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April 6, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

My Summary of the Scott Harris Ballot from the NDT Finals 2013

The executive summary of Scott Harris’s reason for the decision in the finals of the National Debate Tournament:

The 2NR uses the word home only once. There is a brief line that the affirmative destroys home in the context of the negative. For me this argument needed to be made a larger part of the negatives argument. It would have been more compelling if the negative talked about how the competing methodologies impacted on the nature of debate as a home. The bulk of the impact framing instead concentrated around how policy debate impacts on the world outside of debates. What was missing for me from the negative strategy was a discussion of how traditional policy debate positively creates a home for debaters. I do not see a positive vision of debate creating a home in the negatives arguments. The affirmative gets away with saying that Northwestern can only make assumptions about what nontraditional debates look like because they have never tried to be in one of those debates. They have never switched sides on those questions. How those debates impact debate itself is left unclear for me based on the arguments in this debate. The negatives argument would have been more powerful for me if it had discussed the impact of Emporia’s methodology on debate as a home. What effect does a methodology that privileges the ability to say whatever is important to you have on everyone else in the home? How does a demand for inclusion impact on the foundations of the home? How does it do violence to everyone else in the home? How does it impact on the pedagogical value of education that occurs in the home? What kind of home does it become if the right to talk about yourself trumps all other values the home stands for?

* The other paragraph that is most helpful is how the affirmative advocacy was functionally a permutation of both frameworks (social-location/performative and policy).

Otherwise here are the highlights of Scott Harris’ final round decision in short order:
1. If you want to grab a card….the paragraph about how infinite topics destroy home in a real way–aka trade off with having a life or life/work balance in the case of coaches.

2. Debate isn’t roleplaying, with the analogy to sports debates like the Chiefs may in fact turn to be a classic.

3. Argument versus personhood distinction was also interesting. Not sure its quite as impactful–debate wise.

4. The notion of performative teams throwing allies under the bus is an interesting one I guess. It seems a little under-developed as an argument IMHO. But I think it was part of his larger call for self-reflection.

5. The idea of making debate a home for winners & losers is interesting–and a call to action for everyone in the activity.

6. He also seems to be making a point about the idea of forcing judges to vote on social location isn’t fair to the judges or competitors–because it forces them to chose between identities. (I may be implying something from what Scott said here, rather than what he actually said).

A very well thought out reflection on the round & the future of the activity itself.


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