[eDebate] Ledewitz terrorism link to Morrison
trond at umich.edu
Thu Sep 7 18:14:26 CDT 2006
As presently articulated your assertions about Josh?s solicitation and
publicizing (via e-debate) email conversations with Ledewitz are
incoherent or just plain weak. I must assume there is something else
to your concerns that you have not yet developed.
The only non-trivial issue (I turn away from the term ?argument? given
your presentation) you raise is whether or not something posted on
e-edebate constitutes ?publishing? for the purposes of debate evidence.
But that is a generic concern that arises whether or not we are
considering the posting of e-mail exchanges. If your concern is
whether or not a particular email exchange is ?real? there are obvious
remedies (?A colleague claims you said ?X? in an email. Is that
ELLIOT: ?There is a distinct difference between seeking clarification
from an author for "education" sake and seeking "clarification" to
secure a strategic advantage in debate competition?.
Indulge me. What is the bright line you use to clearly distinguish
?education? from ?clarification? in order to gain a strategic advantage?
Perhaps I am jaded, but I think that many things debaters do - in and
out of rounds - are motivated by a desire to gain a strategic advantage
(though not usually for that reason alone, at least I hope). You do
not strike me as one who is troubled by the desire of debaters to gain
a strategic advantage (subject to various constraints, e.g. academic
honesty). If anything, by publicizing this exchange Josh has tipped
his hand and reduced whatever strategic advantage his teams might have
ELLIOT: ?Your key response is that because you "published" the
conversation on e-debate, it is now somehow "fair" or democratic.?
I do not think Josh claimed it was fair or democratic. Josh just
reported his version of an exchange he thought was interesting. You
don?t even explicate your red herring.
Relative to a scenario in which his students sprung the substance of
this exchange during a semis round at Harvard, I would say Josh?s
approach is ?fair.? Particularly given that in such a context raising
an argument about an author?s real intent could lead to some
ELLIOT: ?I disagree. It is unfair because the teams relying on evidence
published without solicitation are now being hammered by evidence that
was produced for the specific purpose of winning debate rounds.?
First, there are a number of operative purposes, including a better
understanding by the community of the intent of a potentially widely
used author. I find it really hard to believe that can be a bad thing.
You have a very simple-minded view of debater and coach motivations,
it seems to me.
Second, any email exchange involves at least two parties with
potentially dissimilar purposes. Do you doubt that Ledewitz?s purpose
in the exchange was to explain his argument? Do you doubt that Josh
faithfully reported the exchange? Either way, try the remedy suggested
Third, when you debated, did you focus on evidence that was useless for
the purpose of winning debate rounds? I?m not impressed by your boogie
Fourth, one must generally experience harm to enjoy legal standing.
Your claims are merely hypothetical (and rather strained, in my view).
ELLIOT: ?Answer me this, but for the debate proposition and the fact
that the evidence in question could be used against your team in a
round, would you have asked for the ?clarification???
Transparently, the answer is ?no?. But only as one of a thousand
things Josh and other coaches will choose to do over the next eight
months that would not occur but for the existence of the topic. What
is your point?
What evidence is not produced ?for the specific purpose of winning
debate rounds?? I grant that authors do not (or rarely) have that as
their purpose, but I suspect that still holds for Ledewitz in this
email exchange. Again, what is the principled argument you are making?
I agree with you that coach and debater solicitors should declare the
reason for their request. That's just simply courtesy and
transparency, though I think they would not be obligated to put it
quite the way you suggest.
ELLIOT: ?Example: So, my hypothetical team is getting pounded round
after round by some pretty sweet cards. Let's say it is a card saying
the Supreme Court has overturned Quirin on the precedent that is the
link to all of your advantages and/or disadvantages (nevermind that
Scalia said it too). So, in effect, 1/4 of the affirmatives are now
I trust you understand the legal force of a dissent (more than zero, I
grant). (As an aside, for all his alleged intellectual firepower,
there are many in the SC bar who would argue that his long-term weight
will be relatively minor because of his quixotic theories about the
constitution and his particular form of judicial activism, i.e. the
iconoclast so extreme he typically can only get brain-dead Thomas to
join his opinion.)
ELLIOT: ?So, I then e-mail the author for a "clarification." She
responds, "Well, of course the Supreme Court did not technically
overrule Quirin." Now I have a specific indict to all of your no
link/inherency arguments. It is a way of ginning up an answer to win a
Assuming you make the contents of the email widely available, what,
precisely, is the problem here?
ELLIOT: ?That you published it for others to use does not remove the
taint. Rather, it just furthers the results of the original unethical
Claim without a warrant. In fact, a claim without the pretense of an
echo of a memory of a warrant.
ELLIOT: ?This simple one sentence statement solicited by a debate
coach, debater, can have huge impacts within a debate round. For
example, the affirmative can argue that they are technically topical
and technically have inherency in order to claim X small advantage.
However, because Quirin was effectively overruled three months ago, all
of your substative law based disads are not unique. Have a nice day,
game over. (Example: Quirn's precedent no longer is recognized in
status quo, but it was not officially overturned. Plan specifically and
publicly overturns Quirin--this increases/decreases Bush's credibility,
etc. The plan does not really change the law. But the effect of the
plan would have politcal consequences.)
I have been out of debate too long to decipher the foregoing. It seems
to me your concern is that affirmatives might be clever. To this point
it appears that in your world, and given your example, we can prevent
the horror of affirmatives cleverly using an author?s intent only by
allowing inaccurate applications of an author?s intent. Do I have that
right? You argue earlier against motivations based on the pursuit of
victory, yet here you whine about teams losing unless they are able to
use evidence that runs contrary to the meaning intended by its author.
Do I have that right?
ELLIOT: ?Let's say that I have a high school debater come to me and ask
me to write him some great cards on the public service topic. So, in
response to his request, I write an opinion article in the Dallas
Morning News or in the Dallas bar Journal. In the article, to please
the student, I make flaming comments like ??we must have mandatory
public service in the U.S. or the planet will implode.??
First, that is not exactly what happened, as best as I can see. I
believe Josh?s motivations were (in your framing) clarification and
publication for strategic gain and not fabrication for strategic gain,
as in the scenario you sketch of your potential motivations.
Second, that would be a stupid argument, if that was truly your intent
as an author. Whatever your motivations, I would not be afraid of that
argument (that?s sarcasm; I know you are speaking in shorthand).
Third, a debater could email you to confirm if you were in fact this stupid.
Fourth, I think anything published in the DMN or the DBJ should, on its
face, be potentially useful as debate evidence. They are "legitimate
sources" whatever the motivation of an individual author. In a given
round, those who think your article on behalf of your team in those
sources could (probably should) make an argument about its
applicability, your intelligence, etc.
ELLIOT: ?Now the student did not write the article and it is published.
Is it ethical for him to use it to win debate rounds? Similarly, I have
plenty of colleagues, former professors and ex-collegues who are
experts on the law. If I were coaching, would it be ethical for me to
call them up and say, "hey, i need you to write an article on Quirin
that says X." Assuming she actually writes it and it gets published (no
different than responding to an e-mail in my mind), is it ethical for
me to use the evidence in a debate round?
Assuming she publishes it under her name and stands by the article, why
not? You truck in incomplete arguments. ELLIOT: ?We all know from
public opinion polling 101 that a person can easily shape a response
based on the way a question is asked. Thus, the argument that one is
merely asking for a "clarification" is bogus.?
In some way more than the biases at play in cutting cards and bending
them to your will? In some way more than stringing together disparate
authors unlikely to agree to construct some catastrophic disadvantage?
Surely there is some limit to the ability to of question framing to
produce given responses. There is an effect, not always trivial, but
not unlimited. And, again, there is an obvious remedy.
ELLIOT: ?the way the question was asked can easily result in an answer
that supports my competitive position. I am sure that if I wanted to, I
could frame a series of question to professor Ledewitz that would lead
to an opposite conclusion--that VAWA IS necessary to stop global
terrorism. Example: Wouldn't you agree that how America treats women
under the law effects our international human rights leadership? Yes.
Wouldn't you agree that VAWA sent a clear message that the USFG cares
about stopping violence against women? Yes. I read an article that said
other countries were thinking of modeling our VAWA before it was
overturned. Wouldn't you agree that if other countries were trying to
model VAWA, that VAWA was having some influence on other countries
human right policies? Yes. Wouldn't you also agree that if the U.S. has
more influence with other countries, there is a greater likelihood that
we can get more cooperation from them on a range of issues such as
human rights, the war on terrorism and women's issues? Yes.
First, and I know this is obvious, but it must be stated: This is you
answering for another party, i.e. fabricating evidence. This is not
what Josh did, even granting your point about questions shaping answers.
Second, unless you have some mechanism to return to DARPANET circa
1973, this public email cat is out of the bag. There will be email
clarifications by coaches and students and they will use the knowledge
they gain (if not the text of the email or transcript of the
conversation) for strategic gain. Is it not better that the substance
of these exchanges are publicly available? Shouldn't we at least
praise Josh for publishing his exchange (though it would be better if
he forwarded to the list instead of excerpting).
ELLIOT: ?Now, I have just ginned up my own little link story and got a
professor to agree with it.?
You have ginned up the link story, the professor, and the crisis.
Trond E. Jacobsen
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