Protection Of The Commercial Use Of Free Speech “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea morally offensive or disagreeable.” It is because I believe these words by Justice Brennan, I stand for the negation of today’s resolution, that “When they Conflict, Respect for….. Cultural Sensitivity Ought To Be Valued Above Commercial Use of Free Speech.” My value for today’s debate is that of Free expression, which I will define as the freedom to express our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs, freely and openly, without restraint. My criteria is the degree to which free speech is allowed in the business environment. I have three contentions to support my value of Free Expression, and to negate the resolution. My first contention is, It is virtually impossible to avoid offending someone’s culture in our multi-cultural society.
Second, Freedom of speech is based on our valuing the autonomy of individuals to make informed decisions. My third contention is that there is no moral responsibility of the commercial media to suppress certain speech because it violates some cultural sensitivity. My first contention is It is virtually impossible to avoid offending someone’s culture in our multi-cultural society. As Edward J. Eberle states, “One man’s vulgarity, is another man’s lyric.”.
The concept of cultural sensitivity is too vague a concept to be enforced. One can intend no offense, and yet offense can be taken. How many people must be offended before it constitutes cultural insensitivity? In a country that will tolerate hate speeches by the Ku Klux Klan in the name of free speech, it is unreasonable to limit the commercial use of free speech because someone might be offended by a commercial. Let the general public determine what is offensive and they will react with disfavor. If the public felt strongly enough to boycott products and services because they were offended by a company’s advertising, that company will pull the add. That is the American way, and it works. My second contention is that, Freedom of speech is based on our valuing the autonomy of individuals to make informed decisions.
The resolution suggests that it would be wise to remove certain types of information from the public- those that violate the cultural sensitivity of some people. The resolution also suggests that individual members of our culture are not capable of making informed decisions on matters of cultural sensitivity. No one cultural outlook is so privileged that it cannot or should not be included in the testing that occurs in the marketplace of ideas. If we as a society ever get to the point that we view the diminishing of freedom of speech as moral, we endanger our ability to live in a free society. Because the resolution asks that we as a society we adopt a moral stance that can only be seen as changing the way free speech operates in our society, it cannot be affirmed. My third and last contention is that there is no moral responsibility of the commercial media to suppress certain speech because it violates some cultural sensitivity.
The responsibility of the commercial media is to their audience and shareholders. This is the moral basis of capitalism- to meet the needs of the people in a free society. Consumers enter the marketplace to satisfy their needs. If by chance members of a specific culture are offended by media content, they are under no obligation to consume the products. They can put the book down.
They can turn of their Television. They can leave the theater when an offensive movie is playing. They can also form boycotts against specific products and companies. These are the rights of the consumer. Because Free expression is a basic American value, and limitations on it should be minimized, and because the concept of cultural sensitivity is too ambiguous, I ask you to join me in negating the resolution.