[eDebate] Reparations-reply to Stannard

scottelliott at grandecom.net scottelliott
Thu Apr 17 08:19:56 CDT 2008

Matt says: "The idea that a problem area with a strong normative direction is
bad for negative ground is a fallacy I've heard from time to time for at least
twelve years. Ultimately it's a reductio ad adbsurdum that makes all powerful
impacts "unfair" because apparently the only consistent and fair ground for
Scott and others is impact turns. The objection is selectively applied in the
case of "emotionally compelling" impacts (perhaps the real, unstated objection
is that a disproportionate number of judges will vote for the first team in
each debate to talk about racism) but could really apply to anything. This
fallacy is the first cousin to another fallacy, the assumption that if stuff is
really important and timely, we shouldn't debate about it."

I disagree. A topic should have a balance of policy literature on the core
affirmative question. Let me give you an example from this past topic. The side
balance on the Iran debate was good. The negative had plenty of evidence out
there that engaging Iran, on face, was bad. A striaght up debate on whether we
should  engage ewas possible. Afghanistan, however, was a horrible addition to
the topic that I had pointed out a year in advance--namely, we are already
engaged--the only question is how much more or how do we engage them. Negative
ground consisted of counter-plans, PICs, and Empire K's most of the time.

For reparations, the key issue--should we give reparations?--the literature is
overwhelmingly afirmative. The major distinctions are whether we give all the
land back, or just give some of the land back to Native Americans. For slavery,
the distinctions are whether we give every African-American a phat check, or do
we spend more money on intercity schools. The core issue has been pretty much
determined in the literature. So, yeah, there will always be debates. But I
don't think they are good debates. There is a difference berween having Justice
form cases as an affirmative choice and having Justice form cases every single
round. I guess there are some affirmatives who will choose a utilitarian
calculus for debates, but I think most will not. This means, in my opinion,
that we have a huge percentage of debates devolve into framework discussion.
Now I know many outthere love those debates. It really is a matter of taste. I
do not prefer it though.

You charecterization of "if it is timely and important, we can't debate it"
mischarecterizes the arguments I am making is directly refuted by the fact I
wrote a topic paper on genetics that is very timely and important, but there is
balance in the literature.


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