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April 2, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

My reflections on the finals of the NDT: Witchita versus Northwesten

Most of my concerns aren’t as much round-specific….as the system
that they represent. Although I do speak to some round-specific issues.
The bulk of my concerns are with systemic ways or procedural ways in which debates go down throughout the country.

The reject script-centrism argument in the 2ar is only a warrant to:
1. flip a coin
2. vote with your bias for whichever team (aka cheat or intervene).

Anger and dropping the f-bomb in debate isn’t persuasion–its just caustic and agro. Its far more Bill O’Reily & right wing radio than MLK and Maya Angelou. I’m sorry, to me it smells more like Eric Cartman than any rhetor or social changer in American history. Like the college students who have an infinite list of wants, desires, and debates (big sporting facilities, etc…) for them.

The topic offers lots of room to talk about his identity issues and how energy relates to them, just because you can’t justify a shift in policy doesn’t mean the whole system of policy debate back to its origins is in error.  Dueling narratives…..he said, she said…, my, my…..isn’t the type of dialog which creates empathy or genuine learning.
Other contexts, other forums.  Debate isn’t suited to bend over backwards for every oppressed community or disability–specifically in the exact way they specify it.
The negative team isn’t the appropriate agent of any resentment or anger…..much less a ballot.

It sucks that people have bad home lives.  But one debate ballot isn’t going to change that previous history. What about when I was made fun of on the play ground?

Or when I wasn’t understood 100s of times in my history?  The race for victim status (or you don’t get me or your frameworks don’t understand me) in debate doesn’t serve us well as a community.
You don’t get to click your heels to change that–standards in the community are part of creating a home and stability for engaged and critical discussion.  If that home is constantly shifting…
radical form…..from autobiography to autobiography…..from personal victim story to victim story….thats what literature, film, and poetry nights are well suited. Perhaps you can have one of
those after the (???). That will provide you a
1) home
2) allow us to walk/skip/run along the path to Oz together.

The lion or scarecrow never yelled at Dorthy… don’t know my pain…….we’re going the other way.  Thats not the model of the Wiz or the Wizard of Oz.  Plus, that sort of framework is more likely to provide empathetic results given that there aren’t trophies on the line.  And you have almost total control of the stage.

Opting out of policy debate….while still half playing the game is just passive aggression–pure and simple.
You can do your argument, you can do your art–but you have to be topical. The other team could read any of a million manifestos….but you would rightly decry that for being untypical or
unpredictable or irrelevant.

Identity centric debates (identity centric dialogs maybe) don’t end in dialog–especially with extra-ego on the line–this is a prime performative example of why that is the case.
It does seem odd that the neg I’m pretty sure never mentioned the home metaphor–much less any of the other rhetoric of the aff. Which begs the question of what does it mean to feel at home. Never mentioned in the debate….and never resolved either.

That begs a question–debate isn’t supposed to be absolutely comfortable–or a home for anyone per se. It also begs the question of why they deserve the ballot for making.
these arguments.

<But congrats to both teams…and congrats to them for making all the historical strides Aubtin points out.



Leave a Comment
  1. Nathan Ketsdever / Apr 3 2013 6:24 pm

    1. We’ll they had a choice between rage & debate and the chose the former. (see also empathy link in cross-ex that was downright dismissive)

    2. Persuasion certainly doesn’t require rage or f-bombs.

    3. Rage is not consisent with the accomodationist Wiz or Wizard of Oz metaphor which supposedly guides their aff.

    4. when you can PIK the other teams advocacy. Do everything but the rage.

    This–if you don’t provide magic solutions and systemic change arguments–your change is a “failure” is not only silly but a self-fulfilling prophesy of the philosophy you are engaging in.

    Empirically, the Clean Air Act reduced air pollution & saved lives. I’m pretty sure thats on the EPA website & Congressional testimony.

    You don’t forget the subjectivities, but you do have to at least be topical. (And remember, you’re the one thats bringing up the forced and false either/or) You don’t win presidential elections because someone hit you on the playground or raped you. You win or should win based on qualifications for the office. Plus, presidential debates would be silly if they were 90% autobiographical, with an addendum “my people suffered the most.” If thats what wins debates in your framework–that also what creates the down-ward spiral of victimhood.

    And the idea that the ballot brings some sort of redemption or safety or reparrasions for victim status is just silly.


    It’s an intellectual forum for discussion. Rey Chow in Writing Diaspora makes the argument that, because we are intellectuals in the West, we have a uniquely privileged position from which to speak from, and it’s our job to interrogate that position so as to break down that privilege. I think debate gives us a unique opportunity for that because of it’s nature. Also, Martin Shaw talks about the fact that it is Western academic institutions that are contributing to the erosion of US imperialism (he concludes that we need US imperialism, but the fact remains that our academic discussions do have some sort of impact).

    Lets talk about real imperialism… people dying in Afghanistan and Iraq……not debate imperialism. People not winning trophies.

    Otherwise we start talking about the everyone gets the win & everyone gets the trophy….which dissolves the competitive nature of the activity. We become drunk on trophies and wins…..while choking out debate, clash, research, and the drive for excellence.

  2. Nathan Ketsdever / Apr 3 2013 6:54 pm

    1. Affirmative action bad (probably not too helpful, but maybe)
    2. Reparations bad

    Both of these is more metaphorical or by analogy.

    1. Afrocentrism bad
    2. Critical race theory bad. Or critical race would say to have standards & fairness. (although it probably wouldn’t)

    Also the type of pluralism/multiculturalism they are endorsing. I think this could be quite effective possibly. This type of multi-cultralism & diversity good, you coopt or sabatoge it.

  3. compassioninpolitics / Apr 5 2013 4:55 am

    There is a bit of bulling & hate speech toward me, but I would suggest its worth a read as I respond to a number of critics (beyond just the name callers & haters):

  4. compassioninpolitics / Apr 5 2013 9:35 pm

    Criticisms of black nationalism (or similar identity theories):

    I should also check out Asante


  1. Race Performance Affirmatives: Reflections on the Final Round from the NDT 2013 | Learn Policy Debate

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