Oct 13, 2010

could public health officials quarantine drug abusers?

1. Let's say that a ranking public health official decides that abuse of illegal drugs is a literal epidemic.

2. How do you contain an epidemic? By quarantine, of course.

3. So the official decides to have drug abusers quarantined in rehab until clean, and, more important, no longer able to spread the mental and emotional virus of addiction.

4. Would that pass muster in a free society? If not, why not?

5. Would it fulfill the affirmative burden of the November-December 2010 LD resolution?

Added: Lest you think it's too far afield, consider the fact that anti-drug vaccines are within the realm of the plausible. So why not take it a step further?


Monty said...

I dont really understand how this answers anything for the affirmative.

If anything this links into BioPower negative that explains that this controlling of life is bad.

How is there an inhertant upholding of "public health" when this comes into play?

Can you explain why this is an affirmative argument?

Jim Anderson said...

Sure. One of the Neg approaches is going to be paternalistic: drug abusers won't seek treatment on their own, so the State has to be able to lock them up via the criminal justice system, a form of enforced rehab.

This approach gives the Aff room to say that we could still enforce rehab under the principle of quarantine, rather than via the criminal justice system.

The obvious Neg rejoinder, of course, is that it's a distinction without a real difference, giving a form of excess police power to public health officials. (And the Aff response, then, is that it's not excessive to quarantine in the face of a serious public health threat.)

Tim said...

I found a quote in an National Drug Control Policy that calls marijuana use a "contagious disease" and would support this claim that the government could do this. I don't see how it would tie in though. If anything, wouldn't it be more paternalistic and overbearing since unlike in criminal justice, public health doesn't have the benefit of the doubt. Then government could have limitless power on drug control. I don't see how this could be used as an argument under either side though. Do you have any ideas how it could be?

Arguing for quarantining all drug users seems too overbearing to advocate on the affirmative.

Oregon Debater said...

Well, if this "quarantine" didn't involve the criminal justice system, but only those public health officials and possibly government enforcers, I'm sure a reasonably adequate debater could make this fly. It solves the "no one shows up for voluntary rehab" problem, and upholds aff ground by excluding the criminal justice system while treating the problem. The aff would just have to prove in some way that drug abuse is a contagious disease, which is definitely possible.

Jim Anderson said...

I'd be curious to hear if anyone has succeeded in a round with this line of argument.

I have a similar argument in the queue, inspired by a conversation with a local attorney, which should be up pretty soon.

Anonymous said...

i'm going to try this quarantine argument,but what vaule and vc whould you suggest to use with this?

Jim Anderson said...

Values of health or societal welfare, with criteria like utilitarianism or the social contract or communitarianism. There are probably others that'll work as well.