Instigator / Pro

free speech should not include hate speech


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
Better sources
Better legibility
Better conduct

After 5 votes and with 35 points ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
Three days
Max argument characters
Voting period
One month
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Contender / Con

pro . free speech should not include hate speech
con . free speech includes hate speech

pro waives the first round and con wavies the last

Round 1
i say i will wave so here you go oragami. 
Thank you Username1,  great topic!


NOTE:  In the absence of any definition of terms in DESCRIPTION, CON submits the following:


FREE SPEECH is [NOUN] "the right to express an opinion in public without being restrained or censored," or "speech that is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

HATE SPEECH is [NOUN] "Speech that attacks or disparages a person or group of persons on the basis of origin, race, nationality, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability."   


Wikipedia advises:

"When two parties are in a discussion and one makes a claim that the other disputes, the one who makes the claim typically has a burden of proof to justify or substantiate that claim especially when it challenges a perceived status quo. This is also stated in Hitchens's razor, which declares that "what may be asserted without evidence, may be dismissed without evidence."

As the instigator of this debate, PRO bears the entire burden of proof in this debate, in spite of waiving the first round.  PRO must present evidence establishing that all categories and instances of hate speech ought not to be protected and PRO may not merely refute CON's argument.  To win this debate, CON only needs to show that at least some hate speech is properly protected by the human right to free speech.


Let's agree that FREEDOM of SPEECH is a fundamental and inalienable human right and as such government abridgements of that right ought to be limited to specific cases where the harm done to others clearly outweighs the civic benefits of that liberty.

  • As the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen elucidates:
    • "Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law."
  • or as John Stuart Mill codified in On Liberty:
    • "The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right... The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."
  • CON agrees with Mill's conception of debate and indeed all public discourse as a "marketplace of ideas," and that even the best-intended legislation restricting the subjects of that marketplace prevents us from demonstrating the entire truth or entire falsity of some ideas.  
    • For example, "a women's place is in the home" was a popular anti-feminist phrase of the 1960's that clearly qualifies as disparagement on the basis of gender and so is an example of HATE SPEECH.  
      • The sentiment is easily disproved by women's capable contributions across the entire spectrum of human achievement but nevertheless, there are individuals who hold this sentiment to be true. 
        • A government designation of HATE SPEECH may prevent such individuals from speaking that sentiment in public but such legislation is unlikely to change minds.
        • Further, the government restriction suppressing free speech of that sentiment denies the wrongheaded individual opportunities for check, correction, confrontation, education, rebuttal in the marketplace ideas.
          • We can agree that a very minor harm is preempted by such suppression but the same legislation
            • Encourages the private continuance of false opinion by those individuals by lack of correction and
            • Discourages the very debate from which any correction flows.
              • That is, a wrong-headed individual may disseminate his sexist opinion privately and avoid public correction and so the public discourse is never debated and the correct argument and proofs never presented to new learners.
CON argues this lost opportunity for correction as well as the continuance and dissemination of false information that follow that lack of correction represent a far greater harm to the community than the generic disparagement of women in a public, contestable venue.
    • Furthermore, we should consider that public correction or condemnation may offer its own therapeutic value and so offset some of the harm inflicted.

The definition of HATE SPEECH is ambiguous at best.

  • The adjective hate when used to modify the noun speech elicits a conclusion that is not universally true for all qualities of HATE SPEECH
    • The phrase "smaller than the salad section of a Scottish supermarket" is certainly an attack and a denigrating generalization of Scottish people and so, certainly HATE SPEECH by definition.
      • However, in almost any context, the phrase can also be seen as humorous hyperbole demonstrating a fraternal familiarity with that nation and her foibles.
      • If a statement  can be HATE SPEECH without any evidence of truly hateful content, doesn't that suggest that adjective itself is too imprecise for use as a limit of legal sanction?
    • Before a World Cup match, an Englishman might deride his French opponents as "cheese eating surrender monkeys" in the style of  Homer Simpson, which would certainly be an attack and a denigrating generalization against the French and so qualify as HATE SPEECH.
      • But in the context of sporting competition, hate seems an excessive adjective to apply.  Certainly, in another context, the same Englishman would likely refrain from any such sentiment- remembering the mutual sacrifices made at the Battle of the Somme, for example.
      • If  HATE SPEECH  can seem hateful in one context but then seem merely sporting in another context, doesn't that suggest that HATE SPEECH by itself and as defined does not represent the whole picture of the type of speech we intend to prohibit?
        • In fact, a huge proportion of what we call comedy also qualifies as HATE SPEECH.  If such speech can not be protected from prohibition, must we forgo much of what we think of as funny?

Corollary to CON2 is the argument that governments can exploit the ambiguity present in the adjective HATE to protect governments themselves from critique- the opposite of Free Speech's  original formal intent.

    • For example, 12 activists in France were convicted of HATE SPEECH for wearing T-shirts reading "“Long live Palestine, boycott Israel” and handing out fliers that focused exclusively on the public policy of governments rather than any one group of origin or sect.

Lastly, it is important to recognize that some legitimate HATE SPEECH is also true speech.

  • Richard Dawkins once famously tweeted that "a fact can't be racist" in defense of an earlier post claiming  "All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge."  But Dawkins is clearly wrong.  Much of what clearly qualifies as HATE SPEECH must also be recognized as true.
  •  Last month, the Russian government filed a criminal case against Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram for its decision to permit HATE SPEECH based against people of Russian Nationality to continue on its platforms in light of such HATE SPEECH's use as a rallying cry for the Democratic resistance against the brutal, totalitarian, genocidal incursions into Ukraine by the Russian Army.
    • There's no doubt that calling for the violent resistance against the Russian invaders qualifies as HATE SPEECH but there's also little doubt that the claims of active genocide by Russian soldiers and war crimes against peace-loving civilians are true.
      • Furthermore, basic principles of human rights demands that particular, truthful HATE SPEECH be spoken publicly and often repeated until the genocide is ended and the war criminals brought to justice.
    • Facebook has even gone so far as to allow posts calling for the quick death or assassination of Russia's president Vladimir Putin  to stand unrestricted, in spite of the hypocrisy of disallowing similar posts against other individuals arguably deserving of death.
      • Undeniably HATE SPEECH by any definition,  but if a war killing thousands each day can be halted by the single death of just one manifestly dangerous dictator as is the case in Ukraine today, can anybody be faulted for preferring the lesser evils of one just assassination?
Sometimes, even HATE SPEECH is speech that must be spoken in the name of justice.  Sometimes, even HATE SPEECH is the only speech available that gets at the truth.  If we agree that HATE SPEECH is sometimes true and we agree that governments at least always owe the people the freedom to know what is true, then we must conclude that not all HATE SPEECH can be excluded from the language that governments protect as FREE SPEECH. 

For these reasons, we must conclude that some HATE SPEECH is properly protected by our human right to FREE SPEECH and PRO proposition, however argued, must undoubtedly fail to persuade.

I look forward to PRO's opening argument.


Round 2
Thanks, username1.

Technically, I am on my final refutation here but the affirmative has yet to make an argument for me to refute.  I will extend all arguments from Round 1 and will continue to expect to waive my Round 3 per debate description.

However, if PRO does make an argument in the final round, I will now reserve the right to make a rebuttal in Round 3 in spite of the debate description and in light of the fact that I haven't had any chance at refutation.

Thanks to VOTERS for their kind consideration.
Please VOTE CON!
Round 3
Thank you Username1.  

Per debate description, I wavy round 3.

Thanks to VOTERS for their kind consideration.
Please VOTE CON!