[eDebate] EXTRA- Chicken or the Egg

Eli Brennan elibrennan
Thu Apr 10 21:39:16 CDT 2008

Because my dialogue sucks (just trying to great form with form)... to be
What if plans MAKE MEANING... and not just SOLVE PROBLEMS?

An aff I wrote (that was never run) last year defended banning Gtmo with
Kafka's Penal Colony... where the action of the plan is a Tragic maneuver...
akin to The Traveller's decision to intervene. (and moraqlly ambiguous in
interesting ways). This is not a "plan to solve nuke war."  It was an
attempt to use a wide range of wisdom to REFLECT on policy.  Under my
interpretation it's legit... how does this show a different way of
planning?  Not everyone would reach for Kafka... but that's what's sweet...
there's lots of wisdom to go around.

On Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 9:30 PM, Eli Brennan <elibrennan at gmail.com> wrote:

> Wino: "Is there anything about the topic you believe you are especially
> equipped to talk about?"
> Debater:  No.
> Wino: Then think about it more.
> Debater:  Wait... Yeah... there's a LOT about this BS topic I have to say.
> Wino: Cool... I'll do my best to help you persuasively say what you want
> to PLUS what you learn through the research.
> Debater:  They'll just outweigh it with nuclear war.
> Wino: Outweigh slam poetry with nuclear war?
> Debater: How is slam poetry topical?
> Wino: You tell me.
> Debater: Uhm... it's the means by which i fuck up a status quo policy.
> Wino: Nice... don't forget... tragedy, comedy, RANT, auto-ethnography...
> and a bunch of other perspectives we can look into.
> Debater: Shit.  They would really have to debate us on our own terms?
> Wino: If you win that your approach is better--- and that it shouldn't be
> excluded... I can't see how not... if they try to weigh that BS--- prove it
> doesn't fit your THEME... which is more important.  Then school them on the
> necessity of appropriate theming.
> Debater: But won't they just whine about how I violated "should."
> Wino: Prolly--- but fuck 'em... we'll win that our education is more
> important.  Listen: a lot of people still think of plans as they were used
> in the 80s... but a plan is a marvelous thing... it is a Policy we can use
> for whatever purpose we can think of.  Remember:  rules aren't always
> oppressive... sometimes they inspire the most sublime genious.  Poets choose
> Meter not to dampen their insights- but to Polish them.  Basketball was
> conceived by, for and about whites... but is now dominated by nonwhites.
> Moving the lines around was not the key... they key was availability of
> venues, coaching and resources.  Contraints can be very bad... but sometimes
> they are more than that... it games, comstraints inspire unique ability...
> soccer teached things football cannot precisely because hands are
> disallowed.  Debate groups choose topics as a catalyst for creativity.  Or
> they should.  Even if we go to improv tonight, there will be Topics.  You
> just have to find your voice and use it.  If someone says that their Lexis
> ev trumps, we'll school them on the epistemological question.
> Debater: What do you know?
> Wino: I don't.
> On Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 9:02 PM, Ede Warner <ewarner at louisville.edu>
> wrote:
> >  Doc:  "Start writing the 1AC, discussing your identity as it relates to
> > the topic."
> > Liz: "But we can't because the standards of evaluation won't evaluate
> > our approach fairly, especially if the negative uses the conventions of the
> > judging philosophy that doesn't include a method for evaluating our
> > position."
> > Doc:  "So what 'cha gonna do in the 1AC?
> > Tonia: "We're going to run that our Exclusion argument comes before the
> > topic."
> > Doc:  "You can't  do that, the judge can't evaluate that."
> > Corey:  "Why not?  Why is this any different than topicality?  Doesn't
> > that decide whether or not the affirmative is legitimate before we ever have
> > a topic debate?"
> > Doc:  "But that's the negative moving the debate away from the topic.
> > The affirmative defines the ground.  You take away the negative's
> > predictable ground."
> > RJ:  "So what?"
> > Doc: "So that's what Eli said."
> > Tonia:  Does that mean the judge is voting for or against the color of
> > the debaters?"
> > Doc:  "Of course not, it means you are voting that their are forms of
> > argument that debaters of different colors want to use, currently not part
> > of the evaluation process created by judges of a different color.  Proof is
> > identified in the judging philosophy."
> > RJ: "Like what?"
> > Doc:  "Like we what to share our different experiences through stories,
> > songs, and examples in addition to more traditional uses of cards.  But the
> > community trains judges to use solely cards.  While they will "let you" use
> > your evidence, there is method of evaluation that keeps the playing field if
> > the opponent chooses not to.  In fact, you are put at a competitive
> > disadvantage if the opponent decides to just read cards, and the judge holds
> > you responsible for answering all the cards."
> > Jennifer: "
> > Liz: How will they evaluate the impacts of racism like dehumanization
> > and poverty and crime against a risk of nuclear war, Doc?
> > Doc:  "Better find a nuclear war from racism I think."
> > Tonia:  "Do we need a plan."
> > Doc: "I went around and around with shannhan about this.  He's adamant
> > that we don't.  I guess I'm more like Plato who said that persuasion wasn't
> > the problem, how it got used was.  Eli's right on here, having a plan isn't
> > the problem, but how it gets used has got to have some ethical standards for
> > engagement."
> > Tiffany:  "Got any idea what those ethical standards are?"
> > Doc:  "Naw, but I got an educational and competitive purpose.  Policy
> > debate should be a competition about a public policy controversy involving
> > advocates who share ideas and perspectives over problems by offering
> > solutions, then engaging other ideas and perspectives towards a goal of
> > finding the best policy."
> > Ebony: "That seems like a good place to start building norms and
> > procedures to operationalize your goal."
> >
> >
> > >>>
> >   *From: * "Eli Brennan" <elibrennan at gmail.com> *To:* <
> > edebate at ndtceda.com> *Date: * 4/10/2008 06:03 PM *Subject: * [eDebate]
> > In Defense of Topicality as Non-White-SupremacistI think there's a limit
> > to a strategy to reform debate through identity politics IF there's no
> > topical content to the political appeal.  There a couple main reasons:
> >
> > 1.  The Reductio: Someone else (sorry dont recall who) noted this
> > central problem--- and I want to expand on it.  We need an answer to the
> > *reductio* that you are voting for or against the blackness of black
> > debaters, or the whiteness of white debaters (not to mention all the
> > "others"- these are the terms of the current debate as far as I can tell- so
> > I'l leave them be).   This is important for many reasons, both conservative
> > and radical.  If people are voting up or down simply on skin color (or the
> > aesthetic codes that often overlap with skin-color-categories), this is not
> > a path to a community we can love.   LET ME BE CRYSTAL CLEAR: *I don't
> > think that's the argument being made.*  The argument I'm hearing is that
> > we shouldn't exclude or devalue various styles of performance becuase to do
> > so creates/maintains a structural racist barrier to fair play.  I am
> > FERVENTLY in favor of judges being open to different kinds of judgment
> > calculus... debated out and warranted within the debates.  The difficulty is
> > that if that's the ONLY reason to vote aff... we're in a shitty strategic
> > position: the aff has defended a style... which is in principle compatible
> > with every negative argument except exclusion [which we don't want to defend
> > for good reasons- losing over and over among them].  SO- if I agree that
> > debate should be open to literary, policy, pop-cultural, religious, and
> > other modes of thought and presentation... TO WHAT USE DO WE PUT THESE
> > PERSPECTIVES?  The answer our community has provided has been "the topic."
> > If the diverse styles we want to encourage in debate are addressed solely on
> > the question of whether they are legitimate--- we have a self-referential
> > debate... one where the FORM *IS* the CONTENT.  This means that the
> > ground for the negative is limitted to debating the legitmacy of our
> > opponents' mode of being.  This, to put it mildly, is uncomfortable for
> > everyone, strategically unfair, and incentivizes the worst kind of personal
> > attacks on both sides.  In that we want a community where everyone is
> > comfortable to do their thing (this IS what we want, right?), having a
> > common topic gives everyone a PLACE (topoi) to do their thing.  The style
> > needs a content OUTSIDE itself.  A debate about racist assumptions in US
> > iran policy from a unique siutuated perspective may be prefereable to a
> > spew-down of cards for very very good reasons.  But this is a comparison of
> > styles ABOUT an issue.
> >
> > 2. Standpoint epistemology: Our diversity of social locations helps us
> > bring more knowledge to the table... the question is where is the Table.  At
> > it's very best, a strategy with no topic, and only competing styles, would
> > not make the most of our community because it denies the ABOUT WHICH that
> > makes peoples' unique experiences valuable.  We are all unique and
> > valuable... but THAT is not much of a topic for debate... We can imagine the
> > native american explaining their experience of oppression "AGAINST" the
> > young black man explaining his, etc.  This is a caricature of identity
> > politics/hierarchy of oppression.  The key to mobilizing our diverse
> > experience is to embody it in contexts.  OF COURSE our experiences give us
> > unique insight to USFG policy... and those insights should not be abandoned
> > to a spew-down of cards. Some of us wanted to oppose the Iraq war... and we
> > did it WITH our perspectives.  The argument that oppressed people need to
> > avoid all consideration of policy strikes me as stunningly short-sighted.
> > Practically speaking, a common topic approaches an ethical ideal for the
> > embodiment of difference in a collective.  Any answer to this is an insult
> > to our creativity... we all bring knowledge, perform it, get push-back, and
> > in ideal cases an intelligent resolution by an expert critic.  I have seen
> > high-schoolers bring their knowledge to African
> >
> > 3.  Opponents of Sharing and Issue of Debate don't have much game:
> > Every argument I've heard against having a topic assumes:
> > a. that we keep the USFG as the agent... this is a practical problem, i
> > realize, but more appropriate to change the rules, ethically, than to punish
> > people who support alternative topics but who also have to submit to the
> > collective judgment of the community.
> > b. that plans are only have one value orientation (pro).  obviously
> > plans of action can also be tragic, comic, artifacts for genealogy and so on
> > and so forth.  [Shakespeare didn't think Hamlet's plan would SOLVE- but he
> > HAD to present it]. If the STYLE is open to debate, then the CONTENT is
> > almost entirely beholden to it.  this would have the benefit of maximal
> > inclusion (as inclusive as minds are original) as well as using artificial
> > constraint to inspire our imagination.  topicality is no more totalitarian
> > than genre.  Actually, if you free up the genre of the discourse, topicality
> > is a very very loose guide- not in principle exclusive of any specific
> > perspective.  BUT, it IS something the neg can argue besides the
> > illegitimacy of their opponents' political being.  Remember, right now it's
> > almost impossible, structurally, to win against anti-debate affs with an
> > alternative political strategy... the PERM is a killer... largely because
> > only Form is being asserted, leaving the Content to be aff perm ground.  So
> > people go for framework... or grab another ideology and compare them- which
> > sidelines race (depending on who wins).  This situation is less than ideal
> > socially and politically.
> > c.  that we need to purge all tradition.  This is just not true if the
> > style of performance is open.  We don't have to purge all of our history...
> > including the policy-making bias of topic selection.  Debate isn't any more
> > racist for having white aesthetics involved than Spike Lee is racist for
> > portraying racist whites in film.  A "plan" could easily be a plot device
> > for a larger argument that has as subtle an ethical position as its
> > author(s).  Hell- our very nouns and verbs are constraining... and the
> > product of a bloody history--- but many, certainly including our Reigning
> > CEDA Champs, can bend and mold into powerful blasts of freedom. [Huge
> > Congrats to all involved by the way- this post isn't really "about" that
> > achievement as much as about the broader discussion].
> >
> > I don't think any of this is controversial... and I know it's not
> > original.  But this debate always seems stale to me largely because these
> > ideas seem easily agreed upon.
> > I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong.
> >
> > best.
> > eli brennan
> > minneapolis [35/freezing rain and snow]
> >
> > PS- I know this post may be terrifying to "policy" people... But it's
> > basically the SQ with clearer research burdens.  There's plenty of ground to
> > argue more limiting interpretations than this, or within this, but As
> > Always, these should be negotiated by 4 debaters and 1 or more judges on a
> > case-by-case basis.   The problem for policy teams now is that by trying to
> > defend an ad hoc exclusion, they are having their limits argument impact
> > turned, and need to be able to (coopt the offense) give their diverse array
> > of opponents a safe place to do their thing.  So I think it's best for
> > everyone.  This is ethically and strategically preferable for all.
> >
> --
> Eli Brennan
> "So it goes." - Vonnegut

Eli Brennan

"So it goes." - Vonnegut
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