[eDebate] towson

bandana martin drmosbornesq
Tue Aug 5 23:49:57 CDT 2008

[x] tl;dr

In the semifinals of CEDA I lost to Towson on a 3-0. During my 2AR I made a
comment about research trying to warrant why policy focus was better than
other in-round stuff. I heard from a few people that I came off as being
exclusionary when that wasn't my intention. The day before the NDT I
contacted Andy Ellis (who I have known for a few years, before I started
college debate, at least) and asked if his debaters felt the same way and he
said yes and recommended an apology. I went to their room but they were
gone. Luckily, I ran into them after taking team pics. The Towson squad and
maybe some non-Towson people (I don't really know their team that well so I
didn't recognize many people) were sitting at a table in the banquet room so
I figured it was a good chance to talk to them. I largely kept my plan
secret so I was alone. While the CEDA debate can be seen on youtube, I
wasn't wearing a wire so my apology will forever be up for debate (more on
this later).

I told them I was sorry for coming off like a jack-ass in the semis and that
I didn't mean what I heard people thought I said. I wasn't really of the
opinion that I did in fact say that Kansas belonged in the semis instead of
Towson, but I did not and do not want any image I gained as a racist to
survive longer than it needed to, regardless of how I feel/felt about
Towson's argument and debaters. I also have some experience being told that
I don't belong at a tournament ? when I qualified to the TOC my senior year
of high school, my partner and I as well as Travis Cram (of UW spark fame)
and Becca Fisher were told that we did not "belong" at the TOC on
cross-x.com by sour kids from Manchester Essex. We were the first kids to
qualify from Wyoming in history as far as I know, and it showed (I think
both teams had a total of 3 wins) but the last thing we needed was reading
beforehand that some entitled circuit punks didn't want us at their

I took the fall. I admitted to choosing my words poorly, and told them I
didn't mean to exclude them and that I didn't dislike them as people or
anything. Nobody said much to me (at this stage I didn't expect much ? they
hadn't really brought the issue up initially so much as I heard through the
grapevine that I needed to say something) but everything seemed alright. I
even joked about how uncomfortable I was in my dress clothes.

Round 7 of the NDT I am paired neg against Towson. I am 4-2 and had never
previously broken at the NDT (in fact 4 was my new high score in NDT wins!)
so winning this debate was huge to me because I didn't really want to break
new in round 8 just to clear for the first time. Pre-round disclosure seemed
pretty standard, and we obviously had something more to say this time given
the emotional pit I fell into after losing at CEDA (at that point I was
pretty positive that Towson had just ended my best tournament ever) so
everybody just prep'd their stuff. Ermo even asked me what I planned to do
if they brought up the "CEDA thing" but I told him there was no CEDA thing
because I had already ironed it out.

The top of the 1AC was a few minutes about how I am a white supremacist. It
wasn't "your argument is racist" or "framework is racist" or anything like
that so much as Martin Osborn is a racist, and to Martin Osborn, Towson is
just a bunch of "n*ggers." It ended by incriminating my 'condescending and
paternalistic' apology.

I go basically bonkers inside my head but I was confident that we would win
and mainly was focusing on that, instead of getting tilted against a project
team (a chronic problem of mine). 1NC didn't address the claims. 2AC brought
it up again and had a rowdy cx with Clay about white supremacy, etc. At the
bottom of the 2NC I told a quick version of the story I've typed above. The
following cx is unquestionably the most ridiculous I have ever acted in a
debate, and basically started with a question about CEDA and ended with a
big string of me yelling mean shit about how the Towson debaters were lying,
etc. Somewhere in the middle somebody else from Towson who I don't know is
brought in from the audience to help 'prove' how racist/fake my apology was.
There was apparently too much contestation over the question so the 1AR
"kicked" the "argument." I end up going for hollow hope/Agamben (lol I know
whatever) but I do mention that you can't really kick out of slander.

I debate them again in doubles but the issue isn't brought up.

I run into them in the airport after the NDT and talk to Dayvon briefly
about how I think it was fucked up that they waited until we debated to
inform me that my apology was insufficient. I am told in many words that I
"don't get it." I don't remember but I am pretty sure they didn't apologize
to me for any misunderstandings they may have been party to. I then ran into
Deven in the bookstore (I know, right, it's like a movie or something) and
brought up a similar issue ? his reason for not telling me is that he was
"just too mad" to say anything at the time. Either way, I didn't really plan
on ever seeing/talking to/being friends with these people anymore so these
conversations didn't get much else established. I also had significantly
less motivation to patch this hole than I did before the NDT began.


I am not coming to Shanahan's defense. If anything, he was the biggest
catalyst in creating an atmosphere that was downright intimidating to debate
in (I basically scratched the idea of going for T after hearing the speech
about building bridges) and it's possible that my strategy and results would
have differed otherwise. Shanahan also had some *choice words* for Clay and
I after we beat his team in the prelims so we were on unusually bad terms.

For the record I am also not saying I got fucked in the semis. I respect all
three judges (all of whom judged me a week later at the NDT, two of which
were on the doubles panel) and have enough other blown debates to think

The idea that debate isn't at some point competitive is pretty strange to
me. A large part of why debate rounds become intense, awkward, and loud is
because nobody wants to lose. I have always taken solace in the competitive
aspects of this activity and honestly find it intriguing that aside from a
select few, I consider myself on good terms with almost everybody I ever
debated. Greenstein and somebody else posted that they like the idea of
having a throwdown and then drinking afterwards with their opponent. I like
that idea, too, and I don't even drink.

After round 7 at the NDT I was angrier than I had probably ever been about a
debate round. I felt genuinely betrayed by Towson and seriously questioned
my decision to apologize to them. I figured out long before CEDA semis that
debaters like to win and did things that helped them to win and suddenly my
attempt to mend fences seemed almost inappropriate given the competitive
environment (despite being advised to do so by the team's coach, some
onlookers, and maybe a tiny bit by my conscience although I did feel that
what I said at CEDA was 100% misinterpreted by anybody who I'd need to
apologize to).

A public statement would have been SO much better in preempting the "ozzy is
racist" argument in the event we debated again but that wasn't even a part
of my motivation (although it was my initial plan, Russell convinced me that
the political appearance of such a post would probably overwhelm any
meaningful content or goal). On the other hand, my private conversation was
unverifiable and largely secret because I didn't care if other people knew
about it.

Did Towson read that extra part of the 1AC to preempt my deployment of "BTW
judges I said I'm sorry so I'm not racist" or were they trying to convince
the judges that what I had "said" at CEDA was so egregious I should lose
this debate, too? Was it planned to include the person in the audience in cx
or was he just watching his team?

I can think of a lot of competitive reasons why Towson would have waited
until we debated to reveal their opinion of my apology. The likelihood that
this was just a public service announcement seemed and seems pretty low but
I can't claim to know exactly why they'd choose to start the debate there.
For me, listening to a passionate diatribe about how much of a white
supremacist I am would have been a lot different after the CEDA debate,
after the CEDA tournament, before the NDT, or after my apology. I feel that
I would have had more of an opportunity to have a true conversation
unconstrained by time limits and my desire to not kiss my NDT and debate
career goodbye so I could rectify a situation I consider incidental. Instead
I found out during the 1AC when I was pre-flowing, and thinking about the
2NR, and wondering which aff I'd break if I lost, and whether Julian would
vote for T, and ?

Above and beyond the commitment to their goals that I'm sure Towson always
displays in round, there was something else at work during that debate round
and to pretend there aren't strategic elements to Towson's decision to wait
would require a level of naivety I am not comfortable granting to anybody
whose intelligence I respect. The reason depersonalization was introduced in
debate (as I understand) was so people would be forced to debate the merits
of U.S. engagement with communist China back before even Ben Warner was
born. I don't know if total depersonalization is the best model for debate
but it certainly removes the option of turning your opponent into a true,
real-life enemy based on something they said (including all those somethings
you think they said). Discussing deeply personal beliefs and tendencies as a
means to tackle difficult structural issues is one thing ? legitimizing ad
hominem attacks as a means of keeping hostility-based arguments afloat is
quite another.

While there may be some shock value to forcing people into this conversation
during a debate round, it certainly doesn't seem to generate much positive
social change in the way of creating relationships between people who
misunderstand each other. I can't speak for anybody else but my single
attempt to make peace with one of the many debaters who looked at me like I
sold out my ethnicity by going for topicality worked out about as poorly as
I can reasonably envision (but maybe only because I have never seen my own
ass). From this experience springs my conclusion that if somebody genuinely
wants to address racism and other systemic problems within and with the
debate community, a debate round might not be the best place. The
conversation cannot and will not revolve solely around the non-competitive
goal of one or both teams. Far more likely is that the team who loses feels
like they have been swindled and an honest discussion never actually takes

I've come pretty close to making this post a lot of times, although it
almost never is written out with this amount of restraint. It angers me that
Adam Jackson-5, Deven, and others behave as if Towson (and their supporters)
have been "face to face" on the issue instead of relying on "rumors"
regarding racism in debate when I feel like I attempted the former in
response to the latter and basically got burned. If transparency is
important to this conversation, it seemed pretty irresponsible of me to not
make this post at some point.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/attachments/20080806/635f0843/attachment.htm 

More information about the Mailman mailing list