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@The Arts Unit Art Bites – High school debate club – 05. With Tony Davey

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TONY DAVEY: OK. Hey there, debaters. Today, we're going to follow on from talking about those kinds of topics where you're taking away someone's right to do something, like banning it or limiting it in some way, and talk about a specific kind of argument that often comes up in those debates, which is called a black market argument.

A black market, in real life, is an illegal place where you can go to buy things that are banned and that you shouldn't be allowed to buy. But in debating, it means something a bit broader. It's an argument that says, when you stop people doing this thing, however you're planning to do it, they're going to keep doing it. But they're going to do it in even scarier and more dangerous ways. So, the plan is a terrible idea.

So, let's get into that. Oh, one last thing before we do. Today, we're going to assume the affirmative wants to ban whatever the activity is and the negative want to not ban it. They think the ban will backfire. So, when I say the affirmative today, I mean the side that wants to ban things.

And when I say the negative, I mean the side that thinks the ban will backfire. Obviously, if a topic said something different, like that we should legalise drugs or legalise euthanasia, then those roles would be reversed. But yeah, let's dive into it. The kinds of arguments that you might come up with when you're arguing about a banning debate, or an age limiting debate perhaps, or even something broader. So even when you think about that topic that is we should not allow people under 18 to use things like Facebook and Twitter, there's an argument to be made there about how that plan might backfire when young people circumvent the rule.

OK. So, let's begin with what negatives are going to say in this debate. So, there are three basic things the negative have to prove if they're going to make a good black market argument. The first thing is they have to prove that people really like the thing, love the thing even. So, they can't just be sort of invested in it. They love it. They're invested in it. They really, really enjoy it.

The second thing they have to prove is that those people will be now still able in some way to access the activity or the substance that you're trying to take away from them. So, the second thing, that they'll find a way to access it. And you need to be able to talk about what that way will be. The last step is to prove that that new way is far more dangerous, so that they'll be in much more danger. The thing will actually be worse overall because they're doing it in this new, illegal way.

All right. Let's start with this first question of proving that people actually really like the thing. There are like three basic things that you want to talk about here. The first are cultural reasons why people might like a thing. So, there are lots of cultural reasons why people might really enjoy something and want to keep it in their lives. They can be quite personal, like the way you grew up with your family enjoying a certain activity, like maybe going to a boxing match that might be banned, or enjoying drinking if you grew up with a family and, when you turned 18, you started out maybe a glass of wine with them. There are lots of personal, cultural reasons people might feel really invested in a thing.

There are also broader cultural reasons. So, you might talk about how Australia has a culture of gambling on sports, and that people feel Australian or feel part of something much larger when they gamble, and, of course, drinking as well. So, if you're going to make that cultural argument on a broader level, that sometimes works. For instance, if you're taking away martial arts and banning them because you think they're too dangerous, there are lots of people who would say that that's part of their culture, whether they be Japanese, or Thai, or Chinese, or lots of different cultures have their own specific martial art that is part of their identity.

Just a quick warning about making these cultural arguments, it is OK to say Australia has a culture of drinking. It's not OK to say this ethnicity really, really loves drinking. That argument won't work because it's stereotypical and people will just point out that you're being mean to that ethnicity.

So, thing number one is that cultural reason. The next thing you might want to talk about are social reasons why people really, really love the thing. Maybe they associate the thing with hanging out with their friends. For instance, if you're banning gambling, maybe those people on those pokie machines look a little bit lonely. But in fact, this is their socialising for the week. And they're really, really going to miss it.

Maybe they enjoy the status that comes with it. So, they feel their social status is improved because they can show that they can afford to lose money gambling, or offer you the very best wine and the very best alcohol. So, there are social reasons that mostly boil down to people enjoy doing the thing with their friends. They're not just going to suddenly not want friends anymore. That association is going to persist.

The last thing that kids often forget to do is to point out that the thing is often just really, really fun and great and that because people like it so much, it's really, really unlikely that they're just going to stop. So, if it's something like alcohol, sometimes that alcohol is really delicious. If it's something like boxing or gambling, that thing can be really thrilling. And you need to be able to talk about those things unashamedly, even though you're under 18, so that you can make that point. People do love the thing. They are going to stick to it, maybe because of cultural reasons, or social reasons, or just because the thing itself is thrilling, or fun, or tasty, or something they've come to really enjoy.

OK. Once you've proven that people are going to keep wanting the thing, the next step is to prove that they'll be able to access that thing. And there are a couple of different things that you could try here. Your main job is just to imagine what people in that situation would do and believably explain how they're going to find illegal ways to keep doing the thing that you're trying to ban, right?

But some things to try might be this, first of all, you're probably banning the thing in Australia. So, it's possible people will travel overseas to access the thing, right? So if, for instance, you were banning cosmetic surgery, that cosmetic surgery will still be available in other countries. A lot of people will travel overseas for all kinds of reasons to do things that aren't legal here, right? So, you can talk about the fact they could travel overseas.

The next obvious thing to talk about is accessing the thing online. If it's a thing that can be easily done online, then people will be able to circumvent the ban by just going online and doing it in another country without leaving their own home. That argument works really well for something like gambling. But you might find other ways to make arguments about how the internet will make it really easy for people to keep accessing this stuff, even though it's banned.

So, the next thing that you might talk about is the idea that they might come up with substitutes that are really, really dangerous. So, maybe they can access the thing anymore. But they might replace it with something else. And that something else is likely to be worse. If we take away alcohol, maybe they'll replace it with methylated spirits, or some kind of petrol, something that kind of gives them a high but is far, far more dangerous obviously. Or maybe they'll try to brew it themselves.

And finally the thing to talk about is criminality. So, maybe there literally will be a way to do this in a criminal way somewhere nearby. So, an underground fighting match, or you can point to situations where things have continued to be available even though they're illegal. So, you could point back, I suppose, to like American prohibition when they banned alcohol for a little while. But it's probably better to point to things like what appears to be the availability of illicit drugs in Australia. And if you look at the different surveys, there's lots of proof that people can still access drugs, even though those things are banned.

So, those are the four things you want to talk about there, that they might go overseas, or that they might go online, or that they might find a worse substitute, or just that they might find some criminal pathway to the thing or activity your banning. The last thing that I would say there, and this goes in between the people really love it and people will continue to access it questions, is that, if you ban something, there's a good chance the people who enjoyed it will feel aggrieved.

They're probably going to say to themselves, I mean, I get that other people were misusing this thing. But I was really safe and sensible. So, they're going to be really, really driven to find that thing. And that means they're really, really likely to find a way to access it because they're going to say to themselves, this is unfair. Just because some other guy couldn't hold his liquor or was smoking 30 cigarettes a day, suddenly I'm not allowed to do this thing. It's unfair. I'm going to do this thing. I'm going to find a way to do it, gosh darn it.

Cool. So, we've talked about making arguments that people really like the thing. We've talked about different ways to say they'll still be able to access it. The last thing you need to be able to say is that that way is now much, much more dangerous. So, there are a few different things you might try here.

First of all, being a criminal is dangerous. What you used to do by going down to a bar, or going to a nightclub, or going to a boxing ring, you're now doing by going somewhere that's a little bit scarier. There are probably people with guns there. There are criminals who aren't just criminals because they're selling you black market cigarettes, but they're probably quite dangerous drug dealers as well. So, there are lots of ways to say that you're now just going to be associating with a lot more criminals. And that's just necessarily going to be more dangerous and more violent.

If you're saying that things are going to move online, you can say that there are lots and lots of risks to moving online, right? Credit card theft, being stalked, having your computer enslaved and all of your money stolen, there are lots of online risks that might be far more dangerous. Also, when you do things online, it's often true that you're doing them in an alone way when no one in your family or life can see you doing it. So, there's no one there to say, hey buddy, slow down on that. That doesn't look great. So, that's another reason why it might be more dangerous to do a thing online.

The next thing you want to talk about is that quality control argument. When things are legal, there are laws, and processes, and substances need to be checked. Alcohol has to say how much alcohol is in it. But if someone's making that stuff in a bathtub or a criminal facility, there are no such checks. No one's going around testing the quality of the things. So, it's really likely they might be laced with something or really, really bad for you.

For instance, just during the COVID-19 crisis, we saw a couple in South Africa try to brew their own alcohol because purchasing alcohol was banned. And that ended up, I think, killing both of those people. So, there are really dangerous things can go wrong with quality control.

Another thing you might talk about is that they might find themselves using this benign thing that you've now banned. But it might become a gateway to other kinds of things. Because they're now in this criminal world, they might not just go and buy cigarettes. They might now see that the person selling cigarettes also has some more dangerous drugs that they might like to try. And they're like, well, I'm breaking the law anyway. Maybe I should give it a shot.

I suppose the last thing you want to say about how things might become more dangerous is that when people do illegal things, they're far less likely to turn for help when things go wrong. So, if they are drinking when drinking is illegal and they maybe drink too much, or they're sick, or there's something in that alcohol they weren't expecting and they have a bad reaction, they might not go to the hospital. They might say to themselves, oh, I'm going to go to gaol if I try to fix this. So, they're really likely to suffer on their own. And that means they're much more likely to get really, really sick or possibly die.

If they're involved in buying something and they get tied up with criminals and they suddenly want out, they might not be able to. They might say, look, if I go to the police, I'm the one who's going to end up going to gaol. So, when you're doing something illegal and it goes wrong, you're really unlikely to seek help. And that means things get much, much worse.

So, that's the kind of stuff your negative might say. They'll say, here are some reasons people really love doing this thing. They'll say, here are some believable ways that people will find to access this thing, even though you're trying to ban it. And finally, they'll say, the ways they're going to access it are now much more dangerous and much scarier. So, you're actually hurting the people you're trying to help.

Cool. Those are the basic elements of what a negative is going to say if you try to ban something. Now, if you're the affirmative, you need to be able to push back on all of that stuff. So, let's have some ideas about why affirmatives, about why affirmative bans should work. We're going to work through maybe six things that affirmatives might try to prove that their ban is actually going to be successful.

So, let's start by talking about some of those people themselves. The first thing they might want to say about those people is that, just generally speaking, people don't want to be criminals. So, when the government passes a law and bans something, they generally want to be law abiding citizens and not go and do that thing.

There might be reasons they specifically want to avoid getting in trouble with the law. For instance, all the lawyers who enjoy drinking, say, a bottle of wine or a nice whiskey, they can't afford to get in trouble with the law because they'd have their licences taken away to practise law. And more broadly, anyone with a job will be worried about losing that job if they get in trouble with the police. So, people just generally like following laws. And there's a good chance that, once we bring in this law, they'll say to themselves, OK, well, that sucks. I really enjoyed that thing. But I'm not a criminal. So, obviously, I won't do it.

The next thing that the affirmative can say is that, generally speaking, people kind of suck at being criminals. This goes to what the negative was saying about how they might still be able to access the thing. Say you ban boxing. They might really, really want to see boxing. But they're a law abiding citizen. They don't know where the underground fights are.

Most people have heard of the phrase the dark web. But that's about everything they know about the dark web. I personally have no idea how to go online on the dark web and buy stuff I shouldn't be allowed to buy. So, it's actually quite difficult to become a criminal and access these things a lot of the time, right?

The next thing that the affirmative might say is that, now that this thing is banned, a lot of what was fun about it has become scary. So, all of your material about how important this was to their culture, or their social life, or how delicious things taste, they'll say, look, now that it's banned, all of that stuff goes away. None of your mates are there anymore on a fun Friday night. It's just and some guy with a gun. And that's much scarier, right?

Going to a fight used to be enjoyable with your parents. But now, you're on your own. And again, there's armed people there. And there's a lot more blood. That's not great news. So, this thing will now be more scary than it was fun. And that means you're probably going to give it up

Remember, that really lovely bottle of wine isn't going to be replaced by some kind of black market bottle of wine. It's going to be replaced by something that tastes much less good because it came from somebody's bathtub. So, the thing just became much less fun and much more scary. That's another reason people might accept the ban and just move on with it.

The next thing you might talk about is the fact that, even if your band doesn't work for the people who really love the thing, that you're at least cutting off new people accessing it and saying, oh, I'm really into this, give me more. So, while it might be true that people who are addicted or people who really desperately love gambling, or desperately love alcohol or drugs and are aggrieved that you've taken them away, sure, they might exist.

But there'll be a bunch of people who never had that feeling because the thing was never legal in the first place. So, you can say, even if a lot of people are going to persist, lots and lots of people are going to really just never access this thing because they've never seen it or thought of it as an option. So, it will work in that sense.

Another thing that the affirmative should say is that policing actually does work really, really well. A lot of affirmatives forget to say, actually, police do a great job of enforcing most laws. The truth is, if you look at any law that you bring in, it might seem really, really hard to police.

Often, they're laws about things you do in your own home. And you ask yourself, well, how will we police that? The truth is the police do a great job. We already block lots of websites. And I'm sure you can think of the kinds of websites that you can't just access. So, policing actually does work. And the affirmatives should talk about the way that it will work.

And I think the last thing that the affirmative can say is that banning the thing sends a social message that the feeling is not OK, right? So, when the government steps up and says, this thing is so bad I'm banning it, that sends a really strong message to everybody who's thinking about using it. Even if they keep using it, at least now they've had this message from the government that says, hey, it is really scary, this stuff. You need to be careful about it.

That's very different from the situation now, where the government kind of says drinking is really, really bad for you. So, only do a little bit of it. You can still do it. It's fine. A lot of people take that as a wink from the government, that they're saying those other people are no good. But of course, you're all going to be OK to drink as much as you want.

It's kind of the same with smoking. They're like, look, this stuff is terrible. Look at all the awful pictures we have. You definitely shouldn't do it. But for some strange reason, it's still legal. So, wink, wink, enjoy your cigarettes. At least you're taking away that confusion in people's mind by sending a really strong message. This thing is not OK. And your government is going to try to stop you.

OK. So, those are the kinds of things you want to talk through when you're having a fight about whether the plan will work or whether people will try to circumvent it and access the thing in some black market kind of way. So remember, affirmatives who think that the ban is going to work should be talking about how people generally don't want to be criminals, people generally suck at being criminals, so they won't actually be able to access the thing, that, generally speaking, people won't like these things anymore because they're scary instead of fun, and also that policing really does work better than you think it does, that you're cutting off lots of people from getting involved in the first place, and finally that the government is sending a strong message to not do the thing anymore.

And just quickly remember what the negatives think about all of this stuff. They don't buy it. They still think people super love it for cultural, social, or delicious reasons. They still think people will be able to access it maybe overseas, or online, or maybe through becoming criminal. And they think that that is going to be far more dangerous because those people will find dangerous substitutes. Or they'll be doing it with hardened criminals now. Or they just won't go for help when things go wrong.

So, those are the kinds of things you might like to try when you're in one of those debates. Remember, not every one of those tiny little steps will work in every single debate. You've got to choose the arguments that work best for the topic that you're in. OK. I hope that was helpful, guys. See you later.

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