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)

  • In the interest of transparency, here is the initial list of topics submitted to the NFL topic committee last summer. A few came with topic analyses and bibliographies. There was, however, no correlation between the presence of a topic analysis and the quality of the topic. I have had to remove this material from the list in order to post it here, but would be happy to email the full list (including over 25 pages of cut and pasted Policy blocks) to anyone who would like it. I a large number of the topics are simply retreads of past topics, some far too recent to reprise. I find it wildly optimistic, given the quality of these topics, to believe that requiring authors to submit topic papers along with their topics would generate close to ten topics worth voting on.

    1.     Resolved: In the United States, the federal
    minimum wage ought to increase.

    2.    Resolved: In the United States,
    governments ought to use a renewable portfolio standard

    3.     Resolution: The United States ought to
    significantly alter its current security relationship with the ROK

    4.    Resolution: In the United
    States, women ought not be required to register with Selective Service.

    5.    Resolution:
    Resolved, The United
    States should assist in the rebuilding and reconstruction of the society and
    infrastructure of Iraq by keeping military-presence in Iraq as well as offering
    aid in the form of funds.

    6.     Resolved: The U.S.
    ought not use eminent domain to improve the economy.

    7.     Resolved: the United States government ought
    be able to obtain the digital information of the American public stored in
    electronic devices

    8.     Resolution: The interpretation of the Free
    Exercise Clause should not exempt one from laws of the United States. 

    9.    Resolved: The US should take a peaceful
    approach toward dealing with the rising China superpower rather than trying to
    stop them from rising.

    10.The United States Ought Repeal the Economic,
    Trade, and Financial Embargo on Cuba.

    11. Proposed Wording: The
    United States ought provide military intervention to foreign countries.

    12.The resolution for the topic I am
    submitting is as follows: The United States ought to look towards becoming an
    oil independent state

    13.Resolved: When in
    conflict, violent revolutions should be valued over peaceful protests when
    trying to gain independence from a corrupt government. 

    14.Resolved:
    Oppressive government is more desirable than no government.

    15. Resolved: Laws which protect citizens
    from themselves are justified.

    16. Resolved: A just educational system
    ought to value equality of opportunity over maximizing academic talent. [To
    clarify: acdemically heterogeneous classes or homogenous classes; allowing an
    “open door” policy for AP-style/advanced classes versus restricting
    those classes to students with the strongest grades.]

    17. Resolved: In times of war, states
    ought not use torture as a means of achieving national security objectives.

    18.Resolved: In the United States’ justice
    system, due process ought to be valued above the pursuit of truth when they are
    in conflict.

    19. Resolved: A victim’s deliberate use of
    deadly force is a just response to repeated domestic violence.

    20. Resolved: In the United States, the
    federal government ought not limit the autonomy of local school districts to
    determine their own curriculum.

    21. Resolved: On balance, violent
    revolution is a just response to oppression.

    22. Resolved: In the United States, public
    universities ought to prioritize socioeconomic disadvantage over race.

    23. Resolved: Individual claims of privacy
    ought to be valued above competing claims of societal welfare.

    24. Resolved: In the U.S. judicial system,
    truth seeking ought to take precedence over privileged communication.

    25. Resolved: In times of economic crisis,
    the U.S. government ought to prioritize public welfare over the free market.

    26. Resolved: American public universities
    ought to actively reduce gender bias in extracurricular
    activities.     

    27. Resolved: An adolescent’s right to
    privacy ought to be valued above a parent’s conflicting right to know.

    28. Resolved: In the United States, helping
    education should be prioritized over helping those living in poverty.

    29.Resolved: The near U.S government lock down
    in April, 2011 is a sign that the U.S government is weakening.

    30.  Resolved:Plea bargaining
    in exchange for testimony is unjust

    31. Resolved: Crimes of passion ought not be
    justified.

    32. 
    Resolved: The death penalty is just.

    33. Resolved: In the United States, the
    prohibition of abortion is unconstitutional.

    34. The United States Government is justified in
    poisoning illegal drug crops to deter illegal use.

    35. Resolved: Illegal
    activity online justifies the regulation of the internet.

    36. Resolved: Prosecutions of verbal threats
    violate freedom of speech.

    37. Resolved: Forms of torture are justified in
    saving lives.

    38.Resolved: Offenders charged with manslaughter
    and  murder ought be treated the same.

    39.Resolved: In the United States, gun control
    policies ought be initiated.

    40. Resolved: Access to the internet is a human
    right.

    41. Resolved: that, in the United States, labor
    unions benefit the economy.

    42. Resolved: On balance, violent
    revolution is a just response to political oppression.

    43. Resolved: It is morally permissible to
    kill one innocent person to save the lives of more innocent people.

    44. Resolved: A just society ought not use
    the death penalty as a form of punishment.

    45. Resolved: A victim’s deliberate use of
    deadly force is a just response to repeated domestic violence.

    46. Resolved: In matters of collecting
    military intelligence, the ends justify the means.

    47. Resolved: individual claims of privacy
    ought to be valued above competing claims of societal welfare.

    48. Resolved: civil disobedience in a
    democracy is morally justified.

    49.
    Resolved: individuals ought to sacrifice their ideals for the sake of
    compromise.

    50.
    Resolved: inaction in the face of injustice makes an individual morally
    culpable.

    51.Resolved: When in conflict, the United States
    federal government ought to value the welfare of the people over the freedom of
    the people.

    52. Resolved: The internet benefits a democratic
    society.

    53.Resolved: In a just society the protection of
    human life must be the primary function of the government.

    54.Resolved: A just government must give any
    territories and colonies the same rights as the rest of its domain.

    55.Resolved: When in conflict, a country must
    value the lives of some of its own citizens over many citizens of other
    nations.

    56.Resolved: targeted
    assassinations can be justified.

    57.Resolved: In the United States, regulations forcing sexual
    offenders to register themselves are unjust

    58.Resolved: Marijuana ought to be legalized

    59.Resolved: When in conflict, poverty reduction
    ought to be prioritized over environmental protection.

    60.. Resolved: In the United States, eminent
    domain is just.

    61.”Resolved: The state’s obligation to
    protect its citizen’s supercedes its obligation to respect individual
    rights.”

    62.”Resolved: The right to bodily autonomy
    warrants the termination of pregnancy.

    63.Resolved: In colleges and universities, the
    use of racial quotas for acceptance is just.

    64.Resolved: That the United States ought to ban
    all national leaders to be banned from Nobel Prize consideration.

    65.Resolved: The United States ought to
    strengthen its foreign relations with China.

    66.Resolved: The United States is
    justified in the use of private

    military firms abroad.

    67.Resolved: In the United States, the electronic
    sharing of copyrighted multimedia ought not be controlled by the government.

    68.Resolved:
    Credit Cards Should be banned for use within the United States.

    69.
    Resolved: High School Public Forum Debate should be abolished

    70.Resolve: the names of sex offenders in
    the united states should be available to the public

    71.Resolved: Standardized testing is an
    effective aspect of college admission.

    72.Resolved: A United States return to
    isolationism is desirable.

    73.A third political party in the U.S. is
    desirable.

    74. The U.S. is justified in trying terrorists
    in U. S. courts

    75. Deportation of illegal immigrants is unjust

    76.Resolved: In the case of unstable states,
    security is more valuable than freedom.

    77. Re3solved:  The United States is justified in the use of
    private military firms abrouad.

    78. Terrorists ought to  receive free government mandated health
    insurance.

    79.Resolved:  Capitalism is superior to socialism as a
    means of achieving economic justice.

    80.Resolved: A just Social Order ought to
    place the principle of equality above that of liberty.

    81. Resolved:  Civil disobedience is justified in a
    Democracy.

    82.Resolved: The United States ought to increase
    aid to one or more Latin American countries

    83.Resolved: It is immoral for companies to take out
    life insurance policies on their employees

    84.Resolved: on balance, individuals ought
    to have a greater obligation to themselves than to their community.

    85.Resolved: violent revolution is a just
    response to oppression.

    86.Resolved:
    Economic sanctions ought not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives.

    87.Resolved: L-D
    Debate should allow Plans in the AC.

    88.Resolved:
    Economic sanctions ought not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives.

    89.Resolved: The actions of
    corporations ought to be held to the same moral standards as the actions of
    individuals.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you very much for doing this; it’s very interesting to see the inner-workings of the NFL’s selection process and what the topics look like in their submitted forms.

  • Matt Zavislan

    My school and district are bringing a proposal to our state activities association to nullify the topic. While this may not effect the national circuit, or even debate in other states, our hopes are that it will make the NFL realize that people are serious about not debating this topic. If the NFL isn’t responding to calls for nullification, then start on a state level. Have large tournaments announce plans to use different topics, have the TOC switch topics, have statewide nullification movements. How often to successful movements start at the top and then move down? There is a reason why state legislatures are referred to as The Laboratories of Democracy.

  • If you do not want to debate this topic, don’t debate it. I don’t mean that in a snarky or insensitive way (I think this is a tremendously bad topic and I hope that it leads to a push for institutional reform in the topic-writing and/or balloting process). But seriously, if you do not feel comfortable debating one or both sides of the topic, you have lots of options: you can take a couple of months off; you can dabble in another event; you can go work at a domestic violence clinic. There is no shame in saying that you’re uncomfortable debating the topic; it might actually be a prudent move if you think that debating is going to cause a lot of stress and heartache. 

    If you aren’t comfortable doing that, then go to tournaments and remain silent for your entire speech time, or bring cases on another topic, or only debate one side of the topic. Again, I’m not being snarky: there’s some fantastic “politics of interruption” literature out there, as well as some stuff about the use of silence as a rhetorical strategy. This topic is prime for some non-traditional rhetorical approaches, and they’re worth thinking about whether or not you are a victim of abuse. BTW, one other (very important) suggestion: don’t be an ass. One of the reasons I don’t think this is a good topic is because I have very little faith in the ability of some high school students to be mature or sensitive about these sorts of issues, and it really only takes one jerk to ruin someone’s tournament. If you are a debater, do your best to be empathetic and to treat these issues with some modicum of seriousness and dignity. If you are a judge, don’t reward debaters who are jerks. It’s OK if debaters are uncomfortable–it’s an uncomfortable topic–but do your best to preserve a safe space to whatever extent is practicable. 

  • Anonymous

    Hmm. Maybe Bronx went back and forth. I starting coaching in the mid 1990s, and at that point Bronx used a subset of the NFL policy topic as their LD topic.  But I can’t speak to what they did before that. Nor do I remember when they switched

    Honesty, I’m unconvinced that analysis is really much deeper today for average debaters, or even those somewhat above average.. The following applies to those debaters, not the upper half of the TOC pool.

    Whereas debates fifteen years ago ran stock arguments on social contracts, today they run stock arguments on, say, nuclear war.  At least the earlier ones had better link stories.  Now we end up with JVish  policy debate (as you have said elsewhere, if in a different context) or or poor theory or badly linked permissibility,skep, etc.  arguments. I’m not sure that is any better than before.

    And I am not arguing in favor of three topics a month, mind, I’m just saying that the NFL never has  had a topic monopoly.

    I’m agnostic about the national travel anyway. I do suspect that the increased use of the NFL topic  contributes to the rise of that circuit. I have zero idea if more teams travel today than in 1995, or if only local circuits have declined. That could be objectively figured out, not that I am volunteering…

     

  • Anonymous

    Time was- and not so long ago either-it was comparatively common for tournaments, ‘even’ TOC tournament, to have their own LD topic. Harvard had their own. Bronx had their own.   Different states had their own topics. .Of course, LD was a significantly different activity.

    There is no barrier to the TOC or NDCA or the Fish Fry with Marmalade Association from choosing their own topic. I actually suspect that LD would be a more educational activity if they did so. 

    Professor McGuiness may be correct in his concerns, but it wasn’t that way back in the day. That said,  (snark emetor on ) it is not as if arguments such as skepticism, permissibility,
    or nuclear war DAs are  usually  based on topic literature anyways, people would run them no matter what the resolution happens to be.)

    The NFL Is as democratic a system as we are likely to get.

    Finally,

    I did find Palmer’s Azuen post to be persuasive. And I say that as one who finds the targeted killing resolution to be deeply problematic,

     As for one poster’s suggestion that domestic violence doesn’t really impact the type of students who participate in debate- I’ve only skimmed the comments, so I may have missed if someone already responded. That idea is patently absurd. Don’t kid yourselves, in every classroom there are people who suffer from domestic violence,  even if that classroom is in the richest high school in the country.  Every person who  reads this board knows several people in that category – and other social ills besides.  Let’s not make this more complicated than we have too. If you are in class or teach  or are teammates with 200 people a year, and if there is some social ill that  say five percent the population suffers from, that means you associate with ten people facing that social ill each and every year.

    and so goes the bell….

    • Dave McGinnis

      What do you define as “not so long ago”? I began debating LD in 1989, and at that point Bronx (at least) used the NFL topic. The changes in the national circuit — greater frequency of tournaments, more teams who travel the country — require more coordination. So, I’d argue, does the depth of argumentation required in circuit debate. 

      I suppose if there were three tournaments you attended, and the deepest the analysis got was whether we should prefer Locke’s or Rousseau’s social contract, then prepping three different topics in a month would be okay. 

  • Cicero Tallius

    http://bringvictory.com/ for anyone interested, here is a website that has many stories similar to Chris’.

  • Dave McGinnis

    The function of the National Forensic League with regard to topic selection is to resolve what would otherwise be an insurmountable cooperation problem. There is a functionally infinite range of topics we might debate about. In order for tournaments to happen there has to be some means that is universally accepted to identify topics to be debated. You probably don’t think about this often, but this is a massive feat of coordination. Four or five times a year, thousands and thousands of students and their teachers and coaches across the country begin preparing to debate just one issue out of the infinite range of possible issues. The necessity of having such a reliable system for coordinating all of that effort outweighs every single other consideration. If you managed to change the topic even once, hundreds of students would be denied access to debate because they would roll to tournaments expecting the DV topic and would find themselves incapable of debating. If you destabilize the NFL topic selection procedure generally, you would no longer have any universally acceptable means of identifying topics, and you would have chaos. And if you replace the NFL system with something else that miraculously manages to garner universal support overnight, then you would have exactly the same kinds of problems because you would be dismayed to find that whomever you anointed to be the topic selectors would (like the NFL wording committee) be imperfect.Honestly, this is just silly. Maybe it’s because I have perspective from having been around for a long, long time. The posts on this board read as though the people writing think that they represent some significant portion of the debating community. YOU DON’T. The vast majority of debaters and coaches don’t read ANY online boards. It is an indication of your over-developed sense of self-worth that you imagine that your outrage with the topic carries water with every debate team and coach in the country.The system exists for a reason. Stop trying to muck with it.

    • Ross Brown

      +1 

    • Anonymous

      Dave, I agree that there are big problems with the ad hoc nullification of a topic (I am somewhat agnostic on the issue, although I lean slightly with Chris Palmer’s points about individual experiences). Do you really think, though, that we should just give up on substantively reforming the NFL for future topic selections because whatever improvement we make will still be imperfect? 

      For example, if the NFL decided to increase the transparency of its procedures for determining the final ten topics on the ballot, would you oppose that move? Would you oppose protocol such as topic papers submitted with proposed topics that could ensure topics are more rigorously researched and vetted before being put in the community’s hands? 

      I understand that debaters might be ‘stuck with’ this topic for now, but I think it makes sense moving forward to reform the topic selection procedure within the NFL’s structure to make it operate better.

    • Dave, thanks for replying. It’s valuable to have someone who served on the NFL LD Topic Selection Committee contribute to this thread. Given the diverse interests at hand, the NFL Topic Selection serves an instrumental role in reconciling (potentially) divergent interests and bettering communications among member school.

      I know the NFL tweaked its LD topic selection process only a couple years ago, but it still falls short of the process that’s afforded to other events.  I have two suggestions moving forward, and I hope the NFL will consider these modifications as early as June 2012:

      1. Either the LD community should be allowed to use online voting to rank resolutions every two months;
      -OR-
      2. The LD Topic Selection Committee should write two to three topics and then submit its selections to the community every two months. This would do away with the big “Top 10” release every June.

      In PF, two topics are submitted *each month* for NFL members to vote on. Dave (or anyone in the know), why does the NFL not use the same procedure in LD? Topic selections for Nov/Dec ’11 – Sep/Oct ’12 were due September 9th, and it seems as if some NFL members would have altered their rankings based on Nov/Dec.

      • Just a quick question. Do you actually LIKE the PF topic process? I tend to find the topic votes to involve choices between evils. The topics are often unbalanced and the literature base inadequate. Additionally, topics are often subsets of the Policy topic, which is unfair to schools that do not compete in Policy. I certainly wouldn’t mind voting every two months, which seems to work well for PF, but I don’t think this improves the odds of getting a good topic to debate. You can’t vote for a good topic if there isn’t one on the list.

  • Dave McGinnis

    The function of the National Forensic League with regard to topic selection is to resolve what would otherwise be an insurmountable cooperation problem. There is a functionally infinite range of topics we might debate about. In order for tournaments to happen there has to be some means that is universally accepted to identify topics to be debated. You probably don’t think about this often, but this is a massive feat of coordination. Four or five times a year, thousands and thousands of students and their teachers and coaches across the country begin preparing to debate just one issue out of the infinite range of possible issues. The necessity of having such a reliable system for coordinating all of that effort outweighs every single other consideration. If you managed to change the topic even once, hundreds of students would be denied access to debate because they would roll to tournaments expecting the DV topic and would find themselves incapable of debating. If you destabilize the NFL topic selection procedure generally, you would no longer have any universally acceptable means of identifying topics, and you would have chaos. And if you replace the NFL system with something else that miraculously manages to garner universal support overnight, then you would have exactly the same kinds of problems because you would be dismayed to find that whomever you anointed to be the topic selectors would (like the NFL wording committee) be imperfect.

    Honestly, this is just silly. Maybe it’s because I have perspective from having been around for a long, long time. The posts on this board read as though the people writing think that they represent some significant portion of the debating community. YOU DON’T. The vast majority of debaters and coaches don’t read ANY online boards. It is an indication of your over-developed sense of self-worth that you imagine that your outrage with the topic carries water with every debate team and coach in the country.

    The system exists for a reason. Stop trying to muck with it.

  • When this topic first came out, I was underwhelmed by it, but I also thought that all of the people who were sore that it wasn’t the targeted killing topic were abject imbeciles. 

    In my opinion, the only plausibly compelling justification for changing the topic would be the potential it creates for people who have experienced or witnessed domestic abuse to confront the issue first-hand. Obviously, this is a highly sensitive issue that needs to be dealt with carefully, but I’d be really interested in knowing why the issue of confronting domestic abuse is uniquely important enough, on either a qualitative or quantitative level, to justify changing the topic to something else. I’m not asking this question to stir up controversy, but rather because I am genuinely ambivalent about this topic, and am also curious why issues like this haven’t been brought up on previous topics. Why is it that we are especially concerned about THIS topic and the emotional effect it may have on members of the activity, despite the fact that we were largely unconcerned about other topics and their potential emotional effects?

    Last year, the juvenile felons topic was chosen as the Jan/Feb topic instead of whichever nuke war scenario-friendly topic most circuity people wanted. A lot of the fist-wringing was the result of people presuming the topic would be OMG REALLY BORING!!!”, but not one person stopped to consider that maybe there might be people in the activity with close friends and family members (especially siblings, cousins and other similarly-aged people),  who had been charged with a felony at one point. At absolutely no point has anyone questioned the validity of a topic regarding terrorism and its potential emotional effect on people who may have lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks. Last year, there was a topic regarding drug abuse. I personally know one person in this activity who has seen one of his siblings repeatedly struggle with drug abuse, and go in and out of rehab, and yet when that topic was announced NOT ONE PERSON stopped to consider that there might be other debaters in that same situation (as I’m sure there are). Why wasn’t the issue of emotional effect brought up when these topics were announced? What is unique about this particular topic that inspires us to all of the sudden consider the emotional implications that our debate topics may have on the people who are being asked to participate in, judge, and coach debates on them? 

    Beyond that, why does the concern regarding emotional effects only apply to topics in general? Surely, reading arguments on any topic about racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. has some potential to conjure up painful memories of prejudice and discrimination for members of the activity who are minorities, women, GLBT, etc., and yet this effect is rarely if ever considered or questioned. 

    To be VERY clear, I am NOT necessarily opposed to rejecting topics (including this one) because of their potential to force unwanted reflection on very emotionally-charged issues. However, I think that if we are going to set such a precedent, there needs to be more consistency in how and when we consider such issues. Do we need to determine that a significant enough NUMBER of people have been effected, or do we need to determine that the issue is so potentially emotionally scarring that it ought not be debated? If it is the former, then how many people need to be effected? If it is the latter, then how do we possibly “compare” the relative emotional scars that can be experienced as a result of traumatizing or deeply personal events? I think that in terms of setting future norms for determining topics, it might be worthwhile to consider such questions. 

  • Anonymous

    I am not sure about my feelings on this topic.

    Any questions or hate, especially the hate, please email mosessloven [AT] gmail [DOT] com

  • Ross Brown

    I feel like this discussion is mostly just a big waste of time. Aside from the actual issue of whether or not TK would be a better topic, there’s just no way in hell the topic gets changed. It’s just not going to happen. The NFL has a democratic procedure for selecting topics, and that procedure was followed. There’s no reason to depart from that based on a handful of individuals’ gripes. 

  • Ok people need to seriously quit discussing something that isn’t going to happen and realize that both are sensitive issues I know people who have lost family and friends to both domestic violence and targeted killing -drone attacks are not as accurate as we’d like to believe though I am sure the people on this thread know that- and I assure the stories from both are tragic, emotional and full of controversy -otherwise it wouldn’t be debated- instead of discounting the topic all of you should take the time to do the research and win with respect and sensitivity to the people affected just like every other topic. Honestly it is a good topic -I debated it my sophmore year- and I found the literature to be emotionally moving and certainly changed my perspective and it certainly may change yours. 

  • F

    I am a high school debater directly affected by domestic violence. I support the current topic. 

    I haven’t done nearly enough research to argue the relative merits of the DV/TK topics in topic lit, ground, etc. terms. The current topic may be a horrible Jan/Feb topic for any of those reasons. I don’t know enough to address that here.
    Also, I obviously can’t speak on behalf of anyone else who’s been abused.

    Palmer’s right that this topic will be uncomfortable to debate. I’ve been dragged across floors, kicked, and beaten with objects by a parent, been told I’m worthless and not human, and been denied food because of that parent’s whims. 
    It would be awful to realize, during a round, that winning would require me to run cards downplaying the effects of domestic violence. 
    If my opponent argued that current DHS/CPS/police systems make domestic violence an easy problem to escape, I’d want to scream, because I have filed a report before, and seen absolutely nothing happen, because my word against my parent’s was not ‘sufficient evidence’ for the DHS to find a claim of abuse to be founded.

    However,
    in an actual round, I would be able to read cards about the failures of the current human services systems. Other debaters would also need to find evidence supporting the same, and so learn about a failure in the system that high schoolers would never otherwise be motivated to research. As Kramer pointed out, debate’s a unique opportunity to address this issue in depth, as high schools aren’t willing to: any health classes that touch the issue cover it so superficially as to be worthless.
    Debating a topic doesn’t trivialize it. Of course some debaters will run positions that trivialize DV. But I hear comments every day that trivialize it (see: jokes about Chris Brown and Rihanna). In a debate round, at least, debaters are likely to be called out for the trivialization, and challenged on it over the course of a 40-minute round.
    Because domestic violence does affect so many, it’s extremely likely that educating debaters about the topic will have real-world impact. 
    If, as a result of this resolution, a debater decides to call out his friend for the way she’s treating her boyfriend; or if a debater recognizes signs of abuse in a friend and helps him get away from a dangerous situation, that outweighs whatever discomfort I have, as a victim of abuse, about debating the topic.

  • Alex Kramer

    I’m glad that instead of focusing solely on competitive issues associated with the topic, people are focusing on the emotional issues associated with it. However, I still don’t see a reason why this means the topic should be rejected. I’ll start with a hypothetical example unrelated to the topic:

    Let’s say it’s 1994 or 1995, and we a’re considering the very recent mass murder of close to one million people in Rwanda. One person argues for the immediate location and execution of all the perpetrators. Do I, in arguing against that position, somehow condone or lessen the atrocity? Of course not. I can generate reasons as to why a specific form of responding to the atrocity may be more justifiable than others. There are a number of reasons why the death penalty may be problematic; look up nearly any debate from a few years ago when it was debated.

    Now, let’s say that the two of us are not some abstract persons observing the situation from a distance – let’s say we are both Rwandans. Does the possibility of generating reasons for a specific response vanish once we take this phenomenological step? I’m inclined to say no. In the wake of tragedy, emotions run high, and persons certainly appear to think and react differently than they normally would. That is perfectly normal – that is how coping mechanisms work. I don’t think that anybody would claim that victims of atrocities “shouldn’t” have that response or, even worse, should force themselves to suppress consideration of that response. Engaging in respectful discourse about objective or rational justifications to responses to tragedy doesn’t impose a mandate that any victim who has a certain emotional response is in some way “bad” or “flawed.” Sure, logic may compete with emotion. But why does that competition mean logical discussion is unacceptable or that emotional reactions should be suppressed?

    One might say, specific to the domestic violence topic, that it is not acceptable to force debaters and judges, against their will, to engage in such logical discussion. However, where does this leave debate? Ryan Lawrence’s post seems very persuasive at this point:

    “If we are evaluating how “close to home” it gets, are we doing so quantitatively, based on how many people in the community might have a personal experience with the topic? That really seems odd. It’s OK to talk about poverty because that only affects people on the other side of the globe. Nobody is in poverty in the debate community. It’s OK to talk about economic sanctions because there isn’t anybody with a family in Iran, Cuba, etc. in debate. It’s OK to talk about animal rights because nobody has a family member who abuses their pet. And let’s not get started about how we treat people busted for drug possession and how we treat juvenile offenders, because those aren’t rich white problems.”

    Maybe Ryan is wrong, and the core issue really is that domestic violence has such a strong impact on individuals in the debate community such that mandating its discussion under the formalized limits of a debate topic is more problematic than any other topic. However, let’s consider a hypothetical potential topic: “Resolved: High schools should implement zero-tolerance policies for bullying.” In terms of debate precedent, this is fairly similar to the December 2010 PF topic: “Resolved: Cyberbullying should be a criminal offense.” I am inclined to say that this is a far more personal topic than the domestic violence topic – although I don’t have the statistics, my guess is more high schoolers are or have been subjects of bullying than domestic violence. And bullying can have just as strong of an impact on its victims as domestic violence. I was bullied in high school both in person and online. For being a “nerd”, for my sexuality, for other things. Did it mess me up psychologically? Oh yeah. Did it almost make me kill myself? Oh yeah. Is it a touchy subject for me? Oh yeah. Do I have strong feelings on the subject? Oh yeah.

    Yet my guess is that if all of us were assigned to debate the bullying topic I just wrote up, there would be far less backlash. After all, bullying was chosen as a PF topic in 2010, and there wasn’t this kind of controversy associated with it. But bullying hits members of the debate community just as hard (if not harder) than domestic violence. The only reason I can come up with for this discrepancy in reactions is that socially, it is considered “acceptable” to talk about bullying policy in schools while domestic violence responses are taboo. But if that’s the case, why should debate only isolate itself only to those issues which society has determined are “mundane” enough to discuss in public? What is wrong with pushing the limits a bit and allowing high schoolers a structured way to approach tough topics? Debate can provide the kind of educational opportunities that no other high school opportunity could provide. High schools teach, for the most part, a fairly standardized curriculum, and even those classes that attempt to engage “current” political issues tend to stick with the more mundane of possible topics. Shoving discourse on tough topics (like domestic violence) under the mat because it is taboo indicates a mentality that makes me incredibly sad. All we’re seemingly allowed to debate about are domestic topics that are fairly mundane or foreign topics that are desensitized because they are foreign. That eliminates a lot of what I think debate can offer.

    Will debates on this topic be tough (and not in a competitive equity or depth/breadth of argumentation sort of way)? Almost certainly. But I don’t think this is a reason for the topic to be rejected. The critical issue is not whether the topic should be debated, it is how the topic should be debated. It is possible to engage this topic substantively while remaining respectful and mindful of those who have suffered through tragic events, and the experience of having to take that aspect into consideration is probably more valuable than any amount of abstract ethical or political philosophy, reading journal / news articles, or any other practice in debate.

    Alex Kramer (Assistant LD Coach at WDM Valley) — kramer.alex.kramer [at] gmail.com

  • Anonymous

    I’m no longer really involved in debate, (much less Lincoln Douglass), but the issue of the domestic violence topic is one which I’ve been following somewhat closely. Personal experience should no doubt be encouraged in an activity centered on communication, but the nature of that personal experience is one we must consider very carefully. There is a fundamental difference between discussing issues of significant, cultural relevance (such as the relocation of the Islamic Cultural Center), and issues that may contain deep-rooted, most likely traumatic subtexts for certain members of the community. These individuals are being asked to make an incredibly unfair choice: either distance yourself from the trauma of your experience (enough, at least, to spend half of tournaments rationalizing the actions of your abuser), or publicize your very personal relationship to the issue, or, of course, quit the activity altogether. 

    Expecting domestic violence victims to automatically embrace the topic as a site of empowerment, I think, is a fundamental misunderstanding of how trauma works. What makes domestic abuse so insidious is that it is mostly ongoing, and, by the very nature of it being domestic, perpetuated by individuals who are close to the victim. It is rarely something those involved want to openly discuss, and I’d imagine even less something they are willing to subject to the hostile, ivory-tower intellectualism present in most high school debaters’ analyses. Moreover, even if one had overcome their personal experience enough to use it as a point of in-round discussion, can you imagine what it would be like for that individual to then lose to an arbitrary procedural? Mandating the personalization of debate forces the judge to be an arbiter in/validating the experiences of one person, and does not step back to consider the negative effects it could have on the person who is invalidated/placed in that position.

    The personal side of abuse is, as has been mentioned repeatedly throughout this thread, far too personal to be used as a fulcrum for competition. Debate is not an unregulated open forum– there’s an economy of wins and losses that (arbitrarily) grant validity to some arguments and not others. Additionally, even if personal experience can be a productive site of competition, a person should be able to make the choice for themselves whether or not they wish to deploy it. A domestic abuse topic, necessarily forces affected competitors to introduce their individual narrative or erase this aspect of themselves entirely. 

    The question at hand is not whether abuse is too “taboo” to provide a central locus for discussion within debates, but rather, if it is fair to ask unseen, unheard victims within the community to participate in this discussion regardless of their often painful relationships to the topic.

    • I appreciate your argument but think that it is overstated in that you claim that one has to “rationalize the actions of your abuser.” The topic is not “Domestic violence: yes or no?” Nobody is being asked to argue domestic violence is justified, only what the justified response to it is. 

      • I think the claim still applies… in negating you would still attempt to rationalize or mitigate the impacts of DV in order to prove that the retaliation isn’t permissible.

        • This is just untrue. That’s like saying that anyone who doesn’t believe serial killers should get the death penalty must somehow think serial killing isn’t bad. 

          • That’s not analogous… I didn’t say that they’d have to make arguments as to how Domestic violence is a good thing or is totally fine to do, but, rather, that they’d potentially have to make arguments as to how it isn’t a bad enough impact to make X retaliation permissible. It still requires mitigating or rationalizing (especially when we consider the proportionality arguments in the topic literature)

          • I don’t understand why domestic violence does not justify murder is neccesarily an offensive, or bad argument. Sure its a terrible thing, but that doesn’t neccesarily mean you can kill people.

  • why nullify just this topic? why not reject the NFL’s control over topics altogether and have the TOC pick its own topics and mandate that tournaments use their topics if they want to retain their bids?  you could still have a voting process, but teams that don’t go to circuit tournaments will self-select out of the voting pool. or not have a vote at all and instead have a topic selection committee decide.

  • Erik Baker

    A few things. I think something that may be being overlooked as far as the “this is close to home” argument goes is that we have debated this topic before. I’m genuinely curious to know if there was the kind of activity-destroying fallout that some people are predicting when this essentially was the topic earlier. It seems hard to believe that it could have happened without anyone knowing. 

    I think that this also applies to many other criticisms of the topic. Clearly in 2006-7 people were able to write cases. The dearth of argumentation on the topic that some people are claiming is laughable. 

    But also, I think that the activity would benefit from more sensitivity. What are we really advocating here? We need to be respectful people who make polite, non-repugnant arguments, so as a result we ought to debate about targeted killing and make disaster porn arguments about the necessity of the murder of Afghan civilians and how “will to power” justifies states doing awful things in the international arena? To be blunt, debaters make asinine, highly offensive arguments no matter what the topic is. I know I have. If skep is terrible on this topic, why is it less terrible on any other topic? 

    Maybe the risk that people listening to us might actually be offended by our arguments will actually cause us to examine what it is we say. And that’s not the worst thing in the world.

  • I guess I just don’t understand. There are important differences between this topic and the mosque topic in PF. 1) That topic was not written by a committee or voted upon, 2) There really was no real ground for one side of the topic, and 3) PF is almost always judged by individuals who are more likely to be influenced by their personal opinions. 

    This topic was written up by a wording committee that indeed does have “circuit representation” despite a claim to the contrary made prior. This topic was voted upon. This topic was published on a list and nobody seemed to have an issue with it until it was revealed as the choice. So what is the real problem? Is it that it was chosen for Jan/Feb specifically? So it’s OK for “those local debaters” to deal with it, but keep it away from our Jan/Feb bid tournaments! Clearly, nobody takes the other four topics of the year seriously for any reason. Is it that the topic is inherently problematic for any slot? In this case, where was the criticism prior? 

    It seems that most people really just think that the topic isn’t that great. In that event, nullifying it is incredibly irresponsible and anti-democratic. It will further the schism between “local” and “circuit” debate with negative consequences for both circuits. It will disadvantage all sorts of debaters for no good reason. The solution for next time is: 1) Submit topics to the wording committee, and 2) Vote (or have your coach vote) for the “good ones.” Be part of the process.

    Yes, tournaments may choose their own topic and are not beholden to the NFL one. If you want to run your own tournament, feel free to debate targeted killing. I would lay…mmm….let’s say 100:1 that not a single bid tournament chooses to do that, despite protestations. Please boycott; more slots for my squad! 😀 

    If we are evaluating how “close to home” it gets, are we doing so quantitatively, based on how many people in the community might have a personal experience with the topic? That really seems odd. It’s OK to talk about poverty because that only affects people on the other side of the globe. Nobody is in poverty in the debate community. It’s OK to talk about economic sanctions because there isn’t anybody with a family in Iran, Cuba, etc. in debate. It’s OK to talk about animal rights because nobody has a family member who abuses their pet. And let’s not get started about how we treat people busted for drug possession and how we treat juvenile offenders, because those aren’t rich white problems.

    I don’t pretend to know what the mindset of a victim of domestic violence is like, but can we really speak for them in such broad terms and say that they do not want to debate this topic? They want to stay silent. They will be uncomfortable. We need to protect them from debate. I think the better solution is to stay sensitive. Don’t let your rounds on this topic become uncomfortable for people. Be understanding: don’t make callous remarks in RFDs or use violent rhetoric to describe arguments on the topic. Embrace the personal nature of not just this topic, but perhaps many others. 

    • Anonymous

      completely agree.  I think this is probably the most sensible post on the thread.  I wonder if, say, this years nov/dec topic was instead chosen for jan/feb…would there have been similar uproar?  Probably.  Just because this topic seems too “real” we should reject it?  Isnt most criticism of switch-side debate predicated on debate currently forcing ourselves to abstract ourselves in such a way that makes us cold, hardened, uncaring individuals, that “seek suffering desperately so that a new piece of uniqueness evidence can be cut?”  Isnt confronting an issue that can actually affect us healthy?  The topic is a question of how to respond to domestic violence (ie murder or another form of self defense or some other means).  It is not condoning self defense, and doesnt really provide any sort of ground to do so in the first place.  Nobody’s asking the negative to argue that domestic violence is good, or excusable.

      But I think the most important point being made here is the slippery slope argument.  Every topic functions in the same way this one does.  Im sure there are members of the debate community who have had experiences in juvenile hall, or know people who have.  Im sure there are people who have had to go to drug court, or prison.  For an animal lover, like myself, am I entitled to reject the sept/oct resolution because debaters were arguing that animals are “like rocks?” (I feel that a discussion like this one is even more dangerous than a discussion about how to deal with domestic violence–the animals topic would, quote-on-quote, “allow” the murder of animals, and slaughtering of cows.  The domestic violence topic never condones the act.)

  • I abhor this topic, and it has nothing to do with the circuit or others.  I’ll spare the full contents here, but I wrote it up extensively on my occasional blog, here:

    http://www.azuen.net/2011/12/02/the-silent/

    • Anonymous

      This is an incredibly good (and tragic) post; everyone should read it.

    • Absolutely agree

    • Anonymous

      As someone who disagreed with petitioning to change the topic, reading Chris’ blog changes my opinion on the matter. While most of this thread consists of reasons for why the TK topic is more expansive and interesting that the DV topic, I think the argument that Chris puts forward is the only convincing and forceful one. I think that people who want the topic changed for selfish reasons such as already having prep or disliking the subject of the DV topic are being incredibly short-sighted and borderline offensive.  I think topics about Domestic Violence are incredibly important, probably more so then many of the other topics on the list.  Additionally, I agree with Moerner and co. with regards to making the circuit more exclusive then it actually is. As a debater who debates in the Northeast, I see a lot of schools who would be forced to debate the TK topic for the one national tournament they attend (Harvard).  This would further create negative sentiment against the circuit.

      I think the only solution to this problem is to get the NFL to change the topic formally.  Let me clarify, the topic change should not neccesarily be to TK but rather to the next most voted on topic.  This is the only objectively fair way to determine a topic that won’r arbitrarily exclude segments of the debate community.

      – Grant Weisberg and Andrew Eckholm  (Stuyvesant HS)
      *NOTE: This does not indicate the views of Stuyvesant High School as a whole or anyone else of debates there.

      Any questions or hate, especially the hate, please email mosessloven [AT] gmail [DOT] com

    • If the topic is not formally change, I will sacrifice every single round on this topic to read this post.

    • Regardless of what side of the “Topic Nullification” debate you fall on, or the process for proposing and voting on topics, reading this astoundingly insightful piece by Chris is a valuable use of your time. It personally allowed me to empathize with those who have been victims of domestic abuse and assault in a way I was not able to previously. Understanding that there is a very real segment of the population (debate and otherwise) who’s lives have been destroyed and at the very least traumatized is (I believe) a necessary perspective to have for any informed discussion of this topic. 

    • I was absolutely against changing the topic until I read this. I also agree with Grant+Andrew that the topic could be the next voted on topic. 

  • At first i was on board, and then i disagreed
    1. Such a change would cause prep imbalance and we could not debate either topic well enough
    2. If this page does get a lot of likes, that isnt a reason to nullify the topic. Not all the people debating this topic will actually make it here and cast a new vote, nor should they be required to. They (should) have already cast their vote
    3. Lastly, the NFL voted for this topic. Regardless of how many people say “everybody” wants to, more people want this topic than targeted killing. Its unfair to demand a revote where not everyone  will participate. If a president you dont like gets voted president and you didnt vote, you cannot demand a revote because you didnt vote the first time. Nor should you.
    This is just my personal opinion, tell me if you agree/disagree

  • Anonymous

    I genuinely do not get what the big deal is about the DV topic. The last time this was debated, I saw a number of good rounds.There’s plenty of relevant topical and K literature – including a robust legal literature, familiarity with which may advantage many debaters in their future studies. There’s some limited room for squirrel cases and creative interpretations of the rez.  I’m sure a small number of debaters have been personally impacted by domestic violence, while a sizeable minority of the older coaches and judges (me included) will probably know someone who has. Some people may run some really discomforting narratives. I don’t see this as a problem – especially since we’re talking about the national circuit and debaters who may compete in college, where these sort of arguments are the norm for many teams. If anything, dealing with uncomfortable issues in a reasoned way is character-building. If we don’t think that reasonably dealing with difficult issues is of some value, we should probably be doing something else. I have no problem with “excluding” debaters who don’t debate – especially in a real debate event (e.g. LD as opposed to PFD) with a tiny minority of you privileged kids personally affected (let’s not pretend that DV isn’t an issue disproportionately affecting the lower classes).  And don’t bother with the big vs. small school argument. Everyone always argues that their position advantages small schools, but that doesn’t change the fact that big schools will use their advantages no matter what the topic is. Increased scouting and more cases if it’s broad, increased prep and blocking if it’s narrow. More coaches with their previous cases if it’s recycles, larger policy and LD backfiles with relevant cards if it’s new.

    With that said, the national circuit is an elite institution and should stop trying so hard to pretend otherwise. If better circuit debate can be had with a different topic, go ahead and persuade tournaments to adopt a different topic. Screw local schools. I think most of us can agree that tournaments with fewer local schools attending are more fun to compete in and judge (fewer crappy or horribly uneven rounds, fewer incompetent judges), so imposing a time-commitment entry barrier sounds like a good way to discourage freeriders on the good judging brought in by the circuit schools. It’s not that there’s something “special” about the “$ircuit,” but debaters who spend all that money ought to get their money’s worth doing the type of debate they like on a topic they like, not subsidizing the debate education of whoever happens to show up.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sort of agnostic when it comes to changing the topic (not a fan but not sure how great of an idea topic nullification is), but will offer a couple arguments I think are being overlooked:

    First, people who believe that the topic has plenty of depth on both sides would much more easily persuade people (and perhaps put an end to that debate) by developing a caselist for both sides (eg a list of strategies that could be deployed).  Not even calling for an outline of a case or cites, just a list of positions that those of you who believe that this topic is adequately deep is good.  Comments like “i can think of 4 different affs immediately” do little to persuade people.

    Second, I think one of the biggest problems with this topic is that it extends an awfully long streak of toc topics being centered around abstract moral questions or domestic issues.  One of the things that policy does particularly well in topic selection is mandating a rotation between different categories of topics (domestic/foreign/flex in hs, domestic/foreign/legal in college).  Perhaps the same thing could be introduced into LD (or even all circuit programs agree to try and vote in such a manner that creates such a diversity).  

    Third, to those who argue that this is an immensely personal topic, while I respect your opinion, it seems awfully narrow-minded and contrary to the pedagogical value of debate to say that certain topics are off-limits for debate.  Debate is an avenue for us to question values that otherwise go unchallenged due either to a lack of general public interest, a lack of general public knowledge, or its quasi-taboo nature.  Historically, debate has been known for its ability to debate topics that are extremely controversial in a relatively civil context (see for example, the ’54-’55 Collegiate policy topic, RESOLVED: “That the United States should extend diplomatic recognition to the communist government of China.” which occurred at the hight of the red scare when McCarthyism was rampant or ’06-’07, Resolved: The United States Supreme Court should overrule one or more of the following decisions: Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 1992); Ex parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1 (1942); U.S. v. Morrison, 529 U.S.598 (2000); Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717 (1974).  which occurred at a time where several prominent media pundits and politicians argued the “youre with us or with the terrorists” logic). In other words, I get that a lot of people have strongly held beliefs on the topic, but that should not preclude you from an objective evaluation of arguments on both sides of the topic.   See also: http://www.pitt.edu/~gordonm/JPubs/EnglishDAWG.pdf

    Fourth, another problem with the topic is how quickly it was recycled.  I don’t see why the NFL felt the need to put a topic that was around 5 years ago on the ballot again when I don’t think that the debate has substantially evolved since then.

  • Alex Cordover

    I’m not going to get in to this as an active participant. To preface the
    following, I will say that I hate this as a topic. Yes, I attended VBI,
    yes I lost summer prep – I’ll suck it up if I must. However, going back
    to what Moses said, I think this aspect of the topic deserves much more
    thought than “there is bad ground,” “there is a reasonable expectancy
    to debate the topic,” etc. Debaters trivialize things – this has been
    empirically proven in the debate community. Things like “the Holocaust,”
    “genocide,” “rape,” etc. are thrown around with little to no thought
    about the actual event. For example, on last year’s Jan/Feb topic, the
    Juvenile Rape disad was a pretty stock neg. That’s the kind of
    trivialization I’m talking about.

    Now apply that trivialization to this topic. We are talking about events
    that literally tear families apart, cause psychological issues, degrade
    the quality of life for many people. This cannot be something that we
    allow to be trivialized in a debate round. Just look at this whole
    discussion as an example – only a handful of posts of about 60 are
    focused on the idea of “domestic abuse.” The rest are focused on ground,
    the national circuit vs. local debaters, etc.

    I believe that this is a horrible trend in the debate community that we
    actively foster with these kinds of social issues. People may say “oh,
    well you trivialize nuclear war/economic collapse/oil wars/insert big
    impact here” on foreign policy topics. However, there is a very large
    difference between theoretical impact scenarios (how many nuclear wars
    have happened since policy debate started or LD turned into one man
    policy? Zilch) and extremely personal issues that happen in the real
    world to our friends, neighbors, and (possibly) fellow debaters.
    Domestic abuse is an extremely worthy cause to discuss – it is not one
    that is meant to be debated, analyzed, and trivialized by every debater
    in the community. That is my problem with this topic.

    Now, unrelated to the above, I wish to address the issue of “ground” and
    both topics’ potential staying power. I did a cursory search of Google
    Scholar to see what kind of ground both topics had. Here are the
    results:

    For the search term “‘repeated domestic abuse’ + ‘deadly force'” (in quotes), 2 results were returned.

    For the search term “repeated domestic abuse + deadly force” (not in quotes), 45,100 results were returned.

    For the search term “ongoing domestic abuse + deadly force” (not in quotes, 28,100 results were returned.

    There would obviously be some overlap between the above search terms. I
    felt it necessary to include deadly force in the searches because the
    resolution establishes some pretty clear parameters, whereas those
    parameters are not present in Targeted Killing.

    For the search term “‘targeted killing'” (in quotes), 3030 results were
    returned. Keep in mind, however, that targeted killing is heavily rooted
    in medical diction (as in “targeted killing of cancer cells”). Thus,
    take that number with a huge grain of salt.

    For the search term “targeted killing” (without quotes), 226,000 results
    were returned. Keep the same grain of salt for this number as the one
    before it.

    For the search term “assassination” (without quotes), 149,000 results
    were returned. I know assassination is not targeted killing, but I
    thought to include as many relevant search terms as I knew.

    Finally, I did a Google News search as well, since targeted killing is
    obviously an ongoing issue of huge importance, especially with the Arab
    Spring etc.

    For the search term “‘targeted killing'” (in quotes), 110 results from
    the past month were returned. Keep in mind that this number is not
    static – new evidence will be written every day that is applicable to
    the here and now (uniqueness scenarios, etc.) up until ToC.

    For the search term “‘repeated domestic abuse'” (in quotes), no results were returned.

    We can thus assume that the body of literature of domestic abuse will
    stay fairly static. Thus, targeted killing, as a topic, will not be the
    same debate over and over again until ToC. It is a constantly shifting
    body of literature, while domestic abuse has a fairly static body of
    literature, considering the amount of time it takes for an article in a
    peer-reviewed journal to be written and published.

    Criticize my methodology all you want – it was done late at night with a
    few cursory Google Scholar and News searches. I just wanted to provide
    an idea of the general amount of literature available on this topic. I
    believe that targeted killing has the staying power to keep interesting
    making debates interesting, rather than the absolutely inevitable
    Permissibility, Kant, Korsgaard, Vellerman, skepticism debates that
    happen every single topic.

    Just my two cents.

  • Alex Cordover

    I’m not going to get in to this as an active participant. To preface the following, I will say that I hate this as a topic. Yes, I attended VBI, yes I lost summer prep – I’ll suck it up if I must. However, going back to what Moses said, I think this aspect of the topic deserves much more thought than “there is bad ground,” “there is a reasonable expectancy to debate the topic,” etc. Debaters trivialize things – this has been empirically proven in the debate community. Things like “the Holocaust,” “genocide,” “rape,” etc. are thrown around with little to no thought about the actual event. For example, on last year’s Jan/Feb topic, the Juvenile Rape disad was a pretty stock neg. That’s the kind of trivialization I’m talking about.

    Now apply that trivialization to this topic. We are talking about events that literally tear families apart, cause psychological issues, degrade the quality of life for many people. This cannot be something that we allow to be trivialized in a debate round. Just look at this whole discussion as an example – only a handful of posts of about 60 are focused on the idea of “domestic abuse.” The rest are focused on ground, the national circuit vs. local debaters, etc.

    I believe that this is a horrible trend in the debate community that we actively foster with these kinds of social issues. People may say “oh, well you trivialize nuclear war/economic collapse/oil wars/insert big impact here” on foreign policy topics. However, there is a very large difference between theoretical impact scenarios (how many nuclear wars have happened since policy debate started or LD turned into one man policy? Zilch) and extremely personal issues that happen in the real world to our friends, neighbors, and (possibly) fellow debaters. Domestic abuse is an extremely worthy cause to discuss – it is not one that is meant to be debated, analyzed, and trivialized by every debater in the community. That is my problem with this topic.

    Now, unrelated to the above, I wish to address the issue of “ground” and both topics’ potential staying power. I did a cursory search of Google Scholar to see what kind of ground both topics had. Here are the results:

    For the search term “‘repeated domestic abuse’ + ‘deadly force'” (in quotes), 2 results were returned.

    For the search term “repeated domestic abuse + deadly force” (not in quotes), 45,100 results were returned.

    For the search term “ongoing domestic abuse + deadly force” (not in quotes, 28,100 results were returned.

    There would obviously be some overlap between the above search terms. I felt it necessary to include deadly force in the searches because the resolution establishes some pretty clear parameters, whereas those parameters are not present in Targeted Killing.

    For the search term “‘targeted killing'” (in quotes), 3030 results were returned. Keep in mind, however, that targeted killing is heavily rooted in medical diction (as in “targeted killing of cancer cells”). Thus, take that number with a huge grain of salt.

    For the search term “targeted killing” (without quotes), 226,000 results were returned. Keep the same grain of salt for this number as the one before it.

    For the search term “assassination” (without quotes), 149,000 results were returned. I know assassination is not targeted killing, but I thought to include as many relevant search terms as I knew.

    Finally, I did a Google News search as well, since targeted killing is obviously an ongoing issue of huge importance, especially with the Arab Spring etc.

    For the search term “‘targeted killing'” (in quotes), 110 results from the past month were returned. Keep in mind that this number is not static – new evidence will be written every day that is applicable to the here and now (uniqueness scenarios, etc.) up until ToC.

    For the search term “‘repeated domestic abuse'” (in quotes), no results were returned.

    We can thus assume that the body of literature of domestic abuse will stay fairly static. Thus, targeted killing, as a topic, will not be the same debate over and over again until ToC. It is a constantly shifting body of literature, while domestic abuse has a fairly static body of literature, considering the amount of time it takes for an article in a peer-reviewed journal to be written and published.

    Criticize my methodology all you want – it was done late at night with a few cursory Google Scholar and News searches. I just wanted to provide an idea of the general amount of literature available on this topic. I believe that targeted killing has the staying power to keep interesting making debates interesting, rather than the absolutely inevitable Permissibility, Kant, Korsgaard, Vellerman, skepticism debates that happen every single topic.

    Just my two cents.

    Alex Cordover, Mountain Brook High School ’12 (Mountain Brook AC), alexcordover [at] gmail [dot] com

  • I am not going to sort through every argument that has been made for and against nullifying the topic, but I am going to offer this:

    I found out what the topic was around 6 am this morning when I checked my phone while standing in line at a McDonalds at the airport. By the time I sat down and finished my McMuffin, I thought of 4 solid aff cases ideas. I think people should calm down.

  • There have been a lot of arguments on this thread. I don’t have an argument, just an opinion.
    Suck it up and debate!!!!

    • Anonymous

      Words of wisdom from the Coach.

  • I dont have much of an opinion right now one way or the other. But one additional thing that struck me is I can see this making teaching really difficult. When I was captain my senior year I would often run practice and we were not always able to split up the team based on different things. We would have some people going to local tournaments and some people going to national tournaments and so sometimes we would split up but we did not always have enough rooms/instructors/time and other such restraints prevented that. At those time we would often do stuff that everyone could find useful, argument generation on the topic for instance and other drills that could transcend these divides. Making the circuit and local debaters debaters use two different topics would have strained possibly to a breaking point our team dynamic. Sometimes debaters who did not want to spend the money to travel (but still put in lots of work) would already feel excluded and secondary in status. If there was a separate topic that would only further entrench the separation between the solely local debaters and those who are not.

    this becomes even more problematic when trying to work with novices. Often we would send  a few freshman to a circuit tournament for them to try it out. We sometimes brougth novices to VBT, or other such situations. It was a great opportunity for them to experience and get a taste of circuit debate. But all previous practice that they had had was on the local circuit. acquainting them with circuit stuff enough to compete like, what is theory? what to do when they go fast? already was very difficult. The idea that they would have to learn a whole new topic I think would make teaching them even more difficult. To have them work on two topics at once while learning a bunch of new concepts sounds really difficult. I feel like this would have disincentivesed our freshman and novices from gaining the benefit of traveling to circuit tournaments eary on. 

    all in all trying ot deal with two topic on a team that was very involved both nationally and locally would have been really difficult. Especially because we wanted to be one team, not two teams a local and national one. I think that is a valuable vision, I would hate to think someone could not be part of the same team because they could not afford to costs of circuit debate or there parents did not want to spend the money. Its probably possible there are ways to work through these difficulties but they seem to me substantial. Planning practice with drills and lessons that everyone would find useful was difficult enough when there was only one topic. When we got to the end of the year and had to juggle both TOC, and NCFL it got really tough, to extend that time to the normal season when its the whole team and not just the top local and circuit debaters seems like it would be really tough. 

  • I’ve found that I and many other debaters have a unique objection to the topic that many people aren’t engaging in.  

    1. Traditionally, most positions that debaters run will require an objective, detached third person perspective. The problem with this resolution this sensitive is the idea of analyzing, bastardizing, and distorting it just so you can get wins. Looking at cost/benefit analysis/deon/contracts/weighing debates is valuable on foreign policy topics or topics that deal with more objective decisions but in some ways that waters down the issues and desensitizes people. Yes, topics can raise your awareness of issues but the end goal is to win debates, but there’s another problem with that.

    2. Many debaters have been talking about running a narrative or talking about their own sensitive experiences which also makes me somewhat uncomfortable because the type of discourse/education that should be happening shouldn’t take place in a round where the objective is the ballot. To me and many others, it’s problematic spending 45 minutes discussing issues that are SO real and have affected people I know personally, get the win and then go back to real life without giving full weight to what’s going on here. Even if you don’t
    think this is particularly warranted or justified, I just personally feel (along with others) that I’m just uncomfortable debating these issues especially when I could potentially debate someone I know that’s faced these problems.

    Most of the objection to this is something along the lines of:

    a. Does this really affect that many people, or debaters?
    b. There are objective, sensitive arguments to be made.

    However, most people making these claims admittedly don’t know someone that’s personally affected by these issues. Many people are uncomfortable discussing their experiences with abuse and keep it to themselves. Everyone has invisible baggage. Insofar as we don’t know who did and did not face these problems, we can’t make claim to know who it affects. But even then, it’s ridiculous because this isn’t a numbers game. If there are people who feel uncomfortable, even if they are in the extreme minority, they should be considered. Something a lot of people have said to this is “well I know X debater who felt an objection to Y res, so she sat out two months”. It doesn’t work that way though. I think everyone pretty much universally agrees that we shouldn’t exclude debaters.

    Even if there are objective, reasonable arguments that can be made, there will be plenty of arguments made by novices and younger debaters that have the potential to turn malicious. Besides, this still bites into the fact that all this just creates a generally uncomfortable atmosphere for many debaters (even those who were not abused).

    In addition to this, I posted a facebook poll posing this question and there were debaters who added options that said “Screw this, let’s just debate the topic” and “idgaf” but the problem is that shouldn’t be okay. People should be able to express their opinion and the fact that they’re
    generally uncomfortable with this sort of thing. Neither of us are advocating a “nullification” or anything, we’re just want people to be more sensitive of people’s experiences and not tell them to sit down or whatever. Thanks.

    This expresses the opinion of Arjun Balaji and Meagan Trayers, and neither of our schools or coaches.

    • meagan trayers

      This was mentioned on facebook, but we also want to make it clear that part of being tactful and respectful is being aware of jokes being made and rhetoric used. I think we can all agree that “jokes” about battery or abuse are offensive and have no place in debate. Some people do have strong personal attachments and opinions, and no one has the right to invalidate those opinions by making inappropriate jokes or saying “i don’t care lets just debate.”

      MT

      • I don’t see the problem with having the opinion that we should just debate the topic absent glaring issues. Does this mean that I want people to run offensive arguments or be insensitive to victims of domestic violence? No.

        Sure it is possible that debates on this resolution take a turn for the worse with debaters deriding people with personal experiences with domestic violence. But really, who is going to do that. I think it’s far more likely that debates will be rewarding/productive in the sense of increasing awareness about an issue that actually does impact a lot of people in a serious way.

  • Anonymous

    Why not sanctions?

    Why not nullify every topic and just debate economic sanctions forever.

  • Daniel Moerner

    I absolutely oppose changing topics. The topic has been out for a day and all of you clearly ignored it, so of course it looks bad. Have you done any research? There is plenty of ground on both sides. Do you recognize how this sort of arrogant behavior would reflect on the circuit community as a whole? Do you recognize how many local schools would refrain from going to local bid tournaments precisely because of this? Circuit debate, despite its many flaws, is enjoying a renaissance in popularity, particularly with those on the local circuit. To decide to engage in “topic nullification” would be to take a decisive step backwards.

  • John Scoggin

    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 what 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.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think i’ve ever posted on these things but i feel compelled given the conversation about the first issue you mention: “hurts the little guy argument.” I’m from a small school with only one coach who had very little to no national circuit experience so i feel this issue is relatively personal. I think you’re misunderstanding the argument that i find very persuasive. It’s not that one topic favors big schools more than another. With either topic big schools will have more resources. I’ve accepted this and have tried to run unique arguments because of it. What does worry me however is the notion that i will have to split my prep time between two different topics. I really like the debating on the national circuit but my coach/school forces me to compete on the local TFA circuit frequently and so if i were put in this situation i would be prevented from debating on the circuit or if i did i would be splitting my time between topics. This is especially problematic for small schools and is a significant comparative disadvantage to “nullification” for two reasons: 1) I only have 2 other teammates and thus we only have so much man power we can use in researching. One topic is enough to keep us constantly busy. 2) Large/traditionally dominant circuit schools don’t have to necessarily compete locally because their coaches support the TOC circuit debate. This allows them to disregard one topic as if it didn’t exist. So the argument isn’t one topic over the other and which one is worse but the question is whether having 2 topics is better than only having one. 

      I really enjoyed the TK topic at camp but fear the exclusion it could create because i know at least for me it would sever just about any opportunity or chances i have left to get to circuit tournaments and best case the tournament i could get to i would be disadvantaged. 

  • Quinn Olivarez

    u mad?

  • http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XQLFGDT Please take 3 seconds to fill this out.

    • 29 debaters have responded to the poll thus far. Here are the current results:
      I strongly agree 31.0%
      I agree20.7%
      I feel neutral10.3%
      I disagree6.9%
      I strongly disagree31.0%

  • anon ymous

    I agree with a lot of what Moses said. I was going over some case ideas with my team today, and a lot of what we came up with we were forced to reject because it would quite possibly be offensive. Going along with what “random debater” said, there are a lot of people who have been affected by domestic violence. I did some preliminary searches too, and statistically there should be a ton of people in our community (national and regional) who have been victims, or know victims. 

    I feel that a lot of the “successful” LD strategies cannot be run. If I am good at, say, skep, I probably cannot run it on this topic. All it would take is a few cross ex questions, if that, to show that I am saying its fine for someone to commit domestic abuse. Yeah, that’s probably not true in real life, but in LD, that’s a highly successful strat on the national circuit, or could be anyway. For nearly every case idea my team came up with, someone mentioned “Yeah, we should definitely have discourse frontlines for this.” What that means is that most of the nuanced / non-traditional LD style cases would offend a large portion of our community, and shouldn’t be run just for emotional / empathetic reasons. 

    While it probably is not a good idea to change the topic now, I agree with a lot of the sentiments expressed about TOC bid tournaments and topic choice. It seems very illogical for us to follow NFL topics, but not rules. I did attend NSD this past summer, so I do have that “aw shucks, that work on TK was wasted” feeling, but I think there are very substantial reasons to frown upon the DV topic. In my opinion, there needs to be a re-evaluation of how the national circuit chooses its topics possibly sometime this spring, but definitely before next season.

    • Why does that objection not apply in any debate where you run skepticism?

      • Anonymous

        Because skeptical arguments don’t say bad actions are justified, rather that nothing is objectively good or bad (or so the normal strain of moral skepticism goes), instead they force us to make moral decisions off supplementary calculi such as permissibility, presumption, or even relative morality.

      • anon ymous

        The reason I think any sort of skep or everything is permissible, or lots of common circuit arguments are uniquely objectionable on this topic is because of the huge amount of interaction this topic has on the judges and debaters.

        The difference, in my mind, between running skep on this or running skep on TK would be that it is extremely unlikely for someone in a round to have been personally effected by TK, or really many other resolutions, while it is highly possible for one to be effected by DV, and it seems offensive to run these sorts of arguments. Yes, those objections could be made to skep on any res, but the offensive part is the personal experience involved with this res.

  • Interesting.

  • I would just like to preface this by saying that I usually try to stay uninvolved in these sorts of issues, if for no other reason than I sometimes say stupid things, and would prefer to not make a fool of myself by inadvertently offending someone.That being said, here we go:

    I think that there are legitimate reasons for changing the topic. This topic is personal, and domestic violence is a big enough issue that, based on statistics, there would likely be multiple people in the debate community who’s lives have been affected in a very negative way, whether it be directly or indirectly. That considered, taking such a personal issue and having debaters analyze the topic in the way they do, in my opinion, trivializes/bastardizes what people (maybe even your friends) have been through. Even though debaters don’t intend to do that, its something that happens inherently. With topic analysis, rather than actually considering the issue from this sort of real-world perspective, we instead view something as merely a sick or stupid arg. I think that this sort of analysis that we do on every topic is uniquely harmful to this topic because of those earlier stated reasons. 

    That being said, it kind of vexes me that people’s arguments for changing the topic boil down to “I went to camp on a dif topic and have prep on it :(,” “This topic has no depth and will get boring!,” “I wanna debate a real topic,” and “This topic sucks!” We have all debated topics we don’t like, didn’t have prep on, or that we thought lacked depth. These aren’t reasons to change a topic, but rather to read the lit and find things about the topic, or specific interpretations, that interest you. Whats even more annoying is people turning this into “national circuit” vs “everyone else.” All of these points just supercharge (quasi-debate lingo out of round, I’m way cool, amiright) my above argument that we bastardize and trivialize the real issues. For every person that lets it be known that they want this topic or targeted killing because they think there choice is more interesting, or better for debate, or they will do better on, there are people who aren’t speaking out that think these real issues themselves merit discussion.

    While what I’m saying may be a reason for the topic change, that is not my intent with this post. I think there are structural problems with changing a topic after it has been announced, and honestly haven’t figured out my opinion on the issue as a whole. Just thought I’d enlighten all of you with a rant of my own. 

    Any hate, comments, questions or whatevah else can be sent to Mosessloven [AT] Gmail [DOT] com.

    Moses Sloven, Valley 2012

  • Would be hella nice.

  • Alex Kramer

    I’m curious as to what specific structural problems individuals have with the domestic violence topic that are solved by debating targeted killing, and more specifically, why those problems are sufficient to reject this topic in favor of the targeted killing topic. While it may certainly be the case that the targeted killing topic is in some sense “better” than the chosen topic (including what initially seems to be a broader scope of topic-specific arguments and a potentially broader literature base), that does not justify rejecting the current topic at major tournaments. There is no “perfect” topic – there always exist “better” topics for debate, but unless the chosen topic is so egregious such that debates on that topic structurally have very little value or are counterproductive, debating that topic still is valuable. For instance, if the topic was “Resolved: It is more fun to frolic with flying unicorns than grounded unicorns,” that could only reasonably lead to pointless debates. Questions associated with domestic violence are not at all that way.

    Honestly, I’m excited for this topic, although I hope it stays interesting through TOC (which may not be the case). It’s a much more “personal” (for lack of a better word) topic than many previous topics, which has the potential to lead to fairly interesting debates. It seems reasonable that even if one is not all that thrilled about the topic, he or she should at least give it a shot. It is unfortunate that many of the debaters and coaches commenting on this thread are concluding that the topic is intrinsically flawed on the day it was released, prior to any tournaments on the topic. It may well be the case that debates on this topic will be turn out to be boring or otherwise problematic, but that determination can only be made after the topic has been debated.

    Additionally, the vast majority of bid-level tournaments on this topic have already issued their invitations (and opened their registration process). Those invitations explicitely that the NFL’s chosen Jan.-Feb. topic will be used for LD debate (I’ve only checked Blake, CPS, Stanford, Emory, Harvard, and Berkeley). It would be extremely problematic for those tournaments to change their invitation after publishing it and / or accepting registration fees to reflect a new topic (unless the NFL themselves changed the topic) because that invitation (and even moreso, acceptance of money stemming from the terms of the invitation) is an explicit promise by the tournament, so changing the topic ad-hoc would break that promise.

    Finally, I’m concerned with the precedent that ad-hoc changing of topics would set. Part of what prevents a total disjoint between local and national circuit debate in certain regions is unified topic selection, which is what allows more local debaters to attend some national tournaments, and vice versa. If major tournaments were to accept the possibility of changing topics based upon national circuit community preference, that would create a substantial exclusionary rift between local and national circuits, which I find very problematic and depressing. LD debate does not only revolve around the TOC, unlike what many individuals seem to think or want. While it is reasonable for one to choose to only participate in national circuit debate, one must also realize that not all other debaters adopt the same mentality. It would be illegitimate to make decisions that assume they do.

    Alex Kramer, Assistant coach at West Des Moines Valley – kramer.alex.kramer [at] gmail.com

  • Anonymous

    This movement seems loose an unorganized. How would notification be given? How far in advance? Who happens to renegade debaters at tournaments who run the other topic? What about judges who disagree and drops debaters for indiscriminately? 

    I agree with the sentiments of the majority on here, however, discussion is only valuable if we have a plan of action.

    On a side note, how do things like this exacerbate prep disparity? Can we expect people without coaching staffs to prep multiple topics? And if so how much of that prep would be quality, or just recycled arguments from camp this summer and the last time the Domestic Violence topic was run.

  • Anonymous

    I feel like this is just circuit elitism at its worst. 

    Unless it’s just two consenting debaters choosing a different topic in a round, you’re just exacerbating the gap between the national circuit and everybody else who does debate. You don’t know that “everybody” wants targeting killing. You only know that you, as a member of the national circuit, want to debate targeting killing. You know that you have tons of prep from camp that you could totally use on that topic. You are not taking into account every voice that is silent in this community, namely those who don’t visit the Update.

    The only legitimate way to debate targeted killing is if there is a gentleman’s agreement before each individual round for the two debaters in that round to debate targeted killing. It’s just unfair to every school and individual not rich enough and not elite enough to have gone to camp, to have hired additional coaches, and to have the resources to simultaneously research two topics.

    • Given that the tournaments in question are national circuit tournaments, I don’t see why it is unreasonable to cater to that demographic. If your concern is with non-consenting debaters and silent voices, I don’t see why you’re so against the proposal. The national circuit debaters are the ones who devote the most time to the activity (and thus have the largest vested interest in it, especially on jan/feb) and yet are least represented in the topic selection process. Given that a large majority of debaters at national circuit tournaments would likely favor targeted killing, respecting the consent of the debaters would definitely suggest using the preferred topic.

      • Anonymous

        1. Numbers are important when you say that the majority of debaters at national circuit tournaments prefer targeted killing. Come back with a survey or even just the numbers of non-“national circuit” debaters at bid tournaments.

        2. I think it’s bullshit to say that national circuit debaters are the ones who devote the most time to the activity. You don’t know that. What I believe can be inferred is that national circuit debaters are those with the most resources to utilize and the most money to spend. 

        3. There is a problem when the large majority of top performing debaters at the TOC all come from either elite private schools (Greenhill, Harvard-Westlake, Indian Springs, etc.) or elite public schools with significantly wealthy populations (Scarsdale, Walt Whitman, Glenbrook, etc.) You’re just entrenching what the privileged debaters want and not necessarily what the truly disenfranchised debaters want. You are imposing this from the idea that only those who have gone to camp, only those who have resources like JSTOR and Lexis, only those who can hire their coaches for hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars a year, only these types of people “care” about debate and do debate “well”.

        You try to say that national circuit debaters are the least represented in the topic selection process. I don’t think that matters. People need to give up this elitism surrounding the national circuit. The underprivileged are the least represented in debate, period.

        • The large majority of your post discussing elitism seems to miss the point, seeing as I don’t fit any of the categories you’ve described. I’m not from a large school, don’t have an LD coach, and didn’t go to camp. I’ve spent most of my debate career debating on the local circuit, so I think I’m qualified to speak on my experiences with local debaters without the elitist bias with which you write off everyone else. Most of the “truly disenfranchised” debaters that you’re speaking about don’t attend national circuit tournaments or do any more than writing one (mostly analytic) case per side. Speaking as one of the only “least represented” debaters that would actually be affected, when I’m paying out of my pocket to attend a tournament where I can actually practice the style of debate I enjoy, I don’t want my experience ruined by a topic which is not at all conducive to that sort of debate.

          • Anonymous

            Nope, I believe that you’re perpetuating this culture of the national circuit that entrenches the wishes of the privileged elite. While technical debate also appeals to me, I think that this call for “topic nullification” constitutes a violent act imposed upon anybody who isn’t a part of the “circuit”.

            There is no legitimate reason why the domestic violence topic should be “nullified” in its whole. Kramer’s post warrants this in a more eloquent manner.

          • That first sentence sounds really cool and all, but it doesn’t seem to get to the point I was making. I’m not part of the privileged elite that you’re talking about. I’m one of the less privileged local debaters whose voice you say needs to be considered I don’t know what underrepresented minority you claim to be speaking for. The reason I show up to national tournaments is because I enjoy that style of debate. The local debaters that don’t enjoy it and aren’t willing to do more intensive prep don’t participate in the bid tournaments being discussed here.

          • Anonymous

            I realize you’re trying to say you’re not a part of the privileged elite. That does not exclude you from supporting them. You are saying that “local” debaters don’t do bid tournaments because they don’t enjoy that style of debate. This is an issue of agency that may be true in many cases. But what I am saying that the larger stratification (and elite school domination) is a structural issue stemming from economic inequalities.

          • Georgia local debate is distinct from other local debate. Believe it or not it is the case that in other states the people who schools consider smart/potentially successful are not immediately grabbed and put into policy. In other states there are a majority of people doing LD who are very intelligent and not just outliers (e.g. you). Your experience with local debate I dont think is generalizable. Local debate in the state I was debating in contained circuit and noncircuit programs where people had evidence, were intelligent, and on the whole tough to beat were we to not read 8 counterplans at 375 WPM.

            Jacob stop this “I’m a local debater” garbage. You are heavily a circuit debater now, and you definitely think like one. You claim to have seen the nature of the beast, but many here have as well and Georgia LD is in a unique place because Georgia destroys everyone in policy every year, whereas other states generally don’t have this privilege and have to stick to making relevant arguments where the ground isn’t from here to the stars. 

            Also WTF this topic definitely has a lit base, just read more philosophy.

            I like you Jacob, but you posting all over this thread has ticked me off.

          • Anonymous

            I know the local debaters you’re talking about. There are plenty of smart, persuasive local debaters in GA, but they don’t compete nationally.  The few that do are the ones that already do the extra research it takes to be competitive at nat circuit tournaments. Ensuring small school participation is important, but the ones that aren’t willing to write more than one case for each side won’t be competing either way, and on the whole the small school debaters that do compete nationally prefer the TK topic (at least, that’s what I’ve gathered so far from discussing it). I abhor the thought that this resolution will be the one I finish my debate career on, and a majority of the seniors I’ve talked to feel the same. It bothers me that the justification for the topic given here is that it will supposedly help the economically disadvantaged compete nationally because right now this topic, far more than any resource disparity, is my largest disincentive to spending my limited resources to make an attempt at competing at a national level.

          • I agree with everything before ” I abhor the” that you said: fair enough. I doubt the other small school debaters think the same way about IR topics as you do. I found out that the Jan Feb topic last year was Juveniles and I was initially disappointed that it wasn’t an IR topic, but I gradually warmed to it and ended up preferring it to any other potential topic because there was soooooooo many interesting philosophical positions to be run. I also think that this topic has the potential to have awesome ground/philosophy to be applicable to this topic. I think you may grow to love it. It is a separate issue i can discuss  with you later, or now if you want to have this discussion, but I think IR topics are categorically worse for smaller schools.

            In terms of whether the topic is good or not, I agree with Chris Palmer’s post above. This topic has the potential to do awful things. However, the justification should be the ones he used, but someone whining about not being able to talk about missiles rather than philosophy.

  • Kevin Yanofsky

    From what I’ve heard so far, it seems the arguments against this movement are:
    1. The practice of the NFL picking the topic and all tournaments going along with it has been what the practice always is.
    2. Domestic violence is a more relevant / better topic.
    3. Having two concurrent topics with different tournaments alternating between to two would necessitate twice as much prep, something debaters (often argued in the first person) don’t have time for.

    My thoughts on each:
    1. I personally find this to be the least compelling reason from a logical standpoint, however I feel that for the majority of tournaments that continue to use the NFL declared Jan/Feb topic, this will be their primary reason.  It’s very easy to just fall back into complacency and this is the easiest path to take for a tournament director.  While I understand the difficulty and immense amount of work required to run a tournament, I still believe that the primary goal should be to provide the best competitive experience for participating debaters.  Further, the circuit debate community has most certainly been a very fluid entity with respect to practices and norms.  The growing trend of policy style arguments in LD when there are still some that argue that they do nothing to affirm or negate the resolution is just one example of this.  I personally do not see any reason why this current movement cannot be a simple extension of this philosophy of change already ingrained in the debate community.  Debaters need to have a place for their voices to be heard, and in this instance that place is not in-round, as has often been in the past, but the heads of large tournaments that set the precedent for the national circuit.

    2. I already wrote up an answer to this question in a previous post, I will paste it here for the sake of organization:
    “While this may be true for generic domestic violence, I don’t think the option of using deadly force as a weapon against it has nearly as much relevance.  But even if we are talking about domestic violence in general, I think targeted killings are still far more relevant in terms of current political debate.  This year has already had its share of “family values” topics, and to really broaden the scope of the materials that debaters can engage, a solidly grounded topic in the global political sphere seems very useful to that end.Further, since when has a topic’s relevance to our own lives mattered in the first place?  In terms of educational value, the real strong point for debate in the past has been its firm grounding in political questions, so that ex-debaters may be able to graduate into the real world with a deeper understanding of these issues in a practical and philosophical manner.”

    3. In my opinion, this is the most legitimate gripe about tournaments electing to break off from the NFL topic.  I understand this concern, prep definitely requires a lot of time.  In addition, attending multiple tournaments in sequence on the same topic further adds to the quality that a debater can be prepared for each subsequent tournament on the same topic.  However, I think this needs to be compared against the arguments for tournaments electing to switch to targeted killings.  Further, if a reasonable number of tournaments do decide to make the swap, this concern would be severely mitigated, because there would be enough tournaments on each topic that debaters could chose which they wished to focus on, and have enough tournaments to attend.  Since it seems the majority of the uproar is coming from circuit debaters, if the tournaments that made the switch were primarily bid tournaments then both sides of the community would be satisfied.

    I think the only way for a movement like this to gain enough support to cross this threshold and be heard is if it draws both a large volume and near unanimous support from the circuit community.  Additionally, the sooner the large circuit tournaments feel the pressure of the community, the more likely they are to act before it is considered “too late”.  So I ask that for all of you that have an opinion on this issue to please make your voices heard and spread this discussion so that this issue can reach the ears of those who have the power to make a difference and resolve this question.

  • Stuyvesant is on board.

  • These are just some thoughts I quickly typed up; excuse any errors. This is just food for thought and I don’t claim to be particularly knowledgeable about the selection process. But as far as I can tell, voting for topics is a democratic process that coaches of NFL schools participate in. That includes pretty much every school represented here, I’m pretty sure. I’d personally like to know if any of the people who have posted about wanting to nullify this topic actually asked their coach to vote for a topic or even know anything about the voting process at all. If you submit to a system that seems like it gives a pretty fair way to express your opinion on what topic should be chosen, you should probably learn to deal with the results… The only circumstance in which I feel like people have a legitimate claim to whine and bitch is if there is something procedurally wrong with the way the topic was selected, which doesn’t seem to be the logic of anyone’s objection so far.
    If you think the NFL process is not accessible, think about how inaccessible this system is. This is essentially just powerful figures in the community trying to advocate for some change… I think it’s pretty clear which one’s more accessible. The NFL isn’t perfect, but it’s probably a better system than the non-existent alternative.Additionally, think about all the students from smaller programs who only get to go to one circuit tournament. If you really go through with this process, let’s be real: it’ll probably end up with the bigger tournaments switching and the more local ones sticking with domestic violence. Talk about exacerbating a prep imbalance and making it even harder to break into circuit debate. If you really want to make it even more impossible for smaller debaters to even hope of being competitive, this is probably a terrible idea. Just getting some tournaments to switch the topic is probably incredibly unfair. This is a HUGE issue that I think no one has discussed at all and might be one of the most important and unfortunately, least-discussed problems with this idea.Also, some arguments proposing the topic change are honestly just pretty awful.1: Why can’t I debate my IR topic?????? Oh no!Last year’s Jan/Feb topic was not an IR topic and I think we all lived. In fact, a lot of people liked it.Also, there’s no rule that the Jan/Feb topic should be an IR topic. True, it might have become the norm over the past few years, but 2011 as well as some other years. 2007? 2006? etc. Life is going to be fine. As interesting as IR is, I think most debaters realize (or should realize) that many, many other topics can be just as good.Lastly, TK could still be, let’s say, the Sept-Oct topic. For all you circuit debaters – Ghill? Bronx? You’re going to be okay.2: Targeted killing is more relevant to our lives than domestic violence…. really? When are you personally going to make the decision about whether we use drones or whether we assassinate a terrorist?The Domestic Violence Resource Center says that 25% of women have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lifetimes. Sure, the number might not be exact; I have no idea (I just did a quick Google search). Still, to say that “domestic violence is not as relevant” is honestly pretty offensive and trivializes a pretty important issue that would probably benefit a lot from discourse.As much as debaters love making huge impact scenarios and talking about policy scenarios, it wouldn’t kill us to discuss other stuff.3: But EVERYBODY wants the targeted killing topic!I honestly doubt anyone has the authority to say that an overwhelming majority of the LD community wants the targeted killing topic. I understand that on the national circuit, the consensus among camps seems to be that TK is a good topic with good ground and interesting lit. I totally agree. I loved the rounds that I watched on TK and I found the lit incredibly interesting. But no one can say that the community “overwhelmingly” feels this way.LD debate is not all about the TOC. About 80 people go to the TOC. As strange as it might seem, there are huge, thriving LD communities that aren’t obsessed with the TOC. Most debaters don’t have the thousands of dollars to shell out to go to elite camps, which many of you are affiliated with. Yes, it sucks for some of you that most camps picked TK and you can’t recycle prep, but such is life, and that’s definitely not a good reason for TK to be the topic. The truth is, the majority of you posting on here probably don’t know regional debate everywhere across the US enough to say that “everyone wants TK.”True, I can’t make these claims either. Yeah, maybe every single person out there, from the TOC debaters to the lay regional debaters, really wants TK. There’s no way we can make these claims. So what’s the solution?Some sort of voting system, probably. Wait. Isn’t that what we have?I get it. I debated. Shitty topics suck, especially given that you have to debate them for two months. I just think thata) no one has shown why this topic isn’t a good one (no, posting a Facebook status like “WTF omg NFL I HATE YOU” and having a ton of people like it does not count as actually explaining why the topic is bad for debate);b) literally no one has tried to justify why TK is uniquely necessary for Jan/Feb debate and why debate will suffer horrendously from this topic;c) no one has given an alternative to the current voting system. Honestly. Go on strike all you want for this topic, but unless you either suck it up and learn to vote and actually use the system or try to change the system, this is pretty pointless.I feel like this happens all the time and people just whine when topics come out. Unless there is something that isn’t debatable or is offensive about the topic, there is no real reason to nullify it. Also, no one seems to recognize that domestic violence is an interesting topic… Get over it. You will debate it, life will move on, and things will be fine. As cool as you might feel for starting some nullification movement, it’s not worth it. If you really want to start some awesome revolutionary movement, fix what you think is wrong with the way the NFL picks topics. With this, all you get is two different topics, a fractured community, and people spreading out their prep.Dylan: You can’t just accept the parts of a system you like and reject the parts you don’t… by participating in a system, you consent to its rules. Of course you can petition to change those rules. But you don’t just randomly decide that you don’t like one outcome, especially if you didn’t participate in the selection process (correct me if I’m wrong) and have no interest in actually improving the system.Adam: If relevance doesn’t matter (which I sort of agree with you on), what does? What’s the external standard that makes domestic violence a bad topic?Tillman: “Anyone who attended a camp” is in NO way a majority at all and that view is incredibly unfair to smaller debate programs. Also, pretty sure you don’t know everyone who attended a camp… but maybe I’m wrong.As long as you try, you can learn a lot from any debate topic. I get that you all probably hate this post because it’s not what the “community” thinks. As someone who did the whole camp and TOC thing, the elitism and stubbornness this community exudes sometimes is a little disheartening and I think more thought needs to be put into objections before they’re made.

    • Anonymous

      You are wrong, and I will correct you. I went over the topics with my coach, who proceeded to vote. And yes, we had targeted killing right there at #1 for jan/feb/

      This isn’t “randomly deciding” that i dont like one outcome. My post was merely showing why national circuit debate practices conflict with the NFL’s view, and I was asking why we even bother to accept the NFLs topic selection, given that the majority of the voters are from local debate circuits. the NFL is not a system one consents to, it is officially an “honor society” for forensics that “created” the activity and runs one tournament a year. I may participate in lincoln-douglas, but that binds me to nothing else. we break nfl guidelines every time we make a presumption argument, run a plan, or spread, if anything, picking and choosing among these things to follow are arbitrary, and i remain perplexed as to why we continue to use the use the voting system that the nfl has, and why we use their topics.

    • 1. The vast majority of my debate career has been on the regional level, so I can say from experience that 95% of regional debaters write one case for each side with mostly analytic, anecdotal, and or unwarranted evidence. The only ones who don’t are willing to do the extra work to compete nationally anyway. I don’t think 2 extra cases is a significant workload.

      2. The current NFL process isn’t perfectly democratic by any stretch of the imagination. The national circuit represents a minority of the voting population but invests far more into the activity and has far more at stake on the jan/feb topic. It seems reasonable to object when the rest of the debate community votes for a topic at odds with national circuit debate. At the very least, seeing as the current topic clearly isn’t representative of national circuit voices, it seems perfectly acceptable for the tournaments that cater to the national circuit crowd to adopt a more acceptable resolution.
      3. I for one am rather annoyed at the complete lack of IR since Sep/Oct of last year (there aren’t any Mar/Apr tournaments around here). I enjoyed both animal rights and assistance, but I’m graduating this year, and it makes me sad that my most competitive two years of debate will have been almost completely devoid of the sort of debate that I (and most of the opinions here, it seems) enjoy most. This is also one more flaw with the voting system. No one voting for it in the summer could predict that it would follow a string of 4 consecutive domestic topics or account for that in their decision.

      4. To answer your question as to why the current topic is undesirable and undebatable, the reason is (in addition to the continuing drought of IR topics) that the literature base is just too shallow. There is not a large diversity of arguments on this topic, nor are there many authors writing specifically about lethal force against domestic violence. There is only one defensible reading of the resolution, so plans or other alternative framings of the topic don’t exist to allow for depth of discussion. Even philosophical debate will be hazy. The resolution is not at all specific as to how severe the domestic abuse must be for deadly force to be permissible, nor is there any specific context, so it’s hard to determine whether the action will be proportional/utility maximizing or which side gets that ground. IR topics like targeted killing actually do have a substantial literature base on this issue which allows for intelligent debate on this issue.

  • I am in favor. I would also like to offer the idea that maybe the toc committee should consider choosing topics and requiring tournaments with toc bids to use that topic. Tournaments with toc bids don’t require debaters to follow nfl rules in round yet the tournaments follow toc rules such as not breaking brackets. I see no reason why  this should not extend to topics as well.

  • Though I would have preferred the Targeted Killing topic, I’m not going to sit around and not do any prep on domestic violence hoping tournaments decide to debate Targeted Killing. So I would be pretty pissed if tournaments decided not to use domestic violence after I have prepped for it. 

    • Now you know how all the kids with targeted killing prep feel. Of course, it’s not like there’s much to prep for on this topic anyway, which is exactly the problem.

      • No, the kids who did targeted killing had absolutely no reason to expect that that topic was significantly more likely than any other. When the NFL picks a topic, it creates a reasonable expectation that it would be used. Kids with TK prep might feel bummed; kids who did DV prep would feel rightfully outraged.

  • John Scoggin

    I would prefer if this discussion stayed away from criticizing the NFL, they really did nothing other than compile what member schools voted for, frankly we have no one to blame but ourselves for failing to persuade other member schools to vote for TK. The question is given the topic chosen, should we do something about it as a community to try to change what topic major invitationals use. If there is sufficient desire among the schools attending big tournaments like Blake/CPS/Stanford/Emory/Harvard/Cal/TOC to change the topic for those tournaments, I think something can be done. My perspective is that there is sufficient momentum behind this topic, especially given its prevalence at camp this summer, and that something can be done, but that is only going to happen if enough people get involved and try to make a difference. If enough people want to debate the domestic violence topic, that is fine, but my sense is that this goes against what the community of people that attend bid tournaments want to debate. Look for a list of action steps in the future as more discussion occurs on the issue.

    Additionally, this should not be seen as forcing anyone to do anything, this is not a call for the NFL to change the Jan/Feb topic. To be extremely clear this would have no effect on local tournaments or state/national qualifiers, they would still debate the domestic violence topic. This is merely an attempt to see if the people attending these major tournaments feel the same as the community at large about the topic. If the sub-community that attends big tournaments want to debate something different, why shouldn’t that be allowed?

    (Note: This also really is not a criticism of the domestic violence topic. I think it is an important issue that is worthy of discussion, however, my preference would be for a topic that has a deeper pool of literature for a Jan/Feb topic. It is my personal belief that the targeted killing topic has a much deeper base of literature and lends itself to a wider variety of ways to affirm and negate.)

  • I am very much in favor of this. I dislike Aff ground completely in the domestic topic
    Also, 100% of those in Monta Vista that i spoke with agree

  • Trinity Prep is in favor, sorry Fred

  • To me at least, it seems like just another example of the national circuit imposing preferences on other tournaments and debaters. True, the topic leaves much to be desired, but I still think this way of going about it is problematic. The NFL selects the resolution to be debated all over the country and that’s the way it’s always been. I’ve gone to tournaments that were early on in a topic (the last weekend of October) that ran Nov/Dec and not Sept/Oct and there were plenty of debaters who weren’t prepped. It’s pretty much guaranteed that the problem will be much worse when tournaments are running a rez that’s not even selected. For what? The idea behind schools voting for resolutions is that everyone gets to vote and it’s representative of what all schools want. It just seems like this sort of “movement” caters to the ~20-30 schools you see all the time at octas bid tournaments vs. the dozens and dozens of others there.I think there’s a distinct difference between lobbying for a resolution change at all bid tournaments on Jan/Feb and just the TOC. I think because of the number of local debaters that attend bid tournaments, I think it would be beneficial as a tournament director to keep the resolution. It makes a lot of sense to have the TOC use TK though, seeing as all the debaters at the TOC would know about it and be prepared appropriately. Then, the only issue you have is having TOC be the first tournament on a resolution.

    • Anonymous

      Using a topic on the TOC that debaters will have never debated before seems sketchy to me. Also, while there may be some bid tournaments (Harvard) that attract tons of local debate, is it that bad to tell a few local debaters that they have to write a new aff and neg? debaters who debate very locally tend not to do much prep on resolutions anyway. It is also undeniable that there are tournaments where there is little to no “local” participation and that have a 90%+ attendance of circuit schools. tournaments like VBT, for example. Also, if a tournament sought to get a bid in the first place, and makes some effort to improve each year, they are probably catering to the circuit crowd in the first place.

    • Just because the NFL picks tournaments and has done for ages… doesn’t seem to mean that this idea shouldn’t be considered. I also have an issue with your assumption that the current system of voting is s00per accessible and stuff… 
      a. there are specific membership fees required before you have access to a vote.. .which always means that groups aren’t going to be included.
      b.The wording committee isn’t transparent at all… we have little to no access to which topics are considered and how they are worded.Also, “non-circuit” debaters have access to this site, too.. and are more than able to check the standards or guidelines of a specific tournament. It would likely be in the tournaments information as well.. so i’m not too sure how they’d fail to gain any access. Additionally, If such an idea were to pass.. i think it would go without saying that there would be an increase in publicity over the topic change (as there was during the whole PUFO debacle last yr) so the impact of kids not knowing what’s going on seems to be a non-existent or at most a small issue. 

  • Woodlands debate is in favor.

  • 110% on board. January and especially February are months with pretty important tournaments.

  • Anonymous

    I like the idea of debaters actually having the ability to decide what they are debating, and not an organization in which some debaters are not even a member of, the disconnect that the NFL has with national circuit debate is a huge one, and it is complexing why we even submit to their judgement in the first place by using their time limits and topics other than as a matter of convenience, but at a certain point the convenience ends and the circuit gets screwed over (e.g now). We all have a choice, either we actually start voting for the topics, or we ignore what the NFL says. We seem to have done so in other areas, just look at the NFL ballot, it lists that speaking should emphasize eloquence, no plans or counterplans can be offered, presumption flows nowhere, ect. To me, I hope that topic selection and time limits are next.

    • The problem is it wouldn’t be debaters collectively causing nullification; it would be the acquiesce of those with the resources to run big tournaments. We use the NFL because it solves a coordination problem; it’s better to have everyone debating the same topic for two months because we can get the best well-researched debate.

  • Please….

  • Yes, just yes.

  • I am in favor of this. There was an overwhelming majority of people who wanted it to be targeted killing (anyone who attended a camp) and now the TOC will be a rehash of debate that has already happened a few years ago. At least, the TOC advisory commitee should change the topic to targeted killing.

  • Even if the domestic violence topic has more “relevance” in our lives, that doesn’t mean it’s a good topic to compete/bid on.

  • http://www.nflonline.org/AboutNFL/Contact

    for people that like to get confrontational

  • The question is how will the NFL react? Let’s hope they don’t try and ban us from competing at Nats/any other tournaments or anything

    • Remember the PF Mosque topic last year? Lets hope that doesn’t happen

    • I don’t think the NFL even has that power, and if they did they sure wouldn’t use it over this.

  • To be honest I think that Domestic Violence has far more relevance in our lives than policies regarding drones not that I don’t like the targeted killing topic

    • Kevin Yanofsky

      While this may be true for generic domestic violence, I don’t think the option of using deadly force as a weapon against it has nearly as much relevance.  But even if we are talking about domestic violence in general, I think targeted killings are still far more relevant in terms of current political debate.  This year has already had its share of “family values” topics, and to really broaden the scope of the materials that debaters can engage, a solidly grounded topic in the global political sphere seems very useful to that end.

      Further, since when has a topic’s relevance to our own lives mattered in the first place?  In terms of educational value, the real strong point for debate in the past has been its firm grounding in political questions, so that ex-debaters may be able to graduate into the real world with a deeper understanding of these issues in a practical and philosophical manner.

      • 1. That assumes that the issues surrounding domestic violence and appropriate responses to it are apolitical I assure you they are not the fact they involve the personal lives of so many clearly makes it both political -being that the personal is political- and deeply philosophical
        2. The topic literature is incredibly relevant because it will concern domestic violence whether it is specific to appropriate responses to it is irrelevant.
        3. Assuming that domestic violence has little relevance in political debate seems to be an absurd conclusion considering that the main complaint has been that it hits “too close to home” -a much more valid consideration- and I assure you -as someone who is fairly politically active- much more political debate revolves around this topic than the use of targeted killing -it is often an administrational matter rather than a political one- 
        4. I have no idea what you mean by a “family values” topic or why that takes away from the topics legitimacy 
        5. Debate’s value is based primarily on its relevance and application to our lives learning about political issues only matter because those political issues effect us otherwise politics would be pointless and be antithetical to democracy

  • In favor. The people who selected the topic represent local districts, not the national circuit, thus I see no reason why the national circuit should debate it.

    I just hope this goes big, so its not just Octos bid tournaments that adopt this.

    • What about local debaters who want to debate at large circuit tournaments near them? What about regional tournaments that don’t fit squarely into the regional/circuit divide? More to the point, what if Californians don’t like the same topic as New Yorkers. Should each state start picking its own topic? What makes the $ircuit so special?

  • Is it possible districts/national qualifiers could adopt this decision?

  • this is a lot better, bump +1

  • Personally, I’d much prefer to debate targeted killing. It’s been a year since a government/IR oriented topic (something coaches couldn’t account for when voting), and I really don’t want this to be the last resolution I debate. My only concern is a doubled research burden, but that’s something I’d be more than willing to suffer through, especially since this topic probably won’t be the most evidence intensive. I think the easiest way would be for the ToC to elect for the TK topic instead of the Jan/Feb one. If ToC is on targeted killing, that would set a precedent which would be easy for tournaments to jump on board with. As bad as LD has it, I think PF still has it worse with the ‘college bad’ topic. If my experience watching/participating in PF rounds is any indicator of general norms, the only argument that seems viable to me (some people are better off in vocational school) will be disregarded as a “counter-plan”, and vocational schools aren’t clearly competitive with the term “college”, anyway. Pretty much every other argument is empirically denied, looking at the long-term success of college grads vs high school grads.

  • Definitely in favor

  • I speak on behalf of myself and my debaters at Cy-Woods — we are 100% in favor of this.