[eDebate] 'Roe' and What I am NOT trying to do. . .

Nicole nicole.colston
Wed Apr 12 19:18:56 CDT 2006

Because this is long, here is a Summary of my points:
 1) I am NOT trying to censor the debate community, but I do think the
already identified topic area actor/action already precludes a good
resolution about Roe (and possibly the whole courts area).
 2) I am NOT trying to abandon switch-side debate, I am worried about
 3) I am NOT trying to abandon "Traditional" policy debate format for some
"Other Critical" kind.
 4) I am NOT trying to place my experiences in a "hierachy" with others
who have experienced oppression/racism/etc.
 5) I am NOT trying to claim an inability to make "objective/rationale"
decisions, or maybe I am?
6) I am NOT trying to say the debate community is bad, i apologize.
7) I am NOT trying to neutralize or chill debate.
8) I am NOT teaching my students what to think, I am teaching them how.

I am NOT trying to:

1) I am NOT trying to censor the debate community, but I do think the
already identified topic area actor/action already precludes a good
resolution about Roe (and possibly the whole courts area).

In a wave of emotion, I will 'admit' (hehe) that I wrote 'don't put it on
the BALLOT'.  But I certainly didn't say anyone was not allowed to talk
about or learn about Roe v. Wade.  I am proud that we have talked about the
ISSUE as much as we have these past few days ON eDebate. I think Roe would
be a great Disad for the courts topic, but let's leave it to the political
climate/capital debate that it would be anyway (neutralized debate on Title
7 ex and others posts reveal this common view of Roe's argumentative
fate/potential in the CEDA/NDT world).  I think it would be a great Value
debate and, as demonstrated by so many of you, it could also be a valuable
policy debate.  However, in relation to the potential Roe wording, I think a
GOOD policy resolution should have these standards (that I believe can't be
(a) prescribe an positive-forward moving- action (Isn't "overrule" like "not
acting"). AND if there is a positive action, what verb is used in the
resolution to allow a "replacement ruling" or whatever this would be?  Who
decides that and how?  How would this be real-world policy action that we
could translate into the r-w?  And, what about the idea that the state
should not regulate her body at all, which would be a critical AFF?  Isn't
the ultimate question always going to be how the state should regulate my
body????? Wouldn't all "overrule" cases with "solutions" outside the box (ie
Supreme Court) be extra-topical?  Liz- how will the feminist option be
affirmed in these debates?  Maybe you all can help me envision how these
overrule cases would work.  . .
(b) should allow mutiple visions of change--I believe
DISCOVERY in debate should provide the tools for actual change in humanities
course, not just in policy of Congress or in corporate law firms.  (so yes,
I am pissed off about the "agent's" real-world relationship to my own body
and the idea that action is always policy).  Have you really thought about
abortion, your body, your family, humanity, and the LOVE that is needed to
discuss this issue?  Can you empathize with the instinctual, personal, and
emotional impacts to debaters and judges?  Is there LOVE in
competitive debate rounds?  How does discussing how the state should control
my body give me access to this realm of spiritual connection between humans,
for ex. come together with a pro-lifer about the value of life and the pain
of death?  Is that even accepted in debate rounds?  do we have a pedagogy to
support trauma, a communication ethic to preserve integrity?  What is the
limit to emotional trauma extending into other realms of my life, How does
it effect my debaters emotional and sexual development?
(c) should NOT be loaded- ie, not be constructed to align with a heated
politic agenda.  You can say there are feminist critiques of the policy, but
the rez language would be inherently loaded and the most common sematic
interpretation supports the Christian right agenda.
Also, the slow breaking down of Roe policy in the SQ by the right
illustrates how a policy focus on an issue that is inherently moral
disconnects us from our human connections and creates legislative
nightmares.  How will this be different in debate round?  Again, how will
this help me develop effective feminist strategies?  There are forums for
discussions and there are resolutions to frame issues.  My argument is
not necessarily wrong forum, it is wrong resolution.
(d) should be worded based on issue analysis that preserves integrity of
individuals (as well as NEG ground), and not based on already prescribed
agents and actors.  Resolutions frame the question, and the question's
agent/action will be framed without reviewing the topic issues first.  This
is a backwards process/pedagogy and unfortunately our
historical resolutional wording process- (thanks for trying to change this
mancuso, really mean it!).  There can be a better pedagological framing of
the issue of abortion that can allow affirmation of identity/action and
still examine womens rights, privacy, and other 'legal" issues.

2) I am NOT trying to abandon switch-side debate, I am worried about

(Well, maybe I would in favor of a less competitive and more COOPERATIVE AND
thats another rant!!)  I KNOW that competition mixed with the strict
switch-side creates strategy that is employed in unproductive and
consistently damaging ways, I cry for the fate of debate often.  I don't see
strategy, predictability, fairness, and education as inherently enhanced by
switch-side debate.  Instead, I see this community's deployment of strict
switch-side debate standards seems to strip personal identity and moral
responsiblity from debaters.  (I am new to debate theory/topics/history, but
I especially like the Hicks/Green articles).  Switch-side debate is not
representative of life (although I see that the deployers of rhetorical
strategies in politics would like to have us believe that- and the
pro-life/pro-choice rhetoric is a good example).  There are not two sides,
yes or no, to anything.  Argumentation is centered in this uncertainty, we
shouldn't try to pretend that the decision-makers as well as the debaters
are not really there, that the people don't matter in the affirmation.  The
resolution requires interpretation, and I see our employment of a repressive
interpretations of agency/action (including T, fiat) as creating the
"critical" debate strategies that we see.  We control interpretation as a
community, this is our social contract, and apparently some people aren't
happy with the current social contract.  How this relates to my position-  I
refuse to participate in the Roe v. Wade resolution because I know the
strict interpretation prescribed by switch-side debating a) will NOT
protect the idenities of debaters or judges effected by the topic, b) will
limit the educational value (breadth) of the topic, and 3) mandate state
control of my body.

3) I am NOT trying to abandon some "Traditional" policy debate format for
some "Other Critical" kind.
The critical and policy divide is artificial- don't fool yourself  and
start ~turn~ censoring certain ideas in debate.  I think that "traditional"
legal/policy-making debate can not accomodate a discussion of Roe v. Wade in
the way that is envisioned by those who have posted responses to my concerns
(Kathryn, Hester, Bill).  JUST THINK about how debates cases and strategies
get employed.

4) I am NOT trying to place my experiences in a "hierachy" with others
who have experienced oppression/racism/etc.

I have a more personal and political connection to this topic area than I
have with any other--my intital, highly emotional reactions have revealed
this.  Somehow I am FEELing (is this allowed in debate?) that the discussion
of regulation of my physical body in a debate round might(?) be different
than the way we debate the sociological "ism's"caused by oppression.  Theory
is theory- it is always fallable in explanatory power.  But I will always be
me.  It is not that I am just a women or political supporter who will get
offended and need to cry, but that I will be the actual BODY (as I sit in
the round) that is inherently the subject of control, the focus of the
competition.  Do other topics force such a personal BODILY connection for
other people?  I dont know??? I try to empathize and fail. Please talk to me
about this!!!!. . . . . How can I as a judge or debater seperate my
physical body from myself??  Isn't this more than just being offended?  Is
it emtionally and pedagologically sound to detach ourselves?
Also, How has this community challenged the repressive ways in which debate
controls the female body (sexual harrassment/freedom, children, gender
roles, appearance standards, partnership possibilities, judging comments,
presence on committees, even nakedness of the female BODY)-- I think it has
been pretty negatively or at best superficially.  And how can you expect me
to think the resolution won't foster more of this behavior? I am extremely
hesistant to expose myself and my students to the Roe v Wade debates because
of the insensitivity and ignorance in which we seem to "speak for others"
and to others in this community.  frankly, I don't trust ya'll to make it a
positive learning experience over a competitive arena, this is from
empirical experience.  We are desensitized to war and violence, we are
desenstitized to the control of the state,  and obviously we are
desensitized to oppression in our own community, as evidenced by the
negative responses Nicole and I received.  I am not sure I can take being
desensitized to myself!!!

5) I am NOT trying to claim an inability to make "objective/rationale"
decisions, or maybe I am?

I do think calculative, rationale decision-making is waaayyyyy overrated and
that everything is ultimately subjective.  I have always maintained that
debate excludes so much of the true decision-making process- specifically by
rejecting any sort of holistic understanding of humanity or inclusion
of human identification or spirituality.  If I thought we would even discuss
with genuine reflection or sensitivity the female body, then I would give
the topic more consideration, we are biophobic.  I guess it is true that I
can make decisions on the line-by-line, on the evidence, strategy, and
delivery.  I guess I could privilege the "educational simulation" and try to
forget that my mind and my body are related.

6) I am NOT trying to say the debate community is bad, I apologize.

I was angry, I wouldn't be the first angry person in debate.  I APOLOGIZE,
TRULY, for so vehemently bashing the hard work of the committee and those
who work to get our lazy asses invloved!  However, I do think the process is
a political one that lots of people don't have access to.  For ex, I just
keep wondering how it was deemed a "domestic legal" topic this year??  Also,
in my defense, I think a lot of people made assumptions about my reasons,
values, and personality that I find equally off-putting.  Some of your
reactions directed at me and Nicole affirm the notion that I can't take this
emotional trip with ya'll.

7) I am NOT trying to neutralize or chill debate.

As revealed above, and pointed out by Bill, the Roe resolution as conceived
by the 'area' description will be plagued by wording concerns that will
stiffle its potential.  Furthermore, I think the debaters should bring the
politics into the round, not the resolution.  I also think debate is
neutralized by our argumentative standards and traditions, but NO ONE seems
to care about that!!!??!!?!?!  To suggest that controversial areas can not
be framed in more sensitize and equitable way is ridiculous.

8) I am NOT teaching my students what to think, I am teaching them how  and
how to act.

Veronica is awesome, she seems to always bring sensibility to the
discussion.  However, I see my protest of Roe v. Wade as teaching my
students how to think, not what.  This is resolutional analysis,
consideration of ethic and structure, etc.  And I am doing this now, when it
counts, not later when it can't be changed.  I do not want my students to
feel disenfranchised by this process--which is something they always
complain about- - I want them to know we make decisions that are educational
and personally empowering.  Veronica- won't the question posed always be how
the state should control the female body?  isn't the answer always how, not

A few more thoughts:
1) I respect the analysis that class is the key factor in access and success
in debate.  But I do think that power relationships affect women's
participation in organizational politics.  I do not know if I could have
waited until the topic meeting to stand in front of the men in this
community with so much more debate experience/social credibility/connection
to tradition- and adequately defend myself in the personal ways I need to.
You reactions to my calls to leave rather than to my personal devastation
reflect that inclusion isn't a priority for you.  There is little empathy,
let alone a clear forum in this community to be heard and respected.

2)The following is the worst thing I have read so far, from Marissa- "People
who have had an abortion don't necessarily have to talk about it - like I
said the debates within this community should hopefully be a lot more
high-tech than that."
What good is a debate about abortion law if people who have had abortions
can't access the debate??? Shouldn't the resolution provide safety as well
as ground??  Also, when does this community stop priveleging technique over
i am exhausted.. . Nicole
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