[eDebate] Activism vis-a-vis debate

philogelos philogelos
Thu Jul 5 01:24:01 CDT 2007


 
Thank you for engaging my rant!Tuna, Lots of the videos linked to on the youdebate blog are good stuff, but I'm not sure what that has to do with policy debate. As for the blog that contains videos of debates, that is probably very useful for people interested in debate, but I can't envision that being "activist" per se - although I admittedly only skimmed the first few pages. In what ways do you seeing these things effecting matters? Are non-debaters watching these? I'd be curious precisely in what ways you think tangible activism occurs in either case, or how that impacts the question of whether debate's capacity to spread awareness is benefited from abandoning having a stable resolution as a top priority. If there is a connection to the issue at hand, it is not obvious to me. Andy, I'm not sure what is being "permed" here. Using debate lingo more than necessary always has a high danger of speciousness, I think. The question is not whether debate ought 
to occur, but rather what form we should concieve it in. My main point was not that debate does zero good with regards to making the world a better place - but that it does so only *indirectly* by making debaters more capable in their ability to impact the world around them. Viewing debate as a means through which to "get messages out" is akin to having a rally in the wilderness. Ultimate priority HAS to be set on increasing debaters' skills with regards to research, intelligent decision making, and communication, since giving just ONE person the means to make more meaningful change is infinitely more beneficial than having thousands of debates about any issue, no matter how pressing. Kevin, My reason for saying that throwing the established resolution out the window nullifies the research done is obvious, I think - why would anyone research anything (except their own affirmative) if there isn't a binding resolution? Even if some uber competitive school decided to 
prepare for all concievable "important issues" that they could be confronted with, that research wouldn't be particularly good or indepth. Do you not think that there is pedagogical value to the research and preparation that comprises some 95% of all time spent with policy debate? If not, then isn't parli a lot closer to the form of debate you're looking for?You then claim that there is a double standard going on, where proponents of "policy" debate are suggesting that if a "kritik" oriented approach doesn't magically transfigure the world, then it is worthless. I don't know how many people really seriously make that argument (probably far fewer than the number who have made the "we made you a better person for running this critique, vote for us to thank us!" argument), but it isn't the issue at hand. Obviously both methods of debating involve heaps of pretending; the question is whether it makes the debaters better people to be 
guaranteed to at least have the ability to engage on the topic by having prepared. And I think it clearly does, because without that preparation not only is the debate itself going to be pretty crappy, but people won't have the motivation to research, and most won't even have the motivation to show up (which requires competitive equity). I don't usually use sports analogies, but here's one. Why is it good for students to participate in, say, football? The biggest single reason is likely to be the increase in athletic health. Now if that is the goal, should we abandon the scoring rules for football and give the win to whichever team burned the most number of calories during the game? Of course not - no one would show up (audience or participants). The players do all of their training so that they can execute the plays that will let them win under the scoring mechanism. Debate is the same way because the advance training may not be the "point" of the game, but it IS 
the point of the activity. No one ever became a better debater - let alone thinker, or social advocate - during a debate round...that happens inbetween, in figuring out how to improve. Talking about the things the US Government can do in X situation is NOT the telos of debate - but it is a necessary organizing principle to allow the end goal of debate to occur (not that I'm saying the USFG as an agent is necessary, but it is absurd to think that not liking a particular resolution means that we shouldn't have a single, firm resolution. You're conflating those two things). When you say that I am arguing that the content of the resolution doesn't matter at all - that's not true. The resolution needs to be structured to do the following things:1. Maintain competitive equity (be roughly balanced)2. Invite research and argument preperation year-round (be about an issue where there is ample literature that is multi-faceted)3. Make people want to debate (be interesting)THAT's why 
coming up with a topic is really tough. And any system that allows a team to say "Nuts to that, let's talk about what I want to talk about instead" - even if the motive isn't gaining a competitive edge - seems astoundingly inconsiderate. You mention that participation is dwindling in the status quo, which is clearly a huge problem - but not one to do with having one, yearly topic, I suspect. I think that OTHER structural aspects of policy debate must be addressed to deal with that (if I had to venture a proposal to fix debate, it would center around eliminating the reading of evidence in exchange for an indepth and well run foot-notes system...but I'm crazy like that). Plus I don't see any reason why unpredictability reverses participation; if I want to go listen to someone tell me about a pressing social problem that isn't being covered in national news, I'm going to go booths outside a local university in lieu of a debate round 100 times out of 100. How do I 
propose debate be a system for people who want to one day go out and fix genocide if we don't talk about genocide? It isn't as though genocide isn't frequently pertinent to the resolution! And participating in debate rounds about genocide doesn't increase one's ability to be a genocide-stopper one iota. Being intellectually competent overall makes it far easier to communicate and exact change in the real world, though. No, I wasn't lamenting the lack of debates about female genital mutilation - my point was the opposite. I learned about both sides of this issue to a fair amount DESPITE not having any debates about it. Trying to be prepared exposed me to that literature, not an affirmative team rushing to rescue me from ignorance. Your point about Nietzsche - helps illustrate why the assumption that education comes first and foremost through what cards are read in a given debate round can be quite detremental to education. Debate kritiks' claims about philosophers are usually 
as true to the truth as politics disads are. The only team I've ever seen talk about Nietzsche directly is Fort Hays, and anyone trying to learn about Nietzsche from what was said in THAT round was sorely mislead (Nietzsche thinks that we ought to suspend all action until we can create new value systems? Umm...no.). Likewise, there are thousands of debaters walking around who have utterly twisted beliefs as to what Foucault is all about. But that's mainly because trying to fit the square peg of philosophy into the circular hole of "why would it be bad if the US did this plan of action" is almost inevitably going to lead to a whole hell of a lot of intellectual butchering. I downright LOATHED most philosophers I was exposed to via debate until I encountered them (accidentally) in a context much more condusive to paying attention to what was being said. 

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