Topic Nullification?

This thread is designed to promote awareness of, and to provide an area for discussion of, a movement that seeks to persuade tournaments that would normally debate the January/February NFL topic to instead debate the targeted killing topic. While the topic of domestic violence is certainly worthy of discussion, we believe that if we can show tournament directors of Jan/Feb tournaments that enough of those attending would prefer another topic that there is the possibility that tournaments would be willing to switch the topic. Tournaments have the ability to select the topic that they will debate, if you are interested in contributing to this effort, please indicate so in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: For a different perspective on why the domestic violence topic should not be debated, read Chris Palmer’s post here about the silent side of domestic violence in debate.

It is going to be impossible for me to defend every criticism people have, but I do feel compelled to answer the ‘this hurts the little guy’ argument.

This topic was a previous topic in LD debate. I debated it both at camp when I was a debater, and also Nov/Dec of my junior year. Big teams are more likely to have files from pervious topics and coaches that were around when they debated. Recycling an old topic unquestionably benefits big teams that have prep and experience on this topic. Switching to targeted killing actually would even the playing field; a socioeconomically disadvantaged debater is more likely to have access to files from camp this summer than stuff from several years ago. People like to talk about this issue a lot, but you have to make sure that you are being comparative here. People with money will still have it and can and will go to more tournaments whether we change the topic a lot, for this argument to have relevance a comparative advantage must be shown. I am confident that no one will be able to establish that TK is good for big schools and domestic violence is not.
Breadth benefits the little guy; the narrower a topic is the less likely you are to get a big team off of its blocks. By switching to a topic that has a much deeper literature base, you allow room for new and creative argumentation. I am not just throwing out assertions here, I encourage anyone who has not to do research on both topics, and see what I am talking about here.
With regards to the elitism argument, I think my ‘we are not changing the NFL topic’ argument is sufficient here. I don’t think its unreasonable to suggest that people attending big tournaments should have a more direct say in the topics they debate. A large number of the people that voted for the NFL topic will never attend a bid tournament on the topic. I started this thread with the suspicion that a plurality of those who will attend bid tournaments want this topic, if I am wrong about that then changing the topic is a bad idea. At best the argument seems to say that ‘you need to show that a majority of people attending bid tournaments want this.’ That is a reasonable burden, and I think it’s a burden we can meet. Obviously we are in the early stages of determining how popular this idea is, if the numbers are not there then it won’t be done.

By John Scoggin

(Note: the article reflects the opinion of the author, and not NSD as a whole)