[eDebate] Is there no break to the cycle? was my Richmond updated judge philosophy

Martin Harris mharris02
Fri Oct 12 09:02:22 CDT 2007



To be fair, I was actually trying to be 'offensive,' not 'defensive.'
Perhaps I should have explicitly stated my belief that I thought you are
committing theft and do not deserve to be compensated if you are
universally struck. 

Asha makes some good points though -- when dealing with a hostile
audience, it is a rhetorically defensible strategy to simply choose to
be a hostile audience back, rather than trying to communicate your ideas
in a way that might be persuasive to them. That is obviously the way
good dialog works. In real life, if someone doesn't like the way you are
stating your point of view, under no circumstances should true students
of human communication try to state their point of view in a different
way; it is clearly better to simply refuse to listen to them back, to
teach them the error of their ways. 

>Before I try to defend why this binary is bad, in my rounds at Richmond
I'm going to role-play why this binary is good. 

Seriously, a little less self-righteousness please. 

Everyone should keep in mind that although this is a game, we should at
least pretend that there is some connection to teaching young adults the
strategies for thinking through life decisions and persuasively
conveying the reasons behind those decisions to others, whether they are
predisposed to agree or not. 

L. Paul Strait





   I am confused. So the better strategy is to sarcastically and
offensively mock someone's frustrations? I am not saying I agree with
Asha, but I can partially understand where they are coming from. I think
you can as well since you do seem to draw some conclusions that seem to
be on point. What I am confused by is why many in the community think it
is necessary to both identify the cycle of rhetorical violence that we
fall into often, and then also engage in it. While it is distinctly
possible that Asha will get the point, and may even out of sense of
fairness and justice agree and reform, is there not a better way to make
our points then being so reactionary ourselves? Why is it that NDT/CEDA
policy debaters and judges frequently have to take argument to a whole
other level? Presume righteousness in position and then demean and
attack the opposition? Where is dialogue possible in our discussions,
and can't we find ways to disagree without hyperbolizing to the nth
extremes? Does debate make our communicative styles so dysfunctional
that we can't ourselves engage in anything other than one-up one-down


   I will concede this may very well be the pot calling the kettle
black. I realize that I have frequently engaged in the same tactics, but
I am trying to disengage. It is one of the primary reasons I decided to
stop "doing" "policy" debate. Is the international debate community
doomed to falling into these traps and spiralling towards "offensive"
communication to make our points? Can we not see the ways this
communicative style insulates us from society, and causes people to want
to disengage from the community? Both as competitors and as social
relationships? Am I the only person that has been told "oh, don't argue
with him, you can't win, he is a debater?" Am I wrong in thinking that
part of that reaction from non-debaters stems from a retarded ability to
engage in "civil" discourse? Where have all the Carrie Crenshaws gone?



Sad and dismayed in Springfield.


To Asha:


   I understand your frustration, I do. I think some judges try real
hard to be "fair," but it is hard for them when things lie outside of
their latitudes of acceptance and fall into their latitudes of rejection
area. I think you will find some peoples' objections to your philosophy
to be this doesn't seem to be the case for you. It isn't that you don't
understand, and can't be MORE open minded, but you have executed free
will in choosing to shut down in reaction to other's inability to be
more engaging. That conscious choice seems to be a slightly different
reaction then some of the pool that might be at the Richmond tournament
you are criticizing. I don't think a healthy community can be built from
reactionary polarization even if you can force gaps of difference to


   Even if I am wrong about that, it also seems to be a conscious choice
on your part of injustice as a response to injustice. You are allowing
others "ethical" (is that too strong a characterization) lapses to
justify yours, and that is problematic. You even come close to
acknowledging so in your philosophy when you say please don't take this
out against the coalition teams, it is my choice, but that is you will
be doing to the teams that are judged by you. You are holding debaters
you adjudicate responsible for the "sins" of the other judges in the
pool. It isn't the debaters fault that judges are intolerant, and
breeding more intolerance not only doesn't seem to be able to fix the
problems, but takes it out on the "innocents", the debaters. I do hope
this is just a rhetorical exercise. A theoretical judging philosophy to
provide a stasis point for dialog and not an actual practice that you
will engage in at Richmond, but that is up to you to determine. I wish
you luck in your project goals even if I disagree with the means you
have chosen to achieve them.

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