The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

The Use of Preferred Gender Pronouns Should Not Be Legally Enforced

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/3/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 709 times Debate No: 116251
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)




Because I am very new to the concept of a proper debate, and I am, in effect, "winging it", I am unfortunately unable to provide an appropriate framework for this discussion. For this reason, I will simply state my position as clearly as possible, and open the floor to any well-formulated rebuttal.

I believe that I should not be obligated by law to utilize preferred gender pronouns when referring to another human being.


I argue that you are indeed obliged to use a persons preferred gender pronouns. But lets look at the nature of that obligation.

I would also say that - if someone says their name is Harry you are *obliged* to refer to them as Harry, but noone considers this an imposition on their lives in any way. Apply the same thing to gender pronouns and it should just be the same thing. All that is at stake within this obligation is that you don't make someone feel weird or upset them.

Should this obligation be enforced by law? well, no, and noone is arguing that it should. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you may be referring to Bill C-16, the Canadanian law that adds gender expression and gender identity as protected grounds to the Canadian Human Rights Act, and also to the Criminal Code provisions dealing with hate propaganda, incitement to genocide, and aggravating factors in sentencing.

This does not make it illegal to use an incorrect gender pronoun at all - what is *does* make illegal, is using an incorrect gender pronoun continuously in order to harass and verbally abuse someone. This, I argue, *should* be illegal.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for taking the time to accept my challenge.

In your rebuttal, you stated explicitly that you do not believe one should be legally obligated to refer to another by their preferred gender pronoun:

"Should this obligation be enforced by law? Well, no, and no one is arguing that it should."

This invalidates the entire debate because my intention is to argue that it should not, while my opponent argues that it should.

However, you went on to state that you believe it should be illegal to intentionally misuse gender pronouns when referring to another person in order to harass and verbally abuse them. Since I actually believe that it should not be illegal to do so, I will retract my original argument and instead argue this topic.

The primary reason for my position on this subject is that I believe that making it illegal to verbally harass or abuse a person would jeopardize our freedom of speech. Merriam-Webster defines freedom of speech as "the legal right to express one's opinions freely" [1]. Oxford defines freedom as "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants" [2]. While I agree with these definitions, I would like to emphasize the importance of understanding that one has full, inalienable claim to these rights so long as they do not jeopardize another's ability to exercise their own freedoms in doing so. In other words, I have the right to say or do something as long as I do not physically hinder your ability to say or do something (usually through physical harm or threat thereof). So, if I call you the n-word, while ethically it is incredibly inconsiderate, legally there should be no repercussions because I have not physically hurt you or threatened imminent physical harm in any way. One may argue that because it emotionally hurts you, I should be held legally accountable, and I will answer this point in my next argument.

Emotions are, to me, something that one should strive to have control over at all times. It is difficult to demand this of someone, and it is even more difficult to achieve such control every day, especially when dealing with circumstances and people who may not always respect one's feelings. However, at the end of the day, I strongly believe that I am fully responsible for the way I feel in regards to a situation. If I am placed in a situation where I feel as though I am being disrespected, insulted, or even harassed, however difficult it may be to bear, I must take the steps necessary to relieve the stress, so to speak, by reaching out to a friend or family member for support, or finding it within myself to forgive the originator of the disrespectful comments, or having a strong sense of self-worth to "shake it off", etc. Having said all of this, I firmly believe that as human beings we have an ethical obligation to not only help each other in times of need (i.e. when one is emotionally hurt), but also determinedly seek to make the world a place in which people are considerate enough of others not to say such hurtful things in the first place (i.e. tell someone to stop insulting another, or teach one's children to be respectful of others, etc). However, and most importantly as it pertains to this debate, such matters MUST NOT be regulated at a legal level. To do so would be to fundamentally regulate the way one is allowed to think and speak. One may also argue that speech and thought should, in fact, be regulated, and I will answer this point in my final argument.

The ability to think and speak without fearing any negative consequences (on a legal level, that is) is, in my opinion, our most absolutely essential right. As human beings, we are constantly trying to make things better, from the smallest scale (telling your child to be nicer in school) to global proportions (attempting to solve world hunger). The only way in which we are able to do so is by utilizing speech to convince or persuade others to get on board and help the cause. The only way, in turn, that we are able to persuade others is by being free to communicate ANY concept. It is possible that in doing so, one may offend another. However, I argue that if we cannot ever be allowed to offend another, we might as well be robots, coexisting in perfect harmony. I believe that the greatest tool we have at our disposal to change our ethical and moral code--what we consider to be the essence of our "humanity"--is speech, and I also believe that we, the people, are responsible for initiating such change, not the government.

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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Pyyrate 3 years ago
So.....what happens now?
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