[eDebate] Response from Lindsay

Adam Farra adamhfar
Mon Mar 5 01:04:55 CST 2007

First, an anecdote:

When I entered college debate I was so surprised at how different the  
discourse was when coaches articulated the benefits of debate -  
debate was (is) a "research-driven activity," and the primary  
educational benefit is "knowledge gained through research." Perhaps I  
am alone in this, having not come from a powerhouse high school  
program, but this rhetoric was DRAMATICALLY different than the high  
school rhetoric. In high school, my mentors talked about debate as a  
"speech" activity first, a "critical thinking" activity second, and a  
"research" activity third (and sometimes not at all). Debate was  
supposed to help me become a competent, confident, articulate, and  
charismatic speaker - not a research robot who knew the intricacies  
of the CCP's Politburo or the reasons why Hubbard's Peak is a joke.

How surprised was I to find that my favorite thing about debate - the  
opportunity to "speak pretty/be fancy/wax poetic" as it was now being  
called - wasn't very important anymore. Instead, the compliments I  
received in high school on my clarity and charisma became substituted  
with criticisms of the low quantitative output of my research, or my  
"unwillingness" to "go deeper" into the literature, or my lack of  
interest in "being a machine" and putting out "walls of cards."

After a couple of years of adjusting and learning a couple of hard  
competitive lessons, I will say that this concern over the Harrison  
card(s) is one that I'm rather "underwhelmed" by. Is it true that  
college debate is overly evidence-oriented? Yes. Is that bad? I think  
we as a community lose something, yes. Has this obsession rewarded  
debaters who cut not-so-good cards (or cards with absolutely  
ridiculous claims) to answer smart arguments? Yes it has, because the  
debaters who have the block of not-so-good/ridiculous cards against  
the one smart argument will probably win (assuming there is no great  
variation between the teams debating - there are exceptions).

Will I, personally, stop contributing to this "culture"? No - partly  
because I don't know how I would do that (do I make a personal stand  
against stupid cards in the 1NC?), and partly because judges at the  
end of the day won't reward me for it with a "W." And, even if, would  
the rest of the community support me? Pfft - have some of you read  
some of the add-ons being read this year? Despicable.

If there is a problem in this activity with evidence quality,  
production, etc. then it is not the fault of the debaters but of the  
judges (and the coaches). As long as most judges continue to shrug at  
me and say "but they've got a card that says..." in the face of a  
completely rational argument then I'm going to read the not-so-good  
card to answer the other "not-so-good" card. If I've got time, I'll  
make the argument too - but in a big debate against another quick  
team, I'll "put my head down and read."

So, I'm going to keep reading lots of cards (hopefully good ones) -  
and I'm going to do so knowing that the judges I respect and like  
will call for them and deliver articulate and clear decisions based  
on the quality of evidence (and in-round evidence comparison - in an  
ideal world).

Do I care that Harrison or Spanos don't want me to read their cards?  
Personally, yes I think if they're uncomfortable then that's  
important in my mind; but if reading those cards helps me win  
debates, then I'm sorry, but I'm going to keep reading the cards.


On Mar 5, 2007, at 1:02 AM, Jean-Paul Lacy wrote:

> At 11:00 PM 3/4/2007, Sherry Hall wrote:
>> (3) If the arguments on my blog have merit, ...you should be able  
>> to convince a
>> judge of the point - god-forbid - without evidence.
> This does raise an interesting conundrum for debaters:
> Suppose an industrious debater borrows heavily from your blog, even  
> paraphrases some ideas you wrote about & presents them in a debate,  
> without any attribution.
> Have they plagiarized your work?
> --JP
> lacyjp at wfu.edu
> _______________________________________________
> eDebate mailing list
> eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
> http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate

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