The Society entered the world of literature by discussing the issue of Resolved: Javert’s pursuit of Valjean in Les Miserables was justified. Mr. Snow began the debate by defining Valjean as a violent criminal who Javert was pursuing for justice. His argument contained three points: Javert’s duty, just law, and Valjean as an exception. Javert’s duty was to uphold the law, and he does by pursuing Valjean. The law is unfeeling and unwavering and needs to be that way. Valjean knew that the pursuit was justified and although Valjean was a hero, his actions cannot be made universal, so he must be pursued. Ultimately, men are not angels, and there is a need for both Javert and Valjean. Mr. Askonas responded that Valjean is a hero and job creator (jokingly). He accused Javert of a twenty year obsession over Valjean and that he was not merely doing his duties. He asked whether or not it is right to violate the law and uses Javert to show that it is right. He argued that the true debate is between Javert, representing the law, and the bishop, representing the human spirit. Mr. Askonas supported the bishop because of the possibility of redemption and mercy. In the midst of his speech, Mr. Askonas, Mr. Wooten, Mr. Petallides, and Mr. Dulik sang a lovely song for the Society. Mr. Askonas concluded his keynote with a beautiful duet with Mr. Snow on the second attempt as Mr. Askonas initially forgot his lines.
Mr. Kendrick opened the floor speeches with the belief that second chances need to be earned and Valjean hasn’t earned one. Mr. Taft replied that he has by making a positive impact on the community. Mr. Soper (2012) returned to the Society to use the Stanford Prison Experiment to show how Javert is the most tragic character. Ms. Wynter distinguished lawful and justifiable as justice goes to the good and Javert is not working for the good. Mr. Petallides sang wondrously and told of how Javert is simply investigating an escaped criminal. Mr. Spagnuolo pointed out the Javert’s pursuit actually weakened the legal system. Ms. Melendez stated that we don’t know Javert and that the only thing he stands on is the law. Mr. Monod argued that because Javert’s government is corrupt, his pursuit is not justified. Mr. Wilson stated that Javert ultimately stands for order. Mr. Donovan argued that the law is seeing the humanity of each person and that is Valjean’s law, and he also sang. Agree Ahmed (SFS ’15) showed how Javert was trying to arrest a man who belonged in prison. Anna Hernick (SFS ’16) rejected the Hobbsian state of nature and said that Valjean is pursuing the greater good. Josh Weiner (COL ’15), despite always supporting Valjean, believed that Javert is simply working for responsibility. Olivia Huppman (COL ’15) argued that although Javert has pure motives, he loses sight off justice and replaces it with success. Dimitra Rallis (COL ’15) stated that Javert is doing his duty. Michael Whelan (COL ’16) accused Javert of being a zealot for following the law to exactness. Mr. Wooten brought in the point of the religiosity of Valjean and Javert and showed how Javert never lost his sight of duty. Ms. Dailey sang about Javert and argued that Javert’s pursuit was one of personal pride. Mr. Berryman called the justice of the affirmation as procedural and working for security and the negation of distributive. Ms. Murphy called the process of law as one of nailing jello to a wall. Mr. Edgar argued that Javert was fighting chaos. I, Mr. DiMisa, argued that the debate is one of practicality and that Javert wasted much of his potential chasing Valjean. President Marsh said the law is the law is the law and that he cannot negate the law. Mr. Dulik replied that humanity is sometimes wrong with the law and that Javert is violating the human spirit. Ms. Coccia argued that we must defend someone if they are doing good like Javert. Vice President Arber believed that justice is about redemption and teaching a man to fish and that Valjean was redeemed. Ms. Christensen used the example of her mother being pulled over for a traffic violation to show that there is a low burden for justified. Mr. RisCassi used the utilitarian perspective to show how the long pursuit was lost use. Ms. Muldavin defined justice as rendering what is due and showed that Javert doesn’t see the good of Valjean to argue that Javert fulfilled his duty.
Mr. Askonas made three points for his concluding keynote. First, he distinguished The Law and laws to show Javert broke the spirit of the law. Second, while singing about Javert’s idea of the Lord, showed the theological difference between Javert and Valjean. Lastly, he argued that Valjean embodied the spirit of the law and that Javert blindly follows procedure. Mr. Snow responded that the rule of law has bearing as such. Next, he pointed out that Valjean shot a police officer, and then repeated himself to make sure that people knew that. He argued that Javert works for justice and that there are proper ways to resist the law citing Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela. He concluded the debate with a beautiful rendition of the song stars.
The Society voted 30-18 to affirm.