The Instigator
mikelwallace
Pro (for)
Winning
24 Points
The Contender
thelemite
Con (against)
Losing
21 Points

Should Media have restrictions?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/9/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 8,733 times Debate No: 1588
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (15)

 

mikelwallace

Pro

I wasn't really sure what topic to put this under, I figured that politics would be the best.

Let me start by saying that I am in favor of the first amendment. I believe that our freedom of speech should be protected so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others, (By this I do NOT mean the right of others to not be offended) or as long as it is not something that is untrue that causes damage to others...such as shouting "fire" in a crowded movie house when there is no fire, or in the cases of libel or slander.

I feel that the media should be held accountable for the information that it provides. Any information that could potentially effect the way that their viewers/readers, etc...look at or think of an individual or organization should be verified and proven as true. This does not include opinions, as there is no way to prove most opinions true either way. Rather, this would include things that a news outlet or host would present as fact.

An example would be something that I heard Bill Maher say on his tv program "real time". He stated, "Until the 80's, Mormons taught that the only way a black could get into Heaven is as a slave! That's the Truth!" As a Latter-Day Saint (Mormon) I can confirm that this is not only untrue and unfounded, but completely ignorant. However the reaction of his panel shocked me. They all seemed surprised and appalled that the Church taught that, just accepting Maher's words as truth. There is no telling how many people out there bought his ignorant and uneducated statement, but I think that as a tv show host, Bill Maher has a responsibility to research the things that come out of his mouth, and make sure that his "info" comes from a credible source. If he taught it knowing it is false, he is a liar. If he taught it not knowing, then he is ignorant and uneducated and damaged the image of a Church with a false statement. This is just one example, lies are prevalent in the media.

Such accountability would benefit society as a whole. People would be properly informed rather than being deceived by the media, and this Nation would perhaps not be as polarized politically as it currently is if the truth and facts were always provided. This is called public trust, and it is being betrayed.
thelemite

Con

To begin, I would like to thank Mike for challenging me to this debate. After looking at his profile and finding how conservative he is, it's amazing that he would come out for diluting the 1st Amendment. This should prove to an interesting debate. So let's begin.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an 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 peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government of a redress of grievances."

Now Mike starts out by saying that he is in favor of the 1st Amendment, yet he states that he believes in restricting the press. Pardon me? The 1st specifically states that the government can make no law concerning the press. Bit of a conflict here eh?

>>>I feel that the media should be held accountable for the information that it provides. Any information that could potentially effect the way that their viewers/readers, etc...look at or think of an individual or organization should be verified and proven as true. This does not include opinions, as there is no way to prove most opinions true either way. Rather, this would include things that a news outlet or host would present as fact.<<<

What Mike doesn't realize is that all information, no matter what its source effects the way that a person views the world around them. Whether that information comes from the Internet, the TV, or the paper doesn't matter.

Mike gives the example of Bill Maher giving erroneous information on his program. Let me remind Mike that Bill Maher is an entertainer, not a journalist. That being said, everyday you can watch the news and find their reporting biased to the perspective of the journalist. But government restriction of the media is not going to fix this. If anything, it will make it worse. At that point all we will hear is the perspective of the government. We will hear what the government wants us to hear, rather than the little bit of truth that we get now.

>>>Such accountability would benefit society as a whole. People would be properly informed rather than being deceived by the media, and this Nation would perhaps not be as polarized politically as it currently is if the truth and facts were always provided. This is called public trust, and it is being betrayed.<<<

Well, I've already stated what would be the first result of government restriction on the media, that reason being the same as what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they ratified the Bill of Rights. But where he gets the idea that the American people would be better informed I have no idea. With all the access to information, the American people are more interested in the life of Britney Spears than they are about the next President of the United States. How long did we hear about Anna Nichol Smith? Way too long for any thinking person.

It's my position that the problem isn't with the media, it's with the moronic attitude of the American people who want to hear the rubbish rather than anything of substance.

One last thing, we do have an accountability program in place for stupid journalists. It's called the on/off button. LOL
Debate Round No. 1
mikelwallace

Pro

Again, I do not believe that the first amendment protects a person's right to yell fire in a crowded movie house, nor does it protect a person from being sued for libel and slander. So when it comes to honesty, there are limits in what a person can say or write publicly.

"What Mike doesn't realize is that all information, no matter what its source effects the way that a person views the world around them."

I agree with this statement, yet I do not believe that it pertains to the current debate. I am not contending that information should not be permitted to shape opinion, only that such information should be true and founded in fact. The viewer can decide for themselves what to think, but they should be given the proper tools to make that decision.

"Mike gives the example of Bill Maher giving erroneous information on his program. Let me remind Mike that Bill Maher is an entertainer, not a journalist."

Regardless of whether Maher or anybody else consider themselves an entertainer or journalist, they still have a responsibility to the public with the "power" that is given them when they have a show or periodical or website etc. and are attempting to "inform" their viewers/readers with information that they claim are fact based.

"government restriction of the media is not going to fix this. If anything, it will make it worse. At that point all we will hear is the perspective of the government."

My issue again is not with perspective as much as with truth. A reporter will always give his opinion or perspective, and that can not be regulated. What can be, however, are whether his facts are accurate. Another example is on a recent "Oreilly Factor" when Bill spoke of the massacre in Melmedy during WW2. He told his viewers that American soldiers slaughtered German prisoners when the reality was that German soldiers killed American prisoners. In this case, Bill's producer corrected him and he corrected the erroneous information on the air, which I respect. This does not always happen though. Of course the media is biased, we can use the remote and turn them off true, but they should not have the right to flat out lie to the public. This is irresponsible, and I believe that if facts are changed to support a view or deceive the public, then those responsible should certainly be held accountable. This would be possible to do since facts are not hard to confirm in most cases.
thelemite

Con

>>>Again, I do not believe that the first amendment protects a person's right to yell fire in a crowded movie house, nor does it protect a person from being sued for libel and slander. So when it comes to honesty, there are limits in what a person can say or write publicly.<<<

Well, the Supreme Court agrees with this as do I so I think we can move past this point.

>>>I agree with this statement, yet I do not believe that it pertains to the current debate. I am not contending that information should not be permitted to shape opinion, only that such information should be true and founded in fact. The viewer can decide for themselves what to think, but they should be given the proper tools to make that decision.<<<

Your last sentence in this paragraph is the key and disputes your argument. The individual viewer is the one that must decide and this cannot be regulated or controlled. Facts differ from individual to individual. You brought up your religion, so I will follow suit. As an occultist for almost twenty years now, to me the practice of magick is a fact. As true as the words I'm putting down on this computer screen. Yet to the basic Christian out there, magick is the stuff of fairy tales at best or lies of their "Satan" at worst. Can we then restrict Christians from going on television and force them to accept my truths? Of course not! Nor can they force me to accept their beliefs as truth.

We can even take it to the political spectrum. Now if you ask Senator Clinton or Congressman Obama what the best way to deal with hunger is, they will tell you that the government must step in and help these poor people. They are telling the truth and giving facts as they understand them to be. Whereas I believe that to be malarkey of the most dangerous kind. I believe that a person should be responsible for their own selves. I believe them to be outright lying to the American people so that they can have that power over them. Does this mean that either of us should be restricted from espousing our views? Hell no!!!

>>>My issue again is not with perspective as much as with truth. A reporter will always give his opinion or perspective, and that can not be regulated. What can be, however, are whether his facts are accurate. Another example is on a recent "Oreilly Factor" when Bill spoke of the massacre in Melmedy during WW2. He told his viewers that American soldiers slaughtered German prisoners when the reality was that German soldiers killed American prisoners. In this case, Bill's producer corrected him and he corrected the erroneous information on the air, which I respect. This does not always happen though. Of course the media is biased, we can use the remote and turn them off true, but they should not have the right to flat out lie to the public. This is irresponsible, and I believe that if facts are changed to support a view or deceive the public, then those responsible should certainly be held accountable. This would be possible to do since facts are not hard to confirm in most cases.<<<

When it comes to little historical facts like you mention here, for the most part they are corrected when necessary. Every news paper in the country has a little place (usually very little) where they make corrections. Every news agency in the country employs an army of "fact checkers" to make sure this happens. This is why Dan Rather and his producer whose name is escaping me were fired for his erroneous reporting on the President's military record.

But trying to have the government regulate what is truth and what the citizens should hear or not will only reinforce tyranny not freedom.
Debate Round No. 2
mikelwallace

Pro

I just wanna start by saying that this has been a fun debate and I thank you for being a part of it.

I would like to start with the first point about how "facts differ from individual to individual". I believe that this is fundamentally false. You might say opinion differ from one to another, you can even say that perception of facts may differ, but facts themselves do not differ between people, is they do then they are not facts. An example would be the blatant lie that was posted on moveon.org by the far left wacko george soros that there had been over 150,000 Iraqi civilians killed in Iraq by U.S. troops (I don't recall the actual fabricated number). This figure was repeated for the public by Rosie O'Donnel, George Clooney,and others who can't do their own research. Since then, the truth has come out that Soros pressured many to verify this number which was completely fabricated and not even close to fact. Now besides the given example of how lies in the media can be harmful, this can also be tied to the argument about fact being different to different people. I don't know the actual numbers, but lets say 40,000 civilians died, and soros says that 150,000 died...fact would not change according to people's opinion. Your opinion or perception does not kill an extra 110,000 people.
Furthermore, your example of magick is not fact, it is belief. It is not fact to you and another religeon fact to another, it is belief to you.

Here is the definition of the word "fact"

1. something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.
2. something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.
5. Law. Often, facts. an actual or alleged event or circumstance, as distinguished from its legal effect or consequence. Compare question of fact, question of law.
—Idioms6. after the fact, Law. after the commission of a crime: an accessory after the fact.
7. before the fact, Law. prior to the commission of a crime: an accessory before the fact.

Your final argument about facts usually being corrected in the media is unfortunatley a far cry from the truth. If you were to browse some of the media watch dogs on the internet out there, (or watch Bill O'Reilly) you would be surprised to find that an overwhelming majority of lies that are told by some major media outlets are knowingly overlooked and never corrected. The New York Times is a great example of this, I don't have the time to go into all of the lies that are left uncorrected, by I would encourage you to take the time to study this.

Facts are verifiable, they can be found, and when available, should be included in the story, (even if the opinion is slanted) and when the facts are not known the journalist needs to stay away from the story until they can get their facts straight. Lies in the media are a betrayal of public trust and those dishing them out need to finally be held accountable.
thelemite

Con

I too wish to thank my opponent for such a lively and intelligent debate. It is a pleasure to debate with someone who doesn't resort to character attacks and name calling or superfluous arguments. Thank you very much.

Unfortunately, "facts" are filtered by individual perspective. For you and me (and most people for that matter) it is a fact that the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. But believe it or not, this is not a fact. In the Antarctic the Sun can be observed rising and setting in the South. I won't get into the astronomical reasons for this, but it happens. The same can be said with magick. One of the things that drew me to Thelema and Ceremonial Magick is that it is an observable "fact" I (and many other practicing magicians) have journals documenting our rituals and the effect that it has in our lives. Whereas to Christians and others, magick is the stuff of fairy tales with no basis in reality, this is their perspective.

I'm not going to argue you're point with George Soros. He is a left wing wacko as are most liberals in my opinion. MoveOn.org reported that 650,000 Iraqi's had been killed. Give me a break.

Now my opponent has kindly given us the definition of the word "fact". I point out number four of his definition:

>>>4. Something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable. <<<

Enough said?

We both agree that the mainstream media is blatantly biased. My point is that the government, thanks to the 1st Amendment cannot and should not be the controlling factor to change this. It is my position that we already have a system in place to control this; it is called the off button.

If the American people give this power to the government, then we can kiss ANY truth in reporting out the door and we will then be living under the forces of tyranny. The only way to fix the problem is to educate the people so that they can see the blatant bias that is shown to us by the media. Again, I don't think that the government should be in control, especially of education, but that is a debate for another time. One I welcome to anyone who cares to challenge me on it.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by thelemite 9 years ago
thelemite
Hey Mike, looking at your profile I see that your against Civil Unions. How about that being our next debate?

For the record, I'm not gay. Should be interesting eh?
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