[eDebate] In Round vs Out of the Round, and Verification as a norm

Ede Warner ewarner
Mon Aug 4 11:09:50 CDT 2008

If explanations of human nature and the world could only be simplified to community consensus on plan limits.  Given the condition of the world and human behavior outside of debate, the certainty that debate is affected by that world (technolgoical and social changes being the most obvious), as well as the obviously simplification of the challenges facing contemporary debate being reduced solely to limits on the affirmative, I guess we will put this post in the "good old days" revisionist category.
Ede Warner, Jr.
Director of Debate Society/Associate Professor of Communication
University of Louisville
308E Strickler Hall
ewarner at louisville.edu 


From: "David Glass" <gacggc at gmail.com>
To:"Aaron Kall" <mardigras23 at hotmail.com>, <edebate at www.ndtceda.com>
CC:Kade Olsen <kade.olsen at gmail.com>
Date: 8/4/2008 11:29 AM
Subject: Re: [eDebate] In Round vs Out of the Round,and Verification as a norm

Hi Aaron,
It does seem that once topicality is no longer deemed a legitimate limiter to a debate on the aff, and/or that direct competition with the plan is no longer a legitimate limitation on the neg,
then there is no logical stopping point as to what can be discussed, or happen, in a debate round.
This has been pointed out  for years, as offense for fiat theory, and as an example of the "slippery slope" that happens when such theory is abandoned for alternate forms that fall outside this ideology.
As just one, rather trivial example, a debater could be called out for being a Red Sox fan, and arguments could be made as to why this constitutes grounds for rejection, even if no sign or reference to the Red Sox was made in the debate. As for concepts like "verifiability" ....   in a debate system where people are willing to argue that everything is up for debate, even the call for verifiability - as in "do we really know person X is a Red Sox" fan - could be shrugged off as being unnecessary.   How much verifiability is really required in a world where our government just makes things up?  A person could be simply labelled a Red Sox fan, just to make a point about the Red Sox,  or to make a point about the government, and then voted down.    Really, the call for "evidence" as being necessary seems almost quaint in a world where non rational forms, expressive forms, or simple negation in the form of silence, are deemed allowable.
As for the idea of "appropriateness", how shocking is it that an individual moons someone in an environment where people take their clothes off as an argument? Or that a coach engages in discussions with judges during a debate, when the judges' impartiality or "responsibilities" are deemed appropriate discussion points for a debate?
All of these slippery slope arguments were made previously.  It is  just sort of a point of curiosity at this juncture to see if and where people will finally see they've simply constructed true and utter anarchy, and that this is not actually a good thing, where no meaningful interaction or exchange is feasible;  what will be the final step?  We've already had physical violence initiated in debate rounds - in the form of pies.  And even that was found to be amusing and defensible by some.  How about when the pie is deleted, and there is only the plate?  How about when the plate is then tied to an incendiary device?  
Look at that youtube video and tell me that violence was not a strong possibility at that moment.  If there is no distinction between what happens in a round and outside of the round, why couldn't that same behavior be reconstituted in a debate, as an example of how people were hurt emotionally by that moment.  And why couldnt escalation occur?  
Either people want to have actual debate, or they do not.  But once you are willing to vote for these alternatives, under a framework that says structural norms are not relevant, good luck finding a limit.
It seems quite clear that tournament directors and debate organizations need to start enforcing norms.  Norms of behavior in and out of a round, including what sort of forms are appropriate for discussion.   As has also been said before, this is no different than any other activity or sporting event, where such norms are enforced.   That really is the only alternative...  people keep rejecting it as "silencing", and then the slope keeps getting steeper as to the sort of things they want to say and do and not be "silenced" from saying and doing.   
David Glass 
Asst, Harvard debate

On 8/4/08, Ede Warner <ewarner at louisville.edu> wrote: 

these two claims are not the same: appropriateness and verifiable.  It is easily verifiable in the same way old evidence challenges were verifiable.  Aaron's "inside/outside" round is and has always been artificial.  With the advent of the internet and text messaging, there is no longer a separation of the two.  But even when I debated, if you made an ethics challenge that a card was out of context, judges often went to get a copy of the article or a different version of the card to resolve the dispute.  Corn-dog's decision to tape record a debate, then play it back to resolve a claim of how much evidence was read was no more "inside" the round than going to the tab room to identify whether a team struck a judge.  If a team makes the claim they struck a judge, it's easy to verify.
You can ask the tab room and they can verify it.  The "absolute privilege" to protect confidentiality at all costs in all instances is simply a community comfort, not grounded in any real justification.  Like other rights or privileges, one must balance it against competing community issues.  Taking concrete and meaningful actions to address the large gender and racial disparities in who judges debates seems like a decent community claim, even if it is uncomfortable to some.
As far as appropriate, perhaps in an ideal world it shouldn't be appropriate to bring the judge selection but it is.  It is appropriate to bring judging concerns into debates because there is no other forum to address such concerns in a meaningful way.  The system gives absolute power to teams to decide who judges debates in ways no other activity does.  There isn't even a mechanism in place to address judging problems or issues.  Every collegiate athletic competition has some sort of sanctioning process for umpires, referees, officials, even in cases like non-conference games where the home team can pick the officials.  

Your appropriateness claim could be made Aaron of all procedural arguments, which suggest how the debate occur.  These have become subjective issues left to the debaters for resolution, and who gets to judge is no different.  As long as the community prefers to delegate all procedure making to the debaters, you then open Pandora's box.
The question should more likely be: is there a more productive way to have these debates?  I'm not sure I know the answer, but Aaron is again blaming Towson for making the argument in the hopes it will "go away" by communtiy censure, instead of making any honest effort to address solutions to the problems created by the system, in this case absolute reliance on MPJ.

From: Aaron Kall <mardigras23 at hotmail.com>
To:<edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 8/4/2008 12:56 AM
Subject: [eDebate]  Quarters of the Ceda
as kade mentioned, having a debate in a round over who struck who from a strike card is not appropriate and ultimately non-verifiable.

take this hypothetical example-

Team A accuses Team B of striking a particular judge and says Team B should lose because of this for whatever reason.  Team B says "No, we didn't strike that judge- you have no evidence we did and you can't prove we did."

There is obviously no way team A can be proven inside the round who Team B struck and the judges would have no way of determining it.  No tab room would/should ever publicly disclose strike information, so there would be no way to ever resolve this debate.  Also, many teams probably aren't even aware who was on their card/struck from their card, as coaches sometimes make these decisions without the input of debaters.

Finally, just because a judge doesn't end up on a panel doesn't mean they were struck.  If both teams strike the same judge, the tab room chooses the three judge panel out of the remaining four judges at random, as there obviously can't be an even numbered panel.


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