[eDebate] Question about nonpolicy topics for Korcok

Eli Brennan elibrennan
Wed Jul 18 23:40:41 CDT 2007

Martin's said a lot that I've been thinking... I want to throw in a line:

While "rules just don't control people very well"... the rest of his post
makes the point very clear that Habits and Strategic Incentives rule people
Quite well. It would suck if the "revolution" threw off the rules... only to
find that the people were the problem.

Eli Brennan
Golden Gopher Debate

On 7/18/07, Martin Harris <mharris02 at drury.edu> wrote:
>     I have been patiently waiting since 1996 for this discussion to
> happen. I thought a proposal for a non-policy topic was probably inevitable
> for no other reason then there is no structural requirement for a policy
> topic. In fact, the NDT standing rules has since the start of the shared
> topic allowed for the possibility that the CEDA topic could be different
> than the NDT topic. Once CEDA opened the committee to an NDT rep, an ADA
> rep, a student rep and two at large reps functionally making the CEDA
> executive committee a minority of the topic committee I thought it would be
> hard to reverse the presumption for policy topics, but the possibility of a
> non-policy topic on the ballot really takes nothing more than 5 of the 9
> members of the topic committee to vote for one. Whether it could win an at
> large vote is another question, but I have long waited to see what would
> happen when it did. Interesting times.
>    Now, the reason I find it interesting. Given the development of policy
> topics in CEDA (should was used prior to an agreement to share topics), I
> wonder why any one thinks they would shake out differently now than they did
> 10 years ago? I ran my first "plan" (never debated in high school, and
> started college before policy debate was the law of the land) in a debate
> largely to avoid having to answer the policy implications/mechanism
> justification arguments that people were making in the early 90's. Even with
> non policy topics, people were still making political process arguments and
> making affs defend the logical policy conclusions of their non-policy
> advocacies. If you defend that political advertising is problematic, then
> you have to defend the world where policy makers limit that speech. Meaning
> the negative got to define your plan for you. I also remember a lot of
> arguments revolving around you complain about things but don't DO anything
> about them. Meaning people would move towards defending plans if for no
> other reason then not having them put them at a disadvantage.
>    And maybe the its parli ad hom is easy, but even there I can't find
> many people in the upper tiers that are willing to defend non policy topics.
> Meaning empirically in the venue were it happens on a weekly basis, it
> largely fails. Many of the NPTE top 25 complain vociferously about the
> quality of a tournament if it strays to far from the USFG should (I think
> even Stannard would agree less he forgets the lone elation I had at debating
> the rez this house should take a leap of faith)..... I actually like fact
> and value topics, put such in my judge philosophy, and still don't hear
> interpretations other than X actor will pass Y policy. Even when topics are
> extremely loose.
>    It isn't that I don't LIKE the idea of a non-policy topic, or
> non-policy debate, but given the historical development of topic
> interpretation regardless of format, why do you think a non-policy topic
> would be anymore successful today than it was in the late 90's? I think the
> topic discussion around including Gregg in last years topic is kind of
> telling on this point. While I think a vigourous debate on the merits of the
> death penalties deterrent capability versus the engagement of the state in
> killing would be a decent debate, I don't see that debate ever occuring
> regardless of topic. People will opt out 9 times out of 10 for the
> counterplan to eliminate the death penalty through a different method.
> Changing to a non-policy topic won't force that debate. The negative will
> still take the death penalty bad side and either indict the reasons the aff
> says it is bad with a different set of reasons, or say the aff complains
> about the death penalty but doesn't DO anything about it followed by, PLAN
> have the SCOTUS overturn Gregg along with some jazz about the lack of an aff
> plan means aff has to compete with the negative. And while you may think my
> competition "theory" is whack. A) It worked before B) a LOT of theory in
> debate is crap that people make work to try to achieve some end and C) given
> the disrespect that people show for alternative views of debate (see the
> discussion around crashing each others parties if people wanted to have a
> "policy" only tournament) it is probably going to be an easy trigger to get
> the people that want policy debate to pull. Meaning we are right back to the
> status quo. If there is one think I have learned in the last ten years from
> you libertarian/anarchist types is rules just don't control people very
> well.
>    Now, if we could figure out how to live and let live, maybe it could
> succeed in a world were a tournament declared whether they were going to use
> the CEDA non-policy topic, or the NDT policy version and have the same
> subject area, but something tells me that may be a little too pollyanish to
> actually work in modern debate. Might be an interesting world though, if
> people would give it a shot.
> Martin Harris
> p.s. If you have some args on why you think it would work, I would
> sincerely love to hear them. I am honestly not objecting as much to the
> desire as I am to the presumption that it would work. Something about the
> history of debate progression as I know it just makes me think that ship has
> sailed.
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Eli Brennan

"So it goes." - Vonnegut
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