[eDebate] my Richmond updated judge philosophy -- please read

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Fri Oct 12 07:18:06 CDT 2007


Three quick points:
1.  Richmond is not responsible for the judging pool at its tournament, except to the extent that Kevin has gone the extra mile to provide a broadened perspective by bringing in folks from across the country.  Other than that, the judging pool really is just a reflection of geography.
2.  As someone who just filled out a pref sheet for Richmond, I read a lot of those judging philosophies (and should note that there are at least a dozen people in the pool who don't have a philosophy on the Bruschke page).  I was indeed struck by the number of philosophies that basically said the judge wouldn't hear a particular argument.  I'm not suggesting that everyone pretend they are open to everything, but there's an awful lot of "don't run that in front of me".
3.  To the extent that there is a kritik/policy divide, the overwhelming majority of the "don't run that in front of me or else" rhetoric comes from the policy side.  The irony of the debate that has gone on over the past week over Mr. Hardy's post on consultation counterplans is that using points as a punishment mechanism for running particular arguments goes on all the time in the status quo.  What made Mr. Hardy's proposed philosophy more controversial was that it was over a controversy largely WITHIN the policy side of the divide.  Nobody has raised much of a ruckus over philosophies that say:
a)  If you claim that T is a reverse voter, you will lose points.
b)  If you go for a K in front of me, you will lose points.
c)  I'm hostile to kritiks, don't understand them, and don't have to due to MPJ.
d)  If you make "policy" arguments you will get a minimum of...
e)  I will never vote on X.

I see "kritikal" people vote on (and give high points to) policy arguments all the time.  I recall at the height of the controversy over Louisville's argumentation seeing Ede Warner vote on straight-up status quo policy issues (and give them good points), all while people were putting in their philosophies that they will not even listen to Louisville-style debate.

Imagine the uproar if someone promised a minimum of X number of points to teams that ran "kritikal" arguments, or limited the number of points for teams that ran "policy" arguments.  Oh, wait.  I don't have to imagine that.  Asha demonstrated it.

Goose/gander, etc.
--Neil Berch
West Virginia University
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Asha Cherian<mailto:asha.cherian at gmail.com> 
  To: edebate at www.ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at www.ndtceda.com> 
  Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2007 11:13 PM
  Subject: [eDebate] my Richmond updated judge philosophy -- please read


  To provoke something-approaching-dialogue, I'm posting this here.  Please post or backchannel me.

  A slightly less detailed version of this has been accessible via the Richmond judge phil bk all week.  My apologies for posting this here so many hours after prefs have been active. 





  Asha
  NYC Debate
  fordhampolicydebate at gmail.com<mailto:fordhampolicydebate at gmail.com>
  --------------------------------------------- 
  ASHA CHERIAN 

  I'm on the Fordham payroll, but I coach for Fordham, NYU, Columbia, New School & CUNY (all the NY Coalition universities). 



  U OF RICHMOND TOURNAMENT: 

  I'm limp. 

  From supporting the Richmond Tournament by attending every year for the last 5 years (with the exception of that one time, the year of the year-long-hangover of the former Fordham coach who no one in NY wants to remember) only to have the judging pool reject our not-at-all-politically-or-philosophically-radical and more-radical K teams alike (all rounds except 2 over all those years had alts other than 'reject'). 

  From NYC Varsity teams opting out of attending Richmond year after year because of the hostile judging pool (we're taking 0 this year). 

  From feeling forced to accept these biases as just another debate convention to tolerate. 

  We support all our regional tournaments (CEDA East). But there are only so many. And our novice & JV debaters need out of region experience to prepare for Nov/ JV Nats. So we frequent nearby D7 tournaments. Richmond and other neighboring D7 tournaments ( e.g. Navy) have always been fair with us. But limiting fairness to extending open invitations to all CEDA member schools so we patronize your tournaments is anything but. For us attending your tournaments, Richmond and Navy, has always meant throwing away time, positive competitive momentum and a bit of our humanity on at least 5 out of 8 fruitless rounds where "straight up policy teams" won't even attempt engaging us because the 3 K-friendly judges at the tournament happen to be in the backs of *other* rooms (and the teams who hit us know the judge will on face reject K-focused aff and neg strats in the 2nr & 2ar anyway, even if we have an ADA-required alt). Why is the accepted norm that some CEDA regions are inclusive of traditional and nontraditional forms of debate while others, just a bordering state or two away, aren't? Why does teaching our debaters judge adaptability mean going to a tournament knowing we'll come home physically empty handed and spiritually defeated? 

  Philosophy after philosophy in the Richmond judge phil bk indicates that running a K or an alty aff will not be a strategic choice in the overwhelming majority of Richmond rounds. Reasons cited range from the brazen (people who first claim they like Ks then a few sentences down claim that all Ks are poor attempts at philosophy & only certain K authors are cool) to the even more brazen (I'm just not comfortable with Ks, k?). 

  Generally I enjoy nothing more in a debate round than hearing a damn good T debate, especially in the 2NR & 2AR (as my phil from last year indicates). But I wonder what would happen if I judged as though I wasn't comfortable with T... Make that T and disads and CPs and case debate. I'd like to find out. 

  Unless the Richmond judging pool's institutionally accepted aversion for critical debate changes (in the form of amended judge philosophies &/ or a productive listserv conversation), at Richmond my judge philosophy is to vote on Ks and alternative forms of debate. And that's it. No, I won't vote on any K/ performance argument; I'll vote on philosophically sound, theoretically defensible, topically intriguing Ks and alt forms of debate. And though I neither support this rule nor the implications of having such rules mandated by tournament-governing debate associations, fine, the Ks should have alternatives (ADA). If you want do some case work, negs, okay. But if neither team goes for a K or performance arg (even if K/ performance -friendly args were run), all 4 of the debaters in the room can count on receiving their hi-lo lows from me. If neither team acknowledges this judging philosophy, I'll flow the round fastidiously, flip a coin to decide the winner, give everyone a 25 and sign the ballot accordingly. 

  This is less a pat on the back for CEDA East than it is a request for reflection on why so much of regional debate has remained insular and resistant to new forms of thinking while national tournament judging pools extend the potential for success to both traditional and nontraditional debaters. Regional debate is the only debate accessible to most novice and JV debaters, debaters who so many members of this activity have claimed are the at the core of this activity and its continued existence. And it's the only prep/ practice site for JV and Open teams transitioning onto the national circuit. How disappointing would it be if the only reflections offered on these questions were silent ones, nonreflection reflections, in the form of strikes... This is a disappointment I'm ready to accept, but I ask that you not take this out on my debaters. 

  I've retained my phil from last year to extend some clarity on how I typically judge, starring what is relevant to Richmond (specifically what I mean by more preferable Ks & alternative approaches to debate). 

  I welcome your questions on how I will judge this weekend. 


  --------------------------------------------- 
  JUDGE PHIL '06-'07: 

  I'll preface my judge philosophy by saying I have no qualms with the admission that I'm incapable of stepping outside of my subjectivity to adjudicate within some idealistic objective space. 
  1) This does not mean that I think I assume some sort of role of privilege whenever I'm handed a ballot. 
  2) It does mean that I believe critics only obfuscate whenever we speak and act as though we exist peripheral to the agency through which we necessarily render decisions. 
  3) It does not mean that I will vote on positions exterior to the 2NR & 2AR decisions. 
  4) It does mean judges are always "intervening" when making decisions. But I want to do this as little as possible. And you can help me do so by giving me as much direct, context-specific clash as possible and enumerating each position in the debate hierarchically. 

  ****I'm a former NYC Coalition debater. I majored in Philosophy, Political Science and Women's Studies in undergrad. This is tangentially relevant to you, as debaters whom I will see. Really, I was and continue to identify as a sometimes student of philosophy/ political theory and a sometimes student of my own as well as others' fiction writing. Because of this I might be predisposed toward imagining the fantastical, imaginative world of the K. As an aside I'd prefer this world was more like Pynchon's and less like Baudrillard's (no, this does not mean I won't listen to your Baudrillard cards, ugh.). Good Ks have clearly articulated net benefits and analysis on how/ if the K turns case, etc. 

  I used to be a part of the coaching team at West Point/ USMA. Now I find myself a part of the NYC Coalition once again, this time in a coaching capacity, as the coach of Fordham U. 

  All in all, because of my academic and debate backgrounds, I'm K-friendly. In this respect I'm a quintessential CEDA Easter. But my judging record also indicates that I vote just as often, if not more often, on T/ procedurals, even the ever-abhored Specs. That is those with clearly defined, in-round ground/ education abuse stories (see below for more on this). 

  I like T and think it's an opportunity for a lot of smart argumentation. This doesn't mean I will vote for you just because you run it. It means I love listening to 5:30 of line-by-line T in the 2NR (preceded by a :30 overview) or --even better-- just under 15 mins of T between a block speech & the 2NR. So maybe don't go for your T=RVI or T=genocidal args in front of me. Unless you have a counter-interp that CPs/ disads/ Ks are better for debate & an impact for the counter-interp. 

  ****I also really like hearing new, smart forms of alternative debate. If you're a policy bad kinda team, pref me highly. I really enjoy hearing these debates and contemplating these questions. And a lot of the best rounds I've judged this year have been policy v. something else rounds. Any debate strat that questions and attempts to locate problematic bases for debate norms are good. An on face plea to reject a form of debate without clear analysis of *what* is wrong & *how* my ballot begins to change that 'what' is bad. Don't just give me a vague 'reject it b/c it's wrong.' Think about the nuances here when you tell me how my ballot functions. This doesn't necessarily have to be 'explicit' (e.g. every time I saw Bard's Ravenna & Nathan last year, they did a good job of showing me a level of absurdity in debate w/o having to even momentarily abandon their absurdist approach ? this worked fine.) 

  BUT if you're a team facing one of these policy bad teams and your strat is in line with straight up policy good stuff, this isn't a huge cause for concern. Yes, my judging record does indicate that this year, more than ever before, I've been more partial to the policy bad strats. But this is only because I think the policy good teams that lost those debates failed to make the more round specific, clashing policy good args. Like I said before I love T debate, something that's unique to policy debate. So I'm definitely not biased against debaters who choose to defend the value of policy debate as an activity. You should also feel free to make policymaker good arguments in front of me, a la roleplaying good -- I have no conscious bias on this one way or the other. If your strat includes either of these two, maybe give better analysis/ go for args other than the wrong forum & fast debate improves memory args. Unless better memory power solves for race-based poverty. That would be powerful shit. Or powerfully offensive shit. You tell me! So, yes, remember to impact these framework arguments. And engage what the policy bad kids are saying, even if only to prove that their strat is bad. 

  ****Unless you specifically request that I do otherwise -- and maybe even in spite of your request that I do otherwise -- I will flow tags, cards, lyrics, episodes of divine intervention, and anything else that may occur during our almost-2 hours in the same room together. 

  ****To elaborate on framework, framework analysis is often important so, when necessary, I want to hear it as early as possible. I don't care whether it's in the 1AC underview or on a seperate framework flow (and probably won't buy neg. block args that the F/W cards should have been in the 1AC). 

  Impact analysis is, of course, always important, too. This is still true with T, in which case give me a net benefit to your interpretation & impact it. But be aware that I'll only vote on potential for abuse if you're giving me impacts that matter. But this doesn't mean I'll enjoy watching you read 6 no-linking disads to prove the abuse on the topic specific education good debate. I often find it unsettling to vote on potential for abuse because I can't reconcile the following: without a corpus of precedent -- similar to what we have in the US legal/ justice system -- according to which critics may base their decisions, each round is adjudicated on its own terms, meaning present abuse does not necessarily perpetuate future abuse. Our privileging of extreme-case- hypotheticals in disad debates doesn't justify accepting the same standard for discussions of what debate could be on T. When we hold T to this standard, one that I buy has educational value in disad/ case debates, we sell ourselves short on potentially meaningful in round considerations of what's best for/ how to improve the activity. You might not believe your agent CPs good for education args but maybe I will by the end of the round. 

  ****In most rounds, I'll want you to point to specific in-round abuse that's occurred. So name a couple cases that fit your interpretation or give analysis on how the aff writing norms on this topic are bad for some interpretation of ground/ fairness/ education, etc. 

  ****In novice & maybe even JV rounds, I tend to give nonverbal cues -- e.g. nods that indicate i'm jiving with you that the PIC bites the K; faces of confusion that indicate you're not explaining the warrants to your "on fire" piece of evidence you spend 2 minutes explaining in the 2NR without having actually said anything substantive; bewildered faces that indicate my awareness of the 2AR lie that the extra T standard was, in fact, covered by the 1AR. So it's to your advantage to look at me during your 2AC/ block speeches, as doing so may help you formulate/ amend your 2AR/ 2NR strategy decisions. 

  ****Despite all of this I think I'll listen to any argument. No I'm not just saying that. Entirely new types of arguments/ ways to approach arguments may arise. And I can't know what I can think of something if that something has yet to be thought, can I? But, to give you an idea of the extent of my flexibility, I'm even comfortable with arguments disguised as non sequiturs (you know, the ones that sound like non sequiturs -- and are assumed to be just stupid -- but are functionally performative non sequiturs, meaning they're objects for demonstrating some end -- and therefore strategic). As long as their role as such is clear. 

  The only debates I'm *less* comfortable hearing are really deeply developed disad debates; I've never had one myself -- what, I'm a product of NYC debate. But this doesn't mean I don't like disads. And this doesn't mean I haven't before voted on a disad as the sole NB to the CP. If you slow down a bit to talk to me about the story and the specific scenarios that end up, by the end of the round, being integral to the position, feel free to go for your disads in front of me. Or, just don't pref me highly. 

  ****If you're losing the debate on a key issue, by all means feel free to embrace ballsy damage control measures mid-round. Have fun with your concessions and remember that as long as we have time to speak, we have time to explore creative strategic alternatives. I'm tired of hearing about it and itching to witness a round in which someone justifiably kicks their plan text in the block and competently defends the theory of doing so. 

  ****Highest speaks go to those with the most clarity, organization, wit and quality pop culture references. By this, no, I don't mean talk to me about the latest Paris Hilton trash news. If you integrate references to Joss Whedon or his characters into your speeches, I just might have to give you a 30. 

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