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    Topic: Multiculturalism

    Resolution: In Europe a person should be held criminally responsible for hateful comments about any religion.

    Affirmative: Spanish team
    Negative: Hungarian team
    Moderator: Latvian team
    Judges: Greek team

    Dear Debaters,
    Thank you for taking part in this debate and for expressing so interesting arguments and opinions. We were very happy to see that the rules of this debate were respected. It was obvious to us that each speaker made his own research. All speeches were well written and, what is most important, were fresh and original. We know that this resolution has difficulties, especially for young people who, usually, are not religiously involved and certainly don’t share hatred for people that share different religious beliefs. So we appreciate your effort even more! We also realize that this resolution is mostly based on the development of argumentation rather than researches and data. This was another difficulty you had to encounter, since the conceptualization and elaboration of such arguments is a pretty demanding task for young people.

    So here is our evaluation:

    Speaker A1
    Carla started the debate with a clear and interesting speech. She starts with her first task, to define the key issue of the topic. However, she chooses to define the term “hate speech”, which is quite different from the “hateful comments”. The term “hate speech” shall be understood as covering all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred and intolerance (RECOMMENDATION No. R (97) 20, OF THE COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS TO MEMBER STATES ON “HATE SPEECH”), whereas hateful comments refer only to the use of language.
    She successfully summarizes the main arguments of her team and presents her argument: the need to limit free speech. However, we think that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the U.N. is not the best quotation to support her argument, especially since the resolution refers to Europe. This Pact was written in 1966, was only signed by 74 states (out of 168)[https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=IND&mtdsg_no=IV4&chapter=4&lang=e] and aimed to world peace and stability mostly between states, trying to bind states to respect human rights. She only supports her argument with this citation, without any explanation of her own.
    In her answer she identifies “hate speech” with “hate comments”, which is not quite correct, but that way she has the chance to complete her definition.
    POINTS : 24

    Speaker N1
    Zoltan quite successfully starts with the clarification of the term “hateful comments”, pointing out the weakness of affirmative’s definition (“hateful comment is an expression of a personal opinion”). However, it is not quite obvious to the reader why it “becomes hateful when anyone gets offended by it” or why a hateful comment “does not imply an attack” and “only questions and criticizes”. Questioning and criticizing religious beliefs is expressing careful remarks or comments of disapproval, not hatred. He fails to support this definition with arguments or evidence.
    He refutes the argument given by the A1 Speaker with a very clever reference to the EC Resolution 1510, also used by the affirmative speaker, which strengthens his case. He doesn’t introduce his team line, but he presents their main argument, the need of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. However, he claims that the right of free speech shouldn’t be limited more than it already is, because dialogue can reinforce the tolerance between different religious groups. We find this argument weak, because “hateful comments” cannot be considered as a dialogue.
    Of course we understand that the challenge of the definition “consumed” a lot of the 300 available words. The answer to the question reminds of sophistic reasoning. He is asked about “the right of offending someone on purpose” and he is answering about the “right of free speech” and “criticism”. But criticism and offence are not synonyms, since the latter is connected with lack of respect, violation of moral and social code.

    POINTS : 23

    Speaker A2
    Miguel’s argument is that hateful religious comments should be further regulated in order to establish the coexistence of religions in a multicultural society. In his speech, there isn’t any rebuttal of N2’s arguments. He seems to agree with the previous speaker more than refute his argumentation (“precisely, as you said” “as you said”).
    In the first two paragraphs of his speech, the speaker talks about the need to set limits for protecting religious beliefs and social peace. Then he speaks about the consequences of absence of limits (“If there is no limit”). These thoughts are quite vague, especially since both previous speakers accepted that there are limits in freedom of expression (in the existing legislation). Furthermore, they are not clearly connected to the resolution (hateful comments – criminal responsibility). Even the reference to the social pact concept doesn’t lead the reader to the speaker’s case: the criminalization of hateful comments. The argumentation is imprecise, generally based on moral talk about respect (“concepts as respect… community”, “that doesn’t… religion”, “if you don’t … does”), which we all accept as ethical correct, but doesn’t really answer the question, if criminalization is necessary.
    The answer to the question clarifies the connection between social pact and religious tolerance. However, we have the feeling that both the speaker who asks and the speaker who answers have strayed from the resolution.

    POINTS : 23

    Speaker N2
    From the beginning of her speech, Sara restores the debate to the resolution. She repeats her team’s case as well as the difference between hate speech and hateful comments (which was not necessary, since there is a strict word limit and Speaker N2 clarified it). Her rebuttal of A2’s arguments focuses on two points:
    1. She misinterprets what A2 claimed about “religions that could feel offended by comments or actions” and jumps to a rushed conclusion (“you cannot say anything … insulted”).
    2. She refutes the connection between the social contract theory and the resolution in a very persuasive way.
    As far as her arguments are concerned, the example she uses is vivid and unquestionable (about the ineffectiveness of penalties for hateful comments). Her second argument (the criminalization of religious hateful comments may set a dangerous precedent) is strong and she supports it with evidence. However, the example she chooses comes from a country (Pakistan) that fundamentalism is inconceivable for European citizens, therefore not quite appropriate in this context. Finally, she closes her speech offering an alternative, a solution and accepting that sometimes hateful comments are insulting and shocking – that way she corrects the unproved view of N1 that hateful comments only question and criticize. Her answer to the question is very appropriate.

    POINTS : 27

    Speaker A3
    Aitana starts her speech by refuting what the previous speaker said. Her remarks on the Pakistan example and on the factors that influence kids outside school are really effective. On the other hand, we cannot really accept that imprisonment can put a stop to hateful religious comments, as imprisonment never succeeded to eliminate fanaticism, hatred etc. Moreover, we cannot accept that “multi religious societies have been existing for thousands of years” since there is no evidence given for that, or that Rousseau and Hobbes lived in multi religious societies. Historical proof or some kind of reference would be necessary. Finally, she sums up the affirmative’s case and she chooses an impressive quote for the end.

    POINTS : 27

    Speaker N3
    Marton’s speech is very comprehensive. He clearly compares both cases, using all the information used. He compares and contrasts, trying to show the advantage of his team. However, even if we accept that “the meaning of respect is relative”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that hateful comments shouldn’t be legally regulated. His other remarks are clear: sentences bring more tension, education cultivates tolerance, freedom of speech leads to development, especially through conflicts. We think that he efficiently performed his tasks. He certainly couldn’t do more to strengthen his team’s argumentation.

    POINTS : 28

    Affirmative team – total: 74 out of 90
    Negative team – total: 78 out of 90

    WINNER : Negative Team

    Congratulations, Hungarian team!!!


    Judit Gera

    Thank you very much, Greek team, for your detailed assessment. It contained a lot of useful remarks and advice.
    And big ‘congratulations” go to the Spanish team, too, on being such a clever and well-prepared opponent.
    Last but not least, we are also grateful to the Latvian team for giving a resolution, which really managed to give us a hard time sometimes, but it led to heated conversations among the whole debate team and in the teachers’ room, too. :)
    See you all soon in Latvia!

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