[eDebate] dictatorial pedagogy = anarchy (reply josh)

Kevin Sanchez let_the_american_empire_burn
Fri Jun 22 15:24:40 CDT 2007

"evil"... "the bleak landscape you describe"... "like we are in some 
Stalinist system"...etc.

josh, you have this tedency of presenting your opponent's arguments in the 
most unflattering terms possible. if i say a growing minority feels 
unrepresented, it's not enough for you to point to the inclusive nature of 
the topic process; you go on to misspeak for me as claiming this minority 
are 'oppressed topic victims'. this is more than annoying - it also makes 
you look a fool. but this is by the way.

what i'm suggesting is that the current system of topicality, whether or not 
it accurately reflects the dictates of the majority, isn't working well, and 
there needs to be an administrative discussion on other workable 
alternatives which allow for the greatest flexibility of student discretion 
while taking care of the pedagogical values i know you're as concerned about 
as i am -- making sure everyone is on the same page; ensuring debate is as 
educational as it can be.

let's make a distinction between how topicality functions in-round and 
out-of-round (and i'll repeat what i wrote to ken). in-round, teams continue 
to run cases that many in the community consider blatantly non-topical, 
sometimes despite multiple loses, and topicality is run in most every round, 
even against cases that most everyone agrees are facially topical. 
out-of-round, a growing segment of the community feels unrepresented by 
those who frame and dictate the topic... now, do you consider these 
statements accurate or don't you?

so if topicality is a penalty, it seems to have little detterent effect in 
itself, and the topic committee lacks legitimacy in the eyes of a 
(frustrated) minority. no, it doesn't make you a stalinist for endorsing 
this status quo; i simply want to know if you consider this situation 
problematic, and if so, what you think should be done about it. if, however, 
you think your amendment process and your elected student topic committee 
member and your rants against whiners are up to this challenge, then ok, 
we'll leave it there and you can stop reading.

i have two proposals on the table that you haven't weighed in on. please 
notice that i'm engaged in exactly the process you suggest for me, i.e. 
trying to convince people that these are good ideas for all involved. [i 
should say beforehand that the majority's views aren't things that drop 
naked out of the sky, anymore than your admiration for your teachers 
preexisted your being taught; debate's socialization practices shape how 
participants think about debate to such an extent that persauding debaters 
may be even more difficult than persauding ordinary citizens in a democracy 
(who, by and large, usually wait for crisis before acting proactively). and 
i think it's confusing when educators like you say to participants "you can 
suggest alternative types of resolutions, alternative means of choosing 
resolutions, campaign openly to remove people from the topic committee, run 
for the topic committee, run a slate of candidates..." yet you don't mention 
that participants can't change the fact that there will be a topic committee 
and it will set a topic. all the choices debaters are given hide some 
underlying meta-choices they're never permitted to alter, no matter how many 
folks they can persaude.]

anyway, my own proposal is two-fold (hardly some 'grand vision for a better 
world'). -- 1st -- more judges should weigh procedural abuse arguments as 
round-determative (generally, the community should take topicality more 
seriously, not just another typical argument to play games with). -- 2nd -- 
more debaters should run open debate positions (of which creative commons 
public licensing is an example) that implicitly could argue for an 
alternative, more bottom-up framework to setting topics. i'm guessing you've 
heard both of these ideas from me before, but i can sketch them out in more 
detail if you like.

"If your argument is that we wont always discuss EVERY SINGLE controversy 
that might be interesting in the world at any one time...Ok, you win."

no, my argument is that you should try to discuss as many controversies as 
debaters want to discuss AS LONG AS the forum can provide alternate means of 
ensuring a predictable discussion.

on 'fair ground as a voting issue', "You are doing a classic Po-Mo slip up 
here which is to assume that because something is indeterminate it therefore 
is entirely indeterminate. Not true, substantial is not meaningless as a 
term it just defies precise meaning.Those are not the same thing. You can 
research a subject and determine what the controversies in the literature 
are and use that to devise the BEST division of ground. Is it a perfect 
system no, but why make the perfect the enemy of the good (as they say)."

the burden of proof is on you here because you're the one who claims to be 
doing something good in dividing up ground as evenly as possible and you're 
using the indeterminacy to disguise a lack of consistent standards for 
measuring how good the framers are at doing what they do. in any case, you 
dropped the last line of my argument: "even if it worked (which it doesn't), 
it only makes everyone equal, and *cancels creative differences*". another 
josh put it a more succintly:

"People?s obsession with 'fairness' or 'competitive equity' is misguided. 
One of the most valuable things about debate is adapting to unfair 
circumstances. If the neg runs conditional CPs, get better and deal with it. 
If the aff doesn?t specify their agent, figure out something else besides 
your same old agent CP. This is what the policy world is like; you?ve got to 
react and deal with tough situations."


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