The Instigator
Igor
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
LightC
Pro (for)
Winning
31 Points

In a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/22/2008 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,398 times Debate No: 6026
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (7)

 

Igor

Con

NEGATIVE

I negate: In a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote

For the sake of clarity, I would like to define some key terms:

(1) Democracy: a government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by their elected officials

(2) Felon: a person convicted of a serious criminal offense punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year

I offer the following observations of the resolution:
(1) Because America is a democracy, a society, and should not allow felons the privilege of voting, the United States complies with all restrictions in the resolution, thus implied by the resolution

(2) The resolution clearly states "felons" versus "ex-felons". The United Nations defines an ex-felon as somebody who has completed their sentence, and a felon, as stated in the resolution, as somebody currently serving their sentence. Therefore, my opponent must prove how letting felons vote in prison is upholding a just democracy

Value: Justice
Value Criterion: Maximization of Fairness

The Negative values justice. Justice is implied by the resolution because it deals with the punishment of felons. In order for a society to be democratic, all punishment must be fair and just. If punishment is not fair and just, a democracy cannot prosper. In this debate, I will show why this punishment is perfectly just.

I will show my value of justice through the maximization of fairness. Democracy is a majority rule. Currently, the United States is comprised of over 98% of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, versus the less than 2% of society that are murders and rapists. 98 to 2, who should get the rights?

To prove my point, I make the following arguments

(1) Retribution. Retribution is giving punishment that is deserved, or punishment that fits the crime. When somebody commits a felony, say rape, they treat their victim as a moral non-entity. An entity is a human being, so treating somebody as a non-entity is treating somebody less than human. So, the government has an obligation to punish this criminal. Does the government then in turn rape the felon? Of course not. This would be treating the felon as a moral non-entity, just as he did to his victim. This is cruel and unusual punishment that would make the government no better than the felon. But, the government still has to punish the felon. What is the government to do? The government must treat the felon as a political non-entity, in order to punish the criminal, yet not be cruel and unusual. Treating a felon as a political non-entity includes revoking the privilege of voting.

2) Legal Consistency. When felons are incarcerated, they are essentially removed from society – both for the punishment of the criminal and for the safety of the rest of society. In their removal from society, they lose certain rights that they would normally possess; they lose their social rights and the freedom of activity, occupational rights and the freedom to engage in the workforce, parental rights and the freedom to raise children, etc. Why, then, should criminals be allowed to maintain their political rights and the freedom to vote? There are many rights which are more basic taken away from the individual during his imprisonment; if we are to uphold some level of legal consistence and be uniform and fair in the level of punishment afforded to prisoners, then there is no reason why we should afford felons the privilege of voting and every reason not to.

3) Double Standard. By affirming the resolution, you are essentially condoning violent acts, which, as a democratic society, we are morally obliged not to do. By affirming the resolution, you are giving felons superior rights. You are not only treating felons as equal, but you are giving them rights that make them superior to normal, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens. You make the law-breakers into the law-makers. By affirming the resolution, you are saying that people who brake the law in the most brazen way, by committing a felony, would be better than a law-abiding citizen because they broke the law and still have the same amount of rights. As you can see, this is simply wrong.

Thank you, and it is for those reasons that I negate the resolution
LightC

Pro

I negate: In a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote

For clarity I offer the following definitions:

1. Democratic society: government dictated by the populous
2. Felons: people who have committed a felony
3. Retain: to keep and secure for future use

For analysis of the resolution I offer the following observations:

1. The resolution specifies felons. This includes people in jail and those who have finished their time of incarceration.
This is true for 2 reasons:

First, when a person commits a felony it remains on their permanent civil record. Thus, the government considers you a "felon"
Second, the definition of a felon implies this observation. The definition states "people who have committed a felony." The "have" indicated past events.

2. The affirmative burden is thus to prove that felons in society ought to retain the right to vote.

The affirmative values a democratic society. Since the resolution explicitly states a democratic society, this should be the superior value. This value is achieved by the criterion of Maximizing Participation. The resolution assumes that felon disenfranchisement is taking place in a democratic framework. Democracy is unique as a system of government because it allows people to rule themselves, and it is generally viewed that democracies that give more power to the people are better than democracies that give less power to the people. While there are many definitions of democracy, most would discourage felon disenfranchisement.If democracy is a procedure for individuals to aggregate their preferences to make policies, then any disenfranchisement is anti-democratic because it excludes the preferences of one group of individuals. Even if some people would view those preferences as "bad" society, a procedural view of democracy would hold that there is no legitimate basis for any preferences to be rejected. If democracy is based on participation and consent, felon disenfranchisement is wrong because felons cannot give consent to the laws that govern them because they cannot express their preferences through voting.

Contention I: Society uses disenfranchisement in order to prevent contestation of existing values

Whether or not they are rooted in a similar insecurity, it is clear that the justification for disenfranchisement and Rawls's reliance on punishment as a stabilizing device both follow from the impulse to protect society's standards from contestation. In Rawls's case, one's ability to contest society's standards is closed off by the imposition of the label "unreasonable"; in the case of disenfranchisement, this labeling is complemented by the explicit loss of one's political status.The criminal, in each instance, is created as the "other" to ward off the potential contestation of society's norms.' For Rawls, the assumption of strict compliance and the emphasis on consensus lead citizens of his well-ordered society to view the criminal as a "bad character" deserving ofpunishment, even if such punishment is illiberal from the standpoint of justice itself. With disenfranchisement, the act of creation is even clearer: The revocation of the right to vote itself differentiates the criminal as abnormal-it is a permanent mark of a lower status. "The process of making the criminal," Frank Tannenbaum writes, "is a process of tagging, defining, identifying,segregating, describing, emphasizing, making conscious and self- conscious; it becomes a way of stimulating, suggesting, emphasizing, and evoking the very traits that are complained of. The emphasis on the individual nature of the criminal's act or character makes it appear as if the criminal brings this process and the resulting lower status on himself, but society imposes it, acting to prevent a threat to the maintenance of its established standards.

[Rebuttal]

"The resolution clearly states "felons" versus "ex-felons". The United Nations defines an ex-felon as somebody who has completed their sentence, and a felon, as stated in the resolution, as somebody currently serving their sentence. Therefore, my opponent must prove how letting felons vote in prison is upholding a just democracy"

--> This is wrong for three reasons:

First, my opponents definition of a felon contradicts this observation on the fact that his definition implies past action. Meaning that his definition implies the fact that convition is after the fact. I.e. he is back in society

Second, he never provides a definition of retain, thus we must to look to my definition which implies future use.

Third, my opponent is wrong on the UN definition. The UN never makes a distinction between the two.

Value: Justice

--> Not inherent to the resolution, thus my value is superior.

Value Criterion: Maximization of Fairness

--> (Turn) Use my opponents criteria against him. Fairness implies a fair action. When a felon returns to society, it is only fair that he retains his right to vote, since he has paid his debt to society.

1. Retribution

--> My opponents point of retribution is no longer retribution for 3 reasons:

First, retribution implies a contract. Once a felon has served his time of incarceration he returns to society, thus reentering the contract.

Second, retribution implies proportionality. I.e. the punishment must fit the crime. Take away the right to vote is not proportionate because it is not a sufficient mechanism in the action of balancing the scale of justice.

Third, my opponents argument is contradictory to itself and dejusitifes incarceration. For example, someone kidnaps. In turn the government puts them in jail. According to my opponenet this is unjustified because it is making the government a kidnapper.

2. Legal Consistency

--> This is wrong for two reasons

First, this is contradictory to my opponents observation 1 (US specific observation). This point may be true in a non-federal government, like in France. However in the US this doesn't hold water because we have a federal system. I.e. the state and national government share power. This impacts my opponents contention 2 because in the US we do not have state consistency. For example, a rapist in NY may receive 15 years in prison, while a rapist in Texas may receive 45. Cross apply this to disenfranchisement. Maine and Vermont do not disenfranchise, while Arizona and New Mexico do. Turn this against my opponenet. His logic leads the conclusion that disenfranchisement is unjust because it is not consistent.

Second, when felons enter society, this is the governments stamp on the pay back to society. According to my opponents logic, we should keep them in jail forever, or just kill them to make a more consistent legal system. This is obviously unjust, and thus contradicts his value.

3. Double Standard

Simply turn this argument against my opponenet. By taking away a felon's right to vote is undoing the balance that incarceration achieves. When felons reenter society after incarceration, they are on on equal terms once again. However, when you disenfranchise them you are devaluing them compared to the rest of society. Therefore, it is the negative which is creating the double standard.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen
Debate Round No. 1
Igor

Con

I will begin with defending my case, and then move on to my opponents
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------NC--------------------------------
Observation 1)
--> my opponent did not attack this argument, thus you can extend this through the round. America can be used

Observation 2)

--> The UN does in fact define a felon in its database, accessible through their website, as "a person who has been tried and found guilty of a serious criminal offense through a fair legal court and is currently serving their incarceration." The United Nations also goes on to clarify what makes an ex-felon different from a felon. An ex-felon is "one who has successfully completed their sentence and re-enters society." The negative makes no argument against ex-felons, for ex-felons are not implied or stated in the resolution. The negative argues why felons, as stated in the resolution, ought not retain the right to vote

--> Not one definition online or any dictionary I have found defines the word 'retain' in the future tense. For example, merriam webster defines retain as "to keep in possession or use", therefore implying not only the present tense but the constanst keeping of a right. This, along with the wording of the resolution and my first argument with the UN, points to the conclusion of an incarcerated felon

Value: Justice

--> His only argument to my value is that it is 'not inherent to the resolution'. Therefore, as long as I prove that it is implied by the resolution, then my value is extended through the round. The resolution deals with how we should deal with punishment and what rights are maintained or denyed in incarceration. (Turn)--> You can actually turn this against my opponents inferior value of a democratic society, because the resolution specifically deals with the punishment of prisoners, and for a society to be truly democratic, all punishment must be fair and JUST (justice)

Value Criterion: Maximization of Fairness

--> As I already have stated, the resolution states a felon. I have already proven why it deals with incarcerated felons, just look to my defending of my second observation. Just as the affirmative made no attempt of arguing incarcerated felons, the negative makes no attempt in arguing an ex-felon because it is not inherent to the resolution.

Contentions:
1) Retribution:

--> a) Because a felon, by definition, is one who is serving their incarceration, once they re-enter society and thus the contract, they are no longer a felon, thus not inherent to the resolution

--> b) Taking away the right to vote and influence government is perfectly proportionate, for when one commits a felony they physically, mentally, or financially take or restrict someone else's rights, and thus inherently hurts the government. A felon hurts society, which is why society (as part of the jury) sentences a felon to imprisonment. Because a felon also hurts the government, the government has a right to restrict or take away a felon's rights, such as political rights and the freedom to vote

--> c) this is simply wrong and furthermore proves my opponent's poor logical reasoning. Let's take kidnap, for example, because my opponent brought it up. The Free Dictionary defines kidnap as 'to seize and detain unlawfully'. Because the government's incentive is not to cause pain (as a kidnapers is) but rather to protect society, as well as the fact that the government is not breaking any laws ('unlawfully'), this argument is dropped. Once again, the government does not rape rapists or steal millions from people who commit fraud, because the government cannot treat a felon as a moral non-entity, and thus must treat the felon as a political non-entity (because the government still has an obligation to punish the felon)

2) Legal Consistency

-->a) He says that we do not have legal consistency because of the length of incarceration, but I do not argue that. Let's take parental rights, for instance, because I argue them as an example. You do not lose your parental rights while incarcerated in Texas and retain them in New York. I am arguing that for a government to be fair and just, it must uphold legal consistency via rights during incaraceration. Because 48/50 states, or 96%, disenfranchise during imprisonment, the government should be able to disenfranchise in all states (the remaining 4%)

--> b) Once again, when a felon re-enters society, they are now considered an ex-felon by society, because the payment to society (imprisonment) is over and repaid. However, because a felony inherently hurts the government, the government now has an obligation to punish the felon. The government then takes away the felons say in said government.

3) Double Standard

--> a) This is nothing new. The government also restricts rights of ex-felons through the violation of the right to bear arms, violation of the right to serve on a jury...(etc) Still, however, this deals with ex-felons, versus felons. My opponent essentially agrees with the negative when he says that I am "undoing the balance incarceration achieves." My opponent then in turn agrees that disenfranshisement is justified while incarcerated, and because felons are CURRENTLY serving their sentence, he agrees with the negative
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------AC----------------------------------
Value: Democratic Society

--> As I have proven, justice is the 'higher standard'. Both are implied by the resolution, but for a society to be democratic it must uphold justice through punishment

VC: Maximizing Participation

--> Not inherent to the resolution. My criteria is better to uphold justice because the negative argues how a nation with less participation can be equally, if not, superior on a justice scale to a nation with more 'participation'.

--> Also, letting children (who are citizens) vote would increase participation. As you can see, however, this would not increase justice or lead to a strong democracy

Observations:
1) Felons and ex-felons

--> a) when a felon commits a felony, the government, because the felon has not fully repaid his debt to the government (he repaid his debt to society during imprisonment) aknowledges the felon as a felon. However, the resolution implies how society should punish this criminal, and upon re-entry of society, society essentially views the felon as an ex-felon, thus anything pertaining to an ex-felon is not resolutional.

-->b) All felonies are committed in the 'past tense'. For example, you would not be on trial for "is killing", but rather "have murdered". My opponent is saying that you cannot punish a felon for a past occurrence. But, because all felonies are committed in the past tense, my opponents logical reasoning is to dejustify all punishment, because all felonies have already been committed. (Turn)--> My opponent is dejustifying all punishment, and for a democratic society (his value) to exist, there must be punishment to insure the protection of said democratic society

Contentions
1) Society uses disenfranshisement in order to prevent contestation of existing values

--> My opponent is essentially saying that we cannot force felons to be second class citizens. This is wrong for 3 reasons:

1) Becoming a second-class citizen means losing some rights. If felons did not lose any rights in jail, then punishment could not exist. Once again, my opponent is saying that all punishment is unjust, which goes against his value

2) Felons have brought this on themselves. By comitting a felony, they treat their victim as a second class citizen.

3) (Turn) This goes against my opponents observation of felons being felons for life. If we are to not make them second class citizens upon re-entry, then we would not be treating them as felons for life
LightC

Pro

The UN does in fact define a felon in its database, accessible through their website, as "a person who has been tried and found guilty of a serious criminal offense through a fair legal court and is currently serving their incarceration." The United Nations also goes on to clarify what makes an ex-felon different from a felon. An ex-felon is "one who has successfully completed their sentence and re-enters society."

--> I have two responses:

First, my opponenet never provides a direct link for this site, and from my research the UN does not define it.

Second, even if you don't buy this response, simply use logic. It is impossible for the UN to define the word "felon" because most nations have abandoned the use of the word, and ergo make no legal distinctions between felons and misdemeanors, such as the US.

Not one definition online or any dictionary I have found defines the word 'retain' in the future tense. For example, merriam webster defines retain as "to keep in possession or use", therefore implying not only the present tense but the constanst keeping of a right.

--> I have two responses:

First, turn this against my opponenet. If he believes this should be the definition of retain for the round, he himself does not uphold it because he never categorically proves the resolution false under this pretense.

Second, under LD this definition is null and void isnce it was put into the round not as a formal definition (i.e. in the case) but in a rebuttal. Therefore, my formal definition is superior.

V: Justice

--> Fine, I concede this value. However, if he does not achieve the "democratic society" burden within the resokution, he should fail for the debate.

Value Criterion: Maximization of Fairness

--> My opponent makes a crucial mistake with this VC

First, he never defines what fairness is.

Second, I will use Rawl's understanding of fairness which is the idea of the first principle, which implies maximizing rights for everyone. Ergo, maximizing the right to vote.

1. Retribution

a - This point is flawed because I have already shown why there is no distinction. Furthermore, if you don't buy that argument, ex-felon is still a sub-category of a felon, thus can be an implied burden of the resolution.

b - My opponent never warrants what he just said. However, lets go back to my point about proportionality. It would only be proportionate if it effected someones voting rights. For example, a felon commits insider trading, obviously this felony does not hurt anther's voting right, thus it is not proport9ioante to disenfranchise.

c - My opponenet doesn't get my argument. I am saying that he dejustifies all punishment because all punishment treats someone else as a moral non-entity. Furthermore, my opponenet never warrants once in his case why "moral non-entities exist" and why it impacts a decision of the resolution.

2. Legal Consistency

a - My opponent doesn't understand my argument. Even if it is 48/50 states, there still would be no legal consistency because all states have di8fferent disenfranchisement laws.

[My case]

Value: Democratic Society

--> Basically my opponenet argues that his value is superior. However, given that I conceded his value, he still needs to achieve a democratic society because it is a burden in the resolution. He also brings up children. That's the point, no democratic society is the ideal democratic society, however the aff's case reaches that standard better then the neg.

1. Contestation of existing values

--> Drop all my opponents responses since I am not arguing that they are being stigmatized. I am arguing that disenfranchisement is a mechanism for not allowing contesting values within society. Basically, it oppresses other peoples views.
--> Since he didn't attack the idea of my point, extend it for the entire debate. If he tries to respond drop his attacks immediately.

[Clash]

1. The only main clash is the definitions. I.e. felons and retain. However, I clearly win this debate from my above responses.
Debate Round No. 2
Igor

Con

I will defend my own case, then move on to attack my opponents
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------NC

Observation 2) UN/felon and ex-felon

--> OK, if you used my opponents logic then the UN database would barely consist of any words due to the fact that very little is shared by all nations. For example, the UN defines communism. Most nations are not communistic, but the UN still defines it. Same here. Although some nations do not differenciate between a felony and misdeamenor, the UN still defines it.

Retain

--> I am not making the resolution categorically false, because my opponent is changing the wording of the resolution with his false (and probably made up) definition. My definition is not inferior, because a definition (my opponents) that is made up is not superior to anything

Value: Justice

--> yeah, he kind of just gave up on his democratic society value. Hopefully you, the voting panel, will catch that

VC: Maximization of Fairness

--> he says I never defined fairness (sorry, common sense implied), so I accept your view of fairness. But this is why it is wrong. Notice, how my opponent says 'everyone' and 'maximizing the right to vote'. Okay, giving some child in Africa the right to vote would be giving 'equal rights to all' and 'maximizing the right to vote'. So, as you can see, this does not uphold justice and fairness to the people here.

Cont: 1--> Retribution

--> If ex-felon is a sub-category(under) of a felon, then felon is a superior category of an ex-felon, My opponent openly aknowledges the fact that his whole case is built upon ex-felons, which, according to him, is inferior on a resolutional scale to that of a felon.

--> Okay, so now my opponent is saying you can only punish that which the felon violated. Let's take insider trading, shall we? Insider Trading does not violate anybody's pursuit of hapiness, yet, society puts them in jail which inherently violates their pursuit of hapiness. If you agree with my opponent, then you must rape rapists and asssault assaulters or just not punish them altogethher, neither of which would not uphold justice

Cont: 2--> Legal Consistency

--> states do not have different disenfranchisement laws through incarceration (outside the two that I argue should) You either retain your right to vote (which only 4% of states do, and I argue that they should do not) or you lose it (which they should)

Cont: 3--> Double Standard

--> my opponent did not attack this contention, therefore it can be extended through to the final round. My opponent is dropping more and more of my arguments

[Rebuttal]

Value: Democratic Society

--> He concedes that my value is superior. End of Story

VC: Maximizing Participation

--> he does not defend my attacks on his VC. Therefore, you can extend to the final round.

Cont: 1--> Contesting Views

--> My opponent says that I did not understand my argument, so, therefore, as long as I prove that my first rebuttal was pertaining to his case, my attack stands through to the final round (he did not say 'well even if it was about my case, this is why it is wrong...')

--> My opponent says 'basically, it oppresses other peoples views'. So, by oppressing you or your views, I treat you as less than a normal citizen, ergo treating them as second class citizens. Just for review, I will list THREE reasons that this is false

--> 1) Becoming a second-class citizen means losing some rights. If felons did not lose any rights in jail, then punishment could not exist. He is dejustifying ALL punishment

2) Felons have brought this on themselves. By committing a felony, they treat their victim as a second class citizen

3) (TURN) This goes against my opponent observastion of felons being felons for life. If we are not to make them into second class upon re-entry, then we would not be treating them as felons for life. My opponent has an option: Drop this contention (his only one) or drop his felon-exfelon observations. They cannot coincide with each other

[Chrystallize]

--> His value is noy only inferior to that of mine, but he openly aknowledges that it is as well. His whole case is based on democracy (democratic society), so proving his value inferior should destroy the rest of his case, as well as my attacks on them

--> His value criteria attack was dropped, and cannot be defended in the last rebuttal. He realizes that my criteria better upholds the value of justice

--> I attacked all of his contentions (only one) and observations (only one). He dropped his attack on my third contention and accepted my first observation

The negative reminds the voting panel that the affirmative, because he speaks last, cannot make any new arguments and only attack that which I have defended and defend that which I have attacked

Thank you ladies and gentlemen, and that it why I urge a strong negation of the resolution
LightC

Pro

Since I'll try to make this debate as close to LD as possible, I'll go straight to voting issues.

There are 3 reasons why you should vote Affirmative/Pro:

First, the values based debate. The Affirmative upholds both structures. Looking at my opponents structure. The Affirmative better achieves justice for a simple reason. He never defines what justice is so you can look at my Rawlsian definition which is maximizing rights. I better achieve his VC because the only way to maximize fairness is when fairness is due. Once a felon returns to society, they ought to regain their right to vote because it is fair. Now, lets look to my value structure. My value of a democratic society is better achieved on my side because of my VC. To better achieve a dem. society is through maximizing participation which is clearly done by the affirmative.

Second, since the meaning and context of my Contention I was never refuted gives clear evidence for a aff. vote. Why? Simple. It is directly inherent to the resolution because the resolution implies democratic ideals. Democratic ideals are built on the idea of contesting values within society.

Third, my opponents case never negates the resolution because the obligation of the neg is not to prove the resolution categorically false, as he was trying to do, but prove the resolution within the affirmative context untrue. Since he does not do this at all, i.e. he never proves why felons who return to society ought to retain the right to vote, you cannot negate because he has not proved the resolution untrue within an affirmative contextual world.

For these reasons you can affirm.
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by LightC 7 years ago
LightC
Your account got closed.
Posted by Igor 8 years ago
Igor
making this as close to LD as possible also entails defending your case and attacking my case. You failed to do both, and instead blew smoke by creating three voting issues that merely do nothing except use fancy words. If I knew the voting panel would have liked nice vocabulary words, i would have used a thesaurus
Posted by LightC 8 years ago
LightC
>.> As I said in the beginning part of my last rebuttal: "Since I'll try to make this debate as close to LD as possible, I'll go straight to voting issues." It would not be realistic if I did a total line-by-line analysis.
Posted by Igor 8 years ago
Igor
wow, no offense kevin, i love you and everything, but u dropped all of your arguments in your last rebuttal.
Posted by LightC 8 years ago
LightC
Yes, I am Cirro.
Posted by Igor 8 years ago
Igor
wait, is LightC really Cirro?
Posted by Igor 8 years ago
Igor
yeah no problem, I'll post tomorrow

Good Luck
Posted by LightC 8 years ago
LightC
Sorry, it should say "I AFFIRM."
Posted by LightC 8 years ago
LightC
No body defines it because then it could lead to strictly a "critique" debate
Posted by Puck 8 years ago
Puck
Indeed. :D
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