Kritiking Topicality and "debate hegemony"
Wed Feb 21 17:55:06 CST 2001
I find none of these points problematic. In fact, I agree with all of them.
T is not "inherently" more exclusionary; its just deployed that way. Affs
should be topical as well. I agree that the resolution serves a purpose. I
agree that the aff must show that the negative has ground and that that
ground is predictable. Fairness is an important value. Like I said in a
previous post, you have to wiegh it versus other factors.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Nathan Kirk Evans" <nkirkevans at mail.utexas.edu>
To: "a. ryan" <abryan at blue.weeg.uiowa.edu>; "Jason Regnier"
<jason at regnier.com>
Cc: <edebate at ndtceda.com>
Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2001 12:02 AM
Subject: Kritiking Topicality and "debate hegemony"
> I hate to join with Andy in some unholy alliance, but I thinks he is right
> on two things:
> 1. Topicality is not inherently more violent than any other argument that
> attempts to configure the forum in a particular way--whether it be
> kritikal, performative, or "conditionality bad."
> 2. Throwing around words like "ideology," "hegemony," and "violence" while
> making analogies to egregious historical injustices--only decreases your
> credibility. To reiterate a lesson from Topicality 101, THE AFF MUST HAVE
> COUNTER-INTERPRETATION. Affs who depart from "conventional" policy-making
> will never win consistently unless they can articulate two things:
> 1. What ground they give the neg.
> 2. How this ground is predictable.
> The second is harder than the first, since I don't think the resolution
> gave the negative the impression that they should be packing their
> "autobiography bad" evidence. Once the aff has established those two
> things, then proving how the negative's restriction of the resolution to a
> particular meaning is an instantiation of destructive politics will be
> icing on the cake. I have won and lost a great deal of rounds running
> "non-conventional" debate arguments, and I have rarely been able to win
> without being able to prove those two things. Complain all you want about
> "debate hegemony"--in reality, debate hegemony is defined less by a
> specific set of arguments than by a group of people who have the ability
> explain why their arguments should yield a ballot.
> -Kirk Evans
> Texas Debate
> At 01:36 AM 2/21/2001 -0600, a. ryan wrote:
> >> Well lets see... at its most basic level, topicality is an argument
> >> refuses to engage and instead goes to jurisdiction.
> >Sometimes the process is more important than the outcome. The rules are
> >central to the presentation of the arguments in a manner that best
> >forwards productive policymaking and individual development. It is not a
> >refusal to engage. To engage what the system should look like before
> >it will produce is not a refusal no more than a negative critique of
> >calculative thinking is a refusal to engage a plan.
> > I'll remind you of the
> >> history of discriminatory jurisprudence in the US. It used certain
> >> like "reasonableness" and "fairness" in order to procedurally damage
> >> (again, i dont compare these levels of damage).
> >Again, I think this is another shallow analogy that is entirely
> >What you should try to remind me of is how the history of discriminatory
> >jurisprudence in the US is at all relevant to the discussion we're
> >Using words like "reasonable" and "fair" does not mean you can critique
> >our topicality violations with Charles Beard's ECONOMIC INTERPRETATION OF
> >THE CONSTITUTION. Our motives in arguing topicality are not different
> >than your motives in not arguing topicality. Both of us desire to win.
> >It is quite unlike those who wrote US jurisprudence who had a large stake
> >of power to protect by refusing women and slaves the right to vote so
> >they could protect their own property.
> >> Topicality excludes a diverse population of participants-
> >> particularly the need for a plan. Many individuals occupy a cognitive
> >> that is not the calculative agony/joy of plan/bush/agent/etc debates.
> >> individuals are forced out of the activity.
> >This can be said for any style of debating. What if the style of debate
> >(not plan, performance/project based, etc.) which you are defending
> >people out of debates? There is no proof that individuals are forced out
> >of the activity because they had to run a plan. People are not arrested
> >or picked up and thrown on buses and taken to places where there are not
> >debates because they refused to read a plan.
> > And if they manage to stay in
> >> the activity, its only because a radical form of conformity.
> >You seem to deny this, as do many other debaters.
> > This
> >> homogenization chops off the difference in the community and
> >> form of violence. Topicality excludes different ways of knowing and
> >> of inquiry.
> >No, topicality is a debate regarding ways of knowing and methods of
> >inquiry in a desire to protect education on knowledge and inquiry. As
> >Kirk eloquently pointed out, if the negative proves the affirmative's
> >interpretation of the topic undermines education, then what value is
> >to advancing the affirmative's systems of knowing at the expense of
> >> An immense education is denied and on the flip side, a
> >> homogenous and unidimensional education is insured. This is a form of
> >> violence that is done the the community as a whole.
> >You're assuming that the nature of the resolution entirely excludes the
> >style of debate you are seeking to protect. Topicality is not a
> >dictatorship; it does not eliminate your ability to make the arguments
> >wish to make. You just have to realize that topicality could be waiting
> >for you out there.
> > Topicality is also
> >> violent by defining what the center and the perifery are. T is not
> >> innocent divider of ground. It reveals an ideological bias in defining
> >> dominant debate at the center and as the requirement of all debaters in
> >> least half of their rounds.
> >Everything reflects an ideological bias. Both of our positions are very
> >ideological. Your attribution of the term "dominant" to debate seems
> >interesting given you concede below that hegemony is inevitable. So what
> >if you displace current topicality-centered dominant debate with no-plan
> >performance centered debate? Could the negative argue that topicality
> >should be resurrected because they are arguing outside of the current
> >mold? My point is not that topicality should exist as an a priori rule,
> >but that it is a valuable one that should not be dismissed so quickly.
> >Being different isn't a reason to win a debate. Justifying your
> >Lastly, topicality is not a rule in the sense that it applies to every
> >debate. It's situational. So it's not that you're locked out of
> >your case on the aff. Clearly a team's topicality violation isn't pinned
> >on you for all of your future debates.
> > Is flip side debating good? Of course it is,
> >> but the way "flip side" debating is deployed is to reinforce the
> >> This form of legitimization and delegitimization does violence by
> >> forcing certain peoples/ideas to the margin.
> >Um, how? (You might think this is another soft pitch, but I think you
> >swung and missed on the first one, so here's #2).
> >Isn't any idea that loses pushed to the margin? How do we construct this
> >idea of the center? Is it what is said in 51% of the prior debates? Do
> >we do surveys? What do we do if in Round the Fourth at the NDT scouting
> >reveals that performance controlled 51% of the debates at issue? All of
> >sudden should we add "Vote for our Bush DA because it prevents ideas from
> >being marginalized" to our 2NC impact calculus?
> > What else? Oh yes. The
> >> deployment of "potential abuse" is violent. Its analogous (though not
> >> equal) to a first strike. It attempts to predict what an "enemy" might
> >> and then beats them to the knockout punch. It bludgeons and levels
> >> difference and moves people (fellow debaters) around like pieces on a
> >> gameboard.
> >This is fictitious. Explain how topicality is like a first strike.
> >Potential abuse like war? Give me a break. Potential abuse is an
> >argument regarding how interpretations of the resolution affect the
> >framework of a debate. It is a theoretical justification for limiting
> >the scope of those interpretations, just as examples of the worst
> >scenarios utilitarianism or deontology could muster are often the focus
> >critics of those positions. No debaters are moved around like pieces on
> >gameboard, no knockout punch is delivered, and no fiery diatribe speaks
> >killing the enemy that is performance.
> >> Its funny you should say that. Any number of people have written about
> >> act of coercion that can occur with the definition of words. The
> >> define the terms of conversation is perhaps one of the greatest forms
> >> power that we can hold in certain forums.
> >I'm not denying that the way you define words can have coercive effects.
> >I'm saying that those definitions are not set in stone precisely because
> >they get to be talked about. There isn't silence because you can read
> >from any number of people that have written about the act of coercion
> >can occur within the definition of words. We will respond with a series
> >of arguments and you will answer them until our time together is through.
> >The negative doesn't destroy the affirmative with the sheer utterance of
> >the word "topicality."
> >> I wish that T were only like that, but its not. T is separated from
> >> debate arguments. Its prioritized and absolutized (a priori,
> >> procedural, NDT rule, etc). Its not deployed as merely an argument to
> >> persuade. If that were so, then it would not be necessary to run T.
> >> is handled above.
> >I don't understand your point here. Yes, topicality is given the status
> >of a voting issue (even by the NDT committee). Tell me this, have you
> >persuaded any judges this year that the voting issues in your 1AC (vote
> >for us because we don't have a plan, vote to examine borders as per our
> >Mingolo evidence) are worth endorsing? If so, how does topicality have
> >any place above your interpretation in the course of a debate?
> >And I don't understand that if topicality's function is to persuade you'd
> >never have to run topicality. Would it go unsaid? Would it be left up
> >to the judge(s)? In your world, would we critically engage the 1AC only
> >afterwards to find out that the judge(s) did not believe that your
> >affirmative was development assistance?
> >> It does seem that you are going in the direction of a "solvency
> >> T. That it doesn't actually push anybody out of the activity.
> >Not the solvency takeout route, but the 100% link takeout route.
> >Topicality doesn't act to push anyone out of the activity anymore than
> >other arguments do. It's ridiculous to analogize this to inter-racial
> >relationships. The situation is entirely different (you and your
> >analogies). Topicality provides a forum where individuals can debate
> >their activity should look like in 2 hours. Laws that ban inter-racial
> >relationships (successful or not) eliminate the rights of individuals
> >too associate with whom they please and put them in legal jeopardy.
> >Getting jailed for who you love is just a bit different than losing a
> >debate on topicality (or any argument for that matter).
> >> I'll admit that, to a large extent, violence is inevitable. Just as
> >> hegemony is inevitable. The key is finding when and how to use it in
> >> to advance the most productive politics. Did it take violence to end
> >> slavery (again not analogizing violence, merely circumstances)? The
> >> war suggests so. Even so, that doesn't deny any of my claims.
> >My question was not "isn't violence inevitable?" It was "what is
> >discursive violence and how is it identified?" Is sarcasm discursive
> >violence? Are insults? When Megan called me a moron (even in that
> >affectionate way) was it violence? Was your mocking of "thanks for the
> >softball" violence? Is my constant berating of your analogies violent?
> >Give me something to grab on to so that I can look at something and say
> >"ooh...violence" and look at something else and say "ooohhh...not
> >> politics. T is not needed (and in fact is detrimental) to discussing
> >> questioning an affirmative's advantages/disadvantages/assumptions/
> >Topicality is needed to preserve the ability of both sides to be
> >adequately prepared to discuss the affirmative's assumptions/politics,
> >etc. That is why topicality is important.
> >> I'm glad you didn't quit, andy. I think you should recognize the
> >> you're in though. Its much easier for one who wins most of their
> >> then loses one to shrug it off.
> >I'm glad I didn't quit as well. And I'm glad you're glad that I didn't
> >quit. Hopefully we're not the only two.
> >> Heh. No better way to beat the victim than to grab the victim role
> >> yourself. The problem is that, for the most part, this is dead wrong.
> >> Competition breeds respect and legitimacy. Arguments have to win to be
> >> thought of as good arguments.
> >I don't think this is true at all. Notice the art of the "cheap shot."
> >Many judges in America desire to respect the objectivity that their role
> >demands of them and often discard arguments that they acknowledge are
> >good in favor of arguments they acknowledge are very very bad. And
> >winning arguments aren't thought of as good. Clearly some judges don't
> >believe the topicality shuck 'n jive we've got going on here at Iowa, but
> >that doesn't mean some don't think it's a good argument.
> >> nevertheless demonstrates the point. I'll also add the community's
> >> elitism. Think of the individuals in this community that you (being
> >> representative of the top of the activity) know by name. I would take
> >> on the fact that those people are either successful, from a powerhouse
> >> school, or just some random person that you stumbled into. I could be
> >> demonstrative of this elitism, but i'm growing sleepy.
> >I'm not understanding your point here. Yes, I know a lot of people in
> >debate from powerhouse schools (transfer this much between them and you
> >meet a lot). I also know a lot of people I have stumbled into. What's
> >your point?
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