[eDebate] PUT it on the ballot!

Marissa Silber luvmarissa
Mon Apr 10 15:10:45 CDT 2006

As a woman in this activity I find it important to respond to some of the 
claims being made. Based on the discussions that occurred today, I am NOT 
convinced that including Roe v. Wade would be bad AT ALL. This doesn?t mean 
that once I see topic wordings that I will support it, but much of the 
discussion that has happened today really disturbs me.

First, people shouldn?t necessarily let this discussion about Roe v. Wade 
affect which topic area they vote for. Unless I have missed something, there 
is no guarantee that Roe v. Wade will be included once the wording is worked 
out. There are lots of types of cases that could be included in this topic.

Second, I don?t think people will necessarily be forced to defend the 
?pro-life? or ?pro-choice? side of this debate but they do have the liberty 
to discuss a relevant social issue. Let me first state, however, that I 
think switch side debate is good and that learning about the other side can 
only help us make better conclusions and gain better understandings of 
positions ? I don?t think most of us can claim to be an expert on either 
side of this debate and although we have opinions, it might help them to be 
more grounded. With that said, I don?t see how people would be forced into 
this position of defending pro-life or pro-choice. Debaters can choose to 
defend a different court case to be overturned when affirmative, or they can 
even defend overturning Roe v. Wade but on different grounds. For example, 
the aff can claim to federalism as a reason to overturn Roe ? they can say 
that abortion good da?s don?t apply since states will still retain the right 
to have an abortion. On the negative, I think (hope) debates will be more 
high tech about Roe, such as debating about the legal rationale or 
constitutional principles which the case is based on. The negative can also 
debate about under what grounds (yippee for counterplans) Roe should be 

Third, who are we as a community to determine that a topic is too 
uncomfortable to debate? We didn?t determine that some Chinese people might 
feel uncomfortable defending pressure on their country. We certainly have 
allowed practices that might be seen as uncomfortable, certain performance 
based practices, in this activity to occur. I think this ?uncomfortable? 
topic is extremely important to be discussed ? it?s funny that people 
constantly complain that women are excluded from the activity, but finally 
we have a topic that affects women everyday, and we can?t talk about it! Are 
you kidding me? It?s so strange to me that the same people that are arguing 
this topic will make women and minorities feel uncomfortable because it is 
so personal also argue why debate should be personal and more than a game!
If not policy debate then what is the proper forum for discussions about 
abortion? One of the greatest things about our activity is that judges 
strive to the best of their abilities to make an objective decision based on 
the warrants and persuasiveness of arguments as they are presented in a 
given round. We put personal beliefs aside in the name of argument. I'd like 
to think that if we as a community decided to include Roe v. Wade in the 
topic that we could get beyond the ideologically driven rhetoric presented 
by the media and politicians. Two people arguing back and forth with one 
side screaming "abortion is murder" and the other side claiming "women 
should be able to control their bodies" hardly constitutes a meaningful 
debate. But this is not what would happen if we debated the subject. We'd 
actually have high tech debates about the political effects of overturning 
Roe and we'd consider questions like "what would the state governments do in 
the aftermath of overturning Roe?" and "where in the world did the Supreme 
Court find a right to abortion in the Constitution?"

Fourth, claims that participation would decline seem really silly to me ? I 
am sorry but I think I will have a much better chance recruiting people to 
join the team if we talk about domestic social policies than convincing a 
bunch of college students that they should learn to talk really fast about 
countries they have never even heard of. Now, should people necessary care 
about the topic they are discussing ? no, potentially debate?s a game about 
any subject (which would just prove that Roe is just another subject we 
should talk about), however for recruitment purposes, people would probably 
be a lot more interested.

Lastly, c?mon ? do we really need to go so far as to make claims of quitting 
the activity??? First, just because you have a personal problem with the 
topic doesn?t mean you should limit students to being able to debate about 
them ? it is unfair, I think, to speak for all your students and limit their 
ability to debate. More importantly, is quitting really the answer ? how 
will this lead to change in the community? And if you don?t plan on 
quitting, don?t make such rhetorically powerful statements. I am reminded of 
the lecture that I gave last summer at debate camp where I went through the 
?top ten things you should not do in a debate? and threatening to quit was 
definitely on there!

When it comes to social issues, I am extremely liberal ? however I see value 
in debate and recognizing both sides. So should this community.  Oh, and I 
will make you a promise ? if any Supreme Court justice claims they were 
influenced to overturn Roe v. Wade because of our debate topic and solely on 
the reasons that ?abortion is bad,? I will personally fly to Washington D.C. 
and meet with each and every one of them. However, since I see the 
likelihood of that being almost zero, I will instead use that money to buy 
my team dinner at CEDA next year after we debate a well-thought out topic 
written by an over-worked, underpaid committee and anyone from the activity 
that is willing to be involved in what should be a well-respected topic 

Marissa Silber

P.S. My opinions are in no way representative of the University of Florida 
debate team. Although I normally avoid posting on edebate as much as 
possible, I felt it was important as a woman, coach, and advocate for this 
activity to share these opinions.

More information about the Mailman mailing list