Brad Hall hallbc2
Thu Apr 13 13:41:27 CDT 2006

On 4/13/2006 12:57 PM, debate at ou.edu wrote:

>No you do not need genuine advocates, you just need a resolution that allows ample mauvering space while 
>on the affirmative to practice those skills of conviction while possibly arguing against (while always 
>researching) the things in which you might agree on the negative.
I am confused as to what type of "space" you are looking for on the 
affirmative. On the four topics I debated in college, there were room 
for good critical affs where one could have challenged the 
exceptionalist nature of American hegemony (death penalty, withdraw from 
NATO, reduce all fossil fuel consumption, and on this year's topic: 
Northwestern's adoption aff, Dartmouth BM's AIDS aff, Whitman BM's 
dissidents aff, Emory GP's Tibet aff, Uighurs, and many many others). 
You are right that the topic called for "pressure", but many of these 
teams were able to interpret pressure beyond comprehensive sanctions on 
China by using mechanisms like cutting off international aid and arguing 
we give it to China but not others because we perceive China as a useful 
ally in the war on terrorism.

Perhaps this isn't the "space" you were looking for -- maybe you wanted 
room to discuss some specific convictions you or your debaters have. If 
so, what topic do you propose that would allow everyone to speak with 
conviction about the issues important to them (whether they be the 
genocide of Native Americans, the lack of women in the Senate, a living 
wage, or abolishing the designated hitter). It seems difficult, if not 
impossible, to find a topic for everyone to be able to express their 
true convictions on, but as far as I can tell, all recent topics have 
allowed teams to discover *new* convictions (about energy, the death 
penalty, gender protections in China, etc) and argue in favor of those.

The last concern I have is about the type of negative arguments that 
would be used on an overly broad resolution. If the resolution is so 
broad that the aff can discuss any of a number of issues, especially if 
they can advocate relatively non-controversial issues like 
"racism/sexism should be eliminated", it seems like the negative will 
likely run to the margins and begin to prepare more generic arguments 
like "the state is bad," "the English language is bad," "rationality is 
bad," "the debate community uses too much paper," etc just because it 
will simply be impossible to keep up with a specific debate against each 
case being run. Jackie, you may feel that your teams are able to compete 
on the negative, but many of the rest of us are just not as good at 
researching as you are apparently, or else we want a different type of 
interaction between the aff and neg. After all, what is the purpose to 
debating about something you feel strongly about if the debate is not at 
all about your chosen topic, but instead about a tangential issue? Yes, 
this happens now with agent cplans, politics disads, etc but this 
happened much less on more limited topics like treaties where there were 
in depth debates about abolishing the death penalty, testing nuclear 
weapons, etc.

Brad Hall
Wake Forest

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