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That the government should not place any restrictions on free speech

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draftermandrafterman (PRO)
Why Free Speech?
It is necessary - for liberty to prosper - that we have freedom of speech. Evil acts depend on secrecy to persist. In the words of Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Whether it is the government or other people that are evil, it is necessary that good men can speak of it to unite and combat it. Also, our quest for knowledge requires knowing what is true and what is false which requires unfettered speech. Unpopular opinions carry some element of truth, and popular opinions never carry all the truth. In order for us to assemble the whole truth, we need access to all opinions, popular or not. This is known as the "marketplace of ideas."

Free Speech Exceptions
Exceptions to free speech today include: obscenity, child pornography, incitements/threats, and defamation. The basis for these restrictions is utilitarian: restricting speech is a harm on the liberty of society but allowing it in these extreme cases is an even greater harm. There are cases where speech can cause harm; The goal here is not to argue that no aspects of free speech can cause harm, but rather to show that restriction of free speech, even in these instances, causes more harm than allowing it.

The Miller Test[1] identifies obscene speech that is not protected and has been criticized since its establishment in 1973. The test violates the "vagueness doctrine"[2]. since it applies to local standards (rather than national or societal standards) and requires a consideration of subjective value. It is impossible for each person to know every local community standard, and whether something has artistic or scientific value is completely subjective.

Child Pornography
While this restriction seems sensible, it is unclear what harm the actual filming and watching prevents. The harm against the child has already been committed and filming crimes in general is not a crime. The harm against others is clearly not the issue, as fake child pornography is not covered by this ruling[3].

Incitements & Threats
These are forms of speech that proceed some crime and are considered to be causal agents of that crime. They are restricted based upon imminence and likelihood[4]. If we knew that no crime would follow the speech, then there would be no imminence or likelihood and the speech would be protected. If no crime would follow, then the speech itself is not a crime, and if a crime would follow, then it is the crime itself that should be prosecuted, rather than the speech.

This does cause real harm to people in and of itself. However, restrictions here are abused through SLAPP[5] lawsuits' used to silence critics. Knowing that merely engaging in a lawsuit (even if you ultimately win) can be ruinous, the threat of these lawsuits are used to scare off others that have made critical statements. Many states have had to enact Anti-SLAPP laws to combat SLAPP abuse. Without defamation restrictions, there would be no basis for filing SLAPP suits. Given this, it is clear that the restrictions of speech for defamation have caused more harm than they prevent.

The experiments in free speech restrictions have clearly failed. Either the restrictions don't actually prevent anything harmful or are abused to cause more harm than they prevent. This debate was not to suggest that unrestricted free speech results in no harm, but rather to note that our attempts in restricting it have caused more harm than would have otherwise been allowed without those restrictions. They must be removed for the greater good of society.

"Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech." - Charles Bradlaught

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_test
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Void_for_vagueness
[3] Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002)
[4] Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444...

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-10 01:37:37
| Speak Round
BlackflagBlackflag (CON)
In the intrests of time, and clarity, my house will as always, use our opening speech for introductions. 

The house is fully aware of the civil liberties and importance of ensuring free speech. We fully agree with the opposition government, and gratefully concede that obscenity, incitement and defamation should be legalized forms of free speech. My house takes another view altogether on child pornography, but we will waive this argument in the interests of of a better one.

There are two restrictions, found in nearly every nation, the opposition has forgot to mention. 
- Speech that harms the welfare of others
- Speech that harms the economic interests of others 

Our house has compiled a detailed analysis on the effects of each speech, and are confident when we say, speech harmful to others is net harmful to the nation, and the respective constitutions our democratic governments have chosen to represent. Our opinion is based off of fact, evidence, and basic reasoning determined by the best minds our party could find.

We leave the floor to the opposition. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-16 21:45:11
| Speak Round
draftermandrafterman (PRO)
My opponent has waived and/or conceded perhaps all of my points, instead settling on an argument based around:

  • Speech that harms the welfare of others
  • Speech that harms the economic interests of others

However, no argument was presented, so I am at a loss as to what I am to refute. Regardless, the current restrictions I mentioned are - obstensibly - speech that harms the welfare of others and (in the case of defamation) speech that harms the economic interests of others. By conceding the points in my specified examples, Con necessarily concedes the point regarding the general categories which encompass them. It seems odd to say that "defamation" should be legalized, but then suggest there should be a restriction on speech which harms "welfare" and "economic interests" when those are the principle effects of defamation.

Indeed, our current government does not restrict those general forms of speech, nor should it. I find there is little else to say on the matter, as Con has contradicted himself and has not illuminated anyone as to the basis for his "detailed analysis." Instead I will conclude my portion of the debate with some relevant quotes on the matter of restricting free speech.

"If any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility. ... Though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied." - John Stuart Mill

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-16 22:04:11
| Speak Round
BlackflagBlackflag (CON)
This appears to be the first time in edeb8 history, where a debater has been forced to forfeit. In the first round, I conceded to all of the opposition's arguments, and introduced new one's as well. I'm just being told that they aren't relevant unless I argue them. Apprently it is also frowned upon to make arguments in the final round.

You can see the In-Thread discussion here: http://www.edeb8.com/forum/EDEB8.com+Site/752/add
I would like to be clear, drafterman did not win this debate by concession, but a failure on my part to make arguments the first round. Good win mate.

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-23 14:35:02
| Speak Round

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Previous Judgments

2014-10-23 15:01:38
AjabiJudge: Ajabi
Win awarded to: drafterman
Perhaps this debate, with its complex resolution, should have been for more than two rounds. Alas, it was a 2-round debate, and Con did agree to it. Pro wins here because Con spent the first round conceding the arguments of Pro's first case (more or less), and while he did mention two points that he would like to discuss he never argued them. Noting how one cannot argue in the last round (for Pro would have no way to rebut), I shall ignore Con's "arguments". Hence I vote Pro, happy to clarify this reason for decision.
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2014-10-24 00:49:30
whiteflameJudge: whiteflame    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: drafterman
There's not much I can say here. Con conceded all of Pro's points, and only outlined his case in R1. While I'm sure he had a strategy put into motion, in a two-round debate, such a plan could not come to fruition without engaging in the shoddy behavior of posting new arguments in the final round. Con chose not to do that, but instead forfeited the debate. As such, the debate goes to Pro.

drafterman: the arguments you presented were pretty good, but I think you need to focus on presenting a positive case in R1 instead of trying to respond to the arguments you expect to see. I realize this is on.ly a two-round debate, leaving you little room to address rebuttals, but you're better off building a case for why all speech needs to be free than trying to cover all of the possible examples that could be used against you. Con's tactic actually might have worked in this debate if it had gone another round, since much of your opening round would have been wasted playing defense a case that was never there.

Legion: Be well aware of the rules in the debate, and especially of the number of rounds. It can be very important in determining what kind of case you run and how rapidly you flesh out your arguments. I'll be interested to see how you use this tactic in later debates, though here, it just looks like you sacrificed a round.
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2014-10-24 05:36:57
9spacekingJudge: 9spaceking
Win awarded to: drafterman
Con pretty much conceded everything, being unable to make any arguments in the last round and almost forcibly only kind of "accepting" the debate and introducing the topic.

Legion, you should look clearer and ask for the rules before the debate begins, otherwise you lose sadly and unfortunately.
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2014-10-27 23:36:22
nzlockieJudge: nzlockie    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: drafterman
Another rather easy ruling here. This time its going to PRO thanks to the second round concession by CON.
PRO made a case in their first round. This case took the form of a pre-emptive strike against likely arguments to made against the resolution. CON's first round was used as an opening speech in which he conceded all of PRO's points as either correct or uncontested.
He did present two angles he was planning to develop but failed to do so in time, thanks to having less rounds than expected.

In PRO' s final round he made a good rebuttal of the two non-argued points, showing that they could likely be assimilated by his already presented and already conceded ones.
CON conceded the debate rather than argue his case when PRO would have no right of reply. I felt this was the right thing to do, although unfortunate.

Clear win for PRO.

PRO: I actually feel that the preemptive strike was the right way to go here. It was a short debate and a more aggressive stance was a good bet here.
I also think that this could have been a tough resolution for PRO, since it argues against the status quo. Given it was a short debate, and given that you may not have actually had a strong case to argue, I feel like this was a solid strategy.

Had I been arguing CON, I would have pulled you up on a couple of points though. In some of your arguments you were arguing that the CURRENT restrictions were not right and should be removed. This was most obvious with the obscenity one.
As CON I could have agreed with your assessment and proposed a review of the criteria. The resolution is not about the CURRENT restriction, it's about whether ANY restriction should exist.
Your point about WHY the miller test was flawed was a good one. This point would have been stronger if you'd just included an extra line which claimed that creating a fair criteria in a digital age would be impossible and then pointed out that the harm was not that bad anyway.
This would have linked it back to the resolution better.

The impression I got was that you made a solid attempt to defend a case which was pretty hard to defend. Your case had some holes, but that was less to do with your argument and more to do with a tough resolution and tough debate setup.

CON: The obvious feedback is obvious. Read the setup.

In addition, I'm not a fan of you using the first CON speech to "tease" or set up your points. It comes over as weak, since PRO basically gets two free rounds to gain my trust and build momentum.
This tactic can be effective if you're arguing the PRO side, since it can throw some confusion onto your opponent and force them to focus too much on a case you haven't made yet... But even then, given how little you gave us, that would be risky.

If you're going with this tactic, reserve it for the PRO speech in the first round, only do it in debates where you have a minimum of four speeches total, and give me a little more meat. Not enough to completely give the game away to your opponent, but enough for me to see that there IS some substance there.

In my view, conceding in the final round WAS the right move. Never mind, onwards and upwards!
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