NFL Voting Deadline extended to Tuesday: Vote on 2012-13 Topic List!

Members of the Lincoln-Douglas community, let your preferences be heard by reminding your chapter advisors to vote by Monday, September 10, at 4 p.m. CDT. Please follow the instructions below from the National Forensic League:

Chapter advisors: Log in to the Points Application, select LD Topic Selection from the left side menu, and follow the online ballot instructions.

The 2012-2013 list of NFL topics:

Resolved: The constitutions of democratic governments ought to include procedures for secession.

Resolved: When making admissions decisions, public colleges and universities in the United States ought to favor members of historically disadvantaged groups.

Resolved: United States Supreme Court justices should be subject to term limits.

Resolved: The United States is justified in intervening in the internal political processes of other countries to attempt to stop human rights abuses.

Resolved: In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory.

Resolved: On balance, the privatization of civil services serves the public interest.

Resolved: On balance, labor unions in the United States are beneficial.

Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee universal health care for its citizens.

Resolved: Oppressive government is more desirable than no government.

Resolved: Rehabilitation ought to be valued above retribution in the United States criminal justice system.

  • Anonymous

    So, I know I forfeited the right to complain outright by not contributing to the topic list or providing any input while it was being formed, but it seems that this slate of topics is really focused on government policy and comparison of net-benefits. 9/10 topics explicitly relate to governmental policy and 3/10 are directed towards debates about the “public interest”, “benefit”, and “desirability”. Even if the majority of the voting members are not-circuit , traditional, etc. some of the topics don’t even seem like LD resolutions in the slightest: “Resolved: United States Supreme Court justices should be subject to term limits.” sounds more like a pf resolution than anything else, it doesn’t even use ought (I get that ought and should are more or less equivalent but ought is sort of a trademark of LD resolutions).

    I think these resolutions aren’t bad in and of themselves (save term limits) but that they seem to be pushing LD to be an event it isn’t, at least at the circuit level. My question is aside from Dave (whose work I appreciate and don’t mean to be criticizing directly) who is representing the circuit on the topic committee and what proportion of the final vote/wording control do they have? 

    I think that some serious discussion ought to be given to John’s idea about creating a TOC run topic committee to reflect the distinction between traditional “nfl ld” and circuit debate because there is more community control over the advisory committee and could tailor a list of topics to reflect trends that appear in the circuit without the outcry of traditional lders.

    I’m not looking to be a part of a circuit v local flamewar or to diss traditional debate but reflect that diametric differences in the values of traditional debate and circuit debate might have pushed the community to debating different resolutions that reflect each of their preferred styles of debating.

  • John Scoggin

    I said this back in the old thread that Adler had written about topic selection reform and I was immediately branded an evil elitist enemy of the people, but I’ll give it another try: maybe we shouldn’t use the NFL for topic selection.

    • What’s your alternative?

      • John Scoggin

        Any topic accompanied by a topic paper gets posted online, restricted vote (off the top of my head anyone who attends 2 TOC bid tournaments seems like the right group of people) with no fee attached to it. Top 15 get sent to TOC committee, they kill 5 and use suggestions submitted online to refine the wording of the other 10. Vote on topics per semester rather than per 2 months, the votes per semester are separate from one another.

        • Sounds reasonable to me.

          • John Scoggin

            But no one cares, kk.

          • Rebar Niemi

            i care – in process alone it is clearly superior to the current model. i like the idea of having semester topics, esp if the NFL is still making topics that locals use it means we don’t have to do too much overlapping prep on diff topics. 

            at the end of the day, scoggin’s solution isn’t utopian, would clearly improve certain aspects of the squo, and probably produce far superior national circuit topics.

            the question is whether older coaches/toc committee/NFL involved coaches would push back against what they would see as something that is potentially divisive/perhaps a lessening of “integration” between levels of debate 

          • Anonymous

            I think they would definitely push back. Unless local/non-bid tournaments were to adopt the TOC’s topics, as opposed to the NFL’s, I think they would be unwilling to accept a system that makes it harder for people to cross over to the circuit for a few tournaments or forces their kids to do prep on a different topic to attend more diverse tournaments.

          • Rebar Niemi

            yeah, i think that you’re absolutely right steven. that’s kinda the big issue – the NFL is this elephant in the room that we can’t work around but also are having problems working with. 

            frankly… i am in favor of a unified topic selection process across all levels of LD – having multiple just makes us seem podunk like we’re some kind of impromptu/extemp thing that goes on for several months.

            i just wish we could have a really strong unified process. obviously it can be done – policy does it. 

  • Nick Bubb

    Dave for responding to the inquiries and questions here and also doing
    the work of facilitating the online feedback. I really appreciate all of
    the efforts to make the process more transparent and I sincerely
    appreciate the effort it takes to craft resolutions. As the author of
    the 2012-13 policy resolution, I know how hard it is to craft one
    resolution – much less ten of them. I also think the committee did a
    pretty good job. (Although, I personally would have wanted to see a
    campaign finance/employment law exception debate over some other topics –
    but there are good topics that don’t make the list every year.)

    I don’t think that it is prudent to criticize students/young coaches
    (I’m sorry, I don’t know many of you in real life) for getting
    frustrated with the process. They genuinely want to help improve the
    topic selection and they are not sure how they can help. I certainly
    agree that rude comments are not helpful, but I think that the committee
    members like yourself need to be a bit more considerate about how they
    are perceived by the community at large. Did the committee clearly
    articulate which blog was its official source of comments? No – there
    were at least four different threads between the NFL and NSD sites.
    There may have been others that I missed. I didn’t even see some valid
    comments until I later realized that other people were commenting on
    different threads. Did the committee clearly articulate its timelines
    and processes so that the online community could make responses in real
    time? No. How can one expect that if one makes the time make time to
    submit feedback that the feedback is going to be provided with ample
    time for that feedback to be useful? Did the committee articulate
    guidelines for potential feedback? No. Posting a list of potential
    topics on a blog and hoping you get the necessary feedback in time is
    not the most productive strategy. Telling people how the process is
    going to work and letting them know when and how to provide feedback
    would be more useful. I could go on, but I think that it makes it makes
    perfect sense why some young coaches would be frustrated and venting at
    them is not going to help them figure out how to be a part of the
    process going forward. The LD community has a long way to go before it
    has a policy debate like process for selecting its topics, but this was a
    good first step.

    I don’t think it’s helpful for a member of the committee to publicly
    argue against a suggestion: it creates the impression that concerns are
    not really being heard. I don’t think that this was the case with some
    of my comments. I certainly hope that my comments were helpful – they
    were intended to help the idea formation. It seemed like some of my (and
    probably others’ suggestions – I didn’t read all of the threads)
    suggestions were incorporated on the campaign finance topic. But
    perhaps, I’m wrong and am just inundating the committee with nonsense.

    other people called attention to my comments about the privatization
    topic, I feel it’s apt to respond to them. I should preface this that I
    really don’t care that much about what happened with this topic. I just
    won’t vote for it. This topic does highlight some issues for how the
    committee could work to achieve a better process. Policy debate creates a
    burden for itself that the wording of every topic is to the
    satisfaction of everyone at the meeting. That way that if a particular
    resolution is chosen it reduces the number of complaints/problems
    because every resolution
    was carefully worded. If people still feel that if this topic could be
    better, then the LD selection process is not yet perfected.

    is correct when he says my point about grammar is wrong (services
    serve). I conceded as much. However, I later clarified that I was trying
    to use that language to make a larger rhetorical point (which is more
    thoroughly articulated below). Perhaps I just didn’t communicate my
    objection that well. If that’s the case, then I apologize. I was short
    on time and wanted to put something out there.

    point I was attempting to make is that with an absolute resolution
    about two distinction options (government v. private sector) an
    evaluative term of “serves the public interest” is a poor one. Both the
    private sector or the government are able to serve the public interest.
    The public interest is in the particular program or service in question.
    For example – the public has an interest in stopping child abuse. Who
    addresses the prevention of child abuse does not change the fact that
    public has an interest in stopping child abuse. If both private and
    public services are capable of stopping child abuse, then there isn’t
    much of a debate – they both can address the public interest by the
    providing the desired program. In my example, both entities can stop
    child abuse. To get at the implied debate, you have to introduce other
    values outside of the resolution. For example, the neg must says that
    the public interest means more than just having a program against child
    abuse – it also means having social workers who are publicly
    accountable. Or for the aff, the public interest also includes stopping
    child abuse in the most cost effective way. Obviously it makes sense to
    compare these added values and weigh them against each other, but this
    kind of debate is precluded by an absolutist resolution. If public
    interest = service + cheap, then only one side can win. One side is
    cheaper. If public interest = service + accountability, then only one
    side can win. Only one side is more accountable. This seems to avoid the
    kind of comparative debate that Dave’s comments suggest. One side will
    go for framework, public interest = cheap and try to exclude the other’s
    case and the other will go for framework = accountability and attempt
    to exclude the other. It seems like a dumb debate and not what the
    committee was trying to accomplish.

    Dave writes:

    “Put another way, the question is whether society’s interests are better served by having core government civil functions privatized or having them remain within the purview of the government bureaucracy”

    is not the debate we have. The resolution says “serves” not
    “best/better serves.” They are not the same thing. Using “best” or
    “better” would make the resolution comparative and would make more
    sense. Doing so is one of the suggestions I made:

    understand the grammar, but the point I was trying to make is that I
    think a new evaluative term would be better. Perhaps best served makes

    And later:

    light of my earlier point that “serves the public interest” is not an
    ideal evaluative term, I think reframing the topic to make it more
    specific might be useful: (On balance), The Federal Government’s use of
    private contractors are not in the United States’ best interest. (or
    something similar).

    point about the actor aside, these suggestions were made and they
    seemed to be consistent with the implied conflict, but the committee
    chose not to alter the topic. That alone could frustrate some. It is
    hard to see why either: “On balance, the privatization of civil services
    is in the public’s best interest” or “On balance, society’s interest
    are better served by the privatization of civil services” aren’t
    improvements to the existing wording. I think there is a huge difference
    between the Jan/Feb 05 of “Resolved: democracy is best served by strict
    separation of church and state” and the re-wording this resolution
    suggest: “Resolved: democracy is served by strict separation of church
    and state.” One topic implies capabilities. The other addresses which
    values are most important.

    there are no further opportunities to change the list of topics, I’m
    sure Dave will say my distinction is meaningless and would not alter the
    debate significantly. Perhaps that is correct. But I don’t think we
    should be dismissive of people honestly trying to

    • Dave McGinnis

      I want to make three quick points and then be done.

      1) I disagree with this statement:

      “Additionally, I don’t think it’s helpful for a member of the committee to publicly argue against a suggestion: it creates the impression that concerns are not really being heard.”
      Say someone posts a suggestion regarding a topic. The committee reads it, considers it, and rejects it. But we say nothing about it publicly online. Then everyone shouts, “The committee isn’t transparent! They’re not paying attention! They don’t care what we say!”
      You’re suggesting that members of the committee (read: me) should censor ourselves online because any publicly stated disagreement with recommendations will make you feel you’re not being heard. How on earth can I disagree with you without first hearing you? At committee meetings we have spirited and sometimes heated discussions that go back and forth rapidly. If the goal of the online participation process is to emulate that to some degree, your suggestion would doom it to being a series of uni-directional comments: Online participants post suggestions, committee is silent. (Unless of course you’re suggesting that the committee should just reflexively agree with everything that’s posted, which I think is also not a good idea.)

      2) The privatization topic *is* comparative.

      “Privatization” is a process of change from public to private. This is so because -ize is a suffix meaning “to make or become,” and -ation is a suffix meaning “denoting an instance of an action.” 

      So the resolution as worded is NOT asking whether it serves the public interest “to have privately managed core government services” but rather whether it serves the public interest to *change* from civil services (where core public services are managed by the state) to private services (where core public services are managed by private companies.) 

      The problem you’re describing would be a problem if the resolution had been worded, “Resolved: Having privately-managed core public services serves the public interest.” Because the resolution asks whether the *process of change* serves the public interest, it requires a comparison between the way things are pre-privatization and the way they are post-privatization. 

      I honestly didn’t get your concern based on previous posts but I do now. I can tell you that the committee considered this issue when we decided on the wording. I’m comfortable with the wording because I think from an LD coach perspective it’s clear enough what the topic is asking. 

      3) I don’t know what kind of utopian topic selection process you want.
      I put this stuff online because people last year complained that there wasn’t enough open access to the process. No one else offered to do it, so I did. Maybe this could be improved by advertising in advance, creating a detailed form for commentary, or by personally hand-delivering a “how to comment” manual to every debater in the country in the weeks leading up to NFL Nationals.

      All I know for sure is that I will never, ever do anything like this again. A number of people have told me that I shouldn’t let the comments of “trolls” get me down, but frankly, they do. Youth is not an excuse for rudeness. If the children in the community (or the recently children) insist on reacting to an opportunity to participate as though it were a cynical tool of disenfranchisement, they should be corrected. And if someone else wants to try to design the perfect system for ensuring equitable access to the topic wording process they are welcome to it. I’m done.

      • Anonymous


        I really appreciate all you did this week to keep the community updated on the process. I really do think that this year was a fantastic improvement from previous sessions, when the community was largely in the dark. I know that I cannot force you to undertake this effort again, and I know how frustrating it must have been at times, but I really would urge you to keep at it. 

        I think the service you provided to the community this week was great, even if not utopian or optimal, and I think that the community’s reception of it will only improve with time. I really hope you will decide to stick with it.


        • Rebar Niemi

          adler its too late he’s done. 

      • Rebar Niemi

        i just don’t get it dave. 

  • There are no cats are better than dogs! NOOOOOO

  • Dave, why is it that you’re a huge proponent of transparency in the topic selection process, but a huge opponent of transparency in the at-large selection process? I’m asking not to reopen that can of worms, but because I’m curious as to when you think the benefits of transparency outweigh the costs. 

    • Dave McGinnis

      I don’t know what aspect of the at large process you’re talking about.

      We’ve discussed in the past the possibility of making at large rankings public but on balance we’ve elected not to. I can’t speak for all members of the community but I agree with the position and my reasoning is that (A) the applications themselves often contain private information that we don’t feel comfortable publicizing, (B) the students who are ranked lowest probably don’t benefit from having that made public, and (C) if rankings were made public as a matter of course, there would be political pressure on committee members to vote for certain kids.

      I’m generally happy to make both my ranking of a kid and my reasoning known to the coach of the kid. I seem to recall I sent you a lengthy FB message about this after rankings were out this year.

      I am in favor of committee systems generally because while I don’t believe in “absolute authority” a la Rebar’s complaints, I do think that a group of dedicated and experienced coaches working together for the good of the community can produce good decisions. I also don’t think there is a purely democratic system that would produce *better* decisions. For instance, I doubt that an internet-message-board based system for designing topics would yield a lot of angry flame-ridden posts and result in poorly worded resolutions. The quality of decisions goes up when you move from one decision participant to two, and from two to three — but if you keep growing the committee past a certain point the quality starts going down again. There is research on this subject. 

      On the other hand if you want to create a system whereby the committee meets for a longer period of time in person, you will be hard pressed. The group of people with the relevant knowledge and skills are basically debaters, former debaters, and debate coaches, presumably from across the country. You can’t find another time when you can get a group of them together for more than four or five days running for six or seven hours a day — there simply isn’t a time when it could happen. NFL Nationals is the logical choice because it’s the only time in the year when the interests and plans of that group of people converge in one place for a long enough period of time to do this work. 

      Rebar, I have no hope of making you happy, but the committee considered your resolutions and your ideas for resolutional changes. I’d be happy to go into detail on MY understanding of the reasoning behind each decision. If you want 100% transparency then perhaps we need to set up a live video feed of the discussions, but they run for six or seven hours per day over four days so it would probably get tedious. If you have specific questions I’d be happy to address them.

      On the issue of “civil services”: my understanding is that the germ of the topic was to find a way to debate privatization writ large. We wanted a phrase that would exclude military privatization because we thought it would otherwise become PMCs and only PMCs. The phrase civil services applies to all areas of government function other than military, judiciary and elected officials, so it encompasses what we wanted the topic to be about. As far as the grammatical point Nick brought up — he’s wrong. It is certainly true that by definition the “services serve,” but that’s not the question in the resolution. The verb “serve” describes the action of the *privatization.* So the question in the resolution isn’t whether the services will or will continue to serve the interest of the society, but rather whether their *privatization* is in the interest of the society. Put another way, the question is whether society’s interests are better served by having core government civil functions privatized or having them remain within the purview of the government bureaucracy. It’s a really fascinating debate, and it is kind of broad, but we also talked about the benefits of students being pushed to compare disparate impacts. THIS IS ALL JUST MY THINKING — not the official word of the committee, so don’t go carding this for some kind of “framer’s intent” (and if someone does card this, the rest of you can card this part: DAVE IS NOT EXPRESSING THE FRAMER’S INTENT SO THEIR FRAMER’S INTENT ARGUMENT IS BS AND DAVE SAID SO.)

      Re: “Framework killing.” My understanding is that there was a deliberate interest in drafting topics that had some new and different evaluative terms so that students would have a chance to debate different frameworks. “Desirability” doesn’t necessarily dictate a utilitarian system, even though that word is used in some of the literature to denote utilitarian thinking. There is certainly a debate to be had about what is and is not “desirable” overall. I get that some of the lit uses the term “desirable” to denote a utilitarian way of thinking, but I imagine debaters will be creative enough to work around that. And if there are marginally more utility debates rather than practical reason debates next season, the world will not come to a shuddering halt. 

      There’s an old saw that says if you want to get on the wording committee, all you have to do is complain to the League president. If you don’t like the way the committee does business, give Scott Wunn a call and let him know what you think. Maybe he’ll put you on it. But I recommend that if you ARE on it you give some thought to the way  you express yourself. If you talk to other adults the way you have “spoken” to me on this thread, they won’t take you seriously. I think you’ll find that the same holds true in any professional setting you find yourself in throughout your life.

      • Dave McGinnis

        That last comment is for Rebar. I started out replying to Fritz but kind of went on a tear.

      • Rebar Niemi

        dave, you are truly a warrior – i really appreciate you putting up with my cantankerous and often abrasive internet self. at the end of the day, moses is right – you’ve been really awesome throughout this process. 

        i think that i would really like to be on the wording committee, i may have already ruined my chances with my words, but hey – you gotta take responsibility for what you say.

        and yes, i agree – you can’t talk to people in person/the real world like this. that’s why i love the internet!

  • I think people should quit bitching about topics, grow up, and just debate. I swear as much as I love the LD community it pisses me the hell off sometimes. #switchingtopolicydebate

    • Anonymous

      Most of the criticism is coming from coaches so you should probably rethink saying that they should “grow up, and just debate.”

      Maybe these topics would be acceptable if they were anomalies, but they’re not.

  • Erik Baker

    To be blunt the fact that genetic engineering, a topic which is fascinating and which was unanimously praised by commentators, was discarded in favor of the framework debate-killing, poorly worded privatization topic and the boring and overly specific term limits for judges topic is unspeakably disappointing. The A) lack of explanation of the decision-making process and B) disregard of nearly every suggestion about wording with the exception of the intervention topic makes me question the degree to which the committee actually cares about transparency and community input. There are still some quality topics but this list could have been made far superior if more of the suggestions that the committee solicited in the first place had actually been taken into account.

    • Dave McGinnis

      Erik – 

      You are making a mistake. 

      The fact that the wording committee did not AGREE with a particular suggestion does not mean they did not CONSIDER the suggestion.

      You are also very, very far wrong about the degree to which feedback was considered. Frankly, very little of the feedback on the NSD site was constructive. Most of it was aggressively insulting, otherwise it was intensely surfacey: “I like this topic…” 

      On the other hand, a number of people did a lot of constructive work on this site:

      — and you’ll see that much of their work was included in the final round of topics. If you read through those posts, you’ll see that the authors spent significant time deconstructing the topics, analyzing the impact of the wordings on hypothetical debates, and offering alternatives.

      Christian Tarsney’s analysis on genetic engineering was quite good. I don’t disagree with anything he said but the committee was loath to include “…morally permissible…” in topic wordings because that phrase seems to play havoc with various schools’ prep. Ultimately that topic came in 11th in our voting (though I ranked it higher). I would have liked to have seen it, but, again, “you didn’t concur with my suggestion” is not evidence for the claim that “you did not *consider* my suggestion.”

      I appreciated the comments that Rebar made after I shamed him into it, but they were made very late in the game. I brought them into the discussion this morning but by then we were just about done. 

      Overall, the approach to topic suggestions on NSD Update was intensely disappointing to me. The attitude from the outset seemed to be “let’s complain!” instead of “let’s help!” You can’t blame us, as a committee, for being off-put by criticisms couched in negative assertions about our character. I don’t know if you, personally, hurled any insults, but there is at least one instance in which an intensely insulting post by Rebar was followed by a post from you that began, “I agree…”

      • Erik Baker

        Sorry in advance for
        the enormous post:

        I admit that in my
        frustration I may have chosen words poorly. Let me say a few things. First,
        your link (which I fully admit provides a much higher level of discussion) only
        makes me more frustrated because there was not a single comment about genetic
        engineering except for Nick Bubb’s, which seems to concede that a genetic
        engineering topic in theory would be good. Combined with  the fact that
        numerous people on this site explicitly expressed their support for the topic,
        I hope you can understand why I find it problematic that the topic nonetheless
        did not make the list do to votes by a select few community members that were
        made with literally no explanation. I’m the first to admit that I don’t know
        what the best alternative is but I do think that something ought to change.


        Additionally, on that
        site one of the most widely discussed topics was the privatization one, which I
        maintain to be far and away the worst one on the list and quite plausibly the
        worst topic I have seen on the final list in my 3 years in the community. Nick and
        Torson both criticize the use of the term “civil services,” you and
        Nick have a productive back-and-forth about the numerous issues with the
        evaluative term “serves the public interest,” and Nick hits the nail
        on the head when he says (making a similar point to the one I made on this
        site) “In thinking more about this topic, it’s really, really hard to talk
        about it in the abstract. It really depends on the situation and the
        circumstances.” Nonetheless after all of this the wording on the topic was
        not changed one iota. Once more, I hope you understand why that frustrates me.


        As far as insults go, I
        agree that the tone of a lot of the comments here was probably not appropriate.
        But I honestly don’t think that Rebar’s comment was “intensely insulting”, nor
        was it my intention to agree to any perceived insults, only with the (perhaps
        somewhat buried) substance of what I thought he was trying to say. You will
        note that my lengthy comment (which got buried due to this site’s confusing
        mechanism for ordering comments) begins, “First
        I’d like to say that I have tremendous respect for the wording committee and
        the largely thankless, exhausting, and important job that they do. I know that
        I am in little position to criticize do to my own lack of effort to do more to
        influence the process” and ends, “Thanks again to the wording
        committee people.” I made a concerted effort to contribute substantively
        (although I now realize I ought to have posted more on the nfl site, but I
        missed that link in the enormous block of text that constituted the initial
        post on here) and I couldn’t help but feel like my voice was not being heard,
        and I think that people like me will continue to feel that way until there is
        more explanation from committee members about why they voted the way they did,
        making specific reference to online discussion (so I guess I do have some ideas
        about how to improve the process after all). 


        sorry for any perceived insult and thank you for your work this weekend. I hope
        that dialogue will continue on how to improve the entire topic selection



      • Rebar Niemi

        uhhhh is anyone else bothered by the statement “plays havoc with various schools’ prep” like i am?

        • Erik Baker

          I noticed it but decided to assume good faith. It would be nice if Dave could explain what he meant though. 

          • Anonymous

            which apparently is not gonna happen. Thanks anyhow for the half-hearted openness, Dave.

      • Rebar Niemi

        also dave don’t act all high and mighty when your “productive exchange” has ten total comments. good job good effort! YOU TOTALLY DID AN AMAZING JOB OF SPREADING THE WORD AND GETTING THE THOUSANDS OF ACTIVE LD DEBATERS AND COACHES INVOLVED!!!!!! 

        i didn’t even know that i could comment/assist until after it was too late… maybe you should have publicized. 

        you know what, i was really trying to be nice – but you’re just an apologist for an absolutely broken process that like i said, involves competent people and produces consistently mediocre results.

        i hope you’re happy. good job, good effort. 

        • Rebar Niemi

          one last thing: when i talked about condescension from committee members – your treatment of erik here is what i was referring to.

          like no duh dave, we all work too many hours for too little pay and do the best we can. erik did a lot of commenting – BEFORE you theoretically “made the cuts” 

          the problem i see – people are identifying problems for the committee. you seem to be saying that the committee is incapable of solving the problems people pose. here is my solution: get a new committee. 

          • Rebar Niemi

            also dave i noticed you said those weren’t the final wordings and we could still contribute… guess that wasn’t the case.

  • Rebar Niemi

    dude no justice topic????? THIS IS NOT THE LD I ONCE KNEW.

    to recap:

    resolved: secession

    resolved: “affirmative action”

    resolved: ANTONIO SCALIA

    resolved: libya and egypt and maybe syria

    resolved: apathy?

    resolved: hating the poor and being liars is cool

    resolved: unions?

    resolved: health care

    resolved: government?

    resolved: soft on crime


    • Erik Baker
      • Anonymous

        • Rebar Niemi

          i wish chief keef was a debater.

          • Anonymous

            WHO YOU THINK I BE FAM!!!!!

        • Erik Baker

          Thanks for your input, Chief. I think that your point that “a snitch, nigga, that’s the shit I don’t like” in particular is insightful and offers a unique perspective. I am truly sorry that you done got indicted selling on white.

    • Posts like this one confuse me a ton. It seems that the community this year has gotten something that, according to various people on various other threads, we have needed for a long time; transparency in topic selection. This however seems largely counterproductive to encourage further transparency. Instead of respectfully presenting a grievance, it seems as if it is needlessly bitter. What needs to be understood is that most people either like or dislike a topic. If only some are chosen, obviously there are going to be some that people like that aren’t. The reason then that this is harmful to transparency is if you didn’t see an initial list, or narrowed down list, would you have been this angry at the topic list? You probably wouldn’t have posted something that could be this easily construed as rude. Further, there are lots of people on the committee, most of which have been doing this for a long time, who are very active both on the national circuit and their respective local circuits. I think we can safely assume that they talked through and had good reasons for their decisions, regardless of how pissed off it may make one person. 

      If this seems unfocused and confusing, it probably is, I’m tired. But the core of my post can be summed up by the committee going out of their way to have transparency solely for our benefit, and that rude comments like this are extremely counterproductive to any sort of positive change.

      • Rebar Niemi

        yawn. you know what is counterproductive to positive change moses? sycophantic and lazy bootlickers who defend the status quo by branding people who are fed up with it “rude”

        you act like the committee is doing us a favor, but “technically” this is supposed to be an open process from the beginning.

        you act like transparency is sufficient for a procedure to be effective or good

        you act like people in authority are always to be trusted and obeyed, and if they deign to acknowledge us lessers we should thank our lucky stars for it

        you act like i’m not one of those people who barely gets paid so that my students can compete nationally and locally – like i’m not someone who has personally given time, effort, and attention to YOU.


        i humbly submit to your dictates. rude is as rude does. 

        • I guess I just legitimately don’t understand what there is to be gained from a comment like this. It isn’t bootlicking, or defending some sort of dictator. It is reacting reasonably. I may not like some topics on here, but you cant honestly expect to like every topic, can you? And your so called “solution” is ridiculously extreme. That’s right, these people should all be kicked off the committee because some people don’t like some topics. It isn’t as if this is some huge crisis; this is an activity that we voluntarily take part in for fun, and at worst, we all have to knuckle down and debate something we dont want to for periods of two months. 

          Lets be honest for just a second. What do you expect from the committee? They have done what the community previously told them to do, they have spent their time trying to pick topics with different people all giving their perspective. Do you think that if we go ahead and enact your solution, the new people would do things any better, especially if this is the response they get when they try? It is admirable that Dave is engaging you and others in a respectful way, regardless of shit that he constantly gets. I think most would probably have checked out already, and who can blame them.

          People are trying to listen to the community. That stops, however, when the community is percieved of as just a collection of trolls. You are only harming the causes you wish to further

          • Rebar Niemi

            yes, dave is an admirable dude. i have always maintained that. he also is capable of being an aggravating and rude individual in his own right, as i think we all are. 

            i do think that i would do a better job on the committee than current members. i do think other new people could do better. 

            i’m not responding to this topic list, this year. i’m not even responding to this process, this year.

            i’m responding to the fact that the committee consistently does a pretty poor job and then puts it on “the community” and acts like it is our fault they can’t do their job well. this year i submitted over 15 topics. there were over 140 topics total submitted. many many many of them were new, unique, and potentially very interesting. if the committee is as superior to us normies as they claim to be, it seems like they could manage to construct a list of 12 good topic areas and support those areas with wordings. then again, all of that is hard to do when you shoe horn it into a week like it doesn’t matter at all. 

            maybe i’m crazy but the way i see it, when that topic list comes out we should all be going crazy because of how awesome, fun, deep, and interesting EACH OF THE 12 is. not that there are a few good ones and a few recycled ones and a few bad ones. even the good topics have somewhat concerning and redundant wordings. the general consensus seems to have been “we folks on the commitee don’t like permissibility wordings, and we’re uncreative, so we’ll just make everything an ought topic”

            people are trying to listen – yes. dave in particular. are they listening to the right things and making good decisions based on that? maybe not. even dave, for all his patience and effort, has in my opinion disregarded very good intelligent commentary. is that just human fallibility? se la vie. 

            i personally think that the committee does not fully understand the current LD metagame, what makes a really quality LD topic right now, or how one constructs a better topic out of a promising topic area. this is not to say i, or anyone else, does. this is to say that by nature having a limited and fixed group of people in this position is a stupid idea. it puts them in a bad position, and forces the rest of us to live with the results – which are often not what would be the best.

            i am not advocating for some sort of national circuitization of the committee, i’m saying that we can do better on topics in general – not just topics in relation to the reality of competing in LD.

        • Oh please, Rebar. Your comments are nothing but condescending and rude. Would it be possible for you to use proper grammar and use civil discourse to guide a discussion in the right direction as opposed to coming across as an immature child?

          • Anonymous

            It’s pretty ironic to claim Rebar’s posts are condescending and end your post with such a supercilious sentence.

            More importantly, his discourse is quite effective. I doubt Dave would have spent so much time on this if Rebar’s post didn’t use derision. Plus, info about these posts spreads faster when a loud contrarian exists. There’s a reason I got 4 messages on Facebook about this thread’s debate.

            Maybe if people took criticism seriously regardless of its medium, that would lead “a discussion in the right direction.”

          • Rebar Niemi

            zinggggggg. I AM KING BABY. all hail my formula throne and mashed peas crown.

      • Erik Baker

        Transparency with strings attached is worse than no transparency at all, because it encourages complacency. People like you (from what I can glean from your comment) treat transparency as some sort of gift that the elites are so generous to bestow upon us instead of a reasonable expectation of a community that has also devoted a ton of time and effort to the activity and has a vested interest in making sure that topic selection works as well as possible. So when limited transparency is given–remember, it is limited inasmuch as what actually matters, that is, the reason for the committee members’ votes is still secret–and people want at least full transparency and maybe even greater power to directly affect the approval process, then those people are treated as uppity and “rude” and “needlessly bitter” and “confusing” because they weren’t satisfied with the initial gift that the authorities gave them.

        David Brooks wrote a disturbing op-ed piece in the NY Times the other day where he talked about how the common people weren’t deferential enough to authorities who were “infinitely better” than they were. That is the same ideology that underpins this post and is elitist at best and totalitarian at worst. You say that “we can safely assume that they…had good reasons for their decisions.” With all due respect to the committee members (and I do respect them) I think that this absolutely unacceptable. To quote Howard Beale in Network, “I’m a human being, goddammit.” Like everyone else in the community I have a particular point of view and experience in debate of my own and at times like these I feel, quite frankly, marginalized and I’m offended by the logic that I am incapable of knowing what’s best because my perspective isn’t broad enough or extensive enough. The assertion of the primacy of particular world views (or debate-views, I guess) on the basis of stature or experience is dangerous, in my opinion. Everyone should have the right to think for themselves and contribute constructively and the way to construct topics that respect the diversity of the community is to actually structure the process in a way that takes into account diverse viewpoints instead of having a committee of experts speak on behalf of what they imagine those diverse viewpoints to be.

        To sum up: transparency is an expectation, not a gift, and unquestioning deference to authority is probably a bad thing. I am shocked that these propositions are controversial. 

        • +1. Dave, your totalitarian mindset justifies oppression and genocide. I long for the day when the autocratic LD topic selection committee is overthrown and we can finally have true democracy. ¡Viva la Revolución!

          • Erik Baker

            The constructiveness of your condescending straw man mockery is only matched by its wit and comic potency. And Rebar’s the one who’s impolite…

          • Rebar Niemi


        • Anonymous

          This is called having an ‘entitlement’ problem– the online response to someone trying to make the process more open for the first time, wasn’t one of patience and appropriate suggestions of improvement but instead statements like “transparency is an expectation not a gift…” Well as much as you preface your statements with “I appreciate what you have done” soon follows insults, suggestions that committee members meant ill will etc. and you expect them to be silent and happy about it. 
          It’s deilusional to think that if LDers are means to someone who is trying to help them that they’ll stick around for the community that doesn’t appreciate their efforts in the first place.

          So yes, you are being uppity and rude, and I find it amazing that you and Nick expect that the behavior here is a one-way form of exchange where you can say snide things to people, criticize those people as somehow oppressive (when they are trying to include you) and then not expect to be criticized as harshly in turn.Not getting the genetic engineering topic is no proof of a lack of transparency. These appeals to transparency online sound like nothing other than a way to get ammunition to attack those who they disagree with.  “Transparency” has pretty much jumped the shark–as we see here, an increase in transparency didn’t decrease the kind of conspiracy thinking on this board.”You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” I am shocked that this proposition isn’t obvious.

          • Erik Baker

            A few brief things, because I don’t think there is much utility in arguing with people like you much more.

            1) I don’t have a problem with people insulting me or being rude on the internet, but I do have a problem when people don’t have the balls to actually put their names to a post. Sack up and take some personal responsibility for your post. If you are a debater, maybe you are worried that I’ll judge you poorly next year as a result, but I am not that petty. If you don’t believe me, strike me. But for the love of god don’t hide behind an anonymous name.

            2) Almost all of what you say is so wholly unsubstantiated and detached from the facts of what I have said on this site that there is little way that I can respond to it. It is clear that you neither read my posts on the other thread, where I made a great effort (as I explained in my reply to Dave above) to be polite and constructive, nor approached my comments in this thread without preconceived notions and a determination to find “insults” and “snide comments” and insinuations about “ill will” where there were none. I don’t think committee members are evil or autocratic. All the ones whom I know personally I hold in the absolute highest esteem. I just think that they are imperfect like all of us and broader inclusion of the community can make the process better. There’s a difference between being insulting and refusing to dress up my words in pretty little euphemisms to avoid hurting the feelings of grown-up adults who should be able to take it. I think that speaking one’s thoughts bluntly ought to be the norm for any rational discussion. Sycophantic ass-kissing shouldn’t be a precondition for being taken seriously. 

            Once more I really don’t care that much if someone disagrees with me or even insults me. I’m frequently wrong and I have no problem with people pointing that out. But the one thing that does piss me off is condescension, especially from self-righteous snobs ON THE INTERNET of all places who don’t have the courage to put their name to their obnoxious comments. Guess what? Your shit still smells and neither of us will be alive in 100 years. Don’t try to put me in my place.

          • Anonymous

            CHIEF KEEF LIVIN TILL THE WORLD BLO!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Erik Baker

            Anonymous assholes, that’s the shit I don’t like.

          • Rebar Niemi

            LOLLLLL. dude they told us last year that “the topic committee meetings have always been open!”


            also damn son i usually misspell and use incorrect grammar because it is funny – something tells me you were trying here. good job good effort!!!

            i don’t care about a lack of the genetic engineering topic. i care about the fact that i think the topic committee does not do as quality a job as i think can easily be done. 

            also, dave has stuck around. the people you’re going to lose are people like… oh say how about 80% of the top debaters from the past 8 years who are over it. hmm i wonder if the community would be better if we hadn’t hemorrhaged all the talent. 

            i have always stuck to a philosophy of “i can take it so i dish it out” – you are apparently a coward who cannot take it. moreover, 

            if you’re not willing to put your name out there because you’re “Afraid” of “repercussions” i would argue it is YOU who traffics in conspiracy theory. all i have done is post under my name and say that i think other people could do a better job or a different process could do a better job, or that the same people could do a better job. 

            EVERYONE IS A CRYBABY. i can’t believe it, but i seem to be literally the only person in debate who is capable of having people insult them/disagree and not hold it against them personally. all of you punks apparently never got over that hella immature phase of thinking every round you lost was the judges’ fault. 

            i’m so over these anonymous posts by people who think they have “something to lose” by posting their opinion. what am i going to do to you? what is someone going to do to you on my behalf? seriously this is pathetic. you are a fronter. you are stepping to me like you have something to say. have something to say? SAY IT.

  • disappointed that “Resolved: cats are better than dogs” didn’t make the cut

    • Dave McGinnis

      We all are, Dan.

  • No genetic engineering? That seemed to be one of the most popular topics based on Internet comments, but it didn’t make the final list. Makes me wonder if making the process more transparent actually makes a difference.

    • So I don’t want to be THAT GUY, but I am curious what input went into the decisions. Not doubting it did, but just wondering how revealing the process and allowing comments influenced the decisions.

      • Dave McGinnis

        What, specifically, do you want to know? 

        I can tell you that much of the commentary here:

        — and also on the earlier NFL topic thread where Anthony Berryhill spent significant time — was considered and included.

        NSD Update commentary, taking as it did the form of a lengthy insulting diatribe, was less likely to be included. There were more constructive comments that came later in the process but by then much of the heavy lifting had been done, wording-wise. Christian’s comments re: genetic engineering were discussed as were Rebar’s lengthy and constructive post. We almost inserted “justice” into the topic where Rebar mentioned it, but decided that it would require some time-consuming rewrites, and that the difference in the nature of the debate wouldn’t change enough to justify the effort. 

        As I’ve mentioned above, you should bear in mind that “I will consider your opinions” is not the same statement as “I will concur with your opinions.” Your chances of having your opinions considered and adopted increases if you (A) consider them and explain them carefully, and (B) present them in a professional manner. 

    • Dave McGinnis

      “Most popular” is a relative term. There were, what, four people commenting? Hardly a representative sample. I liked the topic — having both debated it in 91 and having coached it, I know it’s a good topic. But there were a lot of concerns about the distribution of burdens and while it made it to our final list for voting, it didn’t survive the voting process. But it was definitely considered and if put forward again it may make the list in another year. 

      Again, you are misconstruing “failure to agree with my opinion” for “failure to consider my opinion.” I can assure you every line that was written on this site or this one:

      — was read. Some of the comments on NSD Update were not considered terribly seriously because they were put forward in an insulting manner, and I’m certainly not going to apologize for that. 

      • I really appreciate the response. I understand why the committee would reject a topic despite a few people saying that they like it. But I think making the committee’s concerns with the distribution of burdens and whatnot more public, to allow the community to discuss and respond, would be more fair and productive.