The Instigator
Brik
Pro (for)
Losing
28 Points
The Contender
Rob1Billion
Con (against)
Winning
38 Points

39. Legal age for adulthood should be reduced in the United States.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/13/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,872 times Debate No: 3613
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (18)

 

Brik

Pro

"A child becomes an adult when he realizes he has a right not only to be right but also to be wrong."

Because I agree with these words of Hungarian psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, and because I figured that out before I was 18, I support the resolution, which states:

RESOLVED: Legal age for adulthood should be reduced in the United States.

Before I begin, I offer the following DEFINITIONS to clarify the round:

LEGAL AGE: the age at which a person acquires full legal rights and responsibilities
ADULTHOOD: the state (and responsibilities) of a person who has attained maturity
SHOULD: must; ought (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency)
REDUCED: brought down to a smaller extent, size, amount, number, etc.

(all defined from http://www.Dictionary.com...)

Move with me now to the RESOLUTION ANALYSIS, an explanation and evaluation of the topic:

1. The "legal age" is the age at which a person in the U.S. receives full legal rights. However, in these fifty nifty states not all rights are acquired on the same birthday. Indeed, if all rights were taken into consideration, the legal age might be 55 (when you can order Senior Citizen Specials at Perkins). But a good portion of these rights (pornography, voting, military, smoking, gambling, etc.) are officially set at age 18. Therefore, I shall assume that by "the legal age," the resolution means 18, and I shall concentrate my entire case on the legal rights attained at that age.

2. The resolution does not specify what the new legal age should be, nor does it mandate that the PRO provide a specific new legal age. The debate is only about the merits and drawbacks of a lowered legal age. If the CON requires a specific age, let's just say I advocate moving it from 18 to 16.

With these standards for debate set, we can now move on to CONTENTIONS, the meat and potatoes of the case. My position will be split up into three points:

I: THE LEGAL AGE IS INTENDED AS A SIGN OF MATURITY.

Like membership in an exclusive club, the legal age is a criterion which determines the eligibility of a person to receive some right or privilege. Legal age is an imaginary line that separates the men from the boys (or the women from the girls) in regards to a certain right. For example, a six-year-old child probably could not responsibly gamble, but a 32-year-old probably could. By defining the legal age for gambling (and other rights) at 18, the government's goal is to express that a person below that age is immature, while a person above that age is mature (in terms of the right in question).

II: THIS STANDARD OF MATURITY IS CONTRADICTORY.

Unfortunately, this maturity standard is rife with contradiction. Instead of having a clearly defined standard of what constitutes maturity in terms of age, the government has blurred the imaginary line to the point where it is virtually unrecognizable. There are two reasons for this, which I shall label "A" and "B."

A: The legal age has exceptions.

The legal age for joining the military is 18 in general (no pun intended). However, this age does not truly represent a level of maturity, because 17-year-olds can still join the military with parental consent. If the legal age truly measured maturity, this exception would not be allowed.

Another exception of the legal age is emancipation. Emancipation is a legal process by which a minor may sever all (or most) ties with their parents. While parental consent is required for students under 18 years of age for many different rights, this criterion is removed when the parents no longer have legal authority over their child. By the defined legal age, emancipated minors would still be considered immature and ineligible for the rights of an 18-year-old, but by the current legal process many of these rights become available.

In both of these cases, the legal age fails to assign maturity uniformly. The imaginary line that individuals cross in the process of maturing is lowered in special cases, with no actual test to determine whether the person whom the bar is lowered for is mature enough to handle these rights. This creates a contradiction, and makes the legal age an illegitimate requirement.

B: More serious rights have lower levels of maturity than less serious rights.

In most states, the legal age for applying for a driver's license is 16, but it ranges from 17 (in New Jersey) to 14 � (in my homeland, the Dakotas). In any case, the legal age for this right is lower than the legal age for most other rights - 18. This is a massive error in judgment. The government assumes that a child is mature enough to handle a moving vehicle (which is rather difficult to learn, and can cause serious injury or death if used improperly) while at the same time immature with regards to voting (which has no dangers associated with it) or purchasing pornography (which, in a legal sense, is equally not dangerous). If we were to administer standards rationally, the legal age for driving would be equal to or higher than the legal age for other rights.

All of these contradictions turn the legal age into a meaningless quantitative measure with no legitimacy. When a standard can be bent in special cases, and when the standard incorrectly assigns maturity for different rights, it is no standard at all. It is an antiquated and abused system that has failed its purpose of defining maturity in legal situations.

III: THE LEGAL AGE SHOULD BE LOWERED TO CORRECT THESE CONTRADICTIONS.

If the legal age for the rights given at 18 were lowered, we could remove these contradictions and re-establish the legal age as a level which would properly define and regulate maturity. All of these conflicting rights could be established at age 16, perhaps, and no exceptions would be allowed for military enlistment, emancipation, or anything else. The standard set by the government would finally have legitimacy to separate mature from immature and assign rights and responsibilities accordingly.

For the above stated reasons, I support the lowering of the legal age. I wish my opponent good luck and look forward to a good debate.
Rob1Billion

Con

I accept pro's definitions

I accept pro's resolution analysis, and will assume he wants the legal age for adulthood reduced to 16 years of age.

Pro's contentions:
1)I accept this contention.
2a)Military: Pro claims that the fact that 17 year olds can join the military with parental consent shows that they have the maturity to have full rights as adults. This logic does not hold water. An action taken by a minor that must be authorized by an adult is hardly cause for stating that the minor has the maturity of the adult, or that he/she should BE an adult. Although it is barely necessary, I will provide a specific example just for the sake of completeness. If a legal guardian authorizes that their child may go on a field trip at school (assuming the child could not go without parental consent), it does not logically follow that because the child gets permission and undertakes the field trip that they have conducted the actions of legal adulthood. Now I will not totally insult Pro's intelligence, because I know that he is assuming that the audience and I will take into account the fact that military personel DIE FOR THEIR COUNTRY. But even considering this fact, it is clear that the government's ducks are in a row:
18 years old: You may join the army if you would like
17 years old: You may not join the army, but your legal guardian may make a responsible adult decision reflecting the fact that they have discussed with you the implications of joining the military, and that they can vouch for you knowing the full results of your actions. You are a child, and could easily, without adult supervision, make a brash and immature decision that you do not fully understand the implications of.

Emancipation:
"by the current legal process many of these rights become available[to minors]."
-I must respectfully ask Pro to describe the specific legal rights he means, so that I do not waste everyone's time straw-manning him. I attempted to research the topic myself, but each state is different and the list was quite extensive of the different rights that come into play. In many states there are no emancipation opportunities for children. I will assume at this point that there are no legal rights that are compelling enough to grant reducing the legal age compared to the detriments that this would incur(discussed later), and I will pass the burden of evidence back to Pro.
I personally know a child who was emancipated, and I got the impression from her that it was not the best idea for her. She had a very strong false sense of responsibility, and it made her think that her actions were just as responsible as an adult's would be. I know my personal anecdotes are not relevant, but I will simply put the theoretical argument forward that emancipating minors is relatively rare, definitely not ideal, and definitely a thing to be avoided at all costs unless the state is simply left with no alternative. I will re-examine this contention if Pro can provide compelling evidence that this phenomenon is relatively common or that this represents a decision by the government that is in the child's best interest. As of now, I am not convinced that policy should be changed, and I don't see any reason that would make a voter want to support a policy lowering the legal age to 16.

"In both of these cases, the legal age fails to assign maturity uniformly"
-These cases are not overly common as they represent a minute percentage of children. Furthermore, neither really, by themselves, begs to lower the age of adulthood. It is only with considerable rhetorical effort on your part that they would even hint at this idea.

"The imaginary line that individuals cross in the process of maturing is lowered in special cases, with no actual test to determine whether the person whom the bar is lowered for is mature enough to handle these rights"
-not true. In your army example, an adult must step in and administrate the situation. The child has proven to the adult that he/she is unusually prepared to handle the life of a military person. You point out that the emancipation example is "special"; desperate times call for desperate measures. These emancipation examples are quite desperate and unfortunate, and I see no reason to want to expand them outward into society.

"This creates a contradiction, and makes the legal age an illegitimate requirement"
- I fail to see what you mean by "illegitimate". Legally, the legal age of adulthood is on solid ground. Exactly what usage of legitimate does the United States legal age of adulthood strike you as not satisfying? Just because a law has an insignificant semantical or highly unusual inconsistency to it doesn't make it illegitimate. For example, it is legal in some cases to kill someone. Should we make it legal all the time to kill people just to cover up this glaring inconsistency?

2b) driving. I agree with you in part("This is a massive error in judgment
"), because I don't think 16 year olds should be behind the wheel. I waited until I was 18 to drive, and even then I was not ready. It makes more sense to move this one inconsistency - legal age to drive - up to 18 or 21 instead of moving adulthood and all of the lengthy list of responsibilities down to 16. You say that "This is a massive error in judgment", but you don't say exactly what the "massive error" is. I think that you most logically imply what I stated in this paragraph, not that the legal age for adulthood must be turned back to 18. I don't see why you would want 16 year olds buying porn, voting for scheming politicians, getting sued in court, buying guns, gambling, and becoming adults before they finish high school so they feel more inclined to drop out because "they can". I do not support the criminalization of truancy or drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes by minors, but this is a different subject and a very wide tangent [I have to cover my bases because of premises I made in other debates :) ]. Even though truancy shouldn't be illegal, I think it is logical to posit that 16 year olds suddenly becoming adults would be pressured into leaving high school for the work force, either because their parents would be over-opportunistic (about getting more money into the home ["you're an adult now..."])or they would feel a false sense of independence and just use it as an opportunity to drop out.

"It is an antiquated and abused system that has failed its purpose of defining maturity in legal situations"
-well, aside from going way overboard with this one (abused?!), I don't see that our legal age for adulthood has failed. I will provide several contentions to show that it is a success after I refute your 3rd contention.

3)Removing the contradictions you presented would result in no more than a semantical satisfaction that would prove short lived after the obvious problems it would cause would start arising. Let me move on to my contentions to explain why:

4)I will extend my high school drop-out argument to be contention 4

5)I will extend my argument that the list of adult activities I provided should not be extended to children, to be contention 5

6)There is good reason kids aren't adults. It provides them a chance to be children. I am 27 and I don't really consider myself an adult, because I don't want to grow old and look back and wish I had more of a chance to live my life free'er. People growing up too fast is a tragedy. Kids always want to be older, but that is part of being a kid. They will get their wish soon enough... Your argument would steal the childhood away from children, and do them a grave injustice. They would go along with it of course (they aren't mature enough to know how long and inevitable adulthood is), but that only reinforces my argument. I see you are 18, Brik, and probably haven't hit these realizations yet, but I promise you you will. All youngins like you WANT to be older, but thats just part of being young!
Debate Round No. 1
Brik

Pro

I will tackle my opponent's argument in chunks for clarity. I will give the beginning and ending statements of each chunk in capital letters before my responses. Please reference my opponent's Round 1 speech in order to understand all argumentation.

I ACCEPT PRO'S…THIS CONTENTION

Cool.

2A)MILITARY: PRO CLAIMS…THE IMPLICATIONS OF.

1. The fact that 17-year-olds must obtain permission from their legal guardians does not diminish the contradiction inherent in the legal age requirement for the U.S. military. The legal age for joining the military is 18; however, a 17-year-old can join the military with parental permission. When the government allows people below the legal age to participate, the maturity standard for the legal age is no longer present, and the legal age becomes an arbitrary, meaningless number.

2. The CON assumes that parents (or guardians) that allow their children to join the military at age 17 "have discussed with you the implications of joining the military, and that they can vouch for you knowing the full results of your actions." However, he gives no proof that this situation is real or even common. An adult could similarly authorize their child to participate in the military because they want the child to supply them with earnings, or because they don't want to support their child anymore, or because they simply don't want to be around their children. In all of these cases, the child's maturity would not be factored into the equation, and again the legal age will have failed in gauging maturity and assigning rights accordingly. Unless the CON can prove that all legal guardians do take into account their child's maturity, the legal age has failed in its task.

3. The field trip example does not apply to this scenario for a couple of reasons. First, if all students in the school system are required to get parental permission regardless of age, there is no "legal age" present in this scenario. Second, field trips to the planetarium do not require any specific level of "maturity" like the possession of alcohol or joining the military does. Because these issues are lacking in the CON's example, the analogy does not prove that the government's ducks are collinear.

EMANCIPATION: "BY THE…BACK TO PRO.

4. According to Legal Services For Children (http://www.lsc-sf.org...,) emancipated children are permitted to bring their own lawsuits, sign binding contracts, keep their own earnings, get work permits without parental consent, and consent to their own medical care. There are more "rights" listed there, but these are the ones that popped out to me as requiring the highest level of maturity. Since the CON has not had a chance to respond to this argument other than deeming it vague, I will not pontificate on these rights any further until the CON has had a chance to respond to the specific rights.

5. The incoherency of state emancipation standards does not reduce the seriousness of bending the maturity standard in terms of legal age. I doubt this will be important in the round, but I make the argument now for the sake of covering all my bases.

6. The CON states "[T]here are no legal rights that are compelling enough to grant reducing the legal age compared to the detriments that this would incur." This debate is not about weighing the benefits and detriments of emancipation. The fact is, regardless of how awesome or not awesome it is to be emancipated, the existence of such a legal process undermines the maturity standard which a legal age is designed to implement.

I PERSONALLY KNOW…AGE TO 16.

7. Your personal anecdote does show a detriment of emancipation, but it does not excuse the existence of the emancipation process and the rights it provides in the current legal system. Emancipation still bends the maturity level to the point of breaking it, regardless of how emancipated children feel about it and regardless of how commonly it occurs in real life. To use an analogy: if a new law was passed that made it legal to murder 110-year-olds in the United States, this law would be bad, regardless of how many 110-year-olds were murdered as a result.

"IN BOTH CASES…AT THIS IDEA."

8. Again, the likelihood or commonness of early military recruitment or emancipation has no affect on their contradiction. The fact is that these options are available in the current legal system, and that contradicts the concept of "legal age."

"THE IMAGINARY LINE…OUTWARD INTO SOCIETY."

Please refer to arguments #2 and #7 regarding these two examples of bending the legal age.

"THIS CREATES A…THIS GLARING INCONSISTENCY?

9. What makes the legal age illegitimate (unreasonable, illogical, not firmly supported) is the fact that it is designed to reflect a level of maturity (see Contention I in the first PRO speech) but fails to do so. It tells us that 18-year-olds can do certain things because anyone below that age is immature, then provides legal exceptions for those which it deemed immature to do the same things. These widely available exceptions destroy the concept of a level of maturity, because maturity is NOT factored in when the exceptions are taken advantage of.

10. The killing example does not legitimize the incoherent maturity levels of legal age. First, the "legal" situations of killing someone do not become legal based on a level of maturity. Second, the law for acceptable and unacceptable killing takes into account those exceptions (such as self-defense), whereas there is no real "excuse" for the variable maturity levels in terms of legal age.

2B) DRIVING. I AGREE…TO DROP OUT.
11. The CON argues that it would make more sense to move the driving age up to 18 or 21 instead of lowering the other rights down to 16. There are several reasons why lowering rights would be better. First, it would avoid a public backlash (if all 16- and 17-year-olds were suddenly stripped of their driver's licenses, there would be a significant outcry from that population). Second, according to Alex Koroknay-Paticz, writing in The New York Times in 2006, "Studies show that it is inexperience, not age, that causes accidents. Raising the driving age will just create inexperienced, accident-prone drivers at 18 instead of 16." As the CON stated himself, "I waited until I was 18 to drive, and even then I was not ready." Raising the age won't improve the driving situation.

The other argument that the CON uses to support his side is that 16-year-olds should not be buying porn, voting, etc. The CON states that if 16-year-olds were given the rights of 18-year-olds, they would drop out of school. There is no evidence to support the likelihood of this statement, so I ask for a clarification or concession from the CON on this point. Even if there were situations where 16-year-olds would drop out of high school, if they are mature enough to drive by the maturity standard, they ought to be able to make other less life-endangering decisions as well.

"IT IS AN ANTIQUATED…YOUR 3RD CONTENTION.

12. It fails because of its contradiction, which destroys the maturity criterion inherent in the concept of legal age.

3)REMOVING THE CONTRADICTIONS…BE CONTENTION 4.

13. Please extend my response to this argument.

5) I WILL EXTEND…BE CONTENTION 5.

14. Please extend my response to this argument.

6) THERE IS GOOD…OF BEING YOUNG!

15. This argument seems more like a grandfather's monologue from a Disney movie than a contention in a debate, but I'll respond to it as the latter. The resolution is not about the stealing of childhood, but the consistency and legitimacy of the law. This is threatened by the current system which employs a "legal age" that is rife with contradiction and confusion. The PRO does not want to make "young-uns" older, but to recognize and assign maturity where it rightfully lies.

I eagerly await the next riposte.
Rob1Billion

Con

Rob1Billion forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Brik

Pro

I regret that my esteemed opponent is unable to complete this debate. I look forward to debating you in the future!
Rob1Billion

Con

I am forfeiting this debate. la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
I voted for him instead of myself, so I don't know why he only has 2 votes. I am feeling really bad that I had the thing 90%written and now it will go unread...

I won round one against Yraelz and lost in the votes, and lost round two against Brik and won in the votes.
Posted by Logical-Master 9 years ago
Logical-Master
Just in case those recent voters are voting based off of what I said, I wasn't serious. :P
Posted by Danielle 9 years ago
Danielle
Damn. I was looking forward to reading Con's rebuttal.
Posted by Logical-Master 9 years ago
Logical-Master
Hmm. PRO conceded to CON forfeiting the debate. Sorry, but I can't let that one slip. I VOTE CON.
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
wow that's the first time I have EVER forfeited a round. I had 90% of it written already and I was trying to get around to polishing it off but I just have too much going on. This tournament is cool but I just cannot keep up with the extra deadlines while I am trying to get papers written and spend time with my family. I tried keeping up with it...

You are a great debater Brik, why don't you just take this one. I would have given you a run for your money but classes are coming to a head and with the spring here I am spending most of my free time playing basketball, tennis, frisbee-golf, and softball. I am deeply sorry that this great debate ended up like this, I was ready to post a really good round two argument too :( .

I'm sorry Brik!
Posted by Johnicle 9 years ago
Johnicle
personally Kantack... I think your smarter than every adult...... EVER.......!
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
I am going to respond to this tomorrow most likely, I am wrapping up another debate and I have a paper I am trying to finish which seems to defy completion.
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