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That we should restrict free speech to combat the rise of right-wing populism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 3/9/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 week ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 248 times Debate No: 110460
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (0)




Right-wing populist parties, individuals, and activists worldwide are a threat to minorities and to democracies. Side government solves this problem. I think courts should decide if these are right-wing populists using five criteria:

1. Nativism (ie. the scapegoating of immigrants and ethnic minorities)
2. Hostility towards elites (especially institutions like the media and the courts)
3. An accessible or authoritarian approach to law and order
4. A disregard for political correctness and truth
5. A shallow policy agenda designed to appeal to as many people as possible in order to spread their coalition

What does it look like - Trump in the US, Duterte in the Philippines, the AFD in Germany.

To deal with these individuals and groups, this house would institute a range of restrictions on the free speech of political parties and practice. That goes from shutting down websites and individuals which advocate on their behalfs like Breitbart, not reporting on them in the media or allowing them to speak in town hall events, banning them from social media or in some cases being happy to ban them from contesting elections entirely. That's an extension of the precedent set in the banning of the neo-nazi party in Germany and of states around the world in banning hate speech. It is important to note that while the unique phenomenon of right-wing populism is a problem today were a similar problem to arise with left wing populism I would support this policy there.

I have two burdens in this debate:
1. To show you that this policy is justified
2. To show you that this is an effective way of dealing with the danger that right-wing populist present

With that in mind, here are my three arguments:
1. I combat the threat to minorities
2. This harms the development of solutions to the problems which lead to right-wing populists coming about at all
3. This is a fundamental affront to democracy

Before I move on to my first argument about how I actually combat the threat to minorities, there are two principal parameters within which this debate takes place:

1. That democracy necessitates a balance of Rights. The rights of individuals sometimes contradict each other. For example, my right to wave my wand in the air contradicts my friend's right not to get poked in the eye. I believe that protecting the most vulnerable from physical harm weighs up more than the ability of certain individuals to have freedom of speech. This will be principally dealt with in this argument

2. That democracy can only happen if it's truth led. When you have our anti-truth you forfeit your right to the protection of free speech. That will be dealt with principally in my second round.

My first argument which is about how I combat the threat to minority groups. Right-wing populism thrives on riling people up and channelling that anger. That's because right-wing populists are overwhelmingly problem and not solution oriented. This is strategic because it means these parties are able to appeal to diverse coalitions of individuals often with very little in common. For example, someone living in a trailer park in northern Florida has basically nothing in common with a soccer mom living in the Midwest, but they united by being broadly disaffected with the status quo. However. the policy demands of these people economically and socially are very different. Therefore, in order to maintain this populist coalition right-wing populist parties do two things:
Firstly, they promise very shallow things - they have very unspecific policies or unsubstantiated catch-all 'magic wand' policies.
Secondly, they focus on the problems that their followers face as opposed to the solutions which divide them. In an attempt to flatten the causes of these problems into something can easily be solved they often blame minority groups for all of these issues. That is drug dealers in the Philippines, Mexicans in the US, Moroccans in the Netherlands are blamed for all of the problems which the followers of populist parties face.
The reason that blaming minorities leads to increased violence is threefold. The first is that they take the anger that individuals have and they direct it at a minority for a political advantage. This anger goes beyond normal anger because the issues that these individuals are facing every single day suddenly becomes tied to minorities. Secondly, they change permission mechanisms because they make violent and racist views mainstream. That means people think it's okay to be or act racistly because views have been legitimized by others, whether in rallies or in votes. Thirdly, when these populist parties get in power - because they can't implement legitimate policies
without alienating a segment of their voter base, they're forced to use discriminatory policies to distract from their failure to solve problems. So Trump is forced to try and implement a Muslim ban to distract from the fact that he can't actually solve the problems that his voters are facing without alienating other parts of his voter base. What are the impacts of this - you create a society where minorities live in fear. Fear of
being attacked. Fear of being spat on on their way to school. Fear of not being able to get a job because they're discriminated against in interviews. In extreme cases, their freedom of movement is restricted when they're too afraid to leave their homes.
Look, I don't think it's surprising that in the aftermath of the brexit vote hate crimes went up 40%! That during the US presidential election, hate crimes against religious and ethnic minorities went up 41%! That's not surprising, and my policy solves this by reducing the ability of right-wing populist to spread their hatred.

My second argument is about how this harms the development of solutions which affect the disaffected. Look, I think there's a legitimate debate to be had over some of these issues. I think disenfranchised people's concerns unquestionably should be listened to and there's a conversation that we should have about...for example, how
undocumented workers are able to undercut wages. Why does the free speech of right-wing populist actually undermine that debate? Two reasons - first, because it drags politics to the right-wing populist gutter. Right-wing populist try to take chunks out of the voters of centrist parties by doing things like scapegoating minorities. Those centrist parties are therefore forced to move to the right in order to try and keep hold of those voters. The DPP in Denmark was able to pull the Danish Liberal Party right
to the point when a party that previously was pro-immigration and asylum seekers ran on a platform of explicitly limiting the number of asylum seekers able to come into that country. The second way that right-wing populists distort politics is they harm the development of solutions. This is a lack of nuance in the language that these politicians use. Populist campaigners use charisma and shocking language to get free airtime and to show themselves to be saying what the people are thinking. Other parties, in order to compete, are forced to also use shock tactics. So One Nation in Australia was able to change the debate on immigration to the point when 'the yellow
peril' was a phrase that was actually commonly used. You can't have a proper political debate when the language that you're using is ominous - when you're conflating asylum seekers and refugees and immigrants in a way that only populist parties force politics to do.

On my side the house, we're able to escape the noise of populism. We're able to rise above the din, and we're able to have a conversation between centrist politicians which leads to actual, nuanced, legitimate solutions to these problems. In Canada, they were able to have a conversation about immigration free from the noise of populists, which means they were able to impose an immigration policy that is actually fair and that actually helps the individuals on the ground.


I think your characterization of the right-wing is a bit off but that's beside the point. By restricting free speech you're saying you wanna throw someone in jail for saying a certain thing, or at least throw them out of business. Obviously not all speech should be free; physical threats, child porn, and some other egregious things should not be allowed. However, part of having a free society is being able to freely exchange ideas and restricting free speech restricts the communication of views. It's also a slippery slope: if right-wingers are a threat according to some, can I say leftists are a threat and restrict their speech too?
Debate Round No. 1


It is problematic for side opposition to completely misunderstand the topic of this debate as being about right-wing populists, which, may I clarify, is different from right-wing views. But then they conceded that free speech must operate within a range and in doing so, they do not deny the racist vitriol that is not only endemic when we look at actual examples of right-wing populists on the ground - the Front National in France, Trump in the US, Duterte in the Philippines, the list goes on - but is the cause of hate crime. They, knowing this is causing physical harm to individuals, do not wish to implement my policy that reduces harms to the individuals they say they protect. That's not good enough from side opposition.

In this round, I'm going to bring you an argument as to how right-wing populism constitutes a fundamental affront to democracy and the right of every else in a democracy who do not vote for these people. But before that, Rebuttal and clarification. The opposition has obviously not fully read my argument otherwise they would have noticed that I specifically addressed the issue of left-wing populism. If left-wing populism ever causes the amount of harm to individuals that right-wing populism does now, I would support this policy there.

The only thing they bring us is the idea that these individuals are voicing concerns that would otherwise be avoided. Three responses here:
1. They concede - in their very generic characterisation of freedom of speech - that there are circumstances under which we are happy to tell people that they cannot vote for an individual. That is if I can prove to you that there harms to the wider society - either democratic norms of that society or specific minority groups are undermined, I win this debate. Because that is why side opposition does not believe that people should be able to vote for the neo-Nazi party and in doing so they can see that democracy must operate within a range.

2. They give us no analysis as to why addressing the concerns of these people is unique to right-wing populists, and rather just right-wing movements.

3. This falls because they fundamentally must prove to you that the benefits afforded to these people are actually achieved. I gave you structured analysis in my first argument that has not been responded to, which is how the shallowness of the coalition of right-wing parties means you do not help the people that fundamentally give you their democratic mandate.

Okay now onto my argument that right-wing populism affronts democracy. I think right-wing populism undermines the integrity of democracy and is therefore a threat to the democratic rights of all because it poisons real democratic debate. There is some context we need to understand for this argument to make sense. First, right-wing populists abuse the truth and shift their stances. That is of their broad but shallow coalitions, brought together by conflicting vague promises (i.e. they promise simultaneously to slash Obamacare but also to provide welfare to those in need). We put the example of Duterte as someone who literally has a team of 20 people hired to act as internet trolls and spread misinformation on the Internet. Second of all, they dress up their opponents as conspiratorial elites and fundamentally use that as a tool to not engage with them. They demonize their opponents and consequently when you try and challenge someone like Duterte or Trump, the response you get is "see, see! This is exactly what the liberal media is doing time and time again". They play the victim of legitimate sources of news. Third thing is that they rely on propagating fear and prejudice, again because they cannot unite tech coalition through legitimate policy, because the people they draw together are drawn on vague and conflicting terms. The take away from this argument is that the key tenant the key appeal of lots of these individuals is inherently irrational. They rely on the propagation of a fear that probably should not exist. All of these fundamentally undermine the debate necessary to productive competitive electoral politics. Why? First, because when you twist and muddy the truth of a debate you challenge the reality in response to which that debate existed in the first place. When fake news and alternative facts are placed on the same pedestal as actual factual realities you can't have a functional discussion about certain issues. You cannot have a functional discussion about undocumented workers in the United States when it is a fact that Mexicans are rapists in the same way that is a fact that Nieto is the President of Mexico. Second of all, likewise you also cannot have a debate between two reasonable sites that engage with each other and provide for the voter fundamentally - that is which of these two options is probably better for your interests - when one of those sites systematically fails to engage with the other. This is because they use literally who those other people are as a way of attacking these individuals rather than attacking policies and secondly, they have terrorized the people that support them and struck fear into their hearts to the extent that they will not hear logical reason.

The second strand of this argument is that these individuals attack the very framework of democracy. Part of their anti-establishment narrative on which they rely is to attack institutions like courts, like electoral processes. That is why we see individuals like Donald Trump not only threatening to punish the courts if they get into power but refusing to accept election results. Democracy relies on the balance of power. That is supported both by the fact you give a massive mandate to the individual that you vote for, but also by the fact that there are some checks and balances by an independent body to stop that person abusing that power. Democracy is fundamentally perverted when justices and the courts are fundamentally too afraid to do their job.

The takeaway of this whole argument is twofold - first, if you weigh this debate based on democratic integrity and the rights of individuals, the very presence of right-wing populists makes it harder for people on the ground to come to terms with who they are voting for, why they are supporting that person, and ultimately what they should draw out of that. I would draw the analogy to perjury insofar as I'm happy to limit free speech in the short term if it ensures the integrity of a process that is vital to our society in the long run. So proud to propose.


Physical harm should be illegal, as it is, and so should speech advocating violence, as it is. So if somebody says "all Jews should be exterminated," that should be illegal. Saying "white people are the superior race" is racist, but it should not be illegal because it does not advocate violence or cause physical harm to someone. People who say this stuff are not responsible for what others do after they listen to what the former has said (again, unless the person is telling people to commit violence). If I say "let's replace democracy with dictatorship" that would be threatening democracy, and according to you it should be illegal, but again, it does not physically threaten or harm anyone and therefore putting someone in jail for saying that violates their rights.
Debate Round No. 2


What side opposition has failed to prove in this debate is that the harms caused by right-wing populists are not great enough for us to enact a policy to protect people from these individuals/parties. The opposition has no care for the harms caused to minorities in this debate. Considering the scale on which these harms happen, some sort of response was necessary for me to even consider side opposition as an engaging opponent. Because they did not respond at all, they lost this debate. The main flaw within this opposition's case is that aside from a shallowly analysed argument about the integral right to free speech, there is no evidence from opposition that right-wing populism provides no harms to people. They did not engage with my point on language and my model. Instead of actual substantive arguments, they have simply refuted everything I have said. Again opposition, not good enough for this debate.

Side opposition has not analysed why free speech is so important to democratic societies. This shows their own lack of structured analysis as to why free speech needs to exist in democracies, probably because it's been a right to them since birth and they've never given any legitimate thought as to why it is so fundamental. Instead, they have relied on the premise that it is necessary to have freedom of speech. Free speech in all democratic countries is not the status quo, therefore it is not my burden. I don't need to prove to you that free speech isn't required in democracy because not only did I principally deal with that in my first argument about minority groups, but not every democratic country has free speech. So they have been grossly misinformed this entire debate. In fact, if the opposition thought so strongly that free speech was a fundamental right in democracy, it was their burden to prove this in a counter model as it deviates from the status quo. Unfortunately, at this point in the debate I would say it is too late for them to convince you and I win on this issue.
The failure of the opposition to engage with any material regarding the poisonous nature of right-wing populism not only highlights their inability to engage with the specifics of the topic, but also means that to an extent they concede. They have attempted to shift the topic of this debate to banning free speech by failing to address the five distinct reasons as to why individuals and parties are likely to fall into identifiable categories of being populist. But ultimately, opposition only wanted to engage with the extreme end of our scale (i.e. banning individuals from running on the ballot box, or individuals from speaking entirely). Remember all the other minor policies that I support, like not giving them platforms at universities or stopping their social media pages from operating. These are ways are which we can try and decrease the influence these populists are able to have before we ban them from running in election.

Ok so I saw three clashes in this debate: the legitimacy of the principle, the provision of solutions and harms to minorities, and the stability of democracy.

Onto the first of which: is this legitimate? They committed themselves to a principle that basically went: free speech is valuable and these individuals should be able to engage. This does not directly engage with the principle that I gave you about the balance of rights for individuals to be safe from fear. If you create an atmosphere of fear and are ignorant of the truth, you're ultimately far more likely to persecute vulnerable minorities. The response that they gave was racism is inherent and it is violence. Ladies and gentlemen, no - violence is violence. And given that they've done nothing to contend the fact that we've seen increased rates of attacks on minorities in the aftermath of the US election or the Law and Justice party's rise to power in Poland, or that of Brexit. Given that individuals no longer feel safe in their homes, streets or communities because they fear being attacked for who they are, they have no original argument as to why the status quo should not be changed. Secondly, they say people need to have a political choice, but I question how meaningful that choice is if politics is skewed from key issues. My case told you populist parties overwhelmingly cannot have specific policies because they have to please a broad coalition of voters. It's very hard to provide a policy that both says they provide welfare for people (i.e. Obamacare) but that also appeals those very acts. This means there are no tangible policies from these parties that protect people. And finally, opposition said we've got to give the people what they want from their political parties. Well, ultimately that is not the obligation of a democracy - a government still exists to regulate policy otherwise you have an anarchist society. We should have parameters within which the discussion occurs, that we do not allow anti-Semitism just because it's what some people want. That, dear opposition, is called a tyranny of the majority, that overwhelmingly harms the most vulnerable members of our society.

So secondly, let's look at the provisions of solutions and the effects on minorities. I gave you concrete reasons as to why these populist politicians are reliant on harms to minorities to get into power. Firstly, that they overwhelmingly scapegoat these people to hold a coalition as minorities are simple answers for complex questions. Side opposition gave absolutely no response to this, saying it wasn't relevant to the debate. By the "right-wing populists" in the title, it clearly is. Because we need to understand the harms these individuals begin to have on minorities before they get into power. Side opposition has given no reason as to why we shouldn't ban right-wing populists from campaigning and instead decided to focus on free speech. I argued that a permission mechanism with regards to harms to minorities is created by populists and thgere was no response to this analysis. If the orange man at the front of the room can stand up and say "well, it's okay for me to grab women by whatever" or "it's okay for me to decide that Mexicans are rapists" then people who are not predisposed to violence under the status quo are far more likely to engage in those very acts of violence. That's why we see what were tempered Americans now punching Black Lives Matter protesters in the face. That is a fundamental harm that arises from populism itself. Finally, they disregarded the idea that right-wing individuals (not populists) will step in to fill the void that is created under my side of the house. Because populists muddy political discussions and often simply attack their opponents, that individuals are less informed about actual political policy. The opposition is damaging the value of the vote of the people they claim to protect.

And finally, the stability of democracy. Opposition did not respond to my argument regarding elite institutions like the media and the courts being bullied by populist parties and individuals when they get into power. Not only that, their only response to my structured analysis on why democracy is truth led was that free speech should be allowed. They asserted that lies should be allowed to be spread about democracies. And to the idea of there not being a truth...ladies and gentlemen, I know that not all Mexicans are rapists. That is a truth. The opposition structures their analysis in a in a way that suggests they think Mexicans are rapists is as factual as the year is 2018.

Because I am the side that protects democracy, I propose.


Words don't harm people, actions do. Again, if any action brings physical harm to somebody then it should be illegal but words do not do that. What you're saying is we should censor certain things that you don't like. I'm onto you; you're purposely making your argument super long and wordy so I won't have time to counter it all. Come on, somebody who's honest about debating would not do that. Bottom line: it violates people's rights to ban them from saying things that are inconvenient to you. Actions that threaten democracy can be illegal, but not words.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Coolguy11 6 days ago
Wasn"t trying to convince anybody about anything, you just said something that I found odd.
Posted by rowey2000 6 days ago

I would appreciate it if you left the debate as it stands instead of continuing to try and convince people in the comment section. That strategy is not acceptable anywhere.

Posted by Coolguy11 1 week ago
I never said Mexicans are rapists sooo Idk where OP got that from...
Posted by rowey2000 1 week ago
Ok I think most of you are not properly reading what I am suggesting. I have outlined five distinct identifiable criteria by which I would categorise a right wing populist, so not everyone would have restricted speech. Moreover I would make the distinction between a right wing populist and a general representative of right wing views. I told you I would also support this policy with left wing populism if it were ever as sensationalised as right wing populism.
Posted by homoudmahadin 2 weeks ago
the issue with free-speech is that once u limit or censor something it is no longer free. u are directly limiting what I am saying, in other words, it is no longer free speech. the rise of right-wing populist groups would only gain traction only if the people wanted it to. guessing you are a liberal, the only reason liberalism gained traction and rose because people no longer wanted to stay in conservative America, many conservative politicians said many of your arguments as at that time they believed their ideology is superior, however, the people said otherwise and the liberalist movement is now more dominant than ever. u stated in your first argument that right-wing populist groups threaten democracies but limiting there right for speech is undemocratic. I am an anti-collective democracy classical libertarian. so the intrinsic flaw in democracy, not free speech.
Posted by canis 2 weeks ago
Hmm. Right-wing populism is true... Well some of it is crap.. And can be debated..
Posted by Amphia 2 weeks ago
Are you a World Schools Debater or Policy?
Posted by 2SidedPolygon 2 weeks ago
Sounds great... That is if you want complete and total anarchy, and to stoop to the level of a communist hell of a country that doesn't give people basic rights. And who decides who can say what? Are black people allowed to ridicule white people? Who gets to choose what can and cannot be spoken, and how do you regulate such an extreme law?
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