The Instigator
mcc1789
Con (against)
Tied
5 Points
The Contender
TheBear
Pro (for)
Tied
5 Points

Holocaust Denial and Similar Acts Should Be Illegal

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/22/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,505 times Debate No: 13201
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (19)
Votes (2)

 

mcc1789

Con

Since I am the instigator, let me thank my opponent in advance for accepting the challenge. Obviously this is a senstive issue but I'm sure we can debate it civilly. Allow me to define my terms:
Holocaust Denial: 1.Denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, i.e. the genocide of six million Jews and others, or underestimating the numbers killed. Holocaust denialism appears to be focused on the Jewish victims largely. http://en.wiktionary.org...
Illegal: (law) Contrary to or forbidden by law, especially criminal law.
http://en.wiktionary.org...
"Holocaust denial is explicitly or implicitly illegal in 16 countries" mostly Western European.
Allow me to make clear this is not a debate on the extent or existence of the Holocaust, which I accept to be historical fact. Rather my contention is that denial of the events should not be illegal, though certainly it must be condemned and (if necessary) refuted.
There are several reasons for this.
1. While sympathetic with the motive of wishing to punish such despicable opinions, I believe that only violent actions or incitements to commit the same, rather than verbal, published or broadcast views should be criminal. For instance, direct incitement to commit violence against Jews or anyone else would be a crime. Denial of certain facts associated with them should not be. I realize this can be seen as a covert way to incite violence, but that must be proven, not inferred, like any other charge.
2. The punishment of Holocaust deniers allows them to paint themselves as martyrs for a cause and may convince others that if they are being punished there must be something to their opinions. Hence defeating the purpose of the laws.
3. Coercion does not make opponents accept your view, as follows from the above. In fact, the opposite is true in most cases.
While being reluctant to defend the freedoms of people whose views I despise, this is a part of free speech. If we believe in it, freedom of speech must protect those we disagree with as well. That seems clear.

Thank you and I look forward to pro's arguments.
TheBear

Pro

I concede to all the definitions my opponent has offered. The only correction I otherwise have is to define similar acts as acts the expressed hatred for Jews or denial of facts. Also, for the purpose of this debate, I concede that the Holocaust did occur and is a historical fact. I will first go over my own case before refuting my opponent's contentions. I value justice as it is the ultimate means of finding the intrinsic worth of any action or choice. We can achieve the universally sought after value of justice by fulfilling humanitarian values. Humanitarian values are directly related to justice as they value human life, discovery, and respect for humanity in general. My opponent has not offered any value of justice or means of achieving it so I interject mine. I believe that denying the holocaust denial and similar acts should be illegal. I believe that Holocaust denial and similar acts should be illegal for the reasons that they are fighting words, hurt society, and disrespect the lives lost during the Holocaust.
1) As any educated person will know, not all types of speech are protected by the freedom of speech. There's always a balancing act that will occur between one's right to speak and everyone else's right to safety and general welfare. For example, it is clear that laws ought to prohibit a person from yelling, "Fire!" in a crowded, dim lighted theatre. The conflict between rights is clear. Denying the Holocaust is somewhat alike. Denying the Holocaust recalls a type of hatred for an entire religion and is normally associated with violence such as with the Ku Klux Klan. To deny the Holocaust is considered a fighting word as they incite violence. On a side note, fighting words should not be covered by freedom of speech. Inciting violence is a direct violation of humanitarian values because violence can lead to the loss of life. Thus, holocaust denying is immoral and should be punished.
2) Second of all, the pure disrespect for those who lost their lives in the Holocaust is deeply disrespected. To ignore an entire mass genocide is an atrocious action. Once again, freedom of speech does not apply here as these are fighting words being dealt with. To blatantly disrespect the loss of 6 million lives is intolerant. We must be intolerant of the intolerant or intolerance will grow. If we want to pursue humanitarian values such as the high regard to human life and follow its path to justice, we ought make Holocaust denial illegal.
3) Denial of facts is bad for a society as it puts facts into a a more subjective spot. Even if these fighting words were protected under freedom of speech, this speech would still put society at harm. If a school's test were to be made and a question should be about the Holocaust, a test maker would question whether or not the question should be included in the first place. This is, of course, assuming Holocaust denial is not illegal. If Holocaust denial were illegal, facts would flourish and tests would be more efficient. Denial of facts harms general welfare as poor tests affect general welfare. Therefore, denial of facts does not achieve humanitarian values nor justice and should not be tolerated.
Neg 1) My opponent's first contention was that actions rather than speech should be illegal. However, he does not give any reasons as to why or even how this claim even proves his case. It's a silly argument that quite frankly proves nothing and even if it did, would not have any relevance to the argument at hand. I strongly urge the voters to ignore this argument as it has no value.
Neg 2) My opponent's second argument regarding martyrs from these laws is also fallacious. We've made burglary illegal and now people hesitate before robbing someone else. This is the power of laws. Besides, my opponent does even give a statistic as to how many Holocaust deniers became deniers because of these laws. Once again, my opponent's argument is fallacious.
Neg 3) My opponent's third contention is that making it illegal makes the idea more likely to spread. I negate for a simple reason. Not allowing a person to publish material makes more difficult for an idea to spread. What would've happened had Darwin not written down his findings but rather posted it on his blog or just told his friends? His idea would not have spread.
Neg overall) My opponent seemed to hint the entire case that freedom of speech was just. He has yet to prove it or even define it. After assuming we believe in freedom of speech (which has yet to be proved just) ought to be an undeniable right, my opponent presses that we should allow these people to continue with their unintelligible hate speech.

Because Holocaust denial is protected under freedom of speech, harms society, and disrespects key humanitarian values, I affirm the resolution that "Holocaust denial and similar acts should be illegal."
Debate Round No. 1
mcc1789

Con

First let me thank TheBear for accepting the challenge. My apologies-I forgot to give "similar acts" a definition. I did not refer to anti-Semitism in general, nor denial of facts. Rather, the denial of historic tragedies that were similar to the Holocaust, like the Armenian Genocide. Also it should have been "views" not "acts."

I too value justice. Although Pro's definitions of justice equalling fulfilling humanitarian values could be expanded on a bit, I think we're on the same page with them.

1) I am well aware of the fact that "not all types of speech are protected by the freedom of speech." Pro brings up the old canard of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. Being that I am a paralegal and very interested in civil liberties law I know the case in which this metaphor was first used well: http://en.wikipedia.org.... In it, a man named Charles Schenck was arrested and charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 for distributing anti-war pamphlets asking citizens to petition for a repeal of the draft law and if they were called up to consciously object. He was convicted of "obstructing the recruitment and enlistment service of the United States" and his conviction was upheld by the US Supreme Court as these actions were a "clear and present danger," using the "shouting fire" idea. Critics at the time noted the obvious-their metaphor was ridiculous. Change this example to a person distributing material that denied the Holocaust and the metaphor would be "arguing that there was *no* fire," not shouting disruptively in a crowded theatre but stating the contention. Should a person be punished for that? Many would consider opposing the draft or war while it is going on as "fighting words." Is a person arguing that a war (or all wars) going to be jailed if the facts they used are demonstrably wrong, because it is offensive?

2) I agree that it is disrespectful, and repugnant. However, I do not support a right to not be offended. Everything offends someone. To some, my say "God does not exist" is unbelievably offensive, no matter how demonstrably in error they feel I am. Again, fighting words and offensiveness are completely subjective. How are we to proceed?

3) Denial of facts also troubles me. As I've said however, I do not believe that historical truth can be dictated by force. I feel that facts can best flourish through allowing people to look into the evidence for themselves, in which case there is little doubt they will conclude the Holocaust actually happened. Facts will not be maintained through laws stating that someone maintaining otherwise has committed a crime. I believe freedom of speech (even for those we wish would shut up) is the best way to achieve humanitarian values and justice.

Neg 1) "My opponent's first contention was that actions rather than speech should be illegal. However, he does not give any reasons as to why or even how this claim even proves his case."
----> I stated words, spoken and non, that incite violence directly were punishable. Otherwise I don't think so. How is that silly?

Neg 2) ---->Burglary is a physical, violent action. Holocaust denial is a statement of opinion. They are hardly the same. I did not claim that Holocaust deniers became so *because* of the laws. Some may, I do not know. However, by jailing people who deny the Holocaust, it allows them and their supporters to paint themselves as martyrs of free speech, punished for shedding light on "the truth."

Neg 3) ---->Suppressing dissent usually has an opposite effect. One, it makes other people angry, more likely to feel the same way. Two, it gives the impression there is something to the dissent, otherwise why suppress it (irrational, but so are we). Three, the idea of Darwin "posting it on his blog" brings up a good point: if there had been Internet when The Origin of Species was published (1859) the idea would have spread even faster. The Internet makes it much harder to suppress dissents of any kind.

Neg overall) ---->I was not aware the value of free speech had to be proven, but allow me to define it. Free speech: 1.the right to express an opinion in public without being restrained or censored. I'll just go by your own definition of justice in this. Is freedom of speech not a "humanitarian value"? Does it not "value human life, discovery, and respect for humanity in general?" Part of it means recognizing that some who exercise the right will not have those values, at least not in the same degree or manner. This is the price we pay. Shall we remove the right to free speech for people who express values we find offensive? Does that best express our values? I agree we cannot be overly tolerant for intolerance. However the condemnation of intolerant views does not mean legally punishing them by definition.
http://en.wiktionary.org...

I negate the resolution "Holocaust Denial and Similar Acts Should Be Illegal."
TheBear

Pro

TheBear forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
mcc1789

Con

In summary, free speech is best served by having vigorous debate, as on this site. Where one side is obviously and demonstrably wrong that makes the debate that much easier for the other. Holocaust denial is one such area. Express advocacy of violence that is imminent, or causing it another way (for example speakers inciting an unruly crowd to riot, or the old canard "shouting fire in a crowded theatre") are instances which do not fall under this. Free speech is a fundamental right for all human beings. I urge you to vote Con.
TheBear

Pro

I agree with my opponent. I will first go over my argument and then my opponent's.

1) [fighting words] My opponent never actually responded to my argument. He elaborated on the history of yelling "fire" in a theatre and afterwards he proceeded to ask questions fundamental to this debate. However, he does not assert why he believes or even how he answers the question in general. I would like to extend my argument as it has not been properly refuted. Allowing these thoughts to exist leads to fights as they're dangerous, controversial phrases of speech. Since people can be damaged or even lost during fights, humanitarian values as stated previously are not upheld.

2) My opponent once again does not actually refute my point. All he does is reassert his claim over mine without explaining why his claim is correct. I would like to extend my argument that these thoughts are offensive. Because these thoughts disrespect those who have lost their lives, they do not hold humanitarian values.

3) My opponent finally makes a claim to which I can negate. He says that facts are more likely to occur without laws restricting the thoughts that are clearly wrong. However, I disagree strongly. How can facts flow well if the ignorant spout out absolute nonsense? My opponents counter argument actually works for me once again because my opponent doesn't explain how absolutely offensive and absurd thoughts help progressive thoughts and speech become widespread. It's absolutely absurd that nonsense will help facts become more likely to be believed in. Facts will have to compete with pathological nonsens in my opponent's world. In my world, facts will not have to compete for the mass' preference. Therefore, facts will flourish. Finally, my opponent doesn't even connect freedom of speech to humanitarian values. Even if he did, I've already proven that these thoughts and speech don't fall under freedom of speech in my first contention.

Neg 1) Once again, my opponent doesn't prove his argument. He simply restates his claim without analytical evidence to back it up. That's what is silly.

Neg 2) Burglary and holocaust denial are closer than my opponent think. Both are hurtful actions that are negative to society. Speech is an action as well. How is moving one's lips different from parking in the incorrect area? Assuming the speech cause the same negative consequences as a parking ticket, they should have equal punishment.

Neg 3) My opponent once again just reasserts himself with no new evidence or reasons as to why I was wrong to attack his arguments. For the second subpoint, I'd like to negate the idea of suppression by giving this example. My friend sits on a couch and he quickly combusts. Do I now think that I should also sit on the couch? No I don't. This can be tied back to my third contention. For the Darwin subpoint, my opponent has brought up a new argument which I will not respond to as it is unfair to give me one less chance to argue it.

Framework) I concede to my opponent's idea of freedom of speech tying to humanitarian values. We must now see whose world has greater achieved humanitarian values. Which world is more just? The only humanitarian value my opponent upholds is the freedom to speech. However, I uphold the humanitarian values of respect to others, general welfare as well as facts, and human life. For this reason, I have won the debate.

In summation, I affirm the resolution "Holocaust Denial and Similar Acts Should Be Illegal." I thank my opponent for this debate.
Debate Round No. 3
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Dr.Conservative 7 years ago
Dr.Conservative
Well yes it would threaten freedom of speech. But the UN would probably be able to get away with it. In the US it would probably immediately be struck down as unconstitutional.
Posted by mcc1789 7 years ago
mcc1789
Wouldn't banning it at international level also ultimately threaten free speech not only in the US but everywhere in the world? That also goes for things such as the proposed UN resolution that would make "blasphemy" an international crime.
Posted by Dr.Conservative 7 years ago
Dr.Conservative
I agree that Holocaust Denial should be illegal or condemned, but only at an international level, b/c it would infringe on freedom of speech in the US.
Posted by mcc1789 7 years ago
mcc1789
That's ok, it's been a great debate, thanks.
Posted by TheBear 7 years ago
TheBear
Guh, sorry for forfeiting, I was at a speech and debate tournament all weekend. I'll write the final rebuttal now
Posted by mcc1789 7 years ago
mcc1789
@TheBear: I understand. I will post final remarks in the last round. If you like, post yours, or if not I guess it's concession.
Posted by TheBear 7 years ago
TheBear
I actually agree with Con, but I took up the debate in the spirit of debate
Posted by mcc1789 7 years ago
mcc1789
@TheBear thanks for taking the debate.

@darkkermit I admire you for that.
Posted by juvanya 7 years ago
juvanya
"The west doesn't really want him to though."
@INH

Where do you get that from?
Posted by mcc1789 7 years ago
mcc1789
@Sam Lowry, hope you take it up, and good luck. I'd be interested to see what you mean by "well, if you put it that way" in response to m93samman's comment "Oh yea, let me argue against freedom of speech"...I know there are other arguments, I've thought of a few myself if only to refute them.
Seriously though, I can understand the desire to jail Holocaust deniers. I'm certainly no fan of them.

@wjmelements, my bad about that. I meant there are people who also deny the 1915 Armenian Genocide and other such acts. Ironically, Turkey has the opposite from a law punishing Holocaust denial-rather, the government officially denies committing mass killings and deportations of the Armenians in 1915 and Greeks later on. Those who reveal it are prosecuted under a law which punishes "insulting Turkishness."
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by mcc1789 7 years ago
mcc1789
mcc1789TheBearTied
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Vote Placed by TheBear 7 years ago
TheBear
mcc1789TheBearTied
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