single argument, finally I must respond to the possible creation of a 4th branch of government as the actor created by tsmart in this case. Though I too do not want this debate dramatically side tracked by a debate about the actor who will create the proposed new laws set forth by tsmart. However as he uses this new 4th branch as an answer to my 3rd argument it has become very important to the core of this debate and will thus be discussed when answering Tsmart's first rebuttal.

With this signposting finished, lets get to some arguments.

Rebuttal #1:
Tsmart's Rebuttal assures us that through the creation of the 4th branch of government who's sole job is two interpret freedom of speech, and decide what is and what is not allowable under our new laws which limit certain types of speech. Tsmart's exact quote of what the 4th branch of government would be is: "This branch would be in charge of adapting the constitution to better suit the nation as it evolves (including any exceptions the members of this branch deem necessary to create.) They would have equal power to the executive, legislative and judicial branches, and would their adjustments would be checked by both the legislative branch (requiring a majority vote as opposed to the current two thirds vote necessary to create an amendment) and the judicial branch to make sure that any and all changes and exceptions created by this new branch follow the main ideals that are upheld within our nation, and do not violate the main intentions of the framers ideals."

My response:
Whooooooo eeee! Where to start on this one?

To begin with it seems at first blush that the 4th branch is going to usurp what has been the power of the Supreme Court, namely interpreting the constitution. However upon closer examination it seems that Tsmart actually has created a body whose job is much more than merely interpreting the constitution, it is actually a body whose job is to CHANGE the constitution. So basically this new body is invented to abridge and thus destroy the power of the 1st amendment (one of the most important amendments in our constitution, one who has been upheld through countless court cases) take the power of the states and congress (the governmental structures who usually keep all of the checks and balances on the creation of new amendments)and given it all to this new 4th branch.
Basically we have reorganized the very makeup of American government for the express reason of censoring people.
*****In a cost benefit analysis the cost of destabilizing the government by shifting around the powers set in our government by our founding fathers to a new, strange, and untested power structure for the possibly non-existent benefit of censoring hate groups seems dramatically unbalanced. Under this cost benefit analysis it seems as if any marginal benefits we might get from censorship are DRAMATICALLY outweighed by the dangers of the radical upsetting of our governmental structure and thus shows that the CON's proposed solutions just aren't worth the trouble.

Rebuttal #2: In response to my argument for an open Market Place of Ideas (something we have now but will lose if we lose Freedom of Speech) Tsmart brings up the example of Osoma Bin Laden and how his ideas have risen to the top in some places and beat out better ideas, so we should instead keep these sort of ideas out of the public's purview.

My Response:
Tsmart actually just proved my point by using the example of Osoma Bin Laden, tell me readers (and Tsmart) have you been convinced by listening to Bin Laden on our television? It wasn't hidden from us. Everyone in the US is allowed to listen to what Bin Laden has to say, yet HERE in the US where the market place of ideas flourishes Bin Laden's brand of extremism hasn't gained a foothold. The places where he is much more popular don't have the myriad of view points like we have the capacity of getting here in the States, instead in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations in the Middle East we find a correlation between the free-er the speech, the less extremist the views in the country. This is because when the market place of ideas is allowed to work, people are able to make well informed decisions and that usually leads them away from extremist views and towards the center ground when considering an issue. Thus we can see how Tsmart's example just proves exactly how important the market place of ideas really is and how important it is to keep from abridging the first amendment which is SO key to keeping the market place of ideas viable.

Rebuttal #3: I stated that freedom of speech is a huge check on the government.
Tsmart says: "...the branch will only have the power to regulate hate groups from publicly discussing (note I am not restricting their right to gather in privacy, purely in public) their ideas, the proposition will have no effect on those who wish to speak out against the government."
My Response:
What about the hate groups Tsmart? What happens if an incredibly racist, cruel, mean, hate filled Neo Nazi has a well conceived critique of the the government, but wants to express this brilliant critique in hate filled language? His speech, though offensive to you and me, will also give a benefit to the society because he will point out something about the government which needs to be looked at. Re-reading your quote you say that the hate group will be unable to discuss their ideas in public, what if their ideas have to do with the government? Is this a new exception? Are Hate groups allowed to talk about the government?
You see how restricting even a small part of Freedom of Speech has huge ramifications for everyone in our society? Rather than risk the benefit of one of the best checks on our government (freedom of speech) we should play it safe and not try to silence people we don't agree with.

On to Tsmart's argument of expanded natural rights,
His claim is that if people are railed against in public by hate groups they may be harmed mentally and that may eventually lead to physical harm. Thus we should protect these minorities and targeted groups from the hate groups.

Response to Tsmart's Argument:
Tsmart, it seems as though you have come to an overreaching understanding of what the government is supposed to do in situations like this. Your solution is to take preemptive action by taking away freedoms from people who might threaten others. However it seems as though the goal you are trying to accomplish is to make certain that the targeted minority groups ARE safe as well as help them FEEL safe. This goal can be met much better by an investment in anti-hate laws which will increase the punishment for hate crimes, or better yet you could increase the capabilities of the police and thus keep extremist groups like the hate organizations in line. However abridging freedom of speech is not the best, or even a decent, way of defending targeted minority groups.
Debate Round No. 2
tsmart1770

Con

tsmart1770 forfeited this round.
Mdal

Pro

Mdal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
tsmart1770

Con

First off, I would like to again thank Mdal for respecting me, as I did not respond last round.

Now to his rebuttal of my argument that creating a fourth branch will ruin the supreme court's authority in interpreting the constitution; or further that it will "thus destroy the power of the 1st amendment." Now this is a curious way to interpret my proposal. Assuming that I have any intention to destroy "one of the most important amendments in our constitution" is absurd- especially because it rights have "been upheld through countless court cases." No, what I am suggesting will not destroy the first amendment, it will make it stronger. Currently there are problems with our first amendment (and if you deny that, think of the controversy over flag burning.) I am not suggesting that flag burning is correct, I actually believe that it is wrong, and should not be practiced. However in stating that this act is wrong, I would have to change the rights given to these people by the first amendment. Thus creating the problem. My proposal will not destroy the first amendment- as a matter of fact, I enjoy, love, and honor the first amendment. It is what allows us to run debate sites such as this, the very thing that allows us to disagree with the government, to protest, and to state our beliefs. I love the first amendment so much I struggled for days, to come up with a plausible way to protect the main rights given to the people- the rights that do not harm other people.

However I do believe in limitation which is exactly what will occur with this fourth branch. The branches job will not be to interpret the constitution, as a matter of fact, they will be checked by the judicial branch which will make sure that all of their adjustments follow the main guidelines of the constitution and do not infringe on groups rights (as stated earlier).

Yes, I am suggesting that "we have reorganized the very makeup of American government for the express reason of censoring people." Because that is the purpose of amendments. We need to reorganize the makeup of American government in order to make us more efficient. And (in your cost benefit analysis) isn't increased efficiency worth the addition of a fourth branch?

You stated that we, American's, have not been influenced by Bin Laden- well I ask you first how can you honestly compare the influence of Bin Laden on American's to his influence on Iraqi's? There is no comparison- we have different primary religion, different beliefs, different laws. You cannot compare. However, you can compare- as I did the influence of Bin Laden on Iraqi's to the influence of hate groups (or the KKK) on American's.

Further, I would like to use that cost benefit analysis of Bin Ladens influence. Do you think it is right that Bin Laden should have the right to openly reruit people to come and attack others? Do you think that the benefit of allowing a terrorist group like Bin Laden supersedes the cost of the hundreds of American lives which that particular hate group took?

What you have to realize that hate groups I the US can openly recruit and can openly gather. They may perform their violent actions in private- but they still perform them. There is no telling whether these groups will grow to the size of Bin Laden's terrorist organization- but given the current opportunities and privileges we give them; there's a great chance that the US may harbor the next massive killing machine.

Mdal stated that freedom of speech is a huge check on the government
He asked after reading my response: "What about the hate groups Tsmart? What happens if an incredibly racist, cruel, mean, hate filled Neo Nazi has a well conceived critique of the government, but wants to express this brilliant critique in hate filled language?"

In response- they are not acting to further the goals of their group, and therefore they are openly allowed to gather and speak. Again, so long as they do not harm or recruit with the purpose of harming a particular group of people gathered with the same religion, belief, or race they can say what they wish.

Finally in response to my argument on natural rights Mdal stated that my "solution is to take preemptive action by taking away the freedoms from people who might threaten others." Yup, that is exactly what I'm doing. I think it is the only efficient way to protect the minorities within our country. You offered the possible solution of investing in anti-ate laws which will increase the punishment for hate crimes, however, if these laws are already not being followed, what evidence do you have that suggests that hate groups will shy away from their believes, their ultimate goal to rid the world of a certain minority? Laws will not work- however if we can attack the problem at its beginning, if we can stop these hate groups ability to recruit others into their powerful influence then, and only then can we control the growth and influence of hate groups within our country.
Mdal

Pro

Mdal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
tsmart1770

Con

tsmart1770 forfeited this round.
Mdal

Pro

Mdal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by alexthemoderate 6 years ago
alexthemoderate
You can't just cite the Freedom of Speech when it is convenient for you. I despise everything that the KKK says, I despise those that burn the flag, yet I would never imagine taking away their right to do so because that would be a worse treatment of the freedoms that the flag represents than them actually burning it. We have to defend everyone's right to peacfully submit their opinion.

Remember, everyone has a right to an opinion, but not everyone's opinion is right.
Posted by mindjob 6 years ago
mindjob
As opposed to the traditional fascism represented by these groups? These groups base their fascism on the race or sexual orientation of their targets. Supposed "liberal fascists" only identify their targets by the stupidity that comes out of their mouths, or by the a actions brought about by those words. These actions are often times violent, which is why tsmart has a point. These groups should still be able to say just about whatever they want, but recognize who the true fascists are. They certainly aren't liberals.
Posted by U.S_Patriot 6 years ago
U.S_Patriot
Also, the Aryan brotherhood is a prison gang. Facts first.
Posted by U.S_Patriot 6 years ago
U.S_Patriot
Great example of liberal fascism. Silence those who you disagree with.
Posted by mindjob 6 years ago
mindjob
On a practical note, allowing the likes of the KKK the freedom to say what they want allows them to come out of the dark, dank holes they live in and make themselves be known. It is much easier to control something when the sunshine is allowed to hit it, as opposed to driving something underground. There is no telling how far something has spread or how pervasive it has become if ideas like these are made illegal. If anything, allowing the KKK the opportunity to say what they want publically gives the rest of us the ability to point at them and laugh for their beer guts and mullets. I, for one, would not want to give up on that.
Posted by Lacan 6 years ago
Lacan
I've used the same Voltare quote in a debate on this site. What a great quote and a perfect choice.
Posted by tsmart1770 6 years ago
tsmart1770
Sorry man, I thought I had another day. Damn, well, post your arguments, and I'll hit up both posts after Christmas. c ya

Tsmart
Posted by Mdal 6 years ago
Mdal
My name is Matthew Lopez, and you can find me on the facebook.
Not a problem at all,
-Mdal
Posted by tsmart1770 6 years ago
tsmart1770
Do you mind if i ask for your name so i can site you correctly? if not i completely understand
Posted by Mdal 6 years ago
Mdal
No problem tsmart, I would be delighted if my arguments so far would be useful for your essay. Hopefully the rest of my posts will be as helpful.
-Mdal
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