[eDebate] Concerns with the First Amendment Topic

gabe murillo gabejmurillo
Thu Jun 15 23:09:50 CDT 2006

Here are my concerns with the free speech topic. 

First uniqueness to the Free Speech Good Ground:  

So apparently the core negative ground on this topic
(and the only check against its unpredictable size) is
the ?free speech good da? now, I may not know a lot
about DA?s but I know they need uniqueness (Sarah
Holbrook can tell you a funny story about how little I
really know about the utility of unq). And since the
only way the negative can access their generic impacts
is with a ?slippery slope? -esque internal link, then
it seems they have to win uniqueness for freedom of
speech in whole. This is impossible. A couple
concerns. First, free speech zones, I didn?t cut any
cards on this b/c I know they are out there, the bush
administration restricts free speech now, protesters
are put in cages etc, That alone would destroy the
credibility of your link argument.  

Second, flag burning ? US senate just approved a
constitutional amendment to ban flag burning

Bloomberg.com 6/15/06

<June 15 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate Judiciary
Committee approved a constitutional amendment that
would empower Congress to outlaw flag burning, setting
the stage for an election-year debate about
``desecration'' of the national symbol.
The measure, passed by a vote of 11-7, has already
been approved by a two-thirds majority in the House of
Representatives. To become part of the Constitution,
the amendment must be passed by the same margin in the
Senate and ratified by 38 state legislatures.
The measure would overturn a 1989 Supreme Court
ruling. The justices, voting 5-4, struck down a Texas
law barring flag burning, ruling it restricted freedom
of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.
Supporters argued today the proposed amendment would
restore the power of Congress to decide the
flag-burning issue, not unelected judges.>

And, although the ACLU reminds people that the SC has
struck these statutes down in the pass, the ACLU also
thinks this can pass the senate they?re only one vote
shy check it out at the ACLU website. 

Third is the recent restrictions on funeral protests, 

The Crimson White Online 6/15/06

<However, despite my amusement when I observe how even
evangelical churches condemn Westboro Baptist as a
"hate-group," the new law disturbs me. The Respect For
America's Fallen Heroes Act demonstrates not
reverence, but rather a confluence of two disquieting
political trends. Firstly, it is symbolic of the
silence that is required of those who disagree with
the administration's policies.
It is a strand in a spider web of thought-control
that, as it is woven, increasingly immobilizes free
expression. This policy is only part of the
administration's general willingness to loosely
interpret the Constitution's restrictions on state
power, and nothing good can come of it.>

Fourth, and more prudent to the topic, there is no
constitutional protection of certain areas of speech
now, including libel, obscenity and fighting words, I
believe some has posted about this before, but I will
again (thanks to Josh Gonzalez for this ev)

Corpus Juris Secundum (16B CJS Constitutional Law ?

<Certain classes of speech, such as libel, obscenity,
and fighting words, are not granted constitutional
The First Amendment's right to freedom of speech was
not intended to embrace all subjects,[FN1] and
restrictions upon the content of speech are permitted
in a few limited areas, which are of so little social
value that any benefit that may be derived from them
is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order
and morality.[FN2] Speech that is not protected by the
First Amendment may be subjected to governmental
regulation.[FN3] Thus, no constitutional problem
arises from the prevention and punishment of certain
well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech,
including defamation, incitement to a breach of the
peace or imminent lawless action, threats, obscenity,
pornography produced with real children, and words
which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend
to incite an immediate breach of the peace.>

That last one not only sucks for uniqueness but brings
up some damning questions about whole sections of the

Second, there is no limiting this resolution,

Specifically curtail does not put any sort of limit on
this topic. Which means it is not immune from the
criticisms of the lists topic. These are the
definitions I?ve found online (granted not the best
source, but still, reliable)

The American Heritage Dictionary
cur?tail (k?r-t?l') 
tr.v., -tailed, -tail?ing, -tails.
To cut short or reduce. See synonyms at shorten.

The verb curtail has 2 meanings:
Meaning #1: place restrictions on?  Synonyms:
restrict, curb, cut back
Meaning #2: terminate or abbreviate before its
intended or proper end or its full extent?  Synonyms:
clip, cut short

I?ve never thought I?d ask for a substantially to be
in a resolution, but this one needs it if the first
part of the resolution is meant to limit anything.
Just imagine the tiny affirmatives people have come up
with when this word has been in the resolution, now
imagine that it hadn?t been there. Any aff that does
anything to limit freedom of speech in any way is
topical. That?s scary.  So even if you could win
uniqueness to your ?core negative ground?, any good
affirmative will overrule the decisions in such a way
that they have a very very limited impact on freedom
of speech. The only defense of the topic being so
large is access to this sacred ground, but I don?t
think its guaranteed, and in fact believe most
affirmatives will attempt to minimize the amount the
curtail any freedom of speech. This allows for the
worst type of unpredictability. At least with the list
topic you can read the decisions and predict
affirmatives, with this topic you cannot. Now I know
that the defenders of this topic admit its huge, but
honestly, that is not a defense of how unmanageable
this topic is. Its like a kitten killer admitting to
the crime but assuring the cops that they can still
arrest them. It doesn?t make up for the dead kitten,
and nothing ever will. Not even a new kitten, trust

Third, Being Affirmative:
Alright, I?ve read through a bunch of the cases, and
agree with earlier comments by stannard, cross burning
is the only sustainable interesting aff on this topic.
But my concern about affirmatives is more about how
they will win. I?ll offer one perspective, and urge
others to add more. I have yet to read an answer to
multiple peoples arguments about protecting the
affirmative. Debate has evolved in a way that
seriously favors the negative, and this topic falls
into the same trap that the Indians and China topic
did. I?ll only address the criticism. There are too
many and they are all pretty good against actions like
curtailing free speech. The links are going to be so
good that the permutation is not an option. And the
impact turns, well, they seem super lame. ?The state
maybe good, but not when it curtails the ability of
its citizens to speak? will be in almost every K 2NR,
and I think that judges will buy it a lot of the time.
Good luck winning a rawls / rorty type argument, I
mean honestly, what?s democratic or just about
curtailing free speech? And given the limited
magnitude of a lot of the affirmatives advantages, the
K will just outweigh a lot of the time. I don?t really
know what else to put here, I think I?d have a better
defense if people engaged me on this question, b/c I
am having trouble thinking of good affirmative
answers. I guess the remedy to this inability to win
on the aff is for everyone to run over-identification
affs, so if this topic wins, check out the case books
from last year for a decent solvency card for this
absurd argument. (I?m only half joking on this one).  

I guess this is pretty easy to summarize, this topic
is interesting because on the one hand its really
unpredictably big, which sucks for a lot of people,
but on the other, it doesn?t matter how new your aff
is, generic K strategies may make it un-winnable,
which sucks for a bunch of other people. Not to
mention that all the criticisms of the list topic
apply to this topic as well, the only downside is that
the affirmatives are pretty lame, whereas the list
affirmatives seem pretty sweet (kudos to the topic
committee on their choice of affirmatives for the

That?s what I?ve got for now, 

gabe murillo 
wayne state university

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