The Instigator
Pro (for)
2 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Should people be allowed to have complete freedom of speech?

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/28/2015 Category: Society
Updated: 10 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 474 times Debate No: 83132
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




I'd like to debate about freedom of speech/ expression, mostly media censorship, but also in other areas of life. My stand is everyone should be given complete freedom of speech. Anyone should be able to express their views without restrictions, and at the same time, no one should be held legally responsible for any views or opinions they express. Just a quick example, if someone posts on a social media website, "All Muslims are terrorists and deserve to be killed!", my stand is that this person should not be held legally responsible for the view he has expressed and that he should be allowed to express this view free from censorship. However, the only time I would not support complete freedom of speech is when it violates other laws and rights, such as the right to privacy, for example.

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. Format of debate is open, first round does not necessarily have to be acceptance only.


This debate hinges on the idea that every person should have the right (or the freedom) to speak without restraint, and what they do say cannot be used against them (as my opponent said, saying "Muslims should be killed" is protected from lawsuits/tort law because what you are saying is free from repurcussions).

I'd also like to point out that my advocacy lies within the status quo, therefore the affirmative must show that we need to make the change from partial freedom to full freedom, due to a large enough reason to overhaul the world's systems. The burden essentially lies with the affirmative team.

My sole contention is that absolute freedom of speech has harms that outweigh any philosophical benefits.

Subpoint A. Immediate danger

We all know of the classic case of yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre, where your freedom of speech means that it may directly cause a stampede and cause the other people to die as a result of your actions. But with the absolute right to say as you want without any repurcussions, lives will be lost due to stampeding from people that get a thrill out of harming others (however small this chance is, it is still a chance, and you can do nothing because your words are infallible). Your words, when they are not carriable in a court of law, mean that any actions from said words that are directly attributable are not able to give justice to the people that spoke them.

Subpoint B. Implied danger

With the absolute right to say as you want and not to have what you say be used against you in a court (of civil law or criminal law), there is no way to prevent an implied action on your person from happening. I mean: if I have the freedom to say that I will kill the President at 2:53 AM tonight, then what I say cannot prevent me from coming into contact with the President or being within a certain radius of him from a restraining order. Absolute freedom of speech means that I can say that I will kill my opponent by beheading him and nothing can come of it because what I say can have no legal or civil repurcussions as a result. This means that there are lives that could have been saved (by interventionism from implied threats) that cannot be because there can be no action saving those from these menacing figures in their lives.

Subpoint C. Testimony

Testimony is useless because when you swear into a court of law, you swear that what you say is true. But when you can say whatever you want without repurcussions, you are able to commit perjury without any ill effects! You may swear to give the whole truth, but what you are saying are only words, nothing that carries weight (in the affirmative's world). This means that courts of law no longer are based around justice, just bribing people to say what you want them to say.

Subpoint D. Political money

Since the SCOTUS ruled that paying political candidates is an act of free speech, there are no longer federal regulations against how much you can donate and to whom in political races. This means that the poltical system is ruled by the rich class who have the politicians in their pocket, doing as they want and not what the people themselves want. When local candidate races have donations reported in the thousands of dollars, what is stopping Bill Gates from donating all of his fortunes (I believe well over $65 billion in assets) to a local candidate to make sure that the other side cannot win, in order to represent Bill's best interests but not everyone elses? Democracy is detrimentally effected because it is no longer democracy, rather, it is plutocracy - rule by the rich.

As always, long live the Islamic State!
Debate Round No. 1


I thank Con for accepting this debate and opening his arguments. Unfortunately, I think there may have been a miscommunication or misunderstanding.

What I mean, and what I think most people understand it as, by freedom of speech is not "the right to say whatever you want anywhere". That's how Con seems to have interpreted it, with his examples of lying in court, being a public nuisance or threatening people. There are many definitions of freedom of speech, I'll take one from the Merriam Webster Dictionary, " the right to express facts and opinions..." [1] So, freedom of speech is not the right to say whatever you want anywhere, anytime. It's your right to express a view, fact or idea, for example, Con saying "long live the Islamic State!" at the end of his argument would be an expression of his opinion and view, which is part of freedom of speech. Thus I think Con's points are invalid as they may have misinterpreted the debate and the idea of freedom of speech.

Con can either choose to forfeit this debate or continue with the understood definition of freedom of speech in mind and continue the debate as per normal. I look forward to Con's response.

[1] -


As a typical Westerner, you decide to restrict the flow of debate clinging to what you consider to be prescriptivist definitions of the undefinable Truth.

Anyways, you said "no one should be held legally responsible for any views or opinions they express" which is the crux of your case - my burden is solely to prove that your case is wrong, not to say that the idea itself is wrong (these are different burdens).

You are shifting the debate from speech not being legally responsible at all to only opinions not being legally responsible ... that's insane. I'm not forfeiting because you didn't clarify your position when you said the contrary of what you did in the second round in the first.

Anyways, my opponent DROPS my arguments, saying that I should just forfeit or that I need to entirely re-work my entire case based on my understanding of what the affirmative's plan was based on what they had actually said.
Debate Round No. 2


I'm not a Westerner, and I don't appreciate the fact that Con is making ad hominem arguments here.

My "decision" to make this debate about freedom of speech with regard to opinions and views is not an arbitrary one. Con claims I'm "shifting the debate from speech not being legally responsible at all to only opinions not being legally responsible". I'm sorry, but the definition of "freedom of speech" is that of expressing opinions and views, not literally "talking". I already provided the definition of "freedom of speech" by the Merriam-Webster dictionary in my previous round, and I shall re-quote it, , " the right to express facts and opinions..." [1], if you want more examples, this is how the Oxford Dictionary defines it, "The right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint" [2], or's "the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc." [3].

As you can see, this debate was only ever about freedom of speech regarding views and opinions, because, by definition, freedom of speech is about views and opinions, not about simply "freedom to speak anything anywhere you like" as Con seems to have understood it. Con claims I "didn't clarify [my] position when [I] said the contrary of what [I] did in the second round in the first.", but as I have just pointed out, this debate is about freedom of speech, which means freedom to express opinions and views.

Thus I urge Con to restructure her argument to fit this debate, or else I'm afraid she will have to forfeit it. I hope I have made it clear why this debate was only ever about freedom to express views and opinions.

[1] -
[2] -
[3] -


Anyone should be able to express their views without restrictions, and at the same time, no one should be held legally responsible for any views or opinions they express.

This sets up the format of the debate. All of my arguments are topical because that sets the motion in place that we need to look at this as a "any view you express you cannot be faulted for" changed world ... perjury? You expressed a view, so you cannot be faulted. Fire in a theatre? You expressed a view (a falsehood, however), you are not to be faulted.

Don't bring in dictionaries, I don't care what they have to say. You set up the motions in the 1st round and you have provided literally no arguments for the affirmative plantext, so we have to vote neg because the aff is creating a change in the status quo when they have no support in doing so.
Debate Round No. 3


I think Con has misunderstood the definition of a "view" or "opinion". In my opening statement, I said "no one should be held legally responsible for any views or opinions they express." "Fire in a theater", as Con puts it, is not a view, it's a statement. This is simple semantics. Stating something, such as that a fire is in a theater, regardless of whether it is true or false, is a factual statement. A view, on the other hand, is different. As per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "an opinion or judgment colored by the feeling or bias of its holder" [1], per, "contemplation or consideration of a matter with reference to action" [2] and, per the Oxford Dictionary, "A particular way of considering or regarding something; an attitude or opinion" [3].

As you can see, a "view" is basically an opinion or stand on an issue. Therefore, when I said "legally responsible for any views or opinions they express" in my opening statement, I meant it with regard to opinions. Con thinks this has got to do with statements such as "There is a fire in a theater" and thinks that freedom of speech means "The right to say anything you want". This is an incorrect understanding. I can't set up an affirmative, which I have to, because I think Con has misinterpreted this entire debate and I think she needs to re-work her arguments and understandings for this debate to continue.

[1] -
[2] -
[3] -



The aff doesn't address my implied danger argument, saying that "I will kill you" is going to be legally allowed. They drop this completely. It is a view (that I will kill you) - therefore it is protected under the plan of the affirmative team.

They also don't address my political money argument. The SCOTUS has said that money IS a view or an opinion therefore it can influence elections. Under free reign of freedom of speech, politicians are in the pockets of the rich.

You can disregard all of my arguments and still vote in negation because the affirmative team has made no constructive arguments to take a change in the status quo.
Debate Round No. 4


I will say this again, the only reason why I have not made any arguments in the affirmative is because I think Con has misinterpreted the issue and the topic.

"I will kill you" is not a view, it's a statement of intention. A view, as I have defined in the previous round, is an opinion, basically. For example, "I think ISIS is right." is considered a view. Money is not a view or opinion, it is an object. Freedom of speech is about expressing your thoughts and opinions freely without censorship. I think Con has misinterpreted the issue and thus we cannot have a constructive debate.

I can make affirmative arguments and rebuttals but they would be of no use since Con has not handled and interpreted the issue correctly, as indicated by his first round arguments. They are irrelevant when dealing with freedom of speech.


If you buy none of my view mumbo jumbo, you have two reasons to vote neg.

1. The affirmation has not met their burden, thus you must presume neg.

2. They haven't attacked my money argument. The SCOTUS ruled that money was an opinion, therefore yes, politicians are in the pockets of those who are wealthy and not the people they ought to represent. This is left intact, they just say that it's an object ... yes, it is an object, but further it has been ruled a view. The mind is an object, yet it can create views. Existence doesn't mean it cannot be a view.

They made literally no arguments for their side of the burden. That'd be fine if I was the sole carrier of this burden .. but I am not. I actually pointed out that the burden is only shared by the aff team, and they never attacked this! They concede that it is their burden to prove!

They did not ... even if none of my arguments hold up, the fact of the matter is that none of theirs did either, and theirs are all that do matter.
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Lexus 10 months ago
That's just like asking voters to not vote since you alone forfeited the entire debate ... no.
Posted by EljayShaun 10 months ago
Please do not vote on this debate; unfortunately Con and I were not able to have a proper debate, and there is no point in voting on a debate we did not engage in.
Posted by Lexus 11 months ago
love ya taj
Posted by tajshar2k 11 months ago
damn it you beat me to it Lexus :D
Posted by Lexus 11 months ago
Well, since you live without the status quo, the laws don't matter so you can't restrict your advocacy to just legal avenues otherwise you have literally none at all.........
Posted by EljayShaun 11 months ago
As I have stated, my idea of complete freedom of speech is freedom to express whatever offensive or wrong ideas you have without censorship, restriction or legal prosecution. It does not apply to revealing classified information because that is not your idea, and it is against the law to do so.
Posted by Wylted 11 months ago
Does complete freedom mean being able to communicate classified information, make direct threats or reveal information, such as when you attend a grand jury trial or when judges place a gag order on you?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Peepette 10 months ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct, grammar and spelling are on equal keel. Con nullifies Pros points in RI with various danger, testimony, and money scenarios. In R2 Pro provides sources to define free speech. Con points out that this redefines Pos position of the debate and is contrary to earlier statements made. Pro also fails to address Cons rebuttal points. Pro contends in later rounds that it is Con that does not understand his premise, which is incorrect in review of R1 statements. Win point to Con due to Pros altered statement of original premise therefore negating the debate