The Instigator
dabigdood
Pro (for)
Losing
15 Points
The Contender
Pluto2493
Con (against)
Winning
16 Points

In a democracy, civil disobedience is an appropriate weapon in the fight for justice

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/9/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,433 times Debate No: 1613
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (6)
Votes (9)

 

dabigdood

Pro

In this resolution, the meaning of ‘civil disobedience' will be extremely important so I will briefly define it. Civil disobedience is "the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or of an occupying power, without resorting to physical violence. Often the law being broken is the one being protested" according to Webster's dictionary. The word ‘Democracy' is another trouble spot. In a pure democracy, the people vote on everything, in the world today and in the foreseeable future, this type of government does not, and will not, exist. In this debate, my partner and I see no reason to debate on something that has no relevance in the world so we will be using the many countries that show basic signs of democracy. My partner and I stand in firm affirmation of this resolution today for three main reasons:

1.Civil disobedience has been very effective in the past

2.A democracy is supposed to be a government for the people and this is a very effective way to get the governments attention on things the citizens care about

3.and the laws that are being broken are unjust

My first contention today is that in the past civil disobedience has been very successful in democracies. There are the obvious examples of the many sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience in our very own country, which is a democracy, during the civil rights movements. First for the sit-ins: sit-ins, according to the American Heritage Dictionary are defined as when "protesters seat themselves and remain seated until they are evicted, usually by force, or until their requests have been met." This relates to the definition of civil disobedience because these protesters disobey the law that requires them to relocate unless they have a permit or in some cases the law that disobeys them from being there in the first place without using violence. These sit-ins can be a very effective way of getting the unjust law that they are protesting noticed without having to wait until the next election and further put off their justice. Some other examples of civil disobedience that have been effective in the past are Rosa Parks refusing to give her seat up on a bus in 1955 which helped unite the nation against racism, also the Boston Tea Party is an example of civil disobedience and that united the colonies to fight for their freedom against England.

My second contention stated that a democracy is a government created for the people and this is the only way that the citizens concerns will be answered in a timely fashion. Going back to my and my partner's definition of a democracy the people do not vote directly on important matters, such as a law that is unjust towards the people, we vote on the people that may change and make these laws. This can become problematic because sometimes the unjust laws go unnoticed by some lawmakers who may not be affected by them. Civil disobedience is one way to alert these lawmakers that there is a problem with these laws, which affects many people.

My third, and final, contention is that often the laws that are being protested are also the ones being broken, and if they are being protested they must be unjust, and it is a right of people in a democracy to not obey unjust laws and try to fix them, it is, by substitution, a right of people in a democracy to use civil disobedience to make a law just. Going back through those steps, by the definition of civil disobedience most of the time "the law being broken is the one being protested" as I have already stated. For the second step, the law that is being protested is obviously unjust; otherwise, it would not be protested. The final step is the most difficult, John Locke, a British philosopher, was the one to have deduced this. Then when you combine these ideas, it is evident that civil disobedience is an appropriate weapon in the fight for justice.
To conclude, I stand in firm affirmation of the resolution today for these three reasons

1.Civil disobedience has been very effective in the past

2.A democracy is supposed to be a government for the people and this is a very effective way to get the governments attention on matters the citizens care about

3.and finally the laws that are being broken are unjust therefore they shouldn't be followed.
Pluto2493

Con

Greetings. Are you a PF debater? I am policy.

First I would like to define the word 'Justice'. Justice: rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason: to complain with justice.
This is a people's defintion and is the best one in the round.
Civil Disobidence can not be an appropriate weapon simply because the word 'justice' implies obeying laws.

2) In a democracy: I also would like to disagree with your implications of this phrase. The resolution does not state, 'in models of a democracy' or 'countries that consider themselves a democracy'. The fact is is that the emperical examples of civil disobedience were never in a democracy. The Civil Rights Movement suffered from unconstitutional Jim Crow Laws. They also denied African Americans the right to vote. That is not a 'democracy'. Gahndi certainly was not in a democracy, but rather an empire.

3) If everyone was civily disobedient, we would end up in anarchy. Everyone has different views on different political situations. This does not mean that everyone can protest without obeying the law. For instance, I disagree with the No Child Left Behind Act. Bush defends it. If no one were to take the tests, what you be the point? Many people are opposed to the Iraq War because it is unjust, but if everyone disobeyed laws to protest, we would have to make more of an effort in our country to deal with this, and the problem in Iraq would only get worse.

4) Even peaceful, Civily disobedient protests can escalate into violence. For instance, there was immence rioting when Ghandi was arrested, as well as when MLK was.

5) Civil Disobedience is not the correct way to get your message across. There is the court of law that exists in a democracy, as well as peaceful protests that obey the law. That is what MLK advocated, and even told people to not bail him out because he believed in the system.

Now onto your points-
1. <>
As in my first point, these were not in a democracy. He cites Rosa Parks, but again, that was under unconstitutional Jim Crow Laws.
And they he says, "Boston Tea Party is an example of civil disobedience and that united the colonies to fight for their freedom against England."
'Fight for their freedom'. That does not sound like a democracy to me.

2. <>

As I have said in point 5, there are other ways, like the court of law. Our country is a 'democracy', and we have the right to a SPEEDY trial. It would be eaiser to obey the law and get your point across then not obey the law and get your point across.

3. <>
That may be true for certain laws, but not others. Laws that violate the constitution aren't 'in a democracy', so my opponent can not make this argument. Also, there are many laws that are being broken that are just. Most are. For example, robbing a building. The robber is obviously breaking the law, but that does not mean that he is moral, because he is against that law.

It is for these reasons that I negate the resolution, In a democracy, civil disobedience is an appropriate weapon in the fight for justice.
Debate Round No. 1
dabigdood

Pro

Yes I am, I tried policy for a while last year but I couldn't stand having the same resolution the whole year.

I would like to start this round by attacking your points, I will then move on to my own and show you the flaws with your rebuttals.

1) First I would like to call into question your definition of the word justice. Having looked through all of the definitions on Dictionary.com (which is where I assume you got your definition), it is the only one out of the four definitions that could be applied in this situation that mentions "lawfulness," most of the definitions are based off "righteousness" or morality. It also seems that you are misunderstanding the resolution, it does not ask whether civil disobedience is justified it asks whether civil disobedience is an appropriate weapon to achieve justice. The word you should really be looking at here is "appropriate" so I will define that "suitable or fitting for a particular purpose, person, occasion, etc." There is nothing about lawfulness there so I see your contention null and void.

2) So if I understand you correctly here this is basically a counterpoint to my second contention and that we should interpret this resolution extremely literally , Correct? You seem to be saying that my examples of how civil disobedience has worked in the past are not true examples at all because the US was not a democracy even though later, when attacking my second point, you stated "Our country is a 'democracy', and we have the right to a SPEEDY trial." This seems very contradictory to me therefore I see that point null and void also.

3) In the opening sentence of this contention you make the huge jump that civil disobedience can lead to anarchy and then don't really tell me how. So I will tell you why it wont. In the past there have been many acts of civil disobedience yet no anarchy. Some examples are: Ghandi's acts of civil disobedience in India and all of the examples that I have already given from the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Whether these examples are ones from a 'democracy' is really irrelevant because there is no logical reason that civil disobedience would be more likely to break out in anarchy in a democracy than any other type of government which makes this point also null and void.

4) This may be partially true, but the vast majority of instances of civil disobedience do not erupt in violence. It may seem that most of these protests end with violence, but that is only due to the fact that it makes a better story for the press to write about. In addition, you could also say that many other things, that are perfectly legal, have lead to violence in just as many, if not more instances. For some examples: sporting events, alcohol, and gangs have caused many instances of violence. Both of these reasons make this contention null and void also.

5) While it may be true that in the end segregation and the theory of "separate but equal" were put down by the courts, these laws would never even have been called into question if civil disobedience was not used by people like Rosa Parks and MLK (yes he used civil disobedience also, which is how he ended up in jail in the first place).

Now on to rebuilding my own points-

You say that Rosa Parks did not employ civil disobedience under a democracy. As I have already stated, about two paragraphs later you clearly state that the US is a democracy. Rosa Parks used civil disobedience in the United State so again your arguments are contradictory here. It is also not all that relevant whether these examples that I have given were from a democracy, the point is that they worked so I think on this contention you are really missing the point.

I will again bring up that in arguing my contention here you say that the US is a democracy, which clashes with the rest of your case. Also you say that people in the US you have a right to a "quick and SPEEDY trial." While this may be stated in the constitution, it is rarely true. After Brown vs the Board of Education, the case that said that the idea of 'separate but equal' was not acceptable, it took 16 years for 'separate but equal' laws in areas not concerning the school system to disappear. You also say that it would be "easier to obey the law and get your point across then not obey the law and get your point across." This is not only false but it is not what is easier that matters it is what is more effective. When I talk about civil disobedience "working" my definition of 'working' could be many things ranging from: it raised awareness that a law is unjust and getting the law tried in a court (because that will always be the place where the problem will really get resolved), to, in a true democracy, getting the law in question on a voting ballot for the people to vote on and hopefully change.

OK first off your analogy with the bank robber is outrageous because I'm almost positive that robbers are not protesting the law that thievery is illegal, they are simply trying to make money. Also, I have looked through many different definitions of 'democracy' and nowhere have I found that "Laws that violate the constitution aren't 'in a democracy'." The most frequent definition that I've found is "a form of government in which the citizens of a state vote directly on all governmental affairs." So I think that until you can find a definition that says laws cannot be passed unless they are parallel to the constitution I think your restriction that I "can not make this argument" is also null and void.

Thank you for debating. I think that I've learned a lot from this and now I wish I had allowed for more rounds.
Pluto2493

Con

Let's just jump right into it.

Offense-
1) "It also seems that you are misunderstanding the resolution, it does not ask whether civil disobedience is justified it asks whether civil disobedience is an appropriate weapon to achieve justice. The word you should really be looking at here is "appropriate"

Not true. Appropriate can mean in any field. Plus, Civil Disobedience could be an appropriate weapon, to say, achieve a goal, but it is not 'an appropriate weapon IN THE FIGHT FOR JUSTICE'. In this resolution, it would be paradoxical to achieve civil disobence and fight for justice.

2) "it is the only one out of the four definitions that could be applied in this situation that mentions "lawfulness," most of the definitions are based off "righteousness" or morality."

Is not the one about 'lawfulness' the most contextual in the round? It wouldn't have any impact whatsoever if I talked about mortality. And that in now way affects my stance. Even if there are other definitions in the context of rightousness, it doesn't mean there can't be a definition in the context of law.

3) <>

I would like to point out that that is not a contradiction. Our country now, by your definition, is a democracy. My point was that the examples you gave of civil disobedience working were, in fact, not in a democracy, Like that of blacks in the civil rights movement. That was unconstitional and did not allow them the right to vote.

4) "This may be partially true, but the vast majority of instances of civil disobedience do not erupt in violence."

My answer is: why take the risk? There is a significant number that do escalte, even though not all do. This can not be compared to things like sporting events because those almost NEVER are violent. By that definition, talking to you right now could escalate into verbal violence or something. The fact is, if people are breaking laws, are protesting against people who have strong beleifs, there is a much greater chance that that could escalte into violence.

5) <>

First of all, how can we be sure of this? Many African Americans were already protesting, and continued to throught the Mongomery Bus incident. We can not say for sure that these are what made people think. I know if I lived back then, I would oppose these laws even if MLK wasn't around.
Second, My argument was that nowadays, in our democracy, anyone who protested a law could take it to court directly, sign a petition, or one of many other things to get their point across. This argument is only specific to one instance of civil disobedience that wasn't even in a democracy.

6) <>

The reason is very simple: If there are no laws to keep people in place, what's holding them back from commiting 'crimes'? The government would fail because they have no way to keep their citizens under control. What's holding me back from stealing something? The fear of law. If there's no law, there's no fear, and there's nothing holding me back from stealing that object.

rebuilding my points-
1) The word 'justice' in the resolution voids civil disobedience being an appropriate weapon, because fighting for justice means obeying rule of law.

2) Many examples of civil disobedience working are flawed, because they did not exist under a democracy. In a real democracy, there are other ways things can be dealt with. (see #5)

3) We can not all be civil disobedient, or all hell would break loose, because there is nothing stopping us from commiting 'crimes'. To set a double-standard for some people would itself be unjust and pointless, because who's gonna apoint them? The government? I'm sure the govt. doesn't want people breaking laws.

4) Civil Disobedience can very well lead to more violent conflicts when two parties disagree.

5) There are other effective ways to get your message across and obeying the law such as court, petitions, and even peaceful protests.

Defense-
1)<>

Yes, the US is a democracy NOW, not THEN, as I have already stated.

2) <>

Yes, it very well is. You must give examples that meet the resolution, or they do not mean anything. If I said 'The UK is a democracy', that would not have anything to do with the US being a democracy, even though it talks about another instance of democracy.

3) <>

The fact is, Legal ways are just as effective in a true democracy. There would be no reason to break the law. The jury would pick what they believed to be right or wrong, and the topic would be resolved quickly. That does not involve breaking a law. You could raise the same amount of attention with a court case than you could with being arrested.

4) <>

Well, obviously if a country calls themselves a democracy, like ours, and they don't meet their own rule of law, they aren't a democracy! The constitution is a set of guidelines to stay on the right track with democracy. If we break those rules, we can't call ourselves a true democracy.

Good debate, I really learned a lot. We're done with our debate season but still have a class, so many of my classmates are trying PuFo. I wanted to see what this was all about.
Debate Round No. 2
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Tiya 8 years ago
Tiya
Well I would have suggested researching more on why MLK was actually in jail. He was kept in jail not because of civil disobedience but because of a parking ticket. Most of what he did was not against the law because he was a peaceful man. Protesting, speeches, meeting with elected officials ...all not against the law. He was arrested during a lunchroom sit in and was not held on any charges. They decided to keep him in jail for an outstanding warrant on a parking ticket. JFK was the one who got him out of jail (before he was elected president) which is why he was a popular candidate at the time. So it is definitely arguable that it was his acts of non-civil disobedience that brought about change considering most of what he was doing at the time was upholding the law (e.g. freedom riders). Also I would argue that the violence was not because of civil disobedience but because of the people's anger towards the government. It is not the fault of one man. Thoreau does a great job of making this argument. You should check it out. Good job guys.

Also I would point out that there were many acts of civil disobedience in the past for causes that did not result in change.
Posted by Pluto2493 8 years ago
Pluto2493
Ah, will someone plz tell me why im losing? Not complaining, just wondering!
Posted by Pluto2493 8 years ago
Pluto2493
RFD's people, please

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Posted by Rousseau 8 years ago
Rousseau
Hmm... I think this debate would be more interesting were it to go more rounds.
Posted by dabigdood 8 years ago
dabigdood
Yeah I think last months topic was much better because it was more current. And yeah that one was good and unexpected but I did my best to rebut it.
Posted by Rousseau 8 years ago
Rousseau
Ah, PuF debate... Sometimes you get real contraversial topics and sometimes not. This one, at least at face-value isn't, but I really do like Con's points. Especially the first point. There isn't much of a way to argue that, except defensively. I also like the definition of justice attack and that'll be a major voter for me. All in all, good stuff, looking forward to the responses.
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