The Instigator
Hoonster
Con (against)
Tied
3 Points
The Contender
Ricky_Zahnd
Pro (for)
Tied
3 Points

Jesus and Mo cartoons should be banned.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/30/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,767 times Debate No: 20770
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

Hoonster

Con

If you're not familiar with Jesus and Mo cartoons: http://www.jesusandmo.net...

When I say banned, I mean completely censored, removed from the Internet, and should not be printed, displayed etc.

I will argue that they should not be banned.
Ricky_Zahnd

Pro

OK - I seem to have made an error. I was rushing out of the house when I entered this debate, and failed to notice that you had taken the Con position. Rookie mistake. However, I'm going to go for it anyway. Let it be said first that I personally would not take this position, and am herein debating against my own beliefs... sort of. On with the circus!

The webcomic Jesus and Mo should be banned, censored and struck from its hosting servers. My reasons for this are as follows:

C1: The pervasive presence of religion in the United States government has reached a point of blatant unconstitutionality.

The Establishment clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution reads as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." This implicitly prohibits the federal and state governments from establishing an official religion, or from favoring or disfavoring one view of religion over another. Our contemporary government stands in defiance of the spirit of this amendment regularly and without fear of repercussion. The government gives preferential treatment to those practicing lifestyles that conform to Christian ideals, such as heterosexual marriage. There is no inherent benefit to heterosexual marriage that cannot be satisfied by homosexual marriage, an yet Maryland, Florida, California, Wyoming, Hawaii, Utah, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and many more have passed legislation banning the marriage of a same sex couple - not to mention the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. Although the government has passed legislation ensuring womens' right to abortion and contraceptive care, statements condemning these rights are regularly made by those supposed to be protecting them. Vice President Joe Biden himself stated that he considers abortion morally indefensible, "as a matter of faith."[1] In addition to this sort of threat against reasoned secular lifestyles, those that do not profess belief in a Christian god are essentially laughed out of high level government positions. The problem is not only a domestic one, either - it has become a popular American export. While religion has not necessarily driven us to war, many wars (such as Iraq) could not have happened without the backing and funding of evangelical Christian constituencies and lobbies. Religion has helped to justify breaches of the UN charter, war crimes, and the dissolution of human rights. Furthermore, Christianity and Islam are - by analysis of their track records and holy texts - the most violent religions in the world. They are also the religions being light-heartedly lampooned in the amusing webcomic, Jesus and Mo.

C2: Moments of great change in government are necessarily, historically, precipitated by public outcry and opposition mobility.

It is as Deepak Chopra said: "All great changes are preceded by chaos." The returns from Iraq and Vietnam, the abolition of slavery and the enactment of desegregation - these and countless other momentous cultural shifts have happened only under tremendous upwelling of public outcry and action. Living in a purportedly democratic nation, it is by definition impossible to enact change without the mobilization of a voting opposition constituency.

C3: The internet is important as a refuge for rationalists, empiricists and atheists.

While public and political life are dangerous places to profess reasonable beliefs about the burden of proof and how all powerful god-creatures with warped senses of humor can't meet them, the internet has provided an important arena for factually minded people to correspond and post images of cats. While this arena has spawned some degree of action (e.g. anonymous), it has also served as a venue for imagined action. By affixing their signatures to e-petitions and forwarding chain emails to their like-minded friends and relatives, rationalist web citizens acquire a false sense of accomplishment. This sense of accomplishment serves as an impediment to real political action, and allows us to continue, as a country, down the slippery slope of unconstitutionality.

C4: Censoring the Jesus and Mo webcomic (or other popular atheist/rationalist webcomics) would be immediately seen as puerile, totalitarian and most importantly, unconstitutional. It would force public and political action against religious governance.

Banning Jesus and Mo would accomplish three things.
a) It would be an assault on the first amendment so bold and obvious that it would galvanize public outrage and demand comparison to Nazi book burnings.
b) It would be an assault on the private world of the underrealized atheist/rationalist constituency, forcing political engagement on a level heretofore unseen by that constituency.
c) It would force the government to pass other legislation reinforcing constitutional rights, and preventing further slippage along its current trajectory.

In summary:
Banning Jesus and Mo would be a move to shock the public and the government into pushing religion back out of governance.
Banning Jesus and Mo would force the conversation about religious encroachment, and allow more public room for atheistic thought.
Banning Jesus and Mo would remind us all what it takes to protect our rights, and that the government ALWAYS demands oversight.
Banning Jesus and Mo might even save the world.
Jesus and Mo cartoons should ABSOLUTELY be banned.

[1]Interview by Tom Brokaw with Sen. Joe Biden, Meet the Press (Sept 7, 2008)
Debate Round No. 1
Hoonster

Con

Well, we both seem to have arsed this up a bit, as I’ve wasted my first round merely setting up the discussion! Ho-hum. So I’ll do my best to counter your points and provide what I hope will be a solid defence of why Jesus and Mo should not be banned.

Firstly, thanks to Ricky for accepting the challenge. I appreciate you’re not arguing the side you want to on this, so well done for giving a shot anyway. Notwithstanding this, please understand I’ll spare no quarter as I take your argument apart!

C1 Your first point seems to provide good reason why the Jesus and Mo cartoon should NOT be banned, rather than why it should! I would have thought religious satire to be an essential tool to counter government bias for religiosity. You seem to be suggesting that banning the cartoon would make people realise the government is becoming too religious in its nature, and such censorship would trigger the public at large to rebel against encroaching totalitarianism. I fear the exact opposite, in that such censorship would encourage religious groups to lobby for the reinstatement of blasphemy laws. Satirical criticism of ideas – religious or otherwise – is a vital tool for the following reasons:

a) Irony and satire can provide much keener insights into a group’s collective psyche and values than years of research. [1]
b) In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. [2]
c) Comic satire can attract a demographic that may not normally be interested in religious debate.
d) Humour! Satire allows us to enjoy our right to free speech and challenge religious ideas, while simultaneously being entertained.

C2 This seems to cover the same ground as C1. If you wish to mobilize a “voting opposition constituency”, I would suggest that taking a strong stand for free speech by defending the Jesus and Mo cartoons, would provide a better vehicle for change. Censoring the cartoons is more likely to be the thin end of the wedge, and would encourage yet more censorship of critical thought.

C3 You suggest by banning such cartoons, Internet activists would be forced into the traditional political sphere, thereby restoring some of the founding principles of American democracy (“real political action”). I would argue the Internet is rapidly taking on an important new role in facilitating social change. We have witnessed this in the Arab Spring, and indeed we are actively part of the online debate here in this forum. The Internet has the potential to be a powerful democratic tool [3], but it is vitally important censorship is kept to a minimum.

C4 This is essentially the same argument as C1


Your closing statements are certainly fun! I do like the thought of an uprising of atheists, rationalists, freethinkers, libertarians, and constitutionalists, all forcing the government to better protect the principles of free speech and free expression. It’s an appealing notion! I’m just not sure it would happen...

In Britain, the Jesus and Mo cartoons are at the centre of a (small) controversy at the moment. The London School of Economics Students’ Union has forced the removal of the cartoons from a Student website [4]. But for all the uproar in secular circles, the story hasn’t made a dent in the national press. So far at least, your proposed uprising looks decidedly unlikely. I suggest we watch and listen with interest as the debate unfolds. [5]

Now, as I right royally messed up my opening argument (by not writing one!), I’ll take some time to augment my argument (nice) with some further points.

Laws on Freedom of Speech

The UN “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” provides the following rights [6]:

- individual liberty, in the form of the freedoms of movement, thought, conscience and religion, speech, association and assembly, family rights, the right to a nationality, and the right to privacy (Articles 12, 13, 17 – 24);
- prohibition of any propaganda for war as well as any advocacy of national or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence by law (Article 20);

Freedom of thought and speech are thereby enshrined in international law, provided they do not constitute “religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”. So for our purposes, we need to determine if the Jesus and Mo cartoons incite discrimination, hostility and violence. I think what we are looking at here, is where to draw the line between valid and constructive satire, and hateful propaganda. For the later, we need look no further than the vile anti-Semitism of the Nazis - Google Image search this if you need reminding [7).

We can clearly see, that the Jesus and Mo cartoons are a world away from this. Christians and Muslims are not being vilified in these cartoons; they’re not being portrayed as evil, corrupt people. At worst, they are being portrayed as uncritical or lacking scepticism. But more importantly, it is the ideas and principles of the two religions that are being criticised – not the Christians and Muslims themselves.

Art

Finally, a point on art. Not so long ago, Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” was banned in Britain, Norway, Iceland, and elsewhere. I have to ask, would you want to live in a country where “Life of Brian” was banned? The Jesus and Mo cartoons are just like “Life of Brian”: they are humorous, intelligent satires, that hold a mirror up to religious ideas.


Summary

I have countered your arguments, C1 to C4, and added additional supporting arguments why Jesus and Mo should not be banned. Your opening argument provided an original, and frankly unexpected defence of the motion; but ultimately, it seems very unlikely that censorship of the cartoons would result in the secular revolution you are proposing. Much more likely, that religious fundamentalists would feel vindicated, and empowered, and seek to censor more art and literature critical of their worldview.

I feel we must stand firm against any censorship of critical thought, and fight against any restoration of blasphemy law. Freedom of Speech is too fundamentally important a concept to allow the religious right to run roughshod through it. It is simply not sufficient to be offended by something for it to be banned. As Hassan Radwan of the Council of Ex-Muslims has said:

“If we allow religion – any religion – to dictate what we can say and do, you can kiss goodbye to freedom of expression and a good many other freedoms. Christianity today is only relatively benign because secularism and the enlightenment has pushed it into the private sphere and defanged it. But give it half a chance and it would soon be enforcing itself on us all – for the love of Jesus of course.” [5]


[1] Vine Deloria, Jr. (1969) Custer Died For Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto chapter Indian humor, p.146 as quoted in Allan J. Ryan The trickster shift: humour and irony in contemporary native art p.9
[2] Robert C. Elliott, Satire, in: Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004
[3] Lincoln Dahlberg (2001) The Internet and Democratic Discourse: exploring the prospects of online deliberative forums extending the public sphere.
[4] http://www.secularism.org.uk...
[5] http://freethinker.co.uk...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://www.google.co.uk...

Ricky_Zahnd

Pro

I want to first establish what seems to be the common ground between Con's argument and my own.

In Con's refutation of my first condition, he states:
"Your first point [provides] good reason why the Jesus and Mo cartoon should NOT be banned, rather than why it should!"
This would be absolutely true if my argument was one based on moral absolutism. If I believed that one should always act on what was morally correct, even in the face of ruin, I would surely side with Con. We are in full agreement in all respects when Con discusses the importance of liberties and satire, and the light-hearted, nuanced critique provided by Jesus and Mo. We agree that it is morally indefensible to attack free speech and the civil rights of any person, but I argue that the overall protection of those inalienable rights is more important than a squabble over a single comic strip. In the following I will demonstrate that that comic is in fact a necessary casualty should we wish to win the larger war for our rights.

"You seem to be suggesting that banning the cartoon would make people realise the government is becoming too religious in its nature, and such censorship would trigger the public at large to rebel against encroaching totalitarianism. I fear the exact opposite, in that such censorship would encourage religious groups to lobby for the reinstatement of blasphemy laws."

I feel almost certainly that such an action as banning Jesus and Mo would embolden religious groups, so Con and I can rest in conformity there. Where we differ is that Con believes that under increasing pressure, public opposition to injustice will only lessen, and eventually disappear. This is a crux of his refutation. He believes that people faced with a precipice with surge on and hurl themselves over it. I believe that there is a tipping point, past which injustice will no longer be tolerated. Con's notion that opposition dies under increasing pressure opposes the idea of a tipping point. Examples to disprove this notion exist all throughout history - forming such a great number of precedents that it is absurd to ignore them.

In the American south, racism continued to be epidemic for long after the Civil War. It was only due to the passing and enforcement of the Jim Crow laws that Americans were able to see that the latent racism of the south had grown into a grotesque perversion of the law. The numerous legal challenges to racism focused not on civilian, public issues, but on the institutional racism that had been adopted by the government. [1] Without city ordinance itself reflecting the racism of the public, the issue could never have grown as large as it did, and could never have changed the face of America so strongly in support of equal opportunity and civil and humanitarian rights. [2][3][4]
During WWII the United States faced another threat to civil liberties in the form of the relocation of Japanese Americans. It was while presiding over this case that Justice Frank Murphy first introduced the word racism into the American legal lexicon. [5]
Many, many other examples exist, but I don't want to waste more text on them. Think of any significant policy change throughout history, and you may be assured that it came on the heels of institutional injustice.

This same proof stands in contradiction with Con's next refutation:
"I would suggest that taking a strong stand for free speech by defending the Jesus and Mo cartoons, would provide a better vehicle for change. Censoring the cartoons is more likely to be the thin end of the wedge, and would encourage yet more censorship of critical thought."

Here he suggests that throwing ourselves to the defense of the Jesus and Mo web comic will do more to affect change than waiting for censorship to be enacted. I again invoke the idea of a tipping point to refute that. The more institutional damage is done to our civil liberties in the name of religion, the more vehement will our opposition be. I can't say how much farther our liberties must be pushed before action is taken to protect them, but I can say with certainty that we have not been pushed far enough yet, or else this censorship would not even be in question. Regarding the existing Jesus and Mo debacle, Con states that

"for all the uproar in secular circles, the story hasn’t made a dent in the national press. So far at least, your proposed uprising looks decidedly unlikely."

However, significant change does not always create a public stir until it is well under way. The press have no reason to care until public interest will be peaked - which will not happen until our rights are threatened broadly and institutionally. Allowing the precedent of censoring Jesus and Mo could very well be the Davis v County School Board before the Brown v Board of Education. Even if it is only one of a number of precedents, it will push us that much closer to closing the door on a dim chapter in the history of free speech.

As a bit of an aside (just to be thorough) - Con claims that the internet is already mobilized in political action, invoking the Arab Spring:
"I would argue the Internet is rapidly taking on an important new role in facilitating social change. We have witnessed this in the Arab Spring, and indeed we are actively part of the online debate here in this forum. The Internet has the potential to be a powerful democratic tool, but it is vitally important censorship is kept to a minimum."
-but the Arab Spring is taking place in a region that has already reached its tipping point. It does not constitute the mobilization of the internet. It is the mobilization of peoples via the internet. Their pressure to act came from external sources, and affects external power structures. These are not the peoples that will come to the aid of our civil liberties, because they are fighting for their own in a region alienated by most of the western world. Perhaps I left my statement to broad. When I mentioned the concerned citizens of the internet in C3, I meant mainly those who live physically in the United States and Britain, as those seem to be the most important places in establishing policy that concerns the issue at hand.

In conclusion, it is essential that we sit by while Jesus and Mo is censored. By allowing this precedent we can bring ourselves one step closer to forcing new protective legislation that will usher in the next chapter in personal liberty. If we work to stop the censors we will only put off the inevitable, and sink more slowly into moral quagmire - and experience shows us that a gradual change is easier to stand than a sudden one.

Thank you for a challenging debate!

[1]Nelson, Arthur C.; Dawkins, Casey J.; Sanchez, Thomas W. (2004). "Urban Containment and Residential Segregation: A Preliminary Investigation".
[2]Buchanan v. Warley - Bernstein, David E. Rehabilitating Lochner: Defending Individual Rights against Progressive Reform. Chapter 5. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.
[3]Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia - http://encyclopediavirginia.org...
[4]Additionally, Briggs v Elliot, Gebhart v Belton, Davis v County School Board of Prince Edard County etc etc.
[5]Korematsu v United States. He stated that by upholding the forced relocation of Japaese Americans the Court was sinking into "the ugly abyss of racism." Lopez, Ian F. Haney (2007). "‘A nation of minorities’: race, ethnicity, and reactionary colorblindness" (PDF). Stanford Law Review 59 (4): 985–1064., http://supreme.justia.com...
Debate Round No. 2
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Stephen_Hawkins 5 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
HoonsterRicky_ZahndTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Ricky fell for the rookie debating mistake when debating your own viewpoint, which is obvious in hindsight: engaging your own viewpoint. If your viewpoint is strong enough to warrant wanting to debate it, then that means you have an argument which the other side cannot refute successfully (at least, in your eyes). Therefore, you should attack from different points. It seems, however, Ricky attacked his own personal arguments, and their refutal came easy to Hoonster because of this.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
HoonsterRicky_ZahndTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: I believe the constitutionality argument was the most important one, pro succeeded in proving that point. Also he proved banning it targets atheists, and such. His points stood in the end. A pro win.