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That banning books is justifiable

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adminadmin (PRO)
I thank con for doing this debate with me.

I'm as disgusted as everyone when people ban books simply because they disagree with the contents of those books. I assume my opponent and I are united in our opposition to this. But that isn't the resolution. The resolution asks if there is ever a time when you could justify the banning of books. We are talking about the extreme cases here: cases where people have published works that cause real, tangible, quantifiable harm. Insofar as it is possible my model would allow for censored versions of books to be made available which have been carefully edited to prevent the harm in question, but still communicate the substance of the book.

I know that you probably live in a country with relatively free speech, so that probably sounds like a step backwards to you. So let me give an example the overwhelming majority of people agree with. Suppose I were to waltz down to the local bookshop tomorrow and hawk books containing copious amounts of child pornography, should that be legal?

The reason most people answer no to that is complex - first of all, child pornography outside of a book is illegal. It would make no sense to allow the book but not its contents. Second, children are harmed in the process of its production. Many are left so seriously scarred for life that no amount of rehabilitation can cure them. Third, pedophiles themselves are harmed. A good deal of evidence indicates most pedophiles never act on their desires, so taking tempting child porn to an otherwise innocent bookstore might drive their lust to a point where they can no longer control it. Fourth, the industry inherently isolates children, breaking down communities and families. And I could go on and on. The point is this:

Some things should never be published

There are other harms to society, and of course other things that harm children that could be put into a book. On the other hand you have measured descriptions of something similar - Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" comes to mind - and that's totally OK, because irrespective of any moral sensibilities there are no external harms (for example, no children were harmed in its production, reading the book aloud would be legal etc). But I want to stress that it's not a very exclusive example - there are many kinds of books that should never be published.

Before going on murderous rampages, mass murderers often leave behind notes and videos justifying their crimes and encouraging copycat attacks. Insofar as these are valid social commentary, I'm all for their publication. But insofar as they are instruction manuals to provoking others to easily commit terrible crimes, which if followed to the letter would result in a terrible tragedy, their publication should be limited. If I were to tell somebody to kill somebody on my behalf and they did it, sure they're the killers, but I am culpable too for ordering that killing. However, apparently writing it in a book lets me off the hook - that is, unless the publication of such a book is banned.

I'm not talking about books like Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, which at worst has inspired a few rallies by the European far right but done little real damage. This is about books like the Inspire magazine published by Al Qaeda, which tells people right now to go do stuff, provides scripture proving they must do so, and then tells people exactly how to do it without being caught. We know for a fact that people have used works like Inspire to create bombs - the Boston Bombers probably used the first Inspire issue as their training manual for pressure cooker bombs. It's a legitimate threat that the more (mis)information like this is disseminated, the more innocent people are killed.

Another example. Say I publish a book "The Great Admin and the Philosopher's Stone", which is exactly the same as the first Harry Potter except that I replaced the words "Harry Potter" with "The Great Admin". Would it be OK for JK Rowling to stop me from publishing, effectively banning the book from distribution to protect her creative work? Now we're getting more unclear, but even here there is a tangible and measurable harm resulting from the publication of my book, which underpins all copyright law.

I could go on listing these examples ad infinitum. To prove the point, what of Peter Wright's book Spycatcher which revealed state secrets putting lives at risk?

The point is that banning books is a lot less controversial than most people make it out to be. It's justifiable if the pen does in fact become mightier than the sword and for all the wrong reasons. The benefits of the model are all the benefits of preventing serious harm to society. That being said, I will stress again that most book bans are not justified. That does not mean all are unjustified, and ending a policy of book banning would be to undermine the very stability of society.

With that I wish my opponent good luck for their first round.

Return To Top | Posted:
2013-12-13 03:08:08
| Speak Round
cdw.scoutcdw.scout (CON)
I thank my opponent for accepting this debate, and hope that his internet troubles resolve quickly.

I'm glad my opponent agrees that banning books for just disagreeing with them is unjustifiable, and that he's limited the resolution to the extreme cases. The model he has presented has allowed for censored version of books to be re-published if the books caused "real, tangible, quantifiable harm." If the Pro doesn't mind, I'll be defining "harm" as "physical or mental damage." I'll be addressing this further later.

The first argument I'll be covering as Con is a basic issue of topicality. To ban, according to the Oxford Legal Dictionary, is to "officially or legally prohibit (something)." The Pro's case centers around not banning books, but banning content within books -- as he said, "Insofar as it is possible my model would allow for censored versions of books to be made available which have been carefully edited to prevent the harm in question, but still communicate the substance of the book." On a simple level, he's not banning books -- he's censoring books. While still a controversial topic, it's not the one we've been given.

With that established, he provided four instances in which censoring books would be justifiable. We'll look at each of these individually.

1. Child pornography. He provided four subpoints under this point.
A. Child pornography is illegal outside of books, so it wouldn't make sense to "allow the book but not its contents." However, that's exactly what's he's proposed under his case, as I outlined above.
B/C/D. I would agree that both children and pedophiles are harmed by this deplorable process. However, according to the Pro's own standards, they must present a "real, tangible, quantifiable" "physical or mental damage." Sure, the effect on children and pedophiles is a real mental damage, but is tangible? Can you touch it? Is it quantifiable? Can we count it and present statistics on it? The Pro has failed the standards it presented.

2. Violent, instructional content
Here, the Pro has said that books should be censored if they are "instruction manuals to provoking others to easily commit terrible crimes, which if followed to the letter would result in a terrible tragedy." However, my response is that there's no real way for the government to determine this. Sure, we can look at a magazine published by Al Qaeda, and probably agree that it should be censored (assuming I agree with the Pro). However, what about publications that advocate self defense against police officers, or civil disobedience? While it may be clear to us right now that those shouldn't be censored, it's a gray line at best, and one that the government is more than capable of crossing in the name of censorship and public safety.

Additionally, with internet distribution the way it is in this modern age, information by terrorists will get to the public anyway. Anybody with a computer and an internet connection (even one as slow as Pro's) can access free information about resisting government, making bombs, or developing hard narcotics. That's not to say that just because there's a way around censorship restrictions, we shouldn't have these restrictions. What it is to say is that if you look at the disadvantage of limiting free speech by allowing the government this capacity, and the fact that this censorship wouldn't be effective, it's simply not worth it.

3. Copyrights
Here, the Pro cited an example of "The Great Admin and the Philosopher's Stone." While we all know in reality that if the Pro did this, Ms. Rowling would pop out of the fireplace and cause instantaneous death via "avada kedavra," my response to the Pro centers around the same idea as my main response to his first point -- the Pro, under their own standard, must present a "real, tangible, quantifiable" "physical or mental damage." The Pro team did say that there would be such a harm, but didn't specify what it would be, thereby not fulfilling their burden.

4. State secrets
Here, he cited Peter Wright's book Spycatcher, as an example where censoring a book would be justifiable to prevent loss of life. My response is the same as to his point about violent, instructional content -- limiting such publications would censor other, legitimate uses of the print medium (such as Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on massive government surveillance programs), while not actually being effective at its intended purposes (due to the advent of the internet), thereby simply not making it worth it. As Ellen Hopkins said, "Torch every book. Char every page. Burn every word to ash. Ideas are incombustible, and therein lies your real fear." By stifling books in this way, you don't stop the spread of ideas, and only harm legitimate spread of information.

To close, as Laurie Anderson said, "Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance." The Pro is not only censoring, not banning books, but his four situations in which this censorship would be appropriate don't meet the "real, tangible, quantifiable" standard that he set forth, and aren't worth the risk of stifling legitimate use of publication (since the censorship would be ineffective at stopping ideas). 

Thank you.

Return To Top | Posted:
2013-12-13 06:04:27
| Speak Round
adminadmin (PRO)
I thank my opponent for outlining his case.


I do not accept a harm must be physical or mental damage. Suppose, for example, I published a book that directly caused somebody to destroy the Mona Lisa, burn down the Amazon rainforest, kidnap the president of the USA, and cheat at the Olympics to win every event. I may not, in that process, harm anybody physically or mentally (other than perhaps to cause them some slight distress) but to say that these things are not harmful would be gravely mistaken. Therefore I will take a much broader interpretation of harms as anything that would likely have a net negative impact on an individual, community, society, culture or species. Negative is obviously to a certain extent subjective, and so I would imagine experts would assess this on a case-by-case basis if it comes to that. Naturally by this definition pretty much every book could be harmful, but that only makes the definition stronger, because the fact is any book could. Only when these harms are really significant and tangible, however (as is the case in my examples) should that result in the actual banning of a book, in light of the fact that it's important for society to have access to a broad spectrum of opinions.

My opponent makes censorship and banning to be one and the same. This is not true for two reasons. First of all, I only support censorship where it is reasonably possible to convey the substance of the book without accruing the kind of harms I talked about. You can't really convey an image book of child porn's message while censoring the porn - that would defeat the purpose. Therefore, such books deserve to be banned outright, as opposed to merely censored. Secondly, the process of censorship requires that you first ban the uncensored version of the book. It defeats the purpose of censorship to provide a censored version but not ban the uncensored version. Therefore, it also makes no sense to support censorship and not support banning books.


I used my examples to broadly illustrate the principle that society doesn't generally allow absolute freedom to say what you like. I gave some examples that were broadly applicable and will come back to them later, but I want to reinforce the general principle here because my opponent doesn't really answer it. In Germany, for instance, Mein Kampf remains mostly banned. Outside of Germany, it's mostly legal. In Cuba, Animal Farm is banned. Outside of Cuba it is mostly legal. This is because these countries exist in largely unique and independent socio-cultural contexts. It would be equally illegal in Germany to stand on a podium on the sidewalks of Berlin and recite Mein Kampf, because that kind of language is not tolerated there anymore. Neonazi groups have to be extremely careful in former nazi countries for this reason, and their leaders often face lengthy jail terms. And in that particular socio-cultural context this makes sense.

Now this is not to say you could not go to Germany and advocate solutions to exactly the same problems Hitler saw. Some political groups in Germany do advocate for nationalism. Others advocate socialism. A very few advocate both. There's nothing wrong with alternate opinions, and access to these perspectives is of course maintained in Germany. That's important for any free democratic society. But the specific rules against Mein Kampf in Germany and Austria make sense. The general principle here is that if you wouldn't be free to say something, you shouldn't also be free to print that something. I've been very clear throughout the debate that I do not oppose the spreading of any ideas, just their communication in ways that puts people in danger.

"Tangible" mental harm

Con asserts mental harm is never tangible. In con's world, thoughts and emotions mean nothing. I disagree. Mental damage changes us - not just how we think, but how we act. And that's tangible. Go talk to somebody with a debilitating mental illness to see what I mean. While I'm all for rights for the mentally impaired, one cannot get around the simple fact that they are not normal. They act different. And these differences shape the whole world around them. That's about as clear-cut tangible as it gets: mental harm, mental trauma and mental health are all tangible.

What's more, tangible refers to a feeling. A given subject can feel their own emotions. Just because you can't feel their emotions does not mean they are not real, just like the fact that you probably aren't touching the moon right now does not mean the moon is not real. You can count it and present stats on it too. There are some here and here if you don't believe me.

"Tangible" copyright harm

There is one force more powerful than even the Elder Wand, and that's money. When JK Rowling loses a lot of money because her sales are being diminished by cheap knock offs of her creative labors, that's a tangible harm.

Books but not contents

My model is not proposing this, it is eliminating this. Again to clarify: when a book contains harmful content, I say the whole book should be banned. When OK content is mixed in with the harmful stuff, republish the book without the harmful stuff. But in the context of something like child porn, this isn't really applicable.

Determining what is violent/instructional

Civil disobedience or the like does create harms, is violent, and is instructional. However, the scale of the damage is generally small for each individual. It does not generally meet the test for being a significant harm. An Al Qaeda training manual kills thousands in one fell swoop. A book advocating bombing the White House with precise instructions and a clear justification should equally be banned in my view - it is violent and instructional, thereby causing mass harm. Again, these things cannot really be resolved in abstracts, and should be evaluated by the experts in each field. The case of something like Inspire, however, is as clear as it gets.


The futility of an exercise should never override the general principle. Anti-murder laws have not stopped murder, for instance, but they're still good to have.

The only challenge with the internet is that the tactics used to catch criminals need to evolve. I'm all for that. In spite of the internet posing new challenges, police are still relatively successful at keeping, for example, pirated stuff off most of it. While not absolutely effective, their techniques are rather as primitive as those used to catch murderers 200 years ago, and will no doubt evolve with time. In the meanwhile, a law that's good to have needs no futility test.

Governments crossing the line

This is a risk inherent in any law. Will murder one day be twisted to imprison ant killers? Who knows, but it's still good to have crimes against murder. There are grey areas in most laws too. One shouldn't plan for such worst case hypothetical scenarios and focus on solving the problem.

State Secrets

I'm all for Snowden. The US has yet to provide any evidence anybody was actually majorly endangered by his leaks. But would you want people telling everyone the access codes for every US nuclear bunker, along with co-ordinates and software to allow anybody to just blow up the whole world at any time? I thought not. There's a clear difference between things that are real, tangible threats and ephemeral claims of traitorhood.

I don't want to stop ideas. I want to save lives.

The resolution is affirmed.

Return To Top | Posted:
2013-12-13 10:28:29
| Speak Round
cdw.scoutcdw.scout (CON)
Thanks to Pro for the quick and well organized response. To jump right in:

Harm Clarification
I'd like to point out that books don't "directly cause" somebody to destroy the Mona Lisa, burn down the Amazon rainforest, kidnap the President, or cheat at the Olympics to win every event. Books convey ideas (which we'll get into later). He has accepted a more broad interpretation of anything that "would likely have a net negative impact on an individual, community, society, culture or species." While I disagree with this definition, I'll accept it now that the Pro has clarified his position, but I'll remind everybody that the Pro must still prove a "real, tangible, quantifiable" harm. By his own admission, this definition could be applied to any book, and it must be judged on a case by case basis whether or not they're "significant and tangible."

However, I'll add that the book must be a direct link to the harm -- I could go out and read a religious text, or Harry Potter for that matter, and be motivated to commit a violent action. But, since that's not a direct link, we would not be justified in banning that book, as I'm sure my opponent would agree.

Here, the Pro illustrates his point talking about how free speech and press should be linked -- if you can't say something, you shouldn't be able to print it. However, that's not the issue here. We're not debating whether or not it's justified for the recitation of Mein Kampf should be banned in Germany -- we're debating whether the printing of such a book should be banned. The Pro has shown no real application to the round between the being free to say something and print something. I think that Animal Farm should be free to be recited in Cuba, and as as step towards that, it should be free to be printed as well.

"Tangible" mental harm
I completely agree that mental harm can be tangible -- we can see it, and see its effects on children. However, he ignored half my point -- it must be quantifiable as well. To be quantifiable, we have to measure its effect. This is the limit the Pro has placed upon itself.∘ Unless the Pro can present an authoritative, credible number in his next speech, he fails this point.

"Tangible" copyright harm
First, to meet their own standard, the Pro must again present a credible number or set of statistics.

Second, copyright violations actually have the opposite effect than the Pro would advocate. As this graph from Torrent Freak shows [1], users of file-sharing services actually legitimately buy more media than non-users. Copyright violations, though a scapegoat for problems, don't actually cause harm.

Determining what is violent/instructional
You may think the harms from civil disobedience or justified self defense are small; however, by establishing a precedent such as this, you're allowing additional interpretation. I'll clarify this more under the Internet/Government crossing the line points.

Internet/Government crossing the line
Policy should be both just and effective. I think that's something both the Pro and I would agree on. I completely agree that the futility of an exercise shouldn't override the general principle (as I did in my last speech), but you still have to look at whether the disadvantages resulting from a policy are outweighed by the potential gains from the policy.

Disadvantages of the policy (Governments crossing the line)
I agree that this is a risk inherent in any law, but that doesn't at all mean we shouldn't consider it here. In the United States, the founding fathers were very careful in laws they established, and the justifications they used in establishing those laws. We can't ignore the "worst case hypothetical scenarios and focus on solving the problem;" the worst case scenarios are part of the problem that must be considered.
The Pro, by failing to do so, fails to meet this aspect of policy making.

Potential gains from the policy (Internet)
I agree that anti-murder laws are justified, but that's only because they help stop murder WITHOUT infringing on other rights. For example, say that the government wanted to crack down on murder, and so banned baseball bats or martial arts. Here, the policy not only wouldn't be effective in stopping crime, it would infringe rights.
The Internet is a much more dark place than the Pro would like to think. Police officers have very little authority on the Internet; with 15 keystrokes, I could be on a pirate website looking for illegal content; 20 more, and I could be on a black market site purchasing illegal drugs or firearms.

All in all, allowing the government this precedent wouldn't be effective at stopping crime, and at the same time, hinder legitimate uses of the print medium, thereby making it unjustified.

State secrets
The US government actually did provide "evidence" that the NSA's programs helped stop terrorist attacks, and that Snowden's revelations hindered their progress. While I don't agree with them, under the Pro's case, the government would be able to ban all Snowden documents, or even any books relating to Snowden's leaks, thus establishing the bad precedent we talked about earlier, that wouldn't even be effective at stopping the leaks.

Nuclear launch codes
I agree that I don't want any crazies (especially ones like Pro /sarcasm) with nuclear launch codes. But, there are must better ways to do this (such as restricting access to the codes in the first place) that would actually be effective at stopping them (which Pro wouldn't), and without harming legitimate print (which Pro would do), without establishing such a ridiculous precedent as the Pro is advocating.

I don't want to stop ideas. I want to save lives.
As nice of an anecdote as this is, in the end, the Pro won't fulfill it. They've shown no proof they would save lives (just anecdotal evidence about harms that don't meet his own standards), and we've actually seen that Pro would increase negative consequences on people, AND stop the spread of legitimate ideas.
Vote con.

Return To Top | Posted:
2013-12-13 20:43:19
| Speak Round
adminadmin (PRO)
I thank my opponent for continuing his case.

Directness of the link

I agree with con that books should only be banned when the harm is relatively direct. Like I've indicated, I think in most borderline cases one should err on the side of allowing books because the spread of ideas is important, but you can still spread ideas without using harmful content as I indicated in my first substantive round. I might add that con keeps saying legitimate ideas would be suppressed under my model, and yet he has never shown how this would in fact happen under my model. He has not demonstrated a single legitimate idea that would be stifled, or that legitimate print would be hindered, and has not refuted my analysis that any ideas can be spread without being significantly harmful.


I think it's absolutely the issue, and I'm glad con concedes that that there should be less disagreement between different laws. Pro's claim is that we should change all laws to allow people to say whatever they please just as they should read whatever they please. Paradoxically, this is not the issue. If pro believes there should be absolute free speech, then that's a counter-model and pro needs to provide evidence of it (which is crazy because con is apparently already running the internet as a counter-model). So far he has not presented evidence that Animal Farm should be allowed in the particular context of Cuba, for instance. All I'm saying is that given the status quo of restrictions on rights, these rights should be extended at least so far to the written as to the spoken word.

"Quantifiable" mental harm

My opponent missed that I had two links quantifying the mental harm to children in my previous round. The fact is that the harm is measurable in raw statistics, such as the suicide rate.

"Quantifiable" copyright harm

When JK Rowling loses a million dollars in book sales and my book gains a million dollars, that's a pretty quantifiable harm to JK Rowling.

Copyright violations cause no harm

There's a difference between piracy and copyright theft. Piracy is when you take something somebody has a copyright in and consume it without paying the price. Copyright theft is when somebody has a copyright and then you claim you made it, so you should have the copyright. With piracy you aren't actually stealing the copyright. The harm is limited at best to your personal expense being forgone as a consumer. Copyright theft, on the other hand, is what I'm talking about. The harm is as big as all the income a producer could earn.


My opponent is relying on a slippery slope fallacy - "if I do this, then one day they might do this". It's a fallacy because it relates additional hypotheticals to my argument that simply cannot be sustained in the current context of its purpose. Precedence refers to when you do a big thing and thereby justify smaller things, like when a superior court makes a big judgement and smaller courts need to follow it. It does not refer to a small change at all. And in this case it isn't even applicable because I'm not arguing for change - if anything, I'm arguing for LESS books to be banned than the status quo. I'm just saying that some justifications for banning books are actually valid, even if not all are.

Worst case scenarios

The worst case scenario for murder is that a government does in fact prosecute a huge part of the society for murder, get false convictions and thereby justify a genocide. Compared to that, banning books is extremely benign. But I make the point that the worst case scenario should not be your principle consideration because there has never, ever, in the whole history of the human race, been a tangible harm of banning a book.

Even if my opponent can justify a worst case scenario for banning books will definitely occur and therefore must be planned for, he must still justify why he doesn't apply the same standard to murder or something similar.


Right now, I could kill my mother before the police could stop me. That's not to say that murder is justified just because the police couldn't stop me, and that the ineffectiveness of murder laws means we should have none. Sure, you can pirate Windows pretty easily. And sure, there's even a good chance you won't be caught afterwards. But the law reflects what is right and just, and one's ability to get away with something has no place in justice. Imagine if Osama Bin Laden had said to Obama "Well, I've been getting away with it for ten years, you still haven't caught me, so don't you think you should let me off the hook?" That's what this argument is like. Therefore it's good that internet piracy is handled just like stealing print books. Also not a major crime by the way, but one that's important.

Other Rights

I agree that to stop violence you shouldn't ban baseball. You should instead ban violence or violent acts. I have no idea how or why this is analogous to my model so I hope my opponent can clarify what other rights my model infringes upon.


Even if the American government could prove without a doubt that Snowden caused the death of, say, twenty American service people, that's still a very small number in the context of a very large war. The evidence for this is, of course, questionable at best. And even if small amounts of Snowden's leaks were censored in particular contexts, which I don't concede, the overall message would be damage enough.

Launch codes

I thank my opponent for conceding there should be some restrictions on information. Now he needs to explain why, should the codes be printed anyway by mistake, the government should not be allowed to censor them.

What my model does

I opened this debate with the story of child exploitation. We all agree it's wrong, but disagree on if you should be allowed to profit from it. To cause pain, death and destruction on a mass scale and not be guilty of any crime. In legitimate uses of the print there is no difference between our positions, but in illegitimate uses, I feel something sometimes needs to be done.

I'm proud to affirm and look forward to my opponent's next round.

Return To Top | Posted:
2013-12-13 23:38:26
| Speak Round
cdw.scoutcdw.scout (CON)
I thank my opponent again for continuing the case, and I'm excited for more discussion as the debate draws to close.

Directness of Link
The Pro stressed that I haven't shown a single example where a legitimate publication would be hampered; however, I have actually shown several. The example of Snowden well supports this (which I'll get into later).

I apologize if I was unclear in my last speech. I was not attempting to provide a counter-case of absolute free speech; rather, as I said, the Pro hadn't provided a clear link, justification, or impact to the relation between the free speech and free press that he had linked to in his second speech.

"Quantifiable" Mental Harm
To quantify is to "determine or express the quantity of." [1]. Sure, anecdotes about suicide rates are important to look at when determining public policy, but you're not quantifying the mental harm itself. All you're doing is quantifying a potential effect of the mental harm -- mental harm isn't the only thing that affects suicide rates, and suicide rates aren't the only way to determine mental harm. Therefore, using suicide rates to quantify mental harm is simply illogical. Even the links he provided in his second speech don't actually quantify mental harm, thereby failing the burden he placed on himself.

All the evidence you provided is your opinion. I provided facts, supported by research done in two countries on many different demographics, that proved the exact opposite of your position; creators are harmed by copyrights.

I agree that piracy is different than copyright theft; for clarification, piracy would be me downloading content from an author (such as JK Rowling) without JK Rowling's direct permission. Copyright theft is any violation of a copyright, so while piracy is a type of copyright theft, copyright theft can also more generally include things such as me downloading Rowling's works and redistributing them under my own name. However, even more "harmful" aspects of copyright theft still don't actually cause direct harms; sure, while Rowling might be harmed by one person not buying her book (since I gave it to them under my name), inevitably, that person will find out I didn't write the book and contribute to Rowling as an author, as the source I cited in my previous speech said.

The entire "copyleft" movement, including Creative Commons licenses, originated out of this idea -- sharing, republishing, changing, morphing and bettering content instead of restricting it. All in all, the Pro hasn't fulfilled the burden it's placed on itself for a tangible, quantifiable harm, especially since they still haven't provided a quantifiable number.

Precedence/Worst Case Scenarios
I'd like to point to one thing my opponent stressed -- that there's never been a tangible harm of banning a book. However, the exact opposite is true -- the limiting of free speech by stopping the spread of ideas most certainly does have tangible harms. If you look at the censorships of publications by Galileo or other scientists, or philosophical scholars, or political dissidents, it most certainly did have an impact on limiting society.

Again, however, I'd like to clarify this point again. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have murder laws because they might turn bad, or are ineffective.We most certainly should have laws against murder. However, laws against murder don't fall on the same philosophical plane as laws about censorship. Having a precedent of limiting free speech is much harder to control and limit than having a precedent against murder.

As I said earlier, it's not just because you can get around the law that we shouldn't have the law. But, as I've said many times, you have to compare the disadvantages and effectiveness of the law.If the policy isn't effective, while establishing the precedent I talked about earlier, it's unjustified.

Other Rights
I apologize if my analogy was unclear, so allow me to explain further. Let's suppose the number one weapon used in murders was baseball bats. Banning baseball bats wouldn't be effective at stopping baseball-bat murders (as there are [presumably] many black market methods of getting bats), and it would impede legitimate uses of the bat (such as, I don't know, some sport). In the same way, banning books wouldn't be effective at stopping the spread of ideas, and would impeded legitimate free press.

This was just meant as an analogy to explain my point about the Internet, and isn't universally applicable, but explains the general concept.

He didn't actually respond to my point about this, in that it would be completely allowable under his model, as long as it caused that harm.

Launch Codes
Quite simply, the government should not be allowed to censor those codes based on the precedent argument I outlined above. While it may sound treasonous, giving the government the authority to censor based on "national security" would only result in unjustified censorship, as it has in the real world -- while Snowden has managed to get around most US restrictions, others such as Bradley Manning have faced imprisonment for their whistle-blowing to WikiLeaks.

I'll be more accurately summarizing and giving voting issues in the following speech, but for now, I'd still strongly encourage you to vote Con.

[1]: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/quantifiable

Return To Top | Posted:
2013-12-14 05:57:09
| Speak Round
cdw.scoutcdw.scout (CON)
I'd like to summarize the round in two points.

1. "Tangible, quantifiable harm"
The Pro has limited himself such that in order to prove his entire case, he must PROVE a tangible, quantifiable harm that comes from allowing these books to be published. He attempted it in three main areas that I outlined in my first speech; two of them (violent/instructional content and state secrets I'll address in my next point, but his other two (child pornography and copyrights) haven't been proven. In fact, under copyrights, we've seen that the opposite is true -- it's actually good for authors. Unless the Pro can quantify child mental harm and copyright harm, they can't fulfill this point.

2. Disadvantages vs. effectiveness
Again, I completely agree with the Pro that we shouldn't not have laws just because those laws might be ineffective. However, in making policy, you must consider the effectiveness of the law vs. the disadvantages that will result from the law. Here, not only will the law not be effective, but legitimate publications will be stopped (such as Snowden, or things relating to civil disobedience/dissidents). Quite simply, censorship isn't effective enough to outweigh their negative impacts.

Thanks to my opponent for debating, and to those reading this for judging. Vote Con.

Return To Top | Posted:
2013-12-15 00:32:00
| Speak Round
adminadmin (PRO)
I thank my opponent for a fun debate.

Con has had two arguments: child porn is OK, and the government are evil. Literally everything he's said boils down to these points. The first is patently false, and the second you cannot assume. 

This debate was never about whether specific examples are harmful enough though, it's about whether anything could ever be harmful enough. With nuclear launch codes, con has finally conceded that there are things that, if printed, would be harmful. That's not to say child porn is not harmful, it's just that con defeated their own objection. My case wasn't against child porn, after all, but simply saying some information is harmful to spread. So even con agrees his first point is patently false.

For the government point, con has asserted legitimate publications will be stopped, but never shown why. He made vague allusions to Snowden but I just don't see how it's analogous - the US doesn't ban books, after all, so there's no reason con has provided as to why the US would ban Snowden's hypothetical book (and equally no reason why the US would ban Wikileaks, or why Snowden would even write this leaks in book form). I stand by my claim that "He has not demonstrated a single legitimate idea that would be stifled, or that legitimate print would be hindered, and has not refuted my analysis that any ideas can be spread without being significantly harmful." He also bought up the internet, but never responded to my analysis that banning internet piracy is precisely analogous to banning books.

Con said the negative impacts outweigh the positives. So let's explore that:

NEGATIVE IMPACT: New law means governments can abuse their power

Con never responded to my analysis about how their negative impact applies to every single other existing law. Con tried to say free speech laws are harder to contain than murder laws in the final round, but never explained how or why this would be the case.

You do the maths. The way I see it, con's case has failed. Now here's why I've won this debate.

I had the BOP. I explained that when something is really, really bad, it ought to be banned. I backed this up with four concrete examples of things people commonly believe to be harmful, and explain why we ban those things outside of books. I also explained the general principle that these beliefs are socioculturally relative and thus apply differently across society and culture. My conclusion was that since the contents of the books would be banned, it would make zero sense NOT to ban the book.

If con's case has failed, the logic here all stacks up.

The resolution is affirmed.

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2013-12-16 00:23:09
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It's like a normal debate round but after all the other rounds. The speaking order is reversed (you'll go first, so you effectively get 2 speeches in a row) and the number of characters you're allowed is halved (or minutes in a video debate). Special rules exist for 4-way too.
Posted 2013-12-13 07:19:44
What are reply speeches?
Posted 2013-12-13 06:13:21
The judging period on this debate is over

Previous Judgments

2013-12-17 09:26:26
BlackflagJudge: Blackflag
Win awarded to: admin
I voted Pro because in round 4 Con literally conceded to the majority Pro's entire debate. He states that he "completely agree[s] with the Pro that we shouldn't not have laws just because those laws might be ineffective." But then this destroys the entire case that Con was making about book-banning being pointless and ineffective. He then baselessly states that censorship isn't effective enough but literally never once explained this in his debate.

I will now give advice to Pro and Con.

Con must simply back everything he says up with evidence but only say things which can actually be reasoned through thoroughly.

Pro must format nicer. Con's formatting was sexier and he even had an image.

Thanks for this debate and tbph books could be banned now that we have technology but then the Amish would have a lynch mob :(

P.S. Censorship does work: go to North Korea. ;)
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2013-12-17 20:32:27
nzlockieJudge: nzlockie    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: admin
Ultimately I decided that the "Harm" issue was cancelled out. While I think that Pro could have done a better job at quantifying SOME of the harm done, I didn't buy Con's contention that Pro hadn't quantified enough.
Pro won it for me with the case that Con hadn't demonstrated a scenario where this law would stifle a legit idea. Con already said that effectiveness wasn't really a factor, so his only argument was that it would stifle an idea.

Nothing to add here. I thought it was a pretty good debate really. I'd have liked to award points to both parties.
Keep doing what you do!
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