[eDebate] lacyjp at wfu.edu

Jean-Paul Lacy lacyjp
Thu Oct 11 23:36:13 CDT 2007

We've seen quite a few recently.

They bother me. [Sort of...] While debate judging is inherently 
"reactionary," it need not impose a particular worldview, but educate about 
how people normally make decisions.

Too many judges forget that each debate team is trying to win with the best 
arguments they have in their tubs.

It is true that every debater wants to know their judges predispositions. 
No debater should have to debate in front of a critic making arguments that 
are doomed from the outset. I definitely empathize with those judges who 
hold strong convictions about arguments they'd rather not hear. Some 
arguments are fair game for one critic and out of bounds for another. Given 
that the ideal of 'open minded' judging is unreachable, it is obviously 
important for judges to indicate where their 'open minds' end. Fair warning 
to debaters is the best we, as judges, can do.

Honestly, most of us could care less what side of the "consultation" debate 
you lie on, as long as you give the debaters prior notice. None of you are 
going to change your minds. Stating your predispositions is incredibly 
helpful: Your pedagogy is incredibly important to debaters, and debating 
within your preferences obviously helps debaters maximize the educational 
gain from each debate round.

Sometimes though, judges predispositions go too far.

One example: The K/Policy divide has become silly in certain important 

Witness Northwestern's "Constructive Disengagement K:"

Does it take a "K" judge to realize that the alternative is relevant to a 
policy maker with the power to implement the plan?

Does it take a "policy" judge to understand that the "withdrawal bad" 
impact turns have to come to grips with the negatives "cut & run now" 


Does it take a genius to figure out that most "representations" K's have 
nothing to do with the plan's desirability?


Unfortunately, I have seen or heard of too many debates where the policy/K 
divide stood in the way of judging these particular argument on its merits.

In the end, this is a plea to understand two hackneyed arguments:

1. Judge the debate you watch on its own merits.

& 2. Open your mind at least enough to understand how an argument fits your 

More information about the Mailman mailing list