Would it be possible to argue on the affirmative that we use a joint system. As the resolution states, "The abuse of illegal drugs ought to be TREATED as a matter of public health not of criminal justice," wouldn't the debate settle on which means we need to treat with. Looking at the resolution with treating as the key point allows the affirmative to say we need to treat with public health but punish and mandate with criminal justice. Do you think this could flow in a debate and if so do you have any ideas on how to run it in a case?Definitional tricks in LD have to pass the "eye-roll" test. If they make the judge roll her eyes and think, hoo boy, chances are your opponent--if at least minimally qualified--will have an easy way to defeat your definition.
I think this one barely passes, because the word "treat" does have a medical definition that works, somewhat, in the context of the resolution. The problem, as I see it, is that it's too easily defeated by a broader definition--"to deal with / handle"--and by the complete phrase "treated as a matter." Conditions are treated by (doctors, nurses, public health officials), or treated with (medicine, surgery, bed rest, kissing a boo-boo), not treated as.
A tricksy definition may not last beyond CX. For instance, today in practice, one of my debaters was trying to define the "abuse" of illegal drugs to include the manufacture and distribution of drugs. After all, he said, to "abuse" a drug is to "use it wrongly." So what does "use" mean? "Well... to inhale, or inject, or snort, or..." Or manufacture or distribute? "Uh... sure." To paraphrase the old song, "Two of these things are not like the other things."
Another reader writes:
I just debated the current topic last weekend, and a lot of negatives went for a permutation of criminal justice and a public health approach. They claimed that the only way to require people to go to rehab or to use another public health approach is through a court sentence or another criminal justice approach. Would you be able to post anything that can help the Aff maintain uniqueness? Thanks!Lots of responses for that line of thinking.
1. Why require rehab? If we have a society in which government forces people to rehabilitate themselves, then we not only clear a path to authoritarianism, but we lose a sense of personal responsibility and moral agency. We fall prey to a mindset that drugs have incredible powers over us, and that addiction is a disease. (This line of reasoning is rebutted and rebuked in the excellent Pain Control and Drug Policy.)
2. On the other hand, maybe addiction is a disease--giving public health officials quarantine powers.
3. There are plenty of noncoercive public health approaches: education, needle sharing, community outreach, treatment centers, and, someday, quite possibly, anti-drug vaccination. Or why not offer economic incentives to help abusers clean up?
4. In a rights-based or retributivist framework, questions of efficacy are the wrong questions. Inviolable rights are inviolable, no matter how well intentioned, or how good the potential outcome. If drug abuse (the act of getting high on illegal drugs) is itself not a crime, then a criminal justice approach is not only morally wrong, but a category error.