The Instigator
Pro (for)
21 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

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

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/17/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,516 times Debate No: 7876
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (4)




So we meet again Mr. Cumbee. To be honest, I couldn't wait to debate my biggest rival once again. Well, good luck to you sir, not just in this round, but also in the rest of the tournament. Let the fun begin...

It's the biggest test of the semester. The grade on this test will either make you or break you. You reach a problem that you don't know. A little bit of help from your friend that actually studied would be extremely helpful right now. Well the same thing can be said for the government. The government is basically just taking a test, solving the problem of crime. Since nobody is perfect, we all need a little help sometime. So when the government has to skip over the problem that it doesn't know, why not let your friend give you a little help? Vigilantism is the government's friend that is helping out on the test. Because I believe that everyone needs a little help here and there, I stand in strong affirmation of the resolution, Resolved: Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law.

I will first begin with a few definitions.

Vigilantism: The act of a citizen who takes the law into his or her own hands by apprehending and/or punishing suspected criminals. (Black's Law Dictionary)

Justice: The maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments. (Merriam-Webster Online)

For any other definitions required by my opponent, I reserve the right to clarify.

My value for this round will be that of Justice. Justice must be considered the paramount value in this round as we are talking about the Justice System in any society. If that system fails, meaning that Justice isn't upheld, then we can only achieve negative results. Only when the system is upheld, ultimately meaning that Justice is upheld, can we achieve positive consequences.

I will be supporting my value with my criterion of just simply taking action. If the government has already failed in its duty to uphold the law, then how is justice suppose to be achieved? People need to take action when nothing is accomplished by the government. When nothing is done, then more and more criminals believe that they can get away with murder, so to speak. By doing nothing, it's just attracting more crime. When people take matters into their own hands, then something is at least being done to uphold the law and criminals don't just walk away clean and free.

Contention 1 – Look at the most famous vigilante ever, Batman
The government in Gotham is failing constantly. The city is falling into almost complete corruption. Criminals are running everything, even the Justice System. So what's to be done? The caped crusader is the only chance for Gotham to be brought into a new era. Harvey Dent, the "White Knight," has fallen to the dark side thanks to the Joker. Rachel Dawes, before she died, could only do so much. Commissioner Gordon is surrounded by traders. One man had both the tools and skills that would enable him to do something about the crime that was running rampant in the city. Now, although the amount of corruption in the city and the perfect vigilante are both extremes in this one situation, people should be able to do something about the smaller problems that we face today. We may not have a Joker, Two-Face or even Riddler that is trying to take down our lives on a daily basis, but we do have murders, rapists and thieves that are hurting society. Something must be done to prevent the factions from becoming as powerful as in Gotham, and if the government can't do it, then the people should do something.

Contention 2 – Vigilantism will work
According to the definition provided earlier, a vigilante only takes the law into their hands, but doesn't change the laws or ignore them. The only difference between vigilantism and the regular system is who carries it out. If a "vigilante" breaks the law themselves or over punishes someone, then they can no longer be considered a vigilante, rather they are a rogue individual. Seeing as we are only looking to the resolution as a problem of enforcement, rather than an illegitimate government, vigilantism is only meant to fight the poor enforcement habits. If there are any attacks that talk about the government being unfair in nature, then those are completely off topic and we must steer clear of those problems. The only thing that is even remotely against the government is who is to enforce the law. Once the government fails, then it is a person's right to self preservation in the form of vigilantism.

Since I have proven that Vigilantism is an effective method to prevent crime and is the only means to achieve any positive consequences, mainly Justice, we can only look to the Affirmative side of the resolution to take actions and fight for what is good in the world. So whether it be Batman fighting the crime of Gotham or just your smart friend helping you on a test, we must look to vigilantism as a method of achieving desired results.

Thank you and I will await your response


I've officially hit the peak of laziness. And I'm really busy. So I hope I can post all of my rounds. If it were anyone but la croix I would have forfeited but I knew this would be too good to miss. So with that, I wish good luck to my "biggest rival" :D

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

---Making this value stronger, makes it so that vigilantism won't need to be used so much

---In order to legitimize legal justice we must adhere to it. Breaking from it at any time loses the point of government in general.

CONTENTION THREE: Vigilantism may be inappropriate, just like the government, however, we need to keep something consistent.
---The way the law must work consistently or else there is no point to it. And although it may fail time to time, we must also recognize that vigilantism fails from time to time as well. Therefore, the net benefit is given to the con side where there is actual consistency.

CONTENTION FOUR: Legal Justice is the decision of all whereas vigilantism is the decision of a few (or less).
---Thus, the legal justice decision is almost always the decision of the people. And whether it is right or wrong (usually right), it is what must be done. Changing from this is unjustified.

His Case

V- Justice

---Neither of us can guarantee justice. However, con guarantees consistency through the law. Furthermore, the law gives chance for permanent change, whereas vigilantism is always random.

C- Taking Action

---Action can be taken through changing the law. And history has shown that often this is the more just action. In the case of this resolution, it may be the lesser of two evils, but it is still the right thing to do.

Batman was created in an idealistic world that can not be compared to in the real world. After the law has been "failed to be enforced", I offer you two options. Either A) Become a vigilante risking more than anyone wants to risk, or B) Change the law! History has shown through Civil Rights and Suffrage that the law can be changed if you work hard enough. And it's only until you do that, where you will get REAL change. Batman will die eventually, the law will never die.

Vigilantism will fail just like the law will. Vigilantism is flawed for similar reasons that dictatorships fail. It gives too much power in the hands of one individual. Government is made to protect all, which is not accomplished with a vigilante. If you were to truly accept his final argument, then it would work fine to eliminate all laws and to only prosecute each other. This is a flawed idea, and thus this resolution is flawed. I therefore urge you to negate!

Thanks and good luck.
Debate Round No. 1


Being my biggest rival is a term of endearment, lol. You're just my favorite person to debate, but yeah, you have reached a new level of laziness. Senoritus must be kicking in.

Just moving down the flow, starting with the Negative.

Contention 1 - In the end, both sides are trying to achieve justice so it will all come down to who best supports their value.

Contention 2 - By adhering to legal justice, we really aren't achieving anything in the situations that we are talking about. If we adhere to legal justice, then we are just letting the criminals get away with anything. According to my definition, which went unrefuted by my opponent, justice is the administration of punishments or rewards. So, according to his own case, he can punish criminals by doing nothing about it. Furthermore, vigilantes aren't trying to replace the government, they are only trying to help it out when it fails.

Contention 3 - Consistency is achieved on the affirmative side. The law does not change. No matter what, the vigilante must uphold the law or else they are no longer a vigilante rather than a rogue individual. The ONLY thing that changes is who upholds the law. So I ask, in the administration of law, how does consistency help if possible for the government to fail? Hypothetically, if the government upholds 7 out of 10 cases, and even if vigilantism can fail on a few of them, if they uphold even a single case, then they are achieving a net benefit for society. Consistency among who enforces the law does not benefit society, rather consistency among the laws that are enforced will benefit society.

Contention 4 - In this argument, my opponent just assumes vigilantes will change or sway away from the law, but as I've defined, and again, went unrefuted by my opponent, vigilantes must adhere to the law, so the decision of vigilantes is not really up to them, rather the laws of the government.

Moving on to the affirmative side.

I would just like to say once more that since my opponent refused to offer definitions to refute mine, he accepts them as grounds for this debate and cannot offer any in the future.

Value - I've already mentioned here that consistency of laws enforced is more important than who enforces the laws, so I will just move on.

Criterion - I'm not saying that changing the law is a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it is a good thing. But for example, getting a bill passed through the US Congress can take plenty of time and action must be taken now.

Batman may have been created in an imaginary world, but it's far from ideal situations. The crime and corruption is far worse than it could ever become in the real world. The only reason that I even mention it is because I want to show that by taking action, you can alter the world drastically. Furthermore on his arguments, we are not talking about if the law has failed, we're talking about the failed enforcement of the law. If the law has failed, then I agree completely to change it, but we are talking specifically about the enforcement of the law, so this argument is completely off topic and should be ignored by judges in this round.

Again, my opponent believes that vigilantism is deciding the law, but that is simply not the case. Vigilantism is just enforcing the law outside of the police department/judicial system. They are still upholding the laws of the government. This is a flawed argument by my opponent.

Thus I urge you to vote Affirmative and I will await your response Mr. Cumbee :-)


I'm using the theory argument of laziness. You should vote for me knowing that I can argue better but I'm being extremely lazy making me incapable :D

C1: Agree with value analysis. Whoever gets it more.

C2: Against this all I really have to say is that the law is not guarenteed to be moral. And it would be unwise of us to blindly assume it as good. Otherwise there is literally no ground for me to argue on. Futhermore, it would be even more unwise to hope that one person knows better than the people as a whole. And if you vote on anything, vote on a group of people being right more than one person. Especially in a society.

C3: There is a reason that the law failed, and generally it is the laws fault. This is why we should move to strengthen the law rather than to put our faith in inconsistent law (EG: Vigilante)

C4: Here is the problem with this argument. If you become a vigilante, not only are you trying to prevent unlawful acts, but in your attempt, you break the law once again. Even what batman does breaks the law, thus only when it is done as awesome as batman does it, will my opponent get value. However, when it is done poorly, only legal justice can achive value. And since we don't know how the vigilante will act, you must default CON.

For these reasons, I urge you to vote CON!

Thanks and sorry for my laziness!
Debate Round No. 2


Well I think that your laziness is rubbing off on me now, lol.

C1 - We both agree

C2 - First of all, we're not debating if the government is moral or not, we're suppose to be arguing if the government fails to enforce the law, should the people. It's a matter of enforcement and not legitimacy. Second, this is a big if by the Negative. He is only hoping that the government is illegitimate. But looking at the big picture, people enforcing the law keeps order, but if the government fails, then we are in an anarchist state.

C3 - The law isn't at fault if the government fails, the department that is supposed to uphold the law fail (mainly the police department or military)

C4 - An act of vigilantism is an act of civil disobedience. It's not bad thing to do if the law fails you. You're trying to show the government the fault in their actions so they can repair it. In the mean time, justice is being achieved by upholding the law, rather than leading an anarchist movement.

When the government fails to enforce the law, the only thing that is keeping law and order is the vigilantes trying to uphold the law. When you look at the resolution as a whole, it is much better for vigilantes to uphold the law rather than doing nothing at all and leading to anarchy. Thus I urge you to vote for the Affirmative side.

Thank you, Luke, and good luck in the rest of the tourney.


Johnicle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by littlelacroix 7 years ago
Lol, I didn't know it was your birthday this week. Well Happy Birthday! And as for the debate, you were slacking off anyway... hahahahahahaha
Posted by Johnicle 7 years ago
Sorry.... turning 18 has its set backs for time!
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