The Instigator
Dr.Ballard-Owens
Pro (for)
Winning
11 Points
The Contender
MitchyMill
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Why We Need Profanity Warning Labels on Books to Protect Our Young People

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/3/2011 Category: Arts
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,721 times Debate No: 14244
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (2)

 

Dr.Ballard-Owens

Pro

Case in point is this recent novel, "Permanent Obscurity" by Richard Perez, which was recommended to me by a troubled young reader, who purchased it from Amazon after seeing it at a local library.

Here's my stance: What can be said of a novel preaching negative values as "cool?" A book featuring two antisocial, self-loathing, drug-taking girls portrayed as "heroes?" What message does this convey -- especially to the young reader with an impressionable mind? Here is a book that glorifies irresponsible behavior, man-hating, an anti-work ethic, degeneracy, bad language, filth, sadomasochistic and lesbian sex -- all conveniently delivered under the guise of "comedy." Yet what's funny about all this, I ask? Better said, this novel by Richard Perez called "Permanent Obscurity" currently being sold to young readers -- and even available at public libraries -- is a disgusting display and a firm reminder of why we need to safeguard our youth: implement certain strict "Adult Only" profanity warning labels on books or be more vigilant about the kind of books we allow our young people to access. Movies have a rating system -- from "G" to "X" -- why not books?

As a good example of the trash I mean: the story of "Permanent Obscurity," which should be rated "X" (at the very least), revolves around drugs; in fact, the book is a thinly disguised celebration of the joys of illegal drug-use and perverted sex (while pretending to be a "morality" tale). Dolores, the vulgar narrator of this tripe, is a lazy, foul-mouthed, Godless, good-for-nothing smoker of marijuana and an abuser of alcohol while her best friend, Serena -- equally lazy, foul-mouthed, Godless, and useless -- abuses alcohol and cocaine. Together, they drop "shrooms" and plot fetish movie escapades, featuring themselves as men-abusing dominatrixes. Does this sound like something that should be available in the "Young Adults" section of a library, protected by First Amendment Rights? Where is the fairness and decency here? Who is looking out for our young people? We need to convey positivity to our young people, not this negative, anti-social and destructive material. Boundaries are healthy and beneficial, even necessary! I say, we should implement strict warning labels on books. These labels could say "WARNING: LIBERAL ADULTS ONLY" or "Warning: TWISTED PORNOGRAPHIC MATERIAL" or "WARNING: PERVERTED TRASH"

It's been days since I've read "Permanent Obscurity" and I can't get it off my mind. That's how disturbing it is. On all counts this is an irresponsible, deplorable, propagandist and morally reprehensible book. And, no, it isn't "cool" to plot, lie and cheat, imbibe alcohol, smoke marijuana, snort cocaine, shoot heroin, engage in anti-social behavior and sexual perversion of the kind described in this book -- even under the pretense of "hipness" or comedy. It's outrageous that such books like "Permanent Obscurity" are brazenly marketed to young people (and even teens!), while books promoting truly positive values -- Christian-based or otherwise -- are ridiculed and left largely ignored.

Other books that deserve warning labels are those by Chuck Palahniuk, novels like "Fight Club" and "Choke" that reek of this kind of anti-social, anti-American and highly negative propaganda (but at least without the perverted sexual content and outrageous profanity of "Permanent Obscurity").

-- Dr. Ballard Owens
MitchyMill

Con

Hi

My position is that it should be up to the businesses to decide whether or not they want a rating system.

It should be the parent's, and the individual's responsibility to research what they are buying before they purchase it. Regardless of what the material in question is, it is up to the companies to choose if they want to put a rating system to warn customers of the adult content of what they are buying. To hit on your example, it might not be profitable to Penguin Publishing to exclude a rating system from books. If there is no rating system, it is likely they will lose profit and possibly go out of business. If you buy the book for your child, unknown to it's "vulgar" content. You will tell your friends and family not to buy it, then they will do the same. Therefore the company loses potential buyers for their book.

Sure they deserve warning labels, and because of that, they will lose profit just like a movie theater would if they decide not to post ratings for the movies they show.

It should not be the government's job to force companies to have a rating system. The market will punish those who don't anyway
Debate Round No. 1
Dr.Ballard-Owens

Pro

You're assuming that adults have access to these books first, that they are allowed to do "research" first, stand between vulnerable young people and the offensive and damaging material, which in this case is a book. The issue is that it's not responsible adults left to make these decisions. Books -- even harmful ones (as the recent pedophile book on Amazon.com proves) -- are completely left unguarded and available to anyone, and maybe this is under the assumption that young people "won't read" anyway? Well, in the case of the anti-social and highly negative (and in my opinion harmful) work of Chuck Palahniuk, this is absolutely incorrect. And to go one step further: just look at the cover of "Permanent Obscurity" online and tell me if you've ever seen anything more offensive and insulting to women and decent people as this? Then glowing reviews on Amazon, which is where this young person bought it. Then look around Amazon and you'll see endless material just as twisted, sleazy and pornographic; it's like public access to an S&M bookshop. There's not even an Adult section. (EBay has one, why not Amazon?) I'm not promoting censorship (though I do think we would be better off without books like "Permanent Obscurity"); but warning labels like the kind that "rap" records have (for offensive language) and R-rated movies have (for sexually explicit content) are good things; again, it's my belief that boundaries are a good thing. Before people can access certain books on Amazon, there should be at least an age verification pop-up window, don't you think?

In the case of "Permanent Obscurity" -- I mean, this novel is so disgusting, I can't tell you. One of the characters in it, Serena, makes a living off sadomasochistic men through ads she places on Craigslist, making use of them as collared servants or slaves. (These adventures -- and others, just as equally appalling -- are cheerfully narrated by Dolores, her gay lover, using the most obscene language imaginable; of course, it's the author writing "as a girl," using a young female character as the Devil's mouthpiece). It's just such a relentless, odious assault on everything healthy and decent that it actually sickens me; gives me a headache.

Now -- back to our issue -- who should apply warning labels? Well, industries/corporations, left to their own devices (and profit scales), won't regulate themselves. Warning labels were put on foul-mouthed "rap" CDs only after protests by concerned and responsible citizens, and the same goes for movies, years ago. But individuals alone -- parents alone -- can't realistically gauge if every single item their child comes in contact with will be harmful.

Communities (collectives of concerned adults) should together be allowed to regulate material such as books. Just as communities vote in government -- and vote out government. We -- the people, the adults -- are the government, and it seems that people often forget that.

I stand firm in my belief that we need to take stronger measure on books, especially novels with anti-social, anti-American and highly negative ideas cloaked in emotional stories that will ultimately damage our young people.

----------------------------------- original argument:

Case in point is this recent novel, "Permanent Obscurity" by Richard Perez, which was recommended to me by a troubled young reader, who purchased it from Amazon after seeing it at a local library.

Here's my stance: What can be said of a novel preaching negative values as "cool?" A book featuring two antisocial, self-loathing, drug-taking girls portrayed as "heroes?" What message does this convey -- especially to the young reader with an impressionable mind? Here is a book that glorifies irresponsible behavior, man-hating, an anti-work ethic, degeneracy, bad language, filth, sadomasochistic and lesbian sex -- all conveniently delivered under the guise of "comedy." Yet what's funny about all this, I ask? Better said, this novel by Richard Perez called "Permanent Obscurity" currently being sold to young readers -- and even available at public libraries -- is a disgusting display and a firm reminder of why we need to safeguard our youth: implement certain strict "Adult Only" profanity warning labels on books or be more vigilant about the kind of books we allow our young people to access. Movies have a rating system -- from "G" to "X" -- why not books?

As a good example of the trash I mean: the story of "Permanent Obscurity," which should be rated "X" (at the very least), revolves around drugs; in fact, the book is a thinly disguised celebration of the joys of illegal drug-use and perverted sex (while pretending to be a "morality" tale). Dolores, the vulgar narrator of this tripe, is a lazy, foul-mouthed, Godless, good-for-nothing smoker of marijuana and an abuser of alcohol while her best friend, Serena -- equally lazy, foul-mouthed, Godless, and useless -- abuses alcohol and cocaine. Together, they drop "shrooms" and plot fetish movie escapades, featuring themselves as men-abusing dominatrixes. Does this sound like something that should be available in the "Young Adults" section of a library, protected by First Amendment Rights? Where is the fairness and decency here? Who is looking out for our young people? We need to convey positivity to our young people, not this negative, anti-social and destructive material. Boundaries are healthy and beneficial, even necessary! I say, we should implement strict warning labels on books. These labels could say "WARNING: LIBERAL ADULTS ONLY" or "Warning: TWISTED PORNOGRAPHIC MATERIAL" or "WARNING: PERVERTED TRASH"

It's been days since I've read "Permanent Obscurity" and I can't get it off my mind. That's how disturbing it is. On all counts this is an irresponsible, deplorable, propagandist and morally reprehensible book. And, no, it isn't "cool" to plot, lie and cheat, imbibe alcohol, smoke marijuana, snort cocaine, shoot heroin, engage in anti-social behavior and sexual perversion of the kind described in this book -- even under the pretense of "hipness" or comedy. It's outrageous that such books like "Permanent Obscurity" are brazenly marketed to young people (and even teens!), while books promoting truly positive values -- Christian-based or otherwise -- are ridiculed and left largely ignored.

Other books that deserve warning labels are those by Chuck Palahniuk, novels like "Fight Club" and "Choke" that reek of this kind of anti-social, anti-American and highly negative propaganda (but at least without the perverted sexual content and outrageous profanity of "Permanent Obscurity").

-- Dr. Ballard Owens
MitchyMill

Con

"You're assuming that adults have access to these books first, that they are allowed to do "research" first, stand between vulnerable young people and the offensive and damaging material, which in this case is a book."

-The internet exists so that people can share information and etc. Book reviews are more accessable than ever before. Does not take much effort to either read the back of a book or look up the book online. If the back of the book was misleading about the content, then the person in question would post a review online, and others would be discouraged to purchase the book. If a parent wishes to know what their children are buying, then they will research a book before buying it for them, or if they don't want to do that, then they will look for a rating. If the book does not have a rating then the parent will not buy it. Therefore, the company loses potiental profits. Like i said earlier, for the company not to appeal to the group of people who do not want to buy a book unless it has a rating, will cost them money.

"The issue is that it's not responsible adults left to make these decisions. Books -- even harmful ones (as the recent pedophile book on Amazon.com proves) -- are completely left unguarded and available to anyone, and maybe this is under the assumption that young people "won't read" anyway? Well, in the case of the anti-social and highly negative (and in my opinion harmful) work of Chuck Palahniuk, this is absolutely incorrect."

-If it is left unguarded and available to anyone, then the adults who do read it will warn their friends not to buy it because of it's lack of a rating. The title of the book you are talking about "Parmanent Obscurity" is actually titled (maybe you shortened it for the sake of not having to type the complete title, i don't know) "Permanent Obscurity: Or a Cautionary Tale of Two Girls and Their Misadventures with Drugs, Pornography and Death", not only is the title completely open about what the book is about, but the description also reveals a great deal about the content. Even if a book is very transparent, and it is hard to decide whether or not it is good or bad. Then the costumer will be discouraged to buy it. The group I'm sure you are defending are the unsuspecting parents who irresponsibly buy a bad book for their children without being informed of what it was about. That is not the companies responsibility to ensure that the book is only viewed by eyes mature enough to handle it's content. That is up for the parent. Just like a movie, the parent must decide if the child can watch.

"Before people can access certain books on Amazon, there should be at least an age verification pop-up window, don't you think?"
-Sure it could, but that is still no excuse why parents can't research or read the information amazon provides about the book in question. It pretty much already warns parents of what they are getting.

"Now -- back to our issue -- who should apply warning labels? Well, industries/corporations, left to their own devices (and profit scales), won't regulate themselves. Warning labels were put on foul-mouthed "rap" CD's only after protests by concerned and responsible citizens, and the same goes for movies, years ago. But individuals alone -- parents alone -- can't realistically gauge if every single item their child comes in contact with will be harmful."
-I completely disagree, they do regulate themselves. You even give me evidence to show why. Producers of rap CD's began to lose profit for people boycotted them for their lack of a rating. The company lost profit and now has more because it has a warning label. This did not need the government to step in and tell them otherwise. If they refused they go out of business or never gain profit.

Communities (collectives of concerned adults) should together be allowed to regulate material such as books. Just as communities vote in government -- and vote out government. We -- the people, the adults -- are the government, and it seems that people often forget that."
-No, communities should let people and companies regulate themselves, and tell each other what to buy and what not to buy like they do today anyway. No government intervention needed.
Debate Round No. 2
Dr.Ballard-Owens

Pro

Thanks for the rebuttal. One issue I need to take with your argument is that you're assuming irresponsible parents are purchasing books like the one mentioned above, then foisting them to their children unaware of their content. If this were the case, then they should indeed be held accountable and could be seen as irresponsible. But more often than not this is not the case. Young people -- and I'm talking mostly about curious high school and college age kids -- are off on their own, purchasing these things, testing boundaries and values -- values often contrary to those they were brought up respecting. And this is the nature of growth and self-discovery I suppose: people need to redefine themselves, irrespective of how they were raised (but hopefully good values will make a difference). Parental supervision can only go so far, in other words, and after a certain age young people will enter a phase of exploration, highly influenced (unfortunately) by the sensational and decidedly "boundary-less" media, which is in itself influenced by the popular liberalism and anti-religious stance of Hollywood.

It's unrealistic to believe that parents exert a God-like presence in the life of a teenager. Often by the age of 13, a child will be exposed to alarming things; be "sold" on what are often (I'll admit) well intentioned but ultimately destructive liberal ideas. Liberals live in a world removed from reality, in my opinion. A liberal (often nurtured by Hollywood fantasies) lives in a world where nothing can do harm and everything needs to be accepted and embraced -- that everything is "cool" -- whether gay, straight, or sideways. A liberal lacks the courage or the character (or the moral fiber) to decide if something is good or bad. I argue against this and once again will suggest that clearly defined boundaries, clearly defined roles in life, clearly defined expectations are a good thing. Warning labels on books would be a good thing. But (and this is my stance) companies will not regulate themselves specifically concerning books, fearing a backlash from the liberal left who will scream out "censorship!" or "racism!" and say that their First Amendment rights are being trampled upon or challenged.

Now I communicated with this troubled young man who purchased "Permanent Obscurity" and I asked him if his parents purchased the book for him. And he just laughed and said, "My parents would kill me if they knew I was reading stuff like this; I mean it's pretty dirty. With lesbian and fetish stuff and 'female domination' kink and all." "It's pretty dirty" -- those were his words, not mine. How did he purchase this pornographic trash from Amazon, I asked, without his parents knowing? "Through a friend," was his casual reply. And how did he even find out about this book? Again, through a library, he said, that carried the novel. Then he admitted something else: "Also the website." "What website?" I asked. "A porn website?" He shrugged and fell silent. "I googled the title and it popped up," he said. I later tried this myself, googling the title of the book and there it was, as he said, right on top. I clicked on the link, expecting to see a site promoting this pornographic trash listed as an adult site complete with adult verification, but it wasn't that way at all. A toddler could log on to the website of this book and view samples of this obscene material as well as view disgusting sadomasochistic material relating to it.

Now I ask you: How can a parent -- or even a concerned citizen -- fight against this? How can we prevent books promoting anti-social behavior and drug use from falling into the wrong hands, the hands of impressionable youth? Don't mention "boycotting" these runt imprints putting out this trash; these are not reputable companies but fly-by-night or hit-and-run ventures (or at least they seem that way to me); squash one and another pops up like a mushroom. Boycotting only works if millions of units of an item are sold because only then it would become noteworthy or media worthy (and even then the message would most likely be distorted). You also mention a "rating" and if you mean customer reviews they are worthless in preventing young people from purchasing a particular unsavory item. There are no ratings for books, and that is my point -- the point of this argument and debate -- because the novel in question does not mention a rating (as a movie might). Again, in my opinion, this material should be rated "X" and clearly state this on the book or any website associated with it; it should clearly state the category it belongs in upfront and not hide the fact of what it is -- degenerate filth -- beneath "hip" rhetoric suggesting a dare. Parents are not able to prevent impressionable youth from being exposed to the book in question. Parents cannot exert the God-like control that you imagine they are capable of. And this is why community activists -- responsible adults promoting positive American values -- need to take control, to regulate the irresponsible dissemination of such sick and perverted garbage. This goes for the work of Chuck Palahniuk and this goes for the work of Richard Perez.
MitchyMill

Con

MitchyMill forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by Dr.Ballard-Owens 6 years ago
Dr.Ballard-Owens
Dr.Ballard-OwensMitchyMillTied
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Vote Placed by RougeFox 6 years ago
RougeFox
Dr.Ballard-OwensMitchyMillTied
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