[eDebate] Reactionary Provisions

Michael Mangus mmangus
Sun Nov 18 14:10:08 CST 2007

I'm not exactly a big e-debate poster but this is one of the few  
issues that I feel like I have some insight on. I did LD for 4 years  
in high school, including a lot of national circuit success. I  
continue to coach LD while debating in college.  I do not think LD is  
somehow a lesser form of debate (as many people seem to), but it is a  
much different kind of debate. It is also an activity that is very  
much in flux lately. There is indeed a trend on the LD national  
circuit toward a more policy-esque style - i had an outround at a  
major national tournament where the aff ran a shortened version of a  
standard policy 1ac and my 1nc was 6 off, and that was in 2005.  
However, having seen the way these debates are executed, I would  
hesitate to say that even national circuit LD is particularly useful  
as training for policy debate. I obviously cannot speak for the  
entirety of LD practice, but here are my observations from coaching,  
judging and debating over the past 6 years:

While we may emulate policy structure on the national circuit, we are  
very rarely emulating policy substance. Theory debate is very new and  
widely disliked. "Counter-plans" are executed completely differently  
because LD is still essentially hypotesting and affirmatives have no  
textual advocacy other than the topic. Judging is radically different.  
Evidence expectations are radically different. Impact expectations are  
radically different (including a lot of strategies that attempt to  
prove the resolution tautological on the aff or internally  
inconsistent on the neg). I had 1 month of training in policy debate  
in high school and never went to a tournament; the remainder of my  
time in HS debate was 100% LD. When I arrived at Pittsburgh last year,  
I think I was lacking some very fundamental skills - how to structure  
certain positions (disads i understood; counter-plans, not so much),  
how to cut files (ive never seen an ld file that was more than 20  
pages long), how to order speeches with so many flows, how to  
incorporate a lot of cards into rebuttals, how to answer positions  
with offense rather than defense (the LD offense/defense distinction  
is very, very blurred),  the details of how uniqueness/inherency work  
(no status quo in LD), etc. The idea that LD helps you understand  
critical debate seems tenuous - kritiks in LD usually impact to "that  
means the resolution is nonsensical" and are rarely based on links  
other than "the aff assumes that justice/morality is objective." Going  
for a K in LD is an entirely different game from going for a K in  
policy (at least in my experience).

With that said, I do think that it was probably much easier for me to  
learn these things because I did have a decent technical background. I  
think I am the fortunate exception in that regard rather than the  
rule. I attribute my LD technical skills to the national circuit; on  
the local circuit, I had to actively attempt to make my style less  
technical. If I had only been able to travel locally, I think I would  
have been totally baffled by policy debate.

I also do not see a major influx of national-circuit LD titans in  
college debate. I know a lot of former circuit LDers; I see maybe 1-3  
at national college tournaments and 0-1 at regional affairs. I could  
count on my fingers the number of former national-circuit LDers who I  
know to be active NDT/CEDA debaters. It actually concerns me that so  
few LDers ever debate past novice/JV in college; I feel like it  
perpetuates a myth that LD is an intrinsically inferior activity.  
There have probably been some people who did LD who should've been  
moved along from the novice ranks pretty quickly. However, I don't see  
why that shouldn't be a coach's decision. It is very, very difficult  
to make a universal judgement about the transferrable skills LDers  
have, even among those who have national circuit experience.

Michael Mangus
University of Pittsburgh '10
St James HS (AL) '06

On Nov 18, 2007, at 1:35 PM, J T wrote:

> Why are we making a rule to address maybe 10% of people in the  
> country who did LD?  Jackie is dead on here...I assume a director or  
> two could bring in a ringer to beat up some novices---But community  
> shame can go a long way...it happens when people think directors  
> sandbag their JV and novice to gain points...when they do, others  
> give them shit or outright tell them they are being uneducational  
> asses and the situation generally resolves itself...maybe the right  
> people just need to realize they are being uneducational asses--I  
> don't remember this being a large problem before the rule...a few  
> high profile complainers did not and does not warrant the rule
> The Rationale operates under a few faulty assumptions:
> A number of high school students are competing on the National  
> circuit in LD which is similar to policy debate and then coming to  
> college understanding the ins and outs of debate and debating in  
> Novice against people who have never seen a debate before, much less  
> 50 rounds of debate.
> 1. not THAT many HS LD debaters debate on the national circuit-- 
> especially given the overall number of those debaters nationwide. I  
> was unaware that LDers have been coming in and slaughtering our poor  
> novices--sounds like it's reaching epidemic proportions!
> 2. by national they mean TOC, again a small minority of the overall  
> numbers that do not engage in policy-ish LD debate.  In many states,  
> people in LD have to strongly guard against making any reference to  
> "policy args" or "policy terminology" because "this is LD, not  
> policy" as I have heard judges in Kansas and Missouri say...
> 3.  most do not know the lingo or have a bastardized understanding  
> of the "ins and outs of debate"--
> --ask Blake Johnson if he knew what a floating pic was coming into  
> to college...(if he did, I bet he forgot)--
> 4.experience differences will always exist, even in LD--the TOC was  
> running T in LD when I debated...at least from Missouri we heard  
> tall tales of such craziness...But if I had run T or a CP (and I had  
> gone to policy camp) I would have lost and the coach bench me...
> 5. blurring lines is like mixing burdens---not a winning arg!  it  
> makes no sense that someone who did LD would automatically know  
> enough about things like framework, status and tricky perms to make  
> a difference...I suspect this comes from Neandethal anti-K  
> hacks...in most parts of the country (with an enormous lack in  
> college debaters/coaches in judging pools--mostly community) Zizek,  
> Lacan, Schlag, Foucault, Butler, Derrida never make it into an LD  
> rounds...more like John Rawls, Kant, or some lofty crap about  
> Justice or Hope...not real big college K authors
> step out of TOC/national circuit and recognize what debate is like  
> for the rest of the country!
> "Massey, Jackie B." <debate at ou.edu> wrote:
> Hello,
> I just wanted to offer my perspective on one of the proposed  
> ammendment changes in the VP report.
> My perspective is that we do not need rules to dictate when ethics  
> should probably be more responsible. I think the rule counting LD as  
> eligibility is somewhat reactionary, and not appealing to the true  
> hopes of participation for some, in the face of the detrmiments when  
> a novice team gets waxed by a super LD star.
> The rationale for the rule makes too many assumptions and false  
> categorizations from my perspective.
> RATIONALE: A number of high school students are competing on the
> National circuit in LD which is similar to policy debate and then  
> coming
> to college understanding the ins and outs of debate and debating in
> Novice against people who have never seen a debate before, much less  
> 50
> rounds of debate. Additionally college NFA LD is policy LD and should
> count as policy debate rounds. Finally, with the lines blurred in
> contemporary college debate between policy and critical anyone who has
> debated before, even in high school LD, has quite a leg up on a true
> Novice. LD, even when not policy oriented in HS, is closer to the
> critical side of the community and should count against novice
> eligibility.
> ------- The rationale atttempts to use a false dichotomy of critical  
> and policy to support what is acknowledged as "lines blurred". I am  
> somewhat of a beneficiary of this rule. My perspective is that if a  
> student is so far above the rest of the students, they should debate  
> JV or open, and not stay in novice. There are many high school LD  
> debaters that would never debate if they were pushed into JV when  
> they entered college debate. More than there are that quit whenever  
> a super novice is left in novice and waxes and wanes. (no evidence -  
> my opinion)
> They still gotta get rid of of the "aff case" and "neg case"  
> terminology. The problem is some of these students do appear to know  
> the "ins and outs" (official langauge now) of debate, and devestate  
> some of the new comers. This is where i say it becomes more of an  
> ethical issue for the coaches to move them up. Currently the rule  
> allows a starting point for those LD debaters who did not travel  
> National Circuit LD (most of them) to begin college debate and not  
> have to compete against those who were doing CX in high school. It  
> cuts both ways, thats why rules arent always the answer.
> Peace,
> Massey
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> JT
> Asst. Debate Coach
> Emporia State University
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