[eDebate] More depth on my judging philsophy

hunt at lclark.edu hunt
Tue Sep 17 12:31:50 CDT 2002

I agree that depth of argument ought to win out in debate. I have 
always liked the critic of argument paradigm for judges.  I have become 
VERY CONCERNED in recent years about several bad trends in policy 

#1 Speed for speed's sake not argument's sake
	If the debaters cannot really understand one another and have to ask 
for tons of evidence and one another's flows isn't something wrong?
	If the judge has to reconstruct the debate by calling for everything 
under the sun, isn't something wrong?
	If former debate champions cannot understand a contemporary debate, 
isn't something wrong?
	If the majority of potential policy debaters are put off by 
contemporary practices, isn't something wrong?
	If you would not have a fellow professor or administrator judge, isn't 
something wrong?

#2 Bad evidence
	Some claim that contemporary debate emphasizes card wars and real in 
depth research. I tend to disagree.
	Many folks don't qualify their sources in terms of expertise of source 
recency of source quality of source.
	People blurb their evidence.
	Some people read clipped evidence or out of context.
	People read obscure poor quality stuff from the internet without a 
qualm Highly prejudiced sources are treated as viable.
	there isn't enough time in a round to check all this. Doesn't this 
mean that something is wrong.
	People can't find let alone print national final rounds Doesn't this 
mean that something is rotten in Belgium?

#3 Poor outlining
	Many debaters just blurb even their affirmative cases. Many instead of 
having large arguments and clear subpoints just go l, 2, 3, 4, etc. not 
distinguishing important points or main points versus subpoints. 
Debaters say see argument #6 on this point and nobody knows for sure 
what the Hell argument 6 is or they have different numbering so that 
one's 6 is another's 5 or whatever. Clear labeling is not utilized.

#4 Poor plan and counterplan texts
	I was taught that a plan ought to have mandates, agent of 
action/administration, funding, enforcement, etc. Clear counterplans 
demand the same. If these were not available and clear, the plan ought 
to be "void for vagueness."
	Many plans and counterplans are not clearly specifying their mandates 
or agents of action. We enact the resolution through ordinary means 
just doesn't hack it. It isn't clear enough. No legislature or court 
would accept this.

#5 Denigration of judging
	An extreme position that debate is for the debaters leaves the judge 
out of the debate. Many hold that the judge ought to adapt to the 
debaters versus the other way around. An extreme interpretation of this 
means the occupants are running the asylum. I have always thought the 
judge was there in two capacities. Capacity one is to judge the merits 
of the debate, the arguments, the skills demonstrated, the competing 
positions and render as fair a decision as she/he can. The judge is 
also there as a educator/critic. Supposedly because the judge has 
perspective and maturity, and perhaps a degree or two in rhetoric and 
argument or in law, the judge/critic is supposed to help educate the 
debaters on potential argumentative skills and persuasion techniques.

#6 Tricks versus substantive debating
	We all know about squirrel affirmatives and diverting Negative tactics 
vis obscure critiques wierd counterplans etc though we disagree as to 
what is a squirrel and what is diverting and weird. My problem is that 
the emphasis in some cases in too much on competitive trickery and not 
enough on substantive debating on the issues "intrinsic to the 
resolution" something debaters used to be taught was at the essence of 
analysis and good debating.

I know I know critics will be calling me weird old fashioned and just 
the sort that ought to be struck or non-preferred. I know that really 
really great debaters still are comprehensible and persuasive highly 
ethical and concerned about their evidence, outline clearly, emphasize 
their key arguments, are very very concerned about clear plan texts and 
counterplan texts  respect their judge/educators and focus mainly 
substantially on substantive arguments not tricks. But the trends are 
not good. The policy community needs to REM?IN concerned about these 
things and more and try reforms rennovations to get back to better 
argumentation and better debating as best we all can.

Steve Hunt
Lewis & Clark College

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