[eDebate] Some Thoughts (Let's Be Honest--Arguments) On T

Andy Ellis andy.edebate
Sat Jun 16 01:48:36 CDT 2007

Two questions

1) will any of your well thought out arguments reach anybody who currently
"breaks the rules" jackie and i are the only ones really bothering to even
discuss this approach the other folks who do so are a) not likely to change
the startegy they have been using successfully and b)neither are the coaches
and judges who have found great success, so other than the people that agree
with you how does what you say work to bring about what you like?

2) does the existing crop of people who pay fast and loose with their
interpretations of what is fair and predicatble and debateable form a
substaintial non unique to the dis ad you are offering?

On 6/16/07, Stephen Weil <stephen.weil at gmail.com> wrote:
> After sludging through this fabulous e-debate about topicality, I felt
> like I had to throw in a couple points.
> First, Aaron Klemz wrote
> "Next time, just quote Walter Sobchak - "this isn't Nam, Smoky, there are
> rules." That was most of your argument, no?"
> Yes, fundamentally, that is the point. If you run a non-topical
> affirmative, you have crossed the line (which is a foul), and you better
> mark it a zero (loss).
> The real question here is why or why shouldn't that be a rule. Given that
> none of the T-Bad/We Didn't Say T-Bad/We Just Want Creativity crowd have
> really provided a coherent explanation of their "alternative" (not to be
> confused with a "counter-plan"), I can only assume that the alternative to
> topicality being a voting issue is topicality not being a voting issue.
> Someone, despite the fact that debate indoctrinated me and prevented me from
> talking about what I really believe, I managed to pick up the logic skills
> to make that connection.
> Why do we have a topic? Because in order for any discussion to occur, we
> have to pick a central point of controversy. If I look at the CEDA/NDT topic
> and spend my summer researching security guarantees with Iran, Syria, the
> PLA and Lebanon, only to show up to the first debate tournament and debate
> against "genocide in Darfur is bad," I'll probably lose. Predictability is
> the baseline for fair and meaningful argumentation. If I don't have
> developed counter-arguments to respond to your initial argument, then we
> never get beyond the first, shallow level of any issue. Nobody will probably
> run that aff, but the point remains true for "recognize Palestinian
> statehood" or anything else that isn't part of the topic. This gives a huge
> tactical advantage to the affirmative (and debate, being a game/competition
> and not a advocacy group, should strive to be as "fair" as possible).
> Jackie says
> "The desire to decrease affirmative flexibility along with creativity for
> fear of debating the "unknown" has been combined with an increase in
> technological methods that increase coaches' participation in the game. The
> more predictable, the more the coach can be involved. The less predictable,
> uh oh, the more the debates are up to the debaters."
> It's definitely the other way around. The more predictable, the more the
> debater can be involved instead of being forced into a one-sided argument.
> The whole point of agreeing on a central controversy is that we have all
> agreed it is "controversial." If the affirmative can form their argument
> outside of that controversy, they can pick arguments that are no longer
> "controversial," and given their unpredictable nature, the negative won't
> have prepared any counter-arguments. You could say that the debaters could
> just '"come up with something on the fly," but you have to be fair and admit
> that isn't a balanced game. First, the negative has no cards (maybe those
> are bad, I don't know), second, the affirmative gets INFINITE PREP (not
> really, but if they spend one minute prepping its more than the neg gets),
> and third, the affirmative gets to choose something where general
> opinion/the literature is tilted in their favor (sometimes the topic
> committee does that for us, but at least everyone gets an advantage on the
> aff and the neg, and not just Smoky). If debaters are supposed to just on
> the fly answer literally any argument, we might as well all switch to Parli.
> You also seem to make a huge dichotomy between "creativity" and
> "predictability." The topic is written such that there isn't just one aff.
> The aff has flexibility, and a degree of creativity (especially when it
> comes to advantage ground). The whole point is, it's a degree. The
> affirmative can't have INFINITE flexibility, but they also can't have ZERO
> flexibility. So what do we do? We try our vewy harderest to pick a topic
> that balances affirmative and negative ground. Maybe the topic committee
> isn't always perfect, but there certainly isn't a 70% win percentage for
> either the aff or the neg. And even if there were, the logical conclusion
> wouldn't be "alright, aff can say whatever they want."
> But of course you say, we aren't saying any aff is topic. In fact
> "Any nontopical aff should have "educational" reasons why they are not
> topical. They still have an argument."
> Educational? Literally anything you talk about is education. You know that
> old adage "you learn something new every day." If I learn that a platypus is
> a mammal, its educational. Where do you draw the line? You'll say, of
> course, "but it has to be reasonable." In your eyes? In mine? Of course
> every non-topical aff has AN ARGUMENT. You could theoretically respond to
> their argument. The question is whether allowing them to move outside the
> central controversy we have agreed on leaves the negative with anything
> reasonable to say. I know everyone hates these examples, but "Rape bad" is
> an argument, and its certainly something people could care about
> passionately, and think we need to learn more about, but its real real hard
> for the neg to win on the analytical rape good DA. I'd honestly rather try
> and bat with a lacrosse stick. At least I have a stick.
> Then Jackie asks (well, rhetorically),
> "It serves no educational function to learn how to criticize bad forms of
> education?...There was once a routinized form of education in Germany that
> was pushed upon people for many years."
> You caught us. Policy debaters are part of a secret Neo-Nazi plot to take
> over America. But aside from just attacking your absurd analogy, I'll
> actually answer your argument (something that hasn't happened much in this
> lovely e-debate, but then again, people's analogies really have sucked).
> Sure, it serves an educational function. The question is
> a) does that educational function maintain the competitive balance of our
> game
> b) does that educational function have to happen in our competitive game.
> Not to re-hash the "Go make your own league" arg that sounds suspiciously
> like a bunch of pre-schoolers taking over part of the play ground and
> hanging up a "no girls allowed sign," debate is what it is.
> What the hell do I mean? Debate is nothing more than debate. It is a
> competitive activity in which we research a topic and argue about it. Jackie
> says "If your moderate debate is your training ground." Alright. Debate is a
> training ground for moderates. If you want to train liberal activists, go to
> a training ground for liberal activists. You don't have to leave. You can do
> both, as long as when you're in debate, you do debate. Some people have
> (correctly) pointed out that debate evolves. But debate has a few core rules
> that make it, well, debate, and not something else. Those rules are the
> things we put on our tournament invitations (we will debate the topic, its
> 9/6/8 or 10 or whatever, judges have to vote for one team, etc). Those are
> our ground rules. If you want to change those things, then the activity
> would no longer be debate, and you might as well just start a new activity
> that is more to your liking. Given that your only response to this was
> something vulgar and immature, I'm still not sure what your response is. You
> reserve the right as free independent citizens to do as you please? Sure,
> and we reserve the right to listen respectfully and then vote neg on T. I
> have some friends who do Science Olympiad. Maybe they could get mad because
> they are like "they only have events in Biology, Chemistry and Physics and I
> really care about robotics," but they don't just show up to the competition
> with a robot. They join the robotics club. (Feel free to explain that debate
> isn't like Science Olympiad. Make it your whole post if you want)
> Jackie's onslaught on policy debate continues?
> "It is irritating to hear the same mead and beardon card win debates when
> they are so falliiable."
> If they are so fallible, then you shouldn't need to avoid the topic to
> beat them. This just begs the question that Branson et al were talking about
> earlier relating to evidence quality/debate-in-the-real world. Its "not
> intrinsic" to this discussion.
> But of course, Jackie says,
> "Until we get topics that allows the affirmative to truly
> provide'solutions' to the problem areas we vote for, people will be
> non-topical for many legitimate reasons that are impacted via education."
> I'm pretty sure a topical aff is a "solution" to a problem (advantage).
> Many teams have even won on the aff before by proving this. Ohhhh, but you
> don't personally think they are good solutions? Why have the topic committee
> go through the literature on the topic area to find solvency for predictable
> plan mechanisms when we can just all ask Jackie what the best solution is?
> Everyone disagrees about solutions. Maybe debate only lets us talk about the
> "moderate" ones (unless you're neg, in which case your solutions can be?. I
> don't know?. Counter-plans? Or I guess alternatives for you). I repeat
> again?debate is what it is. The topic can't be "fix the Middle East?ready
> set go" because its too broad. So we try and balance it. This is an area
> where it would be nice if you provided your "alternative" to T. Or is it
> just "write better topics"? Which is actually "write topics that I like
> more." If this were the standard, everyone could just complain that they
> don't like any of the available affs and they personally want to talk about
> X because that's what they believe. DAs to this above.
> Jackie again,
> "Why get stuck defending someone elses bad idea on the aff? Even if Ryan
> or Gordon thought this was good aff
> ground, that doesn't mean that debaters will feel the same when faced with
> issues relating to the Middle East."
> This begs the question of the whole switch-side-debate good/bad issue. It
> also matters what your alternative is. Because if the alternative is
> "everyone just pick a solution they believe is good," well then, we're in
> for total chaos. The topic committee can't ask every individual debater what
> they want to be in the topic and then construct a monstrosity even longer
> than what we have now. We have to pick a central point of controversy, and
> (OMG) debate (and debate is what it is?a game where we research and topic
> and argue it) it.
> Jackie again,
> "Now for most resolutions, the disagreement is not about being policy, but
> what type of policy the affirmaitve gets locked into. If the resolution
> allows affirmatives the space for affirmation in a way that allows them to
> not verbalize things they disagree with."
> Every individual debater has a different opinion. If they all get to
> verbalize what they believe, then there are functionally X topics where X is
> the number of debaters that exist (we can assume some overlap, but given the
> size of X, it won't help the negative any). No matter how you write a
> resolution, someone is gonna feel left out. If they can't deal with it, then
> they weren't cut out for debate and we can't and won't make it a different
> activity just to accommodate Y person. Think about it this way. If someone
> quits debate because they don't like it as it is, they are no longer doing
> debate as it is. If someone makes debate different because they don't like
> debate as it is, they are no longer doing debate as it is. Either way, they
> are no longer participating in the same activity we are all doing now,
> although it may be a similar one, so they might as well have just gone into
> a similar activity that isn't debate and it would have the same educational
> value for them. Again. Debate is what it is.
> Jackie again (anyone noticing a theme?he must love policy debate),
> "Now refer to my argument that there is an impact to being topical, and
> include
> the reality that resolutions are framed to beneift one stlye/perspective
> of "policy debate" and the narrowing of aff flexibility
> requires some resistance in the community. These outweigh your "personal"
> communication ethics that you think exists."
> Other than asserting that your somewhat vague argument outweighs, do you
> want to do any impact calculus? I'll summarize the impact arguments I have
> so far:
> a) turns the case?lack of predictability prevents in-depth
> argumentation?kills educational value
> b) educational inevitable?do something else in the spare time you aren't
> debating
> c) fairness outweighs?debate is a competitive game and rules must
> therefore be prioritized
> Each of these blips has a paragraph above?so if you decide to do some
> counter-impact-calculus, just respond to those directly so that the whole
> argument can be developed.
> Jackie wonders (I'm going to try and entertain myself by using a different
> verb every time?it'll be just like my sweet 6th grade English papers),
> "Why do we make the aff do something shallow and sometimes repugnant if
> the are topical?"
> Shallow and repugnant to you, fantastic ideas to some. Remember, debate is
> a moderate training ground after all. I'm assuming you don't put yourself in
> that category. If you want an activity where you don't have to vocalize
> things you disagree with? well then, you are looking for an activity that is
> Jackie sarcastically muses,
> "So the negative can have arguments" is the statement in the topic
> committee. We are producing some real bright potatos if we make the aff be
> dumb/ limited so the negative can have some arguments. How about the
> affirmative not say something repulsive, then the negative make some
> arguments. Or is that too complicated and too much to ask?"
> Again, here you go asserting that every aff is dumb. Guess what, affs
> sometimes win debates. You know why? Because their affs are good ideas. This
> was addressed in more detail above in my "predictability is the baseline"
> section. But the short answer to your question. Yes, that's too much to ask.
> Jackie explains,
> "through stories and experience Dave, thats my best answer. ike my
> debaters that quit because they didnt want to increase federal control over
> indian country, call african people underdeveloped, or claim US has any
> moral high ground over china"
> So you had debaters quit because they didn't like the topic. You'll spin
> this to sound bad?but they just weren't cut out for debate. Everyone is
> gonna have at least one topic they don't like in four years. This is dealt
> with in more depth in the anarchy bad section above. Everyone can't just
> talk about what they want to talk about, or we have chaos. I can't come into
> debate and be like "I don't want to talk about US policy in the Middle East,
> I think these affs are repulsive, I'm just gonna talk about whatever Y thing
> that matters to me." Do you know why? Because what that person would be
> doing would not be DEBATE. This isn't just a plug against K debaters. If
> Egypt isn't in the topic, and I really wanted to run security guarantees to
> Egypt, I can't just run it because its educational and I agree with it.
> Because this just isn't Nam.
> Jackie points out,
> "if the resolution allowed you to increase assistance to the middle east,
> there were be enought flex for the affirmative to find
> their niche and practice the skills of advocacy"
> This is one of those instances where you need to hash out a specific
> alternative. Do you just have an objection to this particular topic, or do
> you want to personally write every topic? What exactly should our standards
> for those topics be. What if I am a student who ideologically disagrees with
> the idea of foreign assistance and I don't want to talk about your topic?can
> I talk about striking Iran instead?
> That topic would aslso be absurd for the negative. Because we give
> assistance to the middle east now, it makes winning disad uniqueness pretty
> tough. Also what is "assistance"?that could be disaster relief, help with
> their water infrastructures, straight foreign aid money from some account,
> military protection, whatever. Probably hundreds of different types of
> assistance to 10 countries. There is a reason we have a topic committee?they
> have to go through the literature and craft the topic to create a reasonable
> balance. What is your alternative?
> I should probably sleep. I'll need all my energy to beat those tricksy
> T-Bad teams.
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