The Instigator
sdcharger
Con (against)
Losing
35 Points
The Contender
CiRrO
Pro (for)
Winning
69 Points

The death penalty is just

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/23/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,611 times Debate No: 5506
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (18)

 

sdcharger

Con

Dear Ladies and Gentleman,
First of all, I would like to specifically define the topic. I do not believe that our death penalty system in the United States of America is just.

Some people may have heard this before, and I will use it now: "Why do we kill people who kill people to show people that killing is wrong?" I belive that is true. Our death penalty system is designed to execute criminals who have murdered a person or maybe even more. Their crime is the act of killing people. So we kill them to show that they should not kill? Where's the sense in that?

Also, what if they haven't even killed anybody? There have been many accounts of innocent citizens who have been executed. Killing is just wrong. That's what the death penalty is trying to prove. Except it's failing. We tell them killing is wrong, so we kill.

They could just be imprisoned. I believe that it is better to rehabilitate than to execute.

The death penalty is racist. Overall, a black person is more likely to be sentenced to Death Row than a white person.

The UN opposes the death penalty. End of discussion.

The New Testament tells us that we should be like God, and that we should follow Jesus' example and show mercy. Now you probably think, "Did the killer show mercy?" No. That's wrong. So should we condescend to that level where we show no mercy and kill? NO!

Thank you for taking this time to debate
CiRrO

Pro

I affirm: The death penalty is just

[Definitions]

1. Just: giving each their due
2. Death Penalty: execution; putting a condemn person to death

[Contention]

Contentions:

I. Kant's Scale of Justice Argument

According to Kant, when one kills another person, then they themselves have sentenced themselves to death. The criminal has universalized the action of death and has tipped the scale of justice. Thus the government must give the criminal what he/she has universalized, i.e. death, and put the scale back into balance. The equality between victim and criminal must also be realized. The government must put equal worth between the victim and the criminal. Therefore, to maintain the balance, the government has an obligation to kill the criminal. Only then, has the scale of justice been balanced.

II. Locke's Right Violation Argument/Social Contract Theory

According to Locke, when one person kills another then the killer loses their right to life as well. The Social Contract explains that it's an imperative obligation of the government to give the killer the death penalty because he/she has lost the right to live in society. Essentially, the killer has broken the contract between himself and the government. Thus, the government has the right to remove this person from society. The government would be violating the contract if they did not because: A) They would be letting a killer keep the right that was taken from another member of society. B) They could possibly be putting other members of society at risk as well.

[Rebuttal]

"Why do we kill people who kill people to show people that killing is wrong?" I belive that is true. Our death penalty system is designed to execute criminals who have murdered a person or maybe even more. Their crime is the act of killing people. So we kill them to show that they should not kill? Where's the sense in that?

--> Simple we kill people to show that killing is wrong because the action is done on a negative reciprocal basis. I.e. the government does not kill for the sake of killing, like the killer, but only as an application to distribute justice. This argument could be valid if the government was malicious about killing, but it isn't.

--> (Turn) Even if you agree with my opponent, his logic can be universalized against the whole justice system. Essentially, all punishments are proportionate is some way. Why is it just to kidnap kidnappers, and put them in jail against their will. Why is it just to take money away form people that steal? The government is justified in doing this on the basis of negative reciprocal action, and proportionality.

"Also, what if they haven't even killed anybody? There have been many accounts of innocent citizens who have been executed."

--> Ok what if that is true, that doesn't make the punishment less justified. Unjust application does not equal unjust principals.

--> (Turn) According to my opponents logic, an innocent who died in jail makes the punishment of jail unjust.

--> furthermore, my opponent has an unwarranted assertion. He just says what if an innocent was killed. He never proves anything.

"The UN opposes the death penalty. End of discussion."

--> Ok.....the UN also was against taking action during the genocide in Rwanda. Does that make it right?

--> My opponent is making a fallible organization, infallible.

"The New Testament tells us that we should be like God, and that we should follow Jesus' example and show mercy. Now you probably think, "Did the killer show mercy?" No. That's wrong. So should we condescend to that level where we show no mercy and kill? NO!"

--> Parable: Jesus said to his disciples that the workers who took advantage of the son, and killed him, deserved to be put to death.
--> Old Testament: "He who shedeth mans blood, he too shall have his blood shed."
--> Religion is a mute point.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
Debate Round No. 1
sdcharger

Con

Thank you for replying so promptly.

That means when the government kills the criminal, then they themselves have sentenced themselves to death. If that is true, then why is our government still here? This also goes for Locke's Right Violation Argument. Then the government loses their right to life as well.


Are you saying that all punishments must be dealt with in the reciprocal action? No, it is not just to steal from a thief or to rape someone who has raped. This is because we must set an example, not take an eye for an eye.

However, when one is put in jail, they can be taken out at any time. The death penalty is irreversible.


Ruben Cantu, a 17 year old teenage boy in Texas, was wrongfully accused and executed on the charge of murder. However, the eyewitness there recanted (to revoke the claim) after the execution that he was pressured by the police to identify Ruben as the killer. This is just one of the many cases of innocent deaths by the death penalty system. Out of 86 death penalty exonerations (withdrawals) in Death Row cases, 45 of them have been eyewitness errors, just like Ruben's case. 10 cases were actually because of snitching. 17 cases of government misconduct. 8 false confessions. 9 junk scientific proof cases, and 29 other miscellaneous cases. Is this enough proof?


We are not debating whether or not the UN is a perfect organization. The UN does not have to be right all the time.


Who's going to shed the government officials' blood? They're killing people too. Ok, so the criminals are executed. However, according to the Old Testament, "He (The government) who shedeth man's (criminal's) blood, he too shall have his blood shed." Again nobody's going to shed the government's blood.

Thank you for taking the time to read (observers) and the time to debate (opponent).
CiRrO

Pro

"That means when the government kills the criminal, then they themselves have sentenced themselves to death."

--> I have 2 responses:
1. The government is a mechanism, not an individual.
2. The government, i.e. the justice system, is a legitimate means to distribute justice to people that have hurt society and individuals in that society.

Then the government loses their right to life as well.

--> The government does not have individual rights. The government does not have the right to life. That is a negative right that people have. When one violates an intrinsic right of another individual, then the government must take action against this right violation.

Overview arguments:

-->My opponent makes a crucial mistake. He is trying to turn my arguments in a non-turnable way. I.e. he is arguing individual autonomous arguments against a non-individual, which is the government.
--> you can extend my arguments, because my opponent is using circular logic to prove his point.

"Are you saying that all punishments must be dealt with in the reciprocal action? No, it is not just to steal from a thief or to rape someone who has raped. This is because we must set an example, not take an eye for an eye."

--> I am saying that all punishments must be proportionate. I.e. all punishments must in some way put the scale of justice back in balance, and uphold the social contract. You in essence are saying that all punishments are unjust. If this were true, then bad actions are not bad because their is no way of showing negative reciprication. Furthermore, your rape example is unwarranted on the fact that rape violations (that do not end in death) can be punished by jail. Essentially, it all comes back to right violations. Killing another human violates every right. Therefore, the justice system, an institution that deals with right violations, must do the same because the rights must be weighed equally between everyone. In this case the victim and criminal. Eye for an eye is legal equivalence, but I am arguing legal proportionality, which is the basis of the US justice system.

"However, when one is put in jail, they can be taken out at any time. The death penalty is irreversible."

--> Yeah, so is the time in jail. It isn't different. If a person died in jail as an innocent, then according to you, we should ban jail.

"Ruben Cantu, a 17 year old teenage boy in Texas, was wrongfully accused and executed on the charge of murder. However, the eyewitness there recanted (to revoke the claim) after the execution that he was pressured by the police to identify Ruben as the killer. This is just one of the many cases of innocent deaths by the death penalty system. Out of 86 death penalty exonerations (withdrawals) in Death Row cases, 45 of them have been eyewitness errors, just like Ruben's case. 10 cases were actually because of snitching. 17 cases of government misconduct. 8 false confessions. 9 junk scientific proof cases, and 29 other miscellaneous cases. Is this enough proof?"

--> first off, my opponent does not tell you that the 17 year old wasn't claimed "innocent". He was claimed possible innocence, under a veil of ignorance. Anyone who knows law, knows that they are two completely different things.
--> He then goes on to say that people have been exonerated. Turn this argument against him. The checks are so great that the chances of an innocent being killed are slim to none.

He dropped my point about Application vs. principle. Extend this for the remaining rounds.

"We are not debating whether or not the UN is a perfect organization. The UN does not have to be right all the time"

--> My point proven. Just because the UN says it's wrong, does not make it wrong. They are fallible.
--> furthermore, he says "The UN opposes the death penalty. End of discussion" If it was the end of discussion, then my opponenet is claiming that the UN's inaction was moral, just, and infallible.

"Who's going to shed the government officials' blood? They're killing people too. Ok, so the criminals are executed. However, according to the Old Testament, "He (The government) who shedeth man's (criminal's) blood, he too shall have his blood shed." Again nobody's going to shed the government's blood."

--> He is reffering to a person, and a government is not a person. A government is a legitimate authority in dealing with violations of the social contract. Furthermore, the quote means that an individual who kills an individual deserves to be killed himself. And thats where the government comes in.
Debate Round No. 2
sdcharger

Con

Thank you for replying.
My opponent's response that the government is a mechanism is ridiculous. I was referring to the members of the government. If an organization has committed a crime, it is not the actual organization itself, but the leading members who decide the actions. The government members decide who is executed, not the organization itself.

My opponent's response to the government's loss of life is similar. The government ITSELF does not have the right to life. However, according to your allusion to the Bible, "He who shedeth mans blood, he too shall have his blood shed." This not referring to the government itself (I keep repeating this), but to the people working in the government.

My opponent is incessantly asserting that the government is a non-individual. However, all members that reside over the justice system, namely the Death Penalty, are guilty, as I have stated above.

The government is killing another human. This violates every right. We should just reform and rehabilitate these criminals. These people may be reformed and then become prominent members of society.

< Yeah, so is the time in jail.>
The time in jail is not irreversible. As I said in the second round, there have been many exonerations. Some have been lucky, and some have not. However, if we support putting criminals in jail, rather than execution, we can prevent some of the innocent people from dying.

As to your response about your skepticism on Ruben's innocence, the news stated that Ruben Cantu WAS INNOCENT.

We are not doing anything about the government officials because we still think that the death penalty is just.

Thank you very much for debating me on this topic.
CiRrO

Pro

"My opponent's response that the government is a mechanism is ridiculous. I was referring to the members of the government. If an organization has committed a crime, it is not the actual organization itself, but the leading members who decide the actions."

--> Ok, i will concede my opponents point for a second. However, let's look further then what is written. What is the difference between a murderer and the members of the government? Answer: A murderer kills in cold blood, kills an innocent and has a malicious intent to do so. Compare this with the government. The government is not killing with a malicious intent, but only as a means to create proportionate justice.
--> He drops my point about legitimacy, extend this.

The government is killing another human. This violates every right. We should just reform and rehabilitate these criminals. These people may be reformed and then become prominent members of society.

--> This does not violate the rights of the criminal because by committing a crime, namely a murder, they loss their rights. Thus a mechanism is needed to create justice. Also, rehabilitation has been proven to be a faulty system, and only hurts society more then it helps.

"The time in jail is not irreversible. As I said in the second round, there have been many exonerations. Some have been lucky, and some have not. However, if we support putting criminals in jail, rather than execution, we can prevent some of the innocent people from dying."

--> My opponent doesn't understand. I was saying that the time already taken up is irreversible. I.e. you cant go back in time.

As to your response about your skepticism on Ruben's innocence, the news stated that Ruben Cantu WAS INNOCENT.

--> The news may have, but not the DA records. Also just because the news says something, doesn't make it right. Check a more credible source.

Overview Argument:

My opponent is debating points about why the death penalty may not be the best punishment, but he never argues why it doesn't conform to standards of justice, which is what the debate is about. Is the death penalty just.

Voting Issues:

1. The affirmative better upholds justice. I.e. the criminal is getting what he/she deserves as a due punishment.
A) Scale of Justice --> Went unrefuted
B) Social Contract --> Went unrefuted

2. My opponent debates application rather then principle, thus not in direct link with the resolution.

3. My opponents case can be dropped because I have adequetly refuted what he has brought up, and the majority he dropped throughout the 3 rounds.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Suppose that if a person commits an act A in violation of the law then it cannot be just for the government to impose A on the person. If this is true then kidnappers cannot be imprisoned for kidnapping, and people who commit fraud cannot be fined for taking money. This is nonsensical. A just punishment may be of the same nature as the original offense.

Arguments to the effect that killing is always unjustified ignore that killing in self defense or in defense of one's family is commonly accepted as justified. The justification for execution lies in part in removing the threat to society. Prisoners having life sentences without parole have no additional penalty if they kill a guard or a fellow inmate, and as a matter of fact they act accordingly. Also, in a famous case, a prisoner sentenced to life without parole was let out for a weekend by Massachusetts Governor Dukakis, and the prisoner then murdered someone while on leave.

It is not racial prejudice to convict more Blacks of murder if they, for cultural reasons, commit more murders. Orientals in the U.S. are, per capita, convicted of many fewer murders that either Whites or Blacks. That does not imply that there is a prejudice in favor of Orientals and against Whites and Blacks.

Interesting debate.
Posted by SchinkBR 8 years ago
SchinkBR
Yeah, I agree with skele. And there is a difference between locke and the UN. Aside from the fact that locke's principles helped found this country you must realize that no one has any actual obligation to him since he never had any real authority. Whereas the U.N. is a group of individuals, each with different ideals who are trying to press their ideals onto other.
Posted by skelepieow 8 years ago
skelepieow
I realize that this isn't exactly the debate at hand, but if we were to throw out the death penalty and just leave these people in jail to be rehabilitated... where are we going to put them? We already have a problem with the capacities of our jail system. If we were to build more prisons, that would require money... and to keep these people in the prison requires even more money.

On the topic of rehabilitation... The majority of people that are released back into society (about 70%) are thrown back into prison within five years for a new crime. I'm not liking my chances when it comes to releasing Charles Manson, Ed Gein, or John Wayne Gacy back into society.
Posted by burningpuppies101 8 years ago
burningpuppies101
this will be an interesting debate.... and i gotta agree with LK on this one... CiRro, if you are accepting Kane and Locke, which many don't, then you have to accept the UN.. If you don't want to, thats a different debate....
Posted by Lightkeeper 8 years ago
Lightkeeper
Oh cool. Haven't seen a CP debate for a while (since getting banned from a death penalty forum for arguing Pro --- little did I know, the forum was actually a support forum for families of the condemned)....

Why is Pro quoting philosophers as authorities while at the same refusing to accept the authority of the UN on the sole basis that he disagrees with the UN's actions in an unrelated matter?
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