Topic Selection Reform: The Lexington* Solution

Topic Selection Reform: The Lexington* Solution

Article by Steven Adler

Author’s note: We appreciate the large amount of outpour in response to our article. For now, though, we ask that people primarily focus their comments on the substantive reform itself rather than criticisms of our asking for the ballot. We understand that it is an important issue with the case, but we have already spent a lot of time thinking about that decision and are going to stick with our approach. People are still free, of course, to criticize that method if they wish, but we will focus our efforts upon responding to the substantive feedback. This is something we will be pushing for in-round even if select individuals backlash against it. It is in everyone’s interest, however, to have the best topic selection process possible.

I. Introduction
People should not wake up to a newly-announced topic and feel blind-sided or devastated. Facebook should not be flooded within moments by debaters asking, “How did this happen?” or declaring that they are quitting debate. Ideally, debaters should feel reasonably okay with the topic selection: it might not have been their top choice, but it should be something somewhat foreseeable, and more importantly, something with which people can live.

Despite this seemingly-axiomatic fact—that the debate community should select topics with which its members are happy—most recent topic releases have been peppered with varying degrees of confusion and outrage. Uproar about the most recent release was so heated that it spawned a 100-post thread discussing the merits of tournaments throwing out the topic altogether. Shouldn’t there be a productive forum to avoid such controversial or disliked topic releases in the future? Surely some amount of complaining is inevitable, and surely people should try to exercise more maturity—these facts are apparent. But at the same time, why should debaters just repeatedly be told to suck it up? Why shouldn’t debaters instead strive to fix the system so that they can minimize the kinds of unpleasant reactions that everyone dislikes?

To that end, Paul Zhou, Adam Hoffman, and I have co-authored a position that calls for reform of the topic selection process. We wish to outline what we advocate, why we advocate it, and what you can do to help. It is important to note that the rest of our program does not necessarily agree with our movement or with bringing it into debate rounds as a position; this is primarily our cause, and questions or feedback related to it should not be targeted at non-involved parties.

We believe that the current topic selection method is flawed in two main ways. First, we believe that the process leading up to the topic vote itself is neither sufficiently transparent, nor sufficiently fleshed out. Second, we believe that the NFL’s current voting system is not nearly as democratic as is often claimed. To resolve those problems, we advocate a more open, more deeply discussed process of getting topics onto the final ballot. We also propose a more democratic voting system that would make the topic more responsive to the community’s wishes. This does not necessarily mean abandoning the NFL; it would, however, require reforming the NFL’s voting process if it were to remain in charge of the proceedings. To be clear, our argument is not merely about the merits of targeted killing versus domestic violence—it is about improving the selection process moving forward so that everyone is happy with whatever is chosen.

II. Problems with the Lead-Up
The first problem with the lead up to the actual vote itself is its lack of transparency. When we refer to this lead up, we are primarily referring to the behind-the-scenes procedures that dictate the final ten resolutions that will make it onto the actual ballot and be presented to the community for a vote. Even if the final vote itself is wholly democratic—a fact we will dispute in the context of the NFL—a lack of transparency leading up to the vote could compromise much of the democratic value. We do not mean to question the ethics or accountability of any individual responsible for policies during this lead-up; rather, we call for structural reforms that would make the sound ethics and strong dedication of these members more visible to the community at-large.

One proposed reform of ours is increased transparency in terms of what topics have been submitted. Although the NFL does publish its chosen ten resolutions on its ballots, the rest of the proposed submissions are not formally recognized, nor are they acknowledged with an explanation of how the committee whittled down the field. The community is simply handed ten potential resolutions; there is no record of what topics have been consistently skipped over, what determines the rationale for a good topic, what factors went into the topics’ final wordings, or a variety of other valuable pieces of information.

Surely the Topic Selection Committee is composed of extraordinarily busy individuals, and it might not be entirely fair to ask them to commit so much time after the fact to explaining their decisions publically—but therein lies part of the problem. The topic selection process should not be such a rushed event, nor should it be an affair largely for politically-connected community members who can fly to Nationals for the discussion. Meetings themselves might be open, but attending those meetings is not feasible for a large subsection of the community, nor will those unconnected members likely be solicited by the committee for feedback. To fix these problems, the topic selection process should be more democratized and thought out to allow for greater access and depth of decision-making.

We think that one good reform would be to implement a thorough “topic paper” requirement in which proposed resolutions were submitted with essays highlighting the research literature, providing a few examples of potential topic wordings (and their implications), and discussing some of the pros and cons of the topic choice. These papers should be published online, along with the total list of submitted topics, for community discussion and review prior to any vote. Presently, whatever is submitted with the topics is not accessible for the community at-large, so it cannot take the paper into account when voting for its chosen topic. The inability to discuss these topic papers also leaves them more shallow than they otherwise would be; even if an initial paper were brief, community discussion around the paper could expand the scope and make sure to hit upon critical issues.

The concerns of community members about debaters or judges affected by domestic violence should not have come out only after the topic’s selection; regardless of whether one thinks it is good or bad to confront those issues in a round, that discussion should have been made public before the topic was put on a binding ballot for a communal vote. Similarly, if people are concerned about the amount of literature on a topic, that should be an issue brought forward before the topic’s selection so that the community is informed when it goes to make its important decisions. The committee surely tries to make informed decisions in the status quo, but at the end of the day, it’s a limited number of members, from limited subsections of the community, with limited time on its hands. The solution seems to be to expand access and time constraints.

We have also considered a series of other reforms on this front, including a primary to vote for topics to appear on the actual ballot, but we are very much interested in hearing more ideas. We want to make the lead up process as transparent and open as possible, and suggestions for implementation or innovation are greatly encouraged.

III. Problems with the Vote
Beyond the lead up, we feel that the current system is not wholly democratic. The NFL surely provides some good services for the community, but we think that its requirements for voting can be reformed to encourage a more democratic voting process.

Although community members are fond of saying that topics are chosen by a democratic vote, we question if that is wholly the case. To vote for the topic, a school must be a member of the NFL at a charge of $100 annually. Beyond that, schools that then choose to sign up their students pay a $15 fee per debater. While $100 is a pittance for some programs, it is still a significant amount—the registration fee for a handful of debaters at a local tournament. The NFL certainly has a right to charge a fee for some of its services, to pay the salaries of its employees who maintain the organization, but this membership fee should not be a necessary prerequisite to voting. Surely the upkeep of a ballot system is not $100 per school, and if it is not, then why should schools that only wish to vote but not to draw from the NFL’s other services be roped into buying the package in tandem? Joining the NFL for the purpose of voting and being able to send more kids to tournaments should not be a tradeoff, but it is one that some schools surely have to make. As long as one believes that a program’s wealth should not determine whether or not it has a democratic voice, such outlandishly high barriers to voting cannot be justified.

We also think that the democratic value of the current voting system could be improved by implementing some of the transparency measures mentioned above. It is a long-acknowledged fact that relatively few schools in the community actually vote for the topic, and we think part of the problem is the process’s largely mysterious ways. It is disempowering to invest in a system that produces seemingly unexplainable outcomes, especially if it costs your program a substantial amount to vote. It is similarly disempowering to invest in a system in which one can repeatedly submit topics with little explanation as to why they were not chosen and no discussion about the topics’ relative merits. When people feel as if they understand and can affect the topic selection processes, they will participate in greater numbers. The current system might be democratic in the sense that the topic with the most votes wins, but such a reformed system would provide a qualitatively better democracy with higher rates of participation. For chosen topics to really reflect the community, more members need to vote.

IV. How to Get Involved
We will be pursuing a variety of options for topic selection reform in the coming months, many of which are still being thought through. For now, one of the most helpful things to help change the topic selection process is to help us refine our cause. We are eager to discuss our advocacy with the rest of the community and to figure out the best way to change a process that most agree needs reform. The comments section of this article can be used for that end. More private means, such as Facebook and email, are also available. Essentially, we welcome discussion of our ideas and would love support in changing the topic selection process. We really like Ari’s ideas, for example, about avoiding consecutive similar topics by not forcing people to vote for every slot all at once; we would love to hear some more concerns so that we can formulate a proper solution.

A slightly more controversial element of our advocacy is that we will be presenting it in rounds and asking the judge to award their ballot to further our movement. We have considered at length why our advocacy calls for a ballot, and we truly believe that these discussions need to take place in rounds to be effective, and that to try to win offers the best possible discussions.

Every year, there are multiple threads online about topic selection online, but nothing ever changes—people gripe about the process or complain about why certain topics were chosen for the ballot over others (LDDebate had a number of these threads, but we cannot link to it because the threads are closed), but then the community goes unchanged. The Voices Educational Forum has also discussed options for topic selection reform in the past, but even an event solely dedicated to hashing out community issues—and one recorded on film, at that—could not spur change. It is too easy for debaters to tune out the online conversations or to not contribute for fear of looking uncool; bringing the issue into rounds forces discourse around the issue and gains attention from a wider scope of participants.

Similarly, winning rounds helps to gain that attention: not only is there the prospect of reaching elimination rounds with audiences, but the fear of losing also motivates competitors to really think through the issues. They might be thinking through why the arguments flawed, but even that discussion helps to refine the movement and to force engagement on the issues. Once the ballot is no longer at stake, there is far less incentive to join the discussion and to think through the advocacy. Putting the ballot at stake also encourages debaters to join the movement: competitors have to think through what they’ve personally done to help reform the flawed process so that they can claim to have had a good effect on the community. Debaters might email the NFL to reform its practices who otherwise would not get involved, and thus the movement will grow.

We respect that some people will object to our introducing this issue in rounds and that some will feel we should concede the ballot. Please know that we have given a lot of thought to these issues and that we really do want to improve the community. Even if you oppose our introducing the issues the way we do, we would still really appreciate your help in changing the selection process. You do not have to agree with the means of our position to agree that the current model is flawed and drastically need reforms. Please consider joining in and making a positive change regardless of your view on micropolitics.

Together, it is our hope that we can accomplish these reforms as a community.

*—As indicated in the introduction, not all members of Lexington are affiliated with this position. Questions or feedback related to it, therefore, should be directed to one of the principal authors: Paul Zhou; Adam Hoffman; or Steven Adler. We are happy to discuss the position at-length.

  • i don’t think that judges should be voting for someone to produce some good outcome (either in the debate community itself or in a larger social context). as a judge, i don’t consider myself as in the business of endorsing the performance or advocacy of the debaters i am judging. i also think that as a judge, I probably shouldn’t consider how my decision will affect future rounds or the community at large (or TOC at-larges LOL). i’m not denying that voting for someone has causal effects on the community I just don’t usually find those to be relevant concerns. i think with the advent of theory debate (not just traditional theory shell type arguments but debate-about-debate in general including micro politics and discourse arguments) some people have this picture of the activity wherein all rules and norms of the game are up for theoretical discussion. i don’t think of debate that way. basically the only theoretical arguments i think i should be considering are ones that criticize the form of a position for being structurally unfair. and the only fairness voters i find persuasive at all have nothing to do with out of round effects. they are usually something about how unfair arguments make it impossible for me to determine who did a better job. debate is an interesting game because you can argue about what the rules of the game are as part of the game, but basically I think that theory debate as well as the development of circuit-styled community norms regarding how to judge debate (judges should be tabula rasa, dropped arguments are true, etc.) are valuable because debate didn’t already come with some rulebook that gave a sufficiently objective, fair and systematic way of determining the winner of the game. but there are some basic aspect of the game that should be unquestionable. one of those things, for me, is that (excluding fairness theory arguments), i should vote based on who better presents arguments for their side of the resolution. and the only reason i consider theoretical arguments is because certain positions disrupt my ability to do that. 

    I have voted for micro political arguments and education arguments before but I don’t really judge anymore and I think I will probably consider these positions less and less as time goes on. 

    • Rebar Niemi

      matt, i agree that we shouldn’t be considering all sorts of out of round factors like “oh crap this dude is gonna take 1st speaker from my kid if i don’t nuke him” or “well if i vote for the female in this round maybe she’ll be more respected by her peers”

      but you can’t tell me that a position that implicates fairness and education in round, but places the root causes of those impacts out of round, is totally meaningless to you.

      we need a better way to have these debates/not have them, but i think it just seems to be truth that when you vote for someone you are endorsing their performance n whatnot. that’s what “presenting better arguments for their side of the resolution” would lead you to do. yes, that’s one way of explaining the why of voting. but that’s not what voting means. voting for someone means “endorsing the better debater” or “the winner” or “validating their performance as comparatively better” or whatever euphemism you prefer.  

  • Anonymous

    For a group that wants to introduce discourse I have to say that BOAT’s responses to the legitimate, quasi-legitimate, and illegitimate attempts at engagement all seem to mirror a trend that Ross points out, that being that we should agree to disagree. I think attention should be given by not only Mr. Adler but the others running this position to the qualms raised on this post and instead of arguing semantics replies should be given that at least make a stab at discussing the issue.

    But more importantly, I feel this move would be aided by a disclosure of the argument, as this not only would make the position more consistent with what it advocates (Transparency) but as Avi’s disclosure demonstrated, spark genuine discourse.


    • Anonymous

      What have we not properly responded to? The ‘agree to disagree’ stuff you reference is mostly concerning the call for the ballot, which we have indicated we do not want to discuss here (we want to focus attention on the substantive reforms that benefit everyone). I think we’ve been fairly responsive, though, on issues about the actual reforms.

      I’m not sure what you mean about disclosing the argument; we’ve already written an article outlining our position and responded to various comments in the same ways we respond to arguments in rounds. Are you asking for us to post the position online? I don’t think that’s a productive means of generating ‘genuine discourse,’ but I can certainly discuss it with Paul and Adam.

      • Anonymous

        First things first, how is talking about he mechanism by which you bring attention to the position not part of the substantive reform movement? This issue is very cut and dry and it comes down to competing advocacies. Those who oppose the current method and those who wanted the theoretical new system. As such the process by which we spread attention and bring about change becomes much more important in my opinion. I think most people share my sentiments on this issue as well, we would like to discuss your justifications for asking for the ballot.

        On the second point, the lack of substantive development of arguments defending a framework and actual arguments its essentially nonexistent with the  article, not to mention the fact that you could not be more vague on actual alternatives. you say, “We will be pursuing a variety of options for topic selection reform in the coming months, many of which are still being thought through. For now, one of the most helpful things to help change the topic selection process is to help us refine our cause. We are eager to discuss our advocacy with the rest of the community ” but how can there be any expectation to refine an advocacy that is not publicly available. An outline is not the same thing as the advocacy, and those privileged few who went to Blake, and the even fewer who heard the position can’t be expected to recount it for all of us. Your article wants us to participate, but the vague nature of the “advocacy” as presented combined with your calls to adopt “other reforms on this front” and ideas make non-disclosure an almost insurmountable obstacle to effective discussion. Finally, as advocacy, as I understood it, seems to be one that constantly shifts I feel that discussion on the role of the ballot becomes increasingly important both because your intent to utilize it as a means of spreading a message and because it is the one aspect of this “solution” we are certain about.

        • Anonymous

          I’m not sure what you mean in terms of the cut and dry competing advocacies. The reason we would prefer comments be about our suggested reforms here is that we have already decided (or had already decided) that we were calling for the ballot; somebody posting online during the course of the tournament was unlikely to change our mind, because we already spent a lot of time thinking about the issues. We felt time could be spent more productively, therefore, on other areas.

          On the second point, I’d appreciate if you were less flippant in your assertions (‘could not be more vague,’ etc.). I am happy to engage your points, and will try to do so respectfully; I ask that you do the same.

          You are correct that the article is vague–that is my mistake in conflating the conversations I had with different people this weekend/the students I coach, and what is published above. There should be rounds of us running the position posted on the video hub fairly soon, and I would love to link you to them at that time. Essentially though, we advocate a more thorough topic paper requirement, reduced/eliminated fees to vote, increased discussions online (either through the NFL’s forums or on a different site linked to by the NFL) before formal voting, etc.

  • Rebar Niemi

    Steve, thanks for posting on this; always good to have further voices contribute to something like this.

    Here’s what I’ll say after judging and picking up said “Lexington Solution” in round 1 of Blake: In a round, you have to answer arguments. I personally (all y’all can decide for yourself) am not willing to disregard an argument even if I have problems with it (I have LOTS of problems with arguments in general) absent the opposing debater winning the debate on that argument. There are plenty of good reasons this position should lose. There are plenty of reasons that Adam Hoffman reason in their case that it should win. You may disagree with the veracity of these; in that case you should have really good blocks written for all your debaters/you as a debater should have good blocks or be able to easily answer this argument. Everyone who has posted on this thread criticizing this position has debaters (or are debaters) who do things that i think are flawed, incorrect, shouldn’t be done, are theoretically unjustified, etc. those debaters (and their coaches) don’t seem to mind that resistance exists for how they do things. End of the story is this: if you can’t beat it in a round; then your opinion on it as an argument is really ultimately moot, except for what you decide to do personally and what your debaters decide to do. Many of the claims here would be responsive to the version I witnessed; many of them would be potentially damning. To be honest I did not see a round in which it was very excellently answered, and to be honest I think there are a number of theory violations one could run against this position. It seems unlikely any of this will dissuade Lexington from running the position; but hey, keep trying.
    I think its really funny that people make this argument both in round and out of round that “people hate micropol and they won’t want to accept/agree with it; look at jalon and avi”


    • +1

      I generally don’t think micropolitics is a good argument in debate but there are a whole host of arguments that meet that description. If you dislike the fact that they call for the ballot, make the argument, prep a strategy, and beat it in round, don’t just complain online about it.

  • Anonymous

    First, this Lexington Solution document indicates a lack of
    knowledge of the NFL topic selection procedure and recent LD debate history.
    Most of what’s written here is not revolutionary, unique, or new.

    The full list of topics used to be posted online
    by some member of the NFL topic committee, i.e. on the old (the
    one prior to the most recent form)

    The argument about getting an explanation of why
    certain topics was picked = can be solved by 1. A description of the current procedure
    of selection, 2. A brief document about key issues under each resolution—the
    #1 is easy to do, #2 has already been done before.

    Second, the topic paper requirement is nice in concept, but
    not in practice. The NFL begs people who submit topics to write extensive
    explanations, but from what I know from people on the topic committee,
    relatively few people do it. Also, this creates a huge barrier to entry. What happens
    if only 5 people write poor topic papers? Then, you only have 5 choices—and the
    NFL committee cannot ‘create’ topics. There’s already a lack of decent topics
    to choose from, but this proposal triggers a tradeoff between number of topics
    and amount of justification for topic submission. Put bluntly, how would you
    feel if the ‘targeted killing’ topic author was just too busy to write a
    research paper and hence decided not to submit?

    Voting and money

    Members vote on topics, they pay money. The article has not
    explained why a DEMOCRATIC system has to allow non-members a voice over affairs
    in a system they aren’t contributing to, that’s like saying someone who isn’t a
    member of a fraternity, who does not pay dues to the house, should get to
    decide leadership and elections… the issue about economic barriers to
    membership would be a good one as that is a question about the criteria of
    membership and what they should be. But that’s not germane to the question of
    voting, given that the criteria for membership are fixed and we accept that
    financial contribution is a necessary part of the NFL’s functioning, and that
    there should be some tradeoff of benefits, rewards, and costs (including
    financial) for one’s participation in the NFL. If you don’t think this, then
    that’s another debate, and a far tougher argument to prove.

    The Lexington Solution article says:

    “It is disempowering to invest in a system that produces
    seemingly unexplainable outcomes, especially if it costs your program a
    substantial amount to vote. It is similarly disempowering to invest in a system
    in which one can repeatedly submit topics with little explanation as to why
    they were not chosen and no discussion about the topics’ relative merits.”

    –the outcomes are explainable, it’s called math. Folks assign
    preference points for a topic in a particular slot. When large numbers of
    people with preferences aggregate their preferences, crazy stuff can happen. It’s
    called statistics and standard democratic outcomes. If you don’t like it, have
    a committee of 3 make the decision. The irony with this claim is that it’s
    fundamentally undemocratic—if you want to represent the will of the people as
    a whole, you are going to have issues in terms of being able to explain or
    define the mass aggregate of their interests, and those outcomes will feel
    disemplowering at times (i.e. when GW Bush got first elected) If you don’t like
    that, then propose a better voting scheme and prove it leads to more ‘democratic’
    or representative results.  

    This wish list or “position” lacks evidence of the authors
    doing the OFF-LINE homework necessary to make a cogent argument here.  I won’t go into the pretty devastating
    critiques there would be to running this position for the ballot, as there’s no incentive for me to do so here (after all Mr. Adler indicates his relative unwillingness to have that debate online anyway).

    • Anonymous

      If you’re so knowledgable about the NFL process, why don’t you attach your name? You make a lot of very bold claims about what is unique or relevant, but I don’t think they’re particularly well grounded.

      Yes, maybe people USED to post submitted topics; if that’s the case, they no longer do. We say it would be good to. That they used to do it proves it isn’t infeasible.

      Yes, maybe the NFL ASKS people to now informally, but it isn’t clear it’s a hard requirement; if it were, more would comply, and there wouldn’t be this lack you criticize. Also, the issue of TK is irrelevant–that isn’t our position or desire.

      Your criticism of the voting issue misses the point: we say you should be able to express interest in being a voting member and caring about the issues without paying money. Then, if you want the other services–Nats, Nat Quals, certificates, etc.–you should pay.

      To put it simply: Yes, paying to vote is part of the NFL now; it shouldn’t be.

      You seem to not understand our points re disempowerment either. We are talking about what topcis MAKE the ballot, not the math of the vote. But even there, your snarky comment are still misguided: tallies and results aren’t posted; they’er unverifiable.

      I think our position is pretty unique and new given those things. If you wish to claim otherwise, feel free.

      • Anonymous

        I do not post my name because I am not interested in having my name associated with the LD circuit in its present form. I’ll leave the reasons for that for off line. Also, folks on the nat circuit tend to ignore content and focus instead of ad hominem attacks, so I’ll keep my identity out of this.

        That said, whether or not my claims are well grounded is based on analysis, not your personal feelings, so I’ll stick to logic here.

        Yes, posting the entire list of topics would probably be a good thing, but again, when this practice stopped there wasn’t the kind of outcry we see in this situation. In fact, when the new topic voting procedure came out, people on online boards were very happy and overjoyed at the improvements. It just seems that now that the voting didn’t go ‘the circuit’s way; the last few topics, there’s an uproar.

        But that’s not the most important point I’m trying to make here.

        On the TK point you ignore my argument almost entirely, which is that just as you increase the barrier to entry, you also minimize the chance that those who write good topics (but maybe are too busy to do 20-30 page topic papers like that in college) may not write. You also ignore my point that as is,NFL topic committee members beg for more topics, so increasing the burden to write topics may not be smart. This is of course a question of empirics and we’d only really know if your topic proposal was done–but you can’t claim to know that you are right for sure, but I thought the proposal would have at least thought about the possible risks/costs of its plan, if it is to be taken seriously as a policy by the NFL (and certainly if you present this to them, they’ll tell you about possible problems, which you can’t just shove off by saying “its not well grounded.” Again, whether or not you desire the TK topic isn’t my point. The point is about the loss of potential (good) topics based on a potential increase in the barrier to entry of topic writers.

        On the voting issue, I’m noticing a pattern that instead of dealing with the points I make, as they were stated, you are ignoring or trying to dismiss the nuances of what was stated. So let me try this again… even in the response here, you assert that NFL membership should operate on a tiered system where some services are free (like voting) and others (like tournaments) should be paying ones. To be taken seriously, you need to show that you recognize the practical issues and risks and tradeoffs with this plan. Heck, it’s hard enough for any organization to make sure everyone pays fees, does all the paper work, etc. Now try adding on a special new category of membership. It’s doable, but I’m surprised that there isn’t a normative or pragmatic justification for this idea. I still haven’t seen an argument why you shouldn’t be required to pay in order to have a formal voice and vote, again refer to the fraternity example (which was ignored).

        You then say, “you seem not to understand” about the disempowerment point. It appears that your form of argumentation is to assert that someone else doesn’t understand your point instead of considering that perhaps, we darn well know what you are saying and can still (with validity) disagree. If you knew who I was, you wouldn’t question my reading comprehension skills, but I have no interest in proving myself to a young recently graduated LDer. I’m more interested in people thinking critically and pragmatically about an issue when something like this is introduced without proper due diligence. 

        That said, you dodge the democracy point instead of dealing with it head on. There’s a democratic procedure to which topics make the ballot (or rather one that aggregates preferences between topic committee members), and a procedure to which topics are ultimately decided. You’ve failed to address the undemocratic nature of what you are asking. In both cases, there is a set of policies and steps that incorporate the aggregate ‘will’ of the membership, i.e. my ignored point about how NFL committee members are banned from writing any topics that aren’t presented by the public. You may want more transparency, and I think you’d have few people arguing against that. But a non-transparent system can still be democratic if it allows people voice. 

        It may not be as much voice as you want, i.e. you may want more transparency, you may want non-paying NFL members (or anyone) to vote, you may want students to be able to vote, etc. But that’s a question of the degree of democraticness, NOT the existence or nonexistence of democratic procedure. Here’s where the sloppiness in the invoking of ‘democratic’ is a big problem for your plan. You haven’t shown that there is NO democratic component to the NFL procedures as they exist, and to use that term without clarity is unwise when or if you try to push for the institutional or communal change you want. At the very least, there are components of what you suggest that are appealing, but it’s frustrating as heck to see it hidden by tinges of arrogance, ignorance of history/procedure, and immaturity.

        If you want to present a real plan, then you should think seriously and not dismissively about strong opposition or critique, not assert how people who disagree with you always “don’t understand” what you are saying.

        • Anonymous

          If you are unhappy with the current state of the circuit, attaching your name–assuming your claims of experience are correct–could help improve things. I understand your reluctance, though.

          From my perspective, all your assertions about people being ‘overjoyed’ are non-falsifiable. I also don’t think it’s relevant if people years ago were happy with a change before seeing the alternative. I doubt people would be upset about greater transparency; nobody HAS to read the thread if they opt not to. Transparency on this issue seems pretty clearly good.

          I think you’re still misunderstanding the arguments you reference on TK. We say no topic is good WITHOUT that paper and WITHOUT the requisite discussion, because it lets bad stuff slide by unchecked. I don’t think the topics are really good/bad in a vacuum. I also think you’re incorrect on the NFL begging people for MORE topics–the process seems like they already have lots and are rushed to do a solid job during the relatively short NFL meeting.

          I’m not questioning your reading skills; I’m questioning whether your objections engage our position. I think that many of them do not. I apologize, mystery commenter, for offending your insecurities about recently graduated debaters.

          You say the current system is democratic and that we fail to establish the opposte; I say it is not optimally democratic. It could be better per our suggestions. The current system might count up votes, but that doesn’t make it perfect.

        • John Scoggin

          “Also, folks on the nat circuit tend to ignore content and focus instead of ad hominem attacks, so I’ll keep my identity out of this.”

          If I asked you if this statement was hypocritical, would your answer to that question be the same as your answer to this one?

          • Rebar Niemi


  • Anonymous

    I don’t have much of
    an opinion on the actual content of the “Lexington* Solution”. Actually, at
    first glance, it seems quite reasonable. However, I do think reading it in
    rounds where wins and losses are at stake is an asinine idea and just screams
    “wrong forum”.


    You write that your
    goals are a) to promote community awareness on the issue and b) stimulate


    I’ll address the b
    point first. Why not hold the discussion online (like we have been), or hold a
    meeting at the Lexington tournament (improbable, I know, but possible…)? You
    claim that “fear of losing also motivates competitors to really think through
    the issues. They might be thinking through why the arguments [are] flawed, but
    even that discussion helps to refine the movement and to force engagement on
    the issues”.


    I promise you that
    is not the case. NO ONE is going to check pairings, found out they’re
    hitting Lexington, and spend the 10-15 minutes before the round in deep contemplation
    about the nuances of your position. If you really believe that, then you are
    incredibly naïve. Did anyone actually substantively engage Jalon’s arguments
    (other than as a joke)? Yeah, no. Neither are people going to think harder about this
    issue before the tournament itself. Debaters have enough
    prep to do against opponents who are running topical arguments; they are not
    going to have the time to think deeply about this position. This is especially
    true since it is possible that your position will change round to round as soon
    as people bring up possible objections (and if your position doesn’t, then you
    would just be ignoring the very discussion you say if valuable), thus making
    any attempt at substantive responses futile. And unless you’re going to post
    the full text of this position on the wiki or something, it is going to be literally
    impossible to generate good responses to your position because you’re probably
    factually correct about some of the problems with the NFL.


    Those who care about
    this issue already think about it (which is why there was such a long comment
    thread on this website). Those who don’t care for this issue will just pull out
    their micropol bad blocks. It’s inevitable. If you gain any impact to good
    discussion through running this position, it is miniscule and marginal,
    considering the multiple other outlets for discussion that already exist (such
    as the ones you outlined in your post above), and doesn’t outweigh the harms of giving someone a loss.


    So why isn’t online
    discussion good enough? You say that running this in round is necessary because “it
    is too easy for debaters to tune out the online conversations or to not
    contribute for fear of looking uncool; bringing the issue into rounds forces
    discourse around the issue and gains attention from a wider scope of
    participants”. Well first of all, how large a scope of participants do we need,
    exactly? is currently the community’s main source for debate
    news, and I’m willing to bet that at least 75% of competitors on the national
    circuit check it frequently, judging by conversations I’ve had with other
    debaters and the scope of different opinions in online discussions that are
    held here already. I’m not trying to say that free speech is bad or
    anything, but we seem to have a fairly broad amount of representation here.
    Will running this position at a tournament really make a significant
    contribution to those opinions? For reasons already supplied…not really, nope.
    But moreover…non-unique much? It is all too easy for debaters to tune out the
    discussions that you bring up in round. Face it, no one is actually going to
    write a prepout to this thing, or think harder about it just because you’re
    running it. Even months after the TOC, individuals who had coached or competed
    at the TOC were walking around saying “oh, Jalon was running the black
    aesthetic” when that was not at all what his position was.


    Now for the a point.
    You say you want to further awareness to create material change.


    First of all, there
    is a massive disconnect between promoting awareness at a circuit tournament,
    which represents a very small majority of the national debate community, and
    getting the NFL to change their minds. I promise you the NFL does not give a
    rat’s arse about what happened at a circuit tournament. Newsflash- the NFL does
    not run every circuit tournament. Circuit coaches do, and I’m fairly sure those
    coaches are already aware of this issue. And, spreading awareness to more
    circuit debaters is also not going to affect the NFL in the least, not if (unfortunately) failed to do so. This “awareness” that you are
    trying to promote seems to be incredibly misplaced.


    So at that point,
    the only link to change that you’ve got left is this claim: “Putting the ballot
    at stake also encourages debaters to join the movement: competitors have to
    think through what they’ve personally done to help reform the flawed process so
    that they can claim to have had a good effect on the community.” Well first-
    empirically proven? Narp. Second- yeah, that’s exactly what I do when I lose to
    a micropolitical position; I examine my own actions and decide to join the
    movement. No, I get pissed off and become incentivized to never take it
    seriously. You know it’s true.


    Third- why, exactly,
    are alternative forums insufficient for this again? Okay, so some people have
    lives and don’t like to check constantly. Have you ever thought
    about just talking to people about it during rounds? The Greenhill debaters didn’t read
    disclosure theory once at the Glenbrooks, but there was a significant amount of
    out-of-round discussion about LD Leaks. And don’t underestimate the power of
    Facebook, it reaches more people than a circuit tournament ever could. If you really care about this issue, you should probably do more to
    talk to other debaters online convince them to join your “movement”.


    Finally, a debate
    round forum is uniquely bad for the awareness you’re trying to spread. A debate
    round limits the discussion to two people, which prevents others from chipping
    in. There are also time limits and a motivation to go for dropped arguments in
    an attempt to skirt around the real issues at hand. A speech format also sucks
    if you’re trying to have a real discussion, unless you’re planning to turn the
    1AR and 2AR into cross-X.


    Once again, I’m not
    saying the position itself isn’t sound. But I
    have no idea why it’s necessary to read this in round. It seems to me like all
    of your reasons why reading this in round are contrived, speculative, and just
    not true. There are better, alternative forums available. How about using them?

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for your feedback. We disagree about your assessment of whether it is good to call for the win or loss, and we would love to engage these issues with you in a round (or in some other way than a massive, hard to read post the night before the tournament starts). 

      For now, though, as I’m going to add in an addendum to the article, we would like to keep this thread to issues about the substantive reform itself. You will not convince us to not run this in the round as a call for the ballot; we have already spent a ton of time thinking through why we support that decision. It’s great, though, that you think the reforms are solid, and we’d love your input on ways to perhaps improve them.

  • I don’t get it. Maybe this has already been answered, but is there, like, a violation or a link or something? I would get it if y’all were neg, they ran a topical AC, and you ran this argument — then you’re saying we should vote against topical affs to motivate this kind of change, which makes sense (although I think it’s wrong). But if not, then you run into the problem that Ross, I think rightly, pointed out: aff runs this argument, but the neg agrees (was going to run it whether you did it or not, and does run it) — how is voting for one side better? I can think of no good arguments for the comparison going either way; that’s why you need a violation.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve already explained some of these good arguments below–stuff about out-of-round action, consistency, etc. This isn’t a theory position. I think your position assumes its targeted against our specific opponent’s conduct, but it doesn’t necessarily take that form.

  • Anonymous … @google-5cf7565b75dc6da15e54c4a129793373:disqus asked me my thoughts in an earlier thread I wasn’t involved in … I didn’t write them because of that request specifically, but here they are …

  • Steven, will NSDUpdate be re-releasing Nate and Jalon’s classic TOC rounds in a special feature called TOC 2k11 and Micropolitics: Strategies That Work (Part Four)?

    • Anonymous

      Those rounds are still available on the account itself.

  • Rebar Niemi

    this is like the end of the 1st pokemon movie. 

  • Ross Brown

    Zhou said: “Ross, would you mind clarifying whether your goal is to make sure that people understand why such a position could be bad or whether your goal is to convince judges that they have no business even considering voting on such an argument. You’re obviously entitled to make your arguments against the position and to try to convince others of their legitimacy, but do you honestly think that judges should go into the round unwilling to vote on it?”

    I’m not sure. I obviously understand the problems with expecting judges to completely disregard this position (slippery slope! does that mean judges can just start disregarding deontology altogether too?!). At the same time though, these kinds of positions are really starting to irritate me and I think that something has to be done about them. (I will not reexplain the reasons why they bother me–I think that has been made sufficiently clear). If the best way of curbing their prevalence is for judges to just disregard them altogether, then that’s something worth considering.

    • I sympathize with your position but I don’t think the solution is to start telling judges that certain types of arguments are bad enough to justify outright disregard for them. I generally tend to think micropolitical arguments are bad for debate, but I also think that those discussions over whether or not they’re good for debate can take place within the debate round. I’ll admit that I probably have a view of debate that is overly gamesy, but I think that every argument should be allowed to occur in the debate round and its merits and appropriateness be determined by the arguments made. I feel like a more productive approach would be to voice your objections in an open forum (as your currently doing) and perhaps consider writing your own article on the subject. 

      • While, for the most part, I agree, I think that this micropolitical position is fundamentally different from most others in that the change it is trying to achieve doesn’t leave the space of the debate community. While micropolitical advocacies focusing on racial or sexual discrimination can not be fully discussed in the course of a single debate round (just based on the pure intricacy of those issues), topic selection reform is a uniquely debate problem that I personally think deserves to be discussed in the uniquely debate arena. While forum discussions are great and informative, bringing this issue into the context of a round has a strength to it that no other context could provide.

  • Anonymous

    Reply didn’t work; this is in response to Fritz.

    (1) To be honest, things really came to a boiling point when we read Chris Palmer’s Azuen post. We had never really thought about a way to solve the issue to the requisite degree because it just seemed like an inevitability. The backlash to the last topic helped convince us that the community reallly does need a better system, although that probably should have been clearer to us previously.

    (2) We are not sure. If the NFL really implemented every suggestion we had, it is unlikely we would continue to push for the same changes. We would probably, though, evaluate what parts of our advocacy did not work as well as we hoped when implemented and strive to refine those. It really depends what specifically were to happen, which is hard to engage in a vacuum.

  • Anonymous

    Edit: Moved to proper reply field.

  • If this has nothing to do with the TK vs DV discussion, then why wasn’t the Lexington solution proposed or advocated for earlier, when the topics were less shitty but the topic selection process was equally shitty? I’m sure you all hated the topic selection process just as much 3 months ago, right?

  • John Scoggin

    RB —

    From this thread and the other, I have noticed you (as well as a bunch of other people) seem to be really interested in pointing out flaws to any method of agitating for reform in the system right now for procedural reasons. For example your comment on the first topic thread was not that you think DV is a better topic than TK, but that nothing would be done about it. Those type of objections aside, I’m curious if you actually think DV is a better topic, and if you think the current method of topic selection is appropriate. You are putting a fair amount of brain power into dissecting a hypothetical micropolitical position that one of your kids may or may not hit in a future debate round. If you think change is desirable, it would probably be wise to redirect that effort into trying to do something about the problem.

    • Ross Brown

      My basic argument against Adler’s “Lexington* Solution” is that debate rounds are not the proper sites for this discourse to occur. I don’t have any qualms with questioning the assumptions we have behind our topic selection process, maybe conducting some polls, etc., but I don’t think that the site for change should be a debate round (or a series of debate rounds.) I suppose I feel that way because of the “procedural” problems I have with debate rounds as a site for change, but I think those are appropriate concerns given that part of this solution is, well, describing why debate rounds would in fact be a good site for change. Of the claims that I’ve made, I think this should be the least controversial.
      I do have several other problems with these solutions aside from these mere “procedural” problems, though.

      First, I honestly think people should talk about the topic. These kinds of micropolitical strategies have been popping up in recent years and I think they’re a huge distraction to actually discussing the topics we are given every two months. In general, are people really that opposed to discussing the issue that we’ve been asked to discuss for a short period of time? 

      Second, these positions serve to re-entrench the elitist hierarchy to which many national circuit debaters are apparently oblivious. I can almost guarantee that someone who has never even heard of micropolitics will lose to this position this weekend, and that’s a tragedy. This person will have come to the tournament expecting to debate the topic, but will instead be forced to either defend the NFL’s current topic procedure or advocate the Lexington* solution but in such a way that causes the judge to vote for him/her instead of his/her opponent, as per Adler’s suggestion. This is insane. It seems pretty unreasonable to ask this of students who are just not as well versed with national circuit issues and problems as the people who are reading this post right now. There are a whole lot more debaters than just national circuit debaters that will be affected in some way by this issue, and it doesn’t seem right to either speak for them or just skip over them entirely.

      • Anonymous

        Ross, I won’t respond thoroughly for now because I’m on a plane, but a few quick things. 

        People debate the topic every other round to some extent. Debate hasn’t died since Avi. 

        Also, are you really going to claim that you of all people never read theory against a local debater, or blipped through tons of spikes tangentially related to the topic in an AC against a debater just getting acquainted to the circuit (I can think of a personal example here, but that hardly seems relevant)? 

        Stop kidding yourself; get off your high horse. The issue here for you isn’t fear of debate practices that are bad for local circuit kids. 

        • Chris Miller

          regardless if ross cares about local circuit debaters, others do. 

          What is a local coach supposed to tell his/her kids when they lose rounds to this position? How can coaches teach debate knowing that their opponents may not even argue about the topic?

          • I think this strategy is exceedingly silly, but the objection “what if it beats a local kid” is patronizing in the extreme. The way people on this board discuss locals is ridiculous- we can’t disclose because it would hurt locals… you can’t read new arguments because locals will have never heard of them. People show up to a debate tournament knowing they are going to have to argue about things. A coach should teach their students how to deconstruct dumb things the other team might say, whether that be “we can’t have animal rights cause we need a steady state” or ” vote for me cause the NFL is stupid”.

          • It doesn’t seem to be their status as locals which is relevant, but the fact that they’d lose to an argument they had no reason to anticipate. Preparation disparities are obviously unfair, and the magnitude of those steepens remarkably when one team abandons the resolution.

  • Steven Friedman

    First of all, thanks to coach chy for your insights about narrow comments.

    I’m not going to take either side of the argument over the lex* solution.  I do, however, have some doubts about giving the ballot to the advocate of this solution.  To avoid the Adler-Brown back-and-forth and because no one likes reading a long post I’ll just pose one question.  As the article said, running this position forces debaters to think through the issues so that they won’t lose the ballot and increases the chance that the argument will be heard more in outrounds.
    I think that you lose touch with one of the goals of the lex* solution, viz., to increase the influence of debaters from smaller schools with fewer resources, as was the main criticism of the current system in section III.  Would such debaters come to a tournament thinking about topic selection or would they come prepared to debate the topic?  Probably the latter.  Do the debaters whom you hope to benefit read online forums like this?  Unfortunately probably not.  Would the lex* solution be advocated at a local tournament?  Not a chance.  So they probably won’t be forced to think about NFL procedures to avoid dropping the ballot.

    Onto the other claim that they will be heard in outrounds.  The only tournament whose judging would use the ballot to pick up a topic selection overhaul would be a national circuit tournament. The debaters participating at these tournaments and the judges who would pick this up would probably have already heard of problems with NFL procedures, whether through teammates, forums, facebook, etc.  It wouldn’t raise very much awareness, and even then, the influence it would have would likely be negligible.

    Again, I’m not taking any sides, but if you guys want this to be considered, try emailing some people at the NFL, instead of sacrificing topical debates and further polarizing local and national debate.

    • Anonymous

      Steven, harms to low-resource debaters in the status quo is not the main criticism of the NFL system, as you construe in your comment. Regardless, I respect your opinion to feel that this cause would be counter-productive to that end, if it were the brunt of our criticism. I happen to disagree on whether it could cause too much harm to small school debaters, and I probably give less weight to topical debate than you do. But either way, I don’t think the NFL email campaigns you describe are mutually exclusive with this case, and it really isn’t an either-or for us.

      • Steven Friedman

        Ok.  I wasn’t trying to misconstrue any arguments or undermine the whole article; my intention was just to clarify the arguments in section III, not to agree or disagree with any points.

        • Anonymous

          No problem–you are obviously entitled to voice your concerns in that form. I just wanted to clarify for anybody else that that is not how we conceive of our argument.

  • Chris Miller

    coach chy

  • Anonymous

    Ross, I can’t wholly read your latest comment–too narrow. Regardless, this isn’t “agree to disagree” as a rhetorical technique; I think we have genuinely different conceptions of how the position would be run and what it would call for. Either way, that issue isn’t relevant to the topic I’d like to discuss, and I don’t think your re-asserting that you see things differently than I do is productive at this point. I don’t think people would ever run their position exactly the same–there will be differences why one is better than another. And if there weren’t, debaters could still make arguments why one should be endorsed over the other.

    • Ross Brown

      Steven, I’d like you to do a few things for me.

      First, I’d like you to outline your understanding of the necessary components of such a strategy. I think that this would be extremely helpful to all. It would benefit those attempting to further engage the position in a debate round, and it would also benefit those planning on running the position in future tournaments.

      Second, I’d still like to know what would happen if a neg debater just stood up and said “I agree with everything the affirmative said. Vote neg on presumption.” What would you do here? Just engage the presumption debate? What could you possibly say to encourage the judge to just vote for you because you were affirming the rez?

      • Anonymous

        I don’t know what you mean in your first request. I’m happy to if clarified.

        RE: 2–
        The neg debater likely hasn’t been running the position in all their rounds, hasn’t been rallying change out of round in the same way, hasn’t actually been genuine about their position rather than only advocating it when their opponent does, etc. There are plenty of distinguishing factors. Nobody is calling for “vote for me because I’m Aff.”

        • Ross Brown

          1. What don’t you understand about the first request? I said: “I’d like you to outline your understanding of the necessary components of such a strategy.” in response to you saying “I think we have genuinely different conceptions of how the position would be run and what it would call for.” What are these conceptions?

          2. What about in Round 1?

          • Anonymous

            Re 1–
            I see 1 and 2 as the same thing, and that’s where I think the confusion comes in. I don’t know what you mean by “such a strategy.” I also don’t know if there is one “true” structure of any argument–debaters can make arguments for why one is better than another.

            Re 2–The stuff about out of round still applies. Also, I don’t think nitpicking the tiniest instances of the position is a productive strategy for disproving its validity, but I suppose you disagree.

            Regardless, I’m now going to go pack and then go to sleep. I will be in Minnesota at around 3:30 tomorrow and am happy to continue this there if you so choose. Good night.

          • Ross Brown

            Actually, I would rather continue this discussion in a place where the public can see, because I think this is an important issue that needs to be addressed. In my view, no judge should even consider voting on this position. And my goal is to make sure that as many people as possible understand the reasons why it could be bad for debate.

          • Edit: This is Jason Zhou, not Catherine who was logged into facebook on my computer.

            Ross, would you mind clarifying whether your goal is to make sure that people understand why such a position could be bad or whether your goal is to convince judges that they have no business even considering voting on such an argument. You’re obviously entitled to make your arguments against the position and to try to convince others of their legitimacy, but do you honestly think that judges should go into the round unwilling to vote on it?

  • Ross Brown

    Steven, this was almost illegible because of the way this site works:

    This is just the classic strategy of “well, can we agree to disagree?” I’m asking for a justification dude. I thought you wanted substantive discourse?

    • Anonymous

      See above.

  • Ross Brown

    one other point of clarification: what if two people both supporting the movement debate each other? what should the judge do then? should he give the ballot to the aff, as per jeff’s observation and boat’s earlier post? or what?

    • Anonymous

      What do you mean by “support”? If we ran this position against someone who happened to agree that the topic process should be reformed, we would likely still ask for the ballot. We argue that the judge’s endorsement of our position matters more toward the greater change, even if our opponent agrees with the justifications for our reform.

      • Ross Brown

        See my other comment. For convenience’s sake: But what happens if two debaters are planning on running the exact same position? What if both people are in favor of this solution and wanting to run a micropolitical position to this effect? Is it just the aff who wins because s/he ran the position first?

        • Anonymous

          Pasted from above: “It is unlikely that each debater reads the same exact case the same exact way in every round to the same real world effect. The debaters would make arguments at that point as to why it would be better for the judge to endorse one or the other.”

          • Ross Brown

            See bottom post, let’s continue the discussion there.

  • “A slightly more controversial element of our advocacy is that we will be
    presenting it in rounds and asking the judge to award their ballot to
    further our movement. We have considered at length why our advocacy
    calls for a ballot, and we truly believe that these discussions need to
    take place in rounds to be effective, and that to try to win offers the
    best possible discussions.” 

    Will you guys be flipping aff in outrounds, as per BOAT’s earlier suggestion?

    • Anonymous


      • Anonymous

        although sidelocks/opponent winning the flip might prevent that

        • Ross Brown

          so if you’re neg do you still run the position? do you read a regular case?

          • Anonymous

            We will be reading this both sides.

          • Ross Brown

            who is “we”? is this just paul zhou and adam hoffman or are there others a part of the movement?

          • Anonymous

            The “we” is the “we” named in both the paper’s introduction and closing addendum. If others are running this, I do not currently know of it.

          • Ross Brown

            But what happens if two debaters are planning on running the exact same position? What if both people are in favor of this solution and wanting to run a micropolitical position to this effect? Is it just the aff who wins because s/he ran the position first?

          • Anonymous

            It is unlikely that each debater reads the same exact case the same exact way in every round to the same real world effect. The debaters would make arguments at that point as to why it would be better for the judge to endorse one or the other.

          • Ross Brown

            Give me an example of such an argument in a “Lexington* solution” v “Lexington* solution” debate. How do you compare these positions? 

          • Anonymous

            You compare which side is more likely to achieve a good impact for the debate community. It is on the debaters to come up with those reasons.

          • Ross Brown

            What constitutes a reason for one particularside having a better impact on the community if both advocatethe exact same policy?

          • Anonymous

            They don’t, and they certainly don’t go aboutit inthe same ways.If you disagree there,we’reatan impasse.

          • Ross Brown

            This is just the classic strategy of “well, can we agree to disagree?” I’m asking for a justification dude. I thought you wanted substantive discourse?!

    • Ross Brown

      is this your attempt to get out of “predictability” theory arguments?

      • Anonymous

        If you’re cynical enough to think that, then there’s probably no convincing you otherwise. The answer, though, is no–we want a forum to promote discussion of the issue because, win or not, we really want a change. We think that a win is a means to that change, but the discussion here is certainly valuable.

        • Ross Brown

          I don’t really think that my inquiring about this discussion should be classified as “cynical.” Isn’t the entire point of you posting on this website to stimulate this kind of discussion? Or will you only be happy with the discussion if it’s in complete support of your position? 

          In other news, I’m wondering if the fact that you disclosed this information going to be an argument you make in favor of its theoretical legitimacy?

          • Anonymous

            You are correct that we want discussion. We are also fine with disagreement in the discussion. I think it’s clear, though, that your initial post was an attempt to dismiss our motives; I classify your questioning in that post as being cynical.

            It is likely that at some point, something related to this thread might come up in a round. I can’t tell you what or when because I have no idea; this is a genuine attempt at discourse, not some organized plot to preempt theory.

          • Ross Brown

            I will provide you the what or the when. You are running this position against someone who runs theory on the position being entirely unpredictable because it has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of domestic violence. It is not event tangentially related. 

            Given that, would you respond to this theory argument by saying, “No!! We disclosed on NSD Update! We’re entirely predictable.”

            Just think this point is important to the issue of the theoretical legitimacy of this issue,

          • Anonymous

            I don’t know, Ross. I will not be competing at Blake. I’m sure the arguments would be more nuanced than that because the AC does a good job establishing why this discussion is justified, as outlined in the article, but who knows. 

            Do you have any other strategies you want to probe for, or do you actually want to discuss the issue at hand–topic selection reform?

          • Ross Brown

            Uh, I would be fine with discussing this issue. As you should have noticed, the entire point behind this line of questioning is to figure out if a debate round is a proper placer for this discourse. That’s what I’m asking you to justify, and that’s what I’m still waiting for.

          • Anonymous

            You actually haven’t asked a single question to that effect; you’ve asked what our strategy would be against certain tactics, and you’ve asked on what side we will run it. 

            The only MAYBE pertinent question to the appropriateness issue you raise is how judges evaluate between two advocacies, and I’ve explained that above.

          • Ross Brown

            “You actually haven’t asked a single question to that effect; you’ve asked what our strategy would be against certain tactics, and you’ve asked on what side we will run it.”

            Dude I’m asking the question right now?

          • Anonymous

            The conclusion (section IV) of the article outlines why we think the in-round discourse is important.

          • I love when it gets down to a line.

          • i think it mightbe time togetrid ofthe reply function

          • Ross Brown

            Coach Chy.

          • Rebar Niemi

            Coach Chy

          • Chris Miller


  • This criticism has applied to every NFL Lincoln-Douglas topic ever selected. Why now?