Argument Tier List (Neg) | Truth-Seeking > Privacy | Stoa LD 2019

Last time we ranked the common arguments of Stoa affirmatives for the resolution,

“Criminal procedure should value truth-seeking above individual privacy.”

Check out aff rankings here.

Below is an incomplete list of popular arguments for Stoa LD Negatives, along with our thoughts on their competitive potential.

Preface: This is a great tool for prep, but it can’t predict what will happen in a live round. Take every opponent seriously. An excellent rating does not guarantee victory, and a weak rating does not guarantee defeat.

If your case or arguments are given a poor rating here, critically evaluate the feedback. Decide if you agree that my concerns apply to your specific case. Maybe you have a specific spin that makes the argument unique. Don’t throw out your case just because it got a low rating in this article. Instead, use the feedback to find specific ways to strengthen your case.


Privacy Violations Harm People. 

SWAT teams misidentify the address. Unannounced break-ins at the wrong house. Innocent civilians grab firearms to defend themselves from the home intruders. The result? Numerous deaths - for cops and citizens alike. Violating privacy is dangerous: and negatives that use these applications are cooking with fire. Expect lots of them at nationals.

Aggressive Searches are Useless

Aggressive searches almost never produce valuable evidence. Since there are so many ways to gather sufficient evidence for conviction (fingerprints at the crime scene, DNA on the gun, confessions, eyewitness testimony, etc), treating privacy like a sanctuary for criminals is absurd. Nor is it reasonable to gamble away our rights for something so useless. Expect this as a response to standard affirmative applications.


Privacy Has Intrinsic Worth 

Arguing that privacy is intrinsically valuable shifts the debate away from applications (which only show extrinsic worth) and makes the debate about the value. Plenty of affirmatives are relying on heavy-swinging applications to get an advantage, so this type of argument puts the ball back in your court. It can be tricky to wield if you’re new to debate, but can devastate affirmative cases when used properly. Here’s an example of a case that does that.

Violating Privacy is Tyrannical

Violating privacy gives governments enormous power: and this power is almost always used against us. Constant surveillance and watchful control are never far from full blown tyranny; we can already find examples of it from around the world. Judges (especially in your league) care deeply about issues like this - support this argument well and your opponent will have a serious challenge dealing with it.


Search Warrants

Lots of negatives discuss how the legal system places restrictions on police searches to protect privacy. However, affirmatives also have the opportunity to talk about how the exercise of a warrant allows an officer to get inside someone’s private home without their permission. This means that this application can’t be won decisively by either side. Only run it if you have the time to build serious momentum.

Human Dignity

While truth-seeking may make people uncomfortable, this is a weak foundation for your case. Violating dignity may seem bad in the abstract, but it’s hard to out-leverage practical applications of crime reduction from your opponent. Unless you’re ready to set up an aggressive moral framework with your value, cases like these are best left to the wayside.


Ends Don’t Justify the Means

This is a hotly debated subject, not a round-winning fact. It’s also pretty reasonable that ends do justify the means in plenty of cases (such as by lying to Nazis to save Jews). Similarly, it seems reasonable that the saving of an innocent life would justify some smaller transgression (like the illegality of an officer’s search). Moral slogans aren’t going to be enough to tackle this issue.

Idealistic Definitions of Privacy

Negatives sometimes point to examples of criminals who hid behind privacy loopholes and say, “Well, that’s not true privacy, criminals don’t have a right to privacy so this example can be ignored.” However, it’s easy for an affirmative to explain how giving privacy protections results in these unideal circumstances. “Privacy puts a shadow over everyone, which is what allowed this criminal to get away in the first place.” Certain times you may use a definition to de-link an application, but you’ll need it to be stronger than this.


Truth-seeking Isn’t in the Constitution

Neither is the word privacy. Playing constitutional word search is not going to help you.

Both Can Be Upheld

To the extent that this is true, the resolution is meaningless. If it is 100% true, then we cannot choose between truth-seeking and privacy, and the resolution must be false. Focus on the conflict, which is where the judge gets to make a meaningful choice.