[eDebate] argument #2

Kevin Sanchez let_the_american_empire_burn
Wed Jul 4 05:38:21 CDT 2007

as i said before, there were two arguments flying below the radar in josh 
hoe's posts from last month which i thought needed to be addressed more 
explicitly. he informs me that due to work constraints he'll be unable to 
better defend argument #1 (dealt with here: 
http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2007-June/071421.html). what 
follows is a response to a second argument that speaks directly to a concern 
raised by many in the recent topicality discussion, including the anonymous 
'lover of laughter' named philogelos (see here: 
http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/2007-June/071440.html). it also 
supplements point (2) in my response to philogelos (here: 


argument #2 -- 'debaters will just talk about whatever they want'.

my view of democratic self-government is banal, i suppose: government 
governs best which governs least. some things we need uniformity on (say, 
the criminality of murder, or the length of a debate round), but to the 
extent possible, we should continually strive to include the widest range of 

the question then is, who decides when a given function of government has 
become unncessary?, and i find sometimes the least useful people to ask are 
the functionaries themselves. this is true of any organization really. the 
topic committee and their defenders are likely to see any alternative to the 
topic process as 'anarchy' because their job is producing topics. 
'democratic empowerment' (as un-grandiosely as we can use that phrase) means 
putting previously self-evident ways of doing things into question in hopes 
of turning an accepted consensus into a more rational one. if debaters, 
coaches and directors can come up with a better system from the ground-up (a 
process of online disclosure) which provides for more predictable and 
educational debates, why not make the attempt?

i thought giving as much decision-making power as possible to the smallest 
units possible was called democracy, not anarchism. no one is contemplating 
the elimination of 'the state' here: the topic committee can continue to do 
what they do, but the results of their process will simply have a less 
restrictive and more suggestive purpose. this in turn will free up the 
committee to raise topics that're less bounded to the inherently impossible 
task of equally divvying ground and focus more on timeliness and relevance.

was the dixie round 7 experiment 'anarchism'?... or was it trusting 
debaters, and expecting a certain level of responsibility/professionalism 
from them as well? isn't that what student-centered pedagogy is all about...



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