Resolved: This house would hold authors responsible for offending readers
Solon offered; "Resolved: All satirists ought to be taken seriously" as a defense of tasteless humor that was perhaps offensive, but meant only, "to be funny."
Let's see if the hairstylist is willing to defend that position....
No new arguments in final round, but new examples are fine.
To win the debate the "Pro/Aff/Gov" must demonstrate that the proposed policy or "plan," "solves for," or fixes the "harms" or problem(s) the resolution addresses. The "Opp/Neg/Con" must show that the proposed policy does not solve for/fix the harms/problems raised by the resolution.
The Government offers the following definitions for this debate:
This House" "Big Five" publishers; Penguin/Random House, Hachette, Macillan, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster
Offending: Aggravating or antagonizing a person or people group with racist rhetoric and/or publicity.
Inherency: Financial motives trump ethics in business decisions. Plan will put ethics above profits when an author is demonstrably racist.
Significance: Regardless of perception, we don't yet live in a post-racism society. Moreover, the inaccurate perception that we do, often allows for ignoring the ways in which racism remains prevalent. Racist vitriol has been on the increase in the United States, especially in certain political circles when the cameras are rolling. The plan will put ethics at a premium to profits when racism is part of the specific example the case deals with, and better track society toward "post-racism"
Harms: The harms of racism are robustly established. This resolution deals with the harms of failing to penalize authors that publish and/or express racist rhetoric within the status quo.
Harms 1: The status quo further entrenches racism: failure to punish racism makes it more acceptable and and commonplace. These "house" members are in a unique position to curtail racism in our marketplace by terminating contracting authors that demonstrate racism in print or otherwise.
Harms 2: Reduced public image and credibility: failure to punish bigotry to the extent that "house: members can, damages the company image(s) of those house members. It also reduces the credibility of the enterprise(s) in addressing issues that deal with race in any form or magnitude.
Harms 3: Opportunity loss and general liability: Tolerance of racism on the part of the contracted authors in business with "house" members; by house members, constitutes safe haven for the attitudes of those contractees. This necessarily exposes the house members to opportunity loss in form of talent, customers/sales, retail business relationships and connectivity with audiences and the journalistic world.
Plan: Publishers will terminate contracts with and recall published product by contracted/consigned authors that have expressed or published racist views, material or vitriol in print or otherwise.
How plan addresses significance[of the topic]: The plan moves society towards actual "post-racism." Reducing the overall acceptance of racist rhetoric elevates the standard of public dialogue and public standards in general.
How plan solves for Harms 1: cross apply how plan addresses the significance of the topic.
How plan solves for Harms 2: By terminating business relationship(s) with authors that damage the reputation and credibility of house members, they will be able to better protect and preserve credibility of overall published content and the public image of the company.
How plan solves for Harms 3: Reduced liability and opportunity loss; plan reduces the risk of house members being drawn into legal battles over the espoused views of a consigned author. Plan also reduces or eliminates risk of opportunity loss that is wedded to transacting business with publicly racist business partners.
Ad 1: Increased sales and profits via increased inclusion: By improving/protecting public image of house members through policies that reject racism businesses include more potential customers that will buy their goods/services. There will be less consumers, "voting with their feet" against house members in the marketplace at large.
Ad 2: Increased talent and partnership via increased inclusion: By improving/protecting public image through policies that reject racism businesses include more potential talent for house member companies. There will be fewer potential employees, consigned creative talent and retail partners, "voting with their feet," against house members in the marketplace at large.
Ad 3: Marketplace example by putting ethics above profits: By putting ethics ahead of profits house members set a unique example in the marketplace at large. House members benefit from a wealth of increased positive public image and publicity, as well as uniquely positioning themselves to set market conditions and standards.
The Gov has provided a resolutional case that identifies needs not currently met within the status quo. The Gov has provided a plan that addresses and solves for the specific harms this resolution addresses, as well as providing unique advantages for, "house members" Having carried the burdens of the topic and provided solvency for significant harms in the status quo, The Pro side urges a ballot in favor of this case, plan and advantages.
I never assented to all of these structural rules when I agreed to the debate, and to accept them given the blatant stacking of the deck with the given definitions would be nonsense. I could run a K that truthfully asserts that we have no right to incentivize suppression of free speech, but I prefer to debate the case more closely to the original intentions of both myself and my opponent.
Here are my better definitions:
This House: The USFG.
Offending: Cause to feel upset, annoyed, or resentful (from Google’s dictionary)
Additionally, I’d like to add:
Hold responsible: Punish.
I will defend these definitions as superior. The USFG is a better representative of "this house" because publishers, and especially the Big Five, no longer have comprehensive control over what is published. As of 2014, on Amazon’s best-seller list, the Big Five account for only 16% of e-books on the best-seller list, while self-published books account for 31% of all e-book sales (1). This is not to mention the plethora of opinion blogs, biased news sites like Breitbart, and YouTube news commentators (like Philip DeFranco), which altogether show that publishing cannot be controlled anymore by the Big Five, and their efforts would not have a lasting impact on the market anyway, given their recent sharp decline. The USFG at this point is the only entity with enough broad reaching power to enact such censorship.
My definition of "offending" is superior simply because Pro’s is ludicrously narrow, specifically the second half, "racist rhetoric and/or publicity". Let’s consider one of the most famously offensive works of recent times--Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. This is a book that many Muslims found offensive, so much so that Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against the author. Islam is not a race, it is a religion, and there is not even agreement about whether the work even actually insults Islam (2). Yet, the offense is clearly there, and it had a clear, significant impact on Rushdie (who had to be guarded) and the Iranian people. Some people are offended by violent movies. Those are not racist. Some people are offended by insults to their religion. Those are not racist. Some are offended by others calling their favorite movie terrible. That is not racist. As I have demonstrated that offense clearly exists in non-racial contexts, my definition is superior.
My definition of "hold responsible" should be used because punishment is necessary to stop "offensive" writers from publishing their idea, and holding responsible implies an action being taken specifically against the writers themselves.
The implied advocacy of a resolution that argues for "hold[ing] authors responsible" is censorship. Punishment (holding responsible) for offending requires actions that make offense on behalf of said author less likely in the future, if it is to be effective punishment (if it is ineffective, there is no reason to dole this punishment out). By artificially altering the discourse that may be undertaken by the American people, censorship results. A censor is, "an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures,radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds" (3), and censorship is simply the undertaking of those actions (4). Suppressing the ability of authors to spread their ideas directly results in suppression of their ideas. That the resolution advocates for censorship is proven.
Censorship results in net harms to society
To negate the resolution, I need only to show that its implied advocacy both necessarily follows from the resolution, and that the impact of that advocacy is of net harm. I previously demonstrated that censorship does necessarily follow from "holding authors responsible", so it is now time to show that this principle is on balance harmful. I don’t think this will be challenging, but I will go in-depth nevertheless.
P1: The USFG is imperfect
P2: The USFG decides what authors must have their speech restricted
C1: The USFG will imperfectly restrict speech--that is, it will allow at least some harmful authors to keep speaking and prevent some benign authors from speaking.
P3: If a benign author is unjustly prevented from speaking, his human rights have been infringed upon.
C2: USFG censorship infringes upon human rights.
P1: This is self-evident. Humanity is imperfect, and a body made up of imperfect beings cannot be perfect. I will defend this more in-depth next round if need be.
P2: As I showed earlier, only the USFG can implement effective censorship measures.
C1: Logically follows. The criteria that the USFG uses to censor works will not be equivalent to that which maximizes good and minimizes harm due to its imperfection. The FCC notes that the current legal criteria for banning speech on radio waves is, "An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest. The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law. The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value" (5). Yet, these criteria are subjective--"community standards", "average" person, "prurient", "patently offensive", "lack serious . . . value". George Carlin’s 7 Dirty Wordssegment was banned from the airwaves on this basis. Yet, I personally do not find the work sexually explicit, I think it contains serious value as political commentary, and I, a relatively average person, do not find it offensive.
P3: Freedom of speech is constitutionally protected, and is recognized as a universal human right by the UN (6).
C2: Logically follows--Benign speakers necessarily have their speech restricted by censorship.
Finally, we must weigh this infringement of human rights against any potential benefits of censorship. Essentially, Con’s position upholds a moral principle that human rights may be violated if there is a determination by the USFG that possession of such rights would indirectly lead to social unrest or other harms. This is a dangerous position to take, one that undermines the entire basis of Western thought. If the government is given the power to judge speech, the power must necessarily be taken away from the people. The people already have the right to not buy a book if they find it offensive, or may buy it if they do not. In this way, the people determine what is offensive--what is not offensive to the majority of the populace will on balance be more successful and will see its ideas spread more than something that is offensive. The government judging speech takes away this choice, and with it, there is affirmation that the will of the government is superior to the will of the people.
With this principle affirmed, freedom is extinguished. Because the government as an institution is distinct from the people, speech that will be allowed is speech that supports the aims of the government, not the people. It is easy enough to grant the USFG power; it is far harder to take it away. Perhaps anti-government speech is offensive to hard-working politicians; the USFG shall have the power to restrict it. Giving the government power to restrict offensive speech is giving them power to restrict all speech. Imagine if the Civil Rights movement were restricted even further than it already was on the grounds that the rise of African Americans in protest was "offensive" to the "superior" race. To grant the USFG power to censor also blatantly violates the 1st Amendment.
We may further see the harms of censorship within authoritarian governments--namely, that every government established it to consolidate power. I may confidently assert that restriction of free speech by the USFG except in times where the very existence of the nation is in jeopardy leads to autocracy, because its defiance of the Constitution leaves this republic with no legal or popular restraints, and the tendency of extralegal governments is to accumulate power, not spread it. The USSR, China, Japan (before the post WWII era), South American juntas, the revolutionary Iranian government, and so on. Only countries restricted by the law and respecting human rights become democratic--Greece, the US, England, and so forth. Censorship violates both counts
Censorship itself also does little to stamp out dissidence, because it is imperfect. Even in today's advanced world, people constantly find ways around China's Great Firewall (7). People who are determined to access information will find ways to access it. If Pro would like to attempt to show that the Chinese are less in support of dissenting ideas now than they were 50 years ago, I would love to see that. Or perhaps he would love to talk about how withholding Mein Kampf from German audiences has stopped Neo-Nazism, which still has several thousand followers (8, 9).
In fact, censorship has an effect of making ideas "in vogue". Consider the ridiculous notion that vaccines cause autism. Alternative news outlets literally cite its censorship as making it credible (10).
Normally I try to be as nice as I can when responding to even the poorest of arguments, but the fact is the bulk of the case offered by my opponent is a straw-man fallacy right out of your college logic textbook (Chapter 3, Hurley's logic)
Solon is possibly unfamiliar with Parliamentary debate policy resolutions. Nevertheless, Solon's ill-preparedness for this topic DOES NOT constitute a good reason for rejecting the definitions.
I have provided a link below to clarify how Parliamentary policy resolutions work.
The "Pro/Gov/Aff" side has the benefit or, "Privilege" of defining the terms of the resolution, and the burden of affirming the resolution and providing advocacy that addresses the needs or, "harms" the resolution deals with.
More importantly, the Gov side is specifically expected to use definitions of the terms of the topic to narrow the debate, inasmuch as it is used to clarify the agency that will enact a plan, and what harms the plan will address.
The burden on the Opp is simply to negate the resolution and the claims made by the Gov case. He needs to show why the plan won't work, or the problem doesn"t need solving/doesn"t exist. In this case, my opponent prefers a fallacious case instead of carrying his burdens.
This is all offered to better clarify the complaint my opponent is trying, and ultimately fails to make; that the analysis of the topic I've offered is abusive. The definitions are not abusive, the Gov has not "Stacked the deck" and in fact my opponent shows that in his opening case, by arguing against the level of impact that my case and specifically, "this House: the Big Five publishers," can achieve.
Definitions are not abusive if my case provides ground from which my opponent can argue. The negative has not been asked to argue in favor of genocide or against the heliocentric model of our solar system. There is plenty of room to clash with the topic as I have presented it, and my opponent identifies that ground in his own case. He then proceeds to complain that he didn't get to debate the case he expected and devolves into a straw-man fallacy. He also drops everything in my case besides definitions.
My opponent lost by attacking what he feels my case should have been (his straw-man fallacy), rather than the case I offered. Then he dropped every argument I actually made. That"s too bad for him! I upheld my burdens and offered a resolutional case, my opponent dropped that case and told us about what he would have preferred to debate, censorship. That entire portion of his case is a straw-man fallacy.
He even identifies some of the ground he has in this debate, but then he dropped my case anyways. He dropped solvency, plan and advantages. He dropped the entire debate by instead arguing against something that was never presented, censorship.
I never advocated for censorship. I argued for something quite different, a modification within the marketplace that penalizes highly offensive published authors using a plan my agency (this house) can enact. Every word spent by my opponent addressing censorship is categorically irrelevant.
I said earlier that my opponent, while trying to complain about the definitions, also pointed out the ground available to argue against my case. Keep in mind, if my opponent has ground to clash with what I offered, the definitions are not abusive.
My opponent said: "The USFG is a better representative of "this house" because publishers, and especially the Big Five, no longer have comprehensive control over what is published. As of 2014, on Amazon"s best-seller list, the Big Five account for only 16% of e-books on the best-seller list, while self-published books account for 31% of all e-book sales (1). This is not to mention the plethora of opinion blogs, biased news sites like Breitbart, and YouTube news commentators (like Philip DeFranco), which altogether show that publishing cannot be controlled anymore by the Big Five, and their efforts would not have a lasting impact on the market anyway, given their recent sharp decline.
So my opponent claims that the Big Five account for less than 16% of the published marketplace, and as such, a plan using this agency doesn't provide a significant impact (in his opinion)
Here we have an argument against the resolution as I have defined it. He argues my case is of low impact. I disagree and will show why. Nevertheless, this shows Solon has plenty to work with. He makes the same mistake in attacking my definition of offending.
My opponent claims: "Pro's [definition of offending] is ludicrously narrow, specifically the second half, "racist rhetoric and/or publicity". Let"s consider one of the most famously offensive works of recent times--Salman Rushdie"s The Satanic Verses. This is a book that many Muslims found offensive, so much so that Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against the author. Islam is not a race, it is a religion, and there is not even agreement about whether the work even actually insults Islam (2). Yet, the offense is clearly there, and it had a clear, significant impact on Rushdie (who had to be guarded) and the Iranian people. Some people are offended by violent movies. Those are not racist. Some people are offended by insults to their religion. Those are not racist. Some are offended by others calling their favorite movie terrible. That is not racist."
My opponent actually shoots himself in the foot twice here, by again showing us the ground he should have argued from, but chose instead to bank on a fallacious case.
What's worse for him, is that he also acknowledges the significance and harms my analysis deals with, but offered no solution of his own. He could have offered a counterplan, but never did. He could have argued status quo solves for this already, but did not. He complains about the definitions, yet acknowledges the significance of the issues my analysis raises. He doesn't dispute the significance or the specific harms I cited. All he does is go on a tangent about censorship that has no bearing on the plan I offered.
The definitions are not abusive. Rather, they allow us to focus on/solve for a particularly egregious set of harms that status quo does not. Once again, by calling attention to his ground in the debate, he negates his claim that my definitions are abusive.
However, even the case of religion (Solon's example), the plan I have offered is not exclusive of incorporating the same principle for intolerant behavior toward religious groups (like a cartoon of Mohamed for example) or any other patently offensive material. This option for the Gov is called, "permutation" and is a well-established affirmative option for all forms of policy debate. My agency can just the same handle bigoted rhetoric towards a religious or gender group as it has already addressed racist vitriol.
Solon offers a definition for "Hold responsible," or, "Punish" which there"s no reason to object to specifically. The burden on me is to offer a plan that will "hold responsible" or "punish" authors for offending readers that this agency has the ability to do. (For example, we can"t use publishers to go to Mars and we cannot use NASA to pull print material out of circulation.)
The Big Five have the ability to fire consigned authors and pull their material out of circulation. My opponent agrees, but claims that since only 16% of e-books are published by "my agency, the plan has a low threshold for significance. He"s wrong, and here"s why:
The best penalty on an offensive author is to fire them and stop selling their work. It hits them where it counts.
My opponent said in his opening arguments: "Punishment (holding responsible) for offending requires actions that make offense on behalf of said author less likely in the future, if it is to be effective punishment (if it is ineffective, there is no reason to dole this punishment out)."
My punishment is very effective, even if the big five only publish 16% of e-books. This punishment can strip away a lucrative career in moments, and destroy an author's reputation far more than censorship.
For example, if Warner Books fired Donald Trump right now over what he has said about immigrants, and stopped shipping out new copies of, "The art of the deal," it would send shockwaves through the airwaves. It would make a glaring example of what authors, however prolific, can expect to reap for such horrible behavior. This example supports my solvency and all of my advantages.
My opponent's entire tangent about censorship is not only irrelevant to the debate, it's a straw man fallacy. Below is a link below, but here's what you will find in a google search of the term:
"The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position."
This is what my opponent deliberately tries to do regarding censorship and the resolution. He's actually the one trying to ignore the resolution, even though he acknowledges the significance of the topic. He's the one trying to shirk convention and weasel around the rules. He's the one trying to stack the deck.
You can reject everything regarding censorship my opponent said. My opponent would be better served by offering a counterplan that doles out censorship. Instead he claims I should have advocated for censorship and then proceeds to attack censorship. That's fallacious and it's cheating!
The idea that the resolution suggests censorship is absurd. In reality censorship does not impact the author at all. It impacts readers and consumers. Hitting someone's livelihood, limiting their ability to publish offensive, in this case, racist material is a much better way to solve the harms and actually hold them responsible. It's a better plan than censorship, and it's more resolutional, because it impacts authors not readers.
It would be rather cheap of me to attempt winning on purely semantic grounds. With that in mind, I concede. No free coffee for me. I would certainly love to do another debate with parameters that we both agree upon before its' start (perhaps even a formal style) in a month or so.
I tip my hat to Solon KR!
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