Debate Info

Yes. No.
Debate Score:4
Total Votes:4
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Argument Ratio

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 Yes. (1)
 No. (1)

Debate Creator

coachkevinhe(33) pic

Is it possible to protect freedom of speech and limit cyberbullying?


You are a major funder of a nonprofit aimed at improving young people’s mental health. You believe strongly that online harassment and demeaning messages — often known as cyberbullying — are a serious problem among teens.

You have assembled an advisory team to explore the many ways your funding could support anti-cyberbullying initiatives. Your team is composed of educators, mental health experts, media professionals and lawyers.

The educators and mental health professionals think your organization should push for a nationwide law that would make cyberbullying a crime. They argue that teenagers are especially susceptible to mental health issues such as depression and even suicide, and that cyberbullying won’t be taken seriously until there is a federal law against it. They say that protecting the mental health of the country’s youth should be your first priority and that the First Amendment should not be used to protect speech intended to harm others.

The media professionals and lawyers, however, think your money should be spent to teach teens positive online habits and how to remain resilient in the face of abusive online content. They argue that supporting a law to criminalize cyberbullying is a waste of money because the Supreme Court would eventually strike it down as a violation of the First Amendment. The lawyers cite cases where state supreme courts have overturned state laws against cyberbullying for this reason. The media professionals are also concerned about setting precedents that could have a chilling effect on all free speech.

After hearing both arguments, you must decide the best way to spend your time and money.

Should you back a nationwide law against cyberbullying?


Side Score: 2


Side Score: 2
2 points

I believe there is a big misinterpretation about what constitutes free speech in the United States. The first amendment is not a catch-all and in fact many types of speech are not protected under the first amendment. See:-

Categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment (and therefore may be restricted) include obscenity, fraud, child pornography, speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, speech that violates intellectual property law, true threats, and commercial speech such as advertising.

Side: Yes.
Mongele(486) Clarified
2 points

Thanks for your well researched comments.

It's good to know that we're not living in an, 'anything goes society'' and there are those who have listed out the taboo zones of expression.

Side: Yes.
2 points

i believe that it is not possible to protect the freedom of speech and limit cyber bullying. that is because the internet is slowly becoming more and more like 4Chan. additionally, it really depends on the person and their mental capacity. if they can take a hit online from some trolls and radicals, then it should not be a problem. but in the case of someone that does not have a high mental capacity, then they will not be able to take it and they might do something stupid. in conclusion, if you want to limit cyber bullying and preserve freedom of speech, the people using it online needs to toughen up and deal with the toxic online community.

Side: No.