Our past doesn't define us
Debate Rounds (4)
My argument is that no matter what we have done in the past, it does not define our present selves. Con must argue that our past explicitly defines who we are at the present moment.
Past: What we have done in the years passed
Present self: The decisions you make now or have made in recent weeks or months
And let's be clear: this debate is not about causality. It's not about the fact that your previous experiences and actions affect the decisions you make now. It's about the justification of other people basing their opinion about you on your past actions.
Good luck to anyone who might agree; I won't hold my breath. If something is unclear, ask in the comments and I'll answer.
There are countless cases where people mistakenly blame innocent individuals for actions they did not commit. For example, if a rape lawsuit is publicly charged against a man who has not committed the rape, no matter what the court rules, his life is destroyed. These people have lost their friends and families for the prejudice people have. This sometimes even leads to the individual committing suicide. Here's an article about it: http://www.telegraph.co.uk...
Now, this is a bit odd to take up in a debate about our past actions. But hear me out. The people around the individual under charge have no way of actually knowing if he committed the crime or not. So they play it safe and presume he's guilty. For them, he's damaged goods. They value the man according to his past actions. And this is the matter with most cases, as you can rarely be sure that the accusations made against a certain individual are justified.
Suppose a new girl has arrived at your school. Your friend tells you she was kicked out of her old school for "violent behavior". You hear the same story from multiple people. And you start to presume they're right. You start judge the girl even though you've never even talked. Whereas in reality, the girl could've switched schools because of teasing, and the teasers made sure she's not gonna like it in her new school either. Where is the justification of prejudice in cases like these?
Now, what about an old man who has committed a crime in his 20s. Imagine that he was sentenced to a lifetime of imprisonment from, say, a murder. However, during this time in the prison, he reflects upon himself and his past actions. He realizes his wrongdoing and finds wisdom. Now, he would rather die himself than harm another person, so he is no longer any kind of threat to society. The prison warden acknowledges this, but even though the old man pleas for mercy, he cannot be released due to the court ruling 50+ years ago. What justification is there for society to keep the harmless man in prison for his past actions? Why does our past prevent us from moving forward?
I will now let Con have her opening argument.
Our past defines us whether we like it or not. That is why it is crucial we do not make stupid mistakes when we are young. In less harsh circumstances a car accident will raise the car in furnace you have to pay all because of a past mistake. You will not be able to withdraw money from a bank if you have no previous history of withdrawing and depositing. That is why so many widowed women have trouble with banks. They have no history with the banks. A bully will always be seen as a bully in school by those that the bully bullied. Even if the bully changes, the past remains. Our past defines us in most things we do.
Now onto harsher topics. A murder convict is going to have a lot of trouble finding a job. A man who's been accused of rape will lose everything because people will judge him on his past.
That was an article about how childhood actually can shape adulthood. Having a traumatic experience with water as a child can be the cause of why you're afraid of water as an adult. In fact if you look at the current problems you are facing about yourself currently and then look back at your childhood, you can probably link why you have this problem to something that happened in childhood.
My opponent bases her entire argument on the fact that what has happened in the past affects us in many ways. It seems that she has not properly read or understood what this debate is about. In Round 1 I set terms on this debate and clearly ruled that:
"this debate is not about causality. It's not about the fact that your previous experiences and actions affect the decisions you make now. It's about the justification of other people basing their opinion about you on your past actions."
Still, my opponent argues that:
"That was an article about how childhood actually can shape adulthood. Having a traumatic experience with water as a child can be the cause of why you're afraid of water as an adult."
Perhaps she misunderstood the nature of this debate. This, however, she can clear out next round.
Whereas the debate is about the justification of opinions, my opponent defends her side just by stating that "Our past defines us whether we like it or not." She does not give any actual points or arguments as to why it is justified for other people to judge us by our past actions and decisions. Every point she makes is nothing more than a statement that our past defines us.
"My opponent starts off by giving an article about a man who was accused of rape and his life was ruined. This has little to no relevance with how our past defines us."
The case was an argument to why it is not justified for people to judge you according to your past. So were my hypothetical situations where it is not justified to let someone's past affect your judgement of them.
I am now positive that my opponent has misunderstood the nature of this debate, which I clearly ruled in Round 1. As my opponent neither rebutted any of my arguments nor stated any of her own, I do not see a reason for myself to give more arguments until my opponent has fulfilled any of these parts.
A murderer who finally is out of jail will not find a job. Why is that? Because on their criminal record, it says they are a murderer. People don't care if you've changed, people don't care if you're different because you were still convicted of murder and nobody is going to hire a murderer. The murderer could have changed into the nicest person in the world but people don't care and will still judge you upon your past.  In the article it proves that people will judge you upon your past.
My opponent gives a case that tells of a man accused of rape and was found innocent. This is exactly how the past defines us. Men are convicted of rape and most of the time the conviction is right. It's become a repeating pattern that most people will believe the man is already guilty even before the conviction and they have every right to. The system is based upon logic. To change the system would be to accommodate for men wrongly accused would only help those who actually commit rape. And that is not at all fair to the victim of rape that actually happened.
I now have proved that past experiences, past decisions and people will define you because of your past.
My opponent claims that: "Considering that the title of this debate is 'Our past doesn't define us' therefore my opponen is for that and I am against that in all aspects."
That is not how debates even work. In many cases the topic might be too difficult to fit in the title, and thus the person starting the debate explains the topic in detail during the first round. This is what I did. Indeed, the title is "Our past doesn't define us" but in my very first argument (even before Con accepted the challenge) I ruled that the topic of this debate is explicitly, and exclusely "the justification of other people basing their opinion about you on your past actions". My first round text is very short, and the topic is clearly stated. If the opponent has a problem with the topic of the debate, she should have stated it before accepting. One cannot accept a debate and then change the topic for their liking.
As in earlier rounds, my opponent did not present any actual arguments considering the topic of this debate. She bases her argument on the fact that "people will judge you according to your past" and presents an article which supports this. Nor the article or her argument present any points as to why it is justified for a person to be judged according to his/her past. My opponent misses the topic of this debate once again.
In the end my opponent presents an interesting point, one that actually is about this argument. She argues that it is justified to see an accused rapist as a confirmed rapist even before he would have been convicted:
"To change the system would be to accommodate for men wrongly accused would only help those who actually commit rape"
This statement is wrong. I linked an article on the second round which tells a story of a boy falsely accused of rape have his life destroyed completely. He ends up taking his own life. Later on his mother commits suicide as well. There are hundreds, if not thousands of stories like this. Is it right for people to judge you according to your past like this? Changing this would ONLY accommodate for those actually committing the rape? Seriously?
"I have now proven that past experiences, past decisions and people will define you because of your past"
The topic was not to prove they will define you, it was to debate about the justification of people defining you according to your past.
In the 1st round I stated the topic of this argument. My opponent accepted the challenge and its terms, and in the 2nd round I presented arguments supporting my side of the debate. My opponent did not present any rebuttals to my arguments, and instead presented arguments of which none had anything to do with this debate. On the 3rd round I pointed out that my opponent misunderstood the topic of this debate, but she did not fix this, instead sticking to her arguments about a different topic. I see no reason to present any more points, and even if my opponent presents some of her own, it's too late for me to make any rebuttals as this is the final round. Thus, with only myself making any valid arguments, my opponent has lost this debate.
"My argument is that no matter what we have done in the past, it does not define our present selves. Con must argue that our past explicitly defines who we are at the present moment."
That is what the instigator/my opponent wrote in the terms. And that is what I have done and so far my opponent has not refuted any of my points. Then my opponent states his/her other term which completely contradicts the first term.
"And let's be clear: this debate is not about causality. It's not about the fact that your previous experiences and actions affect the decisions you make now. It's about the justification of other people basing their opinion about you on your past actions."
My opponent then states that actually this debate is about people being justified for judging others upon their past. I have been well within the terms of the debate and so far my opponent has not refuted a single point of mine. I explained how past decision effect you in the present, how past experiences effect you in the present and people will judge you by your past. I have explicitly explained how the past defines who we are in the present.
I have done that, I am not the one in the wrong. The instigator is.
That is what the instigator had to do and so far the instigator has not done it yet. Therefore since it is the end of the debate, the instigator has automatically lost. Now I will explain how it is just to base your judgment upon people's past.
My opponent brings up the fact that a man was accused of rape falsely. The case itself has nothing to do with the past because in the article it never stated that the man had past dealings with sexual assault. This was about the present and the fact that the mans wife lied. The mans wife lied about the rape and the mans life went into ruins, but people are not judging the man based upon his past. They are judging him because the woman made a claim against him. Therefore the case itself has absolutely nothing to do with the topic. My opponent has brought forth the wrong type of justice system article. The topic of men being accused falsely of rape has nothing to do with the topic of "Our past defines us". Men are falsely accused of rape and everyone believes the women because in most cases, men who are convicted are actually rapists. But that isn't technically the mans "past", that is the historical past. If the topic had been "the past defines us" then yes, men's rape cases would fit.
Now it is perfectly just to base your judgement upon someone's past. A murderer who got out of jail recently will be judged by others. Do you call that unjust? That person murdered others and suddenly we should all just let our wariness of them go. What if they murder again? Then we'll be kicking ourselves telling each other "I told you so."
How about terrorists? It is perfectly just to think that Al-Qaeda was bad because of 9/11. If what my opponent says is true, that it's unjust to base your opinion of something upon its past, then when we say Al-Qaeda was bad, were are committing something unjust. If what my opponent says is true, then all those who are in jail should be let free because what they did was in the past and we shouldn't judge them for it. Do you see how absurd that is?
I have stuck to all of my opponents terms. Though my opponent has not stuck to his/hers. My opponent did not refute any of my points even though they were well within the boundaries of the terms. And I am allowed to refute my opponents points because that was not prohibited in the terms. I have explicitly explained how our past defines who we are and I have also explained how it is just to base ones opinion upon someone's past.
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