Dear Mr. Anderson/Jim Anderson/Decorabilia,It depends on the the argument being made, but here's my stock response.
Bri Castellini suggested in a recent post that one argument for Neg was to argue biology - basically that teenagers were torn between hormones and the lack of buildup in the frontal lobe cortex and fighting "a full fledged biological battle." In the last debate, this argument seemed to kill my Aff, because my opponent basically repeated this argument again and again without a strong response (the only response I had was that the line was arbitrary, and we've seen where that goes). When asking others on the team afterwards, the main response seemed to be "Morality is not the province of people over 18, and they should pay." These kinds of retribution arguments have always seemed to me to be kind of weak, and were anyway inconsistent with my value and criterion.
Which is a roundabout way of asking: How would you respond to this argument on its own logic -- not by advocating retribution, but by showing it be unjust, illogical, or not conducive to societal welfare?
There's a leap from "adolescence, cognitively and emotionally, is a turbulent time" to "adolescents shouldn't be treated as adults."
The leap is rather large, for several reasons.
1. "Treated as adults" may just mean given the same due process rights, excluding punishment.
2. The resolution is specifically focused on juveniles charged with violent felonies, which excludes the vast majority of everyday adolescents. Potentially, violent offenders are less cognitively turbulent, because they've "grown up too fast." They're outliers, regardless. Unless the research cited is specific to juveniles charged with violent felonies, it's potentially suspect.
3. Speaking of, who's to say that adults charged with violent felonies aren't equally emotionally turbulent? Is it fair to compare a distressed youngster with a normal (i.e., middle-of-the-bell-curve) adult?
4. As I've argued before, culpability is based on relative judgments. It's one thing to say that, on average, juveniles are less culpable than adults. But that fact in and of itself doesn't necessarily justify treating them differently, if they both meet a particular "baseline of culpability."
For instance, compare a 35-year-old and a 60-year-old. Ostensibly, the person with 25 extra years of life experience--collected wisdom, hopefully--is more responsible and, arguably, more culpable. (60-year-olds are measurably happier, too.) But we don't have different systems for the two, since both met the same basic criterion of moral responsibility.
5. Brain-based differences can be effects as much as causes. If we train adolescents to be irresponsible, their brains will, no doubt, reflect their lack of judgment in the very places where judgment is thought to reside. The reverse is also true: training the brain leads to structural changes. (Years of cab-driving, for instance, or a mere 8 weeks of meditation.)
6. On average, and regardless of the reasons, men are more violent than women--which is one of the reasons men and women are housed in different prisons--but men and women have the same due process rights. The point: there's no straight line between differences (even innate, biological, or brain-based differences!) and different treatment.