[eDebate] Um...Topicality still sucks

Josh jbhdb8
Fri Jun 1 15:14:52 CDT 2007


When I was in high school, some parents got me and my debate partner to do
research to try to help them (and lawyers) with an appeal for their son who
had a life sentence.  After doing extensive research into the case
(including multiple personal interviews) I became convinced that the person
I was working to help was guilty.  Personally, I am very liberal and tend
toward immediately believing that most people are railroaded by the justice

Whatever your views of justice....Researching the question made me go
against my personal beliefs and biases and made me reevaluate my
predilections.  In this way, being forced to confront not just a generally
held belief but both sides of a specific example really tested my own
advocacy on a particular issue.

A topic, much in the same way, forces both sides to investigate a position
and test each other as to the relative truth/truths that position
represents.  It is all well and good to be for saying and doing whatever you
want whenever you want....And in fairness, nobody ever says you cant debate
whatever you want to....What many people do say, is that if you choose to
debate "whatever you want to" there might be a penalty because (and this is
not a FAIRNESS argument) the end result when two teams debate a question
that nobody prepared to debate is usually a WEAK TEST of its validity.  In
other words, if a judge had asked me to present my position on "life in
prison" outside of the context of the "prisoner to get life" my answer would
probably be persuasive but weak.

Debate, at its best, is a means of testing ideas.  When both sides know,
basically, what is coming those ideas can be tested.  Sometimes a team slips
in a topical but obtuse new affirmative...and often at the worst possible
time (outrounds at a National tournament usually).  However, when the
affirmative can pop a new case that literally has NO relation to the topic
presented for debate - the end result is literally ANTI educational...No
test of the idea of any meaningful stretch is likely.....No relative truth
is found at the end of the debate.  And the affirmative is congratulated for
"winning" what exactly?  How did the courage of their convictions get tested
by the other bright minds that are being confronted.  How did the
affirmative open themselves to the learning model debate offers?

I also think that fairness issues exist....and that some unfairness precedes
the question of a topic....But saying "topicality sucks" is like telling a
basketball referee that fouls screw up the game.  No kidding, really?
Debate at least attempts to make what is and is not a foul subject to
democratic deliberation and allows MASSIVE community input...and while it
may not be a perfect system it basically works.  Do I like that the Con Con
CP was almost unbeatable last year?  No....but the year was still basically
debateable....Did I learn a ton about the legal system and the current
docket....Yes....Were my long held beliefs challenged by the different
affirmatives.....Yes....Did I get to personally discuss those issues with
experts in the field who deepened my understandings....Yes.

Maybe, just maybe there is a value (elucidated well by Branson) to learning
about more than exactly what you want to learn about?  I have always wanted
to confront new ways of finding evidence (rap, other definitions of
intellectuals, application of topics to other contexts and ways of knowing,
critical literature, non-nuclear impacts...all totally ok with me) but have
you considered that there might be a value to debating a topic?


On 6/1/07, Adam Jackson <baltimoredebate at gmail.com> wrote:
> This community is comprised of some of the smartest people in the United
> States, and most of us think some of the dumbest shit.
> Topicality (regardless of what online database it was found in) is not a
> mainstream vocabulary term that people who do not participate in policy
> debate use...PERIOD.
> It's easy to do a Google search and say "IT HAS A DEFINITION!!!". In the
> time you wasted posting stuff legitimizing, criticizing or just plain
> lecturing about topicality, you could have found a recipe to make pound
> cake, or maybe fix a flat tire (just to pass the time).
> The resolution sucks ass, and while I understand that eDebate is used as a
> forum to discuss the entire scope of the community, it doesn't mean that the
> resolution still doesn't suck. There has to come a point...where
> "straight-ups" and "crazies" come together and agree on what the hell
> reality is.
> God the DC annoys me.
> I would write more, but I know you're not going to read it...so I'll do
> what I do best, in and out of debate rounds...being blunt and direct.
> Wake up, and think about what you let educate you before you become a
> total idiot.
> --
> Adam J. Jackson
> Towson University Speech and Debate
> Cell:443-824-4273
> _______________________________________________
> eDebate mailing list
> eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
> http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate
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