NFL Releases March/April Topic: Targeted Killing

March/April 2012 LD Topic

Resolved: Targeted killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool.

  • Anonymous

    I like how the circuit only cares about the potential offensiveness of a topic when it might competitively effect them/their teammates or might be debated at the TOC. Sorry, rich white people, but the government literally killing tons of civilians in far away lands matters just as much as your “silent” problem. The scope of debaters effected is entirely irrelevant. It should piss everyone off when there are huge outcries for nullifying one topic and not another just because, as Dave McGinnis put it, “they are *foreign* people”.

    I realize this has already been said, but this is important to reiterate. 

    • Dave McGinnis

      Your argument makes no sense.

      As much as I disagree with it, the argument for topic nullification in the case of domestic violence is based on the fact that the issue under discussion in the topic is personally real-life for many of the people participating in the activity. 

      The argument wasn’t “we shouldn’t debate domestic violence because domestic violence is really bad.”

      Few, if any, American debaters have been personally or directly affected by targeted killing. So there is no hypocrisy in arguing against the one and not the other.

      Now you might point out that this means that we, as people, tend to be self-absorbed because we are more bothered by a traumatic event that affects us directly than we are by a traumatic event that affects people in other countries. You could argue that our ability to debate about IR topics that (in real life) involve the deaths of lots of innocent people is a sign of callousness. 

      I would counter that our ability to abstract ourselves from horrors that don’t affect us personally is a survival adaptation. If every bad thing that happened to anyone in the world affected us in the same way that it would if it happened to us, we would be paralyzed by the awfulness of it all.

      Regardless, there is no hypocrisy here because the two concerns are of a different kind.

      • Anonymous

        “The argument wasn’t “we shouldn’t debate domestic violence because domestic violence is really bad.”

        My understanding from reading nearly every post on the matter was that the issue was too personal and too emotional to debate because of the adverse effects that its seriousness could have for debate, and that abstracting the situations of those afflicted by domestic violence into a debate round was bad. I suppose my post deals with the latter more than the former, but I certainly heard many people saying that the topic was bad because we cant understand the situations of those people or that discussing it in the vacuum of debate was wrong. At that point, I think my argument that we are doing the same thing with targeted killing would still be relevant. I still say that only caring about the white people problems is a bad thing, but we can agree to disagree on that.
        Also, your “survival adaptation” seems like the is/ought fallacy to me, just because this is how our minds work doesn’t mean that we should continue to abstract people like that. I am not personally in favor of nullifying any topic, i’m just pointing out the hypocrisy of many of those who advocated nullification.

        • The idea that domestic violence is a “white people problem” is outrageous and offensive. Many authors argue that domestic violence disproportionately affects women of color, and that they are less able to seek help from the police and other avenues of redress. See Sokoloff and Dupont, “Domestic Violence at the Intersections of Race, Class, and Gender: Challenges and Contributions to Understanding Violence Against Marginalized Women in Diverse Communities.” Moreover, your flippant attitude comes off as incredibly insensitive to the experiences of victims of domestic violence of any race, class, or gender. I don’t think the topic should have been changed, but I’m honestly shocked by how many people are willing to trivialize the experiences of victims to win an online debate. 

          • Anonymous

            Perhaps “white people problem” wasnt the correct phrase, but its one I heard used in other posts to describe the idea of domestic violence only being bad because it effects those who might participate in a privileged activity like debate. I’m not trying to be flippant, and I believe domestic violence is truly awful, my point is that we shouldn’t prioritize those afflicted by it over those afflicted by targeted killing just because we don’t know them. 

            I don’t see why I am being met with harsh criticism while Quinn Olvarez’s post is in the same vein as mine and only has one criticism from sjadler

          • Dave McGinnis

            Dude, the argument was never “we shouldn’t abstract bad things.” It was, “Domestic violence is so pervasive that it is highly likely that many debaters will have experienced it first-hand, and it is not kind / right / acceptable to make those people engage in debates about the issue.”

            We abstract bad things in debate all the time. It comes with the territory. And there is no perfectly clear bright line between domestic violence and some of the other issues we discuss — juvenile justice, for example, or drug policy. 

            But you are just wrong in asserting that the issue that people raised regarding domestic violence as a debate topic transfers 100% to any issue that involves violence or killing. The distinction is whether the issue is or is not likely to have affected a significant portion of the population debating it. Domestic violence undoubtedly has. Targeted killing probably has not. 

          • Anonymous

            your second paragraph was the point i have been making the whole time. “we shouldnt abstract bad things” is something i heard a lot when discussing why this topic was bad. if you didnt see or hear one post that mentioned “trying to analyze these situations in a debate context is wrong” then either im crazy and made them up in my head (which i dont think i did) or you have missed/forgotten them. if thats true then it doesnt matter whether it affects us or not because abstracting them at all would be bad (not that i agree).

          • Quinn Olivarez

            hey man you stay in your own sinking boat. i didn’t say anything about who domestic violence affects.

      • TK also asks us to make policy decisions which is much much different than asking whether or how an individual is allowed to act in the case of a personal and severe moral tragedy. (I’m not saying the topic necessitates Plans and util but individual people can’t really perform drone strikes…) For example, if the DV topic had been worded in terms of government policy about domestic violence, there would probably be less of an outcry. In my mind, it’s the focus of the DV topic, not necessarily the topic area, that makes it problematic.

        • Anonymous

          Why is the fact that it is a government action relevant at all? TK can be done in a “severe and moral tragedy” if one considers a choice between war against terrorists and targeted killing to be a moral tragedy (which was an argument I saw a lot in the literature).  A lot of people reconstruct the DV res to be one of government policy as well (i’ve heard a lot of CPs about different forms of state recourse), does that make it less offensive in your opinion?

          • Quinn Olivarez

            hey man you stay in your own sinking boat. i didn’t say anything about who domestic violence affects.

  • Mathew Pregasen

    Seems like the wrong time for me.  Most florida debaters have only FFL Novices States or FFLs (if they qualify) and CFL quals.  It seems for such a popular topic, it should have been held to Sept/Oct.

    Well w/e, just debate

    • Agreed. In CO the only tournament on this topic is NFL quals so I won’t get to debate this at all. :/

  • troll

  • Quinn Olivarez

    why is no one speaking out? this topic is literally about killing people.

    • Dave McGinnis

      Yes, but they’re *foreign* people.

      • Not only that, but they’re terrorists, too, so they’re essentially worthless.

        • Alec Kerrigan

          I just realized, wouldn’t saying that TK stops terrorism be parameterizing because we’re assuming TK used on terrorists?  The rez gives no country, so I guess TK used by “bad” countrys is fair neg ground.

    • Anonymous

      I think there are three main reasons people aren’t speaking out. I don’t wish to get into a particular discussion of their merits, but I think people see a quantitative distinction in the number of people within the debate community affected directed by the issue, and a qualitative distinction in that the resolution discusses the status of governmental action, not personal choice. I think the third reason is that fewer debaters debate this topic, and at fewer tournaments when they do, so there’s less of a personal stake in the matter.

      • Quinn Olivarez

        I have more likes on my comment, and if facebook has taught us anything, I’m pretty sure that means I’m right and always will be right ad infinitum. come at me bro!

    • Annie ornelas

      I agree I can’t debate this I can’t make myself write an Aff. case on this

  • Anonymous

    I think a major problem is that it’s unclear how the NFL prioritizes assigning certain month slots. I know that the Nationals topic is assigned first (and thus whatever wins Nationals is ineligible for other slots), but what comes next? For all we know, targeted killing could have won every slot but Nationals and thus been placed in March/April (I doubt that happened, but we really don’t know). Could someone from the Topic Selection Committee perhaps explain the prioritization order of topic slots?

  • Clearly not many ‘national circuit’ squads voted for topics back in early September, but there were many schools that did (the number is enormous I’m told).  We should form a voting block to try to get the topics we want to see, and it doesn’t need to include national circuit teams only – the process should be open to all NFL members. Ultimately, I think it would improve wording (we could also submit topics before the NFL meeting in June), the selection process, and hopefully which topics are ultimately chosen. Here’s one way to do it:
    1. Brainstorm interesting topics. Tweak each proposal and submit to the NFL before the wording committee begins work at the NFL National Tournament.
    2. When the NFL releases their list of resolutions in June write a brief topic analysis on each topic and discuss.
    3. Survey members of the voting block and vote as individuals.
    4. Any member of the voting block will then fill out their sheet to the NFL with the order determined by our vote. Requires NFL membership.

    • Dave McGinnis

      “Voting bloc.” 

      Learn to spell.

      • Anonymous


        A voting bloc is a group of voters that are strongly motivated by a specific common concern or group of concerns to the point that such specific concerns tend to dominate their voting patterns, causing them vote together in elections.”

        • Dave McGinnis

          He fixed it. Bloc is the correct spelling. He initially spelled it “block.”

          Ari, how you gonna play me like that?

          • It’s my birthday and my head hurts. Quit picking on me.

  • Victoria Riggan

    I live in Utah and my team is so excited about this topic. I personally think it is alot better then the Domestic Violence topic. I hated that one. Hopefully, this one can be debated well enough to do it justice. (:

  • Texas gets it for TFA State — solid. 🙂

  • Alec Kerrigan

    They’re doing this on purpose.

  • -__-

  • Dave McGinnis

    Ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, dear.