I have a debate in school!I'm supposed to be opposing to the topic "free speech on the internet".Please give me some possible points to support my team:DI know that it will cause people affected by...

I have a debate in school!I'm supposed to be opposing to the topic "free speech on the internet".

Please give me some possible points to support my team:D

I know that it will cause people affected by it to get mentally and physically damaged.

Expert Answers
enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Opposing Free Speech on the Internet" is not quite defining the problem.  The purpose of government is  to safeguard rights, which is what Amendment #1 of the Bill of Rights upholds.  What should be expressly forbidden is infringement on someone else's rights. In that context, anyone should be able to post whatever they please on the Internet. Where they should be forbidden from doing so is when it would impact another's rights, and these are clear cases -- child pornography, slander, libel; however, these last 2 points can be considered to be their own test -- the old saying goes "It's not slander if it's true!" in which case it should be able to be printed or stated. The careful points on your argument center around the "Politcally Correct."  I don't like reading statements or finding websites that promote hate, violence, or topics that I don't care for; but that's my decision.  What I find objectionable someone else may find acceptable, and I have no right to force my objections upon them through censorship.  Even if a majority deems it "correct" to do so, it should not be done because that would be interfering with another's rights to read whatever they pleased. 

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first amendment of The Bill of Rights is considered the backbone of individual civil liberties, however in American society it is sometimes difficult to balance individual freedoms such as freedom of speech against the needs of the greater society. The Bill of Rights states "Freedom of Speech" but does not define what that is. In our society in the role of the Supreme Court to interpret those three powerful words. In essense the court clarifies what is vague. If you are on the side of opposing freedom of speech on the internet you can argue that Congress should impose regulations regarding content on the internet. This will surely bring about law suits in which the Constitutionality of such regulations are tested. In our society we have the freedom to agree to disagree, which means personal morality is just that, personal. What is freedom of speech to one might be considered discrimination to another. The Supreme Court is the venue which has defined freedom of speech in other aspects of our society, and you can argue that Congressional legislation and regulation interpreted by the Supreme court will ultimately apply to the internet.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That's a good start, but extend that thought. Why are there limits to free speech other than on the internet? Think of the examples that are usually given, such as yelling "Fire!" in a crowded place. Libel and slander are other examples.  Libel is defaming or misrepresenting someone in print; slander is doing the same thing by talking.  How can that relate to your side of the debate?

The rest is difficult.  People would rather not have things that promote hate out there on the net, just as in print or speech. But it is so difficult to draw the line between what is acceptable and what is not, or to decide who gets to be the arbitor, that people tend to allow the speech, and argue against it rather than attempting to ban it.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Free speech is fundamental to our society, but the Internet is invasive. Our life on the Internet is important to us. It is close to us. We put ourselves out there, and often share intimate details about our lives. Because of this, we feel especially violated when we are attacked online. Cyberbullying is as serious as ordinary bullying, but also even more dangerous because the bully follows the victim into his or her personal private space. It is easy to relentless bully a person using technology. Text messages, Facebook wall posts, instant messages and e-mail stalk us just as painfully as traditional bullying.
engtchr5 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One site you might want to look at is the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). This is the group that regulates what can and cannot be spoken, written, or transmitted by way of the media at large. Their restrictions on broadcast, in particular, may prove beneficial to your arguments limiting what should and should not be allowed as "free speech" on the internet.

As an American federal government entity, their rules fall into line with the standards of our democratic republic, and therefore their limitations can be used as examples of how freedom can be sensibly regulated.

morrol eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One argument that you can use is "cyber bullying". Find evidence of the pain and injury that this bullying can cause.

Another argument is centered on pornography. Discuss the negative impact and the over sexualizing of children because of the availability of Internet pornography. 

alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Definitely using hate speech as a support can help to defend your side.  There have been cases of teenagers commiting suicide based on harassment on the internet.  Also hate sites can cause emotional abuse to certain groups of people. 

frizzyperm | Student

If you need to 'oppose free speech on the internet' then you could include the following arguments in support of your argument...

  1. The internet is an extremely powerful new tool. Its social impact is still unknown. Until the internet is fully understood, it would be sensible to control it.
  2. The internet is an unregulated international 'space', anybody in the world can use it. It is a very valuable tool for terrorists. We should not make it easy for terrorists.
  3. No society in the world has ever had completely free speech. The Internet should reflect this 'pragmatic approach' to free speech and should be controlled.
  4. Surveys show that most people think the Internet should be controlled.
  5. Some members of society are not capable of recognising lies and propanganda, they should be protected from mis-information.
  6. The large number of Americans who currently believe 'conspiracy theories' that they read on the internet proves that the internet is incapable of self-filtering dangerous nonsense. False Information on the internet should be controlled.
  7. The internet is a very useful tool for criminals, the public should be protected from criminals.
  8. In order to protect freedom we must sometimes restrict it.

I hope they are useful. I personally don't believe them, (except maybe for No.1 a little). Also, it is ironic you are asking this question on the net and getting lots of 'free speech' opinions and answers. :-)

rlendensky | Student

I think a good basis for this arguement could start with what lynn30k said, first start with ways in which free speech is limited in non-internet purposes. For instance, use court cases such as Brandenburg, Miller, etc. Bring up examples of slanderous and libelous phrases. Then you can use the evolving contemporary moral standards doctrine in order to properly apply previous decisions to modern society. For instance, the internet rather than mail can be regarded as the number one form of communication now, and that modern society views the internet as more influential than say other forms of communication. However, expect rebuttles based mainly on the first amendment. It will be very important to bring up different instances in which speech CAN be limited in order to refute the "absolute free speech" arguement.

Good luck with your debate!