[eDebate] DCA Debater #11: AARON LYTTLE

bandana martin drmosbornesq
Tue May 8 21:56:05 CDT 2007

Fuck Corporate Beef: The Aaron Lyttle Story

Increasingly, all of this DCA shazz-bah seems to degenerate into a mess of
harsh admonitions over the state of our union.  Many lose sight about what
the whole process is supposed to be about: remembering the people who have
made an impression on you in debate.  While some bio's lack an appreciation
for subtlety, the process nevertheless has merit.  But what if no one knows
the person you'd like to remember?  If that's the case, fuck the popularity
contest.  Some people have had an incredible impact on debate, even if
they've never really belonged to the club-house or have garnered enough
attention to appear on a ballot.  In this spirit, Martin 'I'm not fucking
British, you bastards' Osborn(e) and Travis 'John' Cram (with cameo
appearances by Will 'Jensen' Mosley), would like to offer our contribution
to the process: the unauthorized debate biography of Aaron Lyttle.  While
the writing is rich with nuance and wit that most of you heathens won't
appreciate, those of you who remember Aaron and his accomplishments might
find it enjoyable.  Don't ever forget your roots.

Fast Times at CBN: The Early Days

by Martin Osborn

To truly understand the impact such a skinny, skinny man can have on a
community like Wyoming debate, one must first understand the community,
itself. I would assume it's hard for most of you to take this first step
because one or more of the following seems strange:

*(1) *getting 20 speaker points and the 1, (your 'delivery' was apparently
excellent, but for some reason the judge disapproved of your 'evidence'
despite not taking the time to read it),

*(2) *losing a debate that you thought you won, and then reading a ballot
days later that seems to indicate that you did win but the judge circled the
wrong team (were you sitting on the "wrong" side of the room? rookie),

*(3) *three pre-sets (break to finals, speaker points irrelevant),

*(4) *being in policy but doing as much work as the LOLDers (*i*. you spent
more time writing a fancy 1AC underview than you did re-blocking this year's
pre-season Harvex starter pack on personalized stationary, *ii*. haha K

*(5) *being judged by:

(*a*) guy who drives the bus you ride to school (karma can be cruel for
those caught childishly exiting through the emergency door in Wyoming),

(*b*) the local police chief (ditto),

(*c*) coach of another team who is actively trying to fuck you to improve
their meager chances of winning a tournament for once (you mean there are
DISADS to never having to justify your decisions??? ? p.s. almost worth the
risk because at least this jimmy doesn't flow on the ballot and time you
with a wristwatch),

(*d*) your friend's mom (we haven't filled out the necessary permission
slips to make this one funny ? not that Delo's mom was ever nevermind),

(*e*) your friend's grandma (do we hafta get permission if said grandma is
now deceased???).

This is the debate world that Aaron John Lyttle stepped into and changed
forever (three to six years is technically forever if the population is
small enough). Our research indicates that as late as 1995, policy debaters
in Wyoming were still hand-copying (partial) paragraphs out of library books
onto note cards. It only makes sense that AJL's devastating idea to invent
and then use the internet to find evidence took many by surprise. After
cockily dominating an entire state (two states if you count Colorado ? if
anybody contests this caveat we either envy their pride or pity their
intelligence) with a 1AC that was SO awesome that (*a*) he was willing to
let the other team read it if they asked to during prep-time and (*b*) to
not put it in a binder, with plastic page protection, would have likely been
his first felony.

Research prowess was not Aaron's only natural advantage ? the man was born
with a (Jebidiah Springfield-esque) silver tongue. If it was difficult
before for the power-hungry teachers and principles judging him to respect
the privacy rights of potential-drug-using students, Aaron made it downright
impossible (state champion privacy topic HOLLA). He was a high-powered
mutant not meant for reproduction but luckily for Cheyenne East High School,
he was a generous god. He taught us how to persuade the judge of ridiculous
things by using wit (2AR overview: the 2NR is a jack of all stocks but a
master of none*), revolutionized the intangibles ? the kid was born in a
suit with a confidence-red tie ? and solidified the foundation of what would
become a preeminent debate empire, the likes of which the mountain region
had never seen before and will likely never see again. (NOTE: This is not to
say we didn't have a debate coach: her name was Sandy.)

Aside from establishing total control over one of the remaining nexuses of
persuasive debate (CEHS debaters would later shine on the national stage
that he had sadly failed on, eliminating Glenbrook North's top team at NFL
nationals two years in a row on their way to the top 10), Aaron wanted more.
He told the young Cheyenne East debaters about an entirely different debate
landscape where people read really fast, mostly shunned persuasion over
logic and were not commonly expected to wear their best suits. The
tournaments they competed at took place so far away teams often needed to
fly ? remember airplanes had only recently been introduced into Wyoming at
this point (late 1990s) so this idea was very strange to us. These "circuit
kids" also read "critiques" ? a siren whose song Martin Osborn admittedly
gave into at one dark stage ? which Aaron apparently knew a lot about,
seeing as he was the only one among us who knew how to pronounce "Michel

Training began. We cut more cards, (some of us) learned speed drills,
started thinking about WHY people won debates and made new goals. "Speed"
debate was a totally useless tool in our area but we were determined to show
lazy circuit kids (who we were informed had all of their cards cut by
coaches and who were all wealthy ? not complete lies in our experience) that
we could keep up. Interviewee Will Jensen remembers every moment of his life
that involves the word "debate" reflecting that, throughout his "debate
career, Aaron has inspired and taught me more than any other person," (and
here Will is speaking of that 6-month period where he actually did debate
work) "before going to Berkeley's tournament, AJL was willing to debate me
[maverick] every day after school for almost a month, even though he
probably had a million better things to do." We can say with firm confidence
that AJL in fact had nothing better to do but simply loved the feeling of
relentlessly crushing a first-year over and over for all to see. Sometimes
he even had the goodwill to explain to Jensen the ins and outs of the
arguments ? and thus we learned about counterplan theory, critiques, and

After Aaron and his also-very-good-but-not-hot-like-Aaron-partner Dusty
Hixenbaugh went 6-2 at the Berkeley tournament and lost in doubles (on a
disgusting 2-1 decision to El Cerrito), we had evidence that kids from our
school could achieve national success, overcoming whatever disadvantages we
thought worked against us with a mix of hard work and impact back files
(NOTE: some of us are still stuck in this stage ? there's no need to name
names [COUNTER-NOTE: Martin Osborn's affinity for Lacan in high school
automatically disqualifies him from editorializing about the argumentative
preferences of certain others-tjc]). This process culminated in two teams'
legitimate (that's right Manchester Essex) qualification to the TOC, where
they would compile about half the wins it takes to clear (a total of 3 more
than Ross Richendrfer could manage that year).

Alcohol, Depravity & Madness: The Later Days

by Travis Cram

Ole AJL did make quite an impression on me, showing me the virtues of a
strong work ethic, stoic leadership and all that good sounding crap.  Despite
this, the larger portion of the blame for my formative years of debate lies
with Brian Delong and my 2 ? years of back-packing him around in high
school.  Anything positive that Aaron imparted to me was offset by this
peculiarly angry bearded devil.  It was very strange, however, to find
myself debating with Aaron after my transfer to Wyoming.  It was like coming
full circle.  Due to the vagaries of criminal law and the attitudes of the
state of Pennsylvania towards convicted felons (a lexis source search of the
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle with the terms 'Aaron J. Lyttle', 'Martin Osborn' and
'police cars' proves revealing), he had also found his way onto the debate
team at Wyoming and on the same graduation track as myself: mentor and
student gloriously reunited.  Having been the only contributor lucky enough
to actually debate with Aaron, I thought I'd share a few experiences from
the heady, wild days of 'Wyoming CL.'

We quickly emerged as a team of cagy old veterans on the China topic.  What
we lacked in skill and trickery we made up with our collective
disillusionment with debate and life (which we had in spades, I tell ya).  Wyo
CL rapidly ascended to the plateau of mediocrity, breaking even at every
tournament.  How did we achieve this stunning feat?  We could always bank on
1 aff win off some poor schmucks who were even slower than us.  Than we'd
scrap together a few neg wins using treachery, deceit and our penchant for
the impact turn (god bless Emory's prolif case that year).  It was a recipe
for adequacy; everything in moderation, even wins, was our mission

Finally, at CEDA, we discovered the key to success: nuclear war good. (much
to the chagrin of Josh Gonzalez, who would come to judge our shenanigans
more than anyone deserved).  After honing our craft against Whitman BM's
Agamben K (suck it, Buntin), we discovered the key to being out of the
tournament in doubles: Harvard KM.  Nevertheless, we took these lessons and
ran with them the next year, clobbering together a string of
5-3-miss-on-points in the first semester of the courts topic.  Many of you
are probably asking: who the fuck is Wyoming CL?  Our anonymity demonstrates
Aaron and I's main obstacle to success: too much charisma.  We were so
amazing as to even be unmemorable.  Our magnanimous personalities would
blind people, leading them to believe that we dropped a ton of shit every

Above and beyond his triumphant success in debates, Aaron was far more
remarkable off the field.  Squad meetings illustrate this: 'Alright, so
assignments are as follows?Will, you take politics updates.  T-Cram, you
take these case-hits.  Crowe you take these disads.  Delo, try to make your
aff topical for once.  Aaron, you have to write a new aff, do four casehits
and do you think you could cut some answers to this list of fifty K's that
we don't understand?  Thanks?'  Alright, so it's kind of an exaggeration (we
all know Crowe didn't cut cards), but not far from the truth.  Despite the
inordinate work-load, he'd meet every deadline, handing over piles and piles
of evidence.  Sometimes he'd go above and beyond that ('Hey, I was bored so
here's a big omega-point file').  And there was never a complaint.

That's not to say that Aaron isn't fond of fun (alcohol). Later, Will Jensen
pointed out that "he actually combined debate work and alcohol quite
successfully. Aaron could outwork any of the rest of us on the UW squad, and
usually did so with a martini in hand. There are not many things that are
funnier than a drunken Aaron intent on fighting someone twice his size
because he disagrees with them about whether or not PICs are legitimate."
Those of us lucky enough to run case-specific strategies and keep aerosol
tracks in a backfile folder can only imagine.  Aaron and I also had a strong
tradition of getting falling-down-shitfaced before trips.  When every flight
begins with a two-hour drive to Denver at 3 in the morning, the sauce is
needed to keep one's sanity

Another case in point of Aaron's dedication: the art-bag.  Aaron packed his
clothes for trips in this giant canvas sack that was designed to be an art
portfolio that he had found in our squad room (don't ask ? parli).  In order
to make sure our tubs met the airlines weight requirement, we would have to
shift files into our bags.  Being of amorphous size and shape, a good twenty
or thirty pounds of files would make its way into the art-bag.  It got to
the point that it probably weighed more than a tub.  Now picture Aaron,
usually drunk or half-conscious, hauling this monstrosity through the
airport (something that weighed almost 2/3rds as much as him).  Forslund had
the bad luck of asking 'what was in the bag' and was assaulted by a surly
Aaron who slung the bag at him, nearly decapitating the 'Shooter McGavin'
visage that sits atop Forslund's body.  With the exception of this small
outburst, Aaron still never complained.  He was an absolute work-horse,
carrying an entire squad at times.

That's what I find truly admirable about him and will always remember.  But
even beyond the lessons of hard work and leadership, Aaron taught me how to
have fun.  Yeah, we were never at any risk of breaking into debate stardom,
but it didn't matter.  It was enough to be able to debate and hang out with
one of your best friends, weekend after weekend.  Through all the levels of
debate's absurdity, frustrations and utter bullshit, we never lost sight of
that.  Outside of Cheyenne East alum and some old Pittsburgh people, few
will remember Aaron, but he should know that he had a tremendous impact on
more than he probably realizes. Debate is harder in college (take that
circuit kids) so our success took a dive and a lot of us no longer debate.
It is undeniable, though, that AJL played a large part in the collegiate
successes of Chris Loghry, Chris Crowe, Brian Delong, Travis Cram, Will
Jensen, Martin Osborn, Josh Schmerge and other Schmerge-level debaters who
even we have forgotten. Nonetheless, a legacy of mediocre performances with
a strong appreciation of self-deprecating humor may not have been created by
AJL but it would have surely died without him.

Aaron had the rare fortune of winning his last debate round ever (not many
can say that).  Fittingly, we beat a biopolitics aff on 'murder and
disposability good,' bringing our misanthropic thrill-ride to a halt.  After
Wake, he silently stepped down to pursue a new life in law school and
marriage.  We're definitely going to miss having you around, but we couldn't
be happier for you.  Good luck in the future, AJL ? stay in touch, you
shifty sonofabitch.

*Stock issues: a paradigm whereby the affirmative must show that the
resolution is correct by proving beyond a reasonable doubt that as a result
of attitudinal, structural AND existential reasons, a significant harm
exists that a topical plan can completely cure. See also: 5 minute 1ARs
against 8 minutes of new in the 2NC are hard when nobody understands turns
and you can't go fast.
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