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

Josh jbhdb8
Thu Nov 15 16:55:36 CST 2007


I only have a small comment to one part of this email.  On the whole, I
agree with much of the idea that it is more valuable to look at debate as an
important academic exercise then just as a game.
Dr. Warner says:

"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

I say:

We never were in any of these debates - and I assume you are talking about
year before last and not this year - so I can not speak to the strategy of
how others approached this question.  However, I think you are conflating
two different subjects here.

Subject One: Should debate train debaters to speak primarily to laypersons
Subject Two: Should debate be a game

I will fully agree that speed, tech, insider language etc can be seen
primarily as a gaming phenomena...But it also, alternatively, speaks to
being able to reach a level of experience where you are using "technique"
between people experienced in the highest level of public policy analysis.
In other words, if you had a public policy discussion between three experts
in a particular field - they would not see that conversation as a "game" and
at the same time not speak in a manner that would necessarily be digestable
by people "on the street" per se.  The advantage to that discussion is those
experts can use that EXPERTISE to push each other to make stronger
arguments.  Perhaps not more persuasive arguments to the person "on the
street" but stronger arguments for those who ultimately try to craft policy
for solving public policy problems.

I think it is very dangerous to say debaters should only be able to make
arguments that people "on the street" should be able to easily understand.
If done with acadmic rigor debate pressures two teams to make public policy
diamonds.  In addition, as has been said elsewhere, it creates an atmosphere
where people can make arguments that they might not be able to make in
public forums (about heteronormativity, about class, about race, about sex,
about structures of government etc.).

While I think debaters should be able to speak in front of a variety of
audiences...The assumption that the only alternative to debate as a "game"
is "taking it to the streets" is an idea I will never think is a great idea
(all due respect to Dr. Warner who I do respect greatly).

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