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

With the exception of national security, government has no place regulating speech based on content.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/23/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,031 times Debate No: 17198
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




First round will be for acceptance. I thank you. You thank me. Everybody's a happy family.

Round 2 will be for opening arguments. I say a whole lot of stuff to support one side. You say a whole lot of stuff to support the side I'm not supporting. Debate commences.

Round 3 will be for refutation and case reconstruction. I tell you what is wrong with your case. You tell me what is wrong with my case. We debate. Clash happens (ideally).

Round 4 will be for closing arguments.

Some ground rules:

1) I am more a rhetoric guy than a source guy. Your sources don't impress me. Your thoughts do. Sources are a means to an end in argument, not the end themselves. Use them as such.
2) If you use evidence, don't use it as a contention, point, sub-point, etc. Use it to support what you like.
3) This is going to be more a philosophical debate rather than an empirical one. I just like that style more; and it's a great way to avoid a source-war.


I thank you, now let this happy family get to the debate.

Good luck to all.
Debate Round No. 1


Freedom of speech, the right to communicate and express ideas and sentiments without reservation or fear of censorship, is foundational to human existence. Government, then, has the obligation to ensure that the right to free speech and expression are upheld.

Content-based regulation, regulation where legality of any specific idea is based on the substance of the idea being communicated, cannot coexist with freedom of speech. If all people are created equal, what right does another have to tell his neighbor what he may or may not say?

John Milton described a "marketplace of ideas" in Paradise Lost, an open forum for all to engage in discourse without fear of reparisal. It is the preservation of such a "marketplace" that freedom of speech is so imperative because speech is the vehicle for the mind to articulate thoughts. Where speech is limited, so is thought and the power to regulate and ban ideas are beyond the reach of any just government.

That is not to say that all regulation on speech is unjust; content-neutral laws do not abridge free thought. Laws that ban books because they champion unpopular ideas, articles because they express dissent, or ideas because they challenge the status quo jeopardize that freedom to which we are all entitled.

Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that "If there is any principal of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principal of free thought -- not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate." The cause for such a freedom is implicit. If we can regulate the thoughts of others, could others not regulate ours when we are the party out of power?


Ore_Ele forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


It seems that I am no longer joined by OrEle... how disappointing. Nevertheless, I shall take the opportunity to further the cause of free speech.

Stanley Fish wrote some years ago that there is no such thing as free speech, in the purest definitions of both words. Free speech, then becomes a buzz phrase used to describe the societal value we place on unrestrained communication. That is not to say that I contend for a world where no limitation is posed on speech or expression (content-neutral restrictions I largely have no problem with). As an aside, I am using the US legal definition of content neutral.

John Stewart Mill makes the following argument: "If the arguments of the present chapter are of any validity, there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered... If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind." The only cause for silencing any member of any society against his or her will, Mill contends is to prevent harm from to others (innocent parties) -harm being the invasion of the rights of others. Free speech, though, is a right equally possessed by individuals. I have no more right to free speech than another and therefore my right to free speech cannot justifiably encroach upon that of another.


Ore_Ele forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


My opponent has forfeited this debate; therefore I have won.


Ore_Ele forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Brainmaster 5 years ago
Government has no right even in national security.
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
I'll send you a challenge. It might work better if I start, and I don't want to have an extra round.
Posted by YYW 5 years ago
I had wanted to keep national security off the table entirely and more favor an obscenity/false advertising/ political ad-centered debate, but if you want to make the argument I'm certainly open to the challenge. Would you rather challenge me to an argument of your own resolution though, to focus more on the national security aspect?
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
Can I argue that an exception should not be made for national security?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfiet.