The Instigator
dobsondebator
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
AnimeFanTony
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Resolved: Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
dobsondebator
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/30/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,863 times Debate No: 8052
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)

 

dobsondebator

Pro

Request: Obviously, I'd like to debate in Lincoln Douglas format as per the National Forensics League guidelines. Any failure not to do so voids the debate. Let's keep it fun you guys :].

Resolved: Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law.

I offer the following definitions:

*Vigilantism: a volunteer organized to suppress and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate) [[Merriam-Webster]]
*Justified: to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable [[Merriam-Webster]]
*

Government: the agency through which a political unit exercises authority classified according to the distribution of power within it [[Merriam-Webster]]
*Enforce: to carry out effectively [[MW]]
*Law: a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority [[MW]]

OBS 1- In a government that has failed to enforce the law, as the resolution implies, the specific flaw of not being able to enforce laws comes down to governmental power. It is the affirmative's burden to prove that vigilantism is justified; when the government can properly enforce laws, debate will become extra-resolutional and it will not become necessary to justify vigilantism.

My value for today's round is justice. Black's Law Dictionary defines justice as the "proper administration of the laws in order to provide each man with his or her due. Justice should be looked at in today's round because not only is the resolution explicitly asking if vigilantism is justified, but because justice ensures a functioning society by providing for proper enforcement of the law.

My criterion for today's round is governmental legitimacy. A legitimate government is one that effectively enforces policies or standards set out within itself, such as laws, but furthermore one that runs efficiently and is free of corruption. Governmental legitimacy should be used in today's round because the legitimacy of a government is most important to any society with a government in place, as the resolution implies. Therefore, in order for the government to function properly, we must look out for its legitimacy. Governmental legitimacy best upholds justice because with a legitimate government, it is possible to uphold the justice a government set forth to provide for, and therefore, a justified decision.

Contention 1 - Vigilantism reforms the government

SpA: Being able to enforce the law comes down to multiple different powers within a government. Therefor, to fail to enforce the law means a systematic failure of a government is occurring.

In order to provide for a once again legitimate government, any citizen of that government must act in a way to reform the government. By affirming the resolution, vigilantes act to reform the government.

In a theoretical sense, vigilantes act as a tool, a magnifying glass so to speak, to point out the problems within the government. When the burden to enforce the law falls on vigilantes, vigilantes will then seek out situations to enforce the law. A failed government uses a vigilante as this tool in order to recognize the problems and failures current within that government. When a vigilante points out a failure, governments can step in in order to enforce that law or resolve a failed situation; leading to reformation. When a government has been properly reformed, the legitimacy of a government has been secured by vigilantes and thus, vigilantes are justified.

SpB: Whether or not the acts of vigilantism are seen as good or bad, vigilantes still act in a way to reform the government. Regardless of whether or not vigilantes act in good accord, the end result is good. When a vigilante does good act by upholding a law, not only does he help the government in law enforcement, but he outlines where the lack of enforcement is. When a vigilante does bad, this too outlines where lack of enforcement is, but moreso where corruption might exist. It is the presence of a vigilante that outlines the flaws within a government, therefor even the worst of vigilantes would work towards a more legitimate government and are thus justified.

The reformation of a government is the end result which is good, and when the government is reformed, it can now enforce the law. By reforming the government, vigilantes do indeed provide for the legitimacy of the government because now the new government can enforce the laws within its society, providing for justice.

Contention 2 - Vigilantism is cost-effective.

One key benefit when compared to the normal system of government is that vigilantism is cost-effective. Kelly Hine explains:
Kelly D. Hine, "Vigilantism Revisited: An Economic Analysis of the Law of Extra-Judicial Self-Help or Why Can't Dick Shoot Henry for Stealing Jane's Truck?", The American University Law Review, Volume 47, 1998.

Private enforcers, such as vigilantes, enjoy a tremendous cost advantage over public enforcers. Vigilantes are not salaried, they do not require extensive training, and they generally keep capital expenditures to a minimum. Vigilantes also enjoy the benefits of increased familiarity with their victimizers. This familiarity should make apprehension easier, thereby lowering the cost of enforcement.

The cost savings vigilantes enjoy actual create an incentive to carry out more good work. Because vigilantism can only be rewarding if a situation is justified widely rather than personally justified, vigilantes have an incentive to do two things.

First, vigilantes will want to carry out more better, morally right actions, thus preventing violence and detriment to a society and thus legitimizing the government.

But secondly, this provides for an incentive to carry out law enforcement in the first place because of those incentives to do good, an indeed justified act.

Therefor, you best provide for governmental legitimacy by carrying out the enforcement of the government that currently does take place, providing for justice.

Contention 3- Vigilantism acts as a deterrence

In order to effectively stop crime, crime must be deterred to prevent it from ever occurring. Vigilantism can act in a way to deter crime before it even begins. Kelly Hine explains again:

Kelly D. Hine, "Vigilantism Revisited: An Economic Analysis of the Law of Extra-Judicial Self-Help or Why Can't Dick Shoot Henry for Stealing Jane's Truck?", The American University Law Review, Volume 47, 1998.

Before the vigilante action, the probability of incurring sanctions for criminal activity was negligible. With the vigilance committee on patrol, this probability increases dramatically. By reintroducing the possibility of apprehension and punishment, the vigilante enforcer provides significant levels of deterrence to society's criminal element.

Because the job of vigilantism can be dangerous, vigilantes act in a way that avoids direct confrontation with a criminal. The easiest way to do this is by creating deterrence.

Furthermor; when a government has failed to enforce the law, it cannot offer these deterrence to prevent crime. When this occurs, crimes become a rampant problem and therefor, the need for vigilantes to offer deterrence and law enforcement becomes evident.

By stopping crime, affirming the resolution effectively provides for the legitimacy of a government because by not only allowing the government to focus on reforming itself, but by carrying out law enforcement to further allow the reformation of a government by pointing out the problem, as outlined previously.
AnimeFanTony

Con

Neg Case

I negate the resolution: Vigilantism is justified when the government fails to uphold the law.

For clarity in the round, I offer the following definitions:
Vigilantism: The act of a citizen who takes the law into his or her own hands by apprehending and punishing suspected criminals.
Justified: to show to have had a sufficient legal reason.
Government: the body of persons that constitutes the governing authority of a political unit or organization.
Failed: to be or become absent or inadequate.
Enforce: to carry out effectively.
The Law: a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority

My value for this debate will be justice which I define as the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness. I will achieve my value through my value criterion which is community cohesion. Community Cohesion prevents us from falling into a state of nature, where in there is no guarantee that every person will achieve his or her due. If there is community cohesion then systems in the government work best and every person can receive his or her due.

Contention 1: If the law is unjust and the vigilante enforces the law then the vigilante is unjust.
The resolution says that vigilantism is justified when the government fails to uphold the law. However if the law is unjust and the government fails to uphold these unjust laws, if the vigilante enforces these laws then the vigilante is unjust. An example of this is Jim Crow laws. These laws discriminated against black people (such as myself) and when the government failed to enforce these laws unjust vigilante groups such as the KKK upheld these laws instead. They did this many times by lynching the Negro who could be lynched for a number of things such being having sex with a white woman, hanging out with white men in a area reserved for whites, and many other racist things. I'm sure my opponent agrees with me that lynching blacks for racist reasons is unjust. If not then my opponent admits that such laws would have to be enforced, for whatever reason. My opponent then has no moral standing. He's freely advocating, at this point, a government that freely abuses and dehumanizes certain members of society. And, at that point, there's no point in the law for those members of society. Also if the community believes a law to be bad and the vigilante enforces it when the government hasn't this can disrupt the cohesion in the community. As systems work best when there is community cohesion this would clearly be a bad thing. For example many people are unaware that they break the law all the time yet because it is an unjust law that the community doesn't agree with it is not enforced. An example of this would be a Florida law stating that it is illegal to sing in a public place while attired in a swimsuit or that it is illegal to skateboard without a license. Many people break this law every day yet it is not generally enforced as the community agrees that is bad, stupid law. If a vigilante were to enforce these laws this would cause not only chaos but fear as well as disharmony in the community.

Contention 2: Vigilantes don't render retributive punishment.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy when it comes to punishment, the most effective path to achieving justice is through retributive punishment. According to the liberteriannation article "Vigilantes of Montana" vigilantes do not enforce laws through retribution. Instead they opt to dish out whatever form of punishment they deem, most often times violently. Additionally according the apsu.edu article "VIGILANTISM, VIGILANTE JUSTICE, AND SELF-HELP" most vigilantes are often times driven by vengeance and that part of the vigilante mentality is to right crimes through wrongful often violent means. Because vigilantes do not use retribution and retribution is the best form of just punishment then justice is not achieved. Without justice, dues aren't rendered to citizens, which causes disharmony, anger, and fear amongst the community. If justice can't be achieved then vigilantes aren't just.

Contention 3: Vigilantes spawn more vigilantes
As vigilantes spread fear and anger in the community they can spawn more vigilantes who are interested in either assisting the vigilante to avoid being targeted or to combat the vigilante. An example of a vigilante spawning more vigilantes that wish to aid the first vigilante would be the beginning of the Dark Knight. Everyone's favorite vigilante Batman had inspired others to take up vigilante work as well to stop criminals. This ended up being detrimental as Batman had to deal with them getting in his way, and him having to protect them as well as having to apprehend the criminals. On the other side of the spectrum were we have vigilantes spawning counter vigilantes we have the real life example of the KKK and the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers were primarily a response to the vigilante group the Ku Klux Klan. This instead of helping the problem only perpetrated the violence further. So in a sense vigilantism generates super villains. So as one can see vigilantes by creating more vigilantes harm community cohesion further by creating fear in the community. If there is fear in a community there is often disorder so the community could not function as well it could.
Debate Round No. 1
dobsondebator

Pro

Thank you for accepting the debate, I am eager to see how it develops :].

Alright so, right off the bat, we have no argumentation against the affirmative. So where is that going to go? I can't argue half of the debate already, so this leaves me out on a limb. Right off of that (and classic LD style), you have to vote Affirmative (Pro).

I have one problem with his definition of vigilantism. We shouldn't limit it to just punishing criminals; forms of vigilantism can often not even involve criminals, like revoking laws or internet vigilantism. We have to look at just "one taking the law into his own hands", which includes punishing criminals.

I accept my opponent's value of Justice, however we have to prefer my definition of giving each his or her due because not only does mine have a source, but because it can actually be measured. We can't measure what is or isn't "moral rightness", so we can't look towards my opponent's definition of justice.

To my opponent's criterion of community cohesion, you must prefer mine for two reasons.

1) Governmental Legitimacy actually provides for Community Cohesion. Once you get a properly functioning government, you can increase the cohesion of the people in it. Therefor, my criterion encompasses my opponent's.

2) How do we determine exactly when the community is cohesive? And at what point have we achieved this? Governmental legitimacy, as I provided in case, can be provided for and measured on the plane of this debate.

---
Now, on to his contention 1 about unjust laws. You must reject this argument for several reasons.

1) Vigilantes won't want to enforce these unjust laws.
Because they belong to the society that they reside and act upon, they're not going to enforce these laws that can be enforced back on them, or even held accountable to. With the pointless laws, like in Florida, they're not enforced for a reason; it's necessary.

2) Vigilantes can never justify violent actions.
This happens in two ways. First, if a vigilante is violent, he will then be considered a criminal, in which he's no longer a vigilante. Second, like I already brought up, vigilantes avoid violence because it can be turned around on them. Think of the golden rule. If vigilantes don't want violence upon them, they won't do it to others and therefor, avoid violence altogether.

3) A form of vigilantism is to revoke these laws.
For example, in the case of these racist laws, a form of vigilantism is to, in fact, revoke these laws. This is taking the law into one's hands, as per definition. So by justifying vigilantism, we can actually FIX these laws and create more governmental legitimacy within a society, indeed a just action.

----
On to the contenton 2, about retributive punishment.

So basically, what my opponent assumes here is that a retributive justice system is the best.

1) Why?
My opponent gives absolutely NO reason to prefer this system over other systems of justice. Right off the bat, my opponent is going from nothing to nothing, whereas the Pro side is clearly gaining justice.

2) Vigilantes act to avoid violence
Cross apply my previous argument. Because vigilantes don't want violence upon themselves, they won't do it to others. Even if it's emotionally guided, that vigilante will be just as much held accountable as anyone else.

3) Vigilantes check each other
Another form of vigilantism is to make sure other vigilantes are doing their job properly. So when one does something wrong, I can check you and remove you from your duties, allowing society to remain stable.

---
Contention 3, about "spawning" more vigilantes.

Again, my opponent makes the mistake of not backing his claim about "spreading fear in the community."

1) Vigilantes only promote peace
The good that every vigilante wants must be enforced so this claim is false. Vigilantes don't become vigilantes to promote hatred; that's called a criminal.

2) Vigilantes don't want violence.
Again, cross apply my arguments previously.

3) More vigilantes=good
To the point where say, 99% of citizens are vigilantes, you have two things. First, you have very minimalistic criminal activity, because now everyone is out to stop it. But more importantly, second, you're promoting the idea of peace. Like I stated before, vigilantes enforce laws to promote peace; therefor, more vigilantes = more peace and thus, you have not only great community cohesion, but also provide for the legitimacy of the government.

Thank you for the debate!
AnimeFanTony

Con

AnimeFanTony forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
dobsondebator

Pro

Seeing as my opponent has forfeited the round, you must vote in the affirmation for this debate. Thank you for debating and for your time for reviewing this round.
AnimeFanTony

Con

AnimeFanTony forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
dobsondebator

Pro

Seeing as my opponent has forfeited the round once again, you must vote for the PRO side of this debate.

I do not expect my opponent to post during his final CON speech; however, if he does, you must disregard it as unfair to this debate.

Thank you for your time.
AnimeFanTony

Con

AnimeFanTony forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Charlie_Danger 7 years ago
Charlie_Danger
I love the "InfraRedEd Proof" intro.

This debate is so close, it's difficult to decide...
Posted by Charlie_Danger 7 years ago
Charlie_Danger
Luke.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 7 years ago
I-am-a-panda
I don't get the obsession with "fun" in debates. It's a sheer battle of wits. Its' only fun if you win. which is evident once these "fun-seekers" lose and throw a tantrum.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Charlie_Danger 7 years ago
Charlie_Danger
dobsondebatorAnimeFanTonyTied
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Vote Placed by dobsondebator 7 years ago
dobsondebator
dobsondebatorAnimeFanTonyTied
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