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

The Government Should Not Censor Racial or Hateful Speech

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/20/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,161 times Debate No: 17972
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




I believe the government has strictly no business in censoring any form of speech (besides, maybe, yelling FIRE in a movie theater). Some people might have different opinions about certain issues, but that does not make them scientifically inferior to the rest of us and entitled to have his mind regulated.

Sure, hate speech and Nazi symbols are very harsh, wrong, and provocative, but we need to remember that for society to truly prosper, an idea should rather be debated down than forced into secrecy.

I am waiting for a contender, to which I wish a very good luck for I hope that I will both learn more about the opposite side, but also finish by proving my point.


I am of the view that an idea can be expressed effectively even without the need for rude comments,abusive language or swear using these words you are showing disrespect for the other person`s views and establishing your superiority.English(or for that matter any other language) provides you with a variety of words to choose from so that you can effectively express your views and not hurt others sentiments.For an argument to go productively ,emotions should not be allowed to take over and using hateful ,racist speech you provocate the people into emotional thinking rather than logical thinking.
Debate Round No. 1


I have to say that I agree with you that virtually all hate speech can be replaced by civilized and non-rude words. But the question is not whether we can or not talk a way or another, but do we have a right to express the way we want to.

Prohibiting people from talking the way they wish will never solve the problem of insults and hate. It's just like Alcohol prohibition didn't solve alcohol consumption or the War on Drugs isn't solving drug addiction. Personally, I believe that if people are allowed to say whatever they want about whoever they want, their ideas can be proven wrong way more easily.

A debate in a free society is the best way to get more people to understand the right or wrong position. If, and I'm using this as an example, white people were prohibited from using the word "niggar", they might not understand why and actually use it more as a sign of protest. But if the word is let in the wild, it can be more manageable.

Finally, I don't think anyone has a right to prohibit other individuals from expressing their thoughts. Sure, some ideas are better kept inside but in a free society, there is a free marketplace of ideas that end up sorting out the correct terms through debates like this one, and we can't just expect to have ideas that are 100% agreeable with yours all the time.

We only own our minds. Not that of others. So perhaps we do not have a right to prohibit others from talking a certain way...


I agree with you that prohibiting people from talking the way they wish will not solve the problem of insults and hate.
But i also believe that allowing them to use these words freely will only root these words deep in our literature which you surely dont want.

Lets take your example of drug addiction,
Surely war on drugs isnt solving the problem on drug addiction but it has lead to a decline in deaths due to addiction. If people are allowed to use drugs like marijhuana,cocaine,LSDetc. openly then it will only become more deeply rooted in the culture,it will become a rising trend unless not questioned.What is needed is a more comprehensiva approach involving education.Also MORE IMPORTANTLY the problem of drug addiction is more complex as these drugs lead to physical and psychological dependence (unlike abusive words) and so a mere ban is much more ineffective than it would be in case of words.

Similarly,in case of words.,
Lets say that peole were allowed to use words like as***** or f*** in their speeches...with the justification that ,"its the way i talk"..then it would only get more rooted in the regular conversation and tomorrow you might just have your boss sayin "where`s your report as**** " even if casual ,you surely donot want to be named after a body part,do you?

As for the peole using the word in protest if it is supressed,
I think that even if the word nigger was used widely and if it lost its meaning as a bad word over the years, some other word will end up evolving as a bad word and protesters will then use that word .What is an abusive word now was not anabusive word in the 18th century.

A logical argument does not need to be an abusive one.:)
Debate Round No. 2


First of all, a quick parenthesis. When you say that allowing drugs would have negative effects as more people would be addicted to them, I'm not sure I buy this argument. If they weren't prohibited, maybe some company would take over a part of the cocaine industry to make money, but another one would compete by creating a less addictive cocaine brand, etc. Marijuana could actually be safer if regulated and put to sell behind a counter in Walgreens. But let's not make this a debate inside the debate so I apologize and come back to the topic.

When you used your previous argument, you acted as if insults were not currently free to use. In the United States and in most free countries of the world, saying AS***** or F*** does not get you to prison, thanks to the freedom of speech. So they are already technically free to use, and we still know how to recognize whether they are bad or not.

Sure, the word "midget" is very offensive for some people, but at the end of the day, do we have a natural right not to be offended? I don't think so. If that were the case, we would be living in a boring world. You might not agree, or even despise what one says, but this is what you should expect in a free society.

And what about the limit? I mean, if offending signs and speech were to be rendered illegal, where would you, or rather the government, put the limit on banning speech? What about prohibiting people from using critics toward the government itself? If you agree that certain speeches should be banned, then there would be no philosophical or natural limit not to ban any other kind of expression.

I don't know if you remember this case, but there was a Dutch journalist that was stabbed to death by an Islamist because he had written a piece about the lives of Muslim women. If such speech is found offending to the Islamic culture, what about we ban it too. And the caricatures of Mohamed that were drawn in a Danish newspaper: should the State also ban the representation of a religious leader or prophet with the excuse not to offend anybody?

Finally, we must always remember the unintended consequences that always result from government action. When the European Union debated in 2007 on whether to ban the Nazi swastika, the greatest protesters were not racist skinheads but Buddhists, whose symbol is the same... swastika. What about, as you said, the formerly common word nigger. Since it is offensive, then we should as well ban it, but what would happen to all those African-Americans that use it not to offend but as a greetings. Imagine the consequences, with a Facebook police patrolling on everyone's profile, etc.

"The freedom of speech and the freedom of the press have not been granted to the people in order that they may say things which please, and which are based upon accepted thought, but the right to say the things which displease, the right to say the things which convey the new and yet unexpected thoughts, the right to say things, even though they do a wrong." – Samuel Gompers (1850-1924), Seventy Years of Life and Labor, 1925

I advise you to watch the video on the side


First of ,let me apologize for my delay as i have been busy for the past two days.
Let me start my argument saying that man is a social animal.We are a part of a society and adjustments have to be made to live peacefully.
Lets take this example,Can you just land up in your boxers at your work because you feel like it?? Even when we are with our freinds,there are always somethings which we keep to ourselves,we dont say everything we feel just because we dont want an argument.
Imagine what would happen if for one day you spoke everything you felt about the people you meet on their face!Not a pretty picture,is it?(Your vedio,lol)There are so many things in our daily life where we donot give ourselves the freedom to do things as we will,we adjust because we are a part of society.

And this is the whole nation we are talking about!! I think there is a lot of freedom of speech in the world.Critics are present in every feild be it literature,arts,Science, finance etc. Even before you go for a movie or visit a hotel or download a song or go to a collage you look for reviews in papers ,internet from people etc.There are debates happening on news channels,websites like these and all over the media! However,there are some issues sensitive to every nation which are better kept unsaid to maintain peace and harmony in the community.

Do you not remember killing of millions of jews in holocausts because of the hate speeches by hitler??About two thirds of the jewish community was cleared off!
Hate crimes have a history longer than the US itself with genocide attempted against Native America by the Dutch, French, Spanish, and British colonists and later American citizens for over three centuries...

More recently in Rwanda, hate speech lead to genocide 13 years ago, when Hutu(majority) killed 800.000 Tutsis in a FEW months. Before it, Hutus & Tutsis had lived in peace, speaking the same language & inter – marrying. Yet hate speech helped turn neighbors into enemies. Media campaign exaggerated their cultural differences. Hutu extremists through radio & TV announced that the Tutsis were subhuman traitors & called them ‘ cockroaches’. As a result, it led to genocide.

Nearly 8,000 hate crimes reported to the FBI of the US in 1995, the most frequently reported motivation was bias against blacks, almost 3,000, other frequently reported bias motivations were anti-white, Jewish, Gay, Muslim, Asian, Native American, and Hispanic.

I woldnt say hate crimes would be completely over or hatred completely lost if hate speeches we to be banned.But surely lot of lives would be saved if such speeches are dicsouraged by government action.Also if government does not supports anti racism then how will the problem ever be eradicated??
Prevention is always better to suffer later.

Debate Round No. 3


Well, don't worry about your delay you weren't late so it's all that matters. :)

Now to begin with, I would like you to notice that the first arguments that you gave are NOT prohibited by our government. There is no law that forbidden an individual from going to work in boxers but people simply don't do it because they know it is wrong. And because you do not want to seem like a bizarre man in front of your colleagues. Speech is the same way. We know as of today what's "politically correct" and what's not so we refrain from saying certain things on our own. And if someone does argue hatefully, then it is his problem and he will be the one excluded from the rest of society.

You asked me to imagine a world where we could speak anything we wanted to anybody. Well, we are living in such a world already as there is no government regulation of this kind of speech... and we are definitely not living in a chaotic/anarchistic world with no self-respect.

Human beings are smart enough to understand that certain things shouldn't be said allowed without the police or the government's laws. And you know, even if the government coerced people into shutting themselves up, it wouldn't change people's feelings a bit. Instead, in addition to hatred kept inside, people would start to develop a rage against their own government that tells them what not to think.

Your historical examples are very touching, but we need to understand that hate speech was NOT the cause of the tragedies. The Jewish Holocaust took place because Hitler needed a patsy to put the blame of the financial crisis on, not because people were allowed to say what they wanted about whoever they wanted.

Also, for the Rwanda Genocide, hate speech was again just a tiny instrument used during the conflict, but it wasn't its fuel. The cause of the genocide was the fact that the Belgians had put in charge during their rule the Tutsis (minority) and used their position to divide the region by alienating the Tutsis and Hutus.

Now, having free speech should not be confused with chaos. In a truly free society, there is both freedom of expression but also order and security. In both the Nazi and Rwanda cases, the government fueled directly the conflicts so there was no alternative to the deaths of thousands. I agree that the government should never be discriminatory, as it is the government that creates social conflicts most of the time. Had you have a functioning police protecting the people against murder, hate speech would have simply been debated down...

When one commits a crime, he goes to prison. But we shouldn't rule him or her for what he had in his mind during the crime, or else it is simply the beginning of the end of freedom.

But now, let me sum my words for the closing argument.

George Orwell once said, "Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen." And I believe it is entirely true. The more actions of ours are regulated by a higher coercive authority (i.e. the government), the less will we be fighting for individual responsibility. At the end of the day, the reason why some want the State to choose what people may or may not say is intellectual sloth, as they do not want to make the effort of choosing and arguing on their own in a civilized debate.

If someone insults you or your skin color, etc., should you simply tell a police officer that would arrest the speaker for what he dared to say, or would you either try to resonate by telling him why he is wrong or simply walk away? I wouldn't want a third party (the ones with the guns, moreover) to be involved in my private discussion or dialogue or whatever you might call it. Or else, it would be as if the speaker had the words and me, the force.

A free society is not a perfect society. It has countless problems and issues. But the success of liberty is that instead of transforming a small phrase into a national affair, the problem is kept on a local level. And then again, who are you, with all due respect, to tell me or someone else what to say? When did nature give you an extra set of rights to be used against me in such cases?

You ask that if the government doesn't teach anti-racism, how will the problem be eradicated. Well, first of all, we're not sure it will ever be eradicated. Also, remember that we already have a State and racism is still a problem, free speech or not. I mean, a racist will remain a racist unless he is told why he is wrong and this can only be possible if he sees the consequences of his actions. Second of all, remember that the main creator of racism and ethnic conflicts throughout history has been and will be the government. From sponsoring slavery to causing genocides of minorities and segregation, our rulers are the ones that have caused social tensions between peoples. How can you expect the same State to be the one saving us from a problem it created?

I do not want people to be racist. I am not racist. In fact, I am from Georgia and in Russia, people from my country are called "Black Asses" for some reason. I do not like it, but I do not want it banned. I go on the web, write articles on why this is wrong, others protest in the streets, etc. but I still do not want such a language to be banned.

Why? Because everyone is entitled to speak their mind freely, however wrong or right they might be.


You say that you have been a victim of racism and like an ideal person you have dealed with it in a graceful manner .You suggest that if someone insults my skin ,colour etc.I should either try to resonate by telling him why he is wrong or walk away ,while a sensible person would do that..let me give you a reality check...people are not the same!
An excellent example is the recent london riots,where the police shot a 29 yr old black person and there were nationwide riots and violence.Nobody sat for a discussion or even waited for investigations.There are lots of lunatics out there who find violence as the ultimate argument.

You say that shutting people up would only make them anti government,while thats ture ,but should the government think about the sentiments of the racial extremists or about the peace of the society?

You also suggest that the laws against racist speeches are a result of intellectual sure have created a new debate here..whether parliament debates over a bill before it is made into a law or there are simply parties happening at the government`s office! The laws are not due to intellectual sloth but they are lessons learnt from the past.

I have to agree with you on the point that many a times the government has taken advantages of cultural and racial differences for their own political benefit,but not all political parties are racist.Political leaders like Eleanor Roosevelt,Mahatma Gandhi,Nelson Mandela etc.have promoted antiracism.The decline in racism over the past centuries is also credited to various political leaders apart from social activists. And even if the government were being hypocritical these laws when implemented have protected the societies from riots.If freedom of racial and hate speeches was more openly promoted the situation would have gone completely out of hand because not all people believe in discussing and sorting out problems like we do.

I thank my opponent for the interesting debate and I hope the readers get to learn as much as I did.This is my first debate so I regret any errors in the format.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Skyler827 6 years ago
Good debate guys. As a radical libertarian, I sided with Pro, and I found Con's arguments to be unconvincing. Con claimed that free speech caused all kinds of social problems and violence, appeals to consequences but didn't make real arguments or at least not convincing arguments. However, her form and conduct was excellent and did a great job.

I don't think I can really criticize Pro's arguments because I already agree with them. I feel it would have been more effective for him to argue about the essential morality of the proposed government action, not just weather it is preferable for a given person or group or somebody's idea of the best, but weather it is moral. The debate is asking if censorship is ever morally justified and all I saw were appeals to consequences.

To be fair, I adhere to a argumentation/a-priori ethical philosophy, and most people have a utilitarian ethical philosophy, but to me it seemed confused, especially from Pro's side, because I expected him to argue that censorship is immoral, and he mostly just refuted appeals to consequences and non-sequiters without making much in the way of positive argumentation.

In, addition I found the debate to be somewhat poorly organized. Neither used any numbers to organize their thoughts. It would have made the conversations easier to navigate, but this is an aesthetic concern, not a substantive one.

Again, it wasn't perfect, but you both made a great effort and I look forward to seeing your future debates.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by YYW 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Good exchange there, although pro's points about subjectivity of content and the impact that ambiguous imposition of content regulation outmeasured pro's concerns to prevent hate crime. Feel free to message me with questions, otherwise a close debate though.