[eDebate] Topic Wording. Have a standard Please.

scottelliott at grandecom.net scottelliott
Mon Apr 10 21:29:10 CDT 2006

Lesiko is right.

Look, I have been harping on this issue for years now. And, it is not like I am
a member of the flat earth society on this issue. Common sense has to play into
these organizations decision-making processes at some point (NOT!). The
community needs to establish standards for crafting debate resolutions. I
bitched about this last year on the China resolutions--probably when it was too
late. Here are (yes it is redundant but so was Casandra in her rants) a few key
concepts to remember:

1) The resolutions should have a single, clear locus of controversy;

2) Resolutions should have a clear choice of decision;

3) Resolutions should require change from the status quo;

4) The Resolution should be established in a grammatically correct sentence;(oh
Lord, my achilles heal)

5) Whether there is adequate ground for both sides to research and present

6) Would a freshman college student be able to offer an opinion, no matter how
ill informed, on the issue in a classroom discussion;

Folks, this "ain't rocket surgery."

What SHOULD NOT be the focus of resolutional decision-making:

1) Whether some whiny closed minded group of people will be offended and,
apparently cannot adequetely defend their beliefs;

2) Whether the topic appeals to a particular group of debaters or debate
coaches--one way or the other;

3) Whether or not we can build a "community consensus" around a topic. There is
an old adage that everyone should fear the law that was passed unanimously.
Similarly, the last few YEARS of resolutional debacles have occurred because of
the over focus on community building and consensus rather than good ol' fashion
topic writing based on sound pedagogical theory;

4) Whether some half-baked ill-informed coaches decide to take their marbles and
go home (note: a lot are going home anyway becuase the topics suck and the
current selection process makes it impossible for small and medium size
programs to compete. (Example: EVERYTHING I said about the China resolution came
true. Ironically, many of the cases that I predicted back in July 2005 as a JOKE
became the standard cases on the topic. Hilarious!).

I will do the entire community a favor. Call it my gift to academic debate. Call
an emergency CEDA business meeting to authorize it. I will personally pay Dick
Lesiko and Dallas Perkins a total of $1,000.00 and spring for an extra $200.00
in their choice of alcohol if they will meet for a single day and/or weekend to
draft topics based on my criteria. These five resolutions will be the ones voted
on by the rest of the debate community. As demonstrated by his proposed China
resolutions, I guarantee you that there will be better
drafted resolutions then the impending disaster that is the annual topic
selection meeting.

To quote the post-modernist philosopher Napolean Dynamite:

"GOD! You are such IDIOTS!!!"



By the standards given above there are clear reasons NOT to vote for an
"Overturn Roe v. Wade" resolution unless the resolution was carefully worded.
As Hester has pointed out, simply saying "overturn Roe" creates a
bi-directional topic. See, you don't have to whine and threaten to stop
debating to oppose a resolution. You can use objective reasons to have the
resolution killed.

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