debate and advocacy

Sarah E. Chan sarah.chan
Tue Jan 11 14:14:35 CST 2000


This isn't a direct response to Terry's arguments, but it seems to me
that there is another option, the permutation of those that he
articulates.  It seems that the aff could argue that their advocacy is
what resulted in the counterplan, thus providing solvency for the
criticism of the status quo.  Also, even if fiat doesn't exist, that
doesn't make it inconsistent for the affirmative to argue that the usfg
should stop its sanctions policy towards Iraq.  The reading of the 1AC
could be considered a political action by the affirmative.

As for the classism arguments, debate has many classist components to it.
 There are many teams where debaters are working so they can afford to go
to school, where debaters don't have scholarships, etc.  Programs with
more resources have an advantage.  Even though Laura may have more
resources, UChicago's debate program doesn't.  I overheard Laura talking
to another coach about how she is funding their program right now since
UChicago's money has run out.  Because of that, they are also able to
expose several novice teams to the activity which is commendable.  While
it is important to question the inequity of resources amongst debaters,
it seems that the criticism should also extend to inequities amongst
programs.

Sarah
SJSU debate
"Go sell crazy someplace else.  We're all stocked up here."
       -Melvin Udall in "As Good as it Gets"

On Mon, 10 Jan 2000 11:10:26 -0700 Terry West <West at SUU.EDU> writes:
>I hate to engage a discussion to which I'm not going to be able to
>remain a part for a little while (we leave for the Weber RR later
>today, then have GSL on Thursday), but I didn't want to let the thread
>die without a couple of comments:
>
>1)  I have absolutely no complaint with the personal positions that
>Natalie, Laura, et. al., are taking; they should feel free to say
>whatever they want during debates (within CEDA ethics/discrimination
>guidelines), and contribute to any or all agencies as they wish.  I
>find it refreshing that in this supposedly Generation X age, we have
>people who are determined to be more than slackers.  I think we also
>have  a lot of people who choose other forms of activity who are also
>not slackers.
>
>2)  What we have here is a contrast between two points of view.  I
>have noticed this contrast becoming more and more evident over the
>past 10 years.  At its polar extremes, it can be expressed thus:
>
>POV #1:  Debate is an educational classroom exercise in which students
>research, structure, and orally argue positions regardless of their
>personal agreement/disagreement for the purpose of learning how to do
>these things well in non-academic settings.
>
>POV #2:  Intercollegiate debate is "real" advocacy; students should
>only argue positions they personally believe and advocate, and debate
>should serve as a forum for students to rally support to their cause.
>
>Both points of view are well-intentioned, and both have some merit.
>The tension between the two viewpoints exists because debate is a
>competitive activity.  When a team with POV 1 engages a team with POV
>2 in a decision debate, there are likely to be some negative
>consequences, including hurt feelings, angst among judges who must
>decide, etc.
>
>3)  I tend to lean toward POV #1 above for the following reasons:
>
>--It is often impossible to base a rational decision when POV 2
>prevails.  Am I supposed to vote for which team is more active
>morally?  Should I adopt a tabula rasa view toward this?  If the team
>arguing for donations to the KKK does a better job of debating (ok,
>granted that's impossible, but you get my drift), does this mean I
>vote for them?  Or do I intervene?  If debaters are compelled to
>advocate only those things they personally believe, am I not compelled
>to vote only for those things I personally believe?  If we have a
>topic someday on something like sex education, am I going to have to
>start judging rounds based on debaters' comparative argumentation
>about their sexuality?  Ok, no jokes about "thanks for the visual."
>
>--I am troubled by the resource aspect of the problem.  If team A
>cannot afford to give $5000 to an organization, should they lose?  If
>team B is trying to get a diploma and can't afford to spend two years
>on the Rainbow Warrior, should they lose?  Should teams with the time
>and money win?
>
>--I don't see an ethical dilemma in our activity (with certain
>exceptions I'll detail below).  Yes, we debate starvation among
>Iraquis without actually "doing" anything about it.  How is this
>different from taking a political science course in which we discuss,
>read about, and are tested over other political issues without the
>class taking up donations for Iraqui relief?  How is it different from
>a communications course in which we discover the evils of sexist
>language, but don't all decide to become comm professors and teach
>people how to do it right?  The deal is this:  debate is an "academic"
>activity.  Dictionaries, in fact, define "academic" as separate from
>reality.
>
>Exceptions:  Clearly, CEDA has rules against discriminatory practices.
> These could include language use if deliberately intended to create a
>hostile environment based on sex, gender, race, sexual orientation,
>etc.  And I think that teams that take positions like "genocide good"
>(does anyone really do that?) suffer the consequences of presumption
>against their arguments if the judge is smarter than a lump of mud.  I
>think the activity can, and should, police itself in these ways
>against obviously abusive positions.  But I have some trouble with the
>idea that my vote should be based on whose morals I personally buy.
>Again, this shouldn't be interpreted as any kind of slam or criticism
>against anyone; just some concerns that I have.
>
>Terry West
>SUU

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