[eDebate] My answers re activism, meant to send the other day, just sent backchannel

Andy Ellis andy.edebate
Tue Jul 10 09:26:18 CDT 2007

I  feel  like the tone and  arguments on this are a bit more engaging so i
will write more, i intialy just didnt think there was much disagreement. I
dont think my argument has ever been as simple as you debate it in a round
and you solve it, i have always attempted to articulate an appreciation for
the entire process of debate that includes research, rethinking, practice,
rethinking, research, competition, rethinking etc. To put it simply i am
arguing for an expansion of the topical canon.

To continue building on the metaphor, my alternative is the difference
between an elective approach to area studies and a major approach to area
studies (the minor may be more apt technically, but i believe the major is
more apt as it relates to the question of accepted literary canons) Now i
know the debate on  area studies is controversial and far from settled, and
that some of my "friends" may disagree with the use of this model, but i
nonetheless think its a worthwhile lens to look through when discussing the
possibility of multiple centers for the topical canon.

More specfic engagements below
On 7/5/07, philogelos < philogelos at myway.com> wrote:
> 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?

This is where i think you come out of your own model and seek for
competitive debate to be something other than an educational training
ground. Nothing that happens in any debate, be it the final round of the
ndt, or the first round of novice division at a local tournament in
Colorado, or a presidential debate has macro level policy implications, what
it does is teach people a method of engaging policy, the more people who
know the method, in pure theory, the better.

The hicks and greene debate is probably what complicates that theoretical
purity, because certain readings indicate that the more people who
participate in debate as it is in the status quo, the more american
exceptionalists there are. Yet debate about politics and policy can be
resurrected from their critique if  special effort is taken  to focus on
topics which challenge the norm of exceptional ism.

In a sense most debates are to some level activism, the question is for

> 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.

Ay, So does using the speciousness. I actually find the perm one of the most
useful terms to come out of debate lingo, its conceptual underpinning is
essential to activism, it breaks head strong logjams and facilitates non
oppositional thinking and decentralized organization.

What is being permed is tunas plug for non American contest debate to be
observed appreciated and engaged, with your call for not seeing the debate
round as bigger than it is, and my call that the canon be expanded.

> 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.

We agree about as much as we probably ever will on the analysis you provide,
the point where we will depart and where  i seem to depart with all the sane
and sensible people out there is that "making debaters more capable" should
occur on issues which are important to the debaters political education.
This is where the area studies analogy comes in to play. A major in womens
studies or black studies teaches a student to be more capable as a student
while also learning about their particular area of interest. A elective in
womens studies may or may not make the  student more capable as a scholar,
but will more than likely be interesting.

Currently the departures into non topical literature bases are more than
likely to be like electives to a political science canon. They will be
interesting and they will inform about the subject, they may even shed some
light on the assumptions of the core of the canon, but they needent by
necessity of academic rigor make the student a better scholar, and they most
likely dont have a particular influence on the students ability to master
and engage the core of the canon. However, if alternative standards for
multiple resolutional centers compelled debaters to a higher standard of
rigour in order to engage the area studies it would perhaps increase the
possibility that those who wanted to train to engage core controversies in
their community as they become more capeable, could do so within a rigorous
academic program.

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.

No doubt, not my argument though, here is a question on your terms, if you
knew someone had a plan to stop female genital  mutilation even if it was
grossly not topical, would you prepare for it? Would it change your mind if
10 percent of teams where debating it?

> 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?

This assumption does not empericaly bear itself out, in the college
community it has been viable for a couple of seasons for people to not
affirm the topic  at least in a  traditional sense, to wink at the topic as
it where, and avoid core debates, and to get a first round. Yet not everyone
has done this. Nor will it ever occur that everyone will deviate. The
hypothetical lacks a equally strong empiric record.

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?

Again this relies on the assumption that everybody would deviate, however in
practice, teams currently prepare for all of the topical cases, plus the
cases that deviate from the topic. Those that only rely on T to limit their
research to the prescribed topic are not likely to be very successful at
this point. My argument instead is seeking to have the power of that 95 per
cent of research directed toward topics that may have value added over the
status quo competitively balanced topic. AND to add a bit of discipline and
structure to the politics of topic resistance.

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).

Again no one is really arguing that there should  not be an official

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)

4. Provide these things within a framework that allows students to build
skills while debating a relevant controversy.

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.

Nuts=Squo Mine says if you say nuts to that you have to have a good
alternative that meets the above 1-3 criteria as well as some others...

i'm becoming redundant, but the point is still the same im not making the
argument that
a)anybody can run whatever they want-instead im saying if i deviate from the
topic for the purpose of liberation, there should be standards of academic
rigour with which the neg can test the effort at liberation-these dont have
to be the same standards as used in the status quo
b)in round learning is some magic bullet to propel activism-more that the
whole process is key and in order to effectively widen the canon there must
be multiple centers of discussion driving a more diverse set of knowledge

No banners. No pop-ups. No kidding.

No kidding thats far less fun than no pop ups...
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