The Instigator
O.AJH
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The Contender
goexploring4235
Con (against)
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Should people with intellectual impairment be held accountable for their actions when they break the

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/10/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 792 times Debate No: 34650
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O.AJH

Pro

Should people with intellectual impairment be held accountable for their actions when they break the law?
goexploring4235

Con

PRO, thanks for prompting this debate--an interesting topic indeed! This is officially my first so please pardon any unintentional rhetoric "transgressions" I may slip into (and please bring them to my attention so I can improve!).

As a side note, I'm assuming you meant for the title to be "...when they break the law". If I am wrong, please clarify.

When reading the prompt, I have a thought that immediately arises. We must define "held accountable". Is this in the same sense and on the same level as someone without an intellectual impairment would be held accountable (i.e. punished) for breaking the law? Unless corrected, I will assume that PRO holds the position that, yes, the intellectually impaired are to be held accountable IN THE SAME EXACT WAY IN EVERY CASE for their actions when they break the law. I am maintaining the negative--they should NOT be held accountable for their actions.

In society, we share a common understanding that individuals must possess a certain level of self-awareness in order to be held accountable for their actions. Little girls are not incarcerated or fined for stealing barbie dolls off the supermarket shelves. Sure, they wouldn't have the money to pay even if they were, but they would certainly have the time. Rather than giving an unnecessary amount of silly examples, we get the point. Children lack the self-awareness to understand the full extent of their actions. But, this doesn't only apply to children. We have different levels of criminal offenses based on levels of intent--manslaughter, 1st, and 2nd degree murder, for example. Although the amount of premeditation that went into a crime is somewhat peripheral to the issue at hand, the point is that common sense leads us to believe that people, at different stages and in different states, are to be held accountable at varying degrees.

Now, in any given case dealing with the "intellectually impaired", the obvious question is: "How impaired are they?" Does the offender have ADHD or schizophrenia or Down's Syndrome? This will impact the level of self-awareness in which they are operating, and therefore the level of accountability they ought to be held to. To make the debate a little easier (presumably) let's assume we're talking more serious intellectual impairments--say, Down's Syndrome. If Child A (who is afflicted with the extra copy of chromosome 21) finds his father's loaded gun in the closet (the father's negligence is another issue), brings it to the kitchen, and shoots his brother, it would only be cruel to condemn him to years in prison (or capital punishment), as you would an unimpaired person. Sure, they're would be some action to take--perhaps dealing the the loaded gun in the closet situation--but we wouldn't punish the child as if he was totally aware of the situation. As if he was a cold-blooded murderer.

So, ignoring the fundamental question of, "How impaired are they?" it is obvious that we cannot hold intellectually impaired people accountable for their actions in the same way we do the rest of society. This is not the case for children, and this should not be the case for anyone who lacks the intellectual capacity to comprehend the full measure of their actions. I should add that in the case of the two aforementioned groups, their intellectual capacity carries over into previous actions as well (resulting from the biological state of their nervous systems). Thus, is should not be argued that the drunkard or drugged should be exempt from accountability because they also "lack the intellectual capacity to comprehend the full measure of their actions." Naturally, they do possess the intellectual capacity; it has just been influenced by an external substance, which at the time of ingestion (or any method of intake), they WERE fully aware of their actions.

Should the intellectually impaired be held accountable for their actions when they break the law? An emphatic "no" is the only answer to give when they are emphatically unaware.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing PRO's affirmative argument!
Debate Round No. 1
O.AJH

Pro

O.AJH forfeited this round.
goexploring4235

Con

goexploring4235 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
O.AJH

Pro

O.AJH forfeited this round.
goexploring4235

Con

goexploring4235 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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