The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

The one who passes the sentence should swing the sword

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 5/8/2015 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,706 times Debate No: 74967
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




Resolution: The one who passes the sentence should swing the sword.

Members familiar with the Game of Thrones TV series or the associated book series (A Song of Ice and Fire) will recognize the following quote from the character Eddard Stark "The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die."

This debate is about the relevance of this quote in the modern world.

General Rules:
1) BOP is shared.
2) If the resolution is unclear, use the comments section to clarify it before you accept. The debate is a clash of ideas, not a back and forth on semantics.
3) Legitimate semantic disputes should be resolved in the body of the debate for the judges to weigh.
4) Any citations must be provided in the text of the debate.
5) Violation of R1 terms constitutes a loss.

Debate Specific Rules:
1) The resolution is to be interpreted metaphorically, not literally. In the modern world, the DP isn't normally carried out by swinging a sword but whatever method is used, the metaphorical meaning is apparent. No trolling or trivial semantics.
2) Practicality is not a consideration. If the sentencer is not able to lift a sword for instance, then, the sentencer cannot carry it out but that's outside the scope of the resolution.
3) The carrier of the sentence must take no pleasure in its administration. The risk of pleasure is outside the scope of the resolution.
4) In the modern world, the sentencer would often be judges, a jury, or in rarer cases, heads of state. If a jury determines that a person should be sentenced to death, one of them (the ones who voted for the DP) must randomly be selected to flip the switch (or however else the country imposes the DP).

Time/Character limits:
1) 6000 characters per round.
2) 48 hours per round.
3) First Round is Acceptance Only. I will make the first argument in R2.
4) No new arguments in the final round.


I cannot fathom a way that I could devil's advocate Pro on this outrageous resolution.
Debate Round No. 1


C1: Sensitizes people to killing

When executioners kill people, the ones who made the decision to kill are distanced from the actual killing. This makes it more likely that they will convict than if they knew that they would personally have to perform the execution. Having a judge or jury member giving a lethal injection, kicking a stool from under someone being hanged, or pulling the trigger in a firing squad is a ton more difficult if they have to look the convict in the eye, hear their last words, and then execute them personally. Death is gruesome, and the judge and jury should experience the unplesantness of their decision. Separating the decision makers from the executioner allows each to push the responsibility on the other. The decision makers don't experience death first-hand and the executioner simply follows orders and assumes no responsibility for the death.

Executioners who have experienced the horrors of death would go out of their way to prevent it. Jerry Givens, who worked as an executioner for 25 years in Virginia writes "Even when I was on the job, I was always asking, what can I do to prevent these guys before they get there? I used to bring kids down from schools. I would allow the kids to sit in the chair and explain that I want to see kids get an education and remove themselves from violence or you'll end up here. I know it helped. I used to get letters. They would write back saying thank you for steering them in the right direction" [1]. Being out on the field, and actually performing executions educates people to the grueseomeness of the death penalty and makes the judge and jury less likely to convict. The impact here is an increased chance to abolish the death penalty. Abolishing the death penalty saves innocent lives from wrongful convictions and inhumane executions and exposing the decision-makers to the inhumane-ness of the DP contributes to better education about its realities.


This contention is the core of my offence. If I also need to defend why the DP should be abolished, I will expand in my next round. But first, I'll wait to see the direction my opponent takes and whether he intends to turn this into a debate on the death penalty, and respond from there.


I would like to begin this debate by explaining a fundamental misunderstanding by Pro on how desensitization works.

The first thing to note is that desensitization was actually a very good thing and the concept of it originated in psychology as a cure to phobias.[1][2] Desensitization therapy works by gradually exposing the individual more and more to what they fear or feel disgust towards and over time they begin to lose the effect it has on them. This is a good thing for martial artists such as Kyokushin Karate (also known as Kyokushin kumite) who beat brick walls, but begin with punching into a bucket of rice as the knuckles are not ready for something like brick at first, just to become less prone to feeling pain.[3] On the other hand, it has been seen that the more people are shown things they should have phobias or disgust towards, such as murder and rape, the less bad it begins to seem. This has been seen both with hard porn addicts[4] and fighting game addicts.[5] This is also why the more you take a drug, the more you need of it to get the same rush, dubbed 'drug tolerance'.[6]

Now, if one takes the reality of desensitization and observes Pro's argument they find a flaw in the logic. Pro argues that the separation between the judge and the execution itself cause the judge to be desensitized to it but, if anything, this is the best way of preventing that occurring. By forcing the judge to be the one to carry out the executions you will slowly desensitize them to murder itself (something a judge must abhor) and to the concept of execution overall being that severe as a punishment. Therefore, desensitization cannot possibly occur if the person is barely being exposed to the thing. Judges know exactly what killing is and are all fully verse din laws regarding the criminality of murder and the sanctity of human life. If they weren't,they wouldn't be a judge in any nation that isn't corrupt to the core. The issue isn't that the judge doesn't know about killing and how severe execution is but rather that they know how severe it is and only sentence it as and when is necessary.

What would actually happen if judges and executioners became a merged job description is a helluva lot less employed people in either line of work and a resultant deficit of both judges and executioners. The potential judges who were not ready to consent to killing for either moral or plain emotional reasons would opt out of that line of work and potential executioners, which are currently simply a branch of prison wardens that works prisons exclusive to prisoners on death row, would have to get all of the qualifications and expertise that a judge has to have. This is not just bad for the economy (with less employment) but a terrifying disaster for the judicial system in more ways than one...

First of all, the psychological mindset of a judge should be one able to fully grasp the emotional gravity of any situation and action while being highly intellectual and rational enough to follow a case to its conclusion. No-one wants a psychopath deciding whether someone is guilty or not and while judges are not the ones to truly decide it in cases with a jury they are still the ones to decide when someone has said enough or has the right to speak as well as the length of the case before they demand the jury to give a verdict; all having major influence son both the jury's opinion and the case's outcome. Judges tend to be the polar opposite to the mindset required for a good executioner. A good executioner would be someone simple minded, far too dull minded to follow a high-level cases and perhaps even a psychopath (oh, the irony). I am aware that psychopaths make the most notorious criminals but they also make the best executioners. An empathetic person may do one of two things; they may either be too gentle to criminals and help them escape on a whim or they may take all their anger and agony out on each criminal they kill and avoid making the sponge wet enough on an execution or use a painful chemical for someone's death as opposed to the real one. Examples of the latter are seen in The Green Mile[7] (albeit a fictional movie but still a realistic psychological analysis of prisoners on death row and their executioners). A psychopath-leaning individual would neither be too kind or too harsh to the victims. They'd feel nothing towards the criminal on death row and would carry out the procedure correctly each and every time as it's a passionate hobby to them that they couldn't legally get in any other way than perhaps joining the military or Navy SEALs.

The final point to consider is that if we merge the job of executioner and judge into one, the majority people who would opt into such a profession would more likely be people who studied law just for the sake of having a legal way to kill people rather than passionate judges who accept executing as a bad part of the job. The reasoning behind this is simple; people don't want to hate the job they're going to do for the rest of their life, especially not one as tough to become as a judge. The reason people feel so proud of being a judge is it's such a prestigious and respected job to have in society; that's why people painstakingly put their blood, sweat and tears into both affording as well as successfully attaining a master's degree in Law. If this occurred, you'd have many psychopathic judges hell bent on their bloodlust convicting people to death penalty over and over. That's why the current system works; the type of people who love to kill can do executing while those who have a genuine passion for law do the judging.

Debate Round No. 2


My opponent makes a relevant argument about desensitization but the rest of his arguments are non-topical distractions. I'll go over why they are off-topic first, and then I'll address the desensitization argument.

== Off-topic arguments ==

From the "debate specific rules" in round 1:

#2) Practicality is not a consideration.
#3) The carrier of the sentence must take no pleasure in its administration. The risk of pleasure is outside the scope of the resolution.

We are all aware that having judges execute prisoners is impractical. This debate is about the moral implications of such a policy, not the practicality of it. Con talks about less employment and deficit of judges and executioners. But these are all practical considerations.

Con stumbles upon the second rule violation above as well. He flat-out claims that executioners should be simple-minded psychopaths pursuing a "passionate hobby" of killing. Con claims that an empathetic person would be either a) too gentle and help the prisoner escape, or b) too harsh. Part (a) is the point of the resolution. As Stark says "If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die." I merely want to transfer the power of execution to the decision-maker so that IF that person feels that the execution is unwarranted, they would think twice before sentencing that person to death. Part (b) is off-topic. I've noted that a person taking pleasure in killing is outside the resolution's scope.

The final point that Con makes about people studying law just so they can kill people is also clearly outside the scope of the resolution. Con provides no reason why "passionate judges who accept executing as a bad part of the job" would be a rare commodity. Killing would only be a small, unpleasant part of the job.

== Con case: Have psychopaths perform executions ==

Even if you buy his argument, having paid psychopaths perform executions devalues us as a society. In this scenario, the condemned are used as tools to pleasure the executioner.

Con's claim that empathetic people will either set the prisoner free or torture them is unjustified. I gave an example in my round 2 of an executioner who was a fundamentally good person but never violated the law or freed his prisoners. A law-abiding citizen will follow the law regardless of their personal feelings. Con's claim that a psychopath would neither be too kind nor too harsh to the prisoner is categorically incorrect. Psychopaths by definition are characterized by uninhibited or bold behavior []. In fact, it is more likely that a psychopath would torture and mutilate the prisoner than a good, law-abiding, empathetic executioner simply doing their job.

== My case: Desensitization ==

Con misconstrues what I mean by desensitization. When judges or the jury do not have to deal with the gruesome aspect of an actual killing, it distances them from the killing and make it more likely that they will vote in favor of the killing. But faced with the prospect of actually having to perform the execution, they are exposed to the reality of their choices which makes it more likely that they would hesitate before making a decision in favor of killing. In Stark's words "people who hide behind paid executioners soon forget what death is."

Con's argument is not a true solution. He claims that the status quo where the judge and jury are shielded from the execution is good and compares them to drugs addicts. The flaw here is that the judge and jury are still making decisions on other people's lives. They are merely protected from the actual experience of killing.

Pro's analogy works like this: a fat person eats a lot of junk food. Let's say there are no mirrors in that person's house. My advocacy would be to install mirrors so the fat person can see how fat he is progressively becoming and work on getting fitter (or have periodic doctor's appointments where the doctor informs him about his obesity. Con's advocacy is not have mirrors because the more the fat person looks at himself in the mirror or meets his doctor, the less shocked he will be about his weight and thus put less effort into getting fit. That's not a real solution. That's shoving the problem under the rug. Each time he looks at himself, the reality of the situation hits him while Con's advocacy shields him from reality to continue eating his way to an early grave. The judge analogy works the same way. This isn't applicable to a jury because jury duty is a one-time service. However, my contention still applies because if the jury are expected to flip the switch, they will take that into account in their decision making.


There is a consistent lack of comprehension between Con and Pro in this debate. The misunderstanding lies in that Con and Pro have totally different views on what is important versus what is trivial.

Pro states that the judge takes no pleasure in the killings, this has nothing to imply that the judge has any discontent with it (which I will get to later). Furthermore, what is a 'judge' if it's also the executioner? The job description of a 'judge' is a totally separate job description of an 'executioner'. This means there'd have to be a new job title created just for this 'terminator judge'(and yes I'm aware practicality is being ignored here). The entire proposed case and way of dealing with what Pro seems to think is an issue with the justice system, however is in fact a good precaution that is in place, is nonsensical to say the least.

I shall begin focusing on some major blind spot in Pro's argument. Pro argues that judges don't take pleasure from the killing and would be definitely taught a lesson about what execution really is and be more reluctant to sentence the death penalty if they were to carry out the executions. He originally stated they'd be less 'desensitizes' but somewhat dropped that point and is now explaining that they'd simply be more up-front with the killing. The first and foremost blind spot with this is that if the judge really dies get revolted by the thought of execution and killing, then the judge will be less willing to sentence someone rightfully deserving of execution to execution. Bias to leniency makes just as faulty a judge one suffering from bias to harshness. If the judge is ambivalent to the killings and feels no remorse whatsoever to the killings then it wouldn't alter them anyway. In other words, since Pro points out that pleasure, in this debate, cannot be derived from the executing from the judge, he has forgotten that too much leniency is as far from 'sound judgement' as too much harshness. The secondary blind spot in Pro's argument is that he assumes one must go through something or partake in an activity before they are capable to judge it. Pro would have all X Factor judges sing their way to the live shows of the X Factor before they could be deemed worthy of such a challenge. In a more related example, Pro would have all judges experience, or carry out, rape murder, theft, fraud etc before being able to judge the moral implications of the actions that they judge worth or unworthy of punishment of varying severity for their entire career. This makes absolutely no sense and has no backing whatsoever to it other than Pro's constant assertion of some mysterious pseudo-desensitization which I already explain does not occur or exist.

Pro's rebuttal to my final point is the most Kamikaze rebuttal I have ever come across in a while. Pro states that if the job of judge and executioner were fused, the executing would be a small,almost negligible, aspect of the job barely having any impact on one's willingness to judge and capability at the overall job with the new aspects to the role they must fulfil. This means that Pro is laying down their entire case in support of the resolution and saying 'hey, the execution is barely relevant to the job or decision to send someone to death penalty, a judge will be pretty much the same skill-wise and temperament-wise if they execute or not'. Pro further asserts this by emphasizing that 'Con provides no reason why "passionate judges who accept executing as a bad part of the job" would be a rare commodity.' So is Pro saying that he'd be pretty sure in placing bets on the landslide majority of judges not being put off their job or the implications of it it executing was part of it? If so, then why argue for the resolution at all and if not why did Pro inadvertently admit to this?

Con rebuts my point about psychopathy making a good executioner and instead states something about the distancing against. The mirror example is insufficient as you are not forcing the judge to watch the executions, but to physically carry them out; this is morally different, Obesity harms oneself but executions affects others directly.

I don't know the jury point and didn't didn't understand how Pro worded it.
Debate Round No. 3



Con has been attempting to pass off his misunderstanding of my position as a misunderstanding on "both sides." This is disingenuous. The resolution asks that the man who passes the sentence should perform the execution. I've added additional rules in Round 1 (which Con has accepted) clearly delineating that the risk of "pleasure" for the executioner is outside the scope of the resolution. We're talking about a limited scenario where no one will take "pleasure" from killing but rather focus the debate on whether the one who passes the sentence should be forced to perform the unpleasant task of execution. Contrary to Con's assertions, I have not argued that judges will take no pleasure from executing people. I've explained in Round 1 that this is outside the scope of the resolution.

I've further clearly stated in Round 1 that this isn't a debate about the practicality of the situation. This is a debate essentially on morality. Should the responsibility of killing be placed on the shoulders of the decision-maker, the one who decides that killing ought to take place. We're not discussing job prospects in the legal field and whether more or less judges will apply for jobs. These are non-topical distractions. By accepting this debate without challenging its rules in the comments, Con automatically accepts Round 1 terms. This leads to nearly his entire argument (save the rebuttal to Desensitization) being rendered irrelevant.

C1) Desensitization

a) This is really the only impact in this debate. Con claims I dropped it when this is the only point I emphasized upon in Round 3. The status quo allows a certain distance between the judge and jury as well as the accused. The judge or jury need not go to the execution room and personally execute the prisoner. They make this decision with no consequences and thus don't appreciate the full reality of what they are doing. Con has also dropped my analogy with the fat person who will be more likely to get healthy if he is shown the reality of his situation. Whether someone is performing an action or watchig makes absolutely no difference to the thrust of my argument. I've also refuted Con's analogy that performing executions is like a drug. People don't get pleasure from executing (this is not contestable because it is in the rules), it is an unpleasant task that must be done as part of the job. Drugs stimulate the brain's pleasure receptors and thus people will want more drugs to get their fix.

b) Con claims that if I'm right, this will make judges hesitate in sending someone to execution if they rightfully deserve it. But no one "rightfully deserves" execution. Capital punishment ought to be abolished. I said this towards the end of Round 2. Con never denies this or argues against this. He implicitly accepts that the death penalty is bad. He can't now argue for the DP since it is the last round and I have no chance to respond. But extend my round 1 argument that abolishing the DP is good. It saves innocent lives from wrongful convictions and inhumane executions, and denies the state power over a human being's life. When weighing this debate, all voters *must* weigh it from a perspective that the DP ought to be abolished. If you support the DP, you need to temporarily suspend your belief in order to judge this debate. So leniency is good.

c) I never argued that judges must experience rape or murder before being able to judge the moral implications of it. This is a ridiculous assertion that Con pulled out of thin air. I've only argued that if a judge were to sentence a person to death, they should figuratively "swing the sword" themselves and experience the unpleasantness caused by their decision and not be able to pass this on to a paid executioner. And when they realize how gruesome and terrible death is, they will be educated to the reality of the decisions they are making and more carefully consider it before sentencing someone to death.

d) Con argues that people who don't want to execute criminals will be put off of pursuing a career as judges. But this is GOOD. My entire argument is that people shouldn't sentence others to death when they are unwilling to carry out the execution. The only people who will be deterred from becoming a judge in my world are people who intend to sentence convicts to death with the assumption that somebody else will do the dirty work for them. What Con claims will happen (judges will be put off from judging) is a wonderful thing and new judges who can take responsibility for their decisions will be judges. The only impact Con can get from this is the practicality which is non-topical anyways.

Weighing mechanism

- Weigh this debate from the perspective that capital punishment ought to be abolished. Con implicitly accepted this paradigm when he didn't rebut it in Round 2. He can't bring up new arguments in Round 4 because I can't respond. I'd have happily done a debate on the DP if Con pushed in that direction early on. Leniency from judges is good.

- Follow the rules outlined in Round 1. This means desensitization is the sole impact in this debate as the rest of Con's arguments are non-topical. In particular points (a) through (c) outline the main points.


8elB6U5THIqaSm5QhiNLVnRJA forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by HeraldSarah 6 years ago
I think it's a good idea in theory, but a terrible idea in practice. Religious and moral beliefs would not only be grounds for opting out of jury duty, but the jury would involve emotion in the case. The jury is supposed to view the case objectively, and not focus on the possibility of having to personally kill someone. Also, what about public perception? The law serves as a guideline to acceptable behavior. If common people can kill when they believe someone has done something to warrant it, then that will be reflected in behavior. Beyond this, you would have jury members voting to kill the person in the hope they would be chosen to do it. And what if people experienced PTSD or committed suicide because they killed another? When you look at the application of this idea, it stops making logical sense.
Posted by Kozu 6 years ago
Don't think that would work in most countries.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Kozu 6 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's case was a simple one. Having the judge pass the sentence and carry out the execution would result in more *genuine* sentences, in turn, preventing innocents from being wrongfully executed. Simple, but strong. Since we don't need to consider practicalities or the ability to actually implement this idea, Con wasted a lot of characters by creating red-herrings such as employment problems.. His only real contention was that judges may become desensitized to killing from continually executing people, causing less sincere executions, but he doesn't really give any evidence to show this would happen. Pro offers Jerry Givens as an example of someone who is an executioner but has *not* become desensitized by it, even working to try and deter future executions he may one day perform. Con ends up forfeiting in R4 also, leaving Pro's arguments standing

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