[eDebate] Dear Policy Debate R Us...

Eric Morris ermocito
Mon Apr 13 17:42:30 CDT 2009

When you say Josh is "missing the point", you imply that there IS a single
point - a thesis, a resolution if you will, which constitutes the subject of
the dialogue. In doing so, you operate under the institutionalized coding
system which treats argumentative concepts such as stasis as 'true,' 'real,'
and dare I say 'neutral," and thus part and parcel of any and all evils
which cohabitate with the world as we (think) we know it.

Although the K/policy divide is a constructed fiction, it is apparently real
enough to locate Harvard BP on the wrong side of the fence. I missed the
news of their excommunication. What was their sin? In the case of Berkeley
BP, I am pretty sure it was going for policy args on the affirmative and
reading enough of them on the negative to force the 2ac to spend time off of
the K.

I can see, though, why in the face of the "clear and present" danger that
policy debaters present to those with the proper ideology, why it would be
necessary to securitize through the creation of an external enemy. One good
strategy for doing so would be to take those calling for more analytically
rigorous K debate and lump them with those who would end it entirely. Doing
so requires you to dramatically misread their actual statements, but reading
comprehension can be dismissed as a concept, given its claim to neutral.

But why, I ask, must the securitizing gesture invoke the legacy of sexism
through conjuring the word magic of the pejorative term "whining"? Sure,
such a term is particularly powerful - given its ability to invoke power
gendered norms about what is, and is not, an acceptable tone when
disagreeing with prevailing practice. Sara Ruddick explains in her 2008
review of Alcoff's "Singing in the Fire: Stories of Women in Philosophy"
(Hypatia vol. 21, no. 2, project muse)
"As their numbers grew within the profession, women became more visible and
increasingly vulnerable to injustice and insult. It is difficult to write
about insults you have suffered. Voices whisper in academic halls and in
your head: loser, whiner, airhead, Mommy, slut. An alternative to silence is
to take control over what you tell and how you tell it. Narayan notes at the
outset of her essay that autobiographical narratives involve ?serious
questions about what one feels comfortable talking about and the level of
detail one wishes to share? (81)."

I don't find, in my heart, that my purpose in raising these questions was to
reduce below two the number of K teams in the octofinals. I recognize it's
far easier to argue with a prop created to juxtapose with one's ideological
purity, but should not that prop be more realistic (e.g. account for what
the figure being lampooned has actually said).


On Mon, Apr 13, 2009 at 4:13 PM, RJ Giglio <byrdrebel69 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I kinda think Josh is missing a couple of Devon's points...
> 1) Your presupposition that there can just be a 'neutral' literature base
> that we can all agree upon is wrong. Not everybody agrees on what the topic
> is even after the wording has been decided which means framework and
> fairness just becomes a preservation of the status quo in a lot of ways.
> It's not about your particular beliefs.
> 2) The fact that there were only 2 K teams in the octas of the NDT just
> makes the argument that 'judges are way too lenient on K debaters' really
> lame. Nobody thinks that when teams like us or Towson lose that it "was a
> conspiracy or that all judges voted against you to protect the SQ". It's
> that the standards that are deemed neutral END UP PRESERVING THE STATUS QUO.
> It's the whole reason why the concept of structural racism was introduced -
> because intentional racism, policy ideologues who refuse to vote for the K,
> are few and far between. I think your jump to say that Devon assumes there's
> a conspiracy kinda proves his point - that we believe if we don't act
> intentionally to exclude particular styles of debate or ideologies that we
> aren't doing so - but the fact is things like assuming extinction comes
> first, assuming debate should be exclusively about the plan, the idea that
> one particular interpretation of or relationship to the topic IS the
> objective one, (and I'm not saying YOU do these things Josh) end up
> structurally disadvantaging K debaters even when they don't have the
> intention of doing so.
> I also think he's clearly talking more about the people above who really
> sound as if they are whining in some ways about the way judges might have
> come down on issues such as specific author indicts versus generic links,
> yet make reference to these straw person decisions that nobody can
> specifically recollect, yet "happen all the time", when at the same time
> there are only 2 K teams in the octas of the NDT
> -RJ
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