[eDebate] Inclusion and Reparations

Ede Warner ewarner
Thu Apr 17 10:30:16 CDT 2008

Hello to those discussing topics,
I have a couple of quick thoughts about the discussion so far.  Would I love to debate reparations?  Without question, I still remember when we ran it at Wayne State at the NDT on the Privacy topic and the next year on Commander in Chief and beat Stables and Galloway with Cheshier judging at Wake?  Oh, the memories...
First, I think there is something to be said for what Scott is saying, but I also think it's not a product of truly good or bad debate ground, as much as it's a problem with "winnable ground", and while perhaps close, those are not the same.  The reparations bad debate does have people that many find credible on both sides.  Conservatives Horowitz saying no and Krauthammer saying yes is just one example.  The same is true on the black side of the research.  But Scott is right, winning the "no" side in our game as currently constructed is hard.  But instead of "rejecting" the topic on face, we need to go further investigating why truth and winnable don't match up in our game.  If there is good ground in the real world but it can't win in our game, that's a problem which should be thought and talked about at least, not just ignored.
Second, the question of where the literature needs to divide for a good debate season seems a little artificial.  Scott says folks are for and against GE (implied is credible on both sides).  However there are no credible folks against reparations or taking the land back (because credible folks don't write on these topics).  This is where traditionally fiat gets in the way of a great debate topic.  What's unstated here is that the two great affirmative areas that have no negative ground is because only minority radicals talk about them and they are seriously considered in mainstream "credible" America.  Isn't that the debate?  How to make them credible?  And why isn't that a great policy question?  It's how to persuade America to consider these ideas that would make them great topics and avoid much of Scott's concerns.  Then the debate is over not only, which reparations approach is better, but which is sellable to America.  Fiat guts the important question.  Remember minority social issues are not as much about weighing the costs and benefits of Federal action, it's more about how to build enough of a persuasive energy to make these things happen.  Scott's simple call is to dismiss the entire topic from consideration, which only fuels more resentment from those feeling their topics get excluded.  Instead we should consider that our debate theory has a glaring hole and start considering how to reconsider it: perhaps changing agents and/or changing the wording and/or reconceptualize what fiat means on these types of topics.
Third, let me offer a very different thought about inclusion and reparations.  While I personally would love it, I know that feeling comes from my politics which spend some time on the radical fringe left.  That probably means my good pals over at Liberty (Brett in particular) would probably hate it and feel very boxed it by their aff ground.  I have extreme empathy for having your politics written out of the aff ground, since mine often are.  
You see that's the forced choice that I think is bad for debate.  While I won't restate Massey's eloquence on aff flexibility and broader topics, if we just work a little harder, I think we can find topics that leave affirmatives with something across the political spectrum, which by definition means you are giving them something on the negative too.  I thank and appreciate Andy for the work and frankly, if none of the topics look to include my politics, I'll will be standing with him voting for Reparations, in probably a losing effort, but in many ways I understand that my choice replicates the problems that create my exclusion, as does many others.  The goal of competitive ground first, inclusion second, creates some of the nastiness, distrust, and alienation before we even start debating.  Perhaps consideration of broadening the zest for competitive equity with the importance of inclusion as a starting point, helps create better feelings about topics.  I know the "broad is bad" folks might be initially unhappy, but remember that you now have a new argument for topicality and other positions: I supported a community sacrifice for inclusion on the front end, now I need judges to maintain a stricter policy framework for fairness and equity on the back end.  It's called compromise.
Now my efforts at constructive criticism, if all three points are equally considered, leave me at a dead end.  I probably can't satisfy all three with any reparations topic because number 3 is almost inescapable.  But is there a friendly solution that could satisfy all three?  Dunno.  Taking a step back and going just a little broader might work: Urban policy for example might be a fair compromise: allowing Liberty more room for politically conservative aff's while allowing Towson to run any version of reparations they choose.  And the fiat issues may become easier to negotiate.  Or a solution might be to rotate aff political choices like we talk about rotating domestic, foreign, and legal.  If everyone equally sacrifices their politics on the aff over a career, that's at least "fairer" than what happens now.  
These are just some big picture thoughts about the topic discussion, trying to tie back to some of the earlier concerns.  I'm sure they will spark more ideas and directions to consider.  And while I said I would stop writing, I think because of my experiences I see some of these issues differently than most, so I continue to post because I think I have something unique to bring to the table given those experiences.  Trying to help us as a group find more common ground.  
Take care and I hope everyone takes a moment today to think about Matt Grindy or XY or anyone David Tyler Henry or the many others in our community that need our thoughts and prayers today.  I know my list may leave out many who need thoughts too but I ask for empathy and compassion for omissions, recognizing that I felt it necessary to list the ones I knew and could remember, not for the person of intentionally leaving others out.  I invite others when they post to add to or contribute their love in any way they choose.
Have a great day,
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