[eDebate] Response to Slusher

scottelliott at grandecom.net scottelliott
Fri Jun 9 09:28:10 CDT 2006

I agree with Slusher to the extent that I may be wrong on Qurin. So you know, I
was cutting and pasting directly from the headnotes and/or holdings in the
Supreme Court cases. So, I'll take your word for it that the holding in Qurin
does not say what I thouhgt. But, you may want to re-read the case yourself. I
have no vested interest in adding words to a holding. Though I may have added
words on that one to make it somewhat grammatically correct. Or, I may have
added the terms you object to as an effort to include enemy combatents. I
honestly can't recall. I didn't have time to read every single case line by
line. Eric, you tell me and everyone else what the central holding in Quirn was,
in one declarative sentence. I will accept your word that the holding is what
you say it is--then we will take your version of the holding and make a
sub-resolution out of it. I have no problem with that at all.

Even better, you tell me which of the twenty holdings in Casey is the central or
core holding, in a single declarative sentence (bet you can't), and we will
incorporate that into a sub-resolution.

I agree that the topics listed in my reply to Tim are not optimal. In fact, I
told him and just about everyone else that those topics needed much work. The
problem, Eric, is that these cases have so many holdings, when I read them as
organic texts, without the filtration of a politcal agenda, or desire to debate
a specific topic, I found 20, 30, 40, or 50 different issues subject to debate.
Look at Casey for example. I ask you, what the hell is the "focus" of debate in
Casey? 'Cause, when I read it, I can run 60 different cases, many of them
mutually exclusive.

So, you are right that limting Casey to just the holding that a right to an
abortion is grounded in the  Equal Protection clause is TOO narrow. However,
your alternative, "Overturn Casey" is too damn broad. Sorry if such a
resolution requires more work.

I think the right question to ask is, WHAT DO WE WANT STUDENTS TO DEBATE on each
one of these cases. Y'all are the debate educators. y'all must have had a
"vision" of how the debates on each one of these cases SHOULD go down. All I am
saying is that the "vision" must be translated into words.

So, I agree with your criticisms of my hastily drafted attempt to bend the
current topic list into a form that would focus the debate. However, your
criticism in no way denies that the topic lists, as currently drafted, are bad
for debate.

I guess this all comes down to what you think debate ought to be--a value
judgment. Eric, Jackie Massey, Ede, and Mancuso, from my readings of their
arguments, believe that debate is about an Affirmative having 9 minutes to say
anything they want about any topic they personally feel upset or outraged
about. Thus, they want topics with "maximum affirmative flexibility." And,
folks, if you are this kind of person with this kind of value system, then you
should absolutely vote for the topic lists as currently drafted and choose the
topic list with the most cases. My guess is that you are also the kind of
person who will, after the Affirmative has had their nine minutes of ramblings
in the sun, you will then spend your 9 minutes talking about what you want to
talk about, regardless of what the affirmative said anyway. Then, the judge in
the back of the room flips a coin, and you all walk into the next round to
start the ramblings again.

I, on the other hand, have a different vision of what academic debate is
supposed to be. This is just my personal value system revealing itself. I
believe the purpose of the topic is to force students to advance arguments on a
specific area, sometimes one that they personally do not believe in. I believe
that Protagoras had it right a few thousand years ago. We should force students
to debate topics that are against their own beliefs. That way they learn how to
argue, how to criticize, how to bolster arguments, and how to research. I also
believe topics should give students a reasonable expectation of what the
subject of the debate is going to be when they walk into the room.
I call it the "fair warning" standard. Finally, I believe that debate topics
should be fair to programs and individual debaters, regardless of skill level
or resources. Under these values, the areas topic (hate speech, etc.) is a good
choice. Under
these values, the list topics, as worded, suck.

I mean if I was a coach at a big school with a huge number of debaters and
researchers (aka Dartmouth, Wake, or Emory), hell, I'd support the following
resolution: Resolved: Somebody should do something. Why? Because I know that no
matter what someone says, I will have something in one of my 200 tubs that will
be a response. If I am at OU or Louisville, I too would vote for the Resolved,
do whatever ya want, its your affirmative case. Why? Because I am going to
spout off about whatever I want no matter what the hell you have to say. Even
if you run my own affirmative against me, I will simply say you are not
affirmative enough for my personal beliefs, cut my wrists and take a dump on
the floor.

If, on the other hand, I am coaching novices, or JV debaters in traditional
policy debate or I am a coach of say six debaters with a part time grad
assistant, then I may, just may, want to have a more limited topic.

I think Eric's focus on Affirmative flexibility blinds him to the fact that
there are two sides to each debate. Having the affirmative get to talk about
anything places a huge and unfair disadvantage to the negative. On the flip
side, placing limits on the Aff. is not unfair because they have unlimited prep
time to decide how they will defend their position. Personally, I think the
negatives should be winning 60% of the debates.


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