[eDebate] RE-OPEN THE DEBATE ABOUT SWITCH SIDE DEBATE

Jean-Paul Lacy lacyjp
Thu Apr 13 19:56:51 CDT 2006


This is Hicks & Greene's conclusion:

Ronald Walter Greene and Darrin Hicks,

Lost convictions: Debating both sides and the ethical self-fashioning of 
liberal citizens,

Cultural Studies, 19(1):100-126, 2005

Conclusion

If we appreciate the claim that moral development is manufactured and the 
creation of a post-conventional morality requires specific techniques for 
generating the discursive citizen of liberalism, then it would be 
reasonable to suggest that deliberative democracy may not have operative 
force outside of the specific histories of its moral techniques and the 
uptake of these techniques in programmes of cultural governance. The 
universal force of the norms embedded in discursive theories of citizenship 
require an appreciation of how the techniques invented for their 
internalization have particular national and economic histories which 
disrupt their universal pretensions. Our investigation of debating both 
sides controversy demonstrates the blind spots associated with the 
technical efforts to inculcate students with liberal norms of democratic 
decision making.
The ethical problematization of debating both sides suggests that the 
globalization of liberalism is not so much registered by universal norms of 
interaction as the circulation of techniques required for internalizing a 
series of ethical attributes conducive to democratic citizenship. Surely 
debate is not alone in the circulation of liberal attributes, one might 
suggest that teaching professional journalistic norms of objectivity and 
balance ? norms operationalized by the attempt to offer ?two-sides? to 
every political issue ? offers a functional equivalent to debating both 
sides. Increasingly, journalistic norms find uptake as a spectacle of 
partisan spin and the rhetoric of commitment, far away from the ethical 
pedagogy of debating both sides. A unique value of debating both sides is 
that it works as a technique of embodied speech performance. To produce a 
liberal citizen requires more than the presentation of different points of 
view to a third party, it requires the empathetic advocacy of views that 
are not one's own. In a world increasingly dominated by fundamentalism 
(religious and otherwise) the development of a respect for pluralism, 
tolerance and free speech remains politically valuable. However, the 
technical history of cultivating these norms must be evaluated if we might 
hope to govern ourselves differently. What this paper demonstrates is that 
debating both sides helps liberalism to produce a governing field between a 
person's first order convictions and his/her commitment to the process 
norms of debate, discussion and persuasion. This field is then managed in 
and through the alteration of different communicative practices. The 
production and management of this field of governance allows liberalism to 
trade in cultural technologies in the global cosmopolitan marketplace at 
the same time as it creates a field of intervention to transform and change 
the world one subject (regime) at a time.
The ethical problematization of debating both sides pre-figures the 
transformation of liberalism into a deliberative theory of democracy, one 
by which, communication becomes the field, instrument and object of 
cultural governance. Yet, the complex determinations of instantiating an 
ethical substance into the deliberative process points to how liberalism 
attempts to purchase its claim to universality by displacing an 
investigation into the technical domains of ethical-self fashioning. As 
such, liberalism's universal norms circulate in and through specific 
national and economic histories re-writing its moral geographies by 
separating those who need the universal norms of liberalism from those 
exceptional subjects that can embody those norms, judge how well others are 
inculcating those norms, and can govern the world.


Leaving aside their logical leap that "liberalism's universal norms 
circulate in and through specific national and economic histories 
re-writing its moral geographies by separating those who need the universal 
norms of liberalism from those exceptional subjects that can embody those 
norms, judge how well others are inculcating those norms, and can govern 
the world,"

It seems a stretch from "liberalism's norms separating exceptional 
subjects" to the claim that "debate [as often practiced]...[is a]...form of 
cultural technology re-affirming a commitment to American Exceptionalism 
and global domination."

There is still place for conviction in debate: Day's version of 
switch-sides is that we are obligated to ignore our personal convictions 
(and interests) when there are minority viewpoints under-represented in 
public debate by articulating those views to the best of our abilities 
(hence "deliberative" rather than "majoritarian" democracy.) Not that we 
should just get up and say stuff we disagree with. (Yes, this *does* 
implicate the way we currently write topics & debate.)

I cannot comprehend how this particular "tool of liberalism" can possibly 
lead to the worst forms of American Exceptionalism. I'd like to think that 
the articulation and understanding of under-heard standpoints is an 
antidote to il-liberal exceptionalism.

Myself, I'll take my chances with deliberative democracy and liberalism. 
"The force of better argument" seems much more attractive than the personal 
conviction driving Bush's War on Terrorism.

Anyway -- all that aside: Once we pick a topic area, how do you think we 
should proceed with conceptualizing a resolution?

--JP





At 10:39 AM 4/13/2006, debate at ou.edu wrote:
>Hello,
>
>This debate may hold up the topic discussion, especially  if it does not 
>occur now.  If the topic committee is
>open (as everyone says it is), this is where the debate has to begin for 
>proper resolutional construction.
>
>If you are going to respond please read carefully. Dont read 1/2 then 
>kneejerk your debate jargon.  I bet most
>people have not considered these issues, but still spout the "switch side" 
>debate is obviously good.
>
>This should be pre-topic construction, irrelevant of what topic area is 
>chosen.  I have kept a library of the
>articles concerning switch side debate.  Cripe, Day and Murphy to name a 
>few.  Do we know the roots of the
>topic framing ideologies we support?
>
>This should precede any topic discussion, and investigate the true nature 
>of ?switch side debate?
>
> >From  - Hicks and Green, 2005 - Cultural Studies, Vol 19 ? Issue 1 - 
> Lost convictions   Debating both sides and
>the ethical self-fashioning of liberal citizens - Ronald Walter Greene and 
>Darrin Hicks  (this is not a direct
>quote)
>
>In 1954, the US Military Academy refused to affirm the resolution 
>concerning China.  They did not feel they
>could ideological support communism as good based upon their commitment to 
>democracy.
>
>Burns claims that the framers of the resolution did not think debaters 
>would succumb to Communist
>propaganda and argue China good, there was an assumption that people would 
>argue we must pull China
>away from Moscow.
>
>The debate about debate occurred for about 10 years, and then in 1964 
>McCrosky and Klopf declared the
>debate about debate closed.
>
>Now debate has become in international commodity.  Debate is being 
>promoted and circulated in other nations
>as a technique of democratic decision-making.  We will contend that there 
>are global effects from our chosen
>model of debate.
>
>Forcing the affirmative to defend this resolution is using switch side 
>debate to force students to portray views
>that are not their own and is attempting to us this resolution to produce 
>the liberal citizen. There are claims that
>switch-side debate uses students as  ?subjects? to be converted one at a 
>time to become a tool of global
>governance using universal norms for the exceptionalist subject to govern 
>the world.
>
>The community norms have constructed a resolution where we only here one 
>side of the switch side debate.
>Debaters who have an exceptionalists view of the United States and their 
>role in democracy never have to
>argue exceptionalism or realism bad.  The tool of ?swith-side? allows a 
>resolutional construction that forces a
>one way ideological conformity, rather than a give and take reflection 
>that most proponents of switch side
>debate want to presume.  My position is debate can be a training ground 
>for discussing those issues that are
>important to debaters, and giving students agency for dealing with your 
>own personal oppressions and
>inequalities.  I contend that we will always debate negative, and feel 
>that going negative, doing research, and
>having discussion is a place where you can get all of the theoretical 
>benefits of switch side debating, without
>uttering the very words that foster personal oppression.
>
>Will Debate die without strict switch side debating!
>
>I  will contend that there is a middle ground where debate can thrive, 
>students can have the freedom to explore
>conviction, and learning both sides of the issue can be possible.  The 
>death of many programs occurred
>specifically because of the desire to legitimate debate as a game rather 
>than a mechanism for learning how to
>deal with ?real-world? issues.  As educators become more distanced from 
>debate, communication departments
>find it hard to legitimate debate as important to the educational curriculum.
>
>The alternative would be a resolution that allows for ideological 
>maneuvering with the grounds of being
>affirmative.  Optimal methods of affirmative the resolution within a given 
>topic area would be the best method
>for allowing an infusion of the benefits of speaking with conviction, and 
>debating things you might disagree with
>when on the negative.
>
>
>I REPEAT ? THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHERE WE BEGIN OUR TOPIC FRAMING 
>NOW, WHICH IS
>WITH THE QUESTION OF ?WHAT IS THE NEGATIVE GROUND??
>
>THIS IS AN ARGUMENT CLAIMING THE CURRENT FORM OF EDUCATION WE OBTAINED 
>FROM OUR
>TOPICS IS NOT EDUCATION, BUT LIBERALISMS TOOL OF INDOCTRINATION!  HOWEVER, 
>SOME WILL
>BELIEVE EXCEPTIONALISM IS GOOD ? THIS IS WHERE IDEOLOGICAL HEGEMONY 
>OCCURS  WHEN
>THOSE WHO SEE IT AS GOOD GET THERE WAY WITH THE RESOLUTION!
>
>
>Here are some arguments why strict notions of switch side debating are bad.
>
>1. A Public utterance is public commitment ? We should not separate speech 
>from conviction
>This debate is important, discourse creates reality, and we must examine 
>the effects that verbalizing things you
>might disagree with could have on the people who are listening to you, 
>especially if they believe you. You have
>functionally changed their perspective and possible future actions towards 
>an ideology you actually do not
>agree with.
>2. College debate is public debate ? when we separate the two is when 
>administrators and communication
>professors see debate as a game, with minor educations benefits.  This is 
>when debate dies.  That is one
>reason why CEDA Debate resolutions increased participation amongst 
>programs, not just amongst those
>within existing programs.
>3. Should not value technique over substance ? We will contend that this 
>form of banking education divorces
>debaters from their agency as individual actors, and moves them into a 
>game of techne and domination without
>understanding the pedagogical justifications for such a game.
>***4. Speaking/Verbalizing evils does not help to understand, but draws 
>one close to the middle.  This is a
>common tactic in attempts to liberalize the radical, the debate term for 
>this is cooptation.  This is specifically true
>for the debate community because those who support the dominant ideology 
>are for it on the affirmative, and
>work within it on the negative, never having to verbalize the minority view.
>5. Technique in debate does not translate into effective communication 
>skills. There is no other place on this
>planet where we would be respected or understood if we engaged in the 
>communication methods we use in
>debate.
>6. Focus on technique is exclusionary on all levels ? HS level/college 
>level/and the judging pool by justifying
>the minority status as incapable of judging the techne of a 
>conventional/traditional debate round because they
>might vote on substance rather than technique.  Legal techniques 
>marginalize, government bureaucratic
>techniques marginalize, and the specialized debate techniques do the 
>same.  Those who aren?t good at it or
>those who may have alternative approaches are denied legitimate access.
>8. We Should not divorce the rhetorical from the dialectical.  This seems 
>to be the problem of our modern day
>politician is their ability to lie in our faces.  My contention is that 
>lyeing is bad, and making arguments for things
>you do not believe in to win a debate round attempting to separate the 
>dialectical from the rhetorical words.
>9. Without conviction, narrow topics do not result in a positive 
>educational experience.  Most of the topics that
>supporters of switch side debate endorse, assume there is an ample space 
>of maneuvering room within the
>topic to allow everyone to engage in the benefits of debate as 
>advocacy.  Our current framing methods try to
>control this maneuvering space.
>10. One Should not decouple the sincerity principle from argument 
>presented by debater.  This is particularly
>true in relation to the use of sexist language, racist language, gendered 
>language and even exceptionalist
>langaguge.  The discourse within the argument can have real effects on 
>those within the room.  If we can
>decouple this principle, then that would make it Okay to read offensive 
>language to startle or anger your
>opponents without punishment.  To be a community we have to respect the 
>sincerity principle.
>11. Accepting strict notions of switch-side debate forces one to replace 
>beliefs with appreciation for the
>process.  Our contention is that this process has detrimental global 
>impacts from the creation of the exceptional
>American.  ( we can move to the impact if needed of what the 
>exceptionalist american does)
>
>
>4 key reasons why we need to reopen the debate about debate.
>
>1. The ethical and pedagogical relationships fostered from the notion that 
>debate about debate is closed.  We
>need to examine how the resolution can make people verbalize what they 
>disagree with and also mold
>students into exceptionalist subjects.
>*2. Debate under its current format has failed to foster inclusion based 
>on sex, race, class, gender and ethnicity.
>NOBODY CAN PROVE THIS ARGUMENT WRONG - THE COMMUNITY COUNTERPLANS AGAINST
>LOUISVILLE HAVE FAILED!  PROBABLY NEVER IMPLEMENTED BY THOSE SCHOOLS WHO 
>PROPOSED
>THEM!  OH YEAH, ITS JUST DEBATE - A GAME - WE DONT REALLY NEED TO INCREASE 
>MEANINGFUL
>BLACK, NATIVE AMERICAN, OR FEMALE PARTICIPATION IN THE ACTIVITY.  SO MANY 
>GROUPS ARE
>EXCLUDED, HARD TO JUST POINT OUT THREE!
>
>3. Participation levels of the combined NDT/CEDA community is drastically 
>declining.   The number of
>programs lost in debate is approaching 100 over the past 15 years.
>4. The need to reclaim our agency as debaters and educators to address 
>personal, local, and global problems.
>Not to allow debate to be form of cultural technology re-affirming a 
>commitment to American Exceptionalism
>and global domination.  We need to regain local control first and personal 
>agency first.
>5. There are global implications to the endorsement of our specific debate 
>model and theories, we feel that
>alone legitimates the need to re-open the debate about debate.  Our model 
>is being taught globally to foster
>competitive debate in other countries, we should make sure its sound 
>before we export it!
>
>(I wonder if Josh read this far)
>
>Peace
>
>Massey
>
>
>(And yes, I will be at the topic committee meeting this year)
>
>
>_______________________________________________
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>eDebate at ndtceda.com
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