[eDebate] Rules and Laws

Beth Skinner beth.skinner
Wed Jun 13 19:58:50 CDT 2007

I don't think there's a compelling obligation to abide by unjust laws or
systems of laws.  Even in a democracy where you get some kind of input into
the process.  A majority of people can agree (or accept) a bad rule and if
others perceive it as bad and want to violate it then they should.  Saying
they need to martyr themselves on the altar of majoritarianism is
small-minded.  It may well be that it is in the interest of the majority to
own slaves but it is not in the slaves' interest.  I think it is very
helpful for people to debate about the nature of social contracts and
community norms and how to support/change/undermine/ignore them.  These
skills are just as important - maybe more important - than learning
intricate details of institutionalized government/think tank/special
interest games.  Another way of saying this is that dealing with dissenters
is the penalty to be paid for creating or accepting a system of
objectionable rules or norms.

The argument that penalties should be stricter to deter rule-violators only
perpetuates the core problem.  Stricter penalties don't stop people from
dealing drugs when this is the main way they can earn a living.  This core
problem is that topics are crafted in a way that rule-abiders have little
room to make the arguments they want.  'Go away and play with someone else'
is what the bullies and their sycophants on the playground say.  A good
response to that is, 'Make me - if you think you can.'  And that's what
debate's about.  We disagree about the rules so let's argue about them.  If
you can win then win.  Lax enforcement of drug laws isn't the reason people
use or sell drugs.  Lax enforcement of topicality isn't the reason people
run non-topical cases.  It's the topics themselves and the real, fundamental
dissatisfactions people feel.
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