[eDebate] An Update on the Debate

RW blackslaw06
Mon Apr 14 12:43:04 CDT 2008

I am going to respond to some arguments being made directly to me and some others being made generally.  I will then offer my understanding of where this discussion is now.  
XYZ Debater
First, I don't think I owe anyone you listed an apology.  I didn't insult them in any way.  The only apology I owe is to Fort Hayes.  I called them racist in attempt to be funny when I don't even know them.  I meant to say that they made racist arguments, not that they themselves were racist.  For that, I apologize.  Your debate coach said what he said, you defended it, and I bet he would defend it too.  If I repeat it here and say how it made me feel I don't think it can be considered an insult.  (More on that later).  Your debate partner did what he did and I explained what I thought happened while acknowledging that he was a very good judge.  That's not an insult.  I did not insult my debate partner either.  I said she was a great debater.  In fact, part of what I was saying is that she was vulnerable to dumb arguments (of the type I was well versed in) that often wins debates.  It was a part of my general argument that debate doesn't always reward
 "substantive" debating like many would think.  
I struggle with defending my debate style because I think it's a distraction, but there's a lesson in there so I will.  My only defense is that it was a winning form of debate.  There's not much you can say to that.  I knew my strengths, I knew my weaknesses, and I likewise sought out strengths and weaknesses in my opponents.  There was some truth in your coach's comment but I have a different perspective.  In order to beat me you had to be incredibly substantive because I refused to lose on stupid stuff.  If I lost a debate it was probably to a DA and case.  That simple.  But, don't think for one second that is easy to do in debates.  There is a reason why we have conditional CPs, floating PICs, and non-textual alternatives to Ks that morph.  There is also a reason why teams moved away from plans and advantages that could be turned.  It's flat out easier to win debates that way.  These "substantive" debates were hardly substantive in my eyes.  My
 efforts to discuss how US support for the ICTR is racist, for instance, would be thwarted by agent CPs that would ultimately make victory dependent on my ability to straight turn politics and random postmodernism Ks that could easily morph into something disastrous for any aff.  I thought these tactics were terrible, but legal, and I dealt with them with even more terrible arguments.  Sad, but true.  Don't blame me though.  
Anyone who has been in as many theory debates as I have would know that they all come down to competitive equity vs education.  Why?  Because they are both goals of the activity and they almost always conflict with each other.  This is why all of these claims of education versus being "the best" as Josh put it are always at odds.  I was the best, but was my style of debate educational?  More importantly, did I learn anything debating the way I debated?  I think so.  However, some in the community have a singular way of defining success (winning the NDT) and education (an unstable idea of substance based heavily on research and communication style).
As far as your affirmative action claims, I think you miss the point.  First, educational debate as you define it is affirmative action because it privileges those with resources and pedigree.  Second, the standards you have set out for judging debaters and debate arguments is exactly what is in question.  You have defined what the standard is, but you haven't defended why it should be that way.  I don't think that black debaters should be judged by a different standard at all.  In fact, that concern is why I posted in the first place:  black debaters are being judged differently.  Several  of us have found success based on the very rules set out by by the community, which I myself find kind of silly in many ways.  Despite this success, there are claims that each of our debate styles threatens the very core of debate.  The main reason why?  Because it strips you of your privilege.  All of a sudden, hours in the library can't help you and your
 communication style is now a part of the argument.  
This is where I will defend Tiffany.  You failed to communicate to her in your debate.  I don't think she dislikes you any more than the simis panel at the NDT disliked me personally.  I just couldn't connect.  Imagine what your debate life would have been like if you had to debate in front of people like Tiffany all tournament.  Her style of judging isn't bad, it's just different.  It requires that you communicate in a way that you may not be trained in.  Imagine that.
You also discuss how you can't separate the people from the institutions.  This is partly based on a courtesy that we black people extend to white people.  We are taught not to call people racists because it may just be that they don't know.  Indeed, they are ignorant.  It's the very defense offered up by white people all the time.  One other poster even pleaded with Dayvon not to shy away from communicating with white people in the community because that is the only way they will learn.  So, yes, I think it's the institution and not the people.  But, as the people become increasingly educated about the institution and they increasingly resist change, this distinction becomes more and more difficult.  I think it is partially why Dr. Warner is getting so frustrated with this discussion.  And, no, I don't hate the people or the institution.  I love it.  I think we can make it better though.
You also discuss how my discussion of white people excludes Jewish people.  This is a very delicate issue.  I am learning a lot about this from my Jewish boyfriend who sometimes explains Jewish as a race, an ethnicity, a religion, all of the above, some of the above, and none of the above.  But, I will note this:  your description of how Jews have overcome oppression is the same story I have been telling here.  Black debaters are taking what they are given and making it work to their advantage.  Unlike you, I look for lessons and similarities that can be used to build bridges.  That was the lesson I took from what you shared.  I didn't intend to exclude Jewish people from the discussion.  In fact, to the extend that Jewish people are different and would benefit from a more inclusive version of debate, I have been talking about them all along.  I want more people to debate no matter who they are.  What is weird is that part of your argument was:  hey we
 Jewish people are powerful and oppressive too, why didn't you point us out?  I find that odd.
Josh Hoe
I think Dr. Warner is getting frustrated with you.  I am frustrated with you.  It came through in my first reply, which took a sarcastic tone and it was implied when I ignored your second response to me.  The reason is that for years you have been engaging in this discussion about race and have been picking apart arguments without an end game in sight.  You have been treating this discussion much like a debate round where you think people can be preempted, permuted, and counterplanned away.  At what point do you just help find a solution as opposed to the flaw in the post or the place where you disagree.  
I pushed you into a corner by illustrating that there are many lessons and many ways that people receive educational benefits from debate only to watch you completely flip arguments into arguing that you have to debate X way to be the "best" or successful.  Don't you realize that you are debating for debating's sake?  It's silly season in debate and you are Elmer Fudd.  It's somewhat frustrating.  No offense.
Furthermore, your argument that more money would lead to more diversity is faulty.  There are much easier ways to increase diversity without more money.  In fact, there are ways to increase diversity AND decrease the financial stress on schools if you would let go of defining debate as requiring tubs and tubs of "topic specific" evidence.  (Maybe we need to bring back the intrinsicness argument).  Also, underlying what you are saying is that diversity is the first thing to go when times get hard.  That is sad.
Another interesting note about this exchange is that your posts do tend to begin with a nice statement and a soft tone before you go on the rip people and ideas.  You are very much like Simon Cowell who will begin his critiques with "I am not trying to be rude but...your song choice sucked, your singing is awful, you are fat, and ugly."  After boos from the crowd you go, "what?  I am not being rude, I am being honest."  Should we ignore the "substance" of what you say because you initially say that you don't mean what you go on to say?
And why does the community try to use tone and the like to avoid the underlying issues?  Essentially, what you are saying is that we have all the power and if you want us to listen to your complaints you better be nice.  The entire discussion has been derailed because some people would love to focus on tone, who's been potentially insulted, and who's been left out.  Everything will get debated except how we can make this work for everyone.  And, yes, we do communicate differently than you guys.  Sometimes we call this "keeping it real."  We don't use politeness to mask our true thoughts and behaviors.  That's why we see and cry racism in places you think you have hidden it from us.
An Update on This Debate
Let us analyze what has been said and done thus far.  
It should no longer be a question that the community privileges a certain style of debate.  It's underlying most posts.  Many are saying:  Debate like this.  
It should no longer be a question that the debate style preferred is one that will in most instances benefit those with the most resources and the best pedigree.
It should no longer be a question that the debate style preferred privileges rich, white, hetersexual men.
The only remaining questions are:  (1) does anyone care and (2) how can we make the activity more inclusive.
The Future of Debate 
I think the community should embrace the beautiful flexibility of debate.  Debate changes so much and so quickly, which is a reflection of how strong the foundation is.  Debate is such that many people could debate many ways, even in the same debate round.  What is necessary for this to succeed is respect for and by everyone involved.  
We need to realize that there are so many ways to be successful and so many ways to learn.  And it is up to each individual to decide what kind of debater they would like to be and the community should respect that.  Judging shouldn't be about channeling debaters in the direction of this monolithic style of debate, but instead about helping each debater become the debater they want to be because in many instances the question isn't whether to debate like this or like that, but whether to debate at all.
Any model of debate that is focused on one style will be flawed and exclusionary.  Several different people have outlined the ways in which they have felt excluded and there are many more who just aren't around to tell their story or were never given the opportunity to engage in the activity at all.  
The current direction of debate will only benefit a few and it could benefit a whole lot.  

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