[eDebate] TOPIC ANARCHY....

LACC Forensics forensics
Fri Jun 22 13:45:20 CDT 2007


If this weren't so incredibly frustrating, it would almost be funny.

I am the one who initiated this entire thread and yet I am the only person
who's arguments and posts on the subject are being routinely ignored (except
by Any who I must point out is graciously engaging me through back-channel
discussion in some quite meaningful ways - thank you, Andy).

There are a couple of points that I'll make here before I start to ignore
this forum as the charade it is starting to become...

Neil, in case you are interested sine you have joined the discussion now, my
teams DO make exactly the arguments that Jackie and Andy have repeatedly
suggested to Jim, Josh, and Tim. WE make them all the time and make them
well (I know because I get struck so often in California that I get to watch
a lot of our rounds) and we lose almost every time. I listen to judges'
critiques after rounds for an argumentative explanation of why we continue
to lose to non-topical and anti-topical approaches and I never hear them. I
hear a lot of comments about technique and skill development, but I NEVER
hear an argumentative analysis as to why the argument we just ran (which
could practically be quotations of what Jackie and Andy have written in this
forum - except that they are worded and structured far more completely - as
possible arguments against this approach) didn't provide the judge with
reasons to vote for us. Something I find interesting and yet more
frustrating about this is that I have seen these arguments work for teams
like Whitman, but they never work for us. I know they work for Whitman teams
because I get to judge Whitman teams and usually vote for them. I also know
because I see their success on the open circuit. I know they are making the
same arguments we make because I hear them when I judge Whitman teams. So,
why do these arguments meet with success when run by schools like Whitman,
but not when run by LA City College? I'll answer that below.

The second point I want to make here is that I wrote a rather extensive
analysis of topicality as natural law and a direct application of
argumentative logic about a week ago. NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON IN THIS FORUM
RESPONDED. Now, if this had only happened once, I could think that maybe the
timing of my post was just unusual and it had been overlooked. But, this
would not be a logical conclusion when I see how many posts people make to
EDEBATE this time of year (on a thread that I started). Nor would it be a
logical conclusion when I notice that this has happened on numerous
occasions in the past. Thus, I am left with two logical explanations: 1 - no
one on the anti-topical side of this dispute has an answer to my argument
and the easiest way to defeat an argument you can't answer is to ignore it
and hope that it goes away. 2 - no one cares about what I have to say
because I am no longer a part of the debate elite. It truly amazes me how
much discussion in this forum revolves around complaints of elitism in the
debate activity. It amazes me because so many of the people making these
complaints on EDEBATE and in rounds, have become the elites. So many of you
claim to be so concerned about the plight of underrepresented groups having
access to debate and yet, if those students debate for community colleges
instead of universities, you clearly don't give a shit about their education
or their debate experience. You all continually have your insular
discussions on this (even those started by me) list but don't respond when I
make a comment about how these issues affect students and programs outside
of your circle - and yet you bitch about elitism or try to claim that it
doesn't really exist (which is easy to do when you are a part of the newly
developing elite caste). Again, I do want to give Andy credit here for
opening his horizons on this issue and beginning the idea of extending the
urban debate model to community colleges. But the rest of you (on both sides
of the discussion) need to stop pretending that you are making great strides
for the marginalized in society or stop acting like these things don't
happen because you don't see them at the tournaments you attend.

Maybe those of you who don't see the anti-topical, non-debate approach to
debate being significantly successful need to spend some more time coming to
tournaments in California and judging some novice and JV debates at those
tournaments. Then you can see the blatant hypocrisy that has grown out of
the approaches you have started and continue to advocate. I truly find it
ironic when I read posts on this list because of how often I read something
like "that just doesn't happen that often." All of the things people are
afraid will happen as the result of alternative approaches to debate happen
at every tournament in California with great regularity. All of the things
to which people on this list say "I just don't believe there are people in
our activity who would do that" happen at every tournament in California. I
get frustrated when I read grand, sweeping, hasty generalizations like
Jackie's claim that most programs that have left policy debate for parli do
it because of the topics because I know as an empirical fact that this (if
it is true at all) doesn't even account for 10% of the programs that have
made that choice. Trying to coach policy debate in a region that has become
dominated by parli, I know from constant polling and interacting with
coaches that the reasons programs have left policy for parli (because it has
happened here more than any other region in the country - and in fact more
than most other regions combined) have absolutely nothing to do with not
liking the topics. There are two overriding reasons that programs have
switched: 1 - laziness. The students and the coaches don't want to put in
the time necessary to research any topic to the extent that it is necessary
to be competitive in policy debate and it doesn't matter what the topic is.
And let's face it, you don't have to do nearly as much research to be
competitive in policy today as you did 10, 15, or 20 years ago. 2 - it is
much, much easier to be competitive in parli. Back in the day when the shift
first started, a few coaches tried to come up with pedagogical reasons for
switching, but now that parli is emulating policy in every way except for
the reading of evidence in rounds and changing topics every debate, the
pedagogical claims have been proven to be false. It's about the fact that
schools who can't become elites in policy, can in parli.

I get tired of the claims that so many posts make in this forum because they
are the result of extremely insular experience and elitism. The things that
I say on this list are not inflammatory for the purpose of making a point.
They are the result of empirical experience and the next time someone says
something like "I just don't see that happening", maybe you should consider
someone's experience beyond your own. My empirical experiences running a
community college program in California for over a dozen years now has shown
me a few things: 1 - racism is alive and well in debate - but not in the
ways that Fullerton claims. The amount of white guilt I saw on west Coast
last season was staggering. I had a team (both African American) last year
who never won more than a single round at any tournament all season, yet
between the two of them they brought home at lest one speaker award from
every one of those tournaments. Every debate they lost was a low-point win
for the other team and my debaters were told over and over how much everyone
loved their style but just couldn't quite vote for them because they were
always just one response away from winning. When that happens now and then,
it has a ring of truth. But when you hear it after every debate for an
entire season, you start to see a pattern. 2 - None of the efforts in this
activity by any team with any agenda over the last 20 years has done
anything to eliminate or even decrease the elitism in the activity - all
that has been accomplished is to move it around a little. Those who scream
and yell about being marginalized and excluded do the same to everyone else
on their rise to the top using the same white guilt against judges that
garnered so many speaker awards for my debaters last year.

Getting tired of the hypocrisy

Ken




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