[eDebate] Bad publicity for policy debate

Alfred Snider alfred.snider
Wed Oct 1 10:23:41 CDT 2008

I write today because I fear for the future of policy debate in America. 
It is already too close to being below critical mass in terms of schools 
and students. The following story is illustrative of our problems.


The video of a debater standing on the table where the opposing team is 
sitting and uttering a stream of profanities is not a good film clip for 

The story has some points to make that are hard for us to answer:

1. Incomprehensible speech
2. Rejection of the topic
3. Too present profanity
4. "project" hi jinks
5. Lack of perceived civility
and, of course,
6. THE incident.

I am sure that we can explain to ourselves and rationalize all of these, 
but to THE PUBLIC and to our ADMINISTRATIONS it is getting more 
difficult to explain in a way that they can accept. The Las Vegas 
article Jake reported on is good, but an exception to the rule in terms 
of the kinds of publicity we are getting.

Rather than a top down imposition of codes and rules I think each squad 
needs to confront these issues as a team, publicize your efforts to your 
students so if called on you have an answer as to what you are doing. 
Then, carry them out. This way changes can happen  that you agree with 
on your squad and the overall effect on many of the above points will be 
substantial. But, if we just ignore it and go on preparing for the next 
tournament we are at peril.

I am not trying to engage in a long drawn-out argument about these 
issues, what I really want is to alert you to the kind of press we are 
getting and express my concern.

Letters to the editor of THE CHRONICLE might be a place to start.


Alfred C. Snider aka Tuna
Edwin Lawrence Professor of Forensics
University of Vermont
Huber House, 475 Main Street, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405 USA
Global Debate Blog http://globaldebateblog.blogspot.com
Debate Central http://debate.uvm.edu
World Debate Institute http://debate.uvm.edu/wdi/
World Debate Institute Blog http://worlddebateinstitute.blogspot.com
802-656-0097 office telephone
802-656-4275 office fax

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