Should people be allowed to have complete freedom of speech?
Debate Rounds (5)
In this debate, I hope to touch upon topics media censorship, the importance of freedom of speech and the advantages/ disadvantages of complete freedom of speech . Anyone is welcome to participate.
I accept your debate
What I really like about this topic is how frequent I've seen this issue come up, I myself have had to debate similar topics like this on certain occasions, and it's a really nice touch to see such debates come on debate.org
Without further ado, I shall keep you waiting no longer to start off, I move it over to you to bring forward your stance to the issue and open this debate.
Good luck. Meow.
I would like to start by reiterating my stand on this issue. My stand is that every individual should have the right to complete freedom of speech, which implies that censorship is not permitted and no person should be held legally responsible for anything he expresses. I'd like to emphasise the phrase "legally responsible" as compared to just "responsible". For the example I provided in my initial statement, if someone insults a particular religion, ethnicity, etc, he will always be "held responsible" for what he says; he will probably be criticised and slammed by netizens, which is not surprising. But my point is that the government should not be able to punish him for expressing his opinion like it would an ordinary crime, for example by fining him or jailing him. I'd like to make that clear.
I am sure that Con would agree with me that freedom of speech is important, at least to a certain extent, but I'd like to argue why complete freedom of speech is necessary. Unfortunately, I do not know exactly what Con's stand on this issue is, but I shall assume that Con thinks freedom of speech is necessary, but there are some cases where freedom of speech only causes harm, such as when one expresses an offensive or derogatory view towards a particular party. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Freedom of speech is a basic human right. According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 19, "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice." This means that it is the right of any individual to express his ideas without restriction, and it is simultaneously the right of any individual to receive any information he wants. Censorship and restriction of freedom of speech violate both these ideas. Without this basic right, we will not be able to express our views freely and receive the information we need to be well-informed about the world we live in.
Freedom of speech is also necessary for society to progress. Historically, what have pushed societies forward are new ideas and philosophies that change the way we think. Censorship and restriction of freedom of speech prevents these new ideas from flourishing. Galileo and Darwin are just two examples of people whose freedom of speech and hence ideas were restricted. Most people nowadays see them as geniuses ahead of their time, but they were robbed of their recognition because certain parties deemed their ideas offensive or inappropriate. I hope to elaborate more on this in future arguments.
Now that I've very quickly summarised why freedom of speech is important, I want to explain why complete, and not just partial, freedom of speech is necessary. Many people advocate for a sort of "controlled" freedom of speech, as I suspect Con does. This means that individuals are given freedom of speech, but censorship might still be practised for views that are considered offensive or inappropriate, or that people could be held legally responsible for the views they express. An example would be the Singapore government. In Singapore, everyone has freedom of speech and are allowed to express whatever views they want. But citizens can also be legally punished for the views they express if these views are considered derogatory towards a particular race, religion, culture, etc. To quote Section 8(1) of Singapore's Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, a restraining order can be made against any individual for "causing feelings of enmity, hatred, ill-will or hostility between religious groups." Just this year, a teenager was arrested for making derogatory, insulting remarks towards Christianity and was sentenced to rehabilitation.
The idea behind this is that everyone should be responsible for whatever he says; if he says something insulting towards religion, for example, he should be held accountable. I do not agree with this view as I think that views and ideas should not be censored or restricted simply because they are offensive. What matters most is its validity. For example, if one day someone writes an article saying that UFOs actually do not exist, UFO-believers would undoubtedly get offended as it goes against their views. But just because it's offensive doesn't mean that it's wrong. If it really is true that UFOs don't exist, then one should be able to assert the truth with regard to the existence of UFOs, whether or not that truth is offensive. That is why I think complete freedom of speech is necessary, and we cannot allow any view to be restricted or censored simply because that view is deemed offensive.
This is just a quick summary of all the points I hope to make in this debate. I look forward to Con's reply.
Thank you for posting your argument and presenting your stance clearly, I apologize for not elaborating on my stand early on, but it is in fact the same as what you have mentioned earlier, as I will argue why complete freedom of speech should not be allowed and why it is justifiable for a government to use such power to control it. My argument will be shaped on a broader sense, focusing more on restriction should be allowed on the community as a whole and the reasons for that. Such examples include media censorship, government intervention, binding restrictions of freedom of speech by law and the importance of this along with notable cases along the way and why this is more advantageous than complete freedom of speech. Keep in mind that my stance on this debate is mainly revolving around why it is better, which does not necessarily mean that it doesn't have flaws, but less flaws than complete freedom of speech. I hope my elaboration on my stance now clears your doubts as to what my argument will present, I will not focus on rebuttals this round. Without further ado, let me present my case.
Now, freedom of speech is indeed a basic human right, essential for every human being and also for the government itself in order to safeguard their nation. Freedom of speech is widely accepted by most countries on earth, it is protected by the First Amendment of the United States constitution and by legal law in the majority of countries. However, this does not mean that freedom of speech outweighs its cons and there should be a control point. Many believe that freedom of speech is the same as freedom of conscience, and this should not be the case, freedom of speech may be a basic human right, but so is the right to privacy, which is presented in the Fourth Amendment of the United States constitution, to put forward an example, which is defined by constitutional law as "the right of people to make personal decisions regarding intimate matters; under the Common law, the right of people to lead their lives in a manner that is reasonably secluded from public scrutiny, whether such scrutiny comes from a neighbor's prying eyes, an investigator's eavesdropping ears, or a news photographer's intrusive camera; and in statutory law, the right of people to be free from unwarranted drug testing and Electronic Surveillance" and both deserve an equal right to justice on their behalf, it is not the job of any person to freely blurt out and reveal anything they please, not for an individual and not for the media, as this is also a violation of right to privacy. Information may be essential, but it is also a dangerous tool, and it is of paramount importance that the government possesses the right to control this, to not only uphold the law, but also for security and safety of its nation, as I will outline as my argument progresses. [A]
It is a vitality that the government restricts complete freedom of speech from the public, and moderate it, as it is a dangerous tool in promoting anti-government campaigns, a tool for cyber terrorists to break into secure networks, and even a tool to allow extremists to even target particular racial groups, all of which can cause chaos within a country and even attack and crumble the society and others around it, most notable examples occur when the Arab Spring occurred in 2011, taking into example the Syrian government, who had brought down restrictions of freedom of speech in 2011 in order to fulfill some instability earlier on due to riots that freedom of speech was restricted. However, not long after the restrictions were brought down, the situation escalated as anti-government propaganda flooded areas of the country through the use of social media which led to rioting to bring down the Ba'athist government of Bashar al-Assad which quickly escalated out of control and the country fell into civil war, many neighboring countries soon followed as news broke out and 4 countries had their governments collapse, and even despite that, the situation did not recover well in most countries. [B]
Knowing that the situation in parts of the Middle East and Africa were in turmoil for decades, I will take a more relatable example, a situation that is present in the United States, where Wikileaks, a website created to expose classified information to the general public, leaked top secret government files that has led to widespread problems that have affected both the government and the people, which many have argued for because it 'upholds democracy' doing it in the name of freedom of speech, but such acts that were allowed to occur led to general disruptions in the public and even jeopardized US operations overseas, even to a point where it caused conflicts with foreign governments, which did not support the trust between the government and people by not allowing the government to have secrets which the public does not need to know, which as I earlier mentioned, is why many confuse freedom of speech with freedom of conscience, even though freedom of speech is to allow an individual to express what he wishes to say without restrictions, complete freedom of speech will only allow them to commit acts like this which will only cause more instability than if we were to restrict it. It may not be seen as justice to the public, but it is justice to keep society standing strong and equally respect the right to privacy and freedom of speech, as national security is also of vital importance to the United States. [C] [D]
This is my main focus when constructing my argument and my rebuttals later on, freedom of speech is a lot broader than just an individuals right to express anything, the belief that anything should be allowed to be posted on a media network or social media site regardless of how offensive it may be is too narrow minded and does not take into account the larger picture and how the government wishes to protect that, if it is censorship or prosecution of the individual or individuals who have committed such acts. I will now move on to a notable example to back up my case :
Hillary Clinton made a speech while she was still the incumbent Secretary of State in 2011, titled 'Internet Rights and Wrongs: Choices and Challenges in a Networked World' quoted -
"The first challenge is achieving both liberty and security. Liberty and security are often presented as equal and opposite; the more you have of one, the less you have of the other. In fact, I believe they make each other possible. Without security, liberty is fragile. Without liberty, security is oppressive. The challenge is finding the proper measure: enough security to enable our freedoms, but not so much or so little as to endanger them." [E]
This quote puts forward a huge idea as to why the government has their motives in order to not allow complete freedom of speech, Hillary Clinton spoke on behalf of the United States government in concern due to recent actions regarding Wikileaks and why their websites were taken down, liberty and security both must be balanced in order to maintain society, and by placing certain restrictions on it and preventing people from being completely free in doing what they please, the balance will be maintained, to a great deal better than completely allowing it.
This outlines my current stance on this issue, I leave it now to the Instigator who is representing Pro, to start the next round of the debate and further enforce his argument and begin to bring forward his rebuttals towards mine, and hopefully we will bring together a most interesting debate.
Over to you.
Con has put forward some points as to why the disadvantages of complete freedom of speech outweigh the benefits, and I beg to differ. The main points Con put forth, please correct me if I'm mistaken, are that complete freedom of speech can lead to anti-government propaganda or information that can erupt chaos in society. He also points out that there should be a right to privacy that freedom of speech should not take precedence over. I shall reinforce my points, and afterwards address Con's concerns.
The main reason why I support complete freedom of speech is simply because we, as a society, cannot afford to silence or censor others' views simply because they are wrong, offensive or dangerous. I will elaborate on each point respectively. First off, it is absurd to restrict ideas that are incorrect or biased. Con raised the idea of propaganda; if people were to be given complete freedom of speech, they could use it to spread lies or anti-government propaganda. I think it is slightly patronising to assume that we cannot differentiate truth from lies. There are, currently, many sources of news and information all over, be it print media, television news or online "alternative media platforms". And there are some that do manipulate data and information to produce distorted and biased views or simply report incorrectly. But there is a reason why Fox News hasn't been shut down or censored despite its blatant partiality. I think Voltaire said it best, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." If alternative, albeit incorrect, views are restricted and censored, then we really are breaching on a sort of totalitarianism. We're saying that there is a set of views that cannot be disputed, and whoever dares to dispute them will be silenced. I'm not saying that Fox News should get away freely with biased, incorrect reporting either, though. Where criticism is due, criticism should be received. I personally abhor Fox News, and often criticise their methods of reporting. But if you think a view is wrong, the best way to get rid of it is through discussions and criticisms, not by silencing the view by restricting its freedom of speech. In the example of anti-government propaganda, then, the government should not restrict or silence propaganda; this may even make its citizens more suspicious and distrusting of the government. It should, instead, point out the flaws in the propaganda and explain why the propaganda is incorrect. That would be much more reasonable.
Con also discussed freedom of speech versus societal stability. He illustrated how incidents such as the Wikileaks Incident or the Arab Spring Revolution brought about societal chaos because freedom of speech was allowed. As a supporter of freedom of speech, I of course think that the Wikileaks Incident was justified, simply because it gave Americans access to the truth. It is no longer a matter of personal privacy when Wikileaks leaked government files. So, in the end, it really just is a matter of whether you would prefer the public knowing the truth or a peaceful society. And I would choose the former. As Carl Sagan put it, "Better by far to embrace the harsh truth than a comforting reality." The fact that a society is more peaceful or happy than a society that knows the truth is really no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober man. Historically, what has pushed society forwards is not peace or happiness. For society to progress, new ideas and philosophies have to proliferate which change the way we think. And, historically, there have been many people, such as Galileo and Darwin, who have caused societal uproars and divides with their ideas. But nowadays, we hail both of them as trailblazers and geniuses ahead of their time. Society has shown itself to be critical and even fearful of new ideas, but over time it has also shown it can accept them and use these ideas and information to its benefit. Similarly, in the case of Wikileaks, revealing top-secret government files will definitely be controversial and cause an uproar. It can affect peace and even bilateral ties, but surely such information is worth knowing as it affects the way we live and the decisions we make. That is why I think restricting such information and ideas is unjustified.
I look forward to Con's rebuttals and an interesting debate ahead.
Thank you for posting your response
During this debate I have brought up several points as to why complete freedom of speech should not be allowed, I have touched on the issue of the right to privacy, why the government would have an obligation to take action against complete freedom of speech, the disadvantages of complete freedom of speech on society and real world examples of such incidents.
I will first start off by addressing Pros concerns for his defense as well as his points against mine and then I shall move on to reinforce my argument, I will use a different structure to present this case more clearly according to the order of points brought up by Pro.
I want to start with Pros defence, Pro clearly stated that we cannot afford to silence or censor views made by people simply because they are wrong, offensive or dangerous. These are some very important words that he has decided to use, and it has a great impact on Pro's stance, but what I mainly want to highlight is 'dangerous'. Are we not going to consider public safety if we are going to advocate complete freedom of speech? As I have mentioned before, the Wikileaks incident has leaked top secret government information which is unchecked, unanalyzed and unverified, which poses a huge threat to the public, not just those living domestically within a country, but for those abroad, as I have taken the example that the leaks have resulted in countless identity exposures of US agents that have been working overseas, an example to back up this assertion is the case that was addressed by Obama himself as well, when Afghan operatives had their identities exposed due to a cable breach by Wikileaks. 
What about them? Are we to simply throw aside not only the safety of these people but also destabilize the safety of International diplomacy?
Pro also mentioned that it's immoral to restrict views that are incorrect or wrong, and for this, I will agree to some extent, this should not occur, as ideas are to be openly accepted and viewed in good spirits, however, as I am against complete freedom of speech, I am also going to hold Pro out for simply not being broad enough and not looking at the bigger picture. What about situations regarding hate speech? In the United States alone, there are 9 Neo-Nazi related groups that would go to no limit trying to expand the beliefs of racist ideologies, and what are we to do to prevent this from taking place if complete freedom of speech is put into place? Nothing. You cannot put forward restrictions, you cannot directly hold them legally responsible as they will, for example in the United States, be protected by the First Amendment that is now extending itself to put no limit, no exception that can be used in this situation. And groups like this, are not easily put down, they are very influential, believe it or not, and putting forward communicative restrictions regarding extreme religious views is necessary. This is something that cannot be allowed to thrive, even now, with restrictions, it is still a big issue, and if you were to remove that? This has occurred in American History for decades, it's occurred in many European countries for longer, and as Pro has stated in his response, even though these are incorrect and completely unacceptable in modern day society, we should still allow it. You can say it's immoral to restrict views even such as these, I say, that it's immoral to allow these views to go about without restrictions.
Pro later speaks about anti-government propaganda, and I feel that Pro couldn't have been more inaccurate towards anything else he has mentioned in his response, with all due respect, in believing that we will be able to, as he puts it, 'differentiate truth from lies'. I wish to simply point out that politics is very fragile, I want to put forward a more engaging example here, considering in this scenario you are the president of a country, it can be any country, and the first thing you will come to realize is that the ideology of your citizens will always vary, not everyone will support your party, a lot will be neutral who are waiting for more prominent parties to emerge, and then there are those who are loyal to yours. Why is this? Because the policies that you wish to adopt and the changes you want to make to your country will be seen as promise to one person, and as lies to another. Pro has stated that the government 'should not restrict or silence propaganda', and in some cases? Yes, it shouldn't be restricted, but in all cases? No. Once again, we must look at the bigger picture, the key word in Pros sentence is 'should', what the government should be able to do, is monitor propaganda as it is presented, because as I said before, security is of paramount importance to a nation. Take for example Syria, a country that has fallen into years of civil war, had it's revolution spark because of outside involvement, which all started due to propaganda which Syria was not able to crack down on in time as the revolution started. And not just in Syria, as I put forward examples before in my previous argument, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, all of these are countries that saw collapse, or near collapse, due to opposing government parties. So in no case should we ever be laid back on the responsibilities and importance of propaganda. 
Moving on to Pros rebuttals of my points, I will not go to much into detail regarding this, as I have already mentioned most of what comes up in my argument, but I wish to go deeper into a few points that Pro has mentioned which has come to my attention.
Pro has taken the situation regarding Wikileaks, a situation which, as I shall quickly recap, caused unrest, jeopardy, instability, and privacy breaches, and has simply justified his actions because it gives access to the 'truth'. I have made it crystal clear that the opportunity cost of adopting restrictive policy towards Wikileaks is far more beneficial than simply giving the public the access to the truth which they do not even require to know. Situations that involved the USFD overseas did not require attention from the public and it does not harm them in any way to simply respect the trust that the government should be able to have with it's own people.
I therefore state that this is a redundant statement made by Pro and unless he finds new points to defend against this it should no longer have any more effect on this debate and my point regarding Wikileaks shall remain unchallenged.
The final point I will address that is directed to what Pro has presented in his argument is the example he has used regarding Galileo and Darwin's works which was notable for defying societies principles back then, I will commend Pro for putting a good example here that advocates for freedom of speech, however, what I will disagree on is on how Pro has tried to relate this situation with the Wikileaks incident. Firstly, we are not living in the past anymore, in the modern day, politics is not run under religious pretenses, what Wikileaks is doing is not causing the expansion of society and learning new things that will carry on for generations to come, it is causing unrest on a scale that cannot be compared to the situation that Charles Darwin faced, for example, and Pro is openly assuming that we should allow this to dictate our decisions in dealing with the modern day issues of freedom of speech because the infomation he claims that shouldn't be restricted is worth knowing, which I have now clearly proven that against the overwhelming consequences to be redundant and is not 'worth' knowing. for the safety of society, for the safety of the people, and for the safety of foreigners as wel.
To summarize my points for this round, I will reinforce my argument to keep the BoP even by using a clear structure with all the points that has been mentioned so far to prove that the argument I have presented is far stronger up till this point.
Contention 1 - Right to Privacy
I have put forward in my earlier argument the issue regarding the right to privacy, the issue that as freedom of speech is a law that legally binds the US constitution in the First Ammendment, the right to privacy shares an equal claim in the Fourth Ammendment. There have been various examples from many different levels of this law getting breached due to freedom of speech, celebrities often are placed into this situation when the public, whether the media or paparazzi, expose their personal life or their political preferences. The government also falls a victim with leaks of top secret infomation which gets handed to a third party and exposed towards the public, an average middle class citizen can fall victim to credit card fraud and have their security numbers traced and used to reveal personal infomation. All of which becomes a very serious issue that has to be looked into.
Contention 2 - International Relations
Because freedom of speech can arise a variety of problems because many believe that they deserve the right to have knowledge of everything going on behind closed doors, foreign relations are put at risk. Cable leaks, such as intensive research into Iran's neclear plans has led to sudden escalations in diplomatic tension and public uprisings in USA formed. This became an unnecessary burden the United States had to deal with over the course of the last few years as a result of this and all of which is falling under due to shouts for basic First Ammendment rights, freedom of speech being that example.
As I am running out of character space, I leave it at this until Pro puts forward their reply and I await his response to this debate.
Con first maintains that the Wikileaks incident was unjustified as it jeopardised the safety of many and affect bilateral relations. He asserts that "dangerous" information should and need not be revealed publicly and should be restricted or censored. First, I would like to define "dangerous information" so there are no misunderstandings between me and Con. "Dangerous information" refers to information that, if revealed publicly, would cause harm to a particular party or parties. Information of spies and agents' identities would be a good example put forth by Con. With the knowledge of the identity of these people, their safety will be jeopardised. But I think Con is mistaken and that we need to examine the situation further. To explain clearly, I will be using the example of spies to illustrate my point. I shall assume that by revealing the spies' identity, they will be arrested and executed. The question we should be asking is "Why is it that revealing their identities would jeopardise their safety?" In the case of the spies, it is not exactly the fact that their identities are revealed that warrants their (possible) execution. It is the fact that they are spies and have spied on a particular party. So, revealing the information is really no different than revealing the identity of a serial killer, for example. You cannot say it is a policeman's fault for jeopardising the safety of a serial killer by revealing his identity, can you? The very reason why his safety is jeopardised is because he committed the act of murder, NOT because his identity is revealed. So, in the case of the Afghan operatives, US agents, or whoever else's safety was jeopardised by Wikileaks, I assert that it is not the fact that information was revealed that jeopardised their safety or the safety of anyone else involved. Although it may look that way by direct correlation, it was their acts which caused safety to be jeopardised. If they had been doing nothing wrong and had no issue with anyone, why would their identities being revealed cause any trouble at all? And if they indeed had been doing something wrong, then revealing their identities was a good thing as it could be compared to revealing the identity of a serial killer.
Con moves on to argue that views that are wrong should be restricted, such as hate speech. He points out there are 9 Neo-Nazi related groups in the US that promote racist beliefs and ideologies, and says that if we do not restrict speech, I quote, "what are we to do to prevent this from taking place?" Well, I think there is a reason why America is not filled with Neo-Nazis even though there are 9 Neo-Nazi related groups. There are 2 reasons why such views do not need to be restricted or censored. First of all, simply put, common sense. As I mentioned previously, I think it is slightly patronising to think that we do not have common sense. If, for example, one day someone expresses a view that "1+1=3", would you silence his view and restrict it, saying it is incorrect? I don't think so. I think, after having a laugh, we would go up to that person and ask him why he thinks 1+1=3. We would then continue to discuss the issue with him and convince him that he is wrong. Either that or we would think he was just joking. But there is simply no need to silence that view. The second, more important argument, relates to more dangerous, serious beliefs. Just as an example, the people who believe that vaccines are dangerous. As Con has pointed out, such views could actually be very influential and possibly dangerous. But, once again, there is a reason why the majority of us aren't "anti-vaccinators". And it isn't just "common sense" as in my first example, because such things aren't always completely intuitive. It's the fact that there is space for discussion and criticism. Con appears to be under the impression that I think such views should be allowed to proliferate and influence people negatively. I am no less against these views than Con is. But, unlike Con, I think that if such views do happen to proliferate in our society, then we should be critical of them. The reason why most Americans aren't convinced by the anti-vaccine movement is because there are many famous scientists and celebrities, such as Bill Nye, Neil Tyson and Richard Dawkins who provide logical, statistical evidence to show that anti-vaccinators' claims are false. If some views that are incorrect or dangerous spread, then we can criticise and discuss these views. If ISIS spreads their idea of a global Caliphate, we can be here to criticse that view and explain why that idea is incorrect and unwanted. In fact, freedom to criticse ideas is part of freedom of speech. The problem I have with restricting views that are deemed "incorrect" is that we are basically restricting views that differ from ours, or the generally accepted views. For example, Con would, I suspect, restrict anti-vaccine views as they are incorrect and dangerous. But suppose one day someone comes up with a real, justified reason as to why vaccines are dangerous. We would never know, because we would be restricting that view. Instead, we should allow people to express their views freely, regardless of how right, wrong or dangerous it might be. If that idea is right and justified, we praise it and apply it to society. If it is wrong, we criticse it and explain why it is incorrect and convince people to not believe it. May I ask Con what is wrong with such a system?
Con once again raises the problem of anti-government propaganda. And the above applies as well. The purpose of anti-government propaganda is, as its name suggests, to overthrow the current government. It could criticise the current government, or propose a different government that (it claims) would be better for all. My stand is that if the propaganda is true and justified (which I see to be the case in Syria, although that's a separate discussion) then people will come to be convinced by it and hence (rightly) go against the government. If the propaganda is biased and incorrect, the ruling government, as well as the people who see it as such, would criticise it and convince the people that it is wrong. In fact, Con actually put forth the idea of the government monitoring propaganda, which is exactly what I propose as well. But the government cannot silence propaganda simply because the propaganda is wrong. That would be the government imposing its own views on society. Instead, it should use logic and reason to discuss why the propaganda is wrong. That would be more objective and more reasonable. If the government simply censors propaganda that it deems incorrect, it would just make the people more distrusting of it. If it carefully discusses and criticises it, on the other hand, it will gain the trust and respect of the people.
I would also like to elaborate on my Darwin/ Galileo example that I put forth in my previous argument. What these examples were meant to show is that we cannot afford to silence views just because they cause an uproar or are offensive. Similarly, in the modern world, we cannot restrict speech just to appease a particular party. And I would disagree with Con when he says there is information that is not "worth knowing". In the case of Wikileaks, as I have pointed out in my previous paragraph, the identity of US agents and spies is at best information worth knowing, in the same way that knowing the identity of a serial killer would be worth knowing, and at worst not harmful to anyone.
I look forward to Con's arguments and rebuttals.
I'd like to thank my opponent for putting forward a his response in reply to my argument and making this debate shine
For this round, I will address Pros concerns and reinforce any points I wish to do so at the same time by going through each point accordingly, and so, I shall begin.
It's come to my concern firstly that Pro is going through several misunderstandings in his response, he starts out by restricting the definition of what he defines as "dangerous information" so that it will benefit his argument, which he relays as "refers to information that, if revealed publicly, would cause harm to a particular party or parties" which is related to what we call 'squirreling' in debating, firstly as Pro does want to clarify with me so that there are no more misunderstandings, I will help you by telling Pro exactly what I was trying to recite. At no point in my arguments during this debate did I ever say that dangerous information only caused negative effects on a political party, or parties for that matter. What I had elaborated on in my previous argument was how it was also dangerous to the public itself, and not just the government. I will make it clear of the threat that is also presented to the public by elaborating further for Pro to fathom.
Relating towards the source I had put forward earlier which talked about the Afghan agents that had their identities exposed, [A] Pro put forward several rebuttals that are not supporting the points he has made, "Why is it that revealing their identities would jeopardise their safety?" and for this I have to say that Pro needs to get back into the real world, spies are placed for a reason, they uphold national security for a country, spies are responsible for protecting the state that they are alligned to, by uncovering potentially dangerous operations that could create risk for a country, that would include the public too, mind you. Every country uses spies, putting forward the case that spies are unethical and exposing their identities to the public does not benefit you in the least, what do you gain from knowing their identities? Do you feel like your cause is made more clear from a situation that will not help, but worsen, your own safety in the future? I am saying this because Pro has put forward the claim that what they are doing is an 'act of murder'. I want to ask Pro to define what he means by 'murder', Pro has not elaborated on his point that supports the fact that we should reveal their identities in the name of freedom of speech. Also, government informants and agents working overseas have no connection whatsoever with serial killers, serial killers is a totally different topic altogether that has no relation to this debate, not only because of that, but because as I mentioned earlier Pro has not elaborated on his definition of 'murder' and this does not bring along any justification to the points he has referred to. Because, to further elaborate on my defence for this point, as his definition of murder was never specified, how are we to distinguish the spies that as you have put it, 'done nothing wrong and had no issue with anyone' from those that are actually not doing their job properly? Pro is trying to imply that only spies that have done bad things are being exposed, but that is not the case. Remember, in the previous round I said that the information that Wikileaks was exposing was 'unchecked, unanalyzed and unverified' which means that they are not attempting to analyze the situation further and they will simply release all the information the government has kept from them that they can get their hands on.
Moving towards the next points regarding hate speech, I wish to start of this one with a source that originated only a few days ago in the US, following false Ku Klux Klan threats that was presented in the University of Mizzou, which was used to promoted racial hate speech against the blacks that were in the university, and even more threats came as a result of this hoax, which had the situation spread like wildfire among the campus, which was then controlled by the police as they ordered the students to report any hateful or hurtful speech that was being spread, which helped keep the privacy of the African-Americans and further proved that the measure of controlling freedom of speech was far more effective. But I am bringing this example to help serve as the backbone for the case that is presented during this topic related to freedom of speech, which is restricting views. [B]
Pro argues that there is 'common sense' to understanding what hate speech is and how that's what prevents it from spreading, however, Pro is starting to sidetrack when he further elaborates on this, using examples that are irrevalent to his case, and the examples I am referring to are these "If, for example, one day someone expresses a view that 1+1=3" this is truism, it doesn't at all relate to the seriousness of how hate speech is to be dealt with and in my view it is also a little insulting, what is going on regarding hate speech is a very real thing, but those who are promoting these racial ideologies aren't arguing on the basis of truism, they're arguing for their beliefs. Furthermore, 1+1=3 is not an example of hate speech, which should be more than enough to prove that this is completely irrelevant even without the truism involved, but for the purpose of my rebuttals, I shall include it. Also, it is not easy to 'convince' someone that these beliefs are wrong, what if the person arguing to advocate this is more convincing? There are many notable examples of this occuring in history, the most notable and probably the most known incident in the world was Adolf Hitler's rise to power. [C] A prodigy in speaking, even though it can be very much seen as morally unjust to accuse a particular religion of the hardships that they were facing, he gained the popular vote of 13 million of his citizens during the 1932 General Election, 7 years after he released his book which gained huge support for him.
These are all the points I wish to present regarding restriction, and why it must be advocated, as Pro's argument related to restriction of views has the same message and my response applies for that whole argument. But if I could quickly fall through what Pro mentioned regarding the more scientific side of the debate, namely what he brought up regarding vaccines, but to reinforce myself on this part, I wish to simply state that it is not in my attention to advocate restriction up to this point, because there is no direct correlation between the points I have brought up in previous arguments to this example regarding vaccines, as it is my belief that in this day and age, scientific views like this are debatable, but they do not pose any risk to the public, or to the government, or for the safety of national security for that matter.
I finally wish to enhance my stance that I have kept strong in previous arguments, and I am trying to show very clearly that Pros solution that he has presented, which mainly simply revolves around 'discussing and criticizing' offensive and dangerous views that are presented as a challenge to complete freedom of speech is flawed because there are significant factors we need to take into account, we have to take into account how strong these offensive views are, the Neo-Nazi groups have naturally survived for many decades and continue to try and cause more damage due to the fact that they to have powerful speakers, people who can, believe it or not, convince extremist views and brainwash others into spreading it as well. We have to take into account national security, in relation to Wikileak's exposure of top secret information, that information that Pro deems as 'worth knowing' does not benefit them in any way, it brings them down and causes a greater threat for the nation, and that threat is not knowing how to deal with the information that Wikileaks believes should be trusted with them.
And finally, not everyone supports these leaks, many people advocate more for privacy than expression which does not mean that you are doing this in the name of the entire general public, in a poll taken from techrepublic, a vote from 700 people showed that over 300 of them believed that secrecy was still necessary in some situations, whereas 120 believed that secrecy was absolutely necessary, which supports my previous points that complete freedom of speech is unnecessary and we can deal much better without it.
I hope this proves that my argument is clearly stronger and Pro will have to present clear rebuttals and examples to the points I have underlined in order to tip the tide of this debate in his favour, I wish good luck to Pro in the final round.
[C] Adolf Hitler's autobiography, 'Mein Kampf' which details in particular, his hate for the German Jews in Germany during the recovery years after WW1.
I shall first illustrate the problems with restricting freedom of speech in any way. Con, as far as I understand, has proposed a system in which every individual has freedom of speech, but should anyone abuse this freedom by expressing dangerous (views and ideas that, if expressed, will harm others), offensive or wrong views, these people deserve to be silenced or restricted from expressing these views. I would like to leave out "dangerous views" for now for this discussion; it is the point that both Con and I have debated most vigorously about, and I would like to address it later on. For now, I shall discuss offensive or wrong views.
This brings me to the topic of hate speech. Con gave the example of Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan followers in the US as examples of hate speech and ideologies being spread. Con thinks that these parties should be restricted from expressing such hurtful and hateful speech, but I disagree. I do want to repeat that I am referring to views expressed that are offensive or hurtful to others, not views that are dangerous. Con has pointed out the spreading of such ideologies could be dangerous as well, but I shall not be tackling that point right now. I shall only be addressing speech that is offensive or hurtful, but not harmful to society, so I am making the assumption that the only problem with Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan followers is that they spread insensitive, offensive remarks towards people of particular ethnic groups for now.
The problem with restricting offensive or hurtful views is simply that this restriction is based on emotion, not logic or the truth. For example, insulting African-Americans is undoubtedly offensive to the African-American community, but just because it's offensive and affects African-Americans emotionally does not mean that it should be restricted. Why? What if, let's say, someone is one day able to make a perfectly convincing and logical argument as to why African-Americans deserve to be kicked out of the USA. Let's say his argument is flawless and undeniably true. Why then should we restrict his view simply because it is offensive? If it is true that African-Americans deserve to be kicked out of the USA, then why the man be restricted from expressing his completely correct view?
Con appears to be under the impression that views should be restricted simply because people are offended by them. But what if the view is both offensive and true? That's where there is an issue. If we simply restrict all views that are offensive or insulting, then we may never discover the truth about the issue. Of course I'm not saying that hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan's views are correct or justified, but we may never know if we never listen. That's why I propose an alternate system from that of Con's. I propose that no views need be restricted, and each view should be scrutinised and examined carefully. If a view is true, then it should be praised and applied to society. If it is untrue, then it deserves to be critcised and rejected by society.
This way, ideas and philosophies can proliferate. No one will ever have to be afraid that their idea will be rejected simply because it is offensive, which is no basis to reject any idea. I have provided the examples of Darwin and Galileo, which were rightly rejected by Con. He pointed out that these examples have no basis in modern society as modern views and ideologies are more dangerous and influential. But for now, as I have said, I will not be discussing how dangerous the views are yet, so I think the examples are still relevant. What the examples show is that we cannot reject ideas simply because they are offensive or hurtful. Instead, ideas should be accepted or rejected based on their validity or truth only, as they are now, which is why we now know Darwin and Galileo as some of the greatest scientific minds ever. Thus I contend that there is no need to restrict offensive or hurtful views, such as those spread by Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. If the insults are untrue, then there is no reason why anyone should get upset by them. And even if these groups manage to influence people of their ideologies, it still does not make difference as the insults are untrue (once again, keep in mind, I have not considered the fact that these ideas could lead some to be harmed, which I will discuss later).
I now move on to views or ideas that are wrong. I think there is no reason why wrong views should be restricted, excluding ones that are dangerous as well as wrong, which I'll touch on later. If a view is wrong, it should be criticised or corrected, which would allow people to understand why it is wrong and learn the truth. I'm sure Con would agree with me here. If the view is not dangerous, there is no need to go all authoritarian on it and restrict it.
Now, on to views that are dangerous, which I've been putting off for a while. Con has provided many different examples of dangerous beliefs and ideas being expressed which lead to harm to many people, such as the Wikileaks incident and Adolf Hitler's rise to power. For the case of Adolf Hitler, I would say that it is not applicable today. In the past, people would believe whatever they heard and not know any better, simply because there was no platform for debate and they were not well-informed. But nowadays, there are many different ideas and philosophies being spread everywhere, thanks to social media. Almost everyone is free to be criticised. If someone like Hitler were to exist today, he would immediately be put down by the media and by the people and this criticism of him would be evident to people who would believe whatever they hear. As a side note, that's sort of what's happening to Donald Trump right now. He does have the gift of the gab and can sound convincing sometimes, but the media and netizens, rightfully, perpetually slam him.
How about Wikileaks? Here's where I would like to say that Pro has provided many detailed arguments and explanations with regard to the Wikileaks case and has made some very convincing arguments. He has clearly explained the impacts of the Wikileaks incident and why Wikileaks' revealing of top-secret information was unjustified. He has been so convincing that I'm glad to say he has convinced me that he's right with regards to the Wikileaks incident. I now agree with him that Wikileaks was unjustified to reveal top-secret information and potentially put many innocent peoples' lives at risk. I am happy to surrender this point in our debate to Con. I would like to commend Con for managing to convince me of his view.
And with that, I would like to sum up my points and stand. I think that complete freedom of speech is a necessity, as we cannot afford to restrict views that are offensive, hurtful or wrong. Only by providing people with freedom of speech can we allow for the proliferation of ideas and views which will lead to societal progress. Restricting views because they are offensive or wrong will only promote distrust between the people and the government, and may unknowingly be restricting views that are true and justified in the process. As such, I think views should be assessed solely based upon their truth. If a view is true, there is no need to restrict it, despite how offensive it might be. If a view is untrue, it should be criticised and corrected to allow for people to understand the truth, but there is still no need to restrict it. That is the system I propose with regard to freedom of speech.
I would like to thank Con for an engaging the enlightening debate. Con has put in a lot of time and effort to debate with me and I am thankful that we have managed to have such a successful and interesting debate. He has even managed to convince me of some of his arguments, which I would say is actually pretty rare, and gave me more exposure and experience with the topic of freedom of speech. And with that, I will close the debate on my side. Thank you.
Thank you for your final response to this argument Pro, I will now further reinforce my points and bring my conclusion to my side of the debate accordingly.
Firstly, I thank Pro for sticking to the debate the whole way through, and congratulate him for presenting his case with confidence and I had been anticipating each round to come by with excitement because it's been nice to see this debate finish on a good note in terms of conduct. Without further ado on this, I shall begin.
I have debated quite a few topics on the subject of complete freedom of speech with Pro, and to quickly summarize those points in 3 main brackets, I have gone to state,
1) The Right to Privacy
I have proven to the Instigator of the debate who has argued for Pro that advocating the legalization for complete freedom of speech clearly breaches a person's right to privacy, that is protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, this contention that clashes with complete freedom of speech shows the legal side of the debate, which has been left unchallenged by Pro throughout the course of this debate and stands as a valid point at the end of it. Because, as I quote from what Hillary Clinton said in her speech which I have referenced in the second round, "Without security, liberty is fragile. Without liberty, security is oppressive." which has clearly pointed out that, as it was unchallenged by Pro, that if we are to advocate for this motion, we will completely breach the privacy of our general public and leave everyone at risk, it is not the job of ANYONE to expose the privacy of others because of their right to do so, as we easily see that people also have the right not to do so, this is the first and crucial step to challenging complete freedom of speech, and I believe that I have proven this point perfectly.
2) Hate Speech/Offensive views
Complete freedom of speech will undoubtedly cause a huge problem with the spread of hate speech and other dangerous views, Pro has pointed out that he had been referring in his argument that he was mainly trying to centralize his points on offensive and hurtful views, but I wish to reinforce my stance here stating that allowing complete freedom of speech will cause offensive and hurtful views to escalate into more dangerous situations, Pro has once again made the assumption that hate speech, primarily coming from the Neo-Nazi groups that I have brought up as an example, only causes emotional pain to the victim, which Pro took for example, an African-American being insulted in the US, but this is not the case. I must prove to you that physical force, which is very dangerous to have spread in modern day society over racial disputes, is taking place. Neo-Nazi groups are extremists, they attack, they assault entire street blocks because of this, and even though this is a violation if the law, this has mainly come to fruition because of complete freedom of speech. And allowing these groups to spread that freely is one of the biggest problems of all, because your example which as I recite, says that if this was a completely true statement that they were making, they shouldn't be restricted for saying their 'completely correct view' only supports my point further, if you allow such actions like this to take place, though unlikely, and let this person who is preaching that this 'African-American deserves to get kicked out of the USA' as you put it, convince other people completely that this is true, will cause tremendous problems for society. And we live in the modern day, where we should be fighting to prevent any further spread of these racist ideologies that charted the course of human history in the 20th century and before this way. The situation of Hitler's rise to power DOES apply today, if you could believe your assertion that no one like Hitler could ever emerge in modern society again because the media will put them down, why can't they put down Neo-Nazi groups, then? These groups have emerged in huge numbers since the fall of the Nazi Party and have been causing problems ever since, your points are only strengthening my argument further, because spreading these ideologies to people and if these people become brainwashed, they won't easily differ the truth from lies anymore, why? Because there IS logic in hate speech, the famous book, 'The Logic of Evil' has details specifically citing that fundamental assumptions that people spread to others is more than enough to completely change what they would view as a truth or as a lie. [A]
Pro has clung on to the reason that allowing this brings forward the prospects of seeing new ideas and philosophies taking place, but this assertion is so vaguely described, despite the fact that he's trying to bring along the ideas of Galileo and Darwin to support this, he never at all described any situation that is occurring right now in the modern day that shows this. The reason I had brought along the legitimacy of my point regarding Hitler is because many of his beliefs are still carried along now, as I put forward with the Neo-Nazi groups, but Pro never put forward any supporting evidence related to that which shows that we should support this. This is simply a dead end merely because Pro never elaborated on this point once again. Because, as I have to take an example of how this is what we should not cling onto for proof that complete freedom of speech is in some way justified, look at the situation in the Middle East. In the second round I brought along the points that allowing such an extent of freedom of speech has caused a disaster to spread in countries such as Egypt, Syria and Tunisia. Now we see the Islamic State, which by the way, spreads 'ideas and philosophies' of their own, controls many of these countries and has been responsible for causing massive destruction and causing the deaths of millions of people. This modern day example shows that we cannot live in the past believing that this will bring about good, ideas and philosophies can still prosper at a controlled level, in a level that will keep the security of the nation intact, which I will bring along next.
3) Wikileaks - International diplomacy and National security
I am aware at this point that Pro had conceded this particular contention, but as international diplomacy and national security were points that I brought up that in reality, fall under the Wikileaks case, I wish to bring this up in my conclusion. As I have already proven that what Wikileaks had done was unjustified and unnecessary in relation to freedom of speech, I will use this to now reinforce my binding on the points related to Wikileaks that I have already brought up. International diplomacy and national security, it has already become clear that the belief of advocating freedom of speech was to be done through exposing the government's bad doings and opening information up to the public, and this to, if we were to ever choose to advocate it, would have it's dire consequences. For one, as I have already put forward previously, the exposure of these documents caused terrible unstability with foreign relations for the US, primarily in the UN regarding the Middle East crisis, this itself brought along situations that would have a long term effect on the US which poses risks for both their agents overseas and their security domestically, which moves along to national security, which has become a matter of urgency because the government's own top secret missions abroad, the Afghan leak for example, that I described to be a primary source to back up this statement.
But it is because of these reasons that I will now prove that restricting freedom of speech is of paramount importance, because as Pro does accept these risks, it instantly proves to us all that we will choose either knowing information that doesn't concern us at all or the security of the nation. And it's clear in my mind which is more important if society is to progress in the future, because despite liberty's importance, too much will result in our own undoing and the fearful scenarios of what might happen to our nations in the future will become a reality. Are we really going to throw aside national security, what every government upholds to the maximum for this? Controlling it will eliminate this threat and will ensure the prosperity of all our nations in the future.
And with this, I want to draw all my points together and conclude my side of the debate by clearly proving with detailed explanations, analysis and sources to everyone that the price we will pay for allowing complete freedom of speech is far greater than what we will do if we take measures against it. The truth is a very fragile thing, to know the truth over security? To express everything without moderation? Sometimes to progress in life, we have to go about without some things, even though it may seem as the most basic thing to need, it's also one of the most important things to look out for. I wish to use a quote from the famous marvel comic 'Spiderman' to conclude, where I wish to reference the famous quote by Uncle Ben which he conveyed to Peter Parker, "With great power, comes great responsibility." which should be a lesson of history that from the events of the past, from the rise of the great dictators of Europe in the 20th century, to the modern day conflicts of the 21st, should serve as a reminder to us all that we should never underestimate the simple dangerous tool of words.
[A] 'The Logic of Evil' by William Brustein, a sociologist who published his book about the growth of the Nazi Party during the years of 1925 - 1933. This source briefly outlines what his book was about https://www.foreignaffairs.com...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by famousdebater 11 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I will try and vote on arguments later but I'm really busy so I'll just judge the sources point which is evident. Pro made multiple quotes that were not sourced. An example was this: "According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 19" This was then followed by a long quote. Without a source the voter is required to look up the source that you used to obtain this information to check the credibility of the source. This is not acceptable since it is not the role of the voter to research quotes provided within the debate. It is the role of the debater since it is their debate. Con provided many sources to back up their claims and this was also used to link quotations. This is an evident win on the sources points to Con.
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