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RFD: Hannah v. Matt (w/shirt on) re: Swearing

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12/3/2015 1:37:48 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
The Debate:


The Swearing Filter on DDO Should be Removed.


Normative debate; equal burdens. Anyone who disagrees is wrong. Nothing the debaters themselves say or do has any impact on the burdens. PRO must persuade me that the swearing filter should be removed. CON must persuade me that the swearing filter should not be removed.

I have no bias with respect to either the members or the resolution. I like both of the members; they're both pretty good people, although I was asked to vote on this debate by PRO. I am ambivalent to the resolution; the filter could stay or go... I don't care one way or another on a personal level.



PRO talks about communitarianism, as her "framework" and says that what is profane depends on our background. Because there are a lot of backgrounds, what is profane varies widely. PRO thereafter discusses "benefits" of swearing: (1) pain relief; (2) power/control; (3) Retribution (which is a subset of her second kind of benefits); and (4) preservation of psychological health.

The counterplan doesn't matter, because it's beyond the scope of the resolution. The sole issue relates to the swearing filter, and is 'whether such filter should be removed.' Because the hate speech filter could also be imposed in addition to the current swearing filter (read: they are not mutually exclusive, and indeed specific words PRO cited are currently banned by the swearing filter) means that PRO is advocating for maintaining the swearing filter, only in a different form. Maintaining the swearing filter in ANY form is inconsistent with advocacy for **removing** the swearing filter. This inconsistency undermines PRO's case.

Nevertheless, PRO has made her case that the filter should be modified. She has not reasonably persuaded me that it should be removed, because her advocacy is not that the filter should be removed... only that it should be "changed" in the ways she described. This is inconsistent with her BOP.


CON correctly notes the distinction between 'things that people generally find offensive regardless of their background' and 'naughty word filters'. CON then applies her sort of communitarian framework to this, meaning that "a community could find" any word "to be offensive" such that it would then be be forbidden by 'communitarian' filter. This indirectly suggests at the contradiction I indicated above, but it doesn't specifically say "CON is taking hypocritical positions because she is merely advocating for 'modifying' the filter, rather than **removing** the filter." CON thereafter proceeds to talk about how language works. It doesn't really go very far.

CON agrees that this debate should be evaluated on the basis of what's best for the community. Righto! How lovely. So I just have to decide, then, whether PRO or CON were more successful in persuading me whether we should **remove** the filter or not. CON adroitly notes that "Fvck suddenly doesn't become not a cuss word because we're thinking of things in a religious perspective now. There's literally no impact to this argument." However, that doesn't mean that swear or "naughty" words necessarily harm the community. CON doesn't really address the benefits of swearing identified by PRO, he just acknowledges that they were mentioned.

Later, CON correctly, however, gets to the point of identifying the difference between whether the filter should be **removed** or simply left in place but modified. Now, the filter's "existence" isn't' the issue (the filter could "exist" so long as it isn't "in effect"), but CON came close enough. While the counterplan didn't matter, beyond the extent to which it undermines PRO's case, CON does address it.

Everything Else:

PRO incorrectly described CON's burden: " If he wants to win this argument, he must prove that the DDO community as a whole is offended by all profane words." This is wrong. All CON has to do is persuade me, the judge, that the filter should not be removed (read: left in place). Many of PRO's rebuttals missed the mark to a considerable extent, and mischaracterized what CON said.

What PRO should have done a more explicit job of doing is linking individual good (read: the benefits of swearing) to a communal benefit, since communitarianism was her framework --or at least that's what she said was her framework. In reality, there wasn't much use of the framework, and PRO had great difficulty relating her benefits to community-level benefits. (After all, individual benefits--what PRO successfully illustrated--are not community benefits.)

CON's subsequent conduct in the debate more or less reduces to some basic points: first, PRO hasn't advocated for removal, just modification. (Modification and removal are not the same thing. Second, talking about censoring offensive language doesn't affirm the resolution. Third, there is a disconnect between her framework and her case. These are reasonably well articulated points.

In the final round, PRO does say that "there is no point" to the filter, which more or less linked her previous arguments together behind a singular point she's advocating, but there were numerous areas for improvement with her case otherwise, which CON aptly described throughout the debate.


CON wins because he made a more persuasive case that the swearing filter should not be removed, than PRO persuaded me that it should be removed. PRO's advocacy reduces to a modification of the swearing filter in form, which does not reasonably persuade the judge that the filter should be removed. PRO's sole point was that the filter should be changed. To change is not to remove.