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Free speech needs limits

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DethKnotDethKnot (PRO)
Free speech is one of the single most valued rights in the world people fight for. That is likely one statement definitely agreed upon. However, over the course of time, it has become increasingly noticeable how people with the freedom of free speech continue to hurt others and even their chance of having free speech by this abuse that plagues society. Speaking is something most people take part of in daily lives often taken for granted when compared to somebody having no clue how to use any language and therefore, can't do much fighting back with words. There are many areas of the world where communication is very limited and this is not a good thing for the people who suffer this because of whatever tyrannical presidents have a stronghold on the country *cough, North Korea *COUGH!* But meanwhile in the U.S., where people often use the claim that they may not agree with what others say, but they will fight to the death the right to do it. This is a good point in protecting all speech however how bad. But the truth of the matter is, we already have limits on free speech and nobody has much problem with it. Examples include abusing this right of the constitution by shouting "FIRE" in a theater which is NOT protected because it is considered dangerous speech. Other forms already limited include hate and threatening speech, but that varies. If people decide to examine what "dangerous speech" means, it should be seen that it should be examined extensively since more and more people across the world can communicate with each other and therefore, all sorts of things have been invented to harass and harm each other and the defense of "free speech" is used every time. I wonder why mankind has sunk to this low of a level. It now seems that it's acceptable to tell somebody over the internet to kill themselves over the net because it's "free speech." This can in fact cause suicide and people guilty of this sort of thing though are not always held to the level of responsibility that they should be. Each situation may very, but there needs to be well established rules about this sort of thing as it encourages general disrespect for each other. If that's the case, I am wondering what happens if I go to a church and shout "Hail Satan" repeatedly as congregants gather outside. I have a strong feeling that I would possibly told to stop. But again, it's free speech. There can't be a double standard. It has to be handled the same way that the case of the Westboro Baptist Church was handled, in which that gathering outside a funeral and basically presenting how much they loved to see the loved one of a family on the scene dead. If this kind of thing is not relooked at, the quality of society will therefore go down the drain. Eventually, people can go up to each other and start insulting for no reason claiming "free speech." I feel this would interfere with our daily lives if people start doing this completely for fun. I feel that there doesn't have to be EXTREME limits. Just a few. I feel there is no reason why speech advocating death or harm to certain people or putting down certain people as non important. This may not fully violate free speech, but in essence, it may advocate to violate the right to speech for others. For example, there is group A and group B, with group A bringing their leader to a college campus to speech. Group A has every right to say why they feel they are right. Let's say the talk is about minimum wage. Group A is more than welcome to bring up why they feel it should not be messed with. They point out Group B's flaws and why it would not work. The problem is, they say Group B is full of idiots. Group B knows nothing. Group B can all go burn in an oven. If Group B isn't invited right away to defend themselves, it is a violation of whatever they would like to say because of the expression that what they say does not matter since Group A is too confident they are right. This is where the violation I feel should come in. Group A is so cocky, that it expresses that they have right to free speech, but Group B is too stupid to listen to so don't. The minute anything similar is expressed, Group B's rights are encouraged to be violated. Free speech applies to all people. Not just the people deciding to speak. Group B also has every right to peaceful protest as the WBC could during the funeral unless this is changed. My main point is that I am sick of free speech only applying to people who are expressing themselves at the moment. They should not be allowed to encouraged silence and death to people they do not agree with as the people they do this to do in fact have the right to live and express themselves as much as the other person. Speech is used to make a point and the intention always should count. As long as the intention is for every view to be heard and it is kept at a level where insults and threats are not allowed, it is fine to say as much as wished. The minute insults become repetitive and intense, a red flag needs to be raised. Insults do nothing. There is no point to them while trying to speak about something. All it does is tell people listening that the other perspectives aren't important which again, is a violation to the rights of those perspectives. That is my take on it so far. I am more than happy to hear my opponent express themselves respectfully as that's how it should be. 
Return To Top | Posted:
2017-05-05 11:58:34
| Speak Round
laylaalaylaa (CON)
First, I would like to thank Pro for opening the debate. To begin with I am going to start with the rebuttal.

Pro's "fire example" refers to false commercial speech. This is a slippery slope. The argument leads to a slippery slope. It is one thing to regulate speech on matters that are objectively verifiable, quite another to restrict the permissible scope of opinion and expression. Even then, the state should be extremely cautious about declaring a state of objective fact. People taking advice on matters such as tax always take the risk that that advice may turn out to be bad, the amount of risk a person is willing to take is entirely a matter of personal responsibility and not a matter that the government should intervene in.

I feel that Pro is using mostly subjective examples rather than bringing in facts or points. The points made seem to be personal feelings rather than evidence. My points are very simple.

Free speech challenges strict beliefs. Free speech is not merely a ‘value right’, it is a method for benefits to society by allowing people to challenge the status quo. States not allowing a challenge stagnate and eventually decline. This could lead the formation of multiple Authoritarian "North Koreas" scattered all over the world. Science depends on the ability to challenge an idea to create advances, in the same way - the state needs freedom speech to create a better living for the people.

I understand that PRO is trying to limit the speech of hateful people but as soon as we give a state the ability to restrict speech of certain groups, not only do we create discrimination - the very thing we use freedom of speech to create but we also the give the state more power and create a very thin margin for abuse if this power. For example, the state restricts speech in such a way that you cannot openly speak of religion to prevent conflict. Later down the line the state may use this same power to prevent people from speaking out about other political ideologies that are not what the government at the time is affiliated with. This becomes oppression. And in this way the freedom of speech restriction may escalate very quickly.

Whatever harms may come from not restricting freedom of speech, they pale in comparison to the detrimental affects associated with restricting an individual's right to express his or her mind. It is highly important in liberty that one's thoughts and feelings are one’s own, and individuals are free to express those thoughts and feelings openly. A prohibition on this liberty is a harm of incalculable value – it strikes right to the core of what it means to be in individual person.

Restriction of speech is a two way street. A simple analogy would be: there are two political groups, A and B. A is in power and does not like what B is about and thus restricts the ideas of B. A is in final term and law decrees that A cannot be in power for more than two terms. This means B will be in power. This means that B will now restrict A's freedom of speech. See how this works? It is not necessary to know the specific beliefs of each individual but rather that A and B disagree and that they find what one another say harmful. This further proves that the restriction would be subjective and bias and would not be an effective motion to put in place as it will cause discrimination to a specific party.

Return To Top | Posted:
2017-05-05 13:59:11
| Speak Round
DethKnotDethKnot (PRO)

Now it is time to make my own rebuttal. Its is admitted on the cons side that it is “ok to limit objectively verifiable speech.” If that is the case, then a limit is a limit. My point is not to go so hard on the freedom of free speech, but to tweek here and there how extreme and crazy people can get by abusing it. It’s something that should likely be approached with careful study and words. At the moment, law is that even hate speech is protected and that should in fact be respected as it is current law. That should be clear. However, my opponent seems to dismiss my opinion as emotional or “subjective.” My question to my opponent is, how are we BOTH not subjective? The point of an argument is based on opinion unless a full study/survey is done on the matter to really know what it is about. Scholarly articles perhaps can often provide objective facts on the matter, but even so, there is usually some kind of emotion put forth. But on top of that, both of us were clearly stating our thoughts based on opinions which in fact, is subjective since opinions are developed from emotions. That point was made here:  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/jan/24/20060124-111958-1999r/

That is an article on the matter involving experts on it from Emory University. All in all, this is exactly what I was trying to point out. Me and my opponent both have opinions. I stated very clearly in the end I was more than happy to hear my opponents thought on the matter. Meanwhile, my opponent came in and opened up by pushing what I said aside because they FELT (notice the word FELT means opinion possibly based on emotion) it was too "subjective" meaning based on emotion. My opponent also stated that my argument was all personal feelings rather than evidence and that their points are simple as if her OPINION is that mine are not. A thing to point out is, again, both of us had NO actual evidence saying why we are right other than expressing ourselves as such. My opponent could barely begin their side without feeling the need to first dismiss what I said as illegitament instead of getting right down to the matter at hand. This is a prime example of what I am trying to point out. If people make speech in public, they need to get to the point of their own speech, not delegitimize whoever is seen as their opponent. It is again, putting one opinion as more important than another which free speech rights do not actually protect. ALL speech needs to be given equal ears and there can't be encouragement to ignore certain people or opinions. Different though is limiting the type of speech that attacks the opinions of others. It's not actually direct silencing. It's silencing those encouraging silencing. That way ALL can speak and ALL are legitimized. That's where hate speech and the like comes in. It often targets particular people and encourages people to ignore them, hurt them, and possibly kill them. I will say it is the responsibility of the individual to filter out what seems legit and what does not. Unfortunately, it isn't a good idea to fully allow this. Laws should be followed. That is why there are made. If people can do and say as they want, then it turns to anarchy meaning no rules or limits on anything. The law is allow free speech to all. No matter the person. If the intention is a movement to silence particular people, there needs to be restrictions on what the movement can and cannot do. Also, there is a basic thought in all this which I mentioned before and mentioned again. Putting other people down and saying it's speech is not actually speech. It's encouragement to target. A speech is supposed to persuade people why a point is illegitament. It becomes immediately invalidated the minute insults are used. To get this more understandable, imagine if free speech was literally limitless. People could possibly go wherever they telling people to kill themselves, to go die, that they will rape them, that they will hurt them. Again, is that an ideal society? Is it worth to have 100% free speech if that means not being able to walk in peace without somebody walking up to you and saying that you look nice enough to rape very hard? I highly doubt anybody wants this to be able to happen. Now, action often do speak louder than words. It should be that speech has beyond less punishments than actual actions since words can be ignored. However, again, words can easily become threatening as if to say "join or be discriminated and bullied forever." Because that is often what things like hate speech says between the lines. If somebody were to make a speech saying people from Colombia are all dangerous and full of crack addicts and to be careful of them, then some people may actually listen. If people start listening more and more and it becomes a large enough group, eventually many people from Colombia will feel the abuse even if they didn't really do anything wrong. Free speech needs to be held liable if actions are concluded to be taken based off of said speech. One last note to make is that if there is encouragement to break the law that allows free speech to all, and encouragement to violate other's rights, that in itself should be considered breaking the law especially if action is taken. It can be comparable to encouragement for people to steal and shame and isolation and even abuse to those who don't. Law is law and threats are threats and that's not an argument. Now, if it is required for me to use scholarly sources for everything said here, I would. But this is debate clearly over opinion and defending that opinion so I feel that whether right or wrong, opinions should be more than welcome as long as they are not immaturely offensive, threatening, etc. If the opponent wishes to use scholarly sources from this point on, please state so so it will be even ground.

Return To Top | Posted:
2017-05-07 11:13:26
| Speak Round

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