[eDebate] Judging Consult CP's

Aaron Hardy spoon_22
Thu Oct 4 09:57:01 CDT 2007

A quick reminder for people doing their pref sheets ? the part of my judge 
philosophy on Consultation CP?s and Aspec is still in effect.  I?ll also try 
hard to remind every team I judge this weekend.  The relevant parts:

    Aspec is stupid. It?s not a reason to vote neg and the ground loss is 
ground we?re better off without. Don?t expect higher than a 27 if aspec is 
in the 2NR.  Half a point will be deducted from both negative speakers for 
introducing it in the 1NC.

    I especially hate consultation counterplans. Why the aff doesn?t go for 
?consultation CP?s bad? more often is beyond me. If the negative advances 
any consultation counterplan in the 1NC, neither negative debater will 
receive more than 26 speaker points. For each speech the negative doesn?t 
kick the CP, I will deduct another half point from each speaker.

I?d like to mention a few things about this:

1)  I?d like feedback, positive or negative.  Since instituted, I?ve 
received incredibly little commentary from people, and none in public.  From 
the beginning, this policy has been one thing ? an experiment.  I wanted to 
find out to what degree speaker points could be used to help push argument 
trends in a more positive direction, even if in a small way.  I wanted to 
see what the positives and negatives were to this approach, as opposed to 
others.  To my mind, the jury is still out on the success of this 
experiment, and I?d like to hear what other people have to say.  I?m not 
interested in being punitive just to be punitive, and I?m very open to 
constructive criticism and change ? but I still need convincing.

Obviously, my personal choices have very little effect on broad argument 
trends.  On the other hand, I?ve only judged one debate involving either 
aspec or consult since I instituted this policy, where I judged 2-3 per 
tournament before.  Like I said, the jury is out?

2)  One place where the jury is already in is that consultation CP?s are bad 
and the debate community would be net better off without them.  The whole 
motivation for this experiment is that I?m convinced that the prevailing 
model of judging and argument selection is frequently a failure at producing 
fair, educational debates.

After the opening weekends of this season, at least 7 separate consultation 
CP?s had been read, with several more which will certainly be run at some 
point.  Is there anyone that?s willing to defend that this is evidence of 
anything other than a total educational failure?  This year?s debate topic 
is on the single most important area of the world for US foreign policy in 
2007, and dozens of teams were more concerned with researching whether Japan 
would say yes than thinking about whether or not we should engage Iran.

This is a very simple question of topic-specific education and what we 
choose as a community to encourage our students to research.  It saddens me 
a great deal that I had to have a senior on my team waste two days of 
valuable prep before Gonzaga cutting cards on 15-20ish Consult CP?s instead 
of focusing on the substance of his affirmative and maybe learning something 
about the Middle East.

That doesn?t even speak to how these arguments play out in debates.  They?re 
unquestionably unfair to the affirmative.  Yes, they?re self-servingly 
helpful to the negative, but at what expense to the overall hope for 
balanced ground?  Going out on the limb of a 6 minute 2AR on theory is very 
difficult, scary, and usually ineffective.  Negatives run them for one 
reason ? they win far more than their fair share, and it?s because they 
create a structural disadvantage to the affirmative.  The logical response 
from the affirmative is to be forced into defending that every nation on 
earth hates their plan.  Why are we not willing to bracket these arguments 
off as an argument people shouldn?t run?  Few people would defend or run the 
?Fiat World Peace CP? or the Delay CP?but Consult is rampant.

Perhaps more importantly, Consult encourages a very poor model of critical 
thinking on the part of debaters.  It compartmentalizes thinking into a one 
sheet of paper ?neg case? irrespective of what the aff says, instead of 
encouraging clash or the recognition of meta-level interactions between 
arguments.  Does anyone really want to defend that their student learns more 
from spending an entire year consulting one country than they would giving a 
2NR which involved 2 DA?s, a CP, and some case defense?

3)  There are obviously a variety of stock defenses of consultation, and 
anticipated criticisms of my policy ? I very briefly want to address a 
couple of those.  The purpose of this email is not to write an extensive 
dissertation on why consultation is educationally bankrupt and all arguments 
to the contrary are wrong?that will have to wait for another time.

?Why just consult?  There are other stupid args? ? There are many, many 
stupid arguments ? but I think of this experiment like a test project.  
Consult is the most obvious, visible, and widespread example.

?Some consult CP?s are specific? ? This is false.  The existence of a piece 
of evidence which vaguely suggests we should cooperate with NATO over the 
Middle East is NOT a solvency advocate.  The whole trick negatives use to 
(wrongly) try and make consult competitive is making the CP ?genuine, 
binding consultation.?  There is absolutely no comparative literature base 
in existence that argues that the United States should give an absolute veto 
over U.S. policy to Egypt.  I think that people making this argument are 
setting the threshold for what constitutes acceptable solvency evidence so 
low as to be laughable.  This doesn?t even address the fact that the vast, 
vast majority of people running consultation don?t even bother to have 
evidence on the PLAN ? primarily because it doesn?t exist.  Saying Japan 
cares about what happens in Afghanistan is not an indication that a 
debatable set of evidence exists for whether Japan would say yes or no to 
opium licensing.  Most importantly, even if this evidence did magically 
exist in some isolated context, it is NOT an excuse to give the negative 
such a powerful strategic tool at the expense of the aff.  This is basically 
the equivalent of saying the neg should get to fiat world peace because they 
have a card which quotes ?Imagine.?

?Your policy is too extreme? ? It?s possible, but I?d need some more debate 
on this.  The bottom line is that giving a 28 instead of a 28.5 isn?t really 
going to change anyone?s calculus about what to read.  This is basically the 
status quo.

?Your policy doesn?t work in elims? ? True.  I wish it did.

?Speaker points shouldn?t be about content? ? I don?t understand this at 
all.  What, then, is the purpose of speaker points?  I choose to believe 
that the community should recognize the achievements of debaters that are 
smart, strategic, and go for intelligent arguments, not just debaters that 
sound the smoothest.  If it was just about how pretty you sound, Strauss 
would have never received a speaker award.  I think that to one degree or 
another, everyone assigns speaker points at least in part based on their 
admittedly subjective opinions of how good the arguments people make are, 
and how compelling they find them.

Perhaps more than anything, I?d like to hear people?s counterplans.  
Seriously, I hope someone has a good alternative to propose?The whole 
motivation for trying out speaker points as a mechanism is just that I?m 
very uncomfortable with a world where people suggest I should ?just vote 
against the CP? or ?just be more willing to vote on theory.?  I feel like 
it?s my responsibility to fairly adjudicate the debate in front of me with 
no regard for content.  Unfortunately, it's frequently difficult to vote on 
theory as executed in debates.  Speaker points seem to be precisely for the 
application of more subjective standards.  I?d suggest that anyone who would 
rather I change the way I judge debates because I ?don?t like? certain 
arguments think through the real implications of what that would entail?

?Everyone disagrees with you, so this isn?t fair? ? The bottom line is that 
something in the marketplace of ideas is broken.  I?ve never heard a 
reasonable defense of why consultation counterplans are anything other than 
an anti-educational shortcut that tangibly makes the debate community worse. 
  I think that the status quo has far less to do with the fact that there?s 
some intellectual consensus in favor of consult counterplans, and a lot more 
to do with the fact that if you give a debater fresh out of high school the 
option of taking a shortcut that lets them win a fair amount with minimal 
research effort and a recycling of their high school backfile, a whole lot 
of them will take it.  It?s just too high a burden to expect educational 
selflessness on the part of every person in the community.  Unless there?s a 
change in direction from coaches and judges (ostensibly, educators), I see 
little hope of things changing.

I?ve now rambled long enough.  Like I said, this isn?t meant to be 
exhaustive, just a reminder and an honest request for feedback.  I don?t 
care if I?m proved wrong ? but I do care deeply about the choices we make as 
a community, and I have hope we can collectively make the right ones?

Good luck at Kentucky,


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