[eDebate] Re: How should I Judge Debates?
Tue Oct 23 13:28:17 CDT 2001
one way i saw Louisville "breaking the tie" at KY was through a historically-situated argument asking for a "concession": such an approach persuaded me because (well, it was dropped) of its ability to acknowledge the dangers of playing identity politics and confronting those dangers by historically-specific relevance--
i don't understand the problem with opening a space in judging philosophies for enacting the inclusion of styles and ways historically excluded from debate, why should that not be an issue for judging to confront? are judging practices and philosophies not part of the problem?
i have often thought that judges who believe in affirmative action would have a place in debate, basing their ballots on class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation... especially if such issues are explicitly contested within the text of the debate: what would a judging philosophy based upon MLK's thinking or Malcolm X look like? it would be no less "fair" than tabula rasa, critical interpreting,... --
no need to treat people as victims (and doesn't that tabula rasa/intervention approach establish a victimizing relationship? the debate is victimized, intervened upon, by the judge)
there is no blank slate, no intervention (excuse me, no ability to restrain intervention), Balthrop argued in the late 80s that tabula rasa (and, therefore, the question of intervention) establishes a critical distance between the debate and the judge, blinding the judge to her or his role in debate's vast and (as this discussion clearly illustrates) dynamic fluxes--
On Tue, 23 Oct 2001 13:56:47
Ede Warner, Jr. wrote:
>Joe Bellon said:
>What never fails to surprise me
>is that the losing team always feels they got screwed when in fact it
>who got screwed by both teams' self-referential discourse.
>I sometimes feel this way in framework-oriented debates. What is
>particularly hard for me in these situations is that teams often seem to
>conflate themselves with their argumentative choices. In other words, if
>vote against them because they make terrible arguments and present them
>poorly, I am automatically assumed to be "excluding" them. Many debaters
>have been prepared for tournaments with arguments that decry debate as
>exclusive -- they have, in effect, been taught to expect victimization,
>thus to behave like victims. I believe as judges we (that means me too)
>sometimes give leeway to teams who are supporting a different framework
>simply because we believe that inclusiveness is really important. I try
>temper my own tendencies in this area by reminding myself that I do no
>favors to anyone by rewarding them for poor preparation and shoddy
>Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I have become hopelessly suffused with
>instrumental rationality. To be sure, I will be flamed by someone on the
>listserv because, after all, that's what we do here. However, I don't
>it's too much to ask that debaters do me the courtesy of explaining who
>should vote for in a way that acknowledges the other team's existence
>the other team's discourse.
>Ede Warner says:
>Joe and I spoke for quite a while this past weekend, and I'm sure some
>of this criticism is directly at the Louisville project. For the most
>part, I agree with many of the concerns that Joe has about identity
>politics and the dangers it presents for the debate community. I do
>think however, that debaters conflating personal attack with a judge's
>decision didn't start nor will end with kritik arguments that speak to
>in-round implications like exclusionary practices. I've watched a whole
>bunch of insecure debaters make the same conflation and consequently
>victimization in debates that had nothing to do with the type of
>argument in question. I've seen women feel that male judges ignored
>them. African Americans feel that judges were offensive in
>characterizing their arguments. I've seen white males cry because a
>judge was mean. I've seen debaters/coaches rage on a judge because they
>are the victim of a cheater or someone who dislikes a particular school.
>So none of this "victimization" is unique to arguments about exclusion.
>That said, there is the question of which came first, the chicken or the
>egg. Did preparing debaters that debate is exclusive for those not
>trained in certain skills produce people expecting to be victims or is
>it possible that there is a segment of the population that sees debate
>as an uninteresting activity because they perceived debate's exclusive
>One place to look for an answer is in how a team debating this argument
>handles losses. It is very possible that Joe's experience when he
>explains a loss is angry debaters who react negatively to his criticism
>is a small sample of how all debaters who make these arguments respond
>to losses. My experiences coaching about 15 teams now running these
>arguments is that my teams (and in the little over a year we have done
>this, losing more debates than we win as a squad) respond very
>differently to judge's criticism. We have had many losses that my team
>feels the judge was considerate to their concerns, listened to their
>arguments, and offered insightful understanding and criticism. I have
>also seen my debaters respond negatively to criticism, the way in which
>they were spoken to when they have felt disrespected by a critic, and
>that they felt the judge wasn't listening to their arguments.
>Our decision to act as a collective certainly creates in many ways an
>"us versus them" mentality. But the assumption that collectivity
>creates victimization is not as clear cut. My debaters have faced a
>large amount of resistance to their arguments and that impacts their
>attitude and their rhetorical decisions. Even little jabs about
>presentational style which suggests that preparation before debates is
>less valuable than preparation during debates is a simplistic analysis
>of how Louisville prepares for a tournament and what the capabilities of
>my debaters are. My debaters are in forging new ground and Joe's
>criticism is static. We have majorly overhauled both our substance and
>performance in each of the three tournaments we have participated in.
>We have listened and addressed the collective criticism of judges in an
>effort to improve our argument. Last year at CEDA nationals, we won 2
>debates the first day (out of 20 I believe). I asked my team if they
>wanted to go do parliamentary debate as had been suggested. Corey Knox,
>one of my debaters spoke for the collective when he asked, "What's wrong
>Dr. Warner, you getting soft." Although our varsity team went 4-20 at a
>regional tournament in MTSU, to the best of my knowledge, no one quit
>and no one cried. I sat in a hospital bed and received a beautiful
>letter from one of my debaters saying how motivated the collective was
>and what a great time they had. Another debater said she felt the
>debate community didn't understand us. Her example was when we won our
>lone award (Sandra Webster was 7th speaker in open)...When the
>Louisville team hollered "debate what" and chanted, she said she saw the
>glaze and stare of many that responded negatively.
>My debaters have repeated heard phrases like, "They just run this
>because they don't have the skills to compete here." Yet, Louisville
>had 80% of my debaters return from last season. Our debaters ALL went
>from novice to varsity last season. And this season we have possibly
>cleared the first team of two African American women at a major NDT/CEDA
>policy tournament. I'm sorry that Joe sees my debate program comprised
>of victims. I'm sorry that he doesn't see arguments being made when I
>do. I'm sorry that he conflates alternative styles of presentation with
>"not debating". I hope that one day he begins to ask a few more
>questions about those victims and tries to understand why he perceives
>them to be victims, instead of insinuating that our victories are
>tainted by "judge's guilt to be inclusive". Finally I hope that Joe
>keeps working on reasons to beat Louisville teams 'cause like P. Diddy
>says, "We ain't going no where."
>By the way, the Louisville collective would really like to thank the Ft.
>Hays collective for some kick ass debates over the last three weeks.
>Education was at work, we liked it, and we look forward to continuing
>the debate/performance/conversation real soon!
>Ede Warner, Jr, Ph.D.
>Associate Professor of Communication/Director of Debate University of
>UofL Debate Society Webpage:
>Co-Founder, Black Radical Congress- Louisville Chapter,
>"I've told how debating was a weekly event there, at the Norfolk prison
>colony. My reading had my mind like steam under pressure. Some way, I
>had to start telling the white man about himself to his face. I decided
>I could do this by putting my name down to debate...Once my feet got
>wet, I was gone on debating.
> --Malcolm X, Autobiography of Malcolm X, 1964
>eDebate mailing list
>eDebate at ndtceda.com
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