The Instigator
dan1
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
resolutionsmasher
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points

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

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
resolutionsmasher
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/22/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,975 times Debate No: 7515
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (2)

 

dan1

Con

Since I am con my opponent may go first

good luck!
resolutionsmasher

Pro

"A government that fails to fulfill its responsibility is not a legitimate government, thus citizens aren't obligated to recognize its legitimacy," said John Locke a famous philosopher. If we recognize what this means in the current debate you must affirm the resolution.

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

For this debate my value will be justice. Justice can be defined as the maintenance or administration of what is just based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, fairness, and equity. Conception of justice is one of the key features of society because essentially justice concerns the proper orderings of people and things within a society.

My Value Criterion will be John Locke's Social Contract. The concept of protecting one's own rights must be looked at through the filter of the social contract, which is essentially an exchange between the government and its people. Locke's social contract, upon which all governing bodies are based, states that if the government upholds the laws and protect its people, the citizens will obey the law.

I also offer the following definitions
Government – The offices of a nation/political unit being responsible for direction/supervision of public affair
Failed-a state of inability to perform a normal function
Enforce- to compel observance of or obedience: enforce a law
Law-rule of conduct to enforce authority
Vigilantism – a person who acts as a last resort because of a failure of the established system (American University of Law System)

From this definition, we must see that true vigilantes only act to enforce the laws the government cannot or will not enforce. They are not revolutionaries, rather the opposite. True vigilantes strive to uphold the current legal system by preventing, deterring, or providing justice for crime.

Contention 1) the phrase 'has failed' limits the debate
Note that the resolution cites "when the government has failed to enforce the law", not "when the government has failed to make the right laws." Thus we must look to cases of vigilantism where it is in response to lack of enforcement of laws and not the making of the wrong laws. That means SA, and the KKK are irrelevant under the resolution, as they do not act because the government has failed to enforce the laws, instead they act/acted because they believed that the laws themselves were wrong.

Contention 2) Vigilantism reduces violence
The current status of society is already violent from a lack of government participation. By actually justifying vigilantism, we reduce the amount of violence because we are ensuring protection to those who are innocent. How can we stop people from harming each other you may ask? Well in a corrupted society like this, the social contract is not in effect because the government cannot protect the people. The only real way to ensure protection is vesting trust into a vigilante who promotes justice. If there is no one protecting the law, than life is brutish and short. By having a vigilante, we cannot only replace the lack of stability from the government but can also in regard to the laws. As I stated before, this resolution identifies with a corrupt society, that is a government that is not able to enforce laws, so therefore without a vigilante, we cannot protect the innocents.

Contention 3) the illegitimate government
The government is established to protect the rights of its people. It also establishes impartial judges to settle disputes. If it fails to protect the rights of its citizens, the government is illegitimate. In the absence of a legitimate government, a state of nature exists. In this state of nature, it's pretty much a free-for-all, everyone looking out for his or her own rights. Because of this, vigilantism is justified, because it's trying to protect yourself or others in the absence of a legitimate government. My opponent may say that a criminal is still a citizen, so the government still has to look after their rights. However, by committing a crime, they have attacked the social contract. By doing so, they have forfeited their rights.

Contention 4) Tyranny
Locke can easily imagine the conditions under which the contract with the government is destroyed and men are justified in resisting the authority of a civil government. When the executive power of a government is tyranny, such as by dissolving the legislature, and therefore denying the people the ability to make laws for their own preservation, then the resulting tyrant puts himself into a state of nature and specifically into a state of war with the people, and they have the same right to self defense as they had before making a contract to establish society in the first place. The founding fathers took this into consideration when they looked at the declaration of independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security" The founding fathers very well knew the social contract needed to be upheld to maintain a peaceful community. The authoritarian or totalitarian regime is a violation of this agreement. Locke and our founding fathers can imagine conditions under which one would be better off rejecting a particular civil government and returning to the state of nature, with the aim of constructing a better civil government in its place. In other words, the justification of the government is the protecting people's property and well-being, so when no such protection is granted, or when the government becomes tyrannical, citizens have a right, if not an obligation to resist its authority. The social contract is dissolved and the process to create a political society begins again.

In conclusion people who commit crimes should be responsible for those crimes. It doesn't matter whether they're priests or ministers or atheists said John Ashcroft who is was the 79th United States Attorney General. By his statement he provides us with knowledge that criminals should be held accountable for their actions. Once again, Vigilantism is a person who acts to enforce the law as a last resort when the government fails. As I've stated. When our government can't protect us, then we have all rights to protect our community or, us. Therefore I strongly urge an affirmative ballot on the Resolution: Vigilantism is justified when the government fails to enforce the law.

thank you
Debate Round No. 1
dan1

Con

I will start of rebutting my opponents case

Valued Premise: Justice
Rebuttal 1: Martin Luther King JR. once said, "Justice denied somewhere diminishes justice everywhere". Because the vigilante will not be able to provide everyone within their community justice it diminishes justice. Also since we do not know whether vigilantes are protecting human rights there is no way to achieve justice,
Rebuttal 2: The bakassi boys of Nigeria prove that vigilantism is the rationalization of crime, no checks on cruel and unusual punishment. - The other day I saw on television the news of an armed robber apprehended by the police a few hours after the crime was committed. He was charged, sent to jail, and the police closed the case. It got me thinking about my home country Nigeria, and how a wave of crime took over in some cities a few years back by a group who took the law into their hands. The Bakassi Boys are a group of youths known for their anti-crime vigilantism. They came into being in the late 1990s, and, in addition to being armed with machetes, guns and charms , they were officially supported and financed by the state government. They operate in eastern Nigeria, in West Africa, and they are sometimes accused of illegal activity and human rights abuses, yet they still enjoy popular support from the government and most of the citizens. This is because the people are tired of the police taking bribes and failing to fight the massive crime wave in the area. They hunted down criminals, cutting off their limbs for stealing, and burning suspected rapists, and murderers alive with a tire attached to their necks. Judge, the bakassi boys fall under the definition of vigilantism, and while the government, the people, and even themselves believed that they were doing justice, you must realize how skewed their perception of justice had become. they think because they are punishing criminals, they are doing justice, but the ends obviously do not justify the means, judge we must stop the rationalization of crime and it starts with a negative ballot. They do not acheive justice.
VC: Social Contract
Rebuttal 1:The vigilante is not the government so this is irrelevant, and secondly when the vigilante commits crimes the people will look to the government for help and since they can not provide it, the social contract is further dissolved. So through vigilantes the social contract is further dissolved

I agree with the definition
Contention 1: I agree this has no relevance

Contention 2: My opponent says that the vigilante ensures justice. But I would like to turn this argument, Vigilantes will lead to anarchy, (my attack on this is my contention 3).

Contention 3: OK, all my opponent is saying that the government is illegitimate and the vigilante would prosecute. But it is impossible for a vigilante to prosecute a crime. Since the the government has FAILED the vigilante can not prosecute legally. Therefore the vigilante would ultimately lead to violence

Contention 4: My opponent makes the statement in is contention 4, "It is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it." This contradicting his case where he states that vigilantes are not revolutionaries. But when you abolish the government you are one. So I have countered turn and found the Affirmative case to be contradictory, now I will post my case.

Vigilantism occurs when a person violates the law in order to exact what they believe to be justice from criminals, because they think that the criminal will not be caught or will not be sufficiently punished by the legal system.
The Government refers to the United States government and its checks and balances. Including the judiciary, Executive, and legislative branches.
For this debate my value premise will be Justice, which can be defined as giving each their due. Justice is meant more for the society as a whole than for the individual victims because it is designed to prove repeatedly that people are safe within their society.

Valued Criterion: Protection of Rights
Vigilantism offers no protections of due process rights, no checks on cruel or unusual punishment, no accountability to any exterior force. Suspects--or even known criminals--are still humans, deserving of fair trials and humane treatment. The key point is this resolution is "when the government has failed to enforce the law". However, the government's motivation for failing to enforce the law is not addressed, nor is it implied in the wording of the topic. There are many potential reasons why a government may fail to enforce the law.

Contention 1: Vigilantes abuse the rights of the accused.

Sub-point A: Vigilantes lack procedural safeguards
In the case of vigilantism, there are not necessary safeguards to make sure that the right people are punished. Even if vigilantes decided to follow certain rules, there is no guarantee that these rules will neither sufficiently protect the accused, nor that the community agrees with the rules and safeguards that a vigilante mob chooses to enforce. If the point of legal rules is that they reflect the community's wishes, then allowing an unaccountable group of vigilantes to deal out punishment as they see fit will violate communal norms and may end up punishing the innocent. This is saying that the vigilantes will get away with their wrong doings.

Sub-point B: Vigilante violence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment

Minh A. Luong states:
"Studies from all over the world show that vigilante justice is likely to be violent because the moral outrage the vigilantes feel makes them believes that extreme violence is necessary. Vigilante justice is often carried out in front of family members causing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and results in a substantial long term health care to victims. Since the state could not legitimately carry out these kinds of punishments, vigilantes should not have the right to do so either."
This is saying that because vigilantes act out of moral outrage their rage will lead to unnecessary violence committed against the accused.

Contention 2: Vigilantism creates a culture of violence
Society creates and reinforces its values through actions. Normally, societies make socially useful value choices because it is better for their society in the long run. When the society makes a decision that following the law is not useful, it creates an underlying disrespect for the law. The solution to this problem should be not to violate the law by allowing private citizens to take the law into their own hands. Additionally, because vigilante justice often entails private citizens taking actions against perpetrators of crimes, it sends the message saying that violence is socially acceptable. Social peace and order are generally useful because they allow every person the right to pursue happiness.

Minh A. Luong also states:
"When violence is legitimized as a value, people start to believe that it is legitimate to interfere in other people's life's, which undermines the basic human right of self determination". Vigilantism occurs in third world countries like Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Because of these vigilantes these countries have weak government's dysfunctional justice, and ineffective law enforcement."

This is saying that vigilante violence leads to weakened governments which will lead to larger amounts of violence, in communities.

I am sorry but my case does not ift. I wiill post my C3 in the comments hoping it will go into the debate.

Thank you, and sorry
resolutionsmasher

Pro

I will address my opponent's arguments in the order that he provided them.

My Value of Justice:
He first claims that because a vigilante cannot provide for justice everywhere he/she thus cannot provide for justice anywhere. This is a moot point. It is impossible to completely provide justice everywhere in this world. Thus this does not detract from a vigilante's form of justice and in the end actually justifies his/her actions.
My opponent then provides an example of incorrect vigilantism in the nation of Nigeria. He claims that the actions of this group are unjust due to their blatent disregard for human rights. I have several problems with this argument. First of which is that these insurgents are not true vigilantes. A true vigilante is one who is not given the responsibility of upholding the law, but does so without detracting from human rights. Any vigilante who does not meet these criterion is not a valid vigilante but is instead a criminal against humanity and justice needs to be exercised upon him. Next is the fact that if this Nigerian group were not in existence then that country would be in a lot worse shape than it is in now. It would have effectivley become a government of reverse law (a government that basically violates all rules set to it and nothing can be done within the nation to stop this. Out side influence is needed). We must see that this group may not be valueing human rights but is still preventing a much further violation of human rights. Vigilantism is still needed, just in a more human-rights-valueing way. His example is one of crime not vigilantism. That nation needs proper vigilantes rather than criminals that are already there.

My Criterion of Social Contract:
He claims that the vigilante is not the government and thus social contract does not apply. This is false. Social Contract is an ideology. When the govenment fails to uphold the law then it ceases to be a part of the social contract. Vigilantes rise up out of the population to fill the position of government in that contract by enforcing the law. Any body that enforces the law and protects the rights of others is the proverbial government and thus Social Contract does apply. Furthermore it stands as proof that vigilantes are neccessary to fill the need in Social Contract. If it is not filled then the government becomes anarchy and we can both agree that anarchy is the worst case senario. Thus vigilantes uphold my criterion of Social Contract.

I will bring up the consequences of him accepting my definitions.

He makes no arguement against my 1st contention claiming it is irrelevent. This is false. The phrase that I pointed out requires that there be something to replace the failed government. If not vigilantes then who? That is my opponent's responsibility. To prove that there is a more just way of dealing with a failed government. This he has not done.

I will cross apply this rubbuttle with my attack on his 3rd contention as he did so also.

He used an incorrect definition of the word 'prosecute' to attack my 3rd contention. By definition 'prosecute' means to pursue or to attack. Thus the vigilante is capable of doing so.

In responce to his claim against my fourth contention I will say this: that vigilantes strive to fix the current government by 'altering' it. Revelutionaries strive to destroy the old one and establish a new one. Thus vigilantes are not revelutionaries.

Now on to my opponent's case.

His value is that of justice (it is mine also). He claims it is meant for a society as a whole more so that for the individual. But this is false. If you cannot provide justice to individuals then it is impossible to attain that justice on a societal scale and thus you see a society willing to oppress its individuals in order to do the suppossed 'overall good'. In reality we must first provide justice to individuals and by doing so on a large scale you inadvertantly provide justice on a large scale.

His criterion is that of the protection of rights. He claims that vigilantes offer no protection of certain rights. I addressed this in my defence of my value of Justice. Again I repeat, if we don't have vigilantes then the alternative is even worse. A government that fails to uphold those same rights. My opponent claims that "However, the government's motivation for failing to enforce the law is not addressed, nor is it implied in the wording of the topic. There are many potential reasons why a government may fail to enforce the law." By saying this my opponent claims that the government's failure is acceptable. This is purely an ill-founded idea. The government's utmost responsibility is to protect the rights of its citizens, according to Social Contract, and no other thing should come before this, thus the government has no just reason to leave off the protection of rights.

His first contention is this: "Vigilantes abuse the rights of the accused." He threads this down into two sub-points:
1. "Vigilantes lack procedural safeguards"
He claims that there is nothing to keep vigilantes from violating the rights of others. But if you look at the alternatives, you will see that not allowing vigilantes is a much worse threat to human rights than the possibility of misguided vigilantism. Without them there will definitely be no protection of those rights. Since there is not perfection in this system then we must look to the more reasonable answer: vigilantism.
2. "Vigilante violence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment"
He summarized this point by saying that, "This is saying that because vigilantes act out of moral outrage their rage will lead to unnecessary violence committed against the accused." I respond to this by saying that this is purely stipulation. Also I refer you to my argument against the sub-point A of this contention.

His second contention is this: "Vigilantism creates a culture of violence"
He states that when an individual chooses to ignore a law that he defrading the respect of law in general. This is a typical logical falacy known as the 'slippery slope' argument. Our government is actually throwing away old law and creating new law every year. This 'flexibility' of our government is what keeps us alive as a nation. We put the protection of justice above the entity of the law. This is the basic principle of vigilantism and has worked out for America so far. My opponent claims that we should not allow vigilantism because of its violent nature. While I agree with the fact that most acts of vigilantism are violent, we must remember that in the case of this resolution it is duely needed due to inadequacy of the government. If we allow the degredation of rights in the name of peace we are a delusional society. The protection of rights in the face of a failed government, even if through violence, is a just cause, without exception. He also brings up this statement: "This is saying that vigilante violence leads to weakened governments which will lead to larger amounts of violence, in communities." This is a moot statement since the government implied by the resolution is already a royal failure and cannot complete its utmost duty.

He has posted his third contention on the comments page and thus I will answer it in the same manner.

thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
dan1

Con

dan1 forfeited this round.
resolutionsmasher

Pro

My opponent has failed to insert his input for this round and thus has conceded all points made by me in Round 2.
Debate Round No. 3
dan1

Con

dan1 forfeited this round.
resolutionsmasher

Pro

Oh for the love of GOD!!!!!
Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Metz 7 years ago
Metz
I was just pointing it out
Posted by resolutionsmasher 7 years ago
resolutionsmasher
Doesn't matter. He didn't debate. I did. Iwin
Posted by Metz 7 years ago
Metz
Cons case is essentially canned.... Its from the Planet Debate Briefs on this topic, Mihn Loung was the author/editor of those briefs...

I am not going to say your are wrong, but it really is more helpful to you in the long run to write unique case ideas
Posted by resolutionsmasher 7 years ago
resolutionsmasher
What the crap, dude?!?!?!
Posted by resolutionsmasher 7 years ago
resolutionsmasher
No problem
Posted by dan1 7 years ago
dan1
thanks
Posted by resolutionsmasher 7 years ago
resolutionsmasher
My opponent claims that vigilantism leads to anarchy because vigilantes disregard the government. This is false. True vigilantes do not discard the current government. They uphold the laws of that government when it cannot and thus deter anarchy. As I've proven in my case, not allowing vigilantes is a much larger proponent of anarchy than vigilantes. This is because when the government fails to uphold the law then there is no one to uphold the law. If there is no way to uphold the law then there is virtually no law and thus anarchy ensues. My opponent backs up his point using logic involving a 'flawed' government and 'flawed' law. This doesn't apply to the resolution. A 'failed' government is more than just 'flawed'. It is virtually the non-existence of a government. Thus the only way to vote in this case is for the affirmative.

thank you
Posted by resolutionsmasher 7 years ago
resolutionsmasher
Thanks for gettin' that in.
Posted by dan1 7 years ago
dan1
Contention 3: Vigilantism leads to Anarchy
An imperfect democracy, yes, even an imperfect democracy, is still the best form of government that is known to humankind from America to Zimbabwe. The same is true of constitutions and constitutional imperfections; it is better to have rules, with some flaws, than not on have rules at all. Having and respecting rules, is what the rule of law and due process is all about. Good people sometimes, out of frustrations and accumulated disappointments and anger take the law into their own hands; they resort to what lawyers call self-help. Self-help is vigilantism; this enforcement leads to lawlessness and anarchy, because there is no set of rules. There are no dispassionate and objective arbiter or fact-finder; it is like a Basketball game without a referee. The teams may cheat or elbow each other, because there is no referee to enforce the rules. Therefore the aggrieved party becomes the judge, the committee or jury, and the executioner all in one. That is the equivalence of absolute power. We have a legal system for a reason. Who are they to decide what's wrong and right? Anything else is called anarchy, where only the strong survive. Think about it. What if I decided that your car was too noisy? So I decided to set it on fire. Would you be happy? Is that anyway to run a society. Law with some flaws are better than no law at all.
John Milton states:
"Anarchy is the sure consequence of tyranny; or no power that is not limited by laws can ever be protected by them."
This is saying since the vigilante has no one to answer to, they can not protect the laws. And because of the vigilante there will be tyranny which will lead to anarchy.
Posted by resolutionsmasher 7 years ago
resolutionsmasher
Thanks. Will post later. Send me a friend request.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 7 years ago
Maikuru
dan1resolutionsmasherTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by resolutionsmasher 7 years ago
resolutionsmasher
dan1resolutionsmasherTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07