Feb 1, 2009

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

The NFL has released the March/April topic for 2009:
Resolved: Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law.
Lots to chew on here, and plenty of analysis to come in the days and weeks ahead. Some initial questions to get you thinking:

What exactly is "vigilantism?" Can we set aside its negative connotations? What is the scope / degree of failure that the resolution requires? What is the timeframe? What makes individuals just in determining who is guilty and deserves punishment? Is law automatically just?

You can expect a lot of justice / social contract reasoning.

Sharing your questions and ideas makes this site even more useful. Speak up in the comments!

(Oh, and it's been a decidedly legal year in LD, eh?)

Update: Right now, I'm trying to arrange a carnival of posts on this topic. If you'd like to contribute, email me (the address is on my profile) with the subject line "a very bloggy vigilantism carnival." Feel free to pass this link on to bloggers who might be interested, too!

Definitions
1. Your standard dictionary sources offer a couple distinct interpretations of "vigilantism," either of which has advantages or disadvantages. One has to do with an ad hoc taking of the law into one's own hands, whether individually or as a group. The other concerns one classic, corporate mode of vigilantism--the "vigilance committee," which is neither a disorganized mob nor an individual acting alone. This is a critical definition choice which greatly alters the ground of the debate. Choose wisely.
2. The law. Note the article. It's important. Define it as a phrase.
3. How Black's Law Dictionary (8th ed.) defines "vigilantism" and "enforcement."

Analysis
1. Some initial thoughts on vigilantism.
2. Value and criterion pairs. A work in progress.
3. When vigilantism gets ridiculous.
4. The symbiotic relationship between vigilantism and legitimate enforcement.
5. Blog-neighbor Mark Olson gives a historical perspective, and links the resolution both to Hobbes and to Jouvenel.
6. From Tanzania, an example of how vigilantism can spur governmental reform.
7. Some analysis of vigilantism from a landmark study.
8. Blog-neighbor Peter Wall dives into the "uncharted waters" of vigilantism (Part I).
9. Some analysis of political theory regarding vigilantism. Much of use for the Neg.
10. Peter Wall, in Part II, discusses the problem of vigilantes' legal (in)expertise. Do they know the law well enough to step into the government's shoes?
11. One place to go for Negative arguments: religious traditions concerning nonviolence. A Christian perspective is examined.
12. Modern examples of vigilantism.
13. Peter Wall dives into evolutionary theory in Part III. A fresh and interesting perspective.
14. Jason Kuznicki offers a libertarian viewpoint.
15. Links to some analysis of different ethical perspectives on the resolution.
16. More on the social contract and vigilantism. What happens when Locke isn't good enough?
17. Guest-bloggers on a dissenting view of Locke and powerful Neg arguments.

For Beginners
If you're starting out in LD, check out these resources: how to construct cases, use a criterion, major philosophers to know, etc.

94 comments:

Anonymous said...

A very legal year, but a good one for cross-over knowledge building among the students.

Does that mean that any NFL qualifiers held during March/April will use this resolution?

Sexy Beast said...

Anon, yes. I believe that nearly all districts will use this resolution to determine who gets to go to nationals. And it's a good thing to, because this topic is awesome!

Anonymous said...

so, if i understand this correctly, vigilantism is taking law enforcement into your ( a citizen's) own hands? would Rosseau's social contract work as either a value or criterion b/c of the emphasis on individual's rights

Jim Anderson said...

Anonymous 1, yep, Sexy Beast is right. This is the NFL qualifying (and in many states, their tournament's) resolution.

Anonymous 2, I can't immediately remember if Rousseau ever tackles vigilantism. There's a difference, putatively, between what can be done when the government violates the contract by oppression (in which case revolution or a new contract is justified), and when it violates the contract by a failure to enforce the law. (Of course, this assumes that the failure includes some sort of harm to individual rights--which the Neg can't let the Aff do.)

Anonymous said...

What kind of observations would be helpful for either side?

Anonymous said...

can civil disobedience be used?

Anonymous said...

would you have to identify a difference b/w what is justified and what is legal?

sushi said...

more questions: could we use the vigilance committee def. on the aff and the violent ppl/individual def. on the neg? on the neg, to combat the vigilance committe def., could the KKK be used (these committees don't necessarily know what is morally accepted)? what constitutes a failure, maybe violation of certain inalienable rights or breaking the law, if legality and justice is the same? what different degrees of failure exist? sorry, i really like this topic, and i'm trying to grasp it from all angles. i'm going to be debating champ nxt tournament, so i will appreciate all the help i can get.

sushi said...

well, maybe i'll be debating champ, depends on how well i can convince my coach to have mercy on me ...

Jim Anderson said...

The "civil disobedience" question dovetails into the question that immediately follows. If the law isn't always just, there may be times when we must disobey it in order to be moral. You can read Thoreau, Gandhi, Dr. King, and others on the principles of "higher law" to establish pursuing justice as a moral obligation.

As to the KKK (which was originally a kind of "vigilance committee"), they existed, in part, during a time when the law was itself unjust, and escaped prosecution because law enforcers shared their bigoted views--or were even members! The KKK is a messy, messy example that can be a disadvantage for either side. I suppose the Neg would argue that the KKK only made the Jim Crow era worse, while the Aff could argue that persecuted African Americans (and sympathetic whites) could have formed their own committees to combat the KKK. Of course, then we'd have a miniature civil war in the South....

sushi said...

could you somehow say that the government is not upholding moral law, instead of law created by mankind through the state?

ldn00b said...

I see several problems with the wording that open up obnoxious kritiks or abuse: (and even if not, are worth thinking about elaboration on in observations)

1. "is justified" as upposed to "is just." Since being justified is defined by meriem webster as "to prove or show to be just, right" you could argue moral relativism and say that as long as under any moral system it is right, it is justified.

2. "failed to enforce"
To what degree? This could be abusivly used by either side because short of total anarchy all governments enforce some laws, yet none are perfect.

3. "the law" so are we talking about any specific law, or the law in general? Ie; in a stable country like say, germany, where I believe I read on wikipedia abortion is tolerated by police but on-the-books illegal, or the American West were laws in general are not well enforced.

4. "has failed" it would be really obnoxious to say as neg that the resolution means you can go vigilante as long as the government has failed to enforce the law in the past.

Anonymous said...

I do not believe that Rousseau tackles the issue of vigilantism directly, however, he does go on to mention that any "rule" outside of the general will is void.

So assuming that a vigilante takes the law into his own hands under the view of Rousseau would be impossible since the only source of law can be the general will.

sushi said...

so assuming the theory of moral relativism in conjunction with the social contract theory, could you say that since there are so many different moral systems and no way to determine which is the right one, the citizens of the society must follow that government's moral system. btw, does vigilantism always have to be violent? b/c if it does you would not be able to use civil disobedience.

Anonymous said...

Not to get too far into anarchism, but...

Vigilantism must be violent in order to actually enforce the law (if we take it to be the enforcement of law by unauthorized parties, rather than such parties seeking justice). Since all law enforcement is either violent or based on the threat of violence, vigilante action must be equally violent.

Sexy Beast said...

To clear a few things up:

Anon 1. Locke would work a lot better than Rousseau, and he could go either way.

Anon 2, I think civil disobedience can be used effectively on the aff. I'd like to add Rawls to the list of civil disobedience philosophers Jim brings up; while its in no way his specialty, Rawls does discuss civil disobedience.

m said...

hmmm... fascinating resolution, unfortunately, debate season is over where I live, so I won't get to debate it (this is much better than ICC).

My initial thought for an aff are as follows:

1. A legitimate gov't has a responsibility to uphold the law.
2. Citizens have a responsibility to comply with the enforcement means of their legitimate gov't. Dual responsibility
3. Gov't that doesn't fulfill its responsibility is not a legitimate gov't, and citizens aren't obligated to recognize its legitimacy.
4. Therefore, citizens can set their own enforcement means because they do not have to comply with their illegitimate gov't.

This is a rough adaptation of social contract which worked well with my felons neg.

Anonymouse said...

In these comments, I'm seeing an emphasis on Vigilantism as the search for justice without the authority of law, which doesn't seem to match up with the resolution. The resolution implies that vigilantism should be defined by the law, making it the unauthorized use of force in order to enforce the law.

That means civil disobedience is not a form of vigilantism, since it seeks justice at the expense of the law rather than stepping outside the law in order to maintain it.

Jim Anderson said...

m, that logic is sound; the problem becomes one of degree, the difficult task of defining exactly when "the government has failed." Obviously not every law will be enforced always--so where do individuals and society draw the line?

Jim Anderson said...

anonymouse, the "civil disobedience" discussion is about the grounds for following the law in the first place; it should also be noted that vigilante acts are, in many, many cases, illegal.

Anonymous said...

Would a legitimate argument be that a vigilante exacts his own type of punishment according to what they believe and this would create a major problem?

I.E pakistan stones people to death

while in the U.S that is considered cruel and unusual

this is a totally different thing from the resolution but it still shows the difference between punishments that can be exacted

Sexy Beast said...

Where is the proportionality in vigilantism? I believe there is a case where a man was brutally lynched for stealing a car. Because vigilantism runs contrary to the established criminal justice system, would the lack of proportionality make it unjust?

Anonymous said...

My initial take is that the society where this is occurring is anarchic, or at least semi-anarchic. The resolution is referring to a government that has failed to enforce the law in its entirety or overwhelming majority: "failed to enforce THE law." This is different from simply failing to enforce one law: "failed to enforce A law." This has implications for the Aff.

AC said...

Can you think of any Kritik-esque or critical arguments Jim, or fellow bloggers?

Bethany said...

I think it is going to be semi relavent that this topic is not limited to the US. Analysis based solely on the United States can automatically be thrown out because it doesn't cover the whole scope of the resolution.

Matt said...

Then Again THE law can be taken to mean a piece of the Law...

RA said...

Here's one. The government is the law, therefore, the resolution is untrue, as the government can never fail to enforce itself.

Sound familiar?

AC said...

Yes it does.

Seeing as I said that today in class.

Does anyone think of any critical arguments for the Aff?

How the negative must be denied on premise.

Sexy Beast said...

Hey Jim, do you know of any pathos inducing stories of vigilantism gone wrong? Ie, a little boy gets brutally tortured and murdered for stealing candy from a candy store? No I'm not sadistic, haha!

sushi said...

could you possibly say that since by committing vigilantism one is trying to create net good, then it is justified?

Unbeliever said...

My initial reaction:

1) Definition of vigilantism is importan
2) Probably going to have to build multiple cases for neg. One for a single individual becoming a vigilante, and one for a group, or organization, taking action. (As cases arguing that an individual cannot properly judge guilt or innocence in entirety will fall to a group based aff.
3) Very interesting topic.

sushi said...

outside of the realms of the social contract, could you say that since vigilantes are ignoring due process, they are not justified because they are violating another individual's rights? also, on the aff, what do you think about Thoreau's theory of individualism, that a the people have the right to enforce morality when the government fails to?

Anonymous said...

Matt: While I agree that "the" could mean a specific law, I disagree based on the context. "The," in the context you are using it in, would require an antecedent, or would be the antecedent (e.g. "The law prohibiting marijuana use is dumb.") In this context, it simply "THE law." Go to dictionary.com and look up "the." See definition number 5; it will corroborate my point.

Anonymous said...

could a value of Hobbe's social contract be used with a criterion of self-preservation on the neg? what about justice and due process on the aff? feedback is appreciated! thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey guys.

Anyone have some good Aff points they are willing to share, I am kind of stuck...

thanks

Sexy Beast said...

Anon,

The aff could argue that even if vigilante justice is arbitrary, it's more proportionate than the negative position because some justice is better than no justice. The neg could then counter that by arguing that arbitrary punishment is in injustice, therefore the lack of justice on the neg is better than the injustices guaranteed by the aff, but I think the proportionality argument can be a solid argument for either side.

JJ said...

I have been thinking about this for the last hour or so. I was wondering about the feasibility of a few arguments:

First, I realize people are going to run social contract theory. Wouldn't the argument, under most social contract theories, that vigilantism is justified because the government fails to meet its end of the social contract fail? I mean, the entire purpose of law is to protect citizens via higher order. The government failing to do so would result in its illegitimacy. The correct action would be to attack the government, not enforce its laws and further legitimize its actions? Also, because the government does not have unlimited resources, couldn't we go back to Bentham and run cases based on maximizing relative gain? This seems like an end-all. The law enforcement "industry" wants to deter as much crime as it can in such a way that will minimize cost. With prison systems, court trials, faulty information, and local law enforcement increasing the cost of enforcing law, it only makes sense that some, pettier crimes will have to be ignored to focus on other crimes. They are essentially maximizing what can feasibly be done. Then, you can say that vigilantes cost society more resources, the actions that they do illegitimize law and remove the deterrence factor, and that their means of justice are unjust because they have to resort to excessive violence to solve problems - if someone is dead they present no costs to the vigilante, but there is no way for an average citizen to detain "criminals" over periods of time. Also, in Galesville, IL there is a law which states that any rooster must step back 300 feet from any residence if it wishes to crow. Really? Are we going to waste the utility on this garbage when rape is happening at the farm next door? While this example is extreme, the same type of thing can be applied to prove the point that Bentham makes.

Also, what about brain development. Many psychologists now believe that the frontal lobe is not fully developed until the early twenties. This seems like the optimum age for vigilantism. You are in great shape. At what age, or always, is vigilantism dangerous to the actor? Because, before a certain age decision-making is severely effected. Is there a certain window of opportunity for vigilantes physiologically? Or is every vigilante an irrational actor? Is anyone fit to make enforcement decisions when they reject the ideology of maximizing their own benefit? Was Jack Ruby fit to decide whether or not he should kill Oswald when he did the action? Most would argue he wasn't. He was acting irrationally. Most acts of vigilantism are done in times of high stress or emotional upheaval. So, can vigilantism really be justified if the vigilantes are unfit to make decisions regarding justice? The first point could be used in conjunction with victimless crimes to point out that the affirmative is affirming so conditionally that they hardly uphold the burden of proof. Maybe we should consult psychiatrist before determining the resolution? A priori :P

Anyway, affirmative arguments...hmm:

I am almost positive that evidence of local govt. corruption exists, although I don't hear about it very often unless I'm watching elliot davis on the segment of fox 2 news You Paid for It. I especially don't hear about it on the national level. Maybe because anything broadcasting on a national level is focused on, well, national affairs - the Federal govt. However, if a caped crusader is running around my neighborhood hanging crooked cops by their underwear from flagpoles. That'll make national news. So, the whole idea here is that local corruption is buried and not often attempted to uncover. The federal govt. doesn't have time to waste on police corruption or a corrupt mayor of some podunk town (Bentham) nor would they if the mayor pays off the cops and the cops pay off the governor and so on and so forth because no one knows about it on a national level. A vigilante might highlight the problem nationally and force the government to actually change the situation for fear of the problem undermining their legitimacy. The link story would be different, but I believe it would be possible.

And can we use comic book references? Like, spider man becomes severely depressed, bat man is reclusive and depressed, super man hangs up the towel and becomes depressed...if vigilantism leads to depression and the torturing of our man of steel's family (respective to the given examples above: mary jane and aunt may get kidnapped, bat man becomes the reason for the killing of innocent civilians, and super man has to deal with crisis after crisis involving lois lane) , then is it worth it at all? And im sure one could find psychological evidence that proves vigilantism will mess up someone's head.

Not sure, just some thoughts. Let me hear some more.

Sexy Beast said...

JJ, I think you're looking WAY to far into the resolution. Most of the arguments you make seem to fall under the slippery slope logical fallacy, and seem hard, if not impossible to prove.

Now, a much stronger approach would to use a social contract theory. If you count Rawls contractual theory, then you have four to choose from, and guarantee that you can find one to use on both sides of the resolution. The benefit of using one is that it explains the role of society in relation to the individual, which is what the resolution asks us to examine.
I know my district will be chock-full of social

CC said...

For the aff, could you say that justice or "is justified" is relative and then say that the harm principle is how you determine it? Then, since the vigilantes are technically attempting to create the least amount of harm in society (by killing criminals that could create more harm) then their actions are justified?

JJ said...

The problem is exactly as you stated: Social contract can be used on both sides of the resolution. The same one for that matter. Also, violation of the social contract via failure of government does not, under any social contract, allow for citizens to act against law to punish the transgressor. As long as the state is still established, that is its social obligation. If the government is failing to protect its citizens, then a right is invoked - the one to overthrow the government. Unless the people are overthrowing the government, the government is in charge. Vigilantes only serve to undermine law and are antithetical to the governing process - or so Bentham says (which is very specific, not winding or slippery at all). I think one of the biggest problems with debate right now is that debaters generally paint their pictures in broad strokes with no deep analysis. I think its important to be kritikal. So, I'd love to focus on something finite, like a theory on law enforcement as an industry. Then, I'll just use the 8-point block against social contract theory and link into my entire case where I talk about feasibility - where perfect law enforcement is an impossibility for economical reasons and vigilantism only furthers the problem.

Then, for the a priori consult psychiatrist plan. I know a lot of LD debaters would hang me for suggesting it, but I enjoy a good hanging every now and then, so I'll go ahead and suggest away. The idea is that there is evidence in the field of psychology that suggests that vigilantes suffer from some emotional trauma due to an experience in their earlier life, and there is also evidence that shows that the frontal lobe of the brain is undeveloped until a person's mid-twenties. This lobe controls decision-making. Some vigilantes may not be physically fit and would only hurt themselves or put others in the way of unnecessary harm if they were to try to be vigilantes. Other people with poor/rash decision-making or emotional/mental problems may be unfit for vigilantism because they would tend to use excessive violence, harm innocent people, etc. So, the only way to truly tell if vigilantism is justified would be on an individual level. So, it only makes sense that before we debate the resolution, we consult a psychiatrist and a doctor to make sure that the person-under-question is in optimal mental and physical condition. If not, then vigilantism is not justified. The impact would be the affirmative is only affirming conditionally. Vigilantism would only be justified in very specific situations when certain criteria were met. A conditionality shell would come in handy here. To further conditionality, one could run an on-case dealing with the idea that vigilantism is not the appropriate response to not enforcing all crimes. Bowling is illegal in Evanston, IL. Roosters must step back 300 ft from any residence they wish to crow in Galesville, IL. Fishing on the back of a giraffe is illegal in some other random IL town. Why should law enforcement worry about crap like that? Is it presenting a clear and present danger? No. So, we focus on something more pressing, and vigilantism is not justified in those situations. So, affirmation is VERY situational under those pretenses and with a conditionality shell, the case could run smooth as something real smooth.

I urge you all to not run Social contract theory traditional otherwise you will just get blocked out. If you run it with a twist, fine. If not, be prepared for the long haul. Read and memorize the social contract theory you are dealing with.

Anonymous said...

JJ, I am very interested in your psychoanalytical conditionality argument. I don't have a coach so I was wondering if you could explain how to properly run conditionality/what a conditionality shell is? If you do by some chance wish to teach me, you can reach me at santaklaws0406@gmail.com

JJ said...

Sure. I can send you the information you've requested. Allow me some time, though as I'm pretty busy. It's a fairly simple concept, but without a coach or someone to teach you, LD debate can get tricky when learning the "higher concepts." What constitutes higher concepts to me is a priori and kritikal arguments as well as theory. These things are only tricky to master because its not done much in LD. This brings me to a point: ask for your judges paradigm or what they want to see in the round. If they say strict value/value criterion or traditional LD debate, then do not run a priori or kritikal arguments. If they seem relaxed, open, or say go as fast as you want, then go for it.

Anyway, a new argument has come to mind. On the affirmative: Run Locke's social contract theory or a simple Chomsky card talking about the burden of proof being put on authority. Then a contention that government is illegitimate, oppressive, and bad for society. Then, a Tully card that says vigilantism undermines governmental legitimacy and decentralizes power. The impact is that you can run social contract theory, perm any negative offense, and say that vigilantes will lend to governmental dismantling. Of course, you will have to watch out for anarchy criticisms...although there is enough information that exists to show that the lack of government would be ok: locke, glover, the fact that terrorists attack establishment, the fact that anarchial communes could exist, etc. But, I think it would be neat. Maybe even feasible!

erickishott said...

Yeah, I was thinking about running an anarchy good, vigilantism leads to anarchy argument. And you could reverse it for the negative, and say anarchy good, vigilantism slows down anarchism. But I'd probably run an individualism argument on aff, and collective good neg if there is a mom judge...

Anonymous said...

hi

Anonymous said...

what would be a good value criterion for this

Matt said...

Lay Judges won't buy "Anarchy good" arguments.... I think A pretty solid case is catigorical imperative... I am looking into Nietzsche as he has alot of writings on Man in society that could be applied(and not just WTP)

Matt said...

Anyone have a good idea for an opening quote?

. said...

ok...so im screwed.

i dont know where to start, like, at all. (im a novice, waaaah) what exactly does the res mean?

Anonymous said...

contention needed plz help

Anonymous said...

contention needed plz help

Anonymous said...

Okay, ANONYMOUS #1: The resolved is what you are arguing. (please corect me if I am wrong and also add. THis means all you varsities out there...)
ANONYMOUS #2: What is your value and criterion?

JJ said...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/90974/LD-Debate-Handbook

This is a complete guide to lincoln-douglas debate for anyone who wishes to clarify, learn, or redefine anything they want to know or think they know about debate. I have been doing debate for a while, but the easy-to-understand explanations honestly made a difference for me. Jim, you might even tag this for anyone interested. It is a free PDF download.

For the novice inquiring exactly what the resolution means: I admire your question. It shows an understanding of debate in its entirety, even if you didn't know it! We are not supposed to understand what the resolution means, exactly, until the ground has been established in-round. Definitions are provided to make the resolution less ambiguous and increase debatability. Anyway, the general concept of the resolution is, vigilantism is justified when, conditionally, the government fails to enforce the law. So, find out what vigilantism means...what definition would be best for the affirmative and negative? The basic idea of vigilantism is that normal citizens or non-judicial groups become the enforcement of a law (Question: can non-judicial groups use negotiation to enforce the law...would that be vigilantism?) How is justice reached (utilitarianism, each his/her due, some other bizarre def?)? Under the context of the resolution - the government failing to enforce law - would vigilante action be justified? Is vigilantism ever justified? Hopefully that breaks it down a little better.

Anonymous said...

do u have a contention

ts said...

ok JJ
u are definately loooking way to far into the resolution. your psychology analysis. wow complete irrelavance? opponents will just say, the field of psychology is not always accurate. Also, if we are leading to psychology, the civilians minds will be disturbed themselves when crime is not punished and such

haha yeh. and ummm...
so if i was running social contract, which contracts should i use and what do they say to help the affirmative side?

JJ said...

ts, i don't want to start an attack-fest. even though, since you are in debate, you are probably going to be on the defense, as i am, after this post. first, i will go ahead and say that psychology is a science - literally. the results of psychological testing are far more accurate than any metaphysical inferrence or slippery slope of logic that you try to establish in-round. this would be the first reason to prefer psychoanalysis. second, the definition of 'ism' implies that vigilantism is an action, which means we must deconstruct the action to see if it is just or unjust. obviously you have never heard of kritikal analysis...this type of insight is necessary to establish it. and in terms of irrelevance. lol. kritiks are completely irrelevant, but i would argue that this is right on track. insofar as the action being analyzed is vigilantism, its completely resolutional and a call to the affirmative to answer ridiculous burdens...which is a great strategy for winning debates. if you are too timid to step beyond your intellectual comfort zone by doing deep analysis, that is fine. however, telling someone they have analyzed too much is ridiculous and antithetical to the debate process. and actually, as far as the psychological effect on civilians (nice try on the impact turn), no one even hears about trials and it is widely understood that its impossible to prosecute all crimes or enforce all laws due to resource allocation. no one will shit their pants over a gas siphoner who wasn't hauled off to jail or fined - people might be terrified over a man killing people he wrongfully perceives as "criminal." so, should we maybe take a step outside of our LD boxes and examine actions? yes. should we criticize deep analytical thought? sure; it's essential to the process of free discourse, and it's your right. am i entitled to lash out back? yes, but i hope that i haven't done that and have instead provided you with reasons to prefer analysis.

also, as far as your contract question. you will want to stick with a contract - singular. i would simply go with the second treatise of government; john locke. he establishes a framework which is quite helpful for the affirmative. here is the file on PDF: http://www.scribd.com/doc/7273221/Locke-John-Second-Treatise-of-Government

i'll explain the basic premise and then provide you with an excellent quote from 'the virginian.' in the state of nature (how everyone existed before society and government), a sort of shared moral status existed between humans - there were basic rights: life, liberty, and property. however, when these rights were contested, when someone transgressed upon another's rights, there was no higher authority to appeal to. it was every man's right to exact a punishment that would hinder any further transgression - namely, death. so, property disputes or war between two families could go on, literally, continuously. government was established to prosecute crimes and ensure protection. it was meant to effectivley settle disagreements without continuing war. the people, in turn, agree to give up their sovereignty and follow the laws established by the government - these are the components of the "contract." john locke holds that when a government is oppressive, it puts itself at a state of war with the people and it becomes the peoples' right to overthrow the government. however, i am fairly certain you could say that when they fail to protect their citizens it should be overthrown - it violates the contract, and the resolution implies a failure to protect its citizens. or you could establish that government is oppressive. then, you show that vigilantism will decentralize or dismantle government power; or undermine. also, you can just say that it becomes man's right to retake their sovereignty and that is justification. the only difficulty will be the "anarchism" argument. just find anarchism good cards and other reasons why a return to the state of nature would be ok: i suggest Jonathan Glover who says something to the effect of (just copy and paste this into your google browser and you will get the whole quote): "human obligations exist prior to and supercede governmental obligations, shared moral status, erosion of the protective barrier, danger, massacre may not be far off." Then, an additional warrant, besides social contract, that deals with the dismantling of illegit. govt. is by noam chomsky (do the same thing with this one): "I have always understood that the burden of proof is to be placed on authority. if no justification of it can be given, it should be dismantled to increase the scope of human freedom." this also provides a slight impact if dropped - you inrease human freedom. in a nut shell, its justified under that framework. maybe not good, but justified at least (if you are arguing means based justice; otherwise, have that anarchy good card ready!)

the opening quote i spoke of: "[The people] are where the law comes from, you see. For they
chose the delegates who made the Constitution that provided for
the courts . . . . And so when your ordinary citizen sees [the justice system fail] he must take justice back into his own hands where it was once at the beginning of all things. Call this primitive, if you
will. But so far from being a defiance of the law, it is an assertion of
it—the fundamental assertion of self-governing men, upon whom
our whole social fabric is based" --the virginian

hope that helps a little. good luck. read the entire second treatise; many people will have prewritten responses to social contract theory. if you know it better, you win. plus, its a nice read anyway.

ts said...

thank you :)
and yeah, lol bout the analysis im not pretty big on that :P i feel like it always goes wrong
haha

Anonymous said...

can't think of any good VC's for my neg case..ANY IDEAS

Anonymous said...

Would this neg argument work? When a government fails to enforce the law, the government fails to remain a government, and without a government, the law becomes null and void. This would lead a state of anarchy, with no such thing as vigilantes, because they would create their own laws and not enforce the null ones.

Anonymous said...

no

JJ said...

The reason it wouldn't work - instead of just saying "no" lol - is because of the resolutional context. It is asking if vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce law. The first problem with that argument is a tenuous link between government failing to enforce the law (which has happened in nearly all, if not all, governments thus far) and anarchy (which has not happened thus far). The second is the fact that the resolution implies that the government and its laws are still existent in the context of the resolution. At the point when you are saying anarchy ensues (assuming you can make the link) then any offense gained off of that is nontopical. The only impact you will have is that anarchy ensues (which is an ok impact). The third problem: most definitions of vigilante or vigilantism agree that the person is striving to better the existing system. Meaning anarchy will most likely not ensue anyway. Also, if the affirmative proves that vigilantism helps the government enforce the law - then it removes the anarchy impact anyway. I think you could run that vigilantism leads to anarchic power struggles. Several civil wars suggest this.

hola said...

JJ
just as a side comment
ur comments are like essays
-_-

Anonymous said...

If you make sure that you make it clear that the criteria for which vigilantism is judged is that of moral absolutism, the round is in the bag for the affirmitive

Anonymous said...

I have a question... How would you define justice? It is just a process of trials or is it a more conceptual idea? If any of you have a copy of Black's Law it would be really helpful if you give me definition in there. And plz give my u guys' insight as well. Thx!

Anonymous said...

how do you tell your opponent that they're being conditional?

Sexy Beast said...

Justice: The equilibrium btween the full freedoms of the individual and the restrictions neccesary for the safety of society. Lucilius A. Emery.

. said...

@ JJ. thx for the explanation. really helped me out.

now, i was wondering if for aff i could do value utilitarianism and value criterion john locke's social contract. cuz the law is supposed to keep a society in check. but when the law is not enforced, the gov't becomes illegitmate because the gov't did not enforce the law that it made. so then society must fall back onto the social contract, which will lead to vigilantes to enforce laws, since the social contract was established to keep society in check as well. so the society is with the greater good for the greater people (utilitarianism) using the social contract.

im not really sure this is going to work. i still need to really get what's in locke's social contract. if anyone knows how to support the social contract that would help. thanks!

Anonymous said...

jj can u help direct me where to go for some psycology ccards

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how you would use Kant's philosophy of categorical imperative and of moral autonomy for the aff. Can someone explain this to me?

Anonymous said...

jj i am wondering if that case will still go over fine without the theory, and can u help me find some evidence

amanda said...

hi im DESPERATE

i have a wake tonight
and a huge tournament tommorow
can anyone email me an AFF case !?!?!?!!?!?!??!!?!

or a VC and contention structure!?!?!?!
PLEASE IM DESPERATEE
:)

Sexy Beast said...

Well now Amanda, it would help to have your email address, now wouldn't it?

amanda said...

candystripe001@hotmail.com

i have some questions

1. can my aff frame be safety and the veil of ignorance, and how in a state where law fails enforcement, there is chaos and safety is most important with some mearsheimer domestic realism stuff?

2. could i have an aff about vig com, and how their impose parallel rule as to the govt supplanted. and what kind of VC would i use ?

liz said...

to "." ...

utilitarianism in general is a bad value, because your opponent will most likely easily defeat it. but you can value justice with the social contract. however, many people do not know how to use the SC. the second treatise states that if he ogvwernment fails, we have the right to institute a new government... not just change the existing one. therefore, you must find a definition of vigilantism that explains how vigilance groups are the same as vigilantes, and that they are good and resemble a form of govt

Anonymous said...

I wanted to make points out some things...

1. Isn't the theory of Social Contract limited to a Democratic government? The resolution does not specify which type of government... Also, the notion that the source of law is the general will is an argument that works only on democratic grounds...

2. Vigilantism - I think that vigilantism is exclusive; as in, people fit for dictatorship or leadership will probably take over in taking laws into their hands. (social darwinism?)

3. If we decide to define vigilantism as "taking laws into one's own hands", what does that mean? does taking something into one's own hands mean that they are completely disregarding it, or does it mean that they are trying to enforce that same law, only without the authority of a government?

liz said...

anon

1. the social contract applys to ANY state...but yes to the second part

2. in a sense, yes

3. it clearly does not mean hey are disregarding it... thats absurd. however on the aff, you can advocate that they are enforcing parallel law to the govt supplanted. but on neg, you should prove that incorrect in your framework itself

Anonymous said...

I want to run anarchy good, but I can't find anything that says so, or how vigilantism leads to it. Any suggestions?


Also would Derrida be good for this topic?

princessrem01 said...

Would anyone mind emailing me their cases. im sooooo stuck on this topic! like i have some cards but i dont know how to write the tag lines to put them together...

princessrem01 said...

btw my email is princessrem01@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I have a good point for aff.

Look at crime rates in wikipedia.
1991- crime rates all time high (in 1991 also starts the boom of vigilantism later)
2005- crime rates drastically drop (2005 vigilantism continues)

source- wikipedia... (DONT SAY THAT ITS THE SOURCE!! LIE ABOUT THE SOURCE!)

potential contention up there ---- crime rates

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jim, or anyone out there. Do you have any really good points of vigilante groups? I need this ASAP.

Anonymous said...

ummm i was wondering if there are any actual vigilante courts? like a bunch of vigilantes make a court, jury, etc. and use it to enforce the law the way they wanted to?

Jim Anderson said...

Vigilante groups often "held court" in the American West, especially during the California gold rush.

lora said...

could someone email some half baked ideas to kitty91307@hotmail.com

the more the merrier =)

i'm trying to organize a couple of arguments...and it's not helping that im the only one within 5 miles of my school doing LD. w8...im the only one actually doing LD.

great. back to the drawing board.

oh and if possible, what is a value criterion?

JayEn said...

Would it be good for me to use the definition of vigilante as "vigilantes (1) are members of an organized committee; (2) are established members of the community; (3) proceed for a finite time and with definite goals; (4) claim to act as a last resort because of a failure of the established law enforcement system; and (5) claim to work for the preservation and betterment of the existing system" from William E. Burrows? I'm finding other definitions to be overly...vague.

And I having real trouble with defining "justified" and "(failed to enforce)the law".

Martin said...

sections 1 and 2 are just arbitrary and would limit examples that most people would commonly accept, section 3 doesnt really add anything, section 4 is alreadly part of the resolution, but then the worst part of the definition is section 5. Section 5 is completely abusive- if the aff defines vigilantism as working to better the system- then the aff limits legitimate neg ground, it limits the argument that: vigilantism leads to less order/anarchy- which i think is a legitimate arguement.
Overall, the burrows definition is less authoritative than Black's law dictionary, and unwarranted, unfair and abusive.

Sexy Beast said...

JayEn, all five of those definitions could easily be turned against you as the neg can call abuse, counter-define, claim conditionality, and if impacted correctly, win. (4) could be argued semi-effectively. However, you'd be much better suited running the standard, Blacks Law definition of vigilantism.

Anonymous said...

Is vigilantism always violent? And do vigilantes always break the law to uphold what they believe to be a higher law?

Anonymous said...

how would you define "the law" to exclude minor laws such as traffic laws?

Anonymous said...

What do you think about this contention: Vigilantism is justified by the vigilante himself? I know it's all based on definitions, but I think it would kill if used correctly.

Gilder said...

Does anyone have an outline or a full argument they don't mind sharing wanna study up on a good argument even though I doubt Ill be able to debate at school this week

dmnyoshi@hotmail.com

greentea said...

I'm actually writing an LD like mock trial about who is the primary cause of the American war, and I found your analysis of vigilantism a refresher for me! I do so miss LD! I thank you for your information, since it has helped me organize more critical points to cover and attack.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure this is the resolution for March/April? http://www.nflonline.org/StudentResources/Topics

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, it was the topic for March/April 2009.

But I've updated the post to eliminate any confusion.

Constitutionalist said...

"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."

Declaration of Independence