[eDebate] Debating Debate

Ede Warner ewarner
Wed Nov 21 20:04:02 CST 2007

Hello.  Thanks for expressing your feelings.  I do recognize that there are many beliefs I have that are not shared by other Black students, coaches, judges in the NDT/CEDA community.  I also recognize that there is sometimes a tendency to stereotype and generalize beliefs, including ignoring how thoughts change over time.  I have been in the game now for 30 years and my thoughts have changed many times in many ways.  That said, my call for change is surely not the most popular belief and not shared by many.  And I recognize if I continue the path I am on, feelings will be hurt and people will grieve, it is only a question of who.
That is the nature of change.  Historically, change never occurs without hurt feelings, people disagreeing about the justification for change, or even when folks agree in the need for change, they likely disagree about the type of change called for.  But trust, I care about the pain that I'm causing you and every student, coach, judge, or director who disagrees with my beliefs.  I care, I cry, and I understand because I've been there.  I cared about you before you came to debate, and I care about you now. Most importantly, I will care about you: whether or not our disagreements result in things staying the same or result in massive change.  Even if you believe differently, I'm still here because I care.
Finally, no change can occur without all voices being heard.  Yours, mine, and the voices of each school before change can occur.  It's possible that your voice is the beginning of a substantial resistence to change.  And it's possible that my call for change never makes it further than a few e-debate posts.  At the end of the day, everyone will make decisions that they feel are in their best interests.  That's to be expected.
I won't speak for Rosie, as that would be inappropriate.  But I will say this: when Rosie came to Louisville, she did so for a reason.  She walked away from what would be a successful traditional debate career as you demonstrate by your post.  I find it hard to believe that Louisville was the only school interested in her, but that's a question for her.
I'll say this, I know why I walked away from coaching debate the way you now debate.  I know why I walked away as the first Black Director to reach quarterfinals of the NDT, 2 quarterfinal teams at CEDA nationals the year before I made the stylistic switch, elim's many times, pre-bid caliber teams, and the other accomplishments I had doing the style of debate you love.  And the fact that you love it Desmond, and can't understand my choices, doesn't change my reasons one bit.  I won't engage you publicly about this, but I encourage you to reread some of the last posts I've written.  I have already engaged a lot of your concerns.  And I encourage you to engage Rosie or any of our debaters.  Only they can tell you their motivations for the choices they made.  Take care,
Ede "Doc" Warner


From: Desmond Mason <dsmnd_mason at yahoo.com>
To:<edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 11/21/2007 6:26 PM
Subject: [eDebate] Debating Debate
I'm Desmond Mason, a fairly unknown debater from UMKC. I'm half African American and half Caucasian, but I embrace more of my black heritage than not. I grew up through the urban school system and I graduated from Southeast High School in Kansas City, MO in 2006. I guess you could call me underprivileged, since I wasn't raised in the burb's; matter of fact, I spent my high school years in DFS custody in a group home, and my life hasn't been a person's cup of tea, if you know what I mean. I started debating during middle school and all through high school, winning plenty of awards along the way, within its own dominant structure. I did alright on the national circuit too. Senior year I was in the top 20 speaking at the Caucus, went into a break round at least at the Dowling, and I upset probably the best high school team in the state of OK at the very first OU high school tournament in sems before losing in finals and I did very fine against TOC teams in Kansas; as you see, success against high school teams debating from the Ivory tower. I've been plagued by a speech impediment for all of my life (in second grade, I couldn't even pronounce my s's and my t's right), even though people wouldn't notice it now because I worked my ass off with one of my teachers in high school to become the best orator that I could be. Even though I didn't have the resources that other schools have, I just worked hard on making good arguments and when I did, I had absolutely no problem beating any team I went up against, even though I wasn't terribly fast. Inequalities in the debate community didn't concern me at all, and I definitely wasn't discouraged. Matter of fact, seeing thest type of things within the debate community motivated me to work harder and to never quit debate, because I know from my heart of hearts, that I can beat these people.
I really have fundamentally disagreed with the Louisville project ever since I first heard about it in high school. I, an underprivileged minority, love this type of community of debate because 1. it is educational to me in the fact that I'm forced to come to terms with and research issues on the topic, therefore giving me more knowledge about what's happening around me, empowering me to support my views. Before this year, I didn't know that Russia was coming up in the world; I didn't really know the details of the nuclear crisis of Iran or how fucked up the situation is in Lebanon. My research, even on these tangents of the topic,  empowers my view of not liking how the United States and the West are doing things right now and gives me evidence that I can use to support or empower my views. I can give more examples but I really don't feel like it right now; 
2. this is the only community that I know that pretty much gives you the liberty of saying what you want and arguing what you please within the dominant system of things without fear of exclusion. I can argue my K, my performance, queer theory, stripping to solve cap, feminism or whatever I please. I can research any issue that I please. And if that thing is a good argument, then I know I'll have a chance of winning the debate. Do people realize that some of the fastest speakers make the dumbest arguments known to man/woman? Just because people speak fast or are highly technical DOES NOT MEAN WHATSOEVER that they have an predetermined advantage whatsover. My favorite debate video that I've ever seen was of Gabe Murillo's 2nc in the doubles v. Texas at USC last year. He didn't go fast during that round and the main argument that he was going for was this K of the use of data, and that speech was sweet!!!! b/c all of his arguments were GOOD and made sense, no matter how fast Texas was going. My boy Geoffery Stone, before he was kicked out of school, ran this sweet argument about just fucking the system because it sucked; Geoffrey and his partner didn't go fast at all, they just made good arguments, were creative and they won rounds, even though they were from the underprivileged backround. UMKC fucking danced and won a debate round once!!!!! Yes, I , an underprivileged African American, think this community is sweet.....
3. All the judges are educated and pretty open minded. I think is wrong to put the generalization out there that judges in this community are somehow genetically predisposed to automatically voting for dropped arguments. The ONLY situations, in my debate experience, in which a dropped argument was voted upon was when the team advocating the dropped argument EXTENDED, EXPLAINED, AND IMPACTED THE DROPPED ARGUMENT. The team arguing for the dropped argument would have to do good explaination in front of a judge how the argument functions within that particular round, how that argument basically means the opponent loses in relation to the opponent's arguments.....etc. Just because you dropped an argument doesn't mean that a judge would automatically vote for it. I've been apart of plenty of those rounds and when I did lose (which is alot this year), I understood why the argument I did drop on the flow tarnished my ability to persuade the judge......and the other team made good analysis on that dropped argument.........They didn't vote me down b/c I dropped the argument, they voted me down b/c they did great analysis, meaning that the other team DEBATED better than I did..............
Also judges aren't just predisposed to liking fast rounds or preferring certain forms of debate; if this is true, then why do teams like San Fransicco State and CSU Fullerton keep winning? (Because these teams make good arguments!!!!!!! and they DEBATE)
Bottom line, in my view, most good judges vote only for the teams that made good arguments....
Teams only win not b/c they're part of some sort of Ivory tower, but because they work their asses off and they are prepared to debate. Keep in mind that some teams from Emory, Dartmouth, and Cal lose their asses off too. The predominant reason why teams like Dartmouth KO whoop ass is only because they take the time out of their college lives to educate themselves on the issues, research the issue, construct arguments that make sense from those issues and they come prepared against the teams at that tournament. This is precisely the reason why Amy and Malgor came in second at the NDT last year, even though they were from lowly UMKC, because there were countless times in which I saw them in the squad room working their asses off, researching, and coming up with great arguments in response to different teams. 
I want to make some random points before I leave.......
Isn't exclusion inevitable? Can there actually be an all inclusive community, given all of the different world views that our species has? How do we increase minority participation in this debate community? Does anybody have any evidence whatsover about the SPECIFIC THINGS that turn off minorities from this community? Does anybody have any evidence pointing to the fact that many minorities want to join the debate community (CEDA) now but are turned off from the speedreading, the judges, how we research, etc? And how about the minorities that do like this style? (I've seen a black person at the NDT before from James Madison through pics, and I seen an African American female from Rochester debate in elims before).  What about them? And can somebody please tell me what this new community would look like, specifically? (I've asked that question a million times). What would competition be like? Would that competition exclude people like me who like the technical style? What's the ultimate point of debate ,as we have it now, if winning isn't the ULTIMATE objective? (In my view, the dichotomy of a win/loss actually leads to more education because if you lose a round and are serious about being successful and persuasive, you would research and educate yourself on the issue that you lost on and be ready to more aptly debate that issue next time, is this not the educational point of debate? Why would people participate in debate if the win/loss didn't matter) What is the benchmark that marks when minority people have finally "overcame" the oppressive parts of this system in which we debate in? Participation? A different community? A minority winning the NDT? (two women have already done that). Please somebody, Ede, Ebony, Rosie or anybody, just answer these questions for me, so I, the underprivileged, African American, could understand.
To conclude, I just disagree with the project and just making a point to criticize the system in which you participate in. I think it's a sweet community for my reasons above. It would cause me pain if I were to debate LU in a round just to be told that the thing that I work my ass off towards just isn't good enough, b/c the system I work my ass off in isn't good enough to include minorities. I find the community as a release for me and my painful life. 
There you go, an underprivileged person who likes this community.
My $.02 
PS....I also disagree with your assimilation arguments. I'm just as African American as I was when I began college debate. I'm still as autonomous as a person. I'm still me. I'm no machine. I'm myself. The forum that I engage in doesn't change me. And as an aside, Rosie W. used to whoop my ass in every policy debate that we've ever engaged in against one another.......lol....she won when I dropped arguments but the key thing is that she won because HER ARGUMENTS were better than mine and her analysis were better than mine.....just to add to what i said above. 

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