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The Contender
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7 Points

Vigilatism Justified?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/30/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,795 times Debate No: 7613
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (2)




You know the resolution...March/April 2009...serious LDers only, please

Because Vigilantism gives power to an unchecked subjective authority, I negate

Jack Forbes writes:

"By definition a vigilante group exists in opposition to a current existing government…Governments have a monopoly on power granted in some manner by the people, whereas vigilante groups construct themselves. Further, though vigilante groups might enforce the law they can have no laws for themselves, else they are no different from infant states."

I value justified action inherent in the resolution.

Justice is a neutral standard, and this neutrality is denied when single individuals are denied certain rights for the benefit of others. Thus the criterion is use of fair legal procedures defined as consistent procedures which prevent error and are contestable. No procedure can be perfect. The NC is not condemning all procedural flaws. Rather, because violations of individuals are unjust, at the very least there must be a clear set of demarcated legal procedures which individuals can claim to contain abuses of power.

There are two additional justifications:
1. Allowing individuals to be used as a means to a social ends makes all rights conditional. For example, theft might decrease if we killed the families of perpetrators. But then we are killing innocent people with the aim of reducing theft. Procedural fairness ensures protection for the due of all individuals by giving them an inviolable boundary of security which cannot be crossed.
2. Criminal enforcement agencies have power over individuals, but are also inherently fallible and must be checked in order to prevent violations. Without some sort of consistent procedural rights to place checks on authority powerful institutions can do anything.

The thesis and sole negative contention is that vigilantism by definition can guarantee no fair, consistent legal procedures.

First, Vigilantism lacks consistent procedural mechanisms because of its subjective nature. Vigilantes take the law into their own hands, and thus can be held to no rules, leading to chaos.

Scott Johnson provides the example of Latin America

"Vigilantism has taken root in Latin America over the past decade...angry crowds are increasingly taking the law into their own hands, meting out physical punishment for crimes real and imagined. Vigilantes often "lynch" common criminals who, in their view, have escaped justice...Last May a mob in the Peruvian town of Ilave beat their mayor after accusing him of embezzlement, then dragged him into a public square and left him to die...Vigilantes feel they are compensating for a lack of justice, but do not act based on consent of the governed. Thus, the punishments used are overly harsh and subject to no definitive procedural checks,."

Thus, Vigilantism means that innocents have no mechanism of recourse against being identified as guilty and overly harsh punishments can be doled out.

Second, Vigilante groups historically abuse power. Though they enforce the law they select victims in a bias,ed sometimes racially motivated manner.

According to Ami Pedahuzur and Arie Perliger,

"Vigilantes, in this case, do not focus on criminals, but rather on population groups who aspire towards either social or political change or desire to improve their own status in the social arena. If vigilantes suspect the situation to be a zero-sum game, the likelihood that they will turn to violence increases significantly. This violence may be directed towards groups with certain primordial traits (such as race, religion, status or tribe), economic or political characteristics. Examples of this type of vigilantism include the Klu-Klux-Klan's activities in the early twentieth century, which aimed to return the 'Afro-American population to its proper place', the Muslim Brothers' religious struggle against secular movements in Egypt in the 1930s and radical Muslim sects active in Pakistan."

Thus, even if government is failing it still derives some consent for its authority, whereas vigilantism is subjective, unchecked and thus abusive.


First I'd like to wish my opponent good luck in the debate...

Ok, well for the purpose of the debate i would like to define the term government, vigilante, and law.
First, government; government is defined by as the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community, etc.; political administration.

Second, vigilante is defined as any person who takes the law into his or her own hands.

Third, law is defined as the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision.

Now that these definitions are out of the way, I can now begin my points without any confusion.

The United States constitution states "We the people". This country was founded on the idea of power to the people. Having said that, aren't police officers people too? If your answer is no, what makes them more adept to fight crime? A pension? Paycheck? Wouldn't you want someone who volunteers to fight crime (a.k.a vigilante) instead of someone who is just doing it to get paid? Also, any police officer takes the law into their own hands at any given moment: they speed through a busy high way to chase a villain, shoot rounds through a crowd in hopes to hit a terrorist. Again, taking the law into their owns hands. So because of the definition of vigilante, basically what a police officer does everyday, my opponent is saying that police officers aren't justified protecting the people.

with money being part of an police agency, there is more of a chance of being corrupt. When a vigilante is taking law into their own hands without money, how could there possibly be corruption?

Last but not least, the constitution applies to everyone. Police officers, soldiers, the president, etc. So if we the people, police officers, can take the law into their own hands, why can't we?
Debate Round No. 1


virajgarage forfeited this round.


If I was not being clear enough for my opponent to respond to my arguments, I apologize. But still, I would like to repeat the arguments I posted earlier.

Basically I said that the government was formed by the people, a vigilante is a person who takes the law into their own hands, and that unless my opponent is suggesting that police are above everyone else, everyone can become a vigilante.
Debate Round No. 2


virajgarage forfeited this round.


daSnowman1183 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by daSnowman1183 8 years ago
oh its not a problem at all! haha i was in another debate and it wasnt in LD format so my opponent just kept forfeiting... im terribly sorry about your accident... feel better!
Posted by virajgarage 8 years ago
I am extremely sorry Snowman!!!

I had a major accident a little less than a week ago involving a long set of stairs, and have been in the hospital until yesterday. If you wish do the debate over, I'd be fine with that now!

My apologies, and you did nothing wrong.

Posted by daSnowman1183 8 years ago
could someone tell me why my opponent forfeited 2 rounds of this debate? is there something i did wrong? please explain to me...
Posted by virajgarage 8 years ago
"Thus the criterion is use of fair legal procedures defined as consistent procedures which prevent error and are contestable."

Oh you're right....
no value criterion there...
Posted by Justinisthecrazy 8 years ago
you have no value criterion FAIL
Posted by HeedMyFeed 8 years ago
No clue why you would report these debates over the thousands of other stupid debates out there.
Posted by virajgarage 8 years ago
my bad but im not a spammer.
i just try to type way to fast and then i get screwed up if i don't use spell check :)
Posted by Epicism 8 years ago
I am so tempted to start hitting *report, spam* every time I see these debates!
Posted by TheSexicanMexican 8 years ago
lol ya probably a typo, i was gonna say u just recently did a debate on it lol
Posted by feverish 8 years ago
Oh yeh, you mean vigilantism.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by daSnowman1183 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by virajgarage 8 years ago
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