[eDebate] AFA/CEDA Conduct Specifics

Samuel Maurer chairman.maurer
Thu Nov 13 12:55:48 CST 2008

No rule is better than a bad rule -- agreed.

Plus, a non-enforceable rule is also dangerous.  If this rule passes
and no one ever does anything to enforce it -- it just kinda is
'there' for PR purposes -- then what does that say about the rest of
the governing rules of the AFA?  What else is "just there"?

Murder is illeagal at debate tournaments.  However, the AFA doesn't
regulate it in its governing documents.  Similarly, assault is legally
punishable.  Furthermore, what happened over the summer demonstrated
that university policies can regulate really over-the-top behavior.

It also seems more likely that the rule(s) could be written
unintentionally in a flawed manner or mis-appropriated (e.g.
witch-hunt) in such a way that someone got fired (functionally) and
sued the organization.  Maybe I'm just not seeing it but it seems to
me like the only way to create legal liability for the organization is
to wade into those waters (e.g "I'm suing cause I got dehumed at a
tournament and no one did anything").  Otherwise, it seems like
whoever did the mooning/dehuming would be arrested/sued and the
organization wouldn't be at fault.

My biggest concern is not with the function of premptory laws
preventing future 'lunar events'.  I'm concerned with how this rush to
pass a bunch of rules outlawing things we largely don't do makes us
look.  Someone who has ONLY seen the last summer's events on youtube
probably has a skewed perception about debate.  Then to hear that we
are in a rush to ban fights, dehumanization, insults, mooning,
chair-throwing, puppy murder, and whatever else probably thinks that
any given debate tournament looks like an episode of Jerry Springer
with a sprinkle of anarchy.  As a matter of fact, it doesn't.

Are we really making these rules because of some trend that we've seen
in debate?  Are 'dehum's' routine now and I missed it?  Aside from
CEDA's shenanigans, I've got a pretty good impression of how folks
conduct themselves in the high-stress environment that is debate -- we
don't fight, yell, or throw things at eachother.  And if we do yell,
we apologize later.  Perhaps I'm just unaware of some growing trend of
negativity and pejorative hatefulness that happens after rounds, but
it seems to me like we are treating a problem that largely doesn't

PR class was a long time ago but I think I remember that if someone
accuses an organization of having a problem, action to solve the
problem corroborates the suspicion that it exists.  I don't know why
we can't just acknowledge that  what happened at CEDA was an anomoly
that was dealt with properly by the appropriate governing body -- the
university whose policy was violated -- and move on.

These rules will be enforced one of two ways:  Either A: A Witch-hunt
-- the vagueness of the standards will result in arbitrary and
politically-motivated application which, as Jason points out, would
functionally result in firing someone (who would likely sue both CEDA
and the AFA).  Or B: They won't be enforced at all -- in which case
they only run the risk of making us look like we have a problem and
calling into question the validity of other rules that are "just

So why on earth are we considering this -- to take a stand???  To let
the world know that the debate community is opposed to dehumanization?
 I would hope that that goes without saying.  Perhaps not, so here are
a few other things we should add to the list, just to make sure that
the world at large doesn't think that we advocate them:
1.  No to AIDS
2.  No to Hunger
3.  No to Violence against puppies

Listen, I know that the advocates of these rule changes are trying to
make debate better and safer, and I applaud you for that.  My humor is
not intended to be nasty or mean but sobering...I honestly think that
everyone is over-reacting to debate's 15 minutes of fame over the
summer.  Adminstrators don't want to hear that we are taking action to
decrease dehumanization in debate -- they want to hear that we are
doing good things.  "we've eliminated dehumanization in debate" is not
an offensive argument -- it's just short-sighted, counter-productive
PR move.

Even though we are stressed-out and competitive, we are generally
pretty respectful toward one another -- those of you who want to pass
these rules know this, but "outsiders" don't and may formulate their
opinions based on what actions we take to curtail this illusory

Maybe I'm wrong and someone can elighten me by telling me about some
other event that has occured that would have been avoided/solved by
having a rule outlawing "inappropriatness" or whatever it is that we
are trying to make illegal.  Seriously, tell me the situation that
would've been 'fixed' by a rule.

Or perhaps someone can explain to me how different CEDA or its
protracted aftermath could have been if this rule was on the books

Best I can figure, a rule wouldn't have kept Bill's pants on so what
are we talking about here -- a stance?  Fine.  Add the thing about
puppies and AIDS.  Or just don't do it and stop worrying about fixing
a problem that doesn't exist because you are slowly convincing the
outside world that it does.

To hear now that CEDA is thinking of doing something similarly vague
and unenforceable/salem-esque is very frustrating.  I think it is a
reactionary reform grounded in groupthink and fear, not
forward-thinking, smart PR.  Maybe I'm wrong.  If so, someone tell me:


On 11/12/08, Jason Russell <jasonlrussell1 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Honestly, as written, I can't see a precise version of these rules. I have
> no idea what the intent was in writing these rules, which behaviors they
> intend to prohibit and which they intend to allow, and the fear of witch
> hunting is and ought to be strong. I don't see a two week solution to the
> problems in these statutes.
> J
> _______________________________________________
>  eDebate mailing list
>  eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
>  http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate

Samuel A. Maurer
Director of Debate
Emporia State University

More information about the Mailman mailing list