It's rather hard to write this, because I didn't really have a "set," pre-written case; on the neg, I found it more useful to go through my opponent's arguments one-by-one. I (and my judges, apparently) liked the extreme amount of clash.
On the other hand, I did have my favorite arguments, so I'll post the ones that make it nigh impossible for the affirmative to win.
My bias is a Policy background; I debate based on what outcome will be best. That means I tend to go for reductio ad absurdum and other stuff. Also, empirical examples make or break the round; reality always overrides theory.
Here we go:
I negate the resolution, Resolved: Vigilantism is justified when the government has failed to enforce the law.
Value: Peace defined as AVOIDING A STATE OF NATURE or TOTAL GOVERNMENTAL COLLAPSE
Should be easy to defend. Yes, that IS a Hobbesian state of nature I'm referring to.
Value Criterion: Obviously, Governmental Legitimacy. I usually referenced the need for a federal monopoly of violence (thanks Jim!).
Here are my favorite contentions/ideas that I used during the round; they're solid.
Vigilantism is a short-term solution; my opponent can agree that a long-term application of vigilantism in any situation wouldn't solve crime, as violence perpetuates violence. Also, such a system would depend on vigilantism ALWAYS being morally correct and perfect, and at that point, there's no need for law or government anyway, since individuals would be... Christ-like, apparently. Ignoring that line of argumentation, the only real solution would be to put effort into rebuilding a NEW government or REFORMING the old one. Otherwise, you undermine the government's ability to rule, and we fall into a Hobbesian state of nature.
One: Naturalistic Fallacy
The resolution states that the government only needs to fail to enforce the law to justify vigilantism. But, is vigilantism justified when the law isn't good? My opponent has assumed that all laws are good and righteous, when I can easily point out such things as Jim Crow laws. Does my opponent REALLY want to stoop to that level? If he does, then:
A) He agrees the government doesn't have to support Jim Crow laws.
Oh, then all laws aren't justified then. And, therefore, vigilantism isn't justified (sometimes) when the government fails to enforce the law. That's conditional affirmation. He loses.
B) She says that a vigilante wouldn't support such laws.
My opponent fails to take groups like the KKK into consideration.
C) She finally admits that such laws would have to be enforced, for whatever reason.
My opponent has no moral standing. She's freely advocating, at this point, a government that freely abuses and dehumanizes certain members of society. And, at that point, there's no point in the law for those members of society; (and, by now, your opponent has probably turned her whole case around. You can say why vicious racism is wrong, right?)
D) He says Jim Crow laws don't count; I need a broader view.
How about China's One-Child policy? Should vigilantes enforce THAT law if the government fails to do so? It gets worse and worse from here on out.
Two: Social Contract Theory (don't bring up the word: "Hobbes")
A government's job is to represent the people's best interests; the reason we concede power to it is because it NEEDS that power to protect our interests. Therefore, we also put power into the GOVERNMENT to decide when and where to enforce the law. It is not the right of the people to choose when and where to support the government's decision; otherwise, my opponent is directly choosing a state of nature, with no government. I already said why that's bad; that's why peace is my value.
Three: Overkill (My fav.)
What? Not enough?
Okay. Obviously, the resolution has stated that the "jury" part of due process has failed to work. I'm fine with that; it's the single advantage (for all intents and purposes) that the affirmative has. The other part of due process is the punishment. The resolution only says that vigilantism is justified; we have no clue what such a person could do. Let's say the government decides that a shoplifter (a single mother in poverty) doesn't have to pay a fine or spend jail time. At that point, the government has failed to enforce the law. Let's say Joe Brown, our vigilante, comes up and brutally murders the girl to "enforce" the law.
Even better, one opponent said that vigilantes could simply "imprison" bad people. That brings vivid images of poor shoplifters in basements, chained to a wall for months, maybe years, all across the nation... yuck. Clearly, there's no philosophical basis for this argument, but I (and my judges) liked it.
Mar 18, 2009
guest blogger offers Neg arguments for vigilantism resolution
Guest-blogger and frequent commentator comakid has graciously offered to share some favorite Neg arguments on the vigilantism resolution. I edited lightly, mostly for spelling.