The Instigator
mongeese
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
sherlockmethod
Con (against)
Winning
28 Points

Mafias are not all bad.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/16/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,283 times Debate No: 8308
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (10)
Votes (4)

 

mongeese

Pro

I affirm that a mafia is not all bad.

Mafia - a: a secret criminal society of Sicily or Italy b: a similarly conceived criminal organization in the United States ; also : a similar organization elsewhere (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)

My first contention: strong mafias often lead to safer streets.
sherlockmethod

Con

I accept my opponent's definition of the mafia as stated in the opening round. I will use only this definition in this debate, as any crime organization I identify as the mafia will be linked to the Italian mob or a conceived organization in the US. The Mexican Mafia, Crips, Bloods, Vice Lords, and Folk will not serve as examples of the mafia for this debate.

http://en.wikipedia.org... Not an Italian based organization, and is not conceived as one in the US.
http://en.wikipedia.org... Not an Italian based organization, and is not conceived as one in the US.
http://en.wikipedia.org... Not an Italian based organization, and is not conceived as one in the US.
http://en.wikipedia.org... not an Italian based organization, and is not conceived as one in the US.
http://en.wikipedia.org... not an Italian based organization, and is not conceived as one in the US.

I will show that whatever good the mafia posits is offset by the harm it causes. If I can show that any benefit the mafia posits is offset by the harm caused in relation to this benefit, should one exist, then the mafia is all bad. If the mafia presents a beneficial situation in one respect and this situation (respect) cannot be offset by a more substantial harm caused by the mafia, or the existence thereof, then my position falls.

I must show the harm is greater than the good, not just equal. If I cannot do this, my position falls to my opponent's reasoned position in respect to the resolution presented.

I welcome my opponent to open with support for his first contention, stating strong mafias often lead to safer streets. If maintaining safer streets is my opponent's basis for his pro position concerning the mafia, my position is still not supported as I must show the mafia is all bad. I welcome my experienced opponent to define "strong mafia" in reference to this debate, "often", "safer" and "streets" in this contention.

The burden for each position is equal. I must show the mafia is all bad, not just cross examine my opponent's position and claim mine is correct because he did not prove his stated position. The burden is equal.

Stipulations:
1) If my opponent is really Special Agent Gibbs then I concede the debate as Gibbs is second only to Sherlock Holmes in detective pwnage. I do not wish to face his ire.
2) I am not Sherlock Holmes, just a fan, and I do not wish to face Special Agent Gibbs anymore than Holmes does.
Debate Round No. 1
mongeese

Pro

Alright, then. No, I'm neither Gibbs nor Harmon, but I do agree that he is amazing.

Now, if you look at the definition of mafia, it includes:
"a similar organization elsewhere"
Thus, the mafias that you listed do fit the definition of mafia.

Alright then, on to more definitions:
Strong mafia - A mafia with a reputation for its power and intimidation; basically, a successful mafia.
Often - frequently
Safer - more safe - more secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
Streets - thoroughfares especially in a city, town, or village that are wider than an alley or lane and that usually include sidewalks (http://www.merriam-webster.com...[1])

First, I will quote something from Thomas Sowell about his experiences.
"As a personal note, I once lived in a neighborhood where some well-known mafia leaders also lived. Few criminals were willing to risk trying to mug someone in that neighborhood, where a weak old lady might be some mafia leader's mother or a young woman might be his wife or daughter. Some nights, while I was asleep, my wife would go out at midnight to buy a morning newspaper at a news stand a few blocks away. The very fact that the news stand was open at midnight meant not only that the owner of the news stand had little fear of crime but also that there were enough other people in the neighborhood with a similar lack of fear of crime to provide him with a profitable business."

Now, let's say that you lived next to a caporegime for a mafia. You wouldn't ever be touched by a criminal on the street, because there would be no criminals on the street, because they wouldn't dare mug you or anyone else on the street, due to the high chance that you could be the caporegime's nephew. And no one manages to mug the caporegime's nephew and live. This scares off all criminals from any street that a mafia leader is known to live on. Thus, everyone else on the street can go around at midnight without a care, because they know that a criminal wouldn't be there. That is why mafias do some good in this world. It's kind of like how if many random people had guns at home in one city, there would be fewer criminals, because why would a criminal rob a home where they could get shot in the head upon break-in?

I will leave it at that. Thank you for accepting.
sherlockmethod

Con

I thank my opponent for his fast response. After reading his second round, I still maintain the Con position and will rebut my opponent's first contention fully.

1) My opponent is not Special Agent Gibbs so I will not concede the debate.

2) I will accept my opponent's expanded definition to include the street gangs I listed as mafias, making my job a lot easier.

3) I will take the definitions my opponent provides, but "safer streets" has more connotations than just the ability of a person to walk from street A to street B without being mugged. I wish to expand the definition to include an area (streets, homes, businesses) where crime, in general, is less likely and the citizens can carry on day to day life with less fear of criminal activity than on "unsafe streets".

Testimonial from Thomas Sowell.

1T) Despite the lack of a link or reference to this writing, I accept its accuracy. My opponent need not provide a link as I stipulate the statement is probably true and it sounds very much like something Mr. Sowell would write, but the statement is not necessarily true for the reasons Mr. Sowell gives.

In reference to an Italian/Sicilian style mafia:

2T) Despite the truth of his statement, Mr. Sowell does not tell the reader whether the Newsstand owner must pay a fee to the local boss for this added protection. Nor does he write whether the newsstand is used to launder illegal earnings for the Mafia, making the owner a criminal and an enabler for the mob. Also, the newsstand owner must worry if the local boss's dealings with the union will prevent him from hiring another person to help with his business at a reasonable wage with a method of redress. In addition, the thugs, outside the mafia, do not necessarily avoid committing crimes in the area due to a fear that the victim will be a relative of a mafia boss, they avoid the area because the boss controls the criminal activity and any mugging ring or drug operation must be made with the permission of the local boss. The boss can protect his family by running the operation. The mob does not care about the victims of crimes, they just want a cut of the profits. The mafia organizes the crime in the area, it does not prevent it. If my opponent has contentions with the acts I listed, I can cite sources, but my opponent appears knowledgable about a Italian/Sicilian style mafia and must know all the acts I listed are part in parcel to these organizations. I will provide links if my opponent requests them, as examples are abundant.

EXAMPLE:
http://en.wikipedia.org...(extortion)

Black Hand extortion is more subtle now, but the practice involves committing crimes and then offering protection from further crimes to the victims for a fee. The fee could include low level mafia work, partial stake in a business, allowing a business to be used as a front for illegal activities, or just plain old money per month. The perpetrator and the protector are one in the same. Paying a criminal organization to not commit crimes against a citizen is not protection as the money paid will never be enough and the extortion victim has little means of redress as one of the more popular tactics used by the Sicilian mafia is bribery of public officials, witness intimidation, jury tampering and simple assassination. (Again, ample sources are available if my opponent has contention with these acts)

3T) A mafia controlled area, or the living space for a boss also invites rivals. One way a member can promote his position in the mafia is by killing the guy above him. The tactics include public shootings and car bombs. Bullets and explosions do not make for safer streets. In addition, the mafia does business with other criminals who have little concern for the people around the area.

My Opponent's example:
1E) "Now, let's say that you lived next to a caporegime for a mafia. You wouldn't ever be touched by a criminal on the street, because there would be no criminals on the street, because they wouldn't dare mug you or anyone else on the street, due to the high chance that you could be the caporegime's nephew."

There would be criminals in the street and one very big one living next door. The big difference is the criminals will work for the under boss; this does not include the rival criminals wanting to kill him. Depending on the size of the neighborhood, the chances of being related to the under boss may well be small and my opponent assumes the mugger knows of the under boss, and assumes the criminal is capable of making informed decisions.

Conclusion:
Examining the totality of the circumstances, a caporegime does not make an area safer, his presence just changes the nature of the crimes committed and those who commit them. One may be safer from outside muggers not related to the mafia, only to replace muggings with the various crimes I listed above. I cannot accept this situation as being safer. In light of these reasoned observations, my opponent's first contention must, "sleep with the fishes"

In reference to street gangs listed in my first response.

My opponent may wish to abandon this position concerning the gangs I mentioned, as most recruit members from either prison, or youths in the local area, and require horrific acts before fully accepting the member, in some cases. (see above links in R1) They are the muggers, the robbers, the killers, and the drug dealers making this country less safe in all respects. Living next door to a Crip or a Blood leader is a recipe for disaster. Gangs do not care who is in the crossfire and have no problem shooting a mother, her baby, or anyone else if they come between the intended target and a drive-by. South Central LA is a perfect example. The LAPD cannot stop them, and the resources spent on the efforts to prevent gang violence in certain areas hamstrings other crime fighting efforts as the resources never seem to be enough.

Here is a crime map of the Lynnwood area of LA for the past 7 days.
http://www.lapdcrimemaps.org...

This is one week, just one. Here is more.

http://www.lapdonline.org...

Look at this year alone.

http://www.lapdonline.org...

The gangs live and commit crimes in the areas they reside and they are spreading. These are some of the least safe streets in America. They do not mind assaulting and robbing their neighbors. Their presence is the antithesis of safe. The distain I hold for these groups is difficult to overstate.

The Con Position.

I maintain that the mafia must be viewed in full by examining the totality of the circumstances. The mafia cannot divorce itself from the ills it causes by citing some good that may come of it. If my opponent cannot show that any good can be separated from the overall criminal enterprise then we can conclude the mafia is all bad. I know some shied from this debate due to the wording of the resolution as, seemingly, any good act by the mafia would negate the con position. This line of reasoning is fallacious. When determining whether the mafia is not all bad, I reason that all bad must involve the "overall bad" to some extent. Showing that the mafia uses proper safety techniques when placing a bomb under a rival's vehicle is not sufficient to deem this act "not all bad". I contend that the act is all bad when viewed in totality. If a rapist uses a condom while committing this act, the act is still "all bad". "All bad" does not mean the worst possible case, just that the act negates any possible good resulting from the commission of the act. My line of reasoning suffices with organizations as well as overt acts.
Debate Round No. 2
mongeese

Pro

"I wish to expand the definition to include an area (streets, homes, businesses) where crime, in general, is less likely and the citizens can carry on day to day life with less fear of criminal activity than on 'unsafe streets'."
I'll extend it to homes, but no further.

And as to the Sowell thing, just to make a point of reference, it is from "Economic Facts and Fallacies," page 38.

2T) How would Mr. Sowell know such things? He'd probably have mentioned if he himself had to pay protection, but as for the newspaper guy, he hasn't written a book on the subject, I don't think. Additionally, laundering illegal earnings does not make the street less safe.
"Also, the newsstand owner must worry if the local boss's dealings with the union will prevent him from hiring another person to help with his business at a reasonable wage with a method of redress."
I'm not even sure if I understand that entirely. Furthermore, why would a newspaper stand require an assistant?
"In addition, the thugs, outside the mafia, do not necessarily avoid committing crimes in the area due to a fear that the victim will be a relative of a mafia boss, they avoid the area because the boss controls the criminal activity and any mugging ring or drug operation must be made with the permission of the local boss."
Not according to Sowell. Sowell said that it was because the mafia scares away other thugs because the mafia would destroy thugs that robbed their relatives. I have a primary source to back up my statement.
"The mafia organizes the crime in the area, it does not prevent it."
It prevents random thugs from doing it.
I would like a link, yes, of an event that happened on the streets in which innocent civilians were killed due to the mafia.

As for the Black Hand extortion, Sowell would have probably mentioned if living next to a mafia boss ever forced him to pay money. He hasn't. Does the mafia send Black Hand extortions to random people, or certain people?

3T) I am very, VERY sure that had such an event happened on the street Sowell lived on, he would have mentioned it.

"Depending on the size of the neighborhood, the chances of being related to the under boss may well be small and my opponent assumes the mugger knows of the under boss, and assumes the criminal is capable of making informed decisions."
Sowell knew that he lived with mafia leaders. I'm sure muggers would do a little bit of research, and gossip about a mafia boss would be very important to them. Why would a mugger risk his life for one mugging, when the chances are higher there than pretty much anywhere else? Furthermore, it appears that the criminals were capable of making informed decisions in Sowell's street.

"I cannot accept this situation as being safer."
I can. Thugs rob random people on the street. The mafia is involved in illegal, but not always unsafe, activities, and they don't often occur on the streets, unless you have a source that says otherwise. So, until then, my contention floats.

"My opponent may wish to abandon this position concerning the gangs I mentioned..."
Yes, I do. I dismiss them on the account that they do not qualify as strong mafias, because they don't even get exclusively mentioned by M-W.

Now, most of those gangs, I would not consider to be full-blown mafias. Are there any specific points on the map that I should be looking at? Are those mafia crimes or other crimes?

"I maintain that the mafia must be viewed in full by examining the totality of the circumstances..."
By "Mafias are not all bad," I meant that not all of their effects are bad. I'm not saying that "not all Mafias are bad." They are not "all bad." There is definitely no such thing as a mafia that is net positive, but they have beneficial effects, such as making streets safer. That was really what the resolution was supposed to convey.

"When determining whether the mafia is not all bad, I reason that all bad must involve the 'overall bad' to some extent."
"All bad" means that not all of their effects are bad. "Mafias are not all bad" is different from "Not all mafias are bad."
Sorry for any confusion.
sherlockmethod

Con

1) My opponent agrees to extend the term, "safe streets" to include homes, but not businesses. I disagree with this distinction. If the streets were free of muggers and homes were safe, would we declare the street safe if the businesses were being robbed and vandalized? The home above the business has no distinction from the business below in this respect. "Safe streets" must include the streets, homes, and businesses. I can find no logical argument to remove businesses from the definition.

2) As to the anecdotal evidence offered by Mr. Sowell's writings, I agree with my opponent when he rhetorically asks, "How would Mr. Sowell know such things?" How indeed, which was the very point I made in my 2R argument when I stated, "[T]he statement is not necessarily true for the reasons Mr. Sowell gives."
Mr. Sowell and his wife were not privy to the dealing of the boss, and the underpinnings of the organization, neither am I as I don‘t know the boss he is referencing. Nor was he aware of protection money that may or may not have been paid by the businesses in the area. My point was to show that Mr. Sowell was attributing a positive to the presence of a mafia boss to safer streets which allowed for a business to operate. I contend he did not have all the information and if he did, he did not tell us in his economics text.

3) My opponent did not understand the reference I made to the union and the mafia, I will clarify. The Union and the Mafia have a history together and it is not a good one for businesses. Here is an excerpt from a book review dealing with the subject:

"there is simply no doubt that some unions and their officials cooperated with organized crime, that criminals gained control of many union locals and few international unions, and that criminals and corrupt union officials enriched themselves at the expense of rank-and-file unionists, exploited businesspeople (Jacobs, however, fails to point out that the corrupt union and the affected business were often part of the same criminal operation), and mulcted the public."
http://eh.net...

Here is a decent article on the subject. The source is not primary, as I don't have access to the police files, but it is good.
http://www.ipsn.org...

4) My opponent asks why the newsstand owner would need an assistant. Why not? Maybe he wants a vacation. The why aspect is not important.

5) My opponent is basing the safer street argument on a testimonial by Mr. Sowell. With no offense meant, Mr. Sowell is not a primary source as my opponent claims. He was not privy to all the information or did not share it, as I have shown. Because Mr. Sowell said so, is not good enough. I showed in R2 how the streets are not safer with a Mafia boss living nearby. My opponent is basing too much on an analogy in an economics book.

6) My opponent claims the mafia prevents random thugs from committing crimes. If this is true, I ask how is a street safer if muggings are the actions of a crew member, as opposed to a criminal not affiliated with the mafia? At least a mugging by a random thug, not a mafia thug, may result in a conviction as most random muggers do not have criminal organizations, known for jury tampering and witness intimidation, backing them.

7) My opponent asks for a showing that innocent civilians were killed by the mafia in the streets. No problem.
http://www.florencenewspaper.it...
http://www.nydailynews.com... (Cops and Mafia, the dimwits killed the wrong person "in the streets")
http://ghostomjoad.wordpress.com...
A list dedicated to the innocent victims of Mafia crime.
And who can forget the accidental death of Gotti's son?
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Decent people do not handle problems in this manner. Nice neighbors right? The Gotti's killed this man because they were not responsible enough to watch their own child. This was an accident, the guy was just on his way home from work when this happened. The Gotti's may have kept the muggers away, but no one kept them away from this guy.
These examples fulfill my opponent's request.

8) My opponent, sticking with Mr. Sowell's analogy, accurately states that Mr. Sowell would have told readers if he was forced to pay extortion fees, I completely agree, but so what? Mr. Sowell was not privy to the workings of the mob boss as I have shown. Because the mob boss did not bother with Sowell does not mean he left others out of his dealings.

9) My opponent ask whether black hand extortion occurs with random or certain people. I ask why this distinction is relevant? If the extortion occurs in garment businesses, meat packing industries, unions, etc. who cares? The act is the important aspect. The mafia may not randomly choose its victims in this crime but they choose them nonetheless.

10) My opponent seems sure Mr. Sowell would have mentioned extortion happening in the businesses on his street, while I am not sure he would have known.

11) Still on the example provided, my opponent thinks the muggers were informed or appeared informed on Sowell's street. As I have stated, Mr. Sowell was not privy to this information and he made a reasonable assumption to show an analogous example to an economic principle, nothing more. My opponent has extrapolated too much from this example.

12) My opponent asks why a mugger would risk his life for one mugging. I don't know why people do some of the stupid things they do, like mugging, as it is a high risk business with low profit returns.

13) My opponent still contends the mafia controlled street is safer as thugs rob random people and the mafia commits illegal, but not always unsafe, activities. I agree thugs rob random people and I agree that mafia thugs attack people on the streets. The only difference is the mafia is harder to prosecute due to their continuous practice of jury tampering and witness intimidation. I ask my opponent to list any illegal and safe activities practiced by the mafia. I will refute them.
14) My opponent abandoned the proposition concerning the very powerful street gangs I listed; I will address them no further.

15) I have no confusion concerning the resolution and by mafia, I am using the definition my opponent provided in R1 and further defined in R2, for my arguments. My opponent is attempting to show positive effects from these criminal organizations, so far the only one presented, safer streets, has been shown to be incorrect. I still maintain the mafia, as defined by the debate, is all bad and I need not use a net balance formula as I have not been shown one positive benefit.

16) I stated my con position at the end of R2, it still stands.
Debate Round No. 3
mongeese

Pro

You know what? I concede. My contention has been sunk, and I cannot defend it. Although I do wonder why a newspaper stand manager would underpay a person who replaces him, and why the elimination of a mafia boss that went unknown by the general public would actually be dangerous for everybody else, the rest of the argument is solid. I lose. Vote CON.
sherlockmethod

Con

I thank my opponent for a fun debate, and I enjoyed the subject matter. I look forward to facing Mongeese again. The con position holds and I accept my opponent's withdrawal.
Debate Round No. 4
mongeese

Pro

I crashed and burned...

That's a wrap. I guess I'm done, now.
sherlockmethod

Con

I thank my opponent again. Take care.
Debate Round No. 5
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by sherlockmethod 7 years ago
sherlockmethod
Thank you Maikuru. Mongeese is a fine opponent. I really did enjoy this one.
Posted by Maikuru 7 years ago
Maikuru
Great debate while it lasted, guys.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
I'm arguing that they aren't all bad.
Posted by ToastOfDestiny 7 years ago
ToastOfDestiny
Mongeese is setting himself up by defining mafias as criminal organizations.
Posted by ilovgoogle 7 years ago
ilovgoogle
You should have defined "bad" then. I could say that someone "whacked" someone else and got paid then they have done good for themselves, therefore; meaning not all mafia's are bad.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
Why? I want to establish that mafias have positive effects. Putting "on balance" would mean that the mafia had to be more good than bad.
Posted by ilovgoogle 7 years ago
ilovgoogle
You should have put "on balance" in the topic!
Posted by sherlockmethod 7 years ago
sherlockmethod
Wish me luck; I will need it.
Posted by Rob1Billion 7 years ago
Rob1Billion
This debate would be impossible to win. Even the smallest hypothetical good deed by someone involved in a mafia would affirm the resolution absolutely. Absolutist debates are almost always low-quality...
Posted by BishMasterJr 7 years ago
BishMasterJr
I really want to enter this debate as well. However, as I am already involved in a debate with you over an economics issue, it will not allow me to. :(
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
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untitled_entity
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Lexicaholic
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Vote Placed by Maikuru 7 years ago
Maikuru
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