The Instigator
Grumpy
Pro (for)
Winning
22 Points
The Contender
asiannub
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points

Resolved: Legislation to Extend First Amendment Rights to Employees and Students

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/14/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,308 times Debate No: 10121
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (6)

 

Grumpy

Pro

Resolved: That Congress(1) enact legislation to extend First Amendment(2) rights to persons employed in privately owned enterprise(3) and persons employed by and students of privately funded schools(4) and universities(5) , while transferring certain responsibilities(6) from said employers and administrators to employees and students.

Definitions: See footnotes

Under current law and practice, private employers and school administrators are empowered to punish, up to and including "disciplinary lay-off" and firing "for cause", any employee at will. This is termed "serving at the pleasure of the employer," and is the standard practice in the United States. Certain restrictions do apply, however, among them any form of Discrimination covered buy the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and amendments thereto, The National Labor Relations Act, and others(7).

However, the First Amendment rights only apply to government employees and students of public schools and universities. Employees of private companies as well as students at private schools and universities give up their rights of free speech, assembly, and press as soon as they accept employment or enroll in the school or university. This also extends to include what an employee or student does on their own time and in their own homes!

Unless something is done now, ruthless employers, eager to avoid paying unemployment benefits or getting embroiled in Anti-Discrimination litigation, will use these lack of rights to fire employees for simply posting something the employer doesn't like on FaceBook, MySpace or their blog.

Obviously, protection for employers will still be afforded under the laws covering slander and libel as well as defamation laws so employers and schools will not be put at undue risk from unscrupulous employees and students. Nothing in this legislation will negate or diminish the application of these protections for either employers or employees, students or school officials.

Footnotes:

(1)Congress: The Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of American
(2)First Amendment: Amendment #I to the Constitution Of the United States which States, "Congress shall make no law respecting the 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 to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
(3) http://en.wikipedia...

(4) http://en.wikipedia...

(5) http://en.wikipedia...

(6)Currently, various laws at Federal, State and local levels that place heavy responsibility upon employers and school administrators to prevent and/or punish employees, faculty and students for instances of harassment of various types, regardless if it is done with the knowledge and/or consent, implied or explicit, of management or administration.

(7)See http://www.eeoc.gov...
asiannub

Con

I accept the challenge and look forward to rigorous debate on this topic.
First of all, it must be noted that in the status quo, people retain free speech rights but are only protected from the state and national governments under the 1st, 5th, and 14th Amendments combined. This being set, the resolution will in fact make it so private employers will have no right to restrain speech in their workplace.
My opponent's main argument is that rights will be abused, and mentioned the possibility of someone getting fired over a Myspace or Facebook post that offends the employer. My opponent doesn't note the fact that the employers are people as well, and when you place restrictions on them, they are losing their freedoms and liberties. My opponent is essentially trading off one right for another, giving rights to the employees but removing them from the employer. This is no better, if not worse, than the status quo.
Another point that must be raised is with the example you have provided. The reason many employers do fire people for these kinds of posts is for libel, defamation, or things just plain inappropriate. For example, people get fired for looking up inappropriate material at work, e.g. social networking, porn, games, etc.
My opponent addresses this. However, employees can still be unscrupulous without passing the boundaries that would define what they do as any of the above. For example, if an employee insults or demeans his boss on a social networking site, it would reduce respect and authority for the boss. This would in turn reduce efficiency.
Now onto the advantages of staying with the status quo:
Advantage 1: Increased efficiency
Subpoint a.) As mentioned above, efficiency in the workplace will be increased because the boss will have more respect. Also, the chances of having a very disruptive presence in the workplace will be decreased, because even of what my opponent has mentioned, those methods aren't foolproof.
Subpoint b.) This leads to more efficient workplace, which leads to a better economy as people become more productive
Subpoint c.) The impacts of a more efficient population are huge. Economy, quality of life, all down the board, it increases.
When voting, several things must be kept in mind
1, if you vote for my opponent, you aren't improving liberties which is what my opponent is advocating for. As mentioned above and repeated here, you are trading off one liberty for another. Thus, my opponent cannot gather any offense in any form because the plan is flawed.
2, Efficiency in workplaces will remain relatively high and go up if this resolution is negated.
Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1
Grumpy

Pro

I want to thank my opponent for taking up this challenge.

I will counter my opponent's arguments in the order in which they appear in his argument.

"...the resolution will in fact make it so private employers will have no right to restrain speech in their workplace."

Not so. Instances of speech containing threats, sexual or ethnic slurs or references, among others are covered in many other Federal, State and local laws and ordinances as referred to in my footnote 6.

"...when you place restrictions on them [employers], they are losing their freedoms and liberties."
"...trading off one right for another."

Only if you consider the ability to suppress, by threat of economic punishment, the right to free speech of another, a "right" or "liberty."

"Another point that must be raised is with the example you have provided. The reason many employers do fire people for these kinds of posts is for libel, defamation, or things just plain inappropriate. For example, people get fired for looking up inappropriate material at work, e.g. social networking, porn, games, etc."

None of these is applicable to Freedom of Speech. to wit: Libel and Defamation have their own laws. Inappropriate behavior is covered under a couple of laws such as "under federal law, Title VII prohibits workplace harassment and discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, sex stereotyping. In California, the state legislature has adopted Title VII and expanded on the protections afforded under anti-harassment/discrimination laws to include protections based on religious creed, color, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, and perceived sexual orientation."

Source: http://www.articlesbase.com...

In fact, while many states already have moved in this direction, it is the disparity among the state laws that promotes the view that one universal federal law is preferable.

"...if an employee insults or demeans his boss on a social networking site, it would reduce respect and authority for the boss. This would in turn reduce efficiency."

The balance of efficiency vs. free speech weighs heavily in favor of free speech. An analogy: In the early 1800's, when slavery was considered a "right," Plantation owners' profits were high at the expense of the slave labor utilized by the owners. In the latter 1800's, Slavery was outlawed, and many Plantation owners were forced to pay workers for their services, thus making the generation of profits "less efficient." Thus it was that the "right" to efficient profits was outweighed by the right to freedom for the slaves.

In fact, every law passed is "purchased" from those who were deemed to retain those rights prior to the law. In other words, all laws either forbid something that was not forbidden until the law was passed or requires something that was not required prior to it passage.

"Now onto the advantages of staying with the status quo:
Advantage 1: Increased efficiency
Subpoint a.) As mentioned above, efficiency in the workplace will be increased because the boss will have more respect. Also, the chances of having a very disruptive presence in the workplace will be decreased, because even of what my opponent has mentioned, those methods aren't foolproof."
"Subpoint b.) This leads to more efficient workplace, which leads to a better economy as people become more productive"
"Subpoint c.) The impacts of a more efficient population are huge. Economy, quality of life, all down the board, it increases."

False logic. Maintaining the status does not change the status quo. Efficiency will not be increased due solely to NOT changing anything.

I am surprised that my opponent has chosen not to address the issue of Free Speech rights for students. Thus, I will conclude this Round by Summarizing:

The resolution proposed does nothing to impede or curtail the rights of employers or school officials. In fact, it reduces the liability of said parties by shifting a portion of the responsibility for adherence to current anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and certain other laws as cited in the resolution. It merely extends the Freedoms enjoyed by government employees and students of Public Education facilities to those persons working or enrolled in the private sector, while at the same time making each person more responsible for his or her actions.

A vote in my favor will not, as my opponent has implied, "improve liberties," but rather, extend liberty in the form of free speech, press, and right to assembly, to literally millions of people who are not currently enjoying them. Remember, an employee can be fired for even mentioning his employer's name or for corresponding with the employee of a competitor and a student can be punished for even suggesting to a friend that he or she deserved a higher grade than that which was awarded on a test.

Thank you.
asiannub

Con

I will now counter my opponent's arguments in the order he has listed them (which were listed in order against my case)

Then I will go over a few brief points
I will accept his definition of the resolution on his first point, where he states that other laws still apply.
On his refutation against my argument that stated his case couldn't gather offense because he was trading one's rights for another's, I still contend this. You are removing the right of the employer to keep order and maintain authority in their workplace; this is the right I am getting at, not the supressing of their employers (although this is the means to that end)

I will drop the argument I made about defamation, libel, etc. because I unfortunately did not fully understand what he was trying to contend

Next, my opponent tries to link free speech being valued over efficiency to slavery in the United States. This argument is fairly extreme, because the rights we are suppressing do not go to that level. Supressing workplace freedom of speech does not lead all the way to slavery because
1, the private sector can only take it to so far of a level before they completely lose the bulk of their employees.
2, workers cannot be referred to as slaves; they will never reach that kind of working condition

Now moving on to my opponent's refutations against my advantages:
my opponent states that the advantages I create are logical fallacies because the status quo can't change anything. I agree, and I apologize. However, the other half of the point I make still remains: efficiency is still higher with the status quo. My opponent does not contest this. Thus, I will move on.

On attacking my opponent's case again,
He makes the argument that rights are more important than efficiency. However, this is not always the case. There are two reasons (As well as another related argument that doesn't fit here)
1, Without efficiency, the world collapses. There is a very real slippery slope. If rights are put over efficiency to too great of an extent, the efficiency of the United States will be lowered far too much. This in turn will lead to
(1), the end of civilization. Explanation: There are two key concepts here, that of Classical Republicanism (http://en.wikipedia.org...) and Natural Rights (http://en.wikipedia.org...)
As of now, we are fairly well balanced between the ideals of classical republicanism (government being the end the people are means to) and natural rights (people being the end government works to)
When the latter is overexercised, it leads to the collapse of civilization and the beginning of the state of nature (or the return according to Locke)
(2), end of the world. Explanation: if the United States falls into anarchy, not only will quality of life be decreased, but there will be random people in control of nuclear arms and the most powerful (or what was) country on earth. It would not end well, vengeful people looking for people to blame
2, The rights being taken away are trivial.
There exist what are called Time, Place, and Manner restrictions. These are the most important; it means the Marching Band can't come playing down the street at 1AM. It basically states that the Time, Place, and Manner must be acceptable for Free Speech. Time, must be a reasonable time such as during the day. Place, must be public. Manner, must be the kind of speech (no defamation, libel, etc.)
This is important and relates to this because even though my opponent is trying to change these, if we make it so the Place restrictions extend to even private places, it would lead down a slippery slope which would give citizens free speech everywhere. THAT would be chaotic. There is a reason these restrictions are in place; they have been consistently upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional under the 1st Amendment. Also, if the place restrictions were removed, it would lead down a slippery slope that would mean the removal of all place restrictions. If we remove workplace place restrictions, people would question why there are place restrictions in other places. Currently, it extends only to public areas. If we even infringe a little bit into the private, then it would most definitely lead to the private area becoming a place for Free Speech. This is not good; it would remove the penumbra that gives the right to privacy under the 1st, 4th, 9th, and 14th Amendments.

So in conclusion, this resolution does not do as my opponent states. My opponent says that it will increase rights. You are still trading off rights for others. In fact, you're losing more rights than you're gaining if you vote for my opponent.
Employers lose right to maintain their workplace, and many people will eventually lose the right to privacy under the "penumbra" decided in Roe v. Wade.
Also, the economical repercussions would be disastrous if you vote in affirmation of this resolution. The efficiency of the United States would decrease, and eventually lead to the END OF THE WORLD. This is too great a risk to take; by voting for my opponent, you are ending the world as we know it.
A final statement: Efficiency is more important than natural rights in this particular case because the rights that could be lost are minimal, and already stated is that you will lose more rights if you affirm.
Thank you, I look forward to the final arguments to be presented in this debate.
Debate Round No. 2
Grumpy

Pro

I have been criticized by some for a perceived over-reliance on semantics. But there is a big difference between my opponent's argument when he mentions "My opponent is essentially trading off one right for another..." and his more recent reference to that same argument where he states that my refutation was "... trading one's rights for another's...". My answer to this latest challenge is, if you consider an employer's power to restrict free speech of an employee, even while the employee is in public or in his own home, a RIGHT, then, yes I am trading that power of repression for the right for one to voice his or her opinion without fear of reprisal, as long as the exercise thereof does not conflict with other existing laws.

My opponent also feels that "...the supressing of their employers [I believe he inadvertently erred, since he clearly meant 'employees']..."is the means to that end..." and is thus justified "...to keep order and maintain authority in their workplace...". I argue that free speech and the right to assembly, rather than adversely affecting "order" and "authority", actually improve relations by bringing problems between the employer and the employee out into the open and addressing ways to solve perceived wrongs rather than keeping them "bottled up" until the employee either quits or get fired.

Let's set the record straight. I was NOT equating the lack of free speech to slavery and I was not referring to today's workers as "Slaves." I was also not promising that today's workers will end up as slaves. I merely made an analogy between slavery and its benefits to an employer as opposed to the the abolishment of slavery and the benefits of freedom gained by the slaves to the "benefits" of being able to suppress free speech by an employer and the greater benefit to today's workers and students by granting them the freedom of speech.

"...efficiency is still higher with the status quo. My opponent does not contest this.

On the contrary, I do contest this. The freedom to criticize, to complain about working conditions and other grievances is, I am certain my opponent will agree, a fundamental part of Union contracts, indeed, quite often the reason a majority of workers vote for union representation at their workplace. And recent studies have shown that workers represented by a union have a much HIGHER production record than workers in similar workplaces who are not represented by a union. (Page 36, Scientific American - August 1998 (News and Analysis - Economics) Referenced at http://www3.sympatico.ca...

"He makes the argument that rights are more important than efficiency. However, this is not always the case. There are two reasons (As well as another related argument that doesn't fit here)
1, Without efficiency, the world collapses. There is a very real slippery slope. If rights are put over efficiency to too great of an extent, the efficiency of the United States will be lowered far too much. This in turn will lead to
(1), the end of civilization. Explanation: There are two key concepts here, that of Classical Republicanism (http://en.wikipedia.org......) and Natural Rights (http://en.wikipedia.org......)
As of now, we are fairly well balanced between the ideals of classical republicanism (government being the end the people are means to) and natural rights (people being the end government works to)
When the latter is overexercised, it leads to the collapse of civilization and the beginning of the state of nature (or the return according to Locke)
(2), end of the world. Explanation: if the United States falls into anarchy, not only will quality of life be decreased, but there will be random people in control of nuclear arms and the most powerful (or what was) country on earth. It would not end well, vengeful people looking for people to blame."

The ULTIMATE SLIPPERY SLOPE!!! I find it absolutely preposterous that by granting employees of private industry and students of private schools and universities the rights enjoyed by those in public employment and schools that that would CAUSE massive nuclear war and the end of civilization. Just the term "slippery slope" is the title given to a false argument. Unless my opponent can substantiate these claims with bona fide references, I will not bother to refute their validity further.

"...many people will eventually lose the right to privacy under the "penumbra" decided in Roe v. Wade."

The "penumbra" cited in Roe vs. Wade is actually being violated as we speak by employers and school officials who rely upon statements made in private "chatrooms" to summarily punish employees or students. The rest of Roe vs. Wade has no bearing on this discussion.

"...the economical repercussions would be disastrous if you vote in affirmation of this resolution. The efficiency of the United States would decrease, and eventually lead to the END OF THE WORLD. This is too great a risk to take; by voting for my opponent, you are ending the world as we know it."

Too ridiculous to respond.

"...Efficiency is more important than natural rights..."

The First Amendment (as well as this resolution) does not refer to natural, or inalienable, rights. The right of free speech is a right granted by governments and should be granted to all Americans, regardless of employment or student status. To vote Pro, is a vote for human equality. Please, vote Pro...the world will NOT end in a massive nuclear blast because of your vote. I Promise.

Thank you
asiannub

Con

asiannub forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Pro's resolution is indefinite, but it would seem to allow employees to offend customers, undermine confidence in the organization or workplace, advise customers to seek other suppliers, or make a workplace undesirable because of unwanted proselytizing -- so long as the offense was not legal discrimination). "Free speech" generally encompasses dress codes, so fast food restaurants and service organizations could not require uniforms or even neat attire. I job is a contract freely entered into. If the employee does like the deal, he should quit, not be given the right to damage the business.

Pro did not cite a single case where current free speech restrictions pose problems. The Univ of California at Berkeley had the "naked guy" case where a student refused to wear any clothing. They actually put up with him for quite a while, then got tired of it and gave him the boot. Pro would seem to extend the naked guy a Constitutional right to be annoying.

Con did not argue well and ultimately defaulted, so it was not a very good debate.
Posted by Grumpy 7 years ago
Grumpy
I am looking forward to rigorous debate on this very timely subject. As unemployment runs high, employees are asked to give up more rights and accept more oppression in the workplace just to be able to keep a job or get a job.
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Vote Placed by Nails 7 years ago
Nails
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RoyLatham
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crackofdawn_Jr
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