[eDebate] Top 10 Reasons Topicality SUCKS

matt stannard stannardmatt
Thu May 31 17:17:16 CDT 2007

As Lundberg quickly pointed out, "topicality" exists in several dictionaries.  
It also exists as part of the topoi of "jurisdiction" that is essential to debate--and keep reading, because this isn't the post you think it's going to be.  It's not only essential to the kind of debating the policy hacks want to do.  It's also essential to the kind of debating activists need to do.
Procedural debates deal with issues of fairness, participatory norms, shared meanings, and the objections thereto.  Procedural debates are both ethical and political debates. When we abandon the search for fairness, or the notion of fairness as a participatory norm, we don't display a very positive model of the public sphere. I could refer to many concurring opinions on this from Habermas and Marx to Aristotle to socialist/feminist Allison Jagger to communication scholars ad infinitum. Denials of such shared norms (often coming from respectable poststructuralist critics, other times coming from conservatives who sound eerily poststructuralist) may work for some fields (deconstruct shared norms in science, medicine, religion, etc) but don't work as well when applied to either debate (where competitive equity is functionally necessary to sustain long-term participation in the activity) or the real public sphere (where the denial of accessibility or equity is a matter of life and death, especially for underrepresented classes or groups). 
Now, the argument can be made, should be made, that procedural debates, in form or substance, do NOT lead to the kind of fairness that deliberative theorists or activists want.  That's cool--Adam, your reasons why we should abandon or transcend the topic are only capable of generating rhetorical exigency, and debate offense, in a world where topicality exists, where there ARE teams who run topical plans and others who consciously do not.  
The abandonment of the search for agreed-upon meanings feeds nicely into those who want to substitute raw power for shared norms.  

Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 16:50:45 -0400From: baltimoredebate at gmail.comTo: edebate at www.ndtceda.comSubject: [eDebate] Top 10 Reasons Topicality SUCKS10. The word "topicality" does not exist in any English dictionary, and if it does it's only applies to debates, not real world vocabulary.9 - 2. Fuck the Topic1. See number 3-- Adam J. JacksonTowson University Speech and DebateBaltimore Urban Debate LeagueCell:443-824-4273 
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