The Instigator
Con (against)
The Contender
Pro (for)

It's morally permissible for victims of domestic abuse to use lethal force.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/10/2019 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 9 hours ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 287 times Debate No: 123419
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
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Resolved: It is morally permissible for victims to use lethal force as a deliberate response to repeated domestic abuse.

This is a debate for Zaradi. Because it's his topic, He can start in round 1 and pass in the final round.


Because nuclear war is considered the perfect impact and global catastrophes are little more than TOC-winning uniqueness stories, I affirm.

The affirmative requires a paradigm shift away from numbingly large impacts to the narrative - The individual stories of the human beings who live or have lived through domestic violence.

There are three justifications-

1. Argumentative agency- the ballot functions as a punishment and reward mechanism; we reward the debater whose speech act contains the greater benefit to encourage constructive activity in future debate rounds. Any denial of this framework would make judging the round nonsensical. If we didn’t reward constructive activity then there would be no reason to vote for the person who won over the person who lost, Making the ballot arbitrary. Since judges are obligated to use the ballot in the most constructive way, You evaluate not only text but also standards external to proving the resolution. My burden then is that my positive discourse is a reason to endorse my advocacy.

Debate lavishes over the suffering of human beings. Debate turns bloodshed into body counts, Chaos into scenarios and cost benefits. More debate is done on whether or not affirming triggers politics. This problem turns us into mere spectators in what ought to be an engaging activity- Mitchell 98:[1]

“argumentation in the academic setting unfolds on a purely simulated plane, With students practicing critical thinking and advocacy skills in strictly hypothetical thought-spaces. … The sense of detachment associated with the spectator posture is highlighted during episodes of alienation in which debaters cheer news of human suffering or misfortune. Instead of focusing on the visceral negative responses to news accounts of human death and misery, Debaters overcome with the competitive zeal of contest round competition show a tendency to concentrate on the meanings that such evidence might hold for the strength of their academic debate arguments. For example, News reports of mass starvation might tidy up the "uniqueness of a disadvantage" or bolster the "inherency of an affirmative case" … of this "spectator" mentality as one of the most politically debilitating failures of contemporary education: … the principle purpose … is to deprive successor generations of their civic voice, To turn them into mute and uncomprehending spectators in the drama of political life”

AND, Elo are fantastic but at the end of the day we need something more, Something to point at and say “This is what debate taught me. ” Mitchell 2:

“Within the limited horizon of zero-sum competition in the contest round framework … questions of purpose, Strategy, And practice tend to collapse into formulaic axioms for competitive success under the crushing weight of tournament pressure. The purpose of debate becomes [an] unrelenting pursuit of victory at a zero-sum game. Strategies are developed to gain competitive edges that translate into contest round success. Debate practice involves debaters "spewing" a highly technical, Specialized discourse at expert judges trained to understand enough of the speeches to render decisions. … The purpose of participating in debate should get extended beyond just winning contest rounds … as debaters intervene in public affairs directly to affect social change, And in the process, Bolster their own senses of political agency. ”…

The solution is a reexamination of our actions. The narrative allows us to see the way they see, To live their life, To put a face on the victims of nuclear war, And to move past hollow stats. Rowland 05:[2]

“narrative … can transport us out of our here and now and put us in places very different from our own world. … narrative can be used to break down barriers to human understanding. It is difficult for early twenty-first-century Americans to understand the horrors of the Holocaust. But through narrative, Elie Wiesel and others have taken us to Auschwitz and made us see the horrors of the death camps. ”

2. The stories we tell are central components of politics and life – the best training for becoming policymakers and legislators is embracing storytelling as a way to understand and debate about events. McDonough 06:[3]

“Why is narrative so central to policy making? Because it is central to life. We live our lives crafting, Telling, And receiving stories. We tell our loved ones stories from our day. … Policymakers … are as human as the rest of us. Part of our uniquely human heritage involves telling stories to find meaning from the events, Data, And stimuli in our lives. Most policymakers, And especially legislators, Have not had training in research methods and thus share the layperson’s suspicion of statistical analysis. The adage “Lies, Damn lies, And statistics” makes more sense to most of them than does the value of the r-square. ”

3. Empathy— There is a difference between narrative analysis, And argument analysis. My advocacy does not just allow narratives to enter the debate, But requires that they monopolize it. Both McDonough and Mitchell reveal why our advocacy must extend beyond round. To truly galvanize support for an argument we must use narratives alone. Kristof and Wudunn 09:[4]

“Frankly, We hesitate to pile on the data, Since even when numbers are persuasive, They are not galvanizing. A growing collection of psychological studies show that statistics have a dulling effect, While … individual stories … move people to act. In one experiment, Research subjects were divided into several groups, And each person was asked to donate $5 to alleviate hunger abroad. One group was told the money would go to Rokia, A seven-year-old girl in Mali. Another group was told that the money would go to address malnutrition among 21 million Africans. The third group was told that donations would go to Rokia, As in the first group, But this time her own hunger was presented as part of a background tapestry of global hunger, With some statistics thrown in. People were much more willing to donate to Rokia than to 21 million hungry people, And even a mention of the larger problem made people less inclined to help her. In another experiment, People were asked to donate to a $300, 000 fund to fight cancer. One group was told that the money would be used to save the life of one child, While another group was told it would save the lives of eight children. People contributed almost twice as much to save one child as to save eight. …”

Thus, I stand in support of it is morally permissible for victims of repeated domestic violence to use deliberate deadly force.

Goodmark[5] summarizes the story of Dixie Shanahan

“During the nineteen years that Dixie and Scott Shanahan were together, Scott blackened Dixie’s eyes, Bruised her, Threatened her, Dragged her by her hair, Pointed guns at her, Tied her up and left her for days in the basement, Called her vile names, Degraded her in front of friends, And generally made her life a living hell. On August 30, 2002, … Dixie Shanahan shot her husband while he lay in bed. …”

Goodmark continues on Scott’s complete control over Dixie,

“From the beginning … Scott verbally and physically abused Dixie. … Scott was already beating her so severely that she was bruised. … Each time Scott experienced adversity— his mother’s sickness, The death of his grandfather …—the beatings worsened. … During Dixie’s second pregnancy, After Dixie refused to have an abortion, Scott beat her in the stomach, Telling her that he was going to get rid of the baby. … Each time she left, … He promised to change, … to “do whatever it took to keep our marriage together. ” … But the beatings always resumed, Becoming more severe, … The time that Scott threw her down the basement steps, Chipping her front teeth … The time that Scott stuck her head in a toilet and told her that he would flush her head down the toilet, While her children watched. … The time that Scott, Angry about a red T-shirt that Dixie was wearing, Poked her in the eye, Causing the eye to bleed. … The three times that Scott tied Dixie up, Leaving her in their basement for up to two days, Not allowing her to go to the bathroom, Telling her, “You know, I could let you just sit here and die. . . And nobody would know the difference. ” … Two doors in the … home were damaged when Scott smashed Dixie’s head into them—… Scott smashed a plate of mashed potatoes over Dixie’s head, Complaining that they were runny. … He ran over her legs with a lawn tractor. … Dixie was being physically abused three to four times weekly, … angry because Dixie failed to wake him before their son, … left for … school …, Scott began beating Dixie’s stomach, Screaming, … while their daughter, Ashley, Watched. … Scott took her car keys, Knocked her to the ground, And dragged her into the house by her hair, Pulling chunks of hair out of her head. … Scott left the room as Dixie lay on the floor crying. …. When he stopped beating Dixie, He went into the bedroom, Taking the phones with him. … Dixie decided she needed to call the police … As she tried to grab the phone, Scott moved towards her. … Seeing the shotgun near the phone, Dixie grabbed it, Closed her eyes, And shot Scott. … “

[1] /Gordon Mitchell 1998 "Pedagogical possibilities for argumentative agency in academic debate" Argumentation & Advocacy; Fall98, Vol. 35 Issue 2, Pg. Ebsco/
[2] Rowland, Robert C. (2005). “The Narrative Perspective. ” Chapter Eight. In J. A. Kuypers (Ed. ), The Art of Rhetorical Criticism. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Page 134.

[3] John E. McDonough, 2006, “Narrative Matters: the Power of the Personal Essay in Health Policy. ” Book edited by: Fitzhugh Mullan, Ellen Ficklen, Kyna Rubin. P. 10-11.

[4] Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. September 10, 2009. New York. Random House, Inc. “

[5] Leigh Goodmark “The Punishment of Dixie Shanahan” February 2007
Debate Round No. 1


Disappointingly, Pro's entire first round is plagiarised, Not only from a previous debate he had with Gahere in 2014 [1], But from a Studylit document that was posted in 2010 [2] and two coursehero documents, The earliest being 2011 [3].

Apart from the ethical problems with plagiarism, By cutting and pasting arguments from a completely different subject and context, Pro's first round doesn't make much sense. What are "standards external to proving the resolution" or "positive discourse" in relation to the current debate? Because of my opponent's insincerity in slapping together large blocks of text written by someone else years ago, It does not seem worth picking through and trying to make sense of it. I reject Pro's text prior to the case of Dixie Shanahan in its entirety, And this should in no way be taken as accepting any of the "arguments" that my opponent copied.

Murder: a case study

Scott Shanahan was lying on his side in bed when his wife entered the room and shot him in the back of the head with a shotgun. According to Pro, Dixie's act was a moral one. Her husband had been extremely and repeatedly violent. However, Dixie herself disagrees. "I had no right to take his life, " she said, And "I feel remorse for what I did. " She explains that if she "had it to do over again, I would have got out and stayed out". [4]

To win this debate Pro needs to explain how killing someone is morally superior to exiting the situation or appealing to others for assistance.

Even if we accept that Scott Shanahan, And other violent or cruel people, Deserve to die, It does not follow that it is appropriate for their partners and family members to take on the act of killing them. Consider the case of Tracey Dyess, Who tried to kill her abusive step father by setting fire to the house. Her step father managed to escape, But she ended up killing her two younger siblings [5]. Dixie Shanahan chose to shoot her husband in the back of the head when there were young children in the house. Luckily no physical harm came to the children, But it is not inconceivable that it might have. Firing shotguns in a house is too risky when there are children present. In general, Emotionally desperate people are not well placed to consider all the consequences of their actions and appropriately assess risks.

Dixie Shanahan's children were almost put into foster care before they were rescued by their aunt. Even so, It seems likely that they have ongoing emotional issues as a result of their mother killing their father and then leaving his body to rot in the bedroom for months as they went about their lives meters away. Dixie Shanahan's acts therefore were harmful to her children.

Finally, Domestic abuse is common. Estimates are that 1 in 5 American women and maybe 1 in 14 men have been physically assaulted by an intimate partner in their lifetime [6]. If Pro's argument is accepted, Tens of millions of Americans are morally good to go ahead and kill someone. The carnage would be horrific.

[1] "Its-morally-permissible-to-kill-domestic-abusers" debate between Zaradi and Gahere, June 11, 2014.

[2] circuitdebater "NARRATIVE AC" on studylib. Net, January/February 2010

[3] Ayoub, Nicholas "Perceptual Dominance AC" Coursehero 2011

[4]Tom McMahon (2007) "Dixie Shanahan-Duty talks about life in prison" nonpareilonline

[5] Matt Kelley (2011) "Parole board says no reduction for Tracey Dyess" Radio Iowa

[6] Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, "Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, And Consequences of Violence Against Women" NCJRS text file


So this isn't how I thought this debate would go lol. Oh well.

So because I had a fun moral dilemma of using people's stories of tragedies to win an online debate, I'm kicking out of pretty much my entire case. Neg isn't making any kind of turns or offensive arguments involving my case (if anything he's saying we should ignore most of it anyway). So, For simplicity, I'll agree. Moving on.

Neg makes the claim that "To win this debate Pro needs to explain how killing someone is morally superior to exiting the situation or appealing to others for assistance. "

No I don't. My resolutional burden as the aff is to show that it is an acceptable action, Not the best possible action. Prefer this for the following reasons:

1. Permissible is defined as permitted or allowed[6][7][8]. This means that I just have to prove that using lethal force is an allowable action rather than the best possible action. In contrast, My opponent must show that using lethal force should never be an allowable act in response.

And prefer dictionary definitions since they indicate common usage, And thus are more indicative of the truth.

2. To demand I defend one "correct" answer ignores the virtually infinite minutiae of details that differ between each scenario that make a "one-size-fits-all" answer impossible. This interpretation allows for fair burdens for both sides.

3. Joseph Raz[9] defines moral permissibility:

"That a person is permitted to perform an act does not necessarily imply that anyone has given him permission to do it. That an act is permitted might mean no more than that the reasons against performing it are not sufficient to determine that it ought not to be done. In this sense a person is permitted to perform an action if and only if it is not the case that he ought, All things considered, to refrain from it. "

Prefer my definition since it comes from a review of moral literature, Making it more predictable and more indicative of moral truth. This definition also reflects common usage since everyday actions like sitting down are permissible not because there is some reason for them to be morally neutral, But since they’re not wrong.

There are a few more things I'll respond to before rebuilding my now nonexistent case.

- Dixie's Change of Heart -

Again, Not defending using lethal force as the only answer, So this doesn't negate.

- Tracy Dyess -

I'm not defending a specific method of lethal force either. Burning down your house to try and kill someone without doing what you can to protect other innocent seems like a bad idea, Though the whole house burning plan has been done in the past while protecting innocent people[10], But regardless this doesn't negate.

- Dixie's Aftermath -

What someone does after using lethal force would fall outside the bounds of the topic. I'm certainly not defending keeping dead bodies locked away in your home, And it seems super unreasonable to ask me to do so.

With his last round responded to, Onto my (new) case argument. In short, Deadly force deters domestic violence. Deadly force deters domestic violence both in the short and long-term. Zipursky[11]provides 4 warrants:

"If use of deadly force in no-access situations were permitted, Then it would arguably be the case that: (1) she would increase her ability to avert death or injury in the sort of "no-access" case that does frequently arise in these scenarios; (2) to the extent that her sense of lack of liberty and helplessness were based on her actual condition, she might experience a greater sense of liberty because, If access has truly been cut off, She will still have the right to defend herself; and (3) the assailant could no longer count on being able to rape and terrorize her by cutting off access and engaging in brutal conduct without facing the risk of defensive homicide (a risk that would presumably increase substantially if such defensive homicide were legal). Perhaps this fact would diminish the terrorizing conduct and the cutting off of access. With regard to both forms of domination I have considered, It might also be added that (4) society might change so that access for women to alternative paths of relief were more available than it now is. If the cost to societyof no-access scenarios were women killing men without criminal liability, The state might be more motivated to provide alternative avenues of relief. This provision of access would arguably enhance women's security. "

To summarize, Welcome to the much shorter debate. You pretty much ignore the entirety of my first round. He's not really making any substantive arguments out of his first round, Other than trying to stick an unfair burden that doesn't make sense given the resolution onto me. My job is to show that it is permissible for victims to use deadly force in response. Zipursky gives you four reasons as to why that's the case.

[6] - https://www. Google. Com/search? Q=permissible&oq=permissible&aqs=chrome. . 69i57j69i60l3. 3371j0j7&client=ms-android-att-us-revc&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8
[7] - https://www. Merriam-webster. Com/dictionary/permissible
[8] - https://www. Dictionary. Com/browse/permissible
[9] - Joseph Raz. Permissions and Supererogation. American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Apr. , 1975) pp. 161-168
[10] - https://www. Google. Com/amp/s/www. History. Com/. Amp/news/burning-bed-syndrome-francine-hughes-domestic-abuse
[11] - Benjamin C. Zipursky, Self-Defense and Relations of Domination: Moral and Legal Perspectives on Battered Women who Kill: Self Defense, Domination, And the Social Contract, University of Pittsburgh Law Review 1996

Debate Round No. 2


It's rare in our society to be okay with people killing other people. In the special circumstances when it is permitted - such as for law enforcement or for self defense - the laws are very strict. There must be imminent danger of death or physical injury before it is lawful to use lethal force [1]. Pro has argued that lethal force doesn't have to be the best option, Just acceptable. However, The framework in which lethal force is usually considered, It should be used when there are no other reasonable options. If walking away or safely getting help exist as reasonable options, There is no justification for using lethal force. Therefore, I stand by my previous statement that Pro needs to show how the existence of domestic violence changes this rule.

Victims of domestic violence are just ordinary people, And such are unlikely to have had training in killing methods or be able to use lethal force in a controlled and responsible manner. Consider the following methods used to kill perpetrators of domestic violence.
- Richard Challen was bludgeoned to death with a hammer [2]
- Mickey Hughes was burnt alive in a kerosene fire. [3]
- Bill Nelson was stabbed with scissors, Beaten with a clothes iron, Cut into pieces and boiled in a cooking pot [4]
- Jeff Wright was tied to a bed and stabbed 193 times with two different knives [5]
- David Blakely was trying to get into his car when he was shot at. He tried to run, But was shot four more times and died in the street [6].

Such deaths violate the eighth ammendment in that they are cruel and unusual. Further, There is a substantial risk to innocent bystanders and to property. Pro has said that he doesn't need to defend particular methods of execution, But by allowing untrained people to use lethal force it will, In its very nature, Be inefficient and ad hoc.

Domestic abuse is broad. It includes rape and violence, But it also includes other types of controlling behavior such as giving someone an allowance, Making all the big decisions, Or "acting like king of the castle". [7] Obnoxious though such behavior is, It doesn't warrant lethal force. To kill someone just because he is being bossy and mean is a disproportionate response. Even when the domestic abuse is physical, To kill someone is disproportionate unless there were an imminent threat (when the situation would be covered by self-defense laws anyway).

As I explained last round, Millions of people in the US alone have experienced domestic abuse. It is very common. So Pro's position is that tens of millions of people are morally okay to murder partners and family members. Murder on such a scale would be equivalent to the worst wars in history, And absolutely devastating to the people left alive. Pro did not address this point.

Pro's argument : Zipursky

In lieu of argument, Pro slapped in a block of text from Zipursky. Pro said that Zipursky gave four "warrants" for when lethal force was permissible. This is untrue. Zipursky was weighing up different arguments related to dominance, Domestic violence and lethal force, And on the very next page he described his objections to the arguments, One of his objections was that the policies might make women less safe:

"women who choose to respond with an attempt at lethal force might find that, By raising the level of force involved, They end up only accelerating their own deaths. More generally, It is possible that the rule in question would end up permitting more violence and condoning greater state deference to privately violent actors" page 592 [8]

Indeed, Those arguments are firstly not relevant, Since they are about making lethal force permissible in a LEGAL sense (rather than a moral sense, Which is our topic here). Second, They make no sense. If victims of domestic violence can commit murder and justify it in those terms, Then so can their partners. It would be easy enough to fake domestic abuse or claim it when the alleged perpetrator is dead. As Zipursky also pointed out, The same rule would make parents vulnerable to lethal force from their children. It also seems unlikely that society would be more likely to respond, Given that already hundreds of people are murdered by intimate partners a year, And millions are victims of domestic abuse. That is, There is already enough reason to care, Or if there isn't, Then it's difficult to see how doubling or tripling the body count will magically improve the situation.

[1] "Law enforcement on a constitutional scale" US Customs and Border Protection
[2] Sally Challen: Husband 'controlled the world around her'. Sky News.
[3] Francine Hughes. Wikipedia.
[4] Omaima Aree Nelson. Murderpedia.
[5] Susan Wright. Murderpedia.
[6] Ruth Ellis. Wikipedia.
[7] "What is domestic violence" The domestic violence hotline.
[8] Zipursky "Self-Defense, Domination, And the Social Contract" University of Pittsburgh Law Review 1996.
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Zaradi 4 days ago
Wait scratch that, Misread myself.
Posted by Zaradi 4 days ago
Wait you realize you are deliberately misquoting the article about Dixie Shanahan right?
Posted by richarddaniel 5 days ago
Killing someone is a last resort where you have no other choice. In domestic abuse in developed nations there are so many ways to escape from such abuses, In that scenario killing someone make no sense as you can call police, File law suit get restraining orders etc. But if your too afraid talk to the authority and if you kill someone then that also make no sense to kill someone you need to have more courage (? Not sure that the word). So in a developed nation with a working legal system and police force I don"t think it"s a good idea to use lethal weapons to end someone"s life. But yes if you living in a lawless country and you have no other help then we can justify that action.
Posted by Hoppi 5 days ago
No worries. I'm sure it's worth the wait.
Posted by Zaradi 5 days ago
Sorry for taking forever. I don't have access to the internet at home right now, So finding a time to get things together to post the argument were a little tricky.
Posted by Hoppi 1 week ago
ok lol fixed.
Posted by Zaradi 1 week ago
Bruh what part of "go all out" do I need to re-emphasize?
Posted by Hoppi 1 week ago
I think you need to accept again because I changed it.
Posted by Hoppi 1 week ago
I put it up to 8000. You can be concise. 8000 is a lot.
Posted by Zaradi 1 week ago
Whoa whoa wait up the char limit to 10k. 6k way too small
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