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

Ede Warner ewarner
Sun Nov 18 20:21:21 CST 2007

Doesn't your question, whether the criticism of someone's method is
saying they are not a debater--depend on the relationship between the
method and someone's personhood?  Wasn't that part of the reason so many
Louisville debates became emotional.  Didn't many in the community feel
we were attacking their personhood?  Scott Phillips once told us that
fast, technical debate was part of his personhood, and he would defend
it to the end.  He worked hard to become the best and that it defined
him in part.  If that's true, why is it not also true that the argument
"Louisville's method oppresses me", especially when that method is
fighting for Black cultural inclusion, can have the same effect on my
If Liz Jones spits a creative verse and the opposition says that your
verse excludes me, aren't they saying that Liz's personhood is excluding
them?  And if you don't think so, that's cool.  I'm just telling how my
debaters felt as a result of choosing to be different and bring
themselves to the activity, to be told that what they brought is
Matt, for me, the difference was that our criticisms were on how the
system trains us to give up our identity, so I didn't feel that we were
going after people's personhood, but rather, we went after how they were
trained to leave their personhood outside the door.  Now, clearly Scotty
P. disagrees and perhaps others do as well.  But if we can't agree that
our creativity different choices were based in part of a Black cultural
identity that defined my students, well we simply have to disagree.  And
that disagreement perhaps explains, why my squad is giving up, getting
smaller and smaller, and losing faith that enough people will see the
difference I've discussed to make them comfortable enough to stay
without giving up themselves.
And yes, I have seen debates where my students feel affirmed and
respected that the opposing strategies affirm the criticisms of all of
the participant's self, while engaging in a substantive debate.  But
those have been few and far between.  The question of which debates are
about minor details versus which ones challenge personhood I suspect is
subjective.  We've been in many debates where "personhood" was being
attacked in subtle, covert ways, so I'm not sure I agree there.


From: matt stannard <stannardmatt at hotmail.com>
To:Ede Warner <e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu>,
<scottelliott at grandecom.net>, <ceda-l at ndtceda.com>,
<edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 11/18/2007 8:02 PM
Subject: Re: [CEDA-L] [eDebate]  The costs of a game, part 1:  An
unethical, amoral center
I'll be honest, Ede.  I don't completely understand your question. Let
me answer it as I think I understand it: Criticizing someone's method
isn't saying they aren't a debater. This is particularly true when the
debate in question concerns the best strategies and/or tactics for
breaking down power hierarchies, increasing the participation of
excluded groups in debate, and in other privileged structures. 
As to the second part of your question, I have seen instances where
people's arguments against your teams have been "authentic" (that is,
sincerely delivered from the best understanding possible of debaters'
social locations, delivered from the heart, and with a genuine respect
for and acknowledgement of your teams' arguments--up to and including
AGREEING with Louisville's central argument and merely differing in the
most minor way on tactical questions), and instances where they have not
been any of those things.  
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 22:44:26 -0500
From: ewarner at louisville.edu 
To: scottelliott at grandecom.net; stannardmatt at hotmail.com;
ceda-l at ndtceda.com; edebate at ndtceda.com 
Subject: RE: [eDebate] [CEDA-L] The costs of a game, part 1: An
unethical, amoral center

I can and will answer your question Matt, but only after you answer a
couple of mine.  What strategy do you know of that over the last seven
year's engaged without somewhere, someway m
ade the claim that
Louisville's method is bad?  Let's go a step further, do you think that
when my student's criticize the dominant paradigms of debate, that the
personal nature of Louisville criticisms against student's using those
norms and procedures and the same or different in terms of personhood,
than claims made by the dominant group against Louisville students?   
Do you think a method that defends someone's personhood is the same or
different than a method that at least on face, isn't tied to one?  I
look forward to your answer.


From: matt stannard <stannardmatt at hotmail.com>
To:Ede Warner <e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu>,
<scottelliott at grandecom.net>, <ceda-l at ndtceda.com>,
<edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 11/16/2007 1:20 AM
Subject: RE: [eDebate] [CEDA-L] The costs of a game, part 1:  An
unethical, amoral center
Ede: You write:
"Over the seven years, it's been really hard for them to consider
themselves debaters, given being told literally even round they are in,
that they aren't."
I inquire:
I assume you meant to write "every" and not "even."  So that your
statement should be taken as: In every round they are in, they are told
they are not debaters.
But I know this is, literally, untrue.  
So please clarify.  

Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2007 23:09:31 -0500
From: ewarner at louisville.edu 
To: scottelliott at grandecom.net; CEDA-L at ndtceda.com; edebate at ndtceda.com

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

For someone so concerned with people "playing the victim", you
certainly are good at diverting attention from your unethical behavior
by launching a landslide of bad arguments which were already answered
with evidence to generate offense.  We use to call this debating through
a wall.  You got to answer the original arguments which dust your
position, before we can consider voting for the new ones.  Well
actually, the new ones aren't really new either.  Except maybe the
ethics charge, but let me say this again since you really want to
characterize what we do as blaming students.  
I am a oppressor, not intentionally, but I participate in a game that
makes policy decisions through it's norms and procedures that
unintentionally creates a disproportional amount of pain and oppression
on minority groups.
Sounds better each time I say it.  I will concede that our debaters
need to get better at admitting they are part of the institution too. 
Over the seven years, it's been really hard for them to consider
themselves debaters, given being told literally even round they are in,
that they aren't.
Hey, if it feels better for you to say that you don't participate in
the institution, go ahead.  It was "pretend day" on Nick Jr. today.

From: <scottelliott at grandecom.net>
To:Ede Warner <e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu>, <CEDA-L at ndtceda.com>,
<edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 11/15/2007 6:50 PM
Subject: Re: [CEDA-L] The costs of a game, part 1:  An unethical,
amoral center
Ede and anyone else who could possible care,

Whatever. You can ask Gordon Stables that the e-mail that was posted on
(which, by the way, I do not retract one bit) was sent one or two days
prior to
it actually being posted on CEDA-L. The only way I found Ede personal
against me was by doing a google search. Ede, you can tear me down all
you want
but I still find your "project" to have become a joke.

I e-mailed you earlier to ask what was up with trying to finger me as
the "Man,"
when there are plenty of other people that are much more responsible
for the
current state of policy debate. To paraphrse Bob Dylan, "it ain't me
man, it
ain't me." I wasn't even around when your project started. But, you are
trying to drag me down. I think it is because I am one of the few out
there who
is actually willing to honestly engage you. Many people are not willing
to tell
you the truth--that your project is interesting, but becoming more and
irrelevant every week. They would 
rather simply nod their heads in
buy you a beer, and continue doing debate the way they have done it for

It does not matter what you think of me and the parameters of e-mail
ethics. I
find what you are doing to be unproductive and unethical.

I find a lot of what you are doing as unethical. You and your teams are
around blaming other students for the problems that are inherent in
structure of the activity. You and your debaters are running around
the the collective finger at other minority students and women,
claiming that they are Uncle Toms, because they choose to debate at
full speed
and do not decide to rap or use fourth-grade-level metaphors. [I have
seen it
done in person]. You have raised blaming the victims to a new art-form.
You are
on par with blaming a poor child for being poor. Yeah, telling freshmen
that they are complicit with racism really advances the cause for

You refuse to actually try to change the formats of debates, or the
institutional structures that perpetuate the problems you claim you
want to
address. These changes are done at business meetings, not by beating
students within debate rounds. You run away from real responsibility
when it is
handed to you and a real chance to change the activity is presented to
you on a
silver platter. You would rather run back to your ivory tower and
self-congratulatory tomes about how you "shocked the world" a few years
All the while, nothing has really changed. And, nothing will change.

You are too blind in your own fevor and rhetoric of emancipation to
realize that
your "project" is hurting other victims of institutionalized elitism.
>From my
point of view, all I have seen as a result of your project is some
wins, perhaps a few good showings at National Tournaments and a few
experiencing the ecstasy of collective guilt. But, American policy
debate is
still, for the most part, research intensive; speed friendly; and
biased in
favor of programs with large resources, debaters with high school
backgrounds, and multiple coaches.

Your quote from your book tells me a lot of what you are about
Ede--self-aggrandizement and self-delusion. Just because you had some
advance to elimination rounds at a National tournament DOES NOT mean
that you
changed the world. I think the evidence is pretty damn strong that your
has been a total failure when one looks at the overall trends on
college policy
debate. The debate world pretty much functions the same way it did
before your
project--but now people just have their "we ain't racist" and "speed
answers down.

But, I know you won't listen to what I have to say or push for real
change. It
is easier to whine about racism than it is to actually make real
changes. The
only real changes that can occur will be at the CEDA business

You keep delivering the irrelevant rants within debate rounds. You
alienating people who believe that policy debate places unecessary
hurdles to
access. That's cool. You keep up the good fight. You are really winning
over to your point of view and building up alliances all over the
place. You
should look in the mirror a little closer before you start launching
the ethics


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