[eDebate] Ross Richendrfer's Judge Philosophy

Ross Richendrfer richenrc
Thu Sep 20 14:37:23 CDT 2007

I will try to judge each debate with two goals in mind:

First, to preserve the pedagogical value I place on the activity. I am 
highly optimistic about the educational value of research and argument 
and believe there?s intrinsic value in engaging in an open and fair 
communicative process. Particular aspects of debate that I value are 
things like fairness, topic-specific education, clash and rejoinder. 
For many of you these may sound like code words for ?he votes on the 
framework,? but I don?t think it needs to be. I just want to see 
both sides clashing over something that was linked up to the topic, be 
it Orientalism or the Israel Backlash DA. At the time of this judge 
philosophy I?ve voted for the K three times and the Framework zero 
times. While it seems to me that some critical arguments circumvent or 
hijack the communicative process, my opinion alone won?t make me pull 
the trigger. Too often the policy-oriented team is thrown off their 
game and loses strategic vision.

Second, to reward the team that wins the most offense or the most 
important offense. I understand that there are situations where 
offense/defense melts away and some defense wins out, but any 
evaluative method that doesn?t start from the position of 
offense/defense is incoherent to me. The one caveat I have is that good 
cards are always better then bad cards. If your offense is truly that 
bad and if the other side?s cards are really that good, I can be 
persuaded to vote on very little risk of an argument. Another place 
where defense goes a long way is on the impact level. I?ve been a 
part of a lot of debates where the difference in the debate was dropped 
impact defense. Just because I like offensive arguments, doesn?t mean 
I don?t really urge both teams to whittle away the magnitude of that 
offense. I think uniqueness is the most underrated aspect of offense in 
a debate. Whether it is issue-specific uniqueness v. generic uniqueness 
on a politics disad or the impact uniqueness to a heg advantage, I 
think controlling the uniqueness is vital to determining offense.

Two Other Things:

Impacts ? I?d like to see more discussion of impact cards in the 
debate. Like everyone else I really like impact calculus, but I wish 
that more people would discuss the nature of specific cards. As a 
debater I was as guilty of this as anyone else, but I really think that 
some impact cards (at least as highlighted) aren?t even cards. I 
would find it refreshing if debaters stopped taking Khalilizad or 
Beardon for granted and challenged the quality and length of these 
cards. That being said, I was among the biggest offenders of this when 
I debated, so I get that sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Theory/Topicality ? I?m amenable to voting on both of these things. 
My best suggestion to you is to debate these things like a DA. I?ve 
seen a lot of teams solidly win a link to theory arguments and maybe 
even an internal link, but too often there?s no terminal impact to 
any of these arguments. My default is towards the negative on things 
like conditionality, PICS, etc., but I can be persuaded otherwise. I 
would prefer if your A game in a debate isn?t conditionality is bad, 
but I?ll vote on it if I have to. I also default to competing 
interpretations being good, but I?m not as firmly in this camp as I 
used to be. **I don?t like cheap shots and will be loathe to vote on 

Things You Should Definitely Know:

Consult CP?s - I?m suspicious of the pedagogical and educational 
value of these cps. I won?t dismiss them out of hand or punish your 
speaker points for reading them, but I am willing to be persuaded by 
theoretical objections to reading them. Having cards specifically about 
the aff helps make these cps more legitimate in my eyes, but still 

Personal Politics ? I?m highly uncomfortable evaluating any debate 
that forces me to make a decision based on qualities or experiences of 
people involved. If someone doesn?t want to talk about themselves, 
they shouldn?t have to. I don?t want to judge any debate that makes 
me feel like my decision is a value judgment on any person?s 
experiences or existence. More than anything else in debate, I feel 
that these types of debates are not what debate is supposed to be 
about. Sorry to impose my biases, but I think it would be better for 
everyone involved if I wasn?t part of these debates.

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