Joeral obligation to prohibit
the public expression of hate speech on their campuses.
Alexander, Larry. BANNING HATE SPEECH AND THE STICKS AND STONES DEFENSE. Constitutional Commentary. Spring, 1996
In addressing this issue, I, like most of the scholars, shall take “hate speech” to mean epithets conventionally understood to be insulting references to characteristics such as race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion, and sexual preference.
First, it is insulting, and insults are psychologically wounding and cause emotional distress. Second, it creates unequal opportunity in the school and workplace environments. Third, it silences those who are its targets, depriving them of their freedom of speech. Fourth, it offends by flouting social norms regarding proper verbal behavior. And, fifth, its expression is a speech act that shows disrespect for or even subordinates its targets.
Look, labling something as subjective is not the same as saying it does not
exist or is not important. There are documented studies, I assume, where the
psychological effects of hate speech are shown. That may be subjective in so
far as it will not effect everyone in the same way, but if you were to go
around hitting people, it would hurt them each a little differently (the
strong guys wouldnt be hurt, the old ladies might die).
People are not alawys able to think perfectly rationally – I know hes just an
idiot if he calls me some bad name which I’m not, but I still feel upset and
I think an interesting angle to this is, how much different is hate crime
from ordinary insults? If i call someone a “stupid ignorant jerk” is that
really categorically different than calling someone a racial slur?
I think the intent behind the speech is worth examining. For the “stupid
ignorant jerk” i might just have been upset at them or clash with their
personality. It is an individually directed attack (which I suppose is
better?). But hate speech is taken from false stereotypical ideas about
groups of people and intended to harm, opress, or in some way damage the
targets simply because of their birth.
Allright, thats all I will ramble about for now…
Challenging is different from banning. Banning merely allows
opinions to smolder and gain force over time. Banning also serves
those who are in power. It so happens that today university
administrations are typically liberal. The books or opinions that are
banned are called “hate speech.” “Hate speech” is defined as
speaking derogatorily against minorities. The danger, however, is that
universities may not always be dominated by this type of thinking.
Perhaps speaking badly of capitalists will in the future be called “hate
speech.” Speaking in behalf of Marx will not only earn disdain, it may
call for punishment. Since opinions about revolution, class warfare,
and the incorrigibe vices of capitalists have become banned opinions.
The danger is not in what people say, or how they say it. The problem is the
culture it helps to create. It becomes part of our socialization. For
example, my mom has never seen a commercial or read a magazine article that
said “You should be afraid of all black people”, yet, if she’s walking down
the street and a black person is coming in the other direction, her gut
reaction is going to be to reach for her purse and hold on to it just a
little tighter. There’s no logical reason for this, but she does it anyway.
The danger with hate messages are the subliminal ones. It’s the stereotypes
that we learn and internalize without even realizing that we’re doing it.
Then again, for some, there is still danger in the explicit hate speech as
well. Take for instance, the attacks in Central Park….several of the
attackers were video taped chanting lyrics to songs such as “Like, woah”,
“The Thong Song” and “Gangsta B”. Try telling one of the over 50 women who
were assualted that day that hate speech doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s just talk,
NO one with any intelligence is advocating that the fact that somone is offended is the jutsifying condition for the limitation of hate speech
Furthermore, there’s no independent impact to the arguement: the affirmative is using pretty bright line standards of harm (working on the narrow assumption that oppression is a BAD THING) and the kind of subjective standards you decry are already employed in virtually every sexual harasment and discrimination case, all of which measue subjective mental states by “reasonable man” standards. Furthermore, it’s!
become an almost incredibly stupid dogma among debaters that the marketplace of ideas is simply beyond reproach, requiring no kinds of outside conditions in order to be sustained. Try actually READING On Liberty. Mill says himself that the greatest danger to the free expression of ideas isn’t censorship, but the way cultural conditions prevent us from listening to certain segments of our population. By defining “censorship” in the hopelessly narrow manner ofdirect suppression, we provide a linguistic mask for the very real patterns of exlusion that effectively remove minorities from our deliberation(i smell some discursive impacts, rights talk and critical race theory not being the least among them) . I’m going to quickly tire of negatives devoting almost no critical thought to thier side of the debate, because they can simply regurgitate existing liberal doctrine.
Since the posting of the new resolution there have been various definitions
of the term hate speech. There seem to be two arguments emerging:
1) The stock arguments that hate speech is hard to define., and
2) The argumentation of lets define hate speech absurdly and critique the
Like most LD debaters, I hate definitional debates. Therefore, I think that
we should look to contextual definitons.
Mari Matsuda, in Words that Wound, defines racist speech through three
criteria: 1) the message itself suggests racial inferiority; 2) it is
directed against a historically oppressed group; 3) the message is hateful,
degrading, and persecutory in nature.
Andrew Altman, in Campus Speech Codes, also defines hate speech as meeting
three conditions: first, the speaker must intend to harm another individual
based on specific characteristics (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation);
second, the speech must be directly addressed to the individual; and
finally, the speech must convey hate or contempt for the individual at whom
Id also like to note here that the resolution is limited to the public
expression of hate speech, which means that overly broad definitions of
The two of you are both right the a “slippery slope” argument is a fallacy
and all that. And so with the understanding that I’m not in disagreement,
let me add that I think a modification to slippery slope arguments often
makes them plenty reasonable. The fallacy of the argument is that because X
happens, Z must also happen (often assuming no middle ground- Y- or not
recognizing a “step ladder” of varying levels and extremes upon which to
build a rational understanding of whatever the topic may be). That said, in
arguments regarding hate speech, censorship, and the hypothetical effect
these concepts may have on protection of free speech, it doesn’t seem
unreasonable at all to show how one decision establishes a certain
precident, and that combined with human error and social imperfection, one
precident may happen to lead to the undesirable outcome of Z, or at least a
state of affairs that closely resembles Z. In other words, I think there
can logically be some truth to a similar line of argumentation, so long as
it goes beyond pointing out shallow correlations or assuming some ungodly
series of events will just happen to occur. Sometimes taking a little does
result in taking a lot, and so on. Proving a link or showing a high
probability of a link is the catch, but such is debate.
I found a great book on this.. its’ called “campus Hate speech on trial” by
It provides arguments on both sides, and substantial evidence 4 both
I will admit that the issue of whether accessing such hate speech via the
web constitutes “public expression” is arguable, but your argument here is
that even “posting” hate speech doesn’t involve public expression. Is this
true even if the poster is sending this hate speech to a listserv or webcite
intending it to be seen by many others?
The reason you would maybe even want to bring up the fact that you can
use the internet as a type of public expression is to make the aff’s job
harder. If you can prove that the internet can be used as a type of hate
speech then that means the aff would have to defend prohibiting hate speech
even on the internet on college campuses and that’s just more trouble than
it’s worht. It’s a little petty but hey whatever wins.
Regardless of where servers are located (and it really doesn’t matter), Greg
was right about why internet speech isn’t topical: it’s avoidable. if you
don’t like messages, don’t visit the web site. hate speech on campus isn’t
avoidable to those around; they’re forced to hear the hate group’s messages
and are affected by the speech without their consent. that’s why hate
I think that if “public expression” is defined to include the internet,
good arguments are made to support this contention, and the judge is
convinced that this is the case, then this demonstrates good debating
skills and there is nothing unfair about it.However, if I was Aff, and
I did not want the internet included, then I would use arguments that this
is not how “public expression” is understood in this context, or at least
by most people. You could even point out that it would be *unfair* to
include the internet in this debate (not that this is true). Who knows,
this may be compelling enough for the judge to throw out the internet as
** I think that if “public expression” is defined to include the internet, **
No it isn’t because on the internet you have a choice if you want to view it
or not. Whereas in public expression you have no choice in your listening.
*****No it isn’t because on the internet you have a choice if you want to view it
or not. Whereas in public expression you have no choice in your listening.******
What if I e-mailed a hate message from one computer (on campus) to another computer (on campus)? Would the person receiving the e-mail have a choice in the matter?
Didn’t I already respond to a post like this?? Ok. You say “cyberspace isn’t
on campus.” Where is it then? It is nowhere and everywhere at the same time.
There is NO definitive location for cyberspace. It exists anywhere that a
modem port is available and the software is accessable. Colleges have this,
therefore, cyberspace IS on campus. Please understand that there isn’t just
a cyberspace headquarters where the Cyberspace is located.
If I could sue someone every time I walked down the street and heard something I didn’t want to hear, I’d be a rich gal. I suppose I just use common sense in those situations. On the affirmative, you want to make a stronger argument. Instead of deliniating between seeing something and hearing it, and justifying or dejustifying something based on this flimsy and somewhat arbitrary distinction, try arguing that hate speech *isn’t* just speech and has stronger reprecussions. Make the distinction between ***regular speech*** and ***hate speech*** instead.
1) The people who log onto the website choose to view the site. And when
choice is involved it becomes private speech.
We’re talking about in a university which has the ability to control ideas to
fit its ends. A university can’t control other non-university server
websites whether it wants to or not.
cyberspace, because cyberspace is just that, cyberspace and
we ought to restrict speech when the speaker’s intention is
to harm. Extend assault and battery laws to speech. If a
speaker utters hateful speech with the intent to harm
another, restrict him. Note here that I would draw the line
based on the speaker’s intent, not whether the listener
finds offense. Freedom of speech doesn’t prohibit
offensiveness, simply intended harm.
The obvious objection is that it’s difficult to discern a
speaker’s intent. True. But, again, we face these problems
in other areas of the law where intent must be measured,
and we ought to be able to do it in the context of speech.
The answer is not censorship, it is good to hear opposing views hateful or
not because this opens the market place of ideas which sparks debate and
ultimately truth (in this case the end to hate speech by ignorant views being
righted). However, we are not arguing whether or not hate speech should be
there, but the morality of it on college campuses. When your example throws
the hate speech pamphlet to the floor this make it a choce not to READ it,
thus making the pamphlet private speech which is not topical. Reading, via
the internet, pamphlet, or books, provides a choice. Thus these are all
types of private speech and are not topical. However, you cannot choose not
to hear someone on their soap box in the quad, and this is what we should b
arguing not whether the internet is public speech on campus.
possibly contribute to the marketplace cuz there is no
expression of true “ideas”, only personal, biased opinions
of the individual. what great revelation could hate speech
possibly provide that could not be brought about in any
Keep in mind that ALL ideas contribute to the MPI. No matter what the idea
is or what it isn’t, it ALWAYS contributes. If the idea is a biased bit of
purely negative hate speech, this does help the MPI. How? It teaches those
involved in the MPI (society) that this hate speech is either a good or a bad
thing. This is the aspect of hate speech that contributes. Just because it
is a societally-shunned idea does not mean it doesn’t contribute to the MPI,
*now see, the idea i have with neg is to propose a counter moral
*obligation, some kind of obligation that the university has to allow
You are on the right track here. I do not believe it is the task of a
university to enforce conformity, which is what PC speech codes are
could you not say that universities have a moral obligation to prepare students
for the real world? in every level of education, one of the professed goals of
the institution is to prep the student for the next level of education. well in
a university, the next level can often be interpreted as going out into the
speakers intent: defined as such, hate speech would be vague and difficult to
determine because it would be easy for the speaker to say that their intent was
one thing when it was actually another. however, i like this because it could
keep you away from having to deal with different people’s sensitivity levels.
one person may be offended by a remark while another who could be in the
targeted group as well would laugh at the joke. by looking at intent there is
only one person who you have to consider, the speaker.
listeners reaction: the listener is the one who ultimately determines whether
they consider certain speech offensive. in the rez, perhaps you could look at
not the targeted groups reaction, but the university as an entity’s reaction.
would they find offense to the statement? also, when you look at “hate”, it is
the way a person feels right? so then in the phrase “hate speech”, do you look
at the hate that a speaker feels towards a targeted group or is it the hate
that the group interprets in the actual speech?
(a) hate speech isn’t “wrong” and (b) in any event, tolerating “wrong”
speech is part of the learning/growth/educational process, perhaps via some
of the moi arguments advanced on this list.
Here’s a freebie from Sumon Dantiki:
Alrighty, let’s start with the affirmative side of this topic.
The two most important words of this topic to the affirmative (it’d be very stupid not to define them) are ‘moral obligation’. Successful affirmative debaters must frame their arguments and cases in the context of duty. To this extent, the affirmative debater must be careful not to fall into the trap of the status quo situations, which focus on legal obligations. There is a clear difference between moral and legal obligations that the affirmative must maintain in the round. For instance, if I (for the sake of a debate example) wrote hateful propaganda for the KKK (or any other hate group) I’m within my legal rights of free speech but I’d acting immorally because my actions unjustly harm innocent people.
So what does the affirmative have to prove? Well, as I see it, the affirmative position rests on two main arguments 1) hate speech is immoral due to its inherent harmful nature 2) Colleges and Universities ought to be the specific agents whom the burden of combating that immorality (hate speech) falls upon.
I think the first contention is almost self-evident and will be easily won/conceded in most rounds; the second argument is a bit more difficult. In order to prove that the duty of prohibiting hate speech falls upon colleges and universities, you must prove that students are entitled to protection from the college. To this extent you might even want to look at the mission statements of colleges. Generally, the college outlines that its purpose is to provide a safe academic environment, in effect, it has a duty to protect against forces which would disrupt that. Students pay money (in my case too much money) to attend college and learn without being the target of hate speech. Thus, when this learning environment is harmed, the burden of restoring it falls upon the university.
I think justice (as always) is a good value for the affirmative positions, with a criteria of duties. Another approach would be the idea of reciprocal obligations, which would outline the duties a student and university owe each other.
Just as the affirmative tries to keep the round in philosophical terms, the negative must bring the debate to a semi-practical level. It’d be great if simply affirming the resolution would remove hate speech from college campuses without a detriment, but that’s placing an enormous amount of power in the hands of a university or college. Remember as the negative it’s not your job to support hate speech or to even solve the problem of hate speech, instead just focus on consequences university censorship and link that to your value.
For the negative position, individual rights, or liberty seems to be the natural value. Focus on the individual’s perspective; a good source to refer to would be John Stuart Mill’s classic On Liberty. In this work, Mill outlines the idea of rights (pardon my paraphrasing) as extending so far as they don’t infringe upon the rights of another. Basically the concept that my right to fail my arms about wildly ends only when I hit your nose. or anyone else’s nose. The negative should consider advocating the position that hate speech, taken in isolation, does not violate any rights. This is a tricky, and unpopular, stance so I’d advise you to approach it with some tact, but if you can pull it off it’ll make your case a lot stronger.
Another argument to consider is the idea of a “slippery slope”. As this argument is often used by the ACLU, it fits right in with the idea of individual rights. Essentially, if the university is given the right to censor what students can say, where does it end? By giving our right to speak our mind over to a university, don’t we partially give up our right to think freely? In fact, if you looked at the mission statements of most universities today, most of them try to encourage diverse ideas. Hate speech, no matter how repulsive, is simply an idea and the moment society collectively censors ideas its members are no longer free.
Finally, the negative should also consider who’s making the “hate speech”. There was a case in the University of Texas where a professor made remarks, considered by some as hate speech, yet retained his job despite student protest. Also, Stanford University passed a hate speech censorship code which was quickly challenged by law students and eventually struck down in court. As you brainstorm ideas for this topic, please remember that I certainly haven’t thought of everything nor are my ideas foolproof. I’d also like to welcome the new novice debaters “into the fold”; this activity is a lot of fun, even though the work might seem daunting at times.
Hate Speech, eh? Back to school days on campus, and fittingly enough, we have a campus topic. Good show. So much has been said on hate speech and regulating the content of speech. While we have long had restrictions on time/place/manner of speech, hate speech offers a new idea, to restrict speech based solely on its content. It is a dangerous precedent. I am not going to bury you with more rhetoric about the problem. It is fairly obvious, such as, what is next to be restricted?
The first issue I want to address that is specific to the wording of this topic is the term moral obligation. What does a moral obligation entail? Does it require action? If it does not, what benefit is derived from noticing the problem and doing nothing? Does a moral obligation prevent action because it is a moral and not a legal obligation? Adding the term moral obligation opens up the issue in a nice way for discussion. The easy question for your opponent is if hate speech is bad, what should colleges do?
Remember, the topic is not about passing judgment on hate speech. It does not ask if hate speech is good or bad, justified or not. It assumes it is bad, unjustified. The topic asks whether colleges should have a moral obligation to prohibit it or not. Easily, most debates will have both sides agreeing that hate speech is bad. The question is what to do about it. Such is the nature of all good discussions.
Prohibit should mean some for of restriction sanctified by law. Doesnt this term in the resolution settle the moral or legal issue from above? If the focus of the debate is to prohibit hate speech that must imply action. There is a huge distinction between prohibiting hate speech and discouraging hate speech, and the difference is the amount of action you take to stop the hate speech.
I know this is short for a topic analysis, but I think most debaters readily understand the free speech ideas that underlie this entire discussion. Instead I choose to focus on issues specific to this topic.
The obvious comparison on this topic is to last year’s Sep/Oct topic regarding cultural sensitivity. While your cards from that topic may come in handy, here are a couple of points to keep in mind:
* Hate speech is more narrow than “culturally insensitive speech.” Most colleges and universities define hate speech as (1) specifically targeting an individual as a member of a minority group, and (2) intending to degrade or demean that individual or group. On the cultural sensitivity topic you could argue that the affirmative was obligated to defend speech that was accidentally offensive; here, the speaker must specifically intend to degrade another in order for his speech to qualify as “hate speech.”
* Here, the government is not doing the censoring. Universities are already restricted environments, and school officials exercise power to control student’s access to information and freedom of speech in ways which we would not tolerate if done by a government agency. Although “students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate,” the standard First Amendment vagueness and slippery slope arguments will not avail the negative debater much on this topic.
* Understand that while almost everyone will run “the marketplace of ideas” on the negative, that such a justification for freedom of speech is probably weakest in the hate speech context. First, the marketplace of ideas reduces speech to mere instrumental value, rather than intrinsic worth, and exposes the debater to criticism that the link is empirically false Second, the marketplace of ideas rests upon an analogy which may prove tenuous in the campus context. And third, the marketplace of ideas is subject to inherent limitations and restrictions which may encompass hate speech. Know your John Stuart Mill!
* Critical race theory is obviously a fertile ground for many advanced affirmatives on this topic. Know the best ways to critique the Enlightenment philosophies and the racist assumptions underlying those philosophies. Don’t be afraid to offer a kritik-style position in the round which urges the judge to take a brave stand against racism.
* Watch for the paradox: the more entrenched racism is in our society, and thus the worse the harms, the more the negative will contend that the affirmative can’t solve for those harms. Be sure to tell why the judge’s vote matters.
A quick online search for “hate speech” or “campus speech codes” will turn up literally thousands of web pages. Good luck, and we’ll be back with more in a week.
Thats the whole flaw in this resolution. really there is no way to establish
hate speech, because what is hate speech to one person is just speech or
expression to another person. hate speech, morality they are both subjective
which makes the neg so easy but the aff so difficult unless of course you get
The slippery slope is a fallacy because it occurs when the conclusion of an
argument rests upon an alleged chain reaction and there is not sufficient
reason to think that the chain reaction will actually take place. Basically,
when someone commits the slippery slope fallacy they depend on the
supposition that X causes Y, whereas X probably will not cause Y at all. The
link between the premise and conclusion depends on some imagined causal
connection that probably doesn’t exist
Ok, back out of round. If this debater tells us that we set a dangerous
precedent, OK. If he/she says that we begin to grant authorities too much
power with regards to our speech (for whatever reason), this is also OK. If
the debater argues that one restriction to speech encourages risky actions
amongst those who gots all the megapowers (and then explains), this would
also be fantabulicious. The problem stems from the suggestion that there is
somehow a direct causal relationship between saying NO to Backstreet Boy
death threats, and saying NO to any other unrelated speech. The debater
assumes a slippery slope from policy A to policy B (which would undoubtedly
be horrid and fascist policy that might lead to nuclear holocaust).
that is not true at all. Any speech that makes derogatory generalizations
about people of particular colors, religions, and whatnot is hate speech
to everybody. The Neo Nazis know just as well as everyone else that their
message is rooted in hate, and what’s more, they are the first to say so,
Over the past couple days, I’ve finally gotten to do quite a bit of reading
on the topic. It seems to me that the aff has quite a burden to
overcome–hate speech codes on college campuses have in many instances been
rejected because of two key reasons–(1) hate speech codes can be viewed as
particularly suspect because they restrict speech due to “content.” It is
particularly difficult to maintain a strong value of freedom of speech while
allowing the “content” of the speech to be regulated. Many Supreme Court
justices, as divergent in political philosophy as William Douglas to Antonin
Scalia, have written powerfully concerning this, and they make a lot of
sense. (2) many speech codes have also been overturned judicially because of
“overbreadth” and “vagueness,” two tendencies which seem almost
intrinsically linked with any attempt to (a) define exactly what can be
restricted because it is overly hateful, or (b) let victimized groups define
I know everybody and their novices will be running critical race theorists
on this topic, talking about psychological harm and silencing, etc. This
pretty much means, I think, that if you want to advocate from this position,
you also must agree with CRT folks that personal experience and narratives
of the oppressed ought to carry heavy weight in defining what is and isn’t’
hate speech. Additionally, most CRT folks recommend that only “historically
oppressed” groups ought to be defended from hateful expression. All of
this, it seems to me, causes great problems in crafting regulations which
aren’t at once likely to be very subjectively defined as well as very
debatable. Who has been or hasn’t been “historically oppressed” is a matter
of considerable difference of opinion.
Second, this idea of vagueness can plausibly apply to any
restriction. The way that we look at the vagueness of a rule is two-fold:
1) How uncertain or vague is the idea of the law? And 2) How significant is
the harm that the restriction is working against? I think that a good aff
will cover that ground or at least be able to do so.
If we live in a society in which hate speech codes are being considered for college campuses, then it is a given that hate speech exists in other places within the society. Keeping that in mind, all the Neg. would have to prove is that it is better not to shelter the students from the real world.
*In my mind, one of the most applicable Supreme Court cases to
*regulating speech based upon content is that of Chaplinksy v. New
*Hampshire. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the First
*Amendment did not protect “fighting words.”
1) Minor point: Has anyone else noticed how often New Hampshire
shows up in landmark free speech cases? (In addition to
Chaplinsky, one also finds Cox v. New Hampshire 1941, Poulos
v. New Hampshire 1953, Wooley v. Maynard 1977–this is the
case about the “Live Free or Die” license plates, etc.) Weird.
2) Major point: Chaplinsky was a unanimous 1942 decision, but
the court began eroding it almost before the ink was dry. There
have been any number of subsequent decisions which all but killed
the so-called “fighting words” doctrine. Take a look at Cohen
v. California 1971, for instance, or Gooding v. Wil