[eDebate] Response to J. Russell, refined list tpoic example

scottelliott at grandecom.net scottelliott
Wed Jun 14 10:58:46 CDT 2006


No person has posted a single request that the topic selection process be
re-openned to include (1) new case areas, (2) new S. Court cases/decisions, or
(3) different topics. Your worry about openning the floodgates is not founded
upon any credible evidence that "petitioner's are lining up at the door"
waiting to have their new case added to the resolution list.

Jason says that the TC has made their decision so these are the "topics we are
saddled with." What a horrible standard to uphold. So, if the topic committee
wrote a series of topics that were demonstrated to be clearly flawed (as
demonstrated), or clearly biased to one side (also demonstrated depending on
which interpretation of "overturn" and "Decision" you choose), or clearly moot
(e.g the very case listed was, in fact, overturned) then Jason says you are all
stuck with them. Nice standard. How Bolshevik of you. [Cue Soviet national
anthem here]...Offical Proclamation of the Imperial CEDA TOpic Committee:

"Today the Topic Committe has adopted this years "one-year plan" for college
policy debate...similar to the Stalinist five-year plan, you must all work
under its precepts, even though those precepts are demonstrably flawed. The
CEDA/NDT topic cannot and will not be changed. That is all."

Jason says the process would be "COMPELTELY" re-opened. I call BULLSHIT. The TC
committee, as Gordon Stables has pointed out, can use their discretion and
authority to prevent this from happening. They can limit the discussion to how
to make the court cases already listed more precise and more limited. They
obviously used their discretion to prevent discussion of these issues during
the original topic meeting. (I suggest people go back and read the topic papers)
Now they can use their discretion to let these
issues into the discussion for a limited purpose. Nobody has said, "I want the
TC to include Brown or Marbury vs. Madison." The entire discussion is whether
overrule decisions are appropropriate when compared to alternatives such as
overrrule holdings or overrule precedents and whether the specific holdings
should be identified within those SPECIFIC CASES.

This is not an ad hoc or posthoc change to the offical CEDA ballot. I thought
the reason to post these topics was to foster comment prior to the listing on
the offical ballot. So much for "transparency" and "community input." (I guess
the CENTRAL COMMITTEE has spoken, so we should just shut up and take it in the
ass like good commrades to the CEDA/NDT merger revolution.)  No
official topic /resolution ballot has been forwarded to the Secretary
of CEDA  and the CEDA Secrtary has not posted one or sent one out to voters. So,
any changes would not be a violation of the CEDA Constitution. Additionally,
this is not the same as the problems with the high school topic--where changes
were made AFTER a resolution was voted on by the coaches. The change(s) I and
others have suggested would occur PRIOR TO VOTING. If you think the changes
suck, don't vote for them. Simple democracy at work--scary, huh?!

Russell is clear that he opposes the re-openning of the process. ok. He is
opposed. I am, in favor. He says black, I say white. Wow. Now everyone is clear
where we stand.

Jason then goes for the "gentleman's agreement" and "community norms" argument
I have read about in past posts. I doubt those are effective. I doubt that
community norms have ever existed, and by the time one could come into
existence, it would be the middle of the year, and I ask, How many teams were
screwed during the development of the "community norm?" Jason, will the
community norm count as a voting issue when Dartmouth breaks off twenty new
affirmatives at the NDT, and, ironically uses the same arguments posted on this
list-serve as to why they are topical? LOL.

Jason and others are afraid that the narrowing of the topics would "write
plans." I disagree. Overturning a specific precedent means that another
precedent is put in its place. That is where Jason and Slusher can find their
"maximum affirmative flexibility." I suggest that "maximum aff. flexibility"
should be found in crafting plans that address the core issues of the cases
listed, rather than allowing affirmatives to run to the corners of the cases.
If anything, and I take it that you are with Slusher on the idea that
affirmatives need more wins, my approach to the resolutions would prevent
abusive negative strategies such as the PIC (for the most part) and the
"distinguish" c-plan.

I think if a list topics, as written, is chosen, life will be harder for
small schools, and novice programs. This is just going to drive more people
away from the activity.

The re-wording of the topics could be done in just a few hours---at most. It
would not
change the "intent" of the original topic committee, it would, rather, refine
their intent. For example, I just do not see how the Topic Committe can get
away from:

 |  Resolved: the U.S. S.Ct. should overrule one or more of the following
 |  precedents:
 |  (1) Gregg vs. Georgia's holding that the penalty of death is not invariably
 |  unconsitutional;
 |  ...
 |  (2) --- v. Morrison's holding that gender based violence is not
substantially related to interstate commerce;
 |  (3) Gratz v. Bollinger's holding that race based admissions criteria in
 |  education subject to Equal Protection analysis are to be evaluated using
strict scrutiny by the courts;
 |  (4) Planned Parenthood v. Casey's holding that the state can prevent a
person from having an abortion after the fetus becomes viable;
 |  ...
 |  Now, these are simply, and blatantly, superior to the current list topics.
There is just no way Galloway or Mancuso or Russell can get around the fact
that the four examples I have given, as refinements of my original suggestions
to Tim, are superior to their list topics as written.

These revisions substantially reduce, if not eliminate, the problems addressed
by myself and other commentators:
 |  (1) These examples eliminate bi-directionality.
 |  (2) These examples focus the debates on the key points of controversy. Of
course there are other points, like in Casey. But at least the example I have
given prevents the Affirmative from arguing boths sides of the abortion debate
for strategic advantage.
 (3) These examples, and the shift away from the term "decision" to "precedent"
and "holding," prevent the abusive "distinguish" c-plan.
 |  (4) These examples virtually eliminate PIC's. Of course there will always be
PIC's but the alternative, the lists as written with a "community consensus"
that the affirmaitve must overrule the entire decsion, makes PIC's a guaranteed
win for the negatives.
 |  (5) These examples are manageable for a small team, or for a program that
has a lot of novices or JV debaters. it meets the "three tub" principle.
 |  (6) These examples provide a clear reason for decision for the judge. Either
she agrees that the S.Court should rule the death penalty is unconstitutional in
all cases, or she does not. She is not deciding whether Mr. Gregg had standing
to sue under the 14th amendment versus the 8th amendment.
 |  (7) This gives the negative clear, case specific, ground to research and to
 |  formulate strategies. Heaven forbid a team actually write a case-hit again!

I went back and read the topic papers posted on the topic blog/site. I was
distressed to see theat virtually every one of my arguments were raised in
those papers--but for some reason they were ignored by the Topic
Committee. Nothing I have written is a "new argument in rebuttals," or "after
the decsion of the CEDA voters.

What is Jason and others so afraid of? Democratic choice? Why not place one
version of the topic that is similar to the examples I have given on the
offical ballot. If it loses, it loses. But, what happens if it wins. Is that
what you are afraid of?

Jason then does a nice, but futile, attempt at "smoke and mirrors--a rhetorical
slieght of hand. "Its the process that is flawed--yeah, that's the ticket! We
should reform the topic selection process AFTER everyone debates a crappy topic
for a year." LOL That is a real hoot. I have a counter-porposal. It is called a
PERMUTATION. (1) Re-write one list topic specifying the precedents/holdings
that are to be overturned in those cases already listed. Place that one revised
lsit on the ballot. (2) Reform the Topic Committe Process. (You should all go
see "Thank You for Smoking," the hack for the tobacco industry does the same
type of deflection as Jason attempts.)

Jason then states that the topics will have no effect on critical affirmaitves,
so the topic does not matter anyway. I agree that critical affirmatives may
ignore the resolutions. But that is why "resolutionality," rather than
"topicality" should be a voting issue. It is in no way a justification for
poorly worded topics. Second, the topics do matter to those who run traditional
policy cases. Third, the suggested examples I have given provide room for
critical affriamtives to be topical. Look, if you cannot run a critical
affirmative based on Gregg or on Casey, using the precedents I have cited, then
you need to find another line of work/play. Fourth, I think the examples I have
given actually strengthen the negative's hand against critical cases that are
not topical--by saying there is plenty of room within these resolutions for you
to develop a critical perspective. Fifth, just about any criticism you have of
my examples cutting against critical affirmatives are "not-unique" to my
examples, --they will usually apply to the case lists as written.

One last point. There is a common argument that for the committee to go back and
make changes will cut into their vacation time. My response--other than so
what-- is I have given you numerous examples examples that you can place on the
ballot by simply cutting and pasting into a word document. My estimate is that
the TC could do this in as little at five minutes, including editing. If they
want to "debate about," they could do it in 2 hours. Folks, this ain't "rocket


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