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That where peaceful protests are met with a violent state response, protesters should respond violently

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Bugsy460Bugsy460 (PRO)
Thank you Con for accepting this debate. With the recent events happening in the United States, the recent Hong Kong protests, and protests over history, this is definitely a hot topic issue. I will first go over some definitions, then my points for why I support the resolution.


1. "Peaceful protests" shall be defined as protests where protestors do not harm, threaten to harm, or call harm to themselves, others, or property.

2. "Violent state response" shall be defined as any state sanctioned agency inflicting pain or injury on protestors.

3. "Protesters" shall be defined as peaceful protesters.

As a summary of the definitions, the resolution simply means that if protestors who aren't damaging themselves, others, or property are harmed by the state, they should react violently.

My Case

1. Individuals have the right to self defense. Self defense is the basic idea that someone should be able to prevent themselves from having to experience harm or pain. Firstly, it is a legal right internationally. For example, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights specifically states in Article 9, Section 1 "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person."1 While liberty is a nice addition, we need to focus on security of person. This means you have a right to safety, and if it cannot be guaranteed, you would be able to guarantee it for yourself. If this seems unclear, we can look towards the European Convention on Human Rights, which states in Article 2, Section 2 and Part A "Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in
contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force
which is no more than absolutely necessary:
(a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence"2. Once again, it's justified to kill to protect someone from violence. This is a guaranteed right in one more important international focus of rights. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in Article 31, Section 1 and Part C says "In addition to other grounds for excluding criminal responsibility provided for in this Statute, a person shall
not be criminally responsible if, at the time of that person's conduct: (c) The person acts reasonably to defend himself or herself or another person"3. Now that the legality of self defense has been established, I can show the connection to the resolution. A peaceful protest an assembly of people doing nothing wrong. The state responding violently is an attack. This attack threatens the "security of person" for all the protestors, meaning they can guarantee their own security under the ICCPR. The ECHR says that defense of any person (which would include yourself or fellow protestors) is an absolutely necessary reason for use of force. The ICC says criminal responsibility if your acts "defend [yourself] or another person". By fighting a violent state response, you would be defending yourself and others. Now, while we've shown that self defense can logically be extended to peaceful protestors, why should they exercise their right? This answer is less legal and more moral, but just as logically sound. The idea behind self defense is the idea that no individual should have to deal with unjust violence. If people are peacefully gathering, meaning they are simply standing, marching, or some other non-violent action in public places, any violence done against them would be unjust. This unjust violence shouldn't be tolerated, meaning individuals have a moral right, and possible obligation, to stop the violence being done to them or their fellow protestors. Only by saying that protestors should respond violently can we say they are utilizing their legal and moral right to self defense.

2. Individual have the right to assembly. This is simply saying that people should have the right to peacefully protest. I can once again find a legal right to assembly in the ICCPR in Article 21 where it says "The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized."1 In the ECHR, it can be found in Article 11, Section 1 saying "Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly"2. Lastly, I had to replace the ICC with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it says in Article 20, Section 1 "Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly"4. Once again, their is a legal right to assemble in protest, especially peaceful ones. If the state tries to violently attack protestors they have to react violently to protect this right. If violent state actions scared off every protest, then the power of assembly is lost and we lose the ability to criticize our government. We have to recognize the right of assembly to be politically protected when politically threatened and violently protected when violently threatened.

3. Peaceful protest is necessary to create political change. Let us first look at India, March 12th, 1930. Mohandas Gandhi was a firm believer in Indian nationalism and supported ending the Raj, and led multiple nonviolent protests against Britain. One example was how, on the previously mentioned date, he led a March of tens of thousands to the beaches, and began creating his own salt.5 It was illegal for an Indian to sell or collect salt, that way they would have to pay British companies and taxes on the necessary food. Gandhi, however, utilized civil disobedience in this specific case, as well as a multitude of other cases, to finally end the British Raj in 1947. Another example is American Civil Rights movement. Firstly, we have to understand that Martin Luther King Jr. utilized non-violent protest to create change, but was not against personal self defense. He believed that his movement should focus on non-violence, but also believed "When the Negro uses force in self-defense he does not forfeit support—he may even win it, by the courage and self-respect it reflects."6 The reason I cite non-violent protests as necessary for creating political change is because my previous point proves that without the ability to defend the right to assembly violently, we lose that right. Couple the fact of losing the right to assemble with its necessity to incite change and we lose the ability to change our world for the better. This destroys true interaction with the state, making the state have an all encompassing, all powerful control of everything. You pretty much cede all political power to the state. Ceding the political to the state destroys the ability for the individual or the people to interact with the state or change the state.


Protestors who are unjustly attacked should have the right to defend themselves. This right is morally and legally justified in multiple ways. By defending themselves, they defend their right to assemble. By defending the legally justified right to assemble, protestors guarantee their ability to interact with the state and have a true say in what happens. By saying that protestors shouldn't defend themselves, you say that people shouldn't interact with the state. Reject this, vote Pro!


Return To Top | Posted:
2020-06-22 05:30:23
| Speak Round
KushKush (CON)

Firstly, thanks to PRO for participating in this debate and I completely agree with my opponent, this is a very hot topic and one that could possibly create a major impact on the whole world.

I completely agree with my opponent’s first two definitions. But protestors can be defined as, “a person who publicly demonstrates opposition to something” (via Google). So, not all protestors are peaceful. So, taking all definitions in consideration, the CON says that protestors should always demonstrate peacefully.

Also, the resolution says that protests met with a violent state response, the demonstrators can respond violently. Now, till what extent are we talking about violent, because if it is something very little and insignificant, then there is no need for a violent response from the demonstrators. To add on my opponent also talked about self-defense and how every human being has right to defend themselves if attacked. I am not arguing that they don’t, but there is also a possibility that demonstrators can begin to protest violently even without having faced violent response from the state.

My opponent also mentioned how peaceful protests in the past have been effective. Now I cannot even begin to fathom why PRO mentioned this because this just goes on to prove my point. Let us understand this concept from a bird’s eye view. What is the primary objective of a protest? Of course, it is to demand and compel the government for a particular cause, most recently police brutality. Now, my opponent mentioned that Gandhiji hosted his famous Civil Disobedience Movement, but most people don’t know that Gandhiji also initiated the Non-Cooperation Movement. But now here is the interesting fact, Gandhiji halted the movement because it turned violent. But that doesn’t mean that the British didn’t respond violently. Gandhiji was arrested on numerous occasions but still never turned his movements violent. I would also like to mention that it isn’t moral to justify violence with violence.


PRO mentioned that if we deny the resolution then we are basically saying that the common citizen shouldn’t interact with the government. That is absolutely absurd, and CON is definitely not supporting this. All the CON has to do to win this debate is to point out logical flaws in the resolution. And as far as I'm concerned, I have already done that and will continue to continue pointing out faults of this resolution throughout the course of this debate. So, Vote CON!


Return To Top | Posted:
2020-06-25 16:42:25
| Speak Round
Bugsy460Bugsy460 (PRO)
First, I'll go over the disagreed upon definition then over Pro's and Con's points.


When I say protestors in the resolution is supposed to mean peaceful protestors, I'm simply trying to say that protestors from the peaceful protests. My burden in the debate isn't to protect violent protestors and my definition is just trying to reflect my burden as the Pro. I don't really see the definition unless you're trying to say I advocate for violent protests, in which case I don't. That's not the burden I have or the goal of the resolution, so it shouldn't be twisted that way because we corrupt what the core of the debate should be about, which is the ability for peaceful protestors to defend themselves.


1. So the first thing Con asked is how violent the police response is and if it's "small and insignificant", then protestors shouldn't worry about it. The problem with this is Con's definition are value terms. They aren't definite, so what some consider significant, some don't. We shouldn't have gray area if we can help it. Unless Con defines what counts as small and insignificant, I can't hope to meaningfully engage them because they could possibly be a shifting target. Now to preempt whatever definition my opponent comes up with, no amount of unjustified violence should be tolerated. He agreed to my definition of violent state response. My definition had two key components, firstly, pain or harm to protestors. The second part is a state sanctioned agency. This part is key because it means that one bad officer doesn't justify action, but state supported actions. This means that any amount of pain inflicted by the state. That shouldn't be justified to a peaceful protest. "He only shoved him to the ground," becomes "He only hit him with his baton," becomes "They only shot one protestor." This would to the normalization of this violence. To understand normalizing violence, we need to look towards mass shootings. Mass shootings have been normalized in American culture to the point we see them in the news and we move on.1 If you allow a "small and insignificant" amount of unjustified violence, then you can grow it once it becomes normalized, and then you grow it more. We need to reject all unjustified actions, big or small.

2. My opponent said self defense doesn't apply because "there is also a possibility that demonstrators can begin to protest violently even without having faced violent response from the state." That is nice and all but we're looking at the moral implications of peaceful protests being attacked by a violent state first. I'm going back on the definition I set for protestors because it really is to preserving the tone of the debate. The resolution wants pro to defend peaceful defending themselves from a violent state, while con needs to reject that for whatever reason they can fathom. My opponent is trying to get us to drift into violent protests, but that isn't what debate is about. Self defense applies to peaceful protests attacked by the state, and that's where my burden of proof ends.

3. My opponent didn't acknowledge that self defending protestors are key to the protection of the right to assemble.

4. So my opponent said that Gandhiji (I'm going to defer to his spelling, so we're on the same page) ended a movement that started turning violent. That's great. I don't see the relevance that point has to my point that protests are necessary to interact with the state. He stopped violence to keep peaceful protests. I advocate for peaceful protests. The other point he made was that Gandhiji was arrested multiple times. There's two issues with this. Firstly, an arrest isn't immediately a violent arrest. If protestors are gathered illegally and get arrested and turn themselves over so no one is harmed, there was no "violent state response" from the definition we agreed upon. This doesn't prove that peaceful protestors shouldn't defend themselves from unjustified violence. All it proves is that a protestor should try everything to keep it peaceful before they defend themselves.
Secondly, to cite the source my quotes from MLK came from, MLK stated that Gandhiji was not opposed to self defense, stating it was justified for those who could not be full pacifists. To cite a more direct source for Gandhiji,2 he supports self defense to protect the life and honor of yourself and those close to you. He even goes on later to say those who are unable to defend themselves and others are "burdens". Self defense is a key part of the protest.
A. As a side note to the point of peaceful protests being able to affect change, since my opponent didn't counter my previous point about the right to assembly being protected when protestors can protect themselves, he must support the resolution to truly support peaceful protests affect on the state. As I said, the self defense of the protestor is key to protecting the right to assemble, and since my opponent didn't disagree, the following point goes to my side as well. Since we both agree on the importance of peaceful protests, and my opponent didn't disagree that self defense is key to protecting that, it further reinforces the resolution.


To protect our ability to interact with the state, we must protect the right to assemble, and to do that we must allow the self defense of the protestor. I've refuted all of Con's points and continued to support the resolution, so Vote Pro.


Return To Top | Posted:
2020-06-25 22:05:38
| Speak Round

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