Wednesday, August 15, 2012

LD 2012 Sep / Oct Discussion

For part one, click here.
For links to other LD topics, click here

The Student's View
Its always interesting when I get the perspective of my debaters during a topic analysis.  Sometimes their points of view stimulate new ways of looking at potential arguments for the resolution.  This evening while discussing the LD resolution about due process protection for individuals accused of terrorism, we struggled over the definition of terrorism.  A lot of interesting questions were discussed.  How can a person be a terrorist if they've never been proven a terrorist? Good question.  The resolution states persons "accused" of terrorism as opposed to proven terrorists.  Does the resolution assume the terrorists are in the United States? No, nothing in the resolution implies that.  Then what if the non-citizen person accused of terrorism is in another country and accused of terrorism in a third country, should they be granted constitutional due process protection?  I have to say, that question floored me as I had never considered that point of view and frankly I was at the time, uncertain what impact it had on the topic. Another interesting perspective struck them as we looked more closely at the wording.  After all, this is a very wordy resolutions so we looked for some insights by attempting to simplify the wording into a very concise syllogistic conclusion: constitutional due process protection should be granted to __fill in the blank__.  Why fill in the blank?  Well many of the students felt if constitutional due process protection is extended to accused terrorists, then why not others?  Why not everyone?

Natural Rights and Freedoms
We discussed at length the natural rights. The fourteenth amendment says no state should deprive any person of life, liberty or property.  Our experienced debaters immediately thought of John Locke. So if one acknowledges these as the fundamental rights granted to all persons, the Constitution upholds this by forbidding any state from passing a law which infringes those rights with out due process.  Now of course, we realize at times the law must have the power to deprive these rights to certain individuals, who, as one debater called it, "break the social contract".  However, we further recognize that because we allow society to deprive these rights under certain conditions, there must be sufficient safe-guards in place to prevent possible abuses and most of our debaters understand in the U.S., the judiciary is charged with guaranteeing that protection as judges are potentially free of political influence.  While the amendment clearly specifies the protection of citizens, one can reasonably question whether the framers intended that non-citizens should not be protected.  Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes a person's right to life, liberty and security of person (which could incorporate property).  It is important to understand that while certain freedoms or "rights" are granted by laws, such as the right to vote, freedom to travel, etc.  There exist fundamental rights that no state should deny as long as an individual does not forfeit those rights.

Novice Debate Theory
Its also interesting when debaters begin to interject their biases or personal points of view.  Some stated they felt it was wrong to extend to those constitutional rights to non-citizens, others felt if accused terrorists are granted protections, then all people should be granted the same and lots of confusion began to set in among the novices as opinions seemed to complicate the discussion.  Basically, this was my overview:

Every debate begins at a neutral position; the status quo, the current situation.  Basically this resolution declares in the status quo, due process protection is not extended to non-citizens accused of terrorism.  The Affirmative position taken by the resolution says there is a problem that needs to change and the United States ought to do something it is not currently doing, namely extend due process protection.  What makes LD, the kind of debate it is, you as the debater must declare in your case WHY the status quo must change.  The LD case basically must show an important value, some over-riding principle is not being served in the status quo. For example, perhaps we can prove that justice is not being served in the status quo and so by extending constitutional due process the Affirmative does a better job at upholding the overriding principle of justice. When you get your head around that, then it becomes clear, one does not necessarily debate the resolution.  Rather the resolution, in this case, serves to point out there is a much greater harm occurring that we can solve but Affirming the resolution.

Next part - the Pro Position

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