[eDebate] The costs of a game, part 1: An unethical, amoral center

Ede Warner ewarner
Thu Nov 15 15:43:00 CST 2007

Dear Community,
This is the beginning of my personal examination of the evidence regarding the costs of treating debate "as a game."  The note below is one from Scott Elliott last night.  I believe that note represents the dangers of a training in policy debate as a game.  
Debaters play loosely with the truth most of the time, that is only one of the "playing pretend" issues that prevents us from finding the truth through intercollegiate debate.  A second is a lack of ethics and morals.  Scott's decision to send me a private email on 11/12/07 at 11:35pm asking me did I call him a racist, but sending a public email to Gordon at 11:45pm is demonstration of a lack of ethics.  During the private discussion, with several emails engaged and a developed and nuanced discussion (at least on my part), he could have asked the public note be repealed, which he never did.  All of this: giving me 10 minutes to respond, then going public; having a private conversation while all the time he knew that his original rant would go public, then not attempting to stop his original post after the dialogue ensued speaks of unethical behavior.
And on top of all that, his decision to lie and say that there it was a day or two later before he sent me a backchannel email, when in fact he sent a private email, gave me ten minutes to reply, and then went public, is not just unethical, but it's a bald, face lie.  And that's amoral.
The point for the larger community to consider:  Are these retrograde values trained in contemporary policy debate.  Do they transcend debate ideology, allowing for competitive excesses at all costs:  like radically offensive, inappropriate performances or teams who choose to speed read to win debates against those who lack the training, or lies about when a team starts using the Louisville style, or the strategic choice for a team and/or a squad to defend in a debate that they will take certain diversity measures, then they don't.  
Or the suggestion that we'll "take you to the streets" because our students trained in fast rigorous policy debate are superior on debating a topic to your students "alleged" by you the community to only to be trained in style?  But when the Louisville debaters start winning all the debates in the time period between Harvard and Wake, everyone starts not accepting the challenge, keeping their insular judges to debate the question of whether the debate community judges bias certain privileges not relevant to whether the public, including experts, thinks are necessary values of good policy debate.  So when the evidence of a 7 year experiment is pretty darn strong that your fundamental assumptions about the activity you've given your life too, are misguided and incorrect, how far will you go to protect your house of cards?  Wondering do those questions of ethics and morals potentially come into play?  Or does the community just "pretend" them away?
Looking for answers,


From: <scottelliott at grandecom.net>
To:<CEDA-L at ndtceda.com>
Date: 11/14/2007 10:27 PM
Subject: [CEDA-L] Reply to Warner
This will be quick.

My request to Dr. Stables post my comments was sent a day or two before I
requested a response from Dr. Warner via private communications. So, there is
some time lag issues. However, that is really irrelevant.

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