Students debate issues with Internet via Skype

Linfield students debate issues, such as having access to the Internet as a fundamental human right against students in Afghanistan at Kabul University using Skype on May 8. Photo courtesy of Adam Leclair

Cultures collide as thoughts were argued between Linfield College and Kabul University students.

Students debated about the motion, “access to the Internet is a fundamental human right.” Coming from two different cultures, the teams used Skype to debate the idea May 8 in Ford Hall.

Starting the debate out on the government side was Kabul University student, Sadaf Maqsoodi. She defined the terms of the debate.

“Fundamental human rights are like the freedom of press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly,” Maqsoodi said. “Internet access should be included in these freedoms.”

Maqsoodi went on to argue that by having Internet access it will help in education and that it would help connect people to politics and other world events.

Linfield sophomore Megan Schawab countered Maqsoodi as she took the opposing side.

“While we agree with everyone deserving the fundamental rights to speech, press, assembly and so on, we believe that the Internet is merely a tool to obtain those basic human rights, but it is not a fundamental human right in itself,” Schawab said.

Schawab continued to say that fundamental human rights include “the right to travel freely, but that does not make the plane a basic human right.”

Disagreeing with Schawab, Kabul’s Muhammad Fahim spoke on how the United Nations believe that access to the Internet is a basic human right.

“Can we go and replace the Internet with other tools? No, we cannot,” Fahim said.

Junior Kole Kracaw, a member of the opposition, took a different approach to his argument against the Internet as a basic human right with a personal testimony.

“The other day I woke up, and I went to check my Facebook, and the Internet was down,” Kracaw said. “I felt that I was being denied a fundamental human right, and after a while of moping around, I realized, wait a minute, the sun is out and I have friends.”

While Kracaw agreed with his opponent’s definition of fundamental human right, he said that he doesn’t think that access to the Internet falls under it.

“If your life is at risk by taking away one of these things that falls under being a basic human right, then obviously that is a basic human right,” Kracaw said. “I do not think the Internet meets this standard.”

Kracaw made the point of how the Internet is deteriorating our interpersonal skills. Kracaw ran out of time and was not able to say his second point.

With students from both sides working together, sophomore Clara Martinez spoke about how access to the Internet should be a fundamental human right.

“The Internet shows us that we are apart of a greater community,” Martinez said.

Martinez paused during her argument to take a question from Fahim, who asked about the use of Internet in Egypt and their recent revolution.

“Do you think the revolution stopped when the government took away access to the Internet?” Kabul student, Muhammad Dawood, asked. “The Internet was used as a tool.”

Martinez responded with saying how if it weren’t for the country’s original access, the revolution would have been slower to start.

Tamana from Kabul University spoke on the side of the opposition and countered Martinez’s argument by stating if the government can take away something, then it cannot be counted as a fundamental human right.

Closing for the government side, Linfield sophomore Sam Javier acted as the Government Whip, pushing for the final arguments on their side. Starting the final argument Javier countered Tamana’s argument on the lack of access to the Internet due to government and costs.

“Putting it in terms of the right of the pursuit of happiness, everyone has the right to be happy, just because you don’t have the means to be happy doesn’t take away your right to it,” Javier said.

Speaking on the down side to full Internet access, Dawood concluded the debate for the opposition.

“The Internet is growing into an addiction,” Dawood said. “We don’t have time for our own family or our studies or our friends. We can do this all in person. Yeah, we can use [the Internet], but as a tool.”

Wrapping up the debate, both sides exchanged questions about culture and each students’ true belief about the debate’s motion.

“I believe some Americans would say that the Internet should not be a fundamental right, but there are probably others that think it should. We’re pretty divided,” Javier said.

Dawood spoke about how the Internet doesn’t really affect the everyday lives of Afghani citizens like it does for Americans.

Kaylyn Peterson/
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