[eDebate] On Stannards thoughts on Hicks and Greene

Jim Hanson hansonjb
Tue Jun 19 15:22:44 CDT 2007

a few responses: 

first, ben and mike had a topical plan and they advocated it and defended against disads. if they didn't in that round, I don't support it.

second, yes, I am providing some bad examples of the anti-topical advocates but they are real ones that I have heard.

third, we can quibble about the "racism should be critically examined" case responses and of course, we'll do what we can to answer those kinds of cases--but the point is 1) I and most of my teams don't want to debate that--we want to debate the topic; 2) these cases are sucking up our time and resources; 3) the debates are just not that engaging; they're frustrating--we counter kritik and of course, suddenly, perm, our counter kritik becomes part of their argument. and when the judge pool even with mpj is sympathetic to that, it is very frustrating.

fourth, I'm not sure what kind of compromise you want. a second topic? some kind of standard for what isn't abusive? to be frank, I don't trust what y'all would come up with and I don't see any reason to believe that another splinter group won't rise up and claim your "second topic" won't be just as oppressive to allowing them to openly deliberate whatever they want to argue. you've already eschewed the community voted upon compromise: the topic. that's the "line" I support.

of course there is a level of anarchy in the community. that is what I am opposing.

really, this is simple. we want to debate a certain way. obviously, we can't dictate what others do but that's what we want.

if you and others want to debate anti-topical, you can do it but not with my support. you can try to set up a "second topic" or some such thing but not with my support. and if you get your way--your approach becomes the norm, then I'm guessing I'm leaving. 

jim :)
hansonjb at whitman.edu
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Andy Ellis 
To: Jim Hanson 
Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com 
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2007 12:56 PM
Subject: Re: [eDebate] On Stannards thoughts on Hicks and Greene

So i dont like my teams having to debate critcaly examine racism either, nor do i like "ben and i dont think torture is good"(what your team said against ours at fullerton and by far the most abusive thing we had to debate all year) I watch these debates with some frequency and almost never think the aff is very good, i usually think that questions of how you critically examine racism are quite effective and have seen your debaters destroy people on this in the past...I truly dont think critically examine racism is a very good argument if it has no praxis and method which are debateable...I think my problem with your approach is that you cut out better arguments to get rid of immenatly beatable arguments...i dont doubt you are innovating nor do i doubt you are doing the majority of the heavy lifting to revitalize debate in the northwest, but i really think you reducing the entrity of the opposition to the topic to its most abhorent examples , just as much as i am hyperbolizing when i say you are sehilding your studnets from democratic deliberation...ultimatly my argument is this, the current reality is an anarchic one, where because of the gesture you are making where all departures are equivilant, we as a community lack the analytical tools to compare the fairness of different approaches, to each other and to the status quo, we can either continue drawing illusory bright lines and foster another community split, or we can begin to devise standards that structure and evaluate deviations because abolish prisons as a defended policy option is infinitely more debateable than lets look at our history of genocide....im not saying ban prisons should be automaticaly allowed, but that to classify it the same as racism and rape are bad is the shortsightedness that is making more and more judges compelled by departures and less willing to reign them in when teams badly analyze whats wrong with it... 

On 6/19/07, Jim Hanson <hansonjb at whitman.edu> wrote: 
  responses below --------------

  jim :)
  hansonjb at whitman.edu
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Andy Ellis 
  To: Jim Hanson 
  Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2007 8:50 AM
  Subject: Re: [eDebate] On Stannards thoughts on Hicks and Greene

  Jim a few questions

  1) in your selfish shortsighted fantasy world in which you create a policy only circuit how would you make it so we didnt come to your tournaments and disrupt your attempted move to insulate your students from open democratic deliberation. 
  -------------"selfish"  lol. okay. 
  ------------- I'm not sure there is a way to stop the anti-topical crowd from attending but here are some potential ideas: 1) invite only certain teams and judges (yes, as practically implemented, someone would have to make this decision; I'm down with that as long as there is a clear standard of willful violation of the topic); 2) don't give ceda or ndt points to teams that willfully ignore the topic (I mean, I already won't give parli teams ndt sweeps points because they don't follow the topic); 3) attend only tournaments where there is a predominance of teams and judges that believe in following the topic; 4) make reciprocal arguments that expose to the anti-topical crowd how unfair their arguments are in the hopes that they will choose to be topical (a waste of time in my mind but one option); 5) enforce the ndt's rule that topicality is a voting issue; I know that is hard to stomach for a community willing to be open to any good reason but I'm willing to view that rule the same way we view time limits--when a team says "topicality is oppressive" or anything reasonably resembling willful violation of the topic, they lose.
  ------------- I am NOT insulating my teams from "open democratic deliberation." I am insulating them from your vision of open anarchic deliberation. I've said that before. I want teams to have indepth preparation on a democratically chosen topic. the anti-topical approach destroys that democratically chosen community. so, if I insulate my students from your anarchy, I am happy for that--I'll repeat: it is a waste of time to debate "racism should be critically examined."

  2) how can you possibly think this is a good idea given what you have watched happen in the northwest....
  ------------- well, first of all, gonzaga, ups, us, portland state, and hopefully new this year eastern washington do things just fine from my perspective. if they did switch to anti-topical, I would not be willing to support the few local tournaments that we have--I just wouldn't have our teams compete at them. I am not so enamored with the names "ceda" and "ndt" and "policy debate" to participate in them when they are NOT ceda, ndt, and policy debate. there is a healthy parli circuit in the northwest and I can just have our teams travel less or elsewhere, obviously, within budget constraints.
  -------------- second, as I said, my choice of tournaments is constrained by our budget. at the same time, if I chose to skip a tournament because it had become too anti-topical leaning, and that caused/contributed to that tournament falling apart, I can't say I would feel some kind of guilt that I had "fractured" the community or ruined teams ability to participate (although I might for the topical teams remaining). I mean, if others aren't going to be restrained by the democratically chosen topic, I'm surely not going to feel constrained about which tournaments I choose to attend. 
  -------------- like I said in one of my other posts--"progress" involves the entire community. y'all can "disrupt" and not debate the topic but that has consequences too. if you want to do that, know that you are indeed disrupting the community including starting a causal chain where teams like mine may very well say "not doing this anymore."

  On 6/16/07, Jim Hanson < hansonjb at whitman.edu> wrote: 

    two questions for you:

    1. you/your team is negative. the affirmative case is "the usfg has 
    committed atrocities against native americans with multiple examples of
    these harmful acts." what arguments do you/your team use against this case
    (focusing, I'm assuming, on ones that maintain your convictions)? 

    2. a conservative christian straight male joins your team. I'm assuming you
    let him compete. :) he wants to argue bearden, mead, and us heg good. after
    3 years on your team, it is clear, he isn't changing--he remains a 
    conservative christian. do you let him compete for his fourth year even
    though you are quite certain that he will become a conservative leader that
    you apparently despise?

    jim :)
    hansonjb at whitman.edu 

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: <debate at ou.edu>
    To: < edebate at ndtceda.com>
    Sent: Saturday, June 16, 2007 6:56 AM 
    Subject: [eDebate] On Stannards thoughts on Hicks and Greene

    Hi Matt,

    Interesting post and definitely deserves a response.

    , Hicks and Greene's critique has several problems: First, as J.P. Lacy once
    pointed out, it seems a tremendous causal (or even
    rhetorical) stretch to go from "debating both sides of an issue creates
    civic responsibility essential to liberal democracy" to "this 
    civic responsibility upholds the worst forms of American exceptionalism.

    I understand the explanation.  Debate is great for society, but can be used
    to uphold, mold and creat individuals with a certain 
    perspective needed to maintain the "american way of life" over other ways

    "Second, Hicks and Greene do not make any comparison of the potentially bad
    power of debate to any alternative. Their 
    implied alternative, however, is a form of forensic speech that privileges
    personal conviction.

    I can't speak for either Hicks or Greene, and do not want to be interpreted
    as such.  I have my perspective how this falls into 
    my larger view of the world which I will share.  I don't think that there
    will ever be no debate.  There will always be debate, in
    many different forms and styles.  I think the question then becomes about
    how debate can also be used to mold a specific 
    type of culture.  My view of debate is to move forward, not with the old
    CEDA topics per se ? "violence is a justified response
    to political oppression"    but to have something where we see a problem
    area, we choose an actor (I grant USFG at this point) 
    and we tell that actor to fix a problem.  How we fix it should be debated
    out in debates, not pre-researched in my mind
    (whole different topic)

    The idea that students should be able to preserve their personal convictions 
    at all costs seems far more immediately tyrannical,
    far more immediately damaging to either liberal or participatory democracy,
    than the ritualized requirements that students
    occasionally take the opposite side of what they believe. 

    I am not sure how this is tyrannical to say they should have a choice?  I am
    not saying they shouldn't say things they disagree
    with ever, I am saying they should have that choice.  Some people want to be 
    pulled to the middle.

    Third, as I have suggested and will continue to suggest, while a debate
    project requiring participants to understand and often
    "speak for" opposing points of view may carry a great deal of liberal 
    baggage, it is at its core a project more ethically
    deliberative than institutionally liberal. Where Hicks and Greene see debate
    producing "the liberal citizen-subject," I see debate
    at least having the potential to produce "the deliberative human being." 

    I agree debate is good, what scares me is when people like one of the US
    state house reps gets these amazing skills from
    debate and then use them to take away all the rights of those from Mexico.
    We teach decision making, but not how to 
    approach this ethically.  This cant be practiced if the game is rigged,, or
    say ethics/values are already chosen and implicit.
    The fact that some academic debaters are recruited by the CSIS and the CIA 
    does not undermine this thesis. Absent healthy
    debate programs, these think-tanks and government agencies would still
    recruit what they saw as the best and brightest
    students. And absent a debate community that rewards anti-institutional 
    political rhetoric as much as liberal rhetoric, those
    students would have little-to-no chance of being exposed to truly
    oppositional ideas.


    I agree that debaters get access, and some them have a huge impact on 
    society.  What scares me is when debaters become
    decision-makers and real peoples livelihoods become "impacts" and defending
    things you know is wrong becomes politics.

    Moreover, if we allow ourselves to believe that it is "culturally 
    imperialist" to help other peoples build institutions of debate and
    deliberation, we not only ignore living political struggles that occur in
    every culture, but we fall victim to a dangerous
    ethnocentrism in holding that "they do not value deliberation like we do." 


    I guess this is an issue of interpretation.   I have a former debater and
    close friend who works on the west bank helping to
    promote debate in the area we know as the Middle East.  He is Jewish, so 
    traveling is dangerous.  If he were to promote topics
    saying "Israel is a legitimate state" and made the Palestenian children
    argue pro-Israel, would that be good debate?  No, not in
    my mind.  However, that is not the process nor the goal, nor even close to 
    the topic choices, and so I don't really think I
    myself would say promotion of debate globally is bad,  it just depends on
    what model we export.
    If the argument is that our participation in fostering debate communities 
    abroad greases the wheels of globalization, the correct
    response, in debate terminology, is that such globalization is non-unique,
    inevitable, and there is only a risk that collaborating
    across cultures in public debate and deliberation will foster resistance to 
    domination?just as debate accomplishes wherever it
    goes. Indeed, Andy Wallace, in a recent article, suggests that Islamic
    fundamentalism is a byproduct of the colonization of the
    lifeworld of the Middle East; if this is true, then one solution would be to 
    foster cross-cultural deliberation among people on
    both sides of the cultural divide willing to question their own
    preconceptions of the social good.
    I got no disagreement there.

    Hicks and Greene might be correct insofar as elites in various cultures can
    either forbid or reappropriate deliberation, but for
    those outside of that institutional power, democratic discussion would have 
    a positively subversive effect.
    We can read such criticisms in two ways. The first way is as a warning: That
    we ought to remain cautious of how academic
    debate will be represented and deployed outside of the academy, in the 
    ruthless political realm, by those who use it to dodge
    truthful assertions, by underrepresented groups, of instances of material
    I see this live, on a daily basis where I live.  My example above is about 
    the politician who uses debate skills to help get Pat
    Buch's backing.
    In this sense, the fear is one of a "legalistic" evasion of substantive
    injustice by those privileging procedure over substance, a 
    trained style over the primordial truth of marginalized groups.

    I think the categorizing of procedure over substance is very relevant, but
    not the only part of the decision calculus that has to
    be developed.  I am not sure how the margninalized groups are the only
    substance, but I think that is just your example.

    I prefer that interpretation to the second one: That the switch-side, 
    research-driven "game" of debate is politically bankrupt
    and should give way to several simultaneous zones of speech activism, where
    speakers can and should only fight for their own

    I don't think this is what I am envisioning when I see debate that is absent
    the poison of the current the process.  Like I said, I
    cant speak for Dr. D Hicks or Dr. Ron.

    As Gordon Mitchell has pointed out, such balkanized speech will break down 
    into several enclaves of speaking, each with its
    own political criteria for entry. In such a collection of impassable and
    unpermeable communities, those power relations, those
    material power entities, that evade political speech will remain 
    unaccountable, will be given a "free pass" by the speech
    community, who will be so wrapped up in their own micropolitics, or so busy
    preaching to themselves and their choirs, that they
    will never understand or confront the rhetorical tropes used to mobilize 
    both resources and true believers in the service of
    continued material domination.
    I think this is where everyone double turns themselves or contradicts
    themselves.  You are saying people should not have to 
    confront those who claim, say "racism is bad" or "sexism is bad".  But then
    people will miss out on have to defend racism good
    or sexism good, -- you know, the other side.   I am not against switch side
    debate per se, but against politically motivated 
    topics that put the game over the participants.  If you really believe
    switch side good, to understand racism is bad we need to
    defend racism.  Or is this only true of certain topics?  You can substitute
    colonialism or sexism or homphobia for racism.  It is 
    just one example I am using, and not making accusations at Matt.  You have
    to go negative, so you can only "preach to the
    choir on the affirmative".  In the status quo, the moderates  and
    conservatives get all of the advantages I am saying the 
    radical/leftists/liberals should have.   Is that really that unreasonable to
    ask the one type of excluded perspective get the same
    grounds to advocate a solution to a problem that they think might work?
    Habermas's defense of the unfinished Enlightenment is my defense of academic
    debate: Don't throw the baby out with the
    bathwater. Instead, seek to expand this method of deliberation to those who
    will use it to liberate themselves, confront power, 
    and create ethical, nonviolent patterns of problem resolution. If capitalism
    corrupts debate, well, then I say we save debate.


    Same goals, different paths.


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