The Instigator
el.edward512
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
manutdredseal46
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

In a democratic society, felons out to retain the right to vote.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
el.edward512
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/8/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,298 times Debate No: 5915
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)

 

el.edward512

Pro

I affirm the resolution: in a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote. This resolution not only deals with the United States, but with all democratic societies in the world. Before moving on to the values, I will proceed to clarify definitions. Democracy: a form of government where the supreme power is held by the people;. Felon: a person currently convicted of a felony and not yet completely served their sentences –whether it is imprisonment, probation or parole. Felony: a serious crime (such as murder or arson).
My value premise is Democracy; because this resolution deals with felon disenfranchisement in a democratic society, our main goal is to be democratic. Because a democracy is a form of government where the power is held by the people, maintaining the rights of the people is essential to having a democracy. The people's rights must be protected so that they may maintain the supreme power that they hold over the government. Therefore, my value criterion is protection of human rights. There are certain rights that people are entitled to, and that they must have in order to have a functional democratic society.
My first contention is that voting is a right in democratic societies that cannot be violated. All people reserve the right to vote and let their opinions be heard in a democratic society. Because a democracy gives power to the people, we cannot choose who has the right to vote. A clear example of a democracy is the United States. Although it is not a pure democracy, it is as close to one a nation can be without being impractical. The United States has a population approximately of 305,559,149. A pure democracy would have to count every one of these votes – therefore a democratic republic is the best way to handle a large population while maintaining a democracy. The Founding Fathers founded this nation upon the idea that everyone is equal and that everyone is entitled to equal rights. The First Amendment of the Constitution includes many rights – one of these is the right to free speech. If a normal civilian's voice is heard through their vote, and a felon is not, we have violated their right to free speech by limiting the impact of their opinion. Even though this resolution does not specifically deal with the United States, it can be agreed that a democratic society tries to give everyone the right to have a say in the government to uphold the concept that the supreme power is held by the people. The sentencing of a felon violates no other rights than the right to liberty – which is why imprisonment is such a severe sentence. Every person has a right to have their voice heard in the government and by letting felons retain their RIGHT to vote, we protect their human rights in a democratic society.
My second contention is that disenfranchising felons does not fulfill any of the recognized penal goals. These are retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation and incapacitation. Felon disenfranchisement does not fulfill any of these reasons to punish someone. Felon disenfranchisement does not deter felonies and it does not incapacitate the felon from doing any more crimes. It is clear and quite obvious that felon disenfranchisement does not deter crimes, because a felon undeterred by the chance of being caught and sent to jail won't be deterred by the threat of disenfranchisement, and it also does not stop them from committing future crimes. Violating someone's right to vote is not a suitable method of retribution because it is not proportioned to the offense.
My third contention is that by taking away a felon's rights to vote you are counter-productive because you hinder the rehabilitation process. When felons are trying to become normal civilians once again, they need to receive the same benefits as a civilian would. This includes the right to vote. Because a democracy aims to be fair and just it gives power to the people. When you let felons retain the right to vote, you understand that violation of this inherent right is not a suitable method of retribution and you also realize that you help the rehabilitation process by giving them that right. Certain prison facilities are named "Rehabilitation Centers" because they realize that part, and maybe even most, of the reason for imprisoning felons is to rehabilitate them. Through this we can see that rehabilitation is a goal of the justice system and needs to be valued when punishing a felon for crimes. By helping the felons merge with society and become a civilian again, you protect their right to be assisted in the rehabilitation process, and by stripping them of the right to vote, you hinder that right.
My fourth contention is that felons aren't necessarily irrational, mentally unstable, and against society. By not letting felons retain the right to vote, you assume that there would be a negative impact on society by giving them the right to vote. However, felonies aren't universally agreed upon, so it is an unfair assumption that felons would negatively affect society. Clear examples of this are sodomy laws everywhere in the world. Sodomy is a felony in places like the state of Virginia, Algeria, Botswana, and Nicaragua, just to name a few. These laws aren't the same in different democratic societies throughout the globe; therefore any statement saying that felons are against society is invalid. Because felonies are not agreed upon globally, there is a blurred line between choice and the right to do certain actions. Therefore, we can agree that we not only protect certain people's rights on the level of doing what they want, but we also protect the right of felons to not have the label of counter productive toward society.
manutdredseal46

Con

To my respected opponent, El Edward, thank you for starting this debate. I hope it will be a good one.

>Friedrich von Schiller once said that "votes should be weighed, not counted." I agree with him, and it is because I believe in a social contract with the government that I choose to negate the resolution:

>Negated: In a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote.

>For clarification of the round, I would like to offer the following definitions (in addition to yours):

>Felon: a person who has been convicted of a felony, which is a crime punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison

>Felony (elaboration): a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison, as distinguished from a misdemeanor which is only punishable by confinement to county or local jail and/or a fine

>Murderer: One guilty of murder; a person who, in possession of his reason, unlawfully kills a human being with premeditated malice.

>Social Contract: Implied agreements by which people form nations and maintain a social order. Such social contract implies that the people give up some rights to a government and other authority in order to receive or jointly preserve social order

>I would also like to offer the following observations:

:: Observation ::

>Due to the wording of the resolution, the felon may or may not be jailed at present. Also due to the wording of the resolution, the affirmative has the burden of proof and must prove the resolution true in all cases.

:: Value ::

>My value is Human Rights. All humans are given fundamental rights in a democratic society. These rights allow the members of society to freely exercise their views. If, however, the members of society were to break the social contract with the government, then they would not deserve the same rights as others. Having its contract with the individual broken, the government is not longer obliged to allow the felons any right to alter its processes, and thus can revoke the right to vote.

:: Value Criterion ::

>My value criterion is a Social Contract. Social contracts are vital in every society, democratic or not, because they allow the citizens and the government to give each other power, but also to limit one another. This is fundamentally vital to the legislative processes. Once a citizen has committed a felony and become a felon they have shown that they no longer respect the social contract having committed a high crime. This principle means that the government is no longer responsible to represent the felon as the felon has misrepresented it. It is then under the government's discretion whether or not to re-grant privileges such as the right to vote back to the individual.

:: Contention 1 ::

>My first contention is that felons do not deserve to decide an election. When felons break the social contract with their government their government is no longer obligated to let them choose its members. If felons were given suffrage and actually did decide an election then an unfit candidate would probably be elected, having a negative impact on society and ultimately showing the poor decision making that caused the felons to become felons in the first place. This will then adversely affect all members of society for the worse of the people. This in itself is a far greater crime than a felony is.

:: Contention 2 ::

>My second contention is that once felons commit a crime against a society they no longer deserve to be a part of that society. They have violated the social contract with the government as so many other citizens have not. They do not deserve equal treatment to the rest of society because they have made an anti-societal gesture in committing a felony. It is rash to believe that felons have truly changed and become more productive members of society after committing such a high crime. It is an assumption that a society cannot make because it will then endanger itself by allowing convicted felons equality in an unequal world.

:: Sub-point A ::

>My sub-point A is that all people are created equal but they all make different decisions and do not stay equal. Felons are not chosen to be diverse than the rest of society, they make that choice themselves when committing a felony. They are asking to be valued above the rest of society when they ask to be given the same right to vote. They have committed a high crime and do not deserve the same societal rights as those who have not. That teaches felons that it is permissible to commit a felony and in addition to voting they would even commit a felony again, thus making society much less safe.

:: Sub-point B ::

>My sub-point B is that equality cannot be achieved in the case of murderers. Having "[killed] a human being with premeditated malice" the murderer has taken the right to vote from their victim. Being deceased, that person can no longer vote or voice their values. The murderer then cannot be granted the right to vote in the interest of equality because they have then created an unequal system by killing off a person and effectively their voice while still retaining their won.

:: Conclusion ::

>In conclusion, the stipulation of this resolution is which rights felons do and do not deserve. The resolution is correctly negated because felons are not deserving of the right to vote after breaking their social contract with their government. They do not deserve equality to the rest of society because they have committed a high crime (felony) which most of society has not. To treat felons like all others within the society would be endorsing the idea of committing felonies; implicating that despite committing a felony, felons will still be treated like the rest of the society, which should not happen.

>I will now move on to my opponent's case.

:: Value ::

>I agree with my opponent that a main goal in a democratic society (hence the name) is to be democratic. I believe that my opponent does not realize that even democracy has limits. If the democracy would allow its members to go around committing felonies then the society would not survive very long. The democracy needs to be realistic about how much it limits felons.

:: Value Criterion ::

>Basically the same as my argument against my opponent's value; there must be limits in any society.

:: Contention 1 ::

>The first thing I would like to bring up is that references to the Founding Fathers and the United States Constitution are not valid in this debate because the resolution refers to a democratic society, not to a republic as is the United States. My argument against you contention is this: felons have made the choice to commit a felony or high crime in their society. Is it really correct to allow them the same rights as good law-abiding people?

:: Contention 2 ::

>The first thing that I would like to say is that my opponent did a brilliant job of saying his second contention and he deserves a great deal of credit for it. Sadly, though, he is not entirely correct. Though disenfranchisement does not fit any of your reasons for punishment, it is not a punishment so much as it is stopping the felons from poorly influencing the processes of the government.

:: Contention 3 ::

>My attack against my opponent's third contention goes back to my observation. My observation states that "due to the wording of the resolution, the affirmative has the burden of proof and must prove the resolution true in all cases." Felons do not become normal civilians in all cases. Repeat offenders exist. These repeat offenders are not deserving of the right to vote while they keep committing crimes.

:: Contention 4 ::

>In his fourth contention my opponent referred to many different countries around the globe where felonies are not the same. That is very true; however, the resolution refers to a hypothetical democratic society, not to any one of those countries.
Debate Round No. 1
el.edward512

Pro

I'd like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

I accept all definitions but with a question against "Social Contract". Social Contract is a theory set forward by multiple people and there are different takes on it. Which Social Contract is my opponent using? (Locke, Hobbes, etc.)

Observations: Although my opponent can prove that the government has the power to strip a felon of the right to vote, he still has the burden of proving why the Government SHOULD take away the right to vote. (What negative effect is there of letting felons vote?)

Values:
First of all, I'd like to bring up Social Contract again. My opponent's framework is based on this idea, and without specifying which social contract he is using in this debate, I have no idea what he values.

Affirmative Defense:

1C: My opponent says that referencing the Founding Fathers is invalid because the resolution does not refer specifically to the U.S. However, as I stated before the United States IS still a democratic society (making it a valid example for this resolution) and I have also proved that a democratic republic is the best form of democracy with a large population. My opponent does not state why a democratic republic is not a valid form of democracy - something he needs to do in order to make my example invalid. Against the question that my opponent asks: The reason that we allow them the same rights is to help them merge with society once again (elaborated on in my later contentions). A Democracy aims to give the supreme power to the people - once we start limiting who gets to have this power, we stray away from a democracy. My opponent has yet to prove that voting is not a right.

2C: My opponent has yet to prove why letting felons vote would negatively affect our government. His statement of "...poorly influencing the processes of the government" falls without a warrant for why there would be a poor influence. (I will address this on my attack)

3C: As my opponent seems to imply, I wasn't arguing that felons would become normal civilians. I was arguing that felons are entitled to the right to be rehabilitated and an attempt must be made to merge them with society once again. By letting felons retain the right to vote, we encourage the rehabilitation process. The names of certain prison facilities clearly show the goal of the facility - to rehabilitate.

4C: My fourth contention was an argument against any argument that felons would be counterproductive to society.

Negative Case:

1C: My opponent assumes that felons would make a bad decision in voting for president. However, we must understand a democracy values the majority. Felons do not make up the majority in any society. Also, if a felon were to vote for someone that a normal civilian were voting for, do we consider them both as "negatively influencing" our government? We cannot assume that a felon would vote for someone against society. This is proven in my fourth contention - because felonies aren't agreed upon universally, we cannot assume that all felons are against society.

2C: My opponent makes an argument that felons ought to be stripped of their rights because they have committed a felony. However, the only right stripped when incarcerating a felon is their right to liberty. Because they are felons, do we strip them of the right to free speech? religion? Stating that felons should have their rights stripped just because of a felony is absurd because my opponent bases this argument on the idea that only the right to vote should be stripped.
SA: Although people may not stay equal based on the actions they choose, voting is an inalienable right. My opponent again bases his argument on the idea that rights can be stripped if people commit felonies. My opponent does not state why voting is the specific right that can be stripped, but why the right to life/speech/religion is not or cannot.
SB: My opponents subpoint B is exclusive only to murderers. Also, my opponent bases this argument on a "eye for an eye" type of principle. Because the murderer took away the right to vote by killing, they cannot have the right to vote. First of all, I'd like to point out that using this type of logic, the murderer would have to be killed anyway. Second, this principle implies that we should rape rapists. Or for someone who killed two people, kill them twice. It is impossible to run a justice system on the principle of eye for an eye.

I'd like to point out that my opponent doesn't point out any sort of negative effect on society (except for the implication in contention 1 that I already addressed) from letting felons retain the right to vote.
manutdredseal46

Con

To my esteemed opponent: Thank you for your response, as negative as it is.

>Social Contract is a theory, yes, and many people have different takes on it. I am simply using the definition of social contract that I previously defined. If you compare my definition to those of the men my opponent speaks of, it is closest to the Hobbes theory.

:: Observation ::

>My opponent has highlighted what I have and have not proved. What he has not done is related his statement to my previous statements which expressed the merits of the decisions that felons made. In my own words (R1), felons will "[show] the poor decision making that caused the felons to become felons in the first place. This will then adversely affect all members of society for the worse of the people. This in itself is a far greater crime than a felony is." This, in his words, is "why the Government SHOULD take away the right to vote."

:: Value ::

>See above.

:: Contention 1 ::

>Please note in addition to the Founding Fathers that I did mention the Constitution which I assume my opponent has forfeited as he has failed to mention it. The reason that a republic is not a valid form of democracy (because of my opponent's request) can best be noticed in the United States Court System. If there are twelve jurors and one of them votes innocent, then even versus eleven votes for guilty there will not be a guilty verdict. In a democracy one vote versus eleven would mean that the eleven (majority) wins. This means that the government values an innocent vote differently than a guilty vote. It is just like this with felon disenfranchisement, the innocent vote is always worth more.

:: Contention 2 ::

>See Observation.

:: Contention 3 ::

>As previously stated (R1), the affirmative must prove his case true in all cases. Not all rehabilitation is successful and not all felons rehabilitate. Therefore, rehabilitation is invalid because it is not true in all cases.

:: Contention 4 ::

>As I have stated pretty much all of the time, felons are counterproductive to society. I am predicting that I would be asked for elaboration, so I will simply say that felonies are not productive because committing felonies is not productive.

:: My Contention 1 ::

>Please note that I never said the word president in all of R1. Though my assumption is an assumption which is not always a good thing to make, it is a logical assumption because by following a logical trend of what the felon has done in the past (commit a felony mainly), they are likely to make another bad decision in the future.

:: My Contention 2 ::

>To my respected opponent: what other right do you propose we take away from felons? None of them work except for the right to vote. To name a few, the right to freedom of religion (as my opponent also mentioned) simply cannot be revoked because it is not possible to truly control what another individual believes. Another right, the right to freedom of speech (again mentioned by my opponent) being revoked would make the felon a less productive part of society, which, as my opponent suggests, is not the goal. Last right, freedom of assembly, would do no good to be revoked because it would just make life harder for the felon, which, again, is not the goal.

:: Sub-point A ::

>Voting is actually not an inalienable right because as my opponent has already admitted "[I] can prove that the government has the power to strip a felon of the right to vote", proving his own statement invalid and contradicting himself. By definition the right to life, in fact, can be taken from a felon: "Felon: a person who has been convicted of a felony, which is a crime punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison... Felony (elaboration): a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison, as distinguished from a misdemeanor which is only punishable by confinement to county or local jail and/or a fine." I have previously stated why speech and religion cannot be stripped for a person: "To name a few, the right to freedom of religion (as my opponent also mentioned) simply cannot be revoked because it is not possible to truly control what another individual believes. Another right, the right to freedom of speech (again mentioned by my opponent) being revoked would make the felon a less productive part of society, which, as my opponent suggests, is not the goal."

:: Sub-point B ::

>Please note that my Observation states that "due to the wording of the resolution, the affirmative has the burden of proof and must prove the resolution true in all cases." Murderers are felons; therefore, being exclusive to murders is perfectly valid. According to the definition of felon ("Felon: a person who has been convicted of a felony, which is a crime punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison... Felony (elaboration): a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison, as distinguished from a misdemeanor which is only punishable by confinement to county or local jail and/or a fine.") murderers can be killed. Additionally, rapists (felons in this case) can be killed as well due to the definition of felon, which I believe is worse than rape. To follow my opponent's "eye for an eye" lead, it is legal to not just go eye for eye, but eye for life in this case. In the case of a murder who murders twice, they cannot be killed twice, but they can be killed once in a more painful and/or humiliating way. This is like (different value of eye) two eyes for two eyes and an ear (you may value parts or you body differently than I, but my point still works). To my opponent: may we please abandon this overly elaborate metaphor?

>On my opponent's last categorized remark, the negativity (as stated in R1 and R2) is which a person gets elected due to the extra votes from the felons.
Debate Round No. 2
el.edward512

Pro

el.edward512 forfeited this round.
manutdredseal46

Con

I regret that my opponent has forfeited this round as I enjoyed the debate. Although I know this never makes anyone vote for me (or not), please vote for CON.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by aelsi 8 years ago
aelsi
el.edward512manutdredseal46Tied
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