The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Laws Should Never Limit Personal Choices that have Little Impact on other Individuals

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/15/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 561 times Debate No: 71716
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Generally speaking, governments are contracts between a group of people who seek to give up certain freedoms for the betterment of the whole group. Governments provide protection (military, police, fire, etc.), social services (welfare, Medicare), law and order (justice systems, police), and a unified foreign policy. In exchange for these things, governments collect taxes and limits some individual freedoms (with laws).
Governments have a right to set certain laws for the good of all. Murder and theft clearly damage the society as a whole, both in terms of life and overall stability of the governed area. However, actions such as responsible marijuana usage, same-sex marriage, and assisted suicide don't significantly affect individuals in the surrounding community. They are personal choices with personal benefits and consequences, and should therefore not be prohibited by law. Any negative effects they do have on other members of society are small compared to the positive effects they have on the individuals making the choices.


To begin with, this debate is going to revolve around the degree to which the state should be involved in the affairs of private individuals. Whereas my opponent belives the should ought to leave people to mind their own business as it pertains to activities with ostensibly little to no effect on society I'll argue that the state ought to prohibit and try to restrict certain things it deems harmful for the individual as well as for the society at large.

My contention is that if the state is set out to work for the betterment of its people and in order to attain a certain state of wellbeing it has to make clear and definite distinctions of what is good and worth promoting as well as what is bad and ought to be discouraged and, if necessary, prohibited altogether. Ultimaltely this will mean that the state will have to be somewhat of a wet blanket at times and set store by things that it deems necessary to uphold societal progress and stability. This makes the state somewhat of moral arbitor, the conscious of society, that is responsible to demarcate wrong actions from good ones and the state ought to hold firm to those convictions through legislation and prohibitions.

How we go about deciding what would constitute a public menace or public value is, I believe, is a matter of scientific review of measuring the positive and negative outcomes and draw reasonable conclusions based on what we find.

My opponent seems to be of the opinion that the state should collect taxes in order to fund social secuirty programs and things of the like, presubambly in order to foster what my opponent believes to be for the betterment of the society (redistribution from the richer strata of the population to the less fortunate segment). We give up certain freedoms in order to gain certain favors from the state. The state uses its mandate and authority to expropriate my funds and I have no say in the matter. I am obliged and forced to pay my taxes or I'll be incarcerated. There is no reason other than a vision for a better society for why I have to face government compulsion of taxation as it pertains to the money I make by dint of hard work.

Since we are all subject to compulsory taxation - which by and of itself is a violation of our economic freedom - the end result of it all better be worth it. I am therefore of the opinion that the realisation of this more well-functioning utopia that the state throug legislation and prohibitions strive towards far outweighs and trumps any individual concerns as to whether or not smoking pot or whether or not same-sex marriage should be legal is concerned. If we can demonstrate their negaitve effects on society, then the legalisations of which are not worth pursuing regardless if it violates pot-smokers or homosexuals freedoms in regard to those matters.

To clarify the role of the state, it should work for the betterment of the society but also uphold certain inassailable rights such as the right to life, the rule of law, and so forth. (so don't accuse me of being a nazi) ;)

Also, these things that you brought might seem innocuous with little to no effect on society but may ultimately in the grander scheme of things have quite a substantial impact on the community. At any rate, it should be incumbent upon the state to evaluate the best options possible in order to realise the growth and enhancement of the public health and wellbeing that we alll envisage when we become cash cows for the state (some people do not share this vision and would rather be left to themselves, but they're nevertheless forced to be reckoned with the fact that their money is at stake and therefore they naturally want it to be used as prudently as is humanly possible). Hence on behalf of the people and their joint vision of a well functioning social order the state must evaluate what works best and work with it.

My opponent brought up three examples of activities that at first blush seem unharmful and doesn't "significantly" affect others in the surrounding community. There are certainly many more examples of similar activities where the line between a merely personal avenue with personal benefits or detriments and something that poses a larger social or finanal threat to society can to a certain degree be blurred and oftentimes muddled with political rethorics and misconceptions that further dissembles the true nature of the things discussed. One such example is marijuana use - and the same goes for all use illegal drugs out there - which my opponent argues is something whose effects upon society at large is negligible enough to overlook.

Since I believe the state ought to establish clear parameters for good and bad behaviour, marijuana use most certainly falls in the category of something that should be frowned upon and discouraged by the state. There are by all means responsible marijuana users that don't get hooked up on it and that only uses it recreationally. This is not a problem. One of the problems, however, is the estimated 9% of users who get addicted to the drug. The dependancy rate is roughly 17% for those who start in their teens and to 25-50% for daily users and it stands to reason that legalisation would further exacerbate the problem of people being involuntary hooked up to Marijuana. You need only to ask Lady Gaga and she will tell you how dreadful and painful it is to be hooked up on Marijuana. She said: "I have been addicted to it and it's ultimately related to anxiety coping and it's a form of self-medication and I was smoking up to 15 or 20 marijuana cigarettes a day with no tobacco," she said. "I was living on a totally other psychedelic plane, numbing myself completely."
In fact, 4.2 millions of all the 6.9 million americans that are dependent on illicit drugs were abusing Marijuana so she is far from alone.

Secondly, another misconception concerning Marijuana is that the costs of which for society is mainly related to the criminal justice system even though it is fou nd that people in prison for marijuana use is only 0.1-0.2 percent. In fact, up to 37% of those who are treated for drug abuse come directly from the criminal justice system, 57% of which are Marijuana users. Marijuana users who are apprahended and arrested by police are sent to treatment where they can get help to stamp out their addiction.

As we can see, Marijuana use can clearly get out of hand. Now it's not a matter of someone doing what they want without harming someone else, now it's an addiction - something that the state needs to rectify through the use of our public funds. Surely none of us would throw these people under the bus and say that they should fend for themselvves and suffer the consequences for their genetic predisposition to Marijuana addiction or whatever reason have you for the mess that they're in.

This was a demonstration of your false premise about Marijuana. Due to time constraint I wont be able to go through the other two examples you cited as examples of things that the state should let off the hook. Hopefully we will expand the debate in the coming rounds.
Debate Round No. 1


Almost everything policy (or lack thereof) in the world has pros and cons. The question is if the pros significantly outweigh the cons. My argument extends that belief to state that lawmakers should also consider whether the action has the has the resonable potential to harm others (specifically, those who aren"t choosing to make that action). For example, I should have every right to invest my personal money into the risky stock market assuming that money doesn't belong to anyone else. However, to invest money that belongs to myself and my partner (without her knowledge) puts potentially unwanted risk on an individual outside of the decision-making process.

The first few paragraphs of my opponent"s argument center around taxation, which he seems adamantly opposed to since it violates his "economic freedoms". If someone"s looking to avoid taxation, they should move to Somalia, since it represents one of the last places you can live without paying some form of taxes. Yes, taxes are necessary. Whether there"re used to redistribute wealth through social programs is another story and would justify a whole other debate.

The second half of my opponent"s argument focused on marijuana usage and the effects it has on its users. The heart of his premise is that 9% of pot smokers become dependent and addition is associated with behaviors that seriously affect the individuals around them. Due to this 9%, he believes we need blanket protection by law to protect us from our own decisions. Many things are wrong with this idea. First, that idea would indicate that we should ban all marriages in the US because over half end in divorce. The reason we don"t do that is because we recognize that people deserve certain freedoms even if their decisions may end badly.

The 9% statement fails to mention 91% of people who use the drug (many of them regularly) who never become addicted. Obviously, those non-addicted users are choosing to smoke pot because of the personal benefits associated with it. Let compare that to alcohol which currently has 140 million dependent users and accounts for 5% of all deaths between the ages of 15-29. In 2013 alone, alcohol use disorders resulted in 139,000 deaths. Deaths solely attribute to safe marijuana usage are close to 0. It seems like my opponent would support banning alcohol, cigarettes, cars, airplanes, and fried chicken since they are exponentially more dangerous that safe marijuana usage. We should use a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the pros significantly outweigh the cons and who are the main actors affected by the decision (the decision-makers or bystanders).

Let"s look at gay marriage. Two individuals are jointly making the choice to wed because they ultimately believe it will make them happier. Obviously, we can"t predict whether the marriage will be successful or not, but we should recognize that the choice is theirs to make. They are the main beneficiaries or victims of this choice. On average, their friends and family will be happy for them, thereby spreading the positive effects of this choice. While one might argue that other community members may feel discomfort at their choice, I would remind them that the smell of gasoline makes most people uncomfortable, but we accept the smell because we recognize the benefits associated with its usage. Regarding gay marriage, the potential happiness gained between the two individuals greatly outweighs the slight discomfort felt by other people, thereby making the outward negative effects relatively small. Unless other prominent negative effects can be tied to gay marriage, you can"t justify banning gay marriage without justifying the elimination of heterosexual marriage as well.

Finally, doctor-assisted suicide needs to be considered. I believe that individuals deserve the right to end their own lives if they have a terminal illness which makes the remainder of their lives very painful. Currently, doctors in the 45/50 states in America can lose their licenses and face criminal charges if they help a patient end their own life. Due to this fact, thousands of people are forced to endure (sometimes unimaginable) agony until their last painful breath. The choice to die, especially when there is little hope for a brighter future, should be the sole decision of the patient or the person legally designated to make that decision. The decision-maker is the primary beneficiary of their own decision and the State should not have the right to force them to endure consistent pain and suffering until their death.


Swedishperspective forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Hard to offer a rebuttal since my opponent forfeited the last round.


Swedishperspective forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 3 years ago
Mmmm, tempted. If this isn't accepted by tomorrow I'll take it.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture