[eDebate] FW: Congrats Duck

Josh Branson harobran
Wed Apr 9 18:51:49 CDT 2008

[I know I've really become the go to person for edebate posts from other people recently but this one is from a good friend and former coach of mine]

I held my tongue long after I lost my temper and I did so largely because of the google-related issues that Kacey and Brett Wallace raised ? and the one that Brett raised specifically impacts my employment. To be crystal clear: if you say my name in a way that is google-able, you are putting my life in jeopardy. I, in a bare-life, biological sense need my job and can't find a new one (more on that below) ? if you need additional clarification, e-mail me directly. Otherwise, my arguments do not need my name attached to them to be relevant. I will say that I would contribute my wit and wisdom to e-debate more if I knew it couldn't be googled (ask the guy who went to the good law school but I think that's called a "chilling effect"). I don't intend to engage in extended dialogue, but I'm going to say some things that I feel need to be said ? some are directly related to Rashad, Louisville, et. al. Others not so much.

1a) RW, I always thought you sounded like the Talking Donkey from Shrek, and now your writing reflects the jackass within. Congratulations, you have lowered the tenor of the discussion as only a war-story-based-penis-waving-exchange-between-former-national-debate-champions-turned-lawyers-who-bill-outrageously-for-work-utterly-lacking-social-value-or-political-relevance can. Just to establish my qualifications to question your authority: I'm one of two human beings who has been the primary coach of both high school (10 or so) and college national champions (2), and the only person to have done so and personally won a national championship (or two). I think the last time we debated you beat me, so by the RW-Ary metric, I probably lose this debate before it begins? Better pawn my watch.

Let's review: Sarah couldn't win debates without you. You debated with her so whitey would vote for you, even though you (sort of) hated it. But you're okay with her because she can empathize with you (now). You hate Andy Ryan though, and you should have won your debate against him on Vaccines Bad during your "victory lap."

Perhaps unfortunately, Sarah is too nice (and too busy with non-debate stuff) to respond to this. If she isn't offended, she should be. As one of her many debate children, I have the right to be more immature and violently offended than she is.

If the 2001 NDT was your victory lap, then? Debating with you was Holbrook's victory lap ? she and Saloom won CEDA on the sanctions topic. Rachel (from some small Middle Eastern country you don't care about and brown(ish), but probably close to white-enough) carried her too! And all those teams she coached to success after you took your self-centered whiny butt off to law school in Philly? Dumb luck + whiteness + making the Friendly White Lady look good (all those judges voted for them because one hand washes the other, etc. etc.).

But don't worry, if you Love Everyone, you can insult the shit out of their hard work and skill and it's all okay.

1b) Anecdotal evidence suggests you slightly overstate your debate prowess to prove how racist the community must have been not to lavish you with speaker awards and love: "global warming (note that this is the one area of substance where I was far superior)?" 2001-2002 season: Scotty P (a frosh, and faster and more technique-savvy than RW, but ? at the time ? just as lazy) goes for "warming (global mean temperatures) decreasing now" ? based on? count them, TWO pieces of evidence. Sarah and Rashad lose ? lacking an inherency card to read in response. But I guess that's one of those arguments that you shouldn't have to debate because everyone just knows it's wrong.

Actually, that one was almost certainly the judge's fault. I happen to know the Jesus-look-alike bastard pretty well, and let me tell you he hates two things above all others: West Georgia debaters (especially Holbrook) and black people ? a lot of pent up resentment because Doc Warner couldn't coach him to an NDT victory. Actually, the judges kept dropping judge-in-question because his coach was black ? so, ironically, it's self-loathing built on a foundation of racism. But don't lose faith in your messiah, folks ? this was back in the day when Doc didn't love everyone. Does anyone remember when I got Doc to agree not to vote to segregate CEDA into fast talkers and slow talkers? I'm sure it's in an archive somewhere on a Czechoslovakian server?

Anyway, I've informed the judge in question that he hurt RW's feelings by calling him lazy. He feels terrible and is drinking bourbon and smoking cigarettes at unprecedented rate. He assured me (in between White Power salutes) that he did not at any time call you lazy because he thought you were brilliant and talented and that you were wasting your gifts and frustrating the Friendly White Lady by running unpersuasive, low-quality arguments. White debate coaches NEVER, EVER call debaters lazy because they are trying to set high expectations for talented students in the hope they will work hard to meet them, and in doing so, educate themselves and improve the quality of debates. I know this ? it's in the White Debate Coach Manual the Duck gave me.

2a) "I really don't care about federal control in Indian Country and I don't care about economic sanctions against North Korea." I'm sure a few million dead Indians and a few starved North Koreans here and there are utterly stunned that you share the sentiments of most of White America and don't care about how many of them die at the hands of policies that are (debatably) a) stupid and b) related to race and colonialism.

Fortunately for me (and all the other rich Jews working for the Military Industrial Complex), highly intelligent black folks like RW will continue to act as if they can be viciously unmindful of the suffering of Others Far Away since they are Victimized Here. Thankfully, American isolationism killed nearly all the lazy and stupid Jews, facilitating the emergence of two omnipotent apartheid states (I and my Israeli family members find that metaphor totally appropriate, in case anyone who Loves Everyone and made that argument is wondering).

2b) This is related to RW's debate prowess (see 1b). It is impossible to find Race literature (not gonna quote you there) in terms you found appealing? Stuck with the Barndt card? Politics DA's kept outweighing it? Got a suggestion for you, RW:
Race, Amnesia, and the education of international relations.
From: Alternatives: Global, Local, Political  |  Date: 10/1/2001

It's easy to understand how you missed this article in your extensive post-high school research endeavors. Granted, my alma mater has been reading the argument on every topic for seven years, but it's easy to see how you overlooked it? buried as it is in an entire symposium on Race and IR. That was definitely the only symposium of its kind though, so it's all kind of needle-in-a-haystack. Very frustrating, especially for black folks ? I and all the people who think black people are illiterate really feel your pain here.

3) I bet part of the reason that a lot of the privilege/race/identity-in-debate teams are really frustrated is that very few teams actually debate them on their arguments. This is, I am entirely convinced, because "policy" debaters have gotten really, pathetically lazy. Especially when it comes to answering K arguments, which are, as anyone who watched me debate knows ? un-researchable and generic.

4a) I bet part of the reason that very few teams debate these arguments is that it is unpleasant to have to render one's identity, feelings, background, etc. debatable.

You want to know how much I want to hear someone (black, white, green, purple) question whether I've learned the relevant interpersonal lessons from the death of my best friend? Or question the relevance of state-sponsored anti-Semitism and totalitarianism in Eastern Europe? To be fair it was only irrelevant to the debates until it caused my ancestors to get tortured... THEN it really mattered to the folks who now Love Everyone. My family totally had it coming though - they were advocating the creation of an apartheid state somewhere in some part of the world that black folks don't care about. It's cool, I've been there just to check and all the former-Ethiopians and ex-Tunisians are not really black, more brown(ish) than anything else, really.

Lucky for me, I was battle-hardened enough to discuss these issues in debates against Louisville. But sometimes I have real regrets about it. I wonder? if I valued my privacy so much that I decided not to render those wounds public and lost those debates? would it feel better or worse?  Eh, whatever? no one has ever chosen to risk defeat to Louisville rather than expose personal pain to competitive discussion. My comprehensive ethnographic research (conducted under the false pretense of "socialization" with my "debate friends") found no evidence of this. No one. Seriously.

4c) RW you can sit this out, it contains non-normativity-related K words ? not your strength as I recall. Other race/identity-in-debate people listen up: if identities constitute interests and drive policy formulation, and they also structure our personal experiences, and you want to debate all of the above, then don't they all have to be open to contestation?

If they aren't open to contestation, then why should any "white" person question their identity and role in structures of exclusion? They're just doing what they're supposed to do in their fixed life roles. And, don't you think that identity-without-contestability is sort of indefensible for liberation movements in this day and age?

If identities, social roles and norms are open to contestation, and all of them structure who we are, and who we are determines our experiences, how can our experiences and feelings be beyond question?

And if personal experiences ARE contestable, and we really want to go around giving people trophies for doing the best contestation?

4d) I have a life threatening illness. I have a lot of personal experiences related to it. It will be part of my identity and part of my body from this point forward. If the community doesn't debate health care, it is marginalizing and terrorizing me the same way that the threat of unemployment and a lack of health insurance (capitalism?) does. Anyone who advocates a plan that makes it harder for people like me to get really really expensive innovative medical treatments (so that other people can get basic health care) is saying that I should die a horrible death, and that is totally a VI, judge. Yes? No?

Somehow, in my condition I still manage to work on black-people-irrelevant issues. Something about all the scattered brown-people parts reminds me of health care. Fortunately for the community,1) most of my fellow life-threatening-illness sufferers in the community are silent and averse to coalition-building (something to do with them being, um, dead). And 2) I don't let my personal experience drive my topic preferences because?

4e) Policy specialists ? as distinct from private-sector attorneys - are supposed to advance the public interest. Usually they deal with issues whose consequences stretch beyond the immediately visible. Policy education (I mean non-debate education, like, you know? public policy classes) focuses on issues with diffuse and trans-communal implications for precisely that reason.

So, I wonder - am I the only person who thinks that using it-must-directly-effect-me-or-my-immediate-family as the central criteria for choosing topics runs the risk of conflating self-centeredness and willful blindness with virtuous introspection?

Preempt: I'm not saying we shouldn't debate a race topic or an inequality topic from time to time. Just that I think debaters who only debate about debate are engaged in a narcissistic and self-referential mirror-image of the (gleefully ignorant) people who say political theory arguments shouldn't be debated. They do this instead of becoming intellectually flexible "policy specialists" (didn't Doc use that word once?) and advocates who know theory and can speak the language of the law and policy implementers. Preempt 2: No one can read cards from me because I think so-called policy debaters don't learn enough rigorous policy analysis skills either.

5a) RW-specific: Resources - pay-only copy machines suck. Fortunately, cutting cards on the computer, team-owned scanning machines and printers have largely obviated this concern. Of course, only white people can afford those things. Naturally, at the Northwestern institutes, we expended absolutely no effort to make sure that all evidence was available to students unable to afford printing fees. This was implemented pursuant to the Northwestern philosophy of always using resources to screw over the little guy.

Not that I would EVER EVER question the feelings/experiences of a fellow debater, all of whom I Love? but, RW, does this explain why you were lazy as hell in college? Did Hester refuse to loan you the money to copy the books in the West Georgia library? No doubt he used the profits of the Hester Dynasty slave-labor based enterprises to afford all the computers the other students used for debate work. Can I call you lazy without being a racist? Keep in mind, I routinely called (and continue to call) about 98% of the debate community lazy.

5b) Broader issue: you know what really sucks? All the small school/big school creeps loved my alma mater when we were underdogs pantsing NU to snatch away their only lost NDT prelim ballot. Now that we've won every national tournament other than the NDT, and a couple of Copelands besides, we're not so popular. In fact, we're occasionally mentioned as one of the Big Schools on the list of devils ? or we're conspicuously left off of it despite how much butt we kick ? and I'm really not sure which is the bigger insult.

RW ? you can tune back in now ? you know what's really impossible? Beating Northwestern and Emory ? especially for a school with no professor-DOF, no history of NDT-success (however dim), a five-figure budget, teams that run Affs about personal experience, and students who have to work part-time jobs to afford rent and an 8k annual tuition. Believe me, me and the guy who looks like Jesus and our friend the bin-Laden-look-alike tried it for years and years. Never could win those debates. Especially not in the elims of the NDT, especially not my senior year ? it really alienated me and made me sad.

But seriously, once we proved to our funders that if they gave us money, we would win things, we were able to afford mercenary coaches and a war room (okay a war table in a hotel suite with no debaters in it on Sunday night). You know who the two best ones were? An alum (from our school) and this woman from some obscure school in the northwest? What was it? They won some national championship some time? um?Whitman! Speaking of? there's a school that proves how small squads invariably find it impossible to break into the ranks of the NDT elite. I digress: I suspect that the value of these two coaches derived from four things I heard about at (the Duck's) institute (on scholarship): "hard work, team work, character and commitment."

Also, now that the Duck is retiring, I feel I can safely disclose a dirty, deep, Northwestern secret: debaters do most of the work. In fact, it's far worse than that: many NU debaters are inept and/or lack commitment (read: are incompetent and/or unwilling and/or unable to work and improve). Some years, the team gets very lucky and has three or even four teams worth of hard-working and competent debaters (6-8 students). That is unusual for NU - a very small number of debaters "at the top" are nearly always responsible for producing most of the strategies (2-4). When my "small school" alma mater tears apart the competition, the working members of the squad typically number? wait for it? four to six! I have it on good authority that at the height of Emory dominance, this was also the case (counting generously). In my dozen or so national championship experiences I have never seen a team that had more than 8 hard working members. Hard working coaches count for a lot too. Speaking of hard working coaches, people who despise success as they wallow in mediocrity and the Duck:

5c) Allow me to be the *first* person on e-debate to congratulate the Duck on his new job and his retirement from coaching.

I will say what no one else has said publicly: you are the best debate coach I have ever met and the community is incredibly lucky to have had you around to show it how excellent debaters and coaches can be. You have your fingerprints on everything I accomplished in any field of endeavor (other than my personal life) after the age of 16, and there's no way I or the hundreds of students whose lives you've touched can thank you enough. Maybe some of the absurd flak you receive in this loving community is caused by your students' collective failure to raise our voices in thanks loud enough. If that's the case, then I'm honored to be the first to scream my gratitude from the hilltops. You are a loyal and generous friend, a fantastic (if occasionally administratively incompetent) boss, an inspiring mentor, and the only thing that makes up for the fact that you'll no longer be helping directly is that you'll be helping underprivileged children access the activity you taught us, by example, to love so much. You are, quite simply, the best.

To the rest of the community: shame on you.

I have a full-time, non-debate job. And, did I mention that I'm periodically laid flat on my butt by a life-threatening illness? I've seen a dozens if not hundreds of job changes announced on e-debate and I can't recall a single one that wasn't accompanied by a note of congratulations from SOMEONE. What the hell is wrong with you all?

Preempt: I'm not convinced that "Scott knows, because we'll tell him in person if we're his friends" really excuses the community as a whole.

And while I'm calling out the community:

6) People who decide who gets the Coach of the Year Award, you know the one they used to give at Wake back in the day: what, exactly the hell does Dave Arnett have to do to win this thing? Actually turn into Jesus instead of looking like him?

 (RW ? at least learn to spell the names of the individuals you insult correctly ? or is spelling also a way the Man Keeps You Down?)

For serious: three Copelands in 7 years, a national championship - at school that had never gotten so much as a first-round bid until the 21st century. I demand you lay out explicitly the hurdles we, his teammates and students, have to help him leap before you recognize his accomplishments. Is being a debate coach primarily concerned with producing good arguments and brilliant debaters not good enough any more?

You folks can backchannel me ? I understand revealing decision criteria runs counter to the spirit of the award - as someone who periodically tries to help the man out, I'd really appreciate some clarification.

A final, personal call-out:

7) Everyone stop saying that "Louisville got screwed in the quarters of the NDT that one time." No seriously, stop.

Props to my good friend and fellow curmudgeon Hester for pointing this out to me and thanks also to others who (intentionally or otherwise) confirmed this phenomenon. In general, debaters should avoid using war story examples in debates ? and they definitely should avoid doing so when discussing they did not witness.

As someone who periodically gets very sad about losing on a 4-1 in his last debate, let me tell you: 4-1 decisions are very rarely, if ever, "screws." Personally, I don't think such a thing as a "bad decision" exists, even in single-judge debates ? short of gross negligence, corruption or bias. But even granting the existence of such phenomena, I should point out the appallingly high threshold of proof required in this instance: the two teams in question had very similar strike sheets. They both got judges they preferred highly (before Doc abandoned MPJ), and four of the five people present voted against Louisville, or rather, for some other team no one remembers. That this decision was followed by an exceedingly unpleasant tirade does not prove that Louisville "deserved to win" ? whatever that means.

I have the same thing to say to the idiots who think the 'Ville got screwed by Whitey that day that I have to say to the jackasses who said nasty shit about Towson because they beat KU. And here's a free bit of coaching from a wily veteran ? learn this mantra, repeat it to yourself and understand it and you will improve by at least 10%: "it's a persuasive activity. Love it or leave it." (you can thank the bourbon-swilling hater for that one) They didn't persuade in that particular debate, however persuasive they (or their coach's) arguments might be at other times.

Those of you who think the NDT was out to get Louisville, or that RW is right about the Big Schools at the NDT, should check yourselves. Before their quarters match up at the 2k4 NDT, Louisville defeated the 3rd bid team; big, bad, fast, Emory - in the octos. Although they were eliminated in the quarters, it was not the first time they had lost in the same elimination round to same team. In fact, if Louisville had won that round it would have been their opponents' first negative elimination round defeat of the season. Actually, it would have been their first (and only) loss on the negative with mutually preferred judging. Saying the 'Ville women lost does not mean that they were not an excellent debate team (they were). A lot of the NDT is luck of the draw, literally.

But Leprechauns make luck, are Irish, and the Irish are white (this century) so you know how that goes?

A sub-call-out:

7b) If everyone has trauma and pain, and you have compassion and love for everyone, Doc, tell me: have you shown Andrew Leong some love? Last time I saw him post to e-debate he had a bit of a bone to pick with you? I seem to recall it had something to do with the "screw" in question and some emotional trauma.

Now, Doc, despite the fact that you created a scene that offended me, distracted me from preparing for an elimination debate at my final NDT and profoundly disturbed me and my partner, you don't have to show me any love ? sick people get more than enough disingenuous sympathy from people who don't really like them.

Oops, I lied ? but I'm a Jew and, Jews (this century) are white, so what do you expect - one more call-out:

8) Most college debaters are legal adults but ultimately, students - that is to say: children. They are immature and do stupid things. They hurt each other's feelings. Even (real) adults do that to each other sometimes. At some point, the grownups in the community are going to have to start acting their age and stop treating kids who act like jackasses like mass murderers. Eventually, they might even have to forgive their stupidities.

This is related to one of my big problems with the debate-about-debate trend. Not everyone knows the cause they are passionate about at 18. They might not even know by the time they're 25 which of their many identity categories, intellectual interests, or great loves they want to make into their life's work (K debater translation: Project). A great thing about debate is that you get to play with lots of big, complicated, fun ideas, ideologies and arguments. That's why I kept doing it even after getting a ton of the white-male-only trophies. The key word was "play." IT IS A GAME. The fact that adults take it too seriously (like most games children play in America) does not make it not-a-game. Play it hard, play it well, and play it with respect and love (cause once it's gone? it never comes back). But for the love of all that is holy ? let them play. Let the kids learn and find their way, and forgive them their occasional trespasses and idiocies - as long as they continue to work to remedy them.

8b) RW call-out (sort-of): The person you are in debates is not (always) the person you are in your every day life. This is another great thing about debate ? especially if you're not a big fan of every day life or the person you are in it. For example, Andy Ryan was mean and dismissive of others in debates ? and, (surprise!) it turns out that that's pretty much how Andy is in the bar, on the street, and most likely in his office as well. Love him or hate him, if you (lived on Mars and) didn't know that about Ary, you do now. But it doesn't always work that way: Tejinder ? meanest debater I ever met who everyone persisted in thinking was a nice guy. Probably because he wore a turban, talked like Whitey and was funny. Or? it could be that he is actually mean only about unimportant things or when pushed to anger (usually by stupidity), and is a spectacularly generous, kind-hearted and generally amazing human being.

Come to think of it, his sense of humor and winning personality might have something to do with Jason Peterson's comments to RW? The comments seem particularly reasonable and less-racist-than-normal when viewed from JP's mental shoes, i.e. viewing Tejinder's persona in comparison to a whiny, self-centered Talking Donkey with a well-deserved reputation for running boring, stupid arguments. Or maybe JP was commenting on his general perception of Tejinder's debate skills compared to the other debaters present, based on the sum-total of Tejinder's prior performance (you know, other debates?). Not to make too fine a point of it, but I think subsequent results rendered his judgment reasonable (if contestable).

8c) Another example: Kacey Wolmer. Hester, one of the first college coaches to treat me as something more than frosh-trash, you know my feelings, but you were over the line, Smoky. You've been around the block. You should not be surprised when someone turns out to be more than their debate persona. Like a certain wily veteran who needs to remain nameless for reasons of health, once you get past the curmudgeonliness, she's an awesome person. Only awesome people send the victims of life threatening illnesses gourmet rice pudding packed in dry ice by next-day mail because they once said they liked it and are feeling sick to their stomachs.

Love to my friends, scorn to my enemies, respect to those who earn it.


Use video conversation to talk face-to-face with Windows Live Messenger.

More information about the Mailman mailing list