[eDebate] What's in a name?

Abers catspathat
Wed Apr 8 15:23:07 CDT 2009

While there is clearly a vocal group of debaters who want to distance
themselves from the federal government, I think this discussion discounts a
lot of debaters who actually like talking about and directing the focus of
their speech act towards questions of federal policy. I would absolutely
agree that there are problems with the USFG fetish, but the solution
proposed to completely eliminate federal government action from the
discussion seems to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Scott Elliott
points out that at CEDA people did not want to debate the topic; yes because
the topic was agriculture subsidies and everyone just assumed there would be
sweet K ground. Shocker, there wasn?t. And by K ground, I don?t just mean
affirmatives that exclusively defend federal government action. The problem
with the agriculture topic, for the k affirmatives, was the literature
discussing alternate ways to view subsidy policy either from different
perspectives or in alternate philosophical frameworks wasn?t there. However,
frequently this literature does exist and it?s possible to read affirmatives
that, rather than explicitly defending federal government action as an act
of imagination where congress passes a law etc etc, counter define what the
ballot and debater?s relationship to the statement of the resolution should
be. I think these affirmatives, like our broiler chicken aff or Towson?s
Palestine aff that they read on the Middle East topic, show it?s possible to
discuss perspectives on and about different policy actions taken by the
federal government without being assimilated into it or whatever while still
retaining a (at least somewhat predictable) relationship to the topic that
the negative can prepare for.

This seems, at least to me, to be the middle ground. Essentially its; here
is the resolution, how can you as a debater educationally relate to it. This
leaves debaters who want to pursue affirmatives that follow a more
traditional rout (though traditional is probably a bad word to use
considering I don?t think debate affs in the 1980s had 14 extinction
scenarios and probably read a bunch more inherency cards) an avenue to
debate how they would like to. Gives ample K aff ground based in ?topic
literature.? And preserves debate as a forum for political awareness about
what the federal government is doing. Debate is basically the only place,
besides possibly the daily show, where I as a student, feel compelled to
figure out what exactly the federal government is doing with the money we
give them. At risk of starting another debate, we live in a place where
individual input can actually affect government proceedings and policy.
Don?t we as individuals who support a government have some responsibility to
educate ourselves about what that government is doing? If debate is not the
place, does not serve this function, why should we even be doing it. Seems
like we should be out being real activists. Which, to me, all comes back to,
how do we know what to protest, which is where I think the importance of
?policy? in policy debate arises.

Abe Corrigan

Gonzaga Debate

On Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 11:59 AM, Alfred Snider <alfred.snider at uvm.edu>wrote:

> Scott Elliott says change the name.
> It is a little disconcerting because many debate formats debate about
> policy issues.
> Some have said to call it "cross examination" debate, others say
> "research" debate.
> Yet, other formats have cross ex and not every "policy" debate in
> CEDA-NDT has evidence.
> A proper name would make things clearer to those outside but break our
> link with past debaters who use the policy moniker.
> I would like to agree with Kevin Kuswa and others that a serious problem
> is the USFG fetish.
> Some years ago I wrote a topic paper using the agent "we." By this I
> would mean those people in the room who were debating about an idea. Not
> that they should go out and implement some plan, but that for the
> purposes of this debate they were the objects of persuasion.
> The term in the worlds format is "This House" which means the same thing
> as we, as it refers to those gathered in that room.
> I would prefer we or This House, and as illustrated by the discussion so
> far, then we could have a choice of agents. Let's face it, USFG does not
> equal
> Another concern is the unwillingness to debate the topic. Yes, that is a
> problem, for preparation, for publicity, for training judges, for
> bringing in new coaches, for a lot of things. I like the freedom of
> speech aspects, though.
> I will be interested in following this discussion.
> Tuna
> --
> Alfred C. Snider aka Tuna
> Edwin Lawrence Professor of Forensics
> University of Vermont
> Huber House, 475 Main Street, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405 USA
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