[eDebate] Dear Policy Debate R Us...

Eric Morris ermocito
Mon Apr 13 21:35:14 CDT 2009

Jackie ? I?m responding to two of your posts, so I address one at a time for


Up front, we ?ve known each other for better than two decades, yet in many
ways we don?t know each other that well. I?m not sure if an email exchange
is any sort of solution to that, but here goes. I want to mention up front
how happy I am that you returned to debate, created a program where none
existed, and have done an amazing job with it. I think our differences are
less significant than our points of agreement, but you may disagree.
Subjectivity is like that.

I don?t feel that my call for comparable link thresholds between K?s and
specific K answers is a technique to exclude the K. Like you, I agree that
the policy/k divide is artificial. I do think the divide between arguments
about the resolution and arguments about not-the-resolution is significant,
but many K?s fall into the former (or at least work under the former). I
think the world I?m arguing for would lead to richer and deeper K debates,
and that your teams would still be successful in such a world. Whether I?m
right about that is an empirical question, and I?m not sure we?ll get past
the control group of the SQ. I?ve clearly threatened some sort of sacred cow
in calling for comparable evidence expectations between K links and specific
K answer links. I?m honestly surprised the request is that controversial.


Although your first response post is riddled with ironies*, I?ll focus
primarily on a couple of points. First, you are correct that distinctions
are common in resolution-focused policy debate. I?m not opposed to
distinctions ? just to judges doing the work themselves by imposing
evidentiary standards selectively on one type of argument. Second, policy
debate is counter to realism in one transformative aspect ? impact claims
are not explicitly filtered through a self interest criteria. It is possible
to win debates on advantages which work the opposite of US self interest,
narrowly defined. In this sense, debate is based far more on liberal
internationalist assumptions than realist assumptions. The suggestion that
considering government policy is more the problem than the solution seems
ungrounded to me, and that?s the lynchpin of a lot of your argument. The
equation of realism and statism in your post is one of its greatest

Without engaging the broader ?are things getting better in the world?
debate, I think its clear that things can get a lot worse than they are. We
aren?t yet extinct, as a species. The worst weapons in our arsenal have not
been used, even if weaker versions were used in 1945 and one could use them
metaphorically to describe other present (but mostly past events). Would you
really say that indigenous issues in the US are worse now than in the 1930s
or the late 1800s?


Your 2nd post ?Policy Debaters R Us? makes several points. The part relevant
about my post continues to be based on the assumption that my hidden agenda
is to exterminate the K. It?s hard to found an effective discussion on the
basis of such claims. My remedy was not, I repeat NOT, to refuse the K on
the basis of ?no specific link? ? it was to use the same set of link norms
when considering the links to K answers.

The wars up/down discussion isn?t central to my point. I agree with you that
there is a lot of structural violence that should get greater consideration.
I think it should get greater consideration as a policy impact, although the
"degree of solvency" question seems salient.

I also think there are serious questions over whether walking away from
?western norms? would reverse the horrors of history. I think the very fact
that we both find those horrors appalling despite living in the west
suggests that the ?dominant culture? is more contested than a monolithic
evil. Debate has undoubtedly altered my perspective in considering such
questions, and I think that would be true even without arguments that
displace the topic as the subject of the debate.

I think the ?reject the aff? alternative is on face the most defensible, but
it often becomes a LOT more than the text foreshadows. I agree about the
case turn, solvency takeout, and disadvantage, but would say those concepts
involve an element of uniqueness, directionality, and probably some
agreement on what is the topic of discussion. There are plenty of K?s which
do all that, and more. Some don?t.

I agree with your discussion about the history of the alternative. I don?t
think all K?s need alternatives, although I think that just means the SQ is
the latent alternative. I don?t think the term neocon is even roughly
analogous to policy debate ? a lot of the real neocons are opposed to
meaningful public participation in policy making. I think ?perm do the CP?
is every bit as questionable as some things K debaters do. I think debaters
need to respond to the case specific applications of K?s, and I have voted
for a ton of K?s when the aff failed to do so.I've also voted for K's a
bunch of times on their framework arg's (rep's first, etc.) when the aff
failed to effectively defend an alternative framework.

I do agree the impact of an author indict can be something less than the
dismissal of the K, just as I think methodology indicts of the aff are not
"really" absolute in most cases (dropping them can make them absolute, as
debate goes). An author indict might, however, be the link to some offense
as well. Nietzsche?s baby consumption doesn?t mean the K does the same, but
a card saying Nietzsche?s views on life?s meaning are destructive should not
be dismissed as immaterial because it used one of Nietzsche?s books as an
example, and the negative was just citing a derivative author relying on
that book, instead of the book itself. If you start with the "presumption of
relevance", you can still make link defense arguments - just as affirmatives
can make link defense arguments.

I agree there are many perspectives, which is why you shouldn?t assume my
perspective is the same as that of other people.


* including:

1. The term propaganda suggests a form of persuasion which is illegitimate
because it serves false and destructive ends. The existence of the category
of false is a problem for the notion that truth is not neutral or objective.

2. The term misunderstanding implies a correct understanding exists,
resulting in the same problem.

3. The notion that there is a ?wrong? understanding of arguments also
results in this problem.

4. The misunderstanding you identify affirms my distinction between debate
focused on a topical and thesis and debate focused on an alternative thesis.

5. The post appears to renounce the very idea of making framework arguments,
when in fact K?s make a ton of hidden, implicit framework arguments when
they change the topic of the debate.

6. Decrying tunnel vision is ironic in a post where tunnel vision is leading
you to misidentify my argument by lumping it with anti-K perspective.
Perhaps the reference to ?swampy? is indicative of the same? I don?t know,
as you didn?t reply to my backchannel question about it.

7. The treatment of the term realism mimics this problem.

8. The notion that consideration of one thing should not preclude
consideration of others is an way to argument for K?s which do exactly that
through their alternative (implicit) framework/role of the ballot/reps 1st
arguments. The command that one SHALL NOT read realism good is just an
example of this.

9. The notions that uniqueness can be controlled also affirms a neutral view
of reality (see #1)

10. The notion that realpolitic is without values, but that we must reject
the values behind it.

11. The notion that things can ONLY get better, juxtaposed with the notion
that things HAVE gotten better with the emergence of the K.

12. The notion that realism exists for the purpose of promoting the
collective good, and can be judged by that standard (in relation to poverty,
the economy, war, and environment).

13. Debate changes constantly, yet the opposition view of debate that you
attack is more stable and dominant.

14. Dismissing ?on face? my perspective by complaining that it dismisses ?on
face? arguments outside of a topical plan focus perspective. It reminds of
the time you anticipated getting sat out on ideological grounds, and
scripted your RFD speech accordingly, but delivered it anyway as if not
noticing you were in the majority.
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