6 Arguments Against Justice (Part 1)

Stoa's LD topic "Criminal Procedure should value truth-seeking over individual privacy" is giving the value of justice a lot of mileage. 

There are good reasons for that. Justice can be defined in many ways. It’s broad enough to apply to almost any situation, morally high enough to beat many other values based on intrinsic worth, and easy to use as a measure. It’s been a vanilla value for awhile – especially when used as a buffer for powerful applications.

If you’re sick of facing Justice, read on. I’ll give you ammunition that will make you eagerly await your next encounter. This article assumes you’re up against one of these three basic definitions of justice:

A) Giving to each what he is due.
B) Punishing the guilty and protecting the innocent. 
C) A fair system that administers laws.

Depending on which definition you face, pick and choose from any (non-conflicting) combination of arguments below.

1. Everyone Deserves Punishment

Here’s a fun CX routine:

Does justice require that thieves be punished?
So justice requires punishment for breaking the law?
I‘m going to share some personal information with you. Over the course of my life, I’ve jaywalked hundreds of times. My state charges about a hundred dollars for jaywalking. Here’s the question: do you believe that I owe the government tens of thousands of dollars in jaywalking fines?
Well, that seems a bit extreme.
Let’s make it simple, then. I have repeatedly broken the law. Does justice require that I be punished in accordance with the law?
Do you believe that I, and anyone else in this room, should pay all the fines for all the petty crimes we have committed?

The first two questions throw the witness off the scent and make him commit to the connection between criminal punishment and justice. That keeps him from saying “well, justice may differ from the laws of the country,” later on.

The third question exposes the absurdity of perfect justice.

The final two questions put your opponent in a sticky situation. He could say that justice shouldn’t be completely upheld, in which case you can pressure him to name what higher ideals ought to be valued over justice. Use his admissions as leverage to support your own value. If he says justice should be completely upheld, he not only looks ridiculous, but he alienates the judge who has almost certainly committed petty victimless crimes like jaywalking and mattress tag removal. The thought of being called to account for all of them is terrifying. It would bring almost everyone to financial ruin and a lengthy stint in jail. In other words, justice shouldn’t be pursued because it is dangerous and unworkable.

2. Conflicts with Human Rights

Popular law codes have required the death penalty to accomplish objectives other than the protection of life, for crimes that did not directly violate it (like rape and treason).

Well-ordered, just societies have laws that aren’t directly related to human rights, like speed limits, drug bans, and zoning ordinance. Enforcing these laws by imprisonment or fining violates the rights to freedom or property.

Finally, enforcing justice requires that police occasionally search and monitor suspects, violating their privacy.

Don’t let your opponent argue that Justice is higher than human rights or that they can be used as dual values, or define justice as human rights (unless those maneuvers are strategically acceptable to you).

3. No Mercy

Mercy is defined as: “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power.” Justice leaves no room for compassion or forbearance; pulling a punch even slightly means that the offender does not receive what he is due. CX routine:

Do you believe it is ever okay to be merciful? 
Can you give me an example?

Any answer to that question is an admission that can be leveraged against justice.

Three more answers to justice coming up! Stay tuned for our next post.