[eDebate] Are we at the crossroads and if so which direction will we travel?

Duane Hyland privethedge
Tue Aug 26 11:09:30 CDT 2008

Hi, One note from history..the community has moved far away from the days when the winners of the NDT (pre-CEDA) were invited to appear on the Today Show after the tournament. That type of positive exposure is what debate needs to show people that the latest controversy was just two people having a bad day, and not what this activtiy is about.
I was surprised when College Sports TV stopped covering the NDT (mostly because I liked those shows) - but perhaps that type of positive coverage is what the community needs to reassure people that what we do is valuable and meaningful. Perhaps people smarter than I can brainstorm ways to invite local TV/documentary film makers/etc..to increase coverage of debate so people get to see how special and awesome the activity is...

"You may be whatever you resolve to be." Thomas J. Jackson"
"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that person that he, if he had the power, would be in silencing mankind? If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by??its collision with error." John S. Mill
?Who said Dr. Who isn't Funny: "Rose: You Didn't Have to Kill him! Dalek: "Neither did we need him to live."
Dalek to Cyberman: :"You are Superior to us in one respect." Cyberman: "What is that?" Dalek: "Dying!"

--- On Tue, 8/26/08, barnesad at jmu.edu <barnesad at jmu.edu> wrote:

From: barnesad at jmu.edu <barnesad at jmu.edu>
Subject: [eDebate] Are we at the crossroads and if so which direction will we travel?
To: edebate at ndtceda.com
Date: Tuesday, August 26, 2008, 10:51 AM

To all,
Our community may be insular in as much as we perceive that outsiders
aren't interested in what we do (a very contestable claim) however, we  all
now recognize that what we do is a very public activity. What is needed is not a
rush to become more insular, to reverse the rule on video recordings or to
punish perceived "snitchers", but rather the opposite. We need to
embrace our publicness. The community needs to swamp the public sphere with
examples of our excellence whether that be "straight up",
"kritikal" or "clash of civilizations" style debates. It is
true that what we do develops peoples research, speaking skills, etc. but I
think more importantly, debate is the practice of the theoretical underpinnings
that gird disciplines together. I can't think of another activity whereby
students test issues, ideas and theories in a truly cross-disciplinary manner.
We also do it in the most efficient and productive manner possible; we read as
quickly as possible to engage a topic in !
as much depth as possible, formulate responses to counter-arguments, are forced
to defend that which we do not believe to test the absolute limits and
usefulness of an idea and then participants receive qualified feedback. The
academy and public at large would do well to follow suit! When possible we
should host public debates on our campuses, strive to get involved with local,
regional and national dialogue (debate scoop comes to mind) and become the
argumentation experts in the public sphere that we claim to be in private. We
need to become visible in order to garner the respect for and protect the
activity that we so dearly love and I'm quite convinced that the public at
large needs and would welcome our insight.
CEDA can, should and I'm sure will evolve, to become a better public
advocate for debate. CEDA needs to control the image of debate to the best of
its ability given the extreme unwillingness of the community to grant CEDA this
power. If the community of director's and coaches agreed, and CEDA devised
the appropriate organizational oversight, all video material could be screened
for approval before posted to the public domain. Additionally, CEDA could
establish a database, much like we have now for tournament entries/speaker
points/wins, that keeps track of our alumni. In an ideal world we would have
data necessary to demonstrate that CEDA participants do amazing things on the
local, national and international levels in all disciplines and could highlight
the truly diverse (we mistakenly only focus on varsity debaters much of the
time) population that it serves.  And I'm sure many of the other bright
minds and caring individuals can devise a host of other ways in which both we !
as members of the community and the CEDA organization itself can become better
advocates for the activity. CEDA could also do a better job of trumpeting the
works that squads do in promoting debate in other areas such as UDL's and
should provide a mechanism for networking that assists people in co-authored
papers/studies, placement of students in graduate schools, and all that is
possible for those interested in pursuing grants related to debate. I would
encourage people to think about whether we should actually do these things but
also how we might implement such policies in a positive way and really discuss
them at the next business meeting.
Finally, I'm not sure how to resolve the decorum question but I'm not
sure that I'm all too worried about that either. It is true that we could
"dress better" or speak in a more "respectable manner" but I
think camaraderie, intellectual excellence and pure fascination of what we do
will transcend decorum issues as long as we can get the excellent examples
discussed above into the public sphere. 
Andrew D. Barnes
Department of Communication
662 One Park Place
P.O. Box 400
Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA 30302-4000
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