Monday, December 12, 2011

LD Variations on the 2012 Domestic Violence Resolution


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Identifying the Victims
When the resolution speaks of victims, we naturally assume the victims are the individuals who suffered domestic violence and that would be a valid assumption.  However, since the noun is plural, it opens up some interesting possibilities which allows all sorts of variant approaches to cases.  I thought it would be interesting to explore some of these possibilities.

The Plural Victim
One can easily claim most instances of domestic violence will involve multiple victims.  Primarily there is the victim who is suffering directly from the violence. Then there are usually other victims who suffer indirectly by knowing about or witnessing the violence.  Children or adults in the same house will probably be aware of the violence and suffer as a result. Also relatives of the primary victim outside of the domicile, who are aware of the abuse may also be suffering.  So if an individual, primary victim is justified in the use of deadly force, would the same apply to the other, indirect victims who are also suffering?  Davis and Briggs of Medical University South Carolina claim:
"Children who witness domestic violence (i.e., violence between parents, guardians, or caregivers) are often referred to as the "forgotten" victims since interventions generally target the adult victim or perpetrator (Groves, Zukerman, Marans, & Cohen, 1993). Most of the research in this area sugge[sts] that children exposed to domestic violence are at increased risk for emotional, behavior, academic, and social problems (Kolbo, Blakely, & Engelman, 1996; Pfouts et. al., 1982). More specifically, children exposed to domestic violence may exhibi[t im]mediate and long-term problems with anxiety, depression, anger, self-esteem, aggression, delinquency, interpersonal relationships, and substance abuse (Carlson,1990; Jouriles, Murphy, O’Leary, 1989; Silvern, et al., 1995; Sternberg, et al., 1993)."
Certainly on one level when one examines the ancillary effects of domestic violence it may lead to further justification for the primary victim to use deadly force to stop the abuse, but imagine the justification scenarios when the indirect victims begin to use deadly force to protect themselves.

The Suffering Society
Expanding the plurality even farther, it is not hard to see the entire community or society as a whole suffers when there is an instance of repeated domestic violence occurring.  Domestic violence leads to increased medical costs, losses to productivity through lost work, and since victims often flee the home, domestic violence is a cause of homelessness.  Additionally, some legal jurisdictions are recognizing that domestic violence is a crime against society and not just the victim because of the ripple-effect arising from domestic violence and its effect on "health care, child welfare, mental health and social service systems".  Again we can reasonably ask ourselves, if the primary victim is justified in using deadly force, is society justified in executing the perpetrator even if the result is not the murder of the victim?

Identifying the Abuser
Another interesting twist on the resolution can arise when we seek to identify the abuser.  If repeated domestic violence is occurring that is morally permissible to resolve by the use of deadly force, some entity must be perpetrating the domestic violence.  Typically we assume the abuser is a domestic partner or someone in the household, intimately involved with the victim.  But can one make a reasonable case the perpetrator is an another entity altogether.  The U.S. Constitution Fourth Amendment provides, 
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Yet some argue this provision is routinely violated in the effort to prevent terrorism.  Other countries do not have the same rights to protection against the abuse of power as the U.S.  Therefore, we can make that case in some circumstances, the state is the abuser which repeatedly abuses individuals through coercion and often violence.  Anytime the authorities enter a domicile to execute its power the potential for abuse exists and one may question whether deadly force is a justifiable response to domestic abuse by the state.

Violence and Intimidation Via Media
Last year debaters dealt with the issue of cyber-bullying and distinctions were drawn between threats which occurred outside of the home and those which occurred inside the home through social media, such as text messaging and internet.  When anyone or any entity invades a home with intimidating or threatening messages, is it a form of domestic violence.  Under many definitions, domestic violence does not necessarily mean physical, violence resulting in bodily harm.  It may be possible to argue that school-mates, individuals in cyber-space and society via radio and television perpetrates domestic violence through media messages.  Again, can a case be made that such abuse can be answered with deadly force?

Topicality Issues
Certainly, the affirmative debater must be sure to present a topical case and while we may be guided by presumptions as to what is topical, it is quite possible one can face certain challenges to topicality.  For example; moral permissibility is not legal permissibility, so cases which do not address the morality of the resolution are non-topical.  Victims is a plural noun. A case which does not address multiple victims may be deemed technically non-topical. Deliberate response suggests a response that is intended.  A case which talks about accidental or unintended response to domestic violence may be deemed non-topical.  Repeated means a case which does not address an acceptable level of repeat offences of domestic violence are non-topical.  The question is, what exactly constitutes "repeated"; more that once per day or more than once in a decade?

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