THBT Freedom of expression necessarily entails the freedom to be offensive.
Debate Rounds (4)
I invite anyone to challenge the motion.
And I should also remind onlookers of the discussion that there is not much point in engaging with opposing ideas if they cannot accept their own fallibility, regardless of their stance on the motion.
EDIT: The first round is for stating your participation. There are really 3 rounds of discussion.
Hey, I'd like to see your first "contribution" here, it looks like you have the ability to set up an intelligent resolution, so that's a good sign to what you can do :).
The issue at hand is diverse and there is no fixed way to begin, but I shall begin with one of three areas that I reckon is always important for society. During the past 60 years, many equality movements have gained much ground with much momentum within the United States. This includes the Civil Rights movements, Gay Rights movements and Feminist movements amongst others. I mention the United States in particular because of the First Amendment to its Constitution. The strength of these movements is still tenacious to this day. Yet interestingly enough, no serious attempt has been made to silence the voices of the oppositions. And considering these cases, the oppositions are no doubt ruthlessly "offensive" regarding their etiquette.
Not only does this philosophy demonstrate the willpower of the oppressed against disgraceful speech, it now begs the question: would these equality movements have the same wall-rattling power if their enemies were forcefully shut up? How could they have the same satirical and ironical impact over arguments that could never be heard in the first place? Indeed, jokes about the ridiculousness of specially reserved places in Hell for undeserving minorities would fall flat on the audience if they were shielded from basic knowledge of Hell - there is no way to explain the concept of Hell to civilised folk without offending them.
I always wonder what God's mentality is with "specially reserved seats in Hell". Infinite torture plus one? Whatever. This talk by definition cannot possibly be more offensive (you know, infinite torture and stuff), but it gives me all the ammunition I need to laugh at idiots when they reveal themselves to be idiots in this way. And this is why I hope readers will understand that it would be a scandal to force them to be quiet through state legislation. Humour is one of the reasons why life is worth living. And it can immensely help the overly sensitive to cheer up while simultaneously growing thicker skins.
Area number two concerns a small example of what Dr Gregory House meant when he said "humanity is overrated". The Westboro Baptist Church responds to the phrase "sunk to a new low" like it is a personal challenge. They are the only cult in the world I know of that actually boycott cemeteries. They look at atheistic satire that begins with "Thank God For..." and see it as a great idea for a genuine slogan. They multiply on the media's lust for feeding trolls. Surely this is so repulsively obscene that limits must be set to block their expression? Surely it would be doing humanity a heavy favour?
The temptation in regards to these clowns is to assume that "the offensiveness cannot get any worse". I hate to have to tell you, but this is false. Flat-out false, in fact. You only have to look up some sickening humanitarian disasters that have occurred in the world, whether it is the atrocities in Bosnia or Iraqi-Kurdistan, to even begin to put things in perspective. Mere discussion about these evils is what would truly have to be censored in order to protect innocent eyes. The faintest bit of reporting on them constitutes a fury within me that unequivocally dwarfs that of a pathetic religious cult.
Humanity's lows - genocide, slavery, rape, torture - are no doubt some of the most offensive things the human mind can comprehend, yet any kind of censorship about their discussion as a means of preventing any maximum hurt of feelings does a huge disservice to us. Where can our education about fascism, theocracy and totalitarianism come from if the details are so ugly that the state happens to feel that ignorance of them is the lesser evil? If you agree with this, the question about the supposed "dangers" of the Westboro Baptist Church's freedom of expression becomes easy.
If anything, society as a whole still benefits from the tongues of this crazed cult. Turning attention to reason and scepticism for a moment, one quintessential conclusion can be drawn from the pursuit of knowledge that never gets stated enough: science, reason, education, all of these things are not just about knowing what is true as a matter of fact, but also about knowing what is false as a matter of fact. Knowing what is not true is in itself a form of factual education and can be very enlightening. Because of society's knowledge about the falsehoods of these morons, they are much more likely to make decisions that are beneficial. The homophobic Christian may indeed have second thoughts about his homophobia if he sees it coming from the Westboro Baptists that he hates so much.
My final area consists of the need to know thy enemy. One of the advantageous weapons I have against my political and/or moral opponents is the knowledge of what goes on inside their heads. Opposing mentalities help me to predict what rhetorical direction my opponents will go in next. In order for me to do this, I must have their opinions be completely unrestricted. If what they are about to say is going to be horrifically offensive to myself and anyone else around me, I would rather have them say it so that this critical character trait be brought out into the open.
What better way to resist the spread of fascism than to have activists read a book like Mein Kampf? Full of seething, stomach-turning hatred but yet filled to the bone with ingredients that compromise the mindset of a psychopath, this autobiography has done the Fuhrer a huge disservice by providing his enemies with all the tell-tale signs of a state about to crumble into brutality.
The United States has done extremely well to prevent any legislation banning "incitement to hatred". The country quite rightly recognises this as being no different to banning "incitement to bad feelings" or "incitement to bad thoughts", the latter bordering on a hideous totalitarian principle George Orwell had gravely warned about that I hardly need to spell out to you. My home that is the United Kingdom, birthplace of Thomas Paine and John Milton to name a few, has unfortunately not avoided this stupidity. Any kind of racist or homophobic speech for example is punishable by imprisonment. If we extend on the principle of knowing thy enemy, this hate speech ban deprives me of my right to know if there is a spread of hatred occurring within my country. Let me repeat this, because it is important. If racism is becoming a nasty problem within my community, the worst thing we can possibly do about it is make ourselves more ignorant of the situation. How can we be so silly? Not to mention that the racists have the added ability to dwell on their fetishes using private communication, building up an unpleasant sub-culture that is unlikely to be noticed in the presence of a hate speech law. If people are stupid enough to be racist, you do not bury that stupidity in the sand with a quick-fix law that asks more questions than it answers.
Now I would like to close this round with an anecdote that could more or less be said to be true here in the United Kingdom. Imagine you were to witness a politically correct tabloid reader bump into an elderly war veteran on the street. They end up chatting, and the veteran talks about the brutalities he has endured: blood, limbs, bombs, guns, the persistent loss of life before his vision. Now imagine if the tabloid reader were to say the following:
"Oh that is all great and all, but do you know what is really horrible? People burning poppies! They deserve prison!"
I hope there is plenty to learn from here. In particular, how it can be quickly concluded that the above statement is actually more offensive than burning poppies, and that those who think political correctness will save them from any kind of offensive speech are fooling themselves. You could probably replace "poppies" with "the Star-Spangled Banner" if it makes it easier.
Thank you for reading once again. I keenly await the counter ideas presented by my opponent. Bring it on.
Sorry, I didn't realize I'd have two meetings sprung on me today (literally, an aide brought me a letter from my MUN coach, and as we were changing classes the my debate chair told me about a meeting) so I'm gonna have to forfeit this round. Would you mind just forfeiting this debate and starting another so we can debate this properly? If not, I'll allow a concession to you and put the win on your record
Great, I'll challenge you witht the topic when my schedule's a little more flexible. I have a tournament on the 11th and 12th so I'll be prepping for that pretty hard.
jameshogg forfeited this round.
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