The Instigator
Brock_Meyer
Con (against)
Winning
49 Points
The Contender
mongeese
Pro (for)
Losing
35 Points

Discrimination is unjust

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/28/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 8,646 times Debate No: 8714
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
Votes (14)

 

Brock_Meyer

Con

The resolution reads as follows: Discrimination is injust.

The resolution needs additional explanation and definition. "Discrimination" is the "treatment of a person on the basis of prejudice", where "prejudice" refers to a preconceived preference or idea. The meaning of "unjust" used in the resolution refers to a normative judgment; that is, whether or not some action violates the rights of another person. Consequently, the resolution may be read as: Discrimination deprives people of rights.

The crystallization point for the discussion as a whole revolves around the question of whether the practice of discrimination really deprives a person of the rights he or she would have if the discrimination did not take place. In order to win, he or she who stands in favor of the resolution must prove that discrimination does deprive individuals of rights. In order to win, he or she who stands opposed to the resolution must prove that discrimination does not infringe upon the actual, legitimate rights of individuals.
mongeese

Pro

Thank you for starting this debate.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

If the jury has prejudice against the defendant, and this prejudice is what causes the defendant to be declared guilty, then the defendant is deprived of his right to a free trial.

Sure, discrimination alone would not make someone be declared guilty, but if the jurors would be undecided, any prejudice could swing the decision in either direction.

Now, for an example:

A black man is brought to court for being accused of shoplifting. All members of the jury are racists, who get the idea that all black men are scum. There is some evidence against the defendant, but not necessarily enough to convict the man. However, the jury decides that it is sufficient evidence, because they hate the defendant.

In the same situation, let's say that the jury is not racist. The jury decides that the evidence is not sufficient, and they declare the defendant to be innocent.

In this case, discrimination deprived the defendant of his right to a fair trial, which affirms the resolution.

Thank you again, and good luck with your response.
Debate Round No. 1
Brock_Meyer

Con

I begin by thanking my opponent for accepting and so concisely affirming the resolution. However, this seemingly compelling argument that discrimination conflicts with the right to a fair trial is flawed, for the following reasons.

Firstly, the thought experiment my opponent has drafted is unsound. A prosecutor will never bring to trial a case in which there is "not necessary enough [evidence] to convict the man" (for it reflects badly upon his record, imposes costs on the state, etc.), and in the rare case that a prosecutor does decide to do so, a defense attorney can motion to dismiss charges on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Secondly, this thought experiment with the unfair jury suggests that incompetence (or irresponsibility) is a greater threat to the right to freedom of the accused than discrimination on the part of jurors. This is because the impartiality clause of the Sixth Amendment dictates that both the prosecution and the defense may question potential jurors to screen out biases and to challenge jurors if bias is found. Jurors may be removed in voir dire based on peremptory challenges[1]. The reason defendants do not have a right to appeal a conviction based on claims of a biased jury is because these peremptory challenges exist. Although it may be objected that a juror can hide his or her biases just to convict the accused is an objection with the fundamental structure and purpose of the jury system, not to the discriminatory practices of the individual juror (whose power is granted by the jury system).

Thirdly, my opponent assumes all kinds of prejudice exhibit the same disposition. Although all of the jurors are, to some degree, "racist" because they recognize a difference between races, there may be different degrees or reasons for prejudice in the jury. For instance, four jurors may think the accused is guilty because he is black, and therefore more likely to commit crimes because of lower socioeconomic standards. Three other jurors may think the accused is guilty because he is black, and blacks are more likely to associate in gangs and therefore participate in gang initiations. Three other jurors may think the accused is guilty because he is black, and blacks are less likely to grow up in two-parent households[2]. The rest of the jurors may think that blacks do not understand the difference between right and wrong. The point is they do not just, as my opponent says, "hate the defendant" simply because he is black. Their prejudice against the man because he is black may be based in ignorance or misunderstanding, and it is not possible for jurors to simply shove their ignorance and misunderstandings aside to become perfectly rational beings until the end of the trial.

With that said, it is clear that discriminatory practices on the part of jurors represents a failure either of (a) the parties involved with the trial, or (b) the trial-by-jury system itself. I move now to establish an affirmative case against the resolution.

To say that discrimination deprives one of a right, one must specify what that right is to. A right presupposes both a subject and an object. Whether we are talking about civil and political rights like freedom from violent crime or slavery, or economic, social, and cultural rights like rights to social security and education, there is always a recipient and a participant. Thus, for discrimination to deprive an individual of his or her right signifies primarily that the object of that right is being withheld from its subject. For example, an employer discriminates against a prospective employee by denying her a job solely based on her gender. However, this presupposes that the prospective employee had a right to the job for which she was denied based on her gender. There is no object of the right being withheld from her, and thus her rights are not being violated. This is an example of a civil right.

For an example of a social right, consider segregation in the South during the 20th century. African-American students were not allowed to attend white public schools. Although this was discrimination, the rights of African-American students were not being infringed upon, for these students were not entitled to the object of this right (the services of the public school). Although these public schools were state-run and paid for by tax money, not all citizens in a country are entitled to government services they pay for with tax money (for example, social security for anyone under a certain age). Access to the public school came about through legislation granting the right to attend that school.

There are far more mundane examples of discrimination. For example, when I choose a girlfriend, I am discriminating against a wide range of white, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, and Asian women that I could have also given a chance. This, of course, deprives these women of the chance to be my girlfriend. Nevertheless, they never had the right to be my girlfriend unless I gave them that right in the first place. Thus, I am not violating their rights to begin with.

--------------------------

[1] = http://www.crfc.org...
[2] = http://www.ntia.doc.gov...
mongeese

Pro

"A prosecutor will never bring to trial a case in which there is 'not necessary enough [evidence] to convict the man' (for it reflects badly upon his record, imposes costs on the state, etc.), and in the rare case that a prosecutor does decide to do so, a defense attorney can motion to dismiss charges on the grounds of insufficient evidence."
There's no fine line between what enough evidence is and what isn't enough evidence. The prosecutor could take advantage of this by punishing anyone he hates that falls in this gray area, but letting his friends slide whenever it would seem legit.

"Secondly, this thought experiment with the unfair jury suggests that incompetence (or irresponsibility) is a greater threat to the right to freedom of the accused than discrimination on the part of jurors...."
Firstly, the entire pool of potential jurors might be racist.
Secondly, a potential juror could hide his racist background until declaring whomever he hates guilty. This would be especially true in the cases shown with different examples of "racism," as they wouldn't be known for being racist, but they would have a secret prejudice.
Thirdly, if the man who approves voir dires is also a racist, he can deny any voir dire against his friends, as there is a limited number of times in which one may ask for the removal of a potential juror with no reason.

"Although it may be objected that a juror can hide his or her biases just to convict the accused is an objection with the fundamental structure and purpose of the jury system, not to the discriminatory practices of the individual juror (whose power is granted by the jury system)."
If the juror uses discrimination, it doesn't matter how long he hides it. He's secretly corrupt, and therefore invalidates the right to a fair trial. A fair trial should be impartial, and any discrimination whatsoever removes this impartiality that is necessary to fulfill this right.

"Thirdly, my opponent assumes all kinds of prejudice exhibit the same disposition. Although all of the jurors are, to some degree, 'racist' because they recognize a difference between races, there may be different degrees or reasons for prejudice in the jury...."
For one thing, there may not be a difference.
For another, it doesn't matter what their reasoning is.

"The point is they do not just, as my opponent says, 'hate the defendant' simply because he is black. Their prejudice against the man because he is black may be based in ignorance or misunderstanding, and it is not possible for jurors to simply shove their ignorance and misunderstandings aside to become perfectly rational beings until the end of the trial."
However, such discrimination would still make the trial unfair, which disrupts the right to a fair trial.

"With that said, it is clear that discriminatory practices on the part of jurors represents a failure either of (a) the parties involved with the trial, or (b) the trial-by-jury system itself."
For one thing, this concedes that there could be discriminatory practices on the part of jurors.
This means that the existence of discrimination is a cause of failure in the trial-by-jury system.
This failure makes the system unable to live up to the right to a fair trial.
Thus, the discrimination of the jurors deprives a man of his right to a fair trial.

My opponent makes a speech about discrimination and rights. However, this speech does not address the one right that I have specified, the right to a fair trial. This right is guaranteed to all citizens, but discrimination prevents this right from following through. In a society in which the jurors are prejudiced against blacks, can a black man have a fair trial? No. The jurors are against him from the start. We gave everybody the right to a fair trial. Discrimination is attempting to disrupt that right. When a right mentions in itself that it is "fair," and lives up to the definition of "fair" in its description, discrimination is no longer compatible with such a right.

I quote from the Wiki article:
"A fair and just trial might be impeded by:
"Corruption or incompetence (judicial or otherwise)"

My opponent said, "Secondly, this thought experiment with the unfair jury suggests that incompetence (or irresponsibility) is a greater threat to the right to freedom of the accused than discrimination on the part of jurors." Because incompetence is the cause of the examples of discrimination found in the hypothetical jury by my opponent, this shows that the incompetent discrimination impedes the right to a fair trial. Thus, the resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 2
Brock_Meyer

Con

I begin by saying that if a person can hide his racism long enough to be brought into a jury trial, the right to a free trial has in fact corrupted itself. As I have said, it is an institutional problem. That is, if the justice system (through peremptory challenges and voir dire) cannot in the first place guarantee the right to a free trial, we cannot say that anyone is entitled to that right. The existence of a free trial presupposes the ability of the institution to provide impartiality.

Guaranteeing a right (in the Constitution) and giving a right (holding a free trial) are two very separate things. My point being that merely because a jury has failed to be impartial (and has engaged in some degree of discrimination) does not mean the jury is, by itself, responsible for an unjust guilty verdict, as my opponent claims. It is true that an impartial jury is part of the defendant's right to a fair trial; however, it is not the responsibility of the jury to ensure impartiality. A jury is simply an instrument. It is the responsibility of the artisan to use that instrument properly, and to fix it if it is defective.

My opponent has misunderstood the difference between malice racism leading to a discriminatory disposition and ignorance with respect to racial divides. A person's ignorance does not undermine the right to a fair trial any more than my ignorance of how to work an automobile undermines another's right to work his own automobile. The point is that ignorance can very well change the outcome of the trial. Ignorance can both be caused by racism, as well as be itself the cause of racism. If it is ignorance that causes racism, we cannot reasonably expect ignorant jurors to suddenly become enlightened with respect to their views on race. Juries are drawn by chance, through a cross-section of the population. In the perfect world, all jurors will be unbiased scholars of the law. However, this is not the case, and this is one of the inherent weaknesses of the jury system that have to be accommodated.

Most examples of racism are examples of ignorance on the part of people with respect to others of other races. When these ignorant people become acquainted with people of other races, their views change[1]. I disagree with my opponent: it matters a great deal what a person's motivations are. If a person is racist to the core and ignorant as a result, that person will seek to destroy the accused just out of hatred. If a person is ignorant, and racist as a result, that person will unwittingly see the accused differently from oneself, and be subtly and irrationally pushed to either direction. As I said, to expect a person to completely push biases out of his mind for a trial is an unrealistic expectation, and one that must be taken up against the system, not ignoramuses given the power by that system to decide the fate of someone else.

My opponent takes the existence of discrimination as a cause of failure in the trial-by-jury system. However, this is avoiding the fact that the trial-by-jury system allows the effects of discrimination to be felt on the accused, which is a more fundamental issue than individual prejudices. The failure of the trial-by-jury system is not sewn from discriminatory practices; rather, the trial-by-jury system fails because it does not institutionally live up to my opponent's standards for a fair trial. As I have said, if the government cannot actually guarantee a right, my opponent has no place to still claim that citizens are entitled to it. For example, when the social security system is bankrupt in 2017, even though the government guaranteed me the right to social security benefits, there is no sense in which I will actually be entitled to nonexistent social security benefits.

My opponent believes that I have not adequately addressed the right to a free trial, which is supposedly guaranteed to all Americans. However, if the right is not actually one's to keep (if my opponent is correct in that a free trial, in many cases, is not possible), there is no right to a free trial, and my opponent has undermined his own argument. I, on the other hand, believe that my opponent has not addressed my own claims, which he dismisses as a "speech" not worthy of any thought. I beg to differ, and in this second round, I have connected the thesis of my "speech" to my opponent's prized example of the right to a free trial (namely, in how that example alone utterly fails to affirm the resolution). If every right necessitates the existence of a subject and an object, in the case of a right to a free trial, there is no object if the government is unable to procure a free trial (since it is a government-guaranteed right). More concretely, it is like person A trading 10 apples to person B for 10 oranges; however, if there are no actual apples or oranges, no one really has a right to anything real.

My opponent believes that a jury's incompetence interferes with a fair trial more than the incompetence of the government and legal counsels entrusted with supplying that free trial. Nevertheless, this ignores the fact that, much like the structure of the government, there is a check-and-balance system[2]: the jury decides the case so that there is disinterested consideration of the evidence, and the counsels/courts check the jury's power by making sure the jury is disinterested. It is not the responsibility of the jury to check itself, or throw out its own racists. It is the responsibility of the court to ensure partiality, and thus the penetration of discriminatory dispositions into the court is the fault of the jury system itself, not the jurors who are but instruments to justice.

If what my opponent says is true, the supposed right to a free trial means nothing with respect to the resolution.

-----------------

[1] = http://www.helium.com...
[2] = http://papers.ssrn.com...
mongeese

Pro

So, my opponent claims that the entire system is corrupt. However, if the government guarantees a right to a man, and the only reason the man never managed to receive that right is discrimination on behalf of the jury, then that discrimination deprived the man of his right.

The resolution never specifies where the right is coming from. It could come directly from the government. It could come indirectly from the jury.

So, if there were no discrimination, everyone would be guaranteed the right to a fair trial.

However, with discrimination, nobody would have the right to a fair trial.

It looks as if the discrimination deprived everybody of their right to a fair trial.

"However, this is avoiding the fact that the trial-by-jury system allows the effects of discrimination to be felt on the accused, which is a more fundamental issue than individual prejudices."

However, if there is no effect of discrimination to be felt, then the system works. Thus, discrimination is what deprives the man of his right to a fair trial.

"As I have said, if the government cannot actually guarantee a right, my opponent has no place to still claim that citizens are entitled to it."

Again, if discrimination is the only thing stopping the citizens from being entitled to their right, then discrimination is what deprives them of that right.

"If every right necessitates the existence of a subject and an object, in the case of a right to a free trial, there is no object if the government is unable to procure a free trial (since it is a government-guaranteed right)."

What is stopping the government from procuring a free trial? Discrimination. Discrimination is what deprives the right from the people. Discrimination withholds the right from a man who needs it.

"It is the responsibility of the court to ensure partiality, and thus the penetration of discriminatory dispositions into the court is the fault of the jury system itself, not the jurors who are but instruments to justice."
And what is the cause of this fault that withholds the right to a fair trial from the people? Discrimination.

We do legally have the right to a free trial [1], but discrimination is what deprives us of the ability to actually put it into effect.

[1]http://theurbanpolitico.blogspot.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Brock_Meyer

Con

This is my last chance to speak, so a million kisses to my opponent.

My opponent claims that I believe the trial-by-jury system is corrupt. This is true iff what my opponent is correct in believing that discrimination on the part of jurors deprives the accused of his or her right to a free trial. However, since discriminatory dispositions can either be based in ignorance (as opposed to malice prejudice) there is no reason, based on what my opponent has said, to conclude that jury discrimination does deprive the accused of a free trial.

Nevertheless, all of this presupposes that there is a right to a free trial in the first place. My opponent correctly points out that the government guarantees every person has the right to a free trial. But this, in turn, presupposes that a government can actually give a free trial in the first place. But if what my opponent has said is true (that in many circumstances, discriminatory dispositions make free trials impossible), then the government is guaranteeing something it cannot give. The assumption here is that the government is an all-powerful entity that can produce anything. Historically, governments have resorted to promises they could not keep. If discrimination makes a free trial impossible, the government might as well promise its citizens streets paved with gold tomorrow.

My opponent also correctly points out the resolution never specifies where the rights come from. However, the jury does not guarantee the right to a free trial, not even "indirectly". The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution was written by a government and entrusted the justice system with its enforcement. It is a government-guaranteed right to citizens. Juries, as I have said, are simply instruments whose members are not a part of the government. Still, rights always come from someone, whether we're talking about a government (or civil right) or an economic right (e.g. to a job, place to live) based on a contract.

My opponent also believes that if discrimination did not exist, everyone would be guaranteed the right to a fair trial. However, this is a misunderstanding of the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, which clarifies four conditions that make up a "fair trial": (a) an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed; (b) to be confronted with the witnesses against him; (c) to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and (d) to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense[1]. While having an impartial jury (as guaranteed by the justice system) is a necessary condition, it is not a sufficient condition for what the government would recognize as a fair trial proper.

Condition (a) specifies that the jury is "of the State", which means primarily that the State is responsible for the impartial jury, just as the State is responsible for ensuring conditions (b), (c), and (d) are met. It is simply false to say that the State is responsible for every aspect of the trial, except for the jury being impartial. It makes no sense to say that the accused is guaranteed to something the State cannot give, namely, a fair trial. Moreover, as I said, if my opponent wants to live in a perfect world where jurors have no biases, then I shall not stand in his way.

My opponent's arguments find no fault with the government and the justice system. This is because my argument makes it very clear: for any given right, there must be some object or action to which the subject (in this case, the accused) is made entitled to by that right. If a government is unable to secure a free trial, the accused is not entitled to one. Although we may not like this fact, that is the consequence of trusting government with carrying out justice. The same reasoning applies in all other circumstances. Vote CON.

---------------

[1] = http://www.law.cornell.edu...
mongeese

Pro

"This is my last chance to speak, so a million kisses to my opponent."
Okay...

"However, since discriminatory dispositions can either be based in ignorance (as opposed to malice prejudice) there is no reason, based on what my opponent has said, to conclude that jury discrimination does deprive the accused of a free trial."
If ignorance leads to prejudice (preconceived judgment or opinion, http://www.merriam-webster.com...), then ignorance leads to discrimination. Therefore, the jury ignorance is the cause of the jury discrimination.

"If discrimination makes a free trial impossible, the government might as well promise its citizens streets paved with gold tomorrow."
However, it is possible to eliminate discrimination, while the government cannot pave the roads gold in one night.

"While having an impartial jury (as guaranteed by the justice system) is a necessary condition, it is not a sufficient condition for what the government would recognize as a fair trial proper."
All of the other three are easily obtained. (A) is the most difficult, and can only be obtained with the elimination of discrimination.

"If a government is unable to secure a free trial, the accused is not entitled to one."
However, discrimination is the only thing in the way.
If discrimination could be eliminated, then the government would be able to secure a free trial.
However, discrimination exists, thus preventing the right to a free trial from taking effect, or "depriving" said right.

So, in conclusion, discrimination is the only major barrier in the way of the right to a free trial.

"The crystallization point for the discussion as a whole revolves around the question of whether the practice of discrimination really deprives a person of the rights he or she would have if the discrimination did not take place."

If discrimination did not take place, we would have the right to a free trial.
By my opponent's quote, if the existence of discrimination is what deprives the right, then the resolution is affirmed.
Because discrimination is the only thing stopping government from giving us all a right to a free trial, the resolution is affirmed.

Let's go back to my opponent's example of streets paved with gold. If the resolution were "Limitation is unjust," then the limitation of the amount of gold in America would be the only thing preventing the government from paving the streets with gold, and the resolution would be affirmed.

In conclusion, I have affirmed the resolution, so vote PRO!
Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
Okay. Good.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
Whoops. I forgot to change that from TIE to PRO. I had voted PRO on that and everything, but I never changed it to PRO when writing the RFD.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
"ARG: TIED (... I believe PRO meet his burden, though only barely)"
So, why didn't I win the arguments?
Posted by snelld7 7 years ago
snelld7
Discrimination-unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice

(QUOTE UNFAIR)

Just- fair: free from favoritism or self-interest or bias or deception

By definition, it is unjust
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
Really close.
B/A: PRO (I find it unjust; however, I don't think it should be illegal for private citizens to do)
COND: TIED
S/G: TIED (the only mistake in the whole thing was "injust" in the first round)
ARG: TIED (BOP was on PRO; essentially the debate was over one example, this example was a toss-up until the fair trial was brought up. I believe PRO meet his burden, though only barely)
SRC: CON (his sources were more legit (not Wikipedia or dictionary), and he had more)
Posted by Xer 7 years ago
Xer
RFD:
B/A: PRO
Conduct: TIED
S&G: TIED
Arguments: CON - It was close, but I think Con won it.
Sources: CON - Pro didn't use any sources to that were actually useful to his argument.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
RFD:
B/A - PRO
Conduct - TIED
S/G - TIED
Arguments - PRO
PRO effectively showed how CON's quote worked to affirm the resolution.
Sources - TIED
Three to five. Close enough.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
I just got a seven-point vote. Why? Use your seven-point votes in my debates that both need and deserve them.
Posted by Brock_Meyer 7 years ago
Brock_Meyer
snelld7, I'll admit that was kind of a weak response; probably because that was not the productive area of discussion.
Posted by snelld7 7 years ago
snelld7
>>>Firstly, the thought experiment my opponent has drafted is unsound. A prosecutor will never bring to trial a case in which there is "not necessary enough [evidence] to convict the man" (for it reflects badly upon his record, imposes costs on the state, etc.)~Brock_Meyer
================================================================
Con, be realistic... Hopefully you don't TRULLY think nobody would bring a case to trial with insufficient evidence...

That's like saying every guilty verdict and every innocent verdict is right because the judge and jurors wouldn't want that following them..
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