Supporting the Criminalization of Marijuana is Not Racist
Debate Rounds (4)
Supporting the Criminalization of Marijuana is Not Racist.
Marijuana: cannabis  --- for the purpose of this debate, we are talking about marijuana for recreational use.
Support: to speak in favour of (a motion); to give approval to (a cause, principle, etc); subscribe to 
Criminalization: the process by which behaviours and individuals are transformed into crime and criminals. 
Racist: to discriminate against members of particular racial groups ; the belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and that this endows some races with an intrinsic superiority over others; abusive or aggressive behaviour towards members of another race on the basis of such a belief 
This debate is not about whether marijuana should or should not be legal so please do not derail it as such.
Round 1 is for the acceptance of the resolution and definitions. However, if my opponent would like to present an argument during the first round, that would be fine---this would mean Con must not use the final round. If you have any questions or concerns, please direct them to the comments and I will do my best to be accommodating.
I will argue that the illegality of marijuana is not racist, while my opponent will have to argue that it is. We will share the burden of proof.
Thank you for accepting this debate.
Although the resolution was worded negatively so that I could take the "Pro" position, it is difficult for me to anticipate what my opponent's arguments will be and, therefore, this round will focus on a rebuttal of the most common argument I have heard for why supporting the criminalization of marijuana is racist.
Debate.org member Korashk explains in one thread: "it has to do with how enforcement works. Something like 50%+ of drug related offenders in prison are minorities, despite that not being anywhere close to a representative percent of those that use drugs.
The argument is that the drug war disproportionately affects minorities, and is therefore racist." 
In the context of this thread, the term "drug war" was used to also encompass the criminalization of marijuana.
01. That a crime disproportionately affects minorities does not make the criminalization of a behaviour racist. There are several crimes that disproportionately affect minorities, including homicide. 
Regardless of whether homicide should or should not be legal, the legal status of homicide in and of itself is not racist, despite disproportionately affecting minorities. For a law to be racist it would have to imply that the behaviour or activity is inherent in that race. Not all minorities smoke marijuana, nor is marijuana smoking exclusive to minorities.
02. That racial profiling is an issue does not make the criminalization of a behaviour racist.
Black people are more likely to be pulled over by police officers than white people.  This is not an argument for the legalization of any driving offence, nor does it make the criminalization of any driving offence racist.
In this round I have brought forth the following arguments: The first is that criminalizing a behaviour that is not inherent for a certain race is not racist. The second is that, although racial profiling is a problem, it does not make the criminalization of any behaviour racist. By extension, those who support the criminalization of marijuana are not racist, because the criminalization of marijuana is not racist.
I look forward to any rebuttals my opponent may have, as well as any new arguments he would like to present. Thank you for your time.
FourTrouble forfeited this round.
NOTE: I apologize for forfeiting the previous round. If readers of the debate want to take off conduct points, I completely understand. That said, in the spirit of debate, I'd appreciate it if they did not take off points for arguments. Thank you. Now, onto my argument.
Marijuana is readily available on every college campus and every office building, not to mention the streets of every city. As my opponent notes, the use of marijuana is not exclusive to minorities. But the fact of wholesale discrimination in the criminal justice system is exclusive to minorities. The war on drugs (in which marijuana plays a key role) has defined an entire segment of the population (young Black men) as criminal, and it has led to the incarceration of a substantial percentage of their population.
My opponent says "criminalizing a behaviour that is not inherent for a certain race is not racist." This only makes sense if "race" itself is "inherent," an unchanging collective identity. But recent studies in sociology, anthropology, and biology, suggest that race is as much a social institution as criminalization. What it means to be "Black" or "Latino" is constantly changing to reflect the endless metamorphasis of civil society.
The crux of this debate is whether race is a social phenomenon or whether it is solely biological. My opponent's argument rests on the false assumption that race is defined solely through biological factors. I argue that race is a social construction, a system of meaning that connects physical features to ongoing social and political struggles. The meaning of terms like Black, White, Asian, and Latino are not defined solely by a genetic difference - race is defined by a context of social institutions that generate meanings that we attach to each group.
For example, in general Black people perform worse than White people on the SAT - does this mean Black people are inherently dumber than White people? If you believe race is biological, the answer to this question is yes. But if you believe race is a social phenomenon, then the answer to this question is no. Instead, you would say that the test ignores the context in which Black people grow up, the fact that they have less access to SAT preparation or the fact that Black culture (an explicitly social phenomenon) doesn't place as much value on the SAT as White culture. The point here is quite clear: race is a social phenomenon.
Therefore, what it means to be "Black" is itself defined by its social context, not by something that is biologically inherent in Black people. Now, I am certain my opponent agrees that young Black men (as defined by our current social context) have a higher probability of getting arrested for smoking marijuana than young White men (as defined by our current social context). This is a fact about our society - a fact about the way race is defined by us - and it is a fact that would change if marijuana were legalized.
If marijuana were legalized, young Black men would have the same social status as young White men with respect to the use of marijuana. But if marijuana remains criminalized, young Black men would have a lower social status than young White men with respect to the use of marijuana. The meaning of the categories "Black" and "White" changes in each case, as the meanings attached to a race are defined by the particular social context in which it is situated.
If marijuana is criminalized, the vast majority of the people who are arrested and incarcerated for using it will be young Black men. This is a fact about the society in which we live, and therefore, criminalizing marijuana defines young Black men as more criminal than young White men. This creates a racist differential between Black men and White men. Therefore, supporting the criminalization of marijuana is racist.
The resolution is negated.
tulle forfeited this round.
Thanks again to tulle for this debate. Since it is the last round, I'll offer a brief summary of my arguments.
In the previous round, I argued that race itself is not solely biological - it is a social phenomenon. In other words, race is defined by a set of meanings (created by humans) that are given to different physical characteristics. A Latino man is not biologically different than a White man in any significant way - the difference is social. Different groups of people are afforded a different social status (and this status is not always established politically, as it is often a purely cultural or social fact).
Therefore, I argued that the criminalization of marijuana is racist. Why? Because criminalization of marijuana changes the social landscape: while different ethnic groups smoke marijuana in equal numbers, the number of Black men arrested for smoking marijuana is significantly greater than the number of White men arrested for smoking marijuana. In effect, the way race is defined changes - Black men are defined as inherently more criminal than White men. This is a social fact, just as race itself is a social fact defined by its social context.
My opponent has not offered a response to my argument, as she forfeited the last round. I forfeited a round as well, the second round, so I ask readers to not take off conduct points from either of us. That said, my argument has not been countered. Hence, the resolution is negated.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was poor quality due to the numerous forfeits, but the actual debate is quite semantic anyway, and not going in a great direction, in my opinion. However, the definition at the beginning of R1 by tulle stating "hereditary factor" is the determining factor, and CON accepted, I'm going to have to give points to tulle. However, due to the flimsy nature, I'm only giving the single point.
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