The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Speech Should Be Censored (Anti Freedom of Speech)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/16/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 18,760 times Debate No: 25154
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)




Unchecked freedom of speech is an outdated, harmful and dangerous concept.
I profess that speech should be censored if one wants to attain a safe society. It should be censored reasonably, morally and by democratic vote.

Freedom of Speech:

1.The right to speak without censorship or restraint by the government. Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

1. a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event,
2. a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action.
3. the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences.
4. sound judgment; good sense.
5. normal or sound powers of mind; sanity.


1. First round is for acceptance only and you may present a small opening argument. (as I have done above.)
2. Semantics and ignoring the intention of the debate will be ignored.
3. No new arguments in the final round.
4. Forfeiting any round results in an automatic 7 point loss.
5. Please review the definitions provided. No new ones will be accepted in the following rounds. By accepting this debate, you accept the definitions.


I accept this debate and thank my opponent for starting it.

I assume because the U. S. Constitution was referenced in his opening round, Pro intends the debate to concern the United States and its pollicies. Do correct me if I am wrong.

I will defer to my opponent and allow him to begin his arguments.

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you Magicr for accepting this debate. I'm looking forward to it.

This debate was raised specifically because of the U.S. constitution, but it is not necessarily exclusive to it. I'm addressing freedom of speech on a broader sense where it concerns society, community and government in general.

Firstly, I am not saying that all speech should be censored or restricted. I am not saying that the majority of speech should be censored. I am saying, that certain speech should be (and in some cases already has been) censored for the sake of society and because of this precedent, we should examine the very nature of 'freedom of speech' and weigh it against the public good. America for instance, really doesn't support freedom of speech as much as we pretend as I will show in my following arguments.

Precedent for censorship:

There are many instances were freedom of speech isn't allowed and is punished severely. Now these censorships are reasonable, based on a moral code and instituted democratically so they coincide with my previous assertions. Examples: (

1. Copyright law.

2. Libel and slander are outlawed.

3. Threat of violence, death threats, or conspiring to commit a crime without actually doing so are prevented.

4. You are not allowed to shout 'fire' in a public place when there is no fire.

5. You are not allowed to perjure yourself in a court of law.

6. You are not allowed to divulge government secrets, business secrets, patient-client privileges, attorney-client privileges, priest-parishioner privileges or you'll face legal action.

7. You are not allowed to sexually harass people through word or deed. You cannot whisper sweet-nothings to them in an unwanted manner and you are legally barred from commenting on genetic features in a continuous manner after being warned not to.

8. You are not allowed to be verbally abusive to a child.

9. Certain words and depictions are barred from appearing on public television.

And there are more censorship laws and limits to free speech concerning prayers in schools, teaching specific doctrine (no creationism) and presenting certain views in sexual education (prevention vs. abstinence). (

Why Censorship Exists:

From the previous examples of censorship as well as many unlisted examples, one can infer that freedom of speech isn't regarded as a paramount civil liberty and sometimes must be sacrificed for the sake of others.

Why freedom of speech is censored: (

1. National security. (No divulging secrets.)

2. Personal safety. (Sexual harassment, censorship of media for profanity. Shouting fire.)

3. Business security (patents, rules against espionage or divulging company secrets.)

4. Education and Indoctrination (scholastic censorship, media censorship.)

Where else can this rule be applied?

Personal safety, national security, business security and the indoctrination of children all present issues with freedom of speech. If our society treats them as paramount civil liberties, then it follows that freedom of speech should be further censored for the sake of preserving life, dignity and safety.

1. If someone is guilty of pedophilia in jail, if that information is leaked to inmates, then it is not only probable, but likely, that the convicted pedophile will face death at the hands of inmates. And while this may seem satisfying to many, it is against the judicial system set in place to protect the innocents. So for the sake of a higher civil liberty (life), guards and lawyers should be barred from revealing the nature of the inmate's crimes to his peers?

2. Also, hateful rhetoric on the part of anti-white or anti-black speakers, demanding for white or black supremacy (or any other race) at the expense of others can cause civil discord and danger. It can lead to executions and death and it indoctrinates (another point) hate into society. By extension, any indoctrination (religious even) should be put under review from this same perspective established by precedent.

3. If sexual harassment is outlawed because it causes emotional distress, then why not certain forms of verbal bullying? (which are outlawed in academic institutions.) Verbal bullying. Overt Insulting, spewing profanities and being verbally abusive are outlawed in many cases already. Libel and slander are already outlawed, besmirching one's character can also be outlawed. So by extent, even minor offenses can face the same scrutiny and examination to determine if they should be allowed. Verbal abuse is just another form of bullying. Assault is illegal, so should verbal assault be as well? If a democratic vote was held, morally and reasonably, then I say yes. Punitive charges would differ greatly and perhaps the crimes would be considered negligible, but there is still the window for censorship provided by precedent.

There are many places where censorship exists and many more where, by extension of the afore-mentioned censorship, it can exist. Not necessarily should, but can. Certain forms of speech will always and should always be maintained. But I find that many people's current view of 'freedom of speech' is outdated and dangerous. Wikileaks, for instance. Burning qurans as well. Or the Westboro Baptist Church's ridiculous notions of freedom of speech. The KKK. The Black Panther party. And even some feminists set on inciting a gender war.

We have the established precedent for censorship. So either all of that is illegal and should be barred, or we must agree that in some cases freedom of speech shouldn't be allowed. If we concede this, and establish that safety, life and even some forms of liberty are paramount to freedom of speech, then we must examine all forms of freedom of speech to see if they pass the same test of 'social value.'

Once we've done that, for the preservation of a society, we should examine the current laws, raise questions, address the issue democratically, have moral reason (as defined by the community) and reasonability (to prevent forms of government abuse), before allowing for the possibility and enforcement of censorship.

Censorship already does exist, but it is to the benefit of society, not its detriment.



I would like to begin by thanking Pro for instigating what is sure to be an interesting debate.

In his argument, Pro argues that a certain precedent for limiting free speech exists, and therefore we should use the standards from this precedent to expand censorship. In round, I intend to examine the root of the right to free speech, as well as the way this right is granted in the Constitution. I will continue by arguing that limiting free-speech beyond what is allowed by this foundation should not occur. Lastly, I will offer several rebuttals to Pro's arguments.

Natural Rights

Free speech is part of the natural right to Liberty. John Locke, one of the originators of this idea of natural rights to Life, Liberty, and Property, also argued that governments exist to protect these rights. Therefore, governments exist in order to protect free speech.

Constitution Law

While the first amendment guarantees a right to free speech, the Constitution also leaves the interpretation of what this means up to the Supreme Court. The Court has ruled that the free speech guaranteed in the First Amendment is not absolute, so the precedents mentioned by Pro are not protected by the First Amendment and are not part of the fundamental right to free speech in the United States.

A More Important Reason

The idea of natural rights and the Constitution both dictate free speech, but there is a more important reason: Free speech is essential to democracy. Every dictator in history has limited the rights of the people to express themselves a great deal. Perfect examples of this from the 20th century include Nazi Germany under Hitler and Soviet Russia under Stalin. Both of these dictators argued that limiting free speech was for the good of the country, but we all know that the actions taken by these governments resulted in terrible crimes against humanity. The ability to voice opposition to a government is essential to ensuring the protection of other vital rights. Once the right to speech is gone, dissent is gone. Once dissent is gone, the government does as it wishes. Once the government does as it wishes, many more rights are violated.

Majority Rule, Minority Rights states that of majority rule, minority rights: "These principles of twin pillars are holding up the very foundation of what we mean by democratic government" [1]. This principle is quite simple: The majority rule determines a decision, but the rights of the minority should not be infringed. This principle is important to keep in mind, as Pro has stated that speech should be censored by majority opinion. More on this to come.

The Problem with Expanding Censorship

Pro has argued that censorship should be upheld through popular vote, and he has provided four categories under which censorship could take place. Upon first glance, these ideas all look pretty good: National security, personal safety, business security, and education and indoctrination. Those are all good things.

But, who defines what constitutes a violation of national security? Aye, there's the rub. For in that definition what injustice may occur when we have shuffled off this censorship power to the majority? Okay, enough pseudo Hamlet.

And we come back to that majority rule, minority rights.

Because what happens if the majority decides to say that allowing mosques to be built is a threat to national security. As far fetched as that sounds, it is not so far fetched. In a 2010 Pew poll, 51% of people objected to the idea of building an Islamic center and mosque near the World Trade Center. Another poll from that same year said that 25% of people said that "Local communities should be able to prohibit the construction of mosques if they do not want them"[2]. "That's only 25%," you may think, but that is a quarter of the population, a significant amount. That number could very well increase to a majority of Americans over time.

So the majority decides that mosques are national security threats, therefore, the ability of Muslims to exercise religious freedom is being censored in the name of national security.

Note: I realize that the mosque example is not the exact same thing as free speech, but it is easy to see how the free speech of Muslims could be effected by such a decision, or something similar.

And this majority ruling would be an infringement on the minority rights of Muslims, because something has been defined as national security. This reminds me of the well known poem by Martin Niemöller:

This poem is, of course, describing Nazi Germany and the restriction of rights there. If we allow the majority to decide that it is alright to restrict one group of people's rights, then one day our own rights may be restricted. As I have previously explained, once free speech disappears, most other rights vanish as well.

Pro's Three Scenarios

While the outcomes described in these three scenarios are awful, passing laws restricting freedom of speech, would not solve these problems.

1. The solution proposed in this scenario is not a big deal, because the problem fixed by this solution is not a big deal. It is perfectly reasonable to say that lawyers cannot reveal certain information to other inmates, but I cannot really think of a situation in which such information would be revealed. Additionally, guards are not currently free to reveal all information about a prisoner willy nilly to other inmates, so this would not be a big change. This is not even something that needs to be put to a popular vote, all it would require is a change in the prison system policy. On this point, however, I do question the necessity for such a measure. Of course pedophiles have been murdered in prison, but to say that it is likely that this will occur is a baseless claim. If one were to consider the amount of pedophiles currently in prison, and consider the amount of murders committed to them in prison, I'm not sure his conclusion would be the conclusion that would be reached.

2. While hateful speech can cause "civil discord and danger," it is a slippery slope. Who determines what is hateful rhetoric. Just because a person does not like what someone else is saying, does that allow them to label that hateful rhetoric and demand censorship? I agree that people should not deliver hateful speech, but once censorship on a large scale starts, where does it stop?

3. See number two.


Free speech is part of the natural right to Liberty. I have argued that free speech is essential to democracy, given examples of places where free-speech was limited and how a lack of dissent leads to an authoritarian government, and given an example of how a group could have their rights restricted based on who gets to define what gets censored.

Pro has argued that the majority should get to decide, but that easily violates the important democratic principle of majority rules, minority rights because the majority can eliminate the rights of the minority.

Sources in comments.

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks for your prompt response.

For the sake of the following arguments, I refer you to my introductory contention:

"[Speech] should be censored reasonably, morally and by democratic vote."

There are three criteria that I contend must be met for censorship to be instituted. Keep this in mind for the following arguments.

I argue that due to precedent we have the ability to expand censorship if necessary for the preservation of society. Sometimes we have conflicting civil liberties in which one form is deemed paramount to another (Preserving the life of society members is deemed a paramount civil liberty by the U.S.). I will address my opponent's rebuttals and points and defend my own under the same headings as my opponent.


"John Locke, one of the originators of this idea of natural rights to Life, Liberty, and Property, also argued that governments exist to protect these rights. Therefore, governments exist in order to protect free speech."

I do not agree that governments solely exist in order to protect free speech. My opponent has listed three forms of natural rights: life, liberty and property. Freedom of speech is classified as a liberty, as are many other things. My contention, is that when you have conflicting liberties between two or more parties or concerning government security you obviously have to choose one over the other. (Example" If someone were to tell others where the U.S. nuclear silos were, it'd jeopardize the safety of the country. On one hand you have the person's right to free speech, on the other you have everyone else' right to life. Our society preserves life over speech.)

So while I don't deny the existence of natural rights, I do deny the inference that governments exist solely to protect free speech.


This is a matter of semantics. Interpretation of free speech may be left up to the Supreme Court but in the matter of this debate, it has been defined as, "The right to speak without censorship or restraint by government." All this tells me is that the Supreme Court agrees with my position on free speech. They agree that there are scenarios it has to be sacrificed in order to preserve other liberties and other natural rights. ( So Freedom of Speech is already censored by the U.S. government and while it'd be appealing to authority to say this settles the matter, I contend that my opponent's introduction of this point supports my position, not his.

And I agree, the First amendment is not absolute. But before the supreme court added addendums or interpretations of 'freedom of speech,' it initially meant something else. All I am saying is that established by precedent, the supreme court can add new 'interpretations' and 'addendums' to the first amendment if the democratic public deems it necessary.


My opponent seems to be straw manning my position by comparing it to Hitler or Stalin's regimes. I am not saying that people cannot contend with the government. That would fall under the classification of 'immoral' or 'unreasonable' and it wouldn't be a 'democratic vote' if a dictator enforced the law whimsically. The fruit of a dictatorship may be poisonous, but that doesn't apply to this situation. We are referring to democratic decisions that may preserve life or property over speech. The censorship has a limited scope as supplied in the definition of my contention, we are not giving limitless power to the government. By the same rules of ethical standard, the government and its employees are also limited by censorship. Also, my opponent asserts:

The idea of natural rights and the Constitution both dictate free speech, but there is a more important reason: Free speech is essential to democracy.

Free speech is necessary for democracy and so is life and so is liberty and so is property and so are many other civil liberties. And when they fall into contention you have to take one side or the other. You have to enforce one at the detriment of another. (Example: In the case of abortions. We say that people have the right to life, but we also say a mother has the right to her freedom of her body. They are conflicting civil liberties and as such, one is enforced and the other is pushed aside.)


Yes, I have said that it would be a democratic majority deciding which forms of speech would be censored, but 'unreasonably' waiving the rights of the minority would be 'immoral.' These were two other prerequisites I cited for the ability to enforce censorship. Now if the minority is the KKK and they are spreading hateful rhetoric about killing black people, then yes, I believe there are grounds to muzzle them, but there'd have to be proof of how this speech is impeding others' rights. However, it'd be 'unreasonable' and 'immoral' to whimsically decide that people between the age of 19-20 shouldn't be allowed to speak in public. There is no room for this under the contention I supplied. Not all speech can be censored, in fact, much of it can't be under my contention. However, some of it (has been) should.


First let me point out that it is unnecessary for 'expansion' of censorship for my points to be valid. Perhaps there are no grounds for further expansion of censorship beyond the censorship that already exists. But censorship already does exist (which supports my BOP) and I assert it should. My opponent hasn't countered the pre-existing censorship in the U.S. and as a matter of debate, I find this to be a dropped argument. Bearing that in mind, I will address his following rebuttals.

My opponent asks, "who defines what constitutes a violation of national security?" And I'll respond by saying, it has already been decided. There are laws against it. And it has been decided through legislation via the democratic system, both reasonably and on moral grounds for the preservation of lives. Perhaps all comprehensible laws possible against speech to prevent breeches in national security have already been passed and if that is the case, then expansion is unnecessary (My debate doesn't hinge on expansion, it hinges on the suppression of unchecked speech). But if it isn't, then expansion should occur as its precedent did. Through the democratic system.

And as for the mosque example: If there were grounds to assume that a mosque being built on ground zero would lead to violence against the Muslims or against the Christians in that area, then I find that it wouldn't be unreasonable, for the sake of protecting lives, to relocate the mosque. And in how this applies to freedom of speech, if someone is spewing hateful rhetoric against Muslims on the steps of a mosque, and the Muslims were known to be violent, it would make sense for the police to quiet the man for his own safety to prevent violence. Precedent exists for this as well.

And if there was reason to believe that every single mosque presented an immediate and overt security risk, then it would make sense to not allow them. But they don't, so it shouldn't. And I think this is a bit off track from the subject.


These are only examples that are debatable. Just because the legality of certain situations hasn't been explored, doesn't mean it shouldn't. We already have a tone of legal precedent for censorship.


My opponent has sought to redefine 'freedom of speech' as subject to interpretation. The definition was provided as speech 'without censorship' or 'restraint.' It is an unshakable position and the U.S. government already does censor speech for the sake of other, higher civil liberties and social benefits. Perhaps, within the constraints of my contention, there is no further room for expansion of censorship. Perhaps censorship has already reached its logical capacity and that there is no room to further expand it 'reasonably' 'morally' or 'democratically.' (My opponent seems to concentrate too much on the 'democratic' aspect to my contention and ignores the other two.)

But he has not contended the already established precedent for freedom of speech. And as such, I find he drops the argument. This isn't primarily a debate about how much should be censored or in what cases or under what jurisdiction. It is a debate about whether or not, in any forum, 'freedom of speech should be censored.' And I, as well as the U.S. government (though not it's constitution) say yes.


I am not going to waste my opponent's or voter's time by continuing this debate. It is clear that my opponent has demonstrated that speech ought to be censored, so arguments should go to him.

I thank him for this debate.
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks for the debate.


Vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Axiom 6 years ago
I was worried that might happen so I explicitly defined it and instructed participants that the definition was non-negotiable.
Posted by adontimasu 6 years ago
This debate was kind of odd. It seemed like you two were working under a different definition of free speech, originally.
Posted by Magicr 6 years ago
Sources for R2:

2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by igaryoak 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Don't know why Con gave up so easily.
Vote Placed by Wallstreetatheist 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: What ze fakk?