Instigator / Pro

A Public Health Emergency Justifies Limiting Civil Liberties


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
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After 5 votes and with 16 points ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
Two days
Max argument characters
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Contender / Con

Pretty sure the topic is slanted towards pro but I'm interested in any ideas that help out con.

Round 1
It is clear as day from our examples in real life that the coronavirus has killed hundreds and thousands of people. To value a vague "liberty" more than life seems absurd. If you have no life, you cannot have any liberties. The dead have no rights. Unless con can prove that a mere corpse has rights, then my idea stands strong. As such, life is more important than liberties. Civil liberties restrictions in order to resolve the national health emergency are very important. Already, China has managed to reduce their infected numbers down severely by enforcing quarantine. In contrast, America, the "freest country" of them all, has the most cases. All of this is common knowledge and I believe no sources are necessary to back up. As you can see, China is doing much better than America and has lost much fewer lives. For the families and the people suffering under the lost of their people, isn't merely stopping a few freedoms far more justifiable than doing nothing and letting people die to the virus?

I move the floor to con.
I will set up my point, and then attack my opponent's.

My Points
1. Civil liberties is so broad that it justifies anything.
A. This is exactly the issue we're seeing in a multitude of nations. China, Thailand, Cambodia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, and Turkey are all arresting political opposition, journalists, and medical professionals who question the official response. (1) This has two issues within it.
I. If no one can question the actions taken by a state, then no one can question if the civil liberties need to be stopped. Whenever the pandemic is over, how are citizens of these nations supposed to question if they can stop quarantining and socially distancing if none of these nations allow people to question the actions of the state.
II. It actually leads to worse health responses. Firstly, nations that silence critics and experts from speaking up can silence their numbers from happening. US intelligence agencies have already discovered China has lied about their numbers, so any argument their doing better is, at best, highly doubtful. (2) Actually, any data on Covid isn't going to be meaningful because so many countries have different standards on how they test, who they test, access to tests, and reliability of tests. (3) Silencing health experts does nothing but make these numbers more muddled and stops us from finding the best way to deal with the pandemic.
B. Some nations, like Hungary, are justifying it to take full authoritarian control. The current Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, has made it where he can rule by decree and imprison anyone who spreads false information can be imprisoned for up to five years. This directly ties into the first point.
C. This is heightening the surveillance state. China is expanding the surveillance state they used to contain all the Uyghur Muslims in reeducation camps, Russia is developing a widespread surveillance system that utilizes facial recognition technology, and Israel is tracking all its citizens through cell phone technology. The worst part about the issue of surveillance is that once the system is created, it doesn't go away after the emergency. We can see that all of the surveillance created through the war on terror is still existent, and probably will never go away, and any power grab to expand on this surveillance needs to be rejected. 

2. To take the critical approach of my opponent, I would say my opponent uses threat construction to prop up sovereign power. My opponent says that Covid-19 is a really bad and we need the government to take away our rights to protect it, but has no warranted points about it. All of this construction is utilized to create a system where the state is on an untouchable pedestal, because without it, we become sitting ducks for the disease. I would say the logic that we have to defer to the sovereign power of the state to protect us, especially without warranting it, leads to multiple impacts. I would say that it is necessary for the judge to vote down any team that uses unwarranted threat construction to prop up sovereign power.
A. Without having to create justified issues, the state can otherize any group and make them a threat to grab power. My opponent uses Covid, but has no warrants on how bad it is, has no statistics, and cites countries that shut down free analysis of the issue as our savior. By justifying that whatever a state says is the enemy is the enemy, my opponent justifies colonial and authoritarian genocide and conflict. Nations like China and Russia call political dissidents as threats related to Covid, and lead genocides of either killings or arrests to ensure that all dissent is silenced. This idea is then spread from powerful countries to smaller countries. Nations like Russia and China are going to utilize their geopolitical influence to expand their power to affect nations like Ukraine and North Korea and expand their power into these areas.
B. Because the only real impact that comes out of debate is the education we get, so we should utilize understanding sovereign power and the chains it uses to control us rather than continuing it's chain of threat construction and justification of atrocities. Every second we waste discussing the flawed conception of sovereign power is a second we lose the chance to truly be able to dissect it and see how far the issues go.

3. Counter proposal, instead of focusing on curbing the individuals liberties, the government should incentivize these actions through willingness. The government should offer to pay people to stay home, as well as bailout small businesses. Every business can open however they want, including enforcing masks if they so choose. People can choose to go out in public if they choose, but they wouldn't be forced to work since the state has the option of paying for it. This doesn't trigger any of the issues with civil liberty violations or threat construction rhetoric, as well as, it solves most of the issues with Covid. If workers get paid to stay home, guaranteed, they aren't going to go to work, meaning businesses shut down, meaning it solves Covid without triggering my impacts.

Opponent's points
1. The claim that China is doing better than the US shouldn't be valued in the round based on multiple points.
A. Extend the idea that China is lying about their numbers. We can't trust that their actually handling it better.
B. Extend my previous idea that all statistics about Covid numbers aren't reliable. Testing isn't done in a universal way that makes it fair to compare Covid rates.
C. My opponent is trying to create a false dichotomy between lives and rights. Extend my counter proposal that solves both.
D. Lastly, even if you don't believe the counter proposal solves both, value rights over life. Rights and liberty are key to any value to life. Suicide rates of groups that have lost their autonomy, such as Jewish populations during the Holocaust reaching 25% (4). While this is an extreme example, I've already proven why issues like this lead to grabs at power. Any push towards these conditions should be rejected.


Round 2
1) Ancap worries that people will be unable to object, however, remember that America and other democracies allow for people to protest and react differently. All his arguments about government grabbing power are arguably problems with the government themselves rather than merely the act of limiting liberties. Even in these extreme cases, you could argue that it helps prevent the panic. If hundreds and thousands of medical researchers are complaining that the cure can't be found, that the numbers are in the millions, it would likely cause panic and revolt, leading to greater exposure and absurd problems than merely stiffly preventing people from telling lies about coronavirus. Con also says that he thinks the power grab will allow them to retain an unnatural control after the emergency, however, since the emergency is already over, the limiting of liberties is not relevant to his side of the debate. 

2) Con asserts that Covid is not that bad, but it has already caused million of infected worldwide (" current outbreak of COVID-19, has affected over 2164111 people and killed more than 146,198 people in more than 200 countries throughout the world.") , massive job and finance lost (, I could go on and on. To reject the influence of covid is absurd. People join under the social contract to gain certain protection in exchange for liberty. That has how it always has been. Without any government, people could steal and kill without worry, and finances to support people would be few and far in between. Some level of government control is definitively necessary. Remember that the title is speaking of Emergency. 

As a scholarly research article notes, the public health emergency is when " A situation becomes emergent when its health consequences have the potential to overwhelm routine community capabilities to address them. Thus, the proposed definition focuses on situations “whose scale, timing, or unpredictability threatens to overwhelm routine capabilities.”" con vouches for people's liberties, but does not consider the fact that the person's autonomy could be lost due to suffering under the disease. When you are dead, you cannot have liberties. When you are sick in the hospital and need support from doctors, any "liberty" to freely move around are also restricted. Without the government's protection to step in and take action, leading you to potentially get sick, you lose your liberty unwilling in any case. So con's case defeats itself. 

3) Counter proposal. This is interesting but once again side steps the ability to refute my argument. If you are able to pay someone $100 for their "liberty of being able to go outside", then that is equivalent to restricting their liberty, if only adding compensation for it. The fact that con agrees that it would be much better for government to give compensation gives a solution to my case and displays that people would actually be happy to get rid of their liberties for personal purchase and entertainment, whatever they use their money for. So Con's counter defeats his own case. 

Even though China may be lying about its number, numerous democratic nations that encouraged wearing masks and social distancing help enforce the lack of Covid, especially in Europe. As notes, they even prevent travel from location to location, which is arguably a civil liberty of a kind. Even all of the continent combined is merely 5.7 million cases (, while US is definitively bypassing 7.5 million and even higher. It's clear that the restriction of the liberties are definitive in the impact of helping people prevent getting the virus and suffering. Con's case is contradictory and self-negating. 
Round 3
Extend, vote for pro
I don't get to answer, which is fully my fault. Time got to me, and that happens to all of us. This is a formal concession because of that, but I would like a rechallenge from Seldiora if they agree, same rules are fine except for 7 days on responses. If you want to keep the first two speeches the same, I'm down for that as well. Up to you.