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    Hi, I'm participating in a debate soon, and my argument is entitled "Free speech is a luxury we cannot always afford" and, I'm having real trouble thinking up some good, valid points.

    I know in this day and age people can't always state their opinions, what with threats to society such as terrorism and a need to protect people. So if anyone would be prepared to give me some basic ideas which I could bounce ideas off, and any good, recent examples would also be helpful!

    +rep for useful answers, thanks
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    Because we like our embassies unburnt?
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    Think about the children! People can't say anything to their young, impressionable minds!


    Also, as you said, in high security places saying stuff to do with bombs without reason is a health hazzard and a time waster.
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    If you are fighting a war, it is bad if you start telling everyone exactly what you are doing and how your troops are feeling.

    EDIT: look at Afghanistan in the last couple of weeks.
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    (Original post by MewMachine)
    Hi, I'm participating in a debate soon, and my argument is entitled "Free speech is a luxury we cannot always afford" and, I'm having real trouble thinking up some good, valid points.

    I know in this day and age people can't always state their opinions, what with threats to society such as terrorism and a need to protect people. So if anyone would be prepared to give me some basic ideas which I could bounce ideas off, and any good, recent examples would also be helpful!

    +rep for useful answers, thanks
    Okay, well apart from the obvious need to limit freedom of speech in times of warfare (official secrets for example). There are certain types of free speech we don't permit in Britain anyway. Racial abuse is prohibited, as is "glorification of terrorism" (as of the Terrorism Act 2006, if I recall). Also, may forms of speech can be harmful, Holocaust denial, Beenie Man the rap artist whose music incited the murder of homosexuals, people who host racist forums (I'm specifically thinking of neo-nazi forums in the US).

    You could argue that total freedom of speech leads to the propagation of error, that freedom of speech can be abused and used to undermine or defame others, that freedom of speech can allow propaganda to corrupt impressionable people, and that freedom of speech can allow for the growth of unsavoury movements like Islamic extremism, as well as the obvious dangers of freedom of speech during war.
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    (Original post by Andy the Anarchist)
    Okay, well apart from the obvious need to limit freedom of speech in times of warfare (official secrets for example). There are certain types of free speech we don't permit in Britain anyway. Racial abuse is prohibited, as is "glorification of terrorism" (as of the Terrorism Act 2006, if I recall). Also, may forms of speech can be harmful, Holocaust denial, Beenie Man the rap artist whose music incited the murder of homosexuals, people who host racist forums (I'm specifically thinking of neo-nazi forums in the US).

    You could argue that total freedom of speech leads to the propagation of error, that freedom of speech can be abused and used to undermine or defame others, that freedom of speech can allow propaganda to corrupt impressionable people, and that freedom of speech can allow for the growth of unsavoury movements like Islamic extremism, as well as the obvious dangers of freedom of speech during war.
    Propagation of error...sorry, I don't quite understand that, any chance you could explain that to me please?

    I think I'll stick with the harms of freedom of speech, in relation to war and extremism, thanks very much for the arguments (and to everyone else)
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    (Original post by MewMachine)
    Propagation of error...sorry, I don't quite understand that, any chance you could explain that to me please?

    I think I'll stick with the harms of freedom of speech, in relation to war and extremism, thanks very much for the arguments (and to everyone else)
    Sorry, I got that off Mill, you can tell I've been reading On Liberty :p:

    I meant that, if certain views are not prohibited, it is possible that they will eventually drown out the correct view. I'm specifically thinking about Holocaust Denial and the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools.
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    Freedom of speech is a myth.
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    I've done this debate in various competitions before, and it's a tough one, very abstract and philosophical, and also contientious. be careful about relying solely on the 'we need to stop terrorism' argument because in my experience you will be accused of sensationalisation and limiting the scope of the debate, which is never a good move. You need to keep it wide-ranging, take it from the philosophical angle rather than the security angle I would say.

    You need to be ready for the counter-arguments based upon the moral justifications for curtailing free speech:

    1.) limiting freedom of speech leads to a very slippery slope - where do we stop? An example is Hitler's burning of books, very far removed from the excuse of protecting the individual. Furthermore, who has the authority to say what should and shouldn't be said? All opinions are equally relevant, no-one actively thinks that they are doing "the wrong thing." Because of course, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

    2.) Who has the authority to encroach on individual rights? You could use the philosopher Nozick here, he stated that "individuals have rights that are so strong and far-reaching, one has to wonder, is there any room for the state?" basically, he is saying that no-one, not even an elected government, has the right to curtail the liberties of an individual because there can be no moral justification for any oppression. I think it was Thoreau who said "that government is best that governs not at all." This is the typical anarchist line on such debates.

    3.) you have the problem that, by forcing so called "extreme" opinions underground you make martyrs of them - this is a facade that the British National Party like to use quite often, and the fact that they won 2 seats and 6.2% of the vote in the 2009 european elections illustrates that this is a tactis that can prove quite effective. Although this seems like a small "achievement" in relation to the major parties, some would argue that it is dangerous, even the Nazi party in pre-World War 2 Germany started off with minimal success. It could be said that instead of silencing extreme opinions, we need to in fact bring them into the open and then strike them down with arguments of our own, which can be effective as shown in the Oxford University debating society, when Nick Griffin was heckled off stage after being ripped apart (metaphorically) by the students debating there.

    These are just a few counter-arguments that can be brought up to your side of the debate. Not saying that I agree or disagree with them, just giving you a heads-up on what you will need to argue against.

    Sorry it was so long haha and hope it was helpful to you! good luck!
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    (Original post by Andy the Anarchist)
    Sorry, I got that off Mill, you can tell I've been reading On Liberty :p:

    I meant that, if certain views are not prohibited, it is possible that they will eventually drown out the correct view. I'm specifically thinking about Holocaust Denial and the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools.
    Cheers
    Also, you wrote about how the 'glorification of terrorism' in the Terrorism Act 2006. I think I could be shot down quite easily on that by people saying that it can be used against people who resort to violence against a repressive regime, so could I possibly counter that with how it's necessary since 7/7, etc, or would I need something stronger? I know this bill was quite heavily criticised.
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    (Original post by Andy the Anarchist)
    Sorry, I got that off Mill, you can tell I've been reading On Liberty :p:

    I meant that, if certain views are not prohibited, it is possible that they will eventually drown out the correct view. I'm specifically thinking about Holocaust Denial and the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools.
    But of course Mill is very much in favour of freedom of speech, only in rare cases does he suggest it has limits.

    You could perhaps use China as an argument: the need for social harmony in bringing about prosperity, and freedoms (such as freedom of speech) can destablise this, thus condemning people to poverty.

    Unfortunately freedom of speech is the key freedom for any liberal society, so assuming equally good debaters on either side, I would hope you'll lose (nothing personal of course ).
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    (Original post by chloem257)
    I've done this debate in various competitions before, and it's a tough one, very abstract and philosophical, and also contientious. be careful about relying solely on the 'we need to stop terrorism' argument because in my experience you will be accused of sensationalisation and limiting the scope of the debate, which is never a good move. You need to keep it wide-ranging, take it from the philosophical angle rather than the security angle I would say.

    You need to be ready for the counter-arguments based upon the moral justifications for curtailing free speech:

    1.) limiting freedom of speech leads to a very slippery slope - where do we stop? An example is Hitler's burning of books, very far removed from the excuse of protecting the individual. Furthermore, who has the authority to say what should and shouldn't be said? All opinions are equally relevant, no-one actively thinks that they are doing "the wrong thing." Because of course, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

    2.) Who has the authority to encroach on individual rights? You could use the philosopher Nozick here, he stated that "individuals have rights that are so strong and far-reaching, one has to wonder, is there any room for the state?" basically, he is saying that no-one, not even an elected government, has the right to curtail the liberties of an individual because there can be no moral justification for any oppression. I think it was Thoreau who said "that government is best that governs not at all." This is the typical anarchist line on such debates.

    3.) you have the problem that, by forcing so called "extreme" opinions underground you make martyrs of them - this is a facade that the British National Party like to use quite often, and the fact that they won 2 seats and 6.2% of the vote in the 2009 european elections illustrates that this is a tactis that can prove quite effective. Although this seems like a small "achievement" in relation to the major parties, some would argue that it is dangerous, even the Nazi party in pre-World War 2 Germany started off with minimal success. It could be said that instead of silencing extreme opinions, we need to in fact bring them into the open and then strike them down with arguments of our own, which can be effective as shown in the Oxford University debating society, when Nick Griffin was heckled off stage after being ripped apart (metaphorically) by the students debating there.

    These are just a few counter-arguments that can be brought up to your side of the debate. Not saying that I agree or disagree with them, just giving you a heads-up on what you will need to argue against.

    Sorry it was so long haha and hope it was helpful to you! good luck!
    Ahh, many thanks for the heads up on the counter arguments, I was a little worried about them, possibly even more so than constructing mine :redface: Now for thinking up arguments against them..
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    (Original post by Dan-IW)
    But of course Mill is very much in favour of freedom of speech, only in rare cases does he suggest it has limits.

    You could perhaps use China as an argument: the need for social harmony in bringing about prosperity, and freedoms (such as freedom of speech) can destablise this, thus condemning people to poverty.

    Unfortunately freedom of speech is the key freedom for any liberal society, so assuming equally good debaters on either side, I would hope you'll lose (nothing personal of course ).
    Yeah I was pretty peeved about getting this side of this argument. I was like...oh ****, freedom of speech is necessary! :p:

    I like the China example though, thanks
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    We don't say what we think incase we cause offense. Which really makes no sense because anything you say could technically offend someone. Also, our country is so annoyingly politically correct.
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    There are no valid arguments to support this, frankly.
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    Hypocrites don't deserve free speech e.g. The Right Honourable The Lord "I hate privilage as a committed Marxist" Mandelson, and Baron "I hate the House of Lords" Kinnock. :teeth:
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    It seems like Mill is quite a common denominator in this debate - spot on I think. I'd recommend reading a bit of On Liberty before your debate if you have time, you can find commentaries and the like in most good philosophy textbooks. The whole argument is a Utilitarian one ultimately, the majority versus the individual, positive versus negative freedom and whether or not the oppression of individual rights can be justified because it's what is right for society as a whole.
    It's the progressive liberal "harm principle." You need to, to quote Mill, "give the greatest possible liberty consistent with liberty for all." Isiah Berlin gets this bang on in his famous "freedom for the pike is death for the minnows" quote. Having unlimited freedom is ultimately harmful for some but beneficial to one. the moral basis for this is often contested, but that is what you will have to focus on in this debate. It's also the best tactic i think, as your opponent(s) will be expecting you to prattle on about national security and terrorists and blah blah blah. Surprise them, make them think on their toes. Also expect examples from the recent Iranian election results - a blindingly obvious one there. And also the Chinese government got google to give up the details of citizens who had visited Free Tibet websites - ultimately bad for the protestors.
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    (Original post by Dan-IW)
    But of course Mill is very much in favour of freedom of speech, only in rare cases does he suggest it has limits.

    You could perhaps use China as an argument: the need for social harmony in bringing about prosperity, and freedoms (such as freedom of speech) can destablise this, thus condemning people to poverty.

    Unfortunately freedom of speech is the key freedom for any liberal society, so assuming equally good debaters on either side, I would hope you'll lose (nothing personal of course ).
    I know, but the phrase "propagation of error" is from On Liberty, I'm fairly certain.
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    (Original post by necessarily benevolent)
    Hypocrites don't deserve free speech e.g. The Right Honourable The Lord "I hate privilage as a committed Marxist" Mandelson, and Baron "I hate the House of Lords" Kinnock. :teeth:
    Is that Peter "relaxed about people getting filthy rich" Mandelson?

    You really shouldn't comment on things you know nothing about, it just makes the ideological blinkers painfully obvious.
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    War time is the best i can think of

    if censoring was not imployed in ww1 and 2 the outcome may have been very different
 
 
 
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