[eDebate] Dear Policy Debate R Us...

Josh jbhdb8
Mon Apr 13 14:55:42 CDT 2009

As another level in this discussion, I wanted to repost my feelings about
the fairness issue that both Jackie and Deven open here.....I actually agree
with both of them more than ever before...but wanted to make sure if you
took me up on this part of the discussion I didnt have to repeat myself too

On most questions of public policy the USFG is an impediment or necessary
partner to creating/maintaining meaningful change.  Yes, I realize there is
a large debate over local versus national change...about individual vs
collective change...about social locations...and of course, many people
think "pretending you are the USFG" means you have to be racist and
genocidal.  I also fully realize that debaters are not literally the
government.  However, it is possible to debate the social context of how you
should/ought be most effective as a social agent and in many areas the USFG
is an important part of change that goes from round - to judges and
participants - to how we relate to questions of public policy as agents
outside of debates.

There are also many disadvantages to debate purely about social orientation
and locations:

First, its very hard to judge or debate against many of these claims.  I
believe....Stressing the "I"....that debate is about four major things (as
currently practiced):

A) Learning a rigorous method of testing claims (some have called this the
search for the Best Policy Option but this undersells the practice -
whatever we are talking about be it "we" or "policy" or comparing "rap
albums" debate represents a method of teaching refutation and engagement and
a search for relative truth)

B) Education on a TOPIC (for many people, including me, I see a HUGE benefit
in debating different specific topics because it means we examine and learn
from the experts or those most directly connected to a particular subject -
IMPORTANT CAVEAT - experts can be singers, people who work in the field,
from personal experience, and from personal interviews, my argument is NOT
that you only learn from big E experts when you research a topic.

C) Exploring your personal relationship to debate. Debate does get better
when its cannon is tested by debate.  Reflexivity is good. For instance,
really many of the criticisms of "traditional debate" are really indicts of
the ways we evaluate impacts. It would be great for us to be reflexive about
the absurdities of hyper-expressing CBA (lack of plan causes X, X = Nuke
war, lack of plan causes Y, Y causes nuclear war, ad infinitim)

D) Exploring your personal relationship to your social location and
expressing and finding a voice to express your interests and agency. Not
only does debate teach a method to determine relative truth it can also be
space to be an advocate and equally important a social agent for change.

These 4 things often contradict and come into conflict.  For instance,
debating one particular topic in time would prevent people from advocating
and discussing what they personally wish to advocate and perhaps trades off
with personal examination and reflexivity about debate qua debate.  However,
it is also true that purely debating "the whatever beast" carries an
incrementally large disadvantage of not 1) Being mutually predictable  2)
Being falsifiable through mutually accessible sources of research 3)
Allowing a meaninful search for relative truth benefit (in other words
choosing option D literally trades off with learning the method of testing
relative truth traditional debate represents and also doesnt expose the
personal proposal of the affirmative to that form and method of testing
relative truth).  3) Creating any meaninful role for the negative (this is
rarely discussed even in rounds). 4) Prevents the follow on educational
effect (what I mean by this is that while I read about particular debate
arguments I distinguish, to some extent, between strategery for debate and
things I think about what we should really do to fix the problems a topic
represents. In other words, while many affirmatives may err on the side of
what is strategic to claim for a debate - my research on the subject of that
affirmative has follow on effects.  Again, what represents evidence is more
malleable then my opponants will represent.  I have ALWAYS accepted
alternative forms of evidence and ALWAYS accepted logic arguments in the
face of stupid arguments in cards.

So my conclusion has been that the DAs to "that whatever monster" outweigh
the DAs to "traditional topics."  This does not mean I am immune to or
unconcerned with the criticisms of traditional debate...or unwilling to
modify thinking.  I think if you read any of my arguments five years ago and
then read the above you would have to admit I have shifted my thinking in
many ways.

Now, in terms of USFG - it seems to me, that the more we move away from a
stable universally accessible relationship to an external actor we brook the
disadvantages mentioned above plus the disadvantage of the USFG being a
literal roadblock to actual/real/meaningful social change in most of the
areas our topics would discuss (the JP Lacy DA).

I am presenting this more as a starting point for discussion then an attempt
to get in the usual fights with a bunch of people I respect but disagree
with.  It is ok if you disagree, say terrible things about what I said, or
just mock me...I am more interested in finding new ways to approach this

On Mon, Apr 13, 2009 at 1:47 PM, Deven <bmoreboi325 at yahoo.com> wrote:

>   Jackie I totally agree with you!! I don?t get why, I guess, the policy
> side think they are being treated so unfairly but no one sees the alt or K
> teams that are invisible because they are not technical or traiditonal
> enough to roll with the hegemons of this activity. Funny how at the NDT the
> K teams get beat down with a damn brick aggressively and continually by the
> gatekeepers in this activity, but they are the ones who aren?t getting fair
> treatment? Sound like privilege to me. Most of us debaters from the UDL have
> to conform to you policy standards for almost 4 years of our lives and when
> we see something that is more liberating and speaking to who we are?..we
> fear it because we are taught that it wrong to be radical or embrace your
> identity?this is kind of why I was turned off by the Louisville project when
> I was a senior in high school..because I had blinders on that stopped me
> from seeing the reality of how debate was crucifying my blackness and many
> of my peers to be those execptionalist hegemons that add to the power and
> privilege of white supremacy.
> The standards of fairness so called for in debate, is the fairness of the
> status quo dominant politics that seeks to silence those of us who are
> motivated to engage differently. If debate is to have the potential to help
> urban students it should let us do so in a way that speaks to our condition
> and not try to funnel us through a spectrum that allows you to control our
> expression to make you feel comfortable. Why do we always have to draw form
> the literature base that you find to be acceptable and meaningful, when we
> have black literature and knowledge that you should want to know or be
> educated by?.we learn your stuff everyday?.those of us who are political sci
> majors?for those of you who think WE are just a phase for the season and
> that the pendulum will swing back to the traditional debaters...you are
> sadly mistaken..that really only occurs, at least in plain sight, when judge
> guard the shield with their ballots in out rounds and prelims for political
> reasons?.
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