[eDebate] an actual contribution to the t debates....

Brent Saindon basaindon
Tue Jun 12 14:36:43 CDT 2007

"i will be happy to keep coaching how i coach and you can just as likely see sneetches as a topical plan."

Andy, your reductio ad absurdum is a little behind the times. The Dr. Seuss can of worms is already several years old.

BTW, the star-bellied sneetches (sp? -- it's been a long time) can do a lot of cool stuff and would make a wonderful (and in my opinion, MORE realistic) counterplan mechanism for the topic. They may also be capable of constructive engagement...

Andy, it sounds like you are trying to bargain against your friends without their consent. The line has become "if I can get what I want, I will join you all against all this other debate experimentation that I don't much care for". In my opinion, there is no need to cut deals amongst this group. Experimentation and "explosion" (I thought many of you have an explosion fetish anyway?) will occur so long as debaters find it to be edifying and it has some degree of competitive success. The bottom line always comes back to persuasion. When people can no longer be convinced IN debates to vote in a particular direction, debaters will make different choices. Another bottom line: other experiments will take place, with our without the consent of the people on this list. Andy, you can't cut the deal to keep the sneeches out of debate; all you can do is just sell your vote on the issue. 

Just as in politics: when "family values" no longer acts as a suasory appeal for large segments of the population, we will see a different political appeal. For a long time, the left lamented that this term was "irrational", a meaningless term, or a distraction from real problems. Finally, they seemed to have learned that last few years that jobs and health care might also be considered "family values". Now the debate happens on different terms (but for how long -- I suspect we will see even more linguistic experiments with this term in the next 2 years). 

You can keep ahead of the curve, defend your place, or hide your head, but you can't cut the deal to make it all go away. CEDA tried it, so did the ADA, but changes will happen, and perhaps debate will outgrow people, leave them behind, or bitter. From anecdotal reports in LD and Parli, they can't get rid of our influence either. Jim Hanson can call for separate tournaments, but someone is going to show up and rain on his parade. Why lament or deal in this forum; it will be of little use in the competitive context. The topic committee has tried to reign people in through democratizing the topic process, but it does little good to limit people in debates.

As a fitting homage to the recently deceased Richard Rorty, I would like to end with a suggestion that he may have made. My undergraduate adviser took a class from him at the University of Virginia, and he relayed to a group of students that Richard Rorty once characterized truth as "whatever your colleagues will let you get away with." When the debaters I interact with ask me about my opinion of the topic, its meaning, and T debates, I try to give the same type of reply. Sometimes, you don't have to do a lot of convincing (because you prey on their predispositions and prejudices). Other times, you have to put up a good front to convince them that the question of definition is not worth their time, or is a losing battle with the judge. But when it comes right down to it, "the topic is whatever your opponents and judges will let you get way with." It's true of "policy" debates as much as any other kind. The judge and the other team let you get away with resuming the literal
 stability of the words. If the last 150 years + of communication research has taught us anything, words and phrases are anything but purely literal or stable. But again, as long as you can get away with it...

Brent Saindon

Andy Ellis <andy.edebate at gmail.com> wrote: 

On 6/12/07, Pacedebate at aol.com <Pacedebate at aol.com> wrote:      In a message dated 6/11/2007 4:52:16 P.M. Central Daylight Time,  andy.edebate at gmail.com writes:
 Ok so    you are currently wasting a bunch of resources..how does your stance in this    discussion do anything to change that.. well my hope was that you would see the error of your ways and stop being  the cause of the wasted resources for those in situations similar to  mine.
 ok, that's not true. Although, there is a miniscule hope that you would see  the light I'm pragmatic enough to realize you probably won't change your  behavior.

I have seen some light, i think topics are a good way to organize debate, i dont necessarily think anarchy is the best solution for education, i also dont think the offical   topic can or will demand alliegence from the current set of outliers....im hoping that the community wil change some behaviors and accept that new fronts of argumentation have been opened up and they wont go away, and either we can keep fighting the same old battles or we can devise a new set of standards that account for the reality of the status quo and are not simply what i or you wish despite their lack of pragmatism, given current community climate. 

 .im at    least offering an alt to the squo... it's not a very good one.

Oh yeah whats specifically wrong with it? In the squo anybody who wants to can be non topical and there is no means to check them, because the offesne generated from breaking the rules outweighs in a lot of cases the disad...this is because its set up as an all or nothing thing right now where if you dislike  the curreent topic becomes conflated with dislike of all topics....My alt provides a set of standards with which to evaluate the debater choosen topic, in the scenario i provided i sketched out some of these standards, predictabiliy, debateability, germaneness, number of teams running it, supporting material for the topic, im sure people can come up with a bunch more, but the point is that im not just suggesting people talk about whatever they want, resolved jennings is a jayhawk, is a bad res, for a variety of reasons, resolved prisons should be abolished is bad for a different set of reasons, but also has benefits, my method is an attempt to allow for a reasonable
 difference between non topical approaches to be debated out. 

 and we    will host public debates on darfur twice this summer, but if my debaters want    to talk about that when they go to tournaments i will encourage and support    them.  which means you aren't really proposing an alternative other than "i plan  to let my debaters talk about whatever they want"

Thats the squo, in all reality my alt is a compromise, one that asks the T lovers to loosen a little bit and one that asks the T haters to have some structure and discipline in their politics...Its probably actually net disadvantageous to the competitive siuccess of those who win by not being topical right now because it says if you are not going to debate the topic at least debate a topic, then subject that topic to community scrutiny and discussion , thats better than the squo...though if no one compromises or says anything other than screw you this IS how the game is played, i will be happy to keep coaching how i coach and you can just as likely see sneetches as a topical plan. 

 that seems like such a waste of resources both for your program and those  who show up at tournaments hoping to debate the topic.

I see an educational benefit to debating teams that want to debate the topic, i think its very useful for my debaters to test their advocacies against everybody, you seem to think its worthless to debate anybody who isnt like you...regardless we will continue to make the decisons about what is good for our program and you cant make us go away, you can wish and plead and tell us we dont belong, but its good for us and we will keep at it. You can either figure out how to deal with the changing nature of the community or you can leave...i dont want you to leave, but if its not good for you its not good for you. 

 And    nothing anybody say in this discussion will change that...so again te question    becomes if you think its bad the drift away from the topic...how do you    propose stopping it 
 by voting on T and giving your debaters 20 speaker points each? I'm willing  to do what it takes. Do you have a suggestion for me?

Yeah, pref sheets mean we would never ever have to see you....so therin lies the problem, the more you say your piece the less likely you are to be able to deliver the punishment... 

 Based on some of the back channel's I'm getting I suspect the formation of  another college debate organization may be in the works. Previously, I  thought that was kind of lame but if I were a college coach and I felt like too  many coaches were starting to approach debate like you are then I'd probably  want something new also.

To all those trying this....have fun, but in the world of non fantasy we need to work together to make the community the most educational we can, i'm making an effort to articulate a theory that accounts for the reality of the squo and you and others are trying the same thing over and over and over again....in the LAT article brenda says "they treat us like terrorists" and so it is...this T tactic you are employing right now, does very little to stop terrorists but does make it easier to recruit them.... 


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