Instigator / Con
11
1558
rating
25
debates
64.0%
won
Topic

Theoretically, could vigilante heroes like Batman and Spiderman be allowed?

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
3
3
Sources points
4
4
Spelling and grammar points
2
1
Conduct points
2
1

With 2 votes and 2 points ahead, the winner is ...

K_Michael
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Society
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
30,000
Contender / Pro
9
1607
rating
323
debates
65.79%
won
Description
~ 92 / 5,000

Could unprofessional law enforcers like Spiderman and Batman be condoned in actual practice?

Round 1
Con
J. Jonah Jameson gets a bad rap for accusing Spiderman of being dangerous in a fictional world where (I'll be using this term loosely) "no one gets hurt." I'm not going to go into how killing villains, whether in self-defense or not, is at least worthy of a court trial.
I'll be going over the practical results of an ungoverned "hero" in a crime-ridden society.

1. Lack of supervision.
As a hero goes out and fights crime under their own rules, you have to question, "Who watches the watchman?" Police are supposed to be open with their dealings and be under the law themselves, but the masked heroes are anonymous. They cannot be held accountable for their actions.

2. Lack of training
Police officers have months of training. Special units like bomb squads and terrorist response units undergo even more training, but we see Spiderman, a teen with no training, tackle dangerous situations like these.
Pro
Justice, what is it? Morality, what is it?

If everyone makes it for themselves then it won't matter that you think the vigilantes need to go to court. Their code will be their 'right' and 'wrong' and whose to say they aren't?

The title says 'theoretically' but the debate description says 'in practise'. The problem Con faces is this:

1. Con conceded already in R1 that they theoretically can function but that they should eventually be brought before a court of justice or killed by the ones they think they have the right to capture and kill themselves etc.

2. Con concedes that the morality of some (namely the vigilantes and their fans) is irrelevant to actual 'should' and what really is theoretically meant to be allowed

3. Con didn't mention it but implied that really we're all villains. It's about what we fight that separates the 'active good' from the 'active evil'. Vigilantes are 'active good' rather than 'passive good' and what makes the courts, the law or really anything more valid than their code? Pieces of paper the rest of us primates of the homosapien variant deem 'legitimate' AKA 'legally binding' and that changes all the time too. We are not always in 'anarchy' but we are always in the animal kingdom, no matter how sanitised our community of homosapien primates appears on a surface level. They are just as right or wrong to conquer their foes in the name of defending others as the cops are for capturing them and hating them in spite of all the good they feel they did, later on. We live in a world of natural selection and we simply naturally selected our 'defense-oriented fighters' to be higher respect than the 'offensive-oriented fighters'. It's arbitrary and always will be but what should be allowed is one that benefits the many at times where the cops are failing, corrupt or the law's just plain wrong in the view of the masses. I'm not encouraging to act on this, I'm saying it theoretically could be justifiable and allowed and that's enough to win me the debate.


Round 2
Con
Justice, what is it? Morality, what is it?
These questions came out of nowhere, and are completely off topic. You can't dissuade or distract me with a couple of philosophical enigmas. At no point did I mention justice or morality. 

The title says 'theoretically' but the debate description says 'in practise'.

That's because Batman and Spiderman, in case you didn't know, are fictional, so it has to be theoretical to begin with. But under the theoretical assumption that people with the power or means could fight crime like BM and SM existed, could we as a law-governed society condone their practices?

 Con conceded already in R1 that they theoretically can function but that they should eventually be brought before a court of justice or killed by the ones they think they have the right to capture and kill themselves etc.
I did no such thing. I merely stated the facts. The only part that isn't strictly factual (based on comic book and cinematic evidence, anyway. But as it is theoretical, these may be treated as facts for the purposes of the debate) is when I say "you have to question, 'Who watches the watchman?'" which obviously isn't a fact.

Con concedes that the morality of some (namely the vigilantes and their fans) is irrelevant to actual 'should' and what really is theoretically meant to be allowed
Once again, I haven't said a thing about morality. I've stated the facts.

Con didn't mention it but implied that really we're all villains.
I did no such thing. Even if I do believe that, it is up to another debate. Leave it out of this.

what makes the courts, the law or really anything more valid than their code?
In America (or the U.S., if we need to be technical), that would be the democratically appointed authority of our legislature. Society cannot stand if every individual stands by their own moral code. Without some universal code of conduct, it will just be every man for himself. Look up Thomas Hobbes, Philosopher, if you think I'm making this up. Or just look at history for an example.

We live in a world of natural selection and we simply naturally selected our 'defense-oriented fighters' to be higher respect than the 'offensive-oriented fighters'.
Actually, we selected our accountable, transparent, trained, public good-oriented fighters to be of higher respect than anonymous, secretive, untrained, public good-oriented fighters.

 It's arbitrary and always will be but what should be allowed is one that benefits the many at times where the cops are failing, corrupt or the law's just plain wrong in the view of the masses. I'm not encouraging to act on this, I'm saying it theoretically could be justifiable and allowed and that's enough to win me the debate.

Nothing about this situation is arbitrary, though you weren't clear about what "it" is.
See, when the police fail or are corrupt, they can be held accountable and replaced. The system isn't perfect, but the knowledge that the public is watching them, and know who they are discourages inappropriate, lazy, or illegal action. Once again, this isn't perfect, but it's what we got right now, and is definitely superior to some self-appointed masked hero. See, with no one to hold them accountable or watch them, these people are more likely to be corrupt or fail than the trained police force. You can say that there is more evidence of police corruption than vigilante corruption, but that's because there are (MUCH) fewer vigilantes. I might go out one night to become a masked hero (all theoretically, of course) and instead realize just how much easier it would be to steal, especially with a skill/power set like BM and SM. 
So no, that won't be enough for you to win.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY AGAIN?

INSERT R2 FOR A SECOND TRY
Pro
The tone of Con at the end of R2 is rude, please note this when voting on Conduct.

I have seen no actual rebuttal from Con so far.

The entire case by Con is defeated by the fact that everything he is saying, from 'we selected' (who is we? Arbitrary) ignoring the minority who lose in every single democratic election or even the greater peace achievable either through tyranny or something superior to peace achievable by fighting those tyrants or, less severe but just as corrupt, oligarchs by being a brutal rebel who takes down the local pedos and leads a sort of 'peacekeeper by violence' which can work as a non-legislated police force.

Everything about society, from our concrete buildings to contracts and contract law is entirely based upon agreed upon non-written down ACTUAL values and ideals that are down to the individual. We evolved our morality and it's relative to everyone, we can beat up a wrongdoer and you can say 'but that's illegal according to us because WE ELECTED THE LAW TO BE THIS WAY!" but just as your powerful group could potentially tame the vigilante(s), the vigilante(s) and their fans and associates could outdo the powers that be.

If Con disproves this saying 'yeah but that means either they don't work or they end up as the new government and police' then I say this is 'can work' and not 'can work perpetually', after all we're all going to die right? Nothing works forever if it's regarding one person and what they do due to their very ageing and death regardless of anything else. You can't possibly be talking about 'forever working' this is about say continually for a decade or so and still managing to get away with it (whether as the new government or not) or even if you go down ending up the hero, yeah?

Nelson Mandela is one of a few examples of this, so is Malcolm X.

As political leaders go, Mandela was a mixed bag to say the least. He was a communist agitator targeted by the CIA that wound up detained as a political prisoner for decades. Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the militant army Mandela helped co-found within the ranks of the African National Congress, was responsible for numerous car bombings and landmine attacks. Written remembrances for the former resistance leader are largely painting him as either an abused angel or as guerilla warfare reactionary. Slate reporter Dave Weigel offered perhaps the smartest take on the coverage when he wrote,

[B]ut that’s the kind of cracked thinking you fall into when you take someone out of politics and make him a saint, someone totally sui generis, impossible to keep in context. How about keeping the context? We can learn plenty from what Mandela got right and we only got right much, much later.

One of the necessities of being a great thinker is the ability to parse through the bad to pick out the good, or vice versa. Mandela undoubtedly committed horrendous acts. But upon release from jail, he made an appeal for peace rather than violent retribution. As ANC member John Dramani Mahama described the heated atmosphere following Mandela’s being set free, “[W]e all waited for an indescribable rage, a call for retribution that any reasonable mind would have understood.” But rather than give into base-instinct vengeance, the future Nobel Peace Prize winner took a stance of forgiveness (though not total forgiveness). His reward was being elected President of South Africa and international prestige.
- Miller, J. (2015). Vigilantism, Forgiveness, and Nelson Mandela - Lions of Liberty. [online] Lions of Liberty. Available at: https://lionsofliberty.com/2013/12/11/vigilantism-forgiveness-and-nelson-mandela/ [Accessed 11 Apr. 2019].

The shot that killed Malcolm X in February 1965 as he stood on a podium in New York tore through his chest and resounded around the world. The talisman for black America was lifeless as supporters wheeled his body towards the hospital closest to the Audubon Ballroom, where he had just begun the night's oration. An ambulance had been called. None came. But even at that stage, Malcolm X was already thwarting the hopes of those who took his life to curtail his influence; and the authorities whose silent complicity assisted the murder.

None among the conspirators in the Nation of Islam (NoI), who spent months plotting his demise, could have predicted that anyone would be talking about Malcolm X 46 years on. Neither could the FBI, whose operatives listened in on his conversations. Who knew that the man they viewed as the most dangerous in America could enjoy such longevity?

The legend peaks and troughs and every few years enjoys a kick-start. First the classic autobiography in conjunction with Alex Haley, hailed by Time magazine as one of the 10 most influential non-fiction books of the 20th century. Followed by lionisation by the Black Power movement. Then, decades later, his adoption by the giants of hip-hop as a symbol of black pride and non-conformity.

And now Malcolm X is the subject of a new warts-and-all biography that took 12 years to write and prompts fresh reflection on the man white America feared above all others. It's another kick-start, even if it does take the Malcolm we know from Haley's book into places Malcolm X wouldn't have wanted it to go.
- Muir, H. (2011). Malcolm X: the man behind the myth. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/07/malcolm-x-man-behind-myth [Accessed 14 Apr. 2019].

Tomasello and Darwin both have their work combined in this brilliant summation of how evolved morals are in an article I'm about to bring up. The focus here is that the sole thing making humans unique, which is the only way we justify the meat trade while having killing animals be far less illegal and even 'immoral', is that we socialise better. What then happens in anarchy or in situations where those upholding the law have become corrupt? Would it not be plausible that the people support the vigilante? It could indeed theoretically work. Batman and Spiderman didn't kill people alone, they brought them to cops (leaving them trapped for the cops to catch) as a common strategy. They only killed when necessary. This style of vigilantism is the most sustainable as the cops are least likely to truly want to hunt the vigilante down (at least not all on the force will).

Beginning in the early 20th century, research on non-human primates—like chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans—has shown that they are capable of many things once considered uniquely human, like tool-making, empathy, discerning the intentions and goals of others, and forming friendships. But humans also have language, laws, institutions, and culture. For a long time, the dominant explanation for these uniquely human concepts was our raw intelligence—the human brain is three times larger than the chimpanzee brain—but in recent years, some scientists have also argued that our more social nature may be what’s allowed us to advance so much further than the apes.

But as Tomasello argues in his book, this “social intelligence hypothesis” is something of an understatement. A social nature isn’t enough to fully distinguish between humans and chimpanzees—male chimpanzees can form political alliances, for example, and sometimes work together to hunt, both of which require advanced social skills. Humans are not just socially intelligent, then; as Tomasello and others have put it, we’re “ultra-social” in ways that the great apes are not, with an enhanced capacity for cooperation that arose somewhere along our species’ evolutionary path.

Tomasello has conducted dozens of studies to support this idea. In one study published in 2007, he and his colleagues gave 105 human toddlers, 106 chimpanzees, and 32 orangutans a battery of tests assessing their cognitive abilities in two domains: physical and social. The researchers found that the children and the apes performed identically on the physical tasks, like using a stick to retrieve food that was out of reach or recalling which cup had food in it. But with the social tests—like learning how to solve a problem by imitating another person, or following an experimenter’s gaze to find a treat—the toddlers performed about twice as well as the apes.

Related to this enhanced social ability is a greater tendency to work together, even on tasks where collaboration isn’t necessary. In a 2011 study by Tomasello and his Planck Institute colleagues, 3-year-old children and chimpanzees were given an opportunity to obtain a reward either on their own or by collaborating with another member of their species. The experiment was set up so that the children and the apes knew a) that they would get the reward regardless of whether they worked with a partner, and b) that working with a partner would mean both of them got the same reward. Children, the researchers found, were much more likely to collaborate than chimpanzees.
- Smith, E. (2015). Is Human Morality a Product of Evolution?. [online] The Atlantic. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/12/evolution-of-morality-social-humans-and-apes/418371/ [Accessed 14 Apr. 2019].

The vigilante would likely end up working with a team of some sort. The 'pure lone ranger' still theoretically could work but least so. Batman has his Alfred and Lucius Fox while Spiderman had many come-and-go allies of his own, with Green Goblin going from his enemy to being the very ally to save Spiderman from Green Goblin's father. This is plausible and in the chaos many alliances and rivalries would come and go making it murky but this is about if they 'could' plausibly work and that is undeniable.
Round 3
Con
Your R2 is a well-crafted argument. But let's see if I can poke a few holes in it.

First, though, I'd like to apologize for being a little rude at the end of my last argument. I wrote it in the heat of the moment. 

Con cited some excellent examples of people who might be considered vigilantes, namely Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela. The first thing I'd like to point out is that neither were fighting normal criminals. In fact, both were fighting the government in one way or another. I get the slightest feeling that Con is trying to undermine authority by showing extreme examples of corruption and unfair laws. He does have a point though.

Too often, our governments and societies become corrupt or prejudiced in some way like it did in Con's example. The U.S. government is corrupt, not quite openly, but it's there for anyone to see if they look, and is likely more corrupt than we realize.

Con also showed how humans have become superior to other species (according to Darwinian theory) by socializing.

I'll get back to that though.

Con states that in defending democratically appointed government, law enforcement, etc., I endorse the suppression/lack of representation of the minority. Democracy is a method to please as many people as possible, but the wishes of the minority are ignored by necessity to accomplish this. My problem with Con's claim is that a self-appointed vigilante hero could very easily go against the desires of the majority. Democracy is a method to please as many people as possible, but the wishes of the minority are ignored by necessity to accomplish this. Obviously, this isn't the case with Batman or Spiderman, but men are just as corruptible as governments and police forces. He is also for some reason demanding that the government must be equal and fair to everyone.

just as your powerful group could potentially tame the vigilante(s), the vigilante(s) and their fans and associates could outdo the powers that be.
Democracy allows for this, in the right setup. In America, we basically just have Democrats and Republicans, but in some governments, like the Weimar Republic, anyone can form their own party and gain support and power by upholding the wants of their followers, and in return, gain their votes.
That reminds me, I would like to mention that Hitler could be deemed just as much a hero as Malcolm X or Mandela for some of his actions, and in fact, he was, for a while. 
The Weimar Republic was not serving the needs of the people as they created massive inflation to pay off WWI reparations.
Hitler did serve the wants of the people. They were resentful over the conditions after WWI ended. They were frustrated about the impotence and squabbling of their government. The National Socialist Party represented this perfectly. They gained the majority of the Republic, and soon after, Adolf Hitler led a new Germany. He pulled it out of economic squalor. "In November 1923, the inflation reached a peak: one [U.S.] dollar was worth 4,200 billion German marks." [1]

Morality is relative, Con says, but lauds Mandela and Malcolm as heroes. I call this inconsistent. If morality is not absolute to some extent, then there are no "heroes." You can't even do good things if there isn't a universal standard of what is "good." Mandela's actions are exactly as justified as Hitler's, according to Con, because neither are justified by anything except their own sense of morality. 
In fact, this is the biggest hole in your entire argument. 

Con says in R2 that I have made "no actual rebuttal."

I disagree, but more importantly, I call hypocrisy because Con has not even addressed the second of my two (only two) claims from R1.

1. Lack of supervision.
2. Lack of training

The 1st one he touched on when he said that people like Alfred hold vigilantes in check, but statistically, this only requires two people to become corrupt rather than one, or just one to go so far as to stop his "checker." And if you think Alfred can do much in the way of physically stopping Batman from doing anything except by some sort of emotional appeal, then you're sadly mistaken.
Our government has a thing called checks and balances to help prevent this, along with the public eye on them. If vigilantes employed this system, they'd be less likely to become corrupt than a government, but of course, they would also no longer be vigilantes.
The second one he's ignored.
The fact of the matter is that Spiderman is a teenager with no training, no matter how many supernatural abilities he may have.
Pro
Forfeited
Round 4
Con
I extend all arguments, especially the last since you've ignored it from the beginning.
You forfeited in our other debate as well. Are we going to make this a habit? Don't get me wrong, I don't mind easy wins, but I'm here to debate and have fun. Can't do that without some reciprocation here.

Pro
Take the win or the loss, depends on the mood of the voters when they wave their fingers over their keyboards.