TOC Final Round judge Vincent provides written RFD

Chris Vincent, director of forensics at Fern Creek High School, was on the top of the 2-1 decision for Rebecca Kuang in the final round of the TOC. Vincent, a college policy debater at the University of Louisville, graduated from Fern Creek in 2008. As a high schooler, he was a prolific policy debate competitor both in Kentucky and on the national circuit.

Mr. Vincent has provided his written reason for decision in the final round of the 2013 TOC.

In 2012, NSD Update published Dave McGinnis’ final round RFD from the NFL Nationals. We believe that these documents can provide valuable insight for both coaches and debaters as they prepare for the season’s major events.

Mr. Vincent’s RFD:

Tournament of Champions Final Round: Greenhill RK vs St Louis Park RS
Christopher Vincent RFD

I start with sending major congratulations to Greenhill’s Rebecca Kuang for winning the final round of Lincoln Douglas at the 2013 Tournament of Champions.  I would also like to extend congratulations to St Louis Parks Richard Shmikler. The round between Greenhill RK and St Louis Park RS was representative of the ideological differences that exists within our community, and was not only necessary, but timely and useful.  I am honored that I had the opportunity to judge this final round of the Tournament of Champions. I want to use this moment to explain how I reached my decision.

I voted Affirmative for Greenhill RK.

I think that the aff is winning an epistemological starting point question about how we explore and understand the material aspects of racism.  I differ with Sam as seeing racism as the most important impact in the round, but rather view the debate through a lens of how knowledge has been situated.  Racism is not the most important impact, but rather it is the epistemological starting point to deal with explicit acts of racism as the most important part of the debate.  At a big picture level I think that the aff is ahead on the need to deal with the material implication of racism both within the topic and within our debate community.  The negatives argument seems to come short of the way in which the AC is already explaining her argument.  The sentimentalism argument only argues the need to justify oppression is bad and is positioned from the perspective that the Aff assumes to know what it means to be oppressed.  The aff responds to both of these questions for me.  She contextualizes this to the way in which we talk about racism:

  1. The Curry evidence which she extends throughout the round, explains that this need to justify oppression, as morally bad, is the exact type of colorblind mentality that allows racist actions to manifest.  She is winning that the NC is the exact type of abstract ethical theory that calls for a justification that racism is bad, rather than actively doing something to address the act of racism itself.
  2. The NC advocacy is not exclusive to the advocacy of the AC.  While there is not an explicit permutation argument made, the aff is winning that she is already the justification, but takes it to the material level.

While many will try to characterize this in the realm of pre/post-fiat impacts, it is important to recognize the terminology used very specifically by the aff, which also changes the nature of this round and conversation.  The question of epistemological starting points is the difference between the materiality of racism vs. the theoretical advocacy of the NC.  While I grant the negative that he is a theoretical justification of why racism is bad, I don’t think he does enough work contextualizing that to the problem with his lack of materiality, especially with the negative claiming to solve racism.

The other meta-issue that the aff is winning is the “privilege disad.” This becomes a larger debate about debate, and she is winning some major things in this particular debate causing me to affirm:

  1. The first is that the neg is not concerned with the historical context of how racism exists.  Instead the negative tries to imagine a world of no racism, which only once again reinforces the notions of colorblindness.  Here I spent a lot of time lining that with the NC argument about “semantics preceding ontology/epistemology/metaethical standards” but it is not as sufficiently warranted as the aff does with the Leonardo evidence making it harder to evaluate.
  2. This leads me to the framework/ bullying theory debate.  While I don’t think the aff is particularly persuasive in labeling this as an explicit act of racism, I also don’t think the negative is particularly persuasive in demonstrating that the aff destroys critical thinking, and his pre-fiat bad args.  The Leonardo evidence is particularly compelling for me on these questions and it becomes another labeled voting issue.   Characterizing and skirting the discussions away from issues of race and privilege allows whites to remain complicit in their privilege.  This is where the debate is particularly messy.  While the negative is right that there are 6 conceded “line-by-line” arguments as to why the theoretical justification is good, he is missing the independent voter attached to the framework itself, and the way in which the Curry evidence speaks to those larger questions.  The 2AR characterizes the round as a “Debate about debate” meaning that there are larger epistemological questions that must be resolved as to how we engage discussions of race.  This debate was never about the individual arguments, but rather about a larger metaconversation about our refusal as a community to talk about the materiality of racism.

The negative winning the round rests upon the assumption that I buy the theoretical justification for racism bad is necessary.  At the end of the round I am convinced that the aff does not need to prove that, and is in fact demonstrating the practical implications of racism.  There are several examples in the round that are particularly useful for examining this, especially in relation to the privilege da.  The first is in cross-x when Rebecca asks Richard if he is accountable for oppression.  His refusal to answer the question directly, played into the aff argument that whites are unable to see how they maintain their privilege and distance themselves from responsibility.  Also, she is making several inroads as to why his conception of debate assumes that the resolution starts from a fair playing field, despite the fact that debate does not.  The examples as to why there is not black representation at the TOC, or a single black judge on the finals panel, demonstrates the uneven playing field that already exists in the debate space.  This coupled with the Wise evidence, on how debate is filled with privilege, demonstrates the need to examine how we construct our epistemology.  Since the aff is winning a better epistemological starting point, I affirm.

I want to conclude with some larger thoughts I had about the debate itself and more broadly how our community is shaped.  I was willing to vote on the epistemological starting point’s argument in the final round of the Tournament of Champions, while Ari was not.  I think some of this speaks to how we as a community reflect ideological differences and some to the way the round went down.   While I don’t believe neither side was doing a particularly great job with the link level of the debate, I am more persuaded by the arguments that Greenhill is making at the end of the round and am willing to evaluate the way in which the neg interacts when confronted with explicit acts of racism.  I have seen Ari pick up a student of mine running a very similar argument related to knowledge production and know that he is willing to.  However, this round did two things.  The first is that it demonstrated that when pushed into the corner and forced to choose without an explicit role of the ballot and role of the judge framing, judges will choose the position that they are most familiar with and least uncomfortable with.  While this is probably the assumption you have also made about me, I believe that it leads to a conversation about us as judges and educators.  It is time that we move beyond the belief that we are objective judges or even objective beings when we judge rounds.  This was the thing that I believe shaped the other two judges more so than mine, because we start from the assumption that we are viewing the round objectively.  The reality of it is that we are not.  We are shaped by our own social interactions, and all possess strong feelings when it comes to race/racism.  This is what I believe makes this debate round particularly more educational than many, is because Rebecca’s position asks us to challenge those assumptions to explore the material effects and our own assumptions.

The question becomes whether or not this particular argument should win the final round of the TOC.  The answer is yes.  First, it is yes simply because in my mind she legitimately won the debate.  While everyone is right, there were 6 conceded arguments, she legitimately wins a starting point argument which shapes why those 6 arguments do not actually matter.  Secondly, most will characterize this as a micro-political position winning, and miss the more important part of this advocacy.  This debate was ABOUT DEBATE, which means that yes it is an educational conversation simply because it is about the very thing we do and the very way we engage every weekend throughout the season.  This argument is not micro-political but is instead tied to us within the larger social system, something that many are likely to miss.  What better place than the final round of the TOC to engage in substantive discussion about the things we believe to be true?

The last three things I want to think about are three particular pieces of evidence that there was no response to in the round:
1) The Curry evidence says we must stop looking for a theoretical justification to explain why certain things are morally bad.  The perfect example was when Rebecca said why don’t you ask the two black men in this room if the Criminal Justice System is bad.  No one breathed on this.

2) Leonardo says whites are always allowed to remain complicit in their privilege.  The ability to distance yourself from responsibility or accountability for oppression only allows that complicity to remain in place.  The negative’s refusal to answer whether or not he is accountable for oppression reflects the two positions within our community.  His hesitancy comes from a perspective that attempts to alleviate any sense of responsibility, while feeding back into the same cycle.

3) The Wise evidence says debate itself is very privileged and that the educational benefits we get are almost always in the research phase.  Rebecca is asking important questions about what this means based on the three individuals signing their ballot.  Ari, Sam, and myself are not black, which raises questions as to why there is not a single black judge on the final panel.  There is a question to be made as to why there is no black representation at the TOC in LD, when there are arguably several perfectly qualified students.

I conclude by asking the same thing I asked to the St Louis Park coach and student which is this: why do your six conceded responses matter in relation to these three arguments and in a world in which she wins theory only distances ourselves.  The answer is they simply do not.  On the flip side, why is it that he is not forced to answer these three meta arguments about debate itself.  The answer is found in the advocacy of the AC.  The neg starts from a place of flawed epistemology that already predisposition’s his perspective on race.

I conclude by saying I am honored that I was able to judge this round, and anticipate that it will shape a larger conversation about the practical implications of talking about race within the LD debate space, and for moving beyond strategies centered on abstract ethical theories, to in turn talk about something real and tangible.

-Christopher Vincent



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  • Alright, I wasn’t going to post anything here, but I feel like I need to say this. I think the community has largely forgotten what this activity can mean to kids. For the longest time this queer body did not have a space where I felt like my voice meant something. At home I was an abomination to my family. At school I was taught I would get AIDS as a punishment from God. But debate was the one place where I felt at home. It gave me a community where I could escape the vitriol that followed me a home and at school. Frankly, however, the toxicity of the posts on this thread is just a single example of how disrespectful and marginalizing people in debate have become. It’s enough to make me want to leave and I know there are other oppressed bodies in the community that feel the same. I know everybody has their own problems, but for the most part people with privilege have a voice outside of debate. They have someplace they can go to escape vitriol and disrespect found at home and school. But I didn’t. And I know I’m not the only one.

    It’s not about what happens in the debate or the conceded a, c ,and f subpoints on the flow. As Emporia said, it’s about creating a “home” for marginalized bodies that don’t have one. It’s ok to discuss the round. But for Christ’s sake it’s still just a high school debate tournament. It’s really not that big of a deal. But maintaining a social environment that is respectful and inclusive of all people from all walks of life is a big deal.

  • NoWP

    “…the wide consensus that SLP RS picked up…” This is never, ever a basis for any kind of appeal to tab or a tournament director. This merits zero consideration by the TOC. This “consensus” comes from a bunch of people who are grasping for straws. You complain that Malis doesn’t have the authority to rule on complaints after a tournament…then what gives you the authority to determine what “merits mention in a farewell post?” If you want to make a demand on the TOC committee, you and “justmysimple opinion” have to come better than this illogical nonsense.

  • Jrob

    Yo, Imma let y’all finish, but David Wolfish was the greatest TOC Debater OF ALL TIME.

    • I judged him twice in the 2005 TOC, God-only-knows how many other times his senior year, and haven’t seen a high school debater before or sense with anything approaching his technical skills. That man wrote a clinic on getting my ballot every time he was in front of me.

    • Old Timer

      Wolfish was an absolute beast in terms of technical skills. I’ve seen lots of impressive debaters before and since, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone who was as skilled in the fundamentals of debate as David.

  • Out of curiosity who’s obligation was Mr. Vincent covering?

    • He’s listed as hired on, the only judge without a specific affiliation.

      • Lifer_At_Rawr

        This would be awkward if Greenhill had something to do with getting him hired. This is probably going to be awkward.

      • Interesting. I had some vague recollection that the TOC made you bring your own judge or hire someone that was going to be there and didn’t have any tournament hired judges.

    • There were several judges from the policy community that volunteered rounds in LD (Elijah Smith, Sara Sanchez, Tara Tate), but weren’t fulfilling anyone’s obligation. They just put themselves in the LD pool out of their own volition.

  • sjadler

    I posted below in response to Emily Massey RE: conflict policy at the TOC. It seems there were all sorts of miscommunications this year, and ideally we should work toward clearer/more precisely defined policies in the future, because it seems some people weren’t aware of them (probably through no fault of their own, if the website was inconsistent in what it listed).

    For anybody curious, here is the email in its entirety that Andrea Reed sent out about conflicts:

    TOC Statement on Conflicts of Interest in Judging – Lincoln Douglas

    Making judge changes after a pairing has been released really hurts debaters because, in many instances, it is tough to find qualified judges once the rounds have started. Aside from judges simply not showing up to rounds, another reason this happens is because people do not declare their conflicts prior to the tournament.

    In an effort to help minimize these on-the-fly-changes, we are asking that all judges place a check-mark next to those debaters they should not judge.

    Although there are questions regarding exactly what constitutes aconflict, we would ask judges make a good-faith effort based on:

    Fair competition requires not merely the absence of impropriety but also the appearance of impropriety. A conflict of interest is a relationship that might reasonably be thought to bias a judge toward or against a competitor. Such relationships may themselves be quite innocent, but they could reasonably be thought to compromise a judge’s impartiality. The Lincoln Douglas TOC Advisory Committee has drafted these guidelines to be implemented at this year’s Tournament of Champions.

    A judge must recuse himself or herself from judging a student under the following conditions:

    1. The judge and the student may be perceived to have a competitive or financial agreement that may bias the judge’s impartial evaluation of the round. Examples include but are not limited to:

    a) The student attends a school (or a collaboration of schools) that the judge attended, coached for, or competed with.

    NOTE: Two potential exceptions to this guideline would be that if the TOC Advisory committee (or a quorum thereof), felt that enough time has passed since that judges attendance at the school to resolve concerns of impropriety. In addition, if both coaches felt comfortable with a judge that graduated from a school of one of the competitors, the tab room may allow that judge placement.

    b) The judge has a paid or unpaid coaching, consulting, or judging relationship with the student or school during the same academic year. NOTE: Serving a tournament-hired judge does not constitute a conflict of interest.

    c) The judge has received or provided expressed or implied offers to provide future coaching, consulting, or judging to a school or student.

    d) The judge has provided exclusive pre-round preparation to a student either before or during a tournament through any method including electronically, verbally, or through the transfer of resources. NOTE: Sharing of information does not constitute preparation but the discussion of strategies, arguments, evidence, etc would constitute preparation. If such preparation is provided during a tournament, the judge should immediately (before pairings are released) recluse himself or herself from judging the student they prepared for the rest of the tournament. If practice rounds before or during the tournament has occurred between schools that a judge is fulfilling obligations for and could potentially judge, that would be defined as preparation and all parties should consider that a conflict.

    2. The judge and the student may be perceived to have a personal or social arrangement that may bias the judge’s impartial evaluation of the round. Examples include but are not limited to:

    a) The judge and the student may be perceived to have had a personal relationship that may bias the judge’s impartial evaluation of the round.

    b) The judge and the student are or have been in a familial, physical, or emotional relationship.

    c) The judge and the student have communications of a personal nature over e-mail, telephone, or the Internet including social networking sites that goes beyond casual exchanges. For example, communications that are extensive and/or repetitive may create a conflict. Judges who socialize with the student outside of the competition arena are considered to have established a personal or social relationship with that student.

    3. The judge does not believe they are able to fairly and impartially adjudicate a competition involving a particular student for whatever reason. A judge may choose to recuse himself or herself from adjudicating a student under the following conditions (If these conditions exist, it is the affirmative duty of the judge to make such information publicly available prior to the round beginning):

    a) The judge shares transportation and/or lodging with the student’s team on a regular basis.

    b) The judge has a personal, financial, or familial relationship with the student’s coach or member of the student’s family.

    c) The judge is an administrator of, currently employed by, or anticipates employment from a forensics related enterprise with whom a financial or advisory relationship exists or is sought with the student. NOTE: While these guidelines do not prohibit lab leaders/institute staff from judging their lab students at the TOC. However, if those lab leaders maintain consistent contact with those students and/or engage in personal relationships with them, they should recuse themselves from judging those specific individuals.

    The expectation of competitors, judges, and coaches at the TOC is to engage in the highest levels of professionalism and integrity. The tournament may remove all mutual preference requests for all students from a school/schools if a judge associated with that school fails to adhere to these guidelines. The offending judge will also be removed from the judging pool for the rest of the tournament and that school required to pay a fee to cover all rounds remaining at the tournament. In any case, schools must provide judges that fit criteria of being usable by the tab room to actually fulfill its judge commitment.

    While the responsibility is on judges to aide transparency, the responsibility exists for coaches and student competitors as well. The tournament will remove all mutual preference requests for all students from a school if a coach or debater fails to disclose known pertinent information regarding a violation of the guidelines above. It is the affirmative duty of all coaches and debaters to assist efforts in transparency. No decisions will be modified as a result of disclosed information. The Tournament of Champions does reserves the right to restrict student and school participation in this years tournament, and future tournaments, if an egregious violation of the rules occurs. The TOC Advisory Committee (or a quorum thereof) shall be empowered to adjudicate such a dispute and its decision shall be final. Appeal of the decision to the Tournament Director shall be at the sole d iscretion of Tournament Director or a designated agent(s).

  • conflicted

    The TOC Committee came up with these, did they just disappear all of a sudden? Do none of these apply?

    Potentially relevant to the discussion:

    “The judge has a personal, financial, or familial relationship with the student’s coach”

    “The judge and the student may be perceived to have a competitive or financial agreement that may bias the judge’s impartial evaluation of the round.”

    • That last bit you quote — “judge has relationship w/ coach” — does not require recusal. That section lists reasons a judge may choose to recuse if he/she feels uncomfortable.

      I can’t bieve they haven’t changed the “fairness requires the appearance of impropriety” bit. I’ve pointed that out like five times, including onc before these were initially published.

  • “justmysimpleopinion” is still a jerk.

  • (Again, I normally don’t post here, but this site sometimes demonstrates that ignorance truly does know no bounds.)

    If it’s political suicide, then don’t say it unless you’re willing to stand behind your remarks. That your name and face get replaced by a random name and IP address online does not grant the right to spew hatred and bitterness. If you wouldn’t say it out loud in public, if you wouldn’t say it to Rebecca’s face, don’t say it here. Manners don’t cease to exist once you’re sitting behind a computer screen. What you say on private chats and in your own home is your own business, but once you’re in public you have to moderate your statements for the sake of those involved.

    It’s ok to make controversial statements. It’s ok to criticize other peoples’ controversial statements. But there’s a limit to what can be said in a public forum, and anonymity sometimes makes this community forget that. Just because you become harder to identify makes you no less responsible for your words. They are still read/heard here like anybody else’s words.

    But while I’m logged in:

    1. Gay marriage should be legal

    2. Abortion is ok

    3. We should have stricter gun control

    4. Close Guantanamo!

    5. End drone strikes

    6. Lower taxes on the upper class don’t stimulate the economy

    7. Rebecca Kuang rightfully won the TOC

    Oh, and the button I’m about to hit reads “Post as Michael O’Krent,” and I’m ok with that. And I have also toned down what I wrote here because of that, as everyone should.

    • Yeah people are bigger assholes than they should be due to anonymity, but when you don’t have a team behind you it’s pretty scary that you might have people think of you as an enemy due to the post. Back when I debated I’d generally refrain from posting due to it, but even posting reasonable opinions can seem like “political suicide” if you aren’t (or even if you are) well known on the circuit.

      • I think you’re right about the force of having a team, and I’ve never been on the other side of that. I have 2 thoughts though:

        1. The way people think of “reasonable” opinions depends a lot on how they are articulated. The reaction to something like “What were the prefs for the finals panel? I noticed that Rebecca thanked one of her judges on facebook. Is there a relationship?” will always be more positive and accomodating than the reaction to “OMG GREENHILL CHEATED REBECCA SHOULDN’T HAVE WON I HATE REBECCA HER ARGUMENTS ARE SO MEAN”. Regardless of whether people have a team behind them, they should always feel comfortable posting as long as their concerns are presented in a polite and non-belligerent fashion. There may still be some adverse reactions, but those are entirely the fault of the people who replied – they escalated the tone of the discussion. Certainly, most people in the community would be able to sniff out that kind of dis-proportionality in the response. It’s still not political suicide.

        2. You definitely had the right approach. If you’re afraid of getting a bad reputation for saying something, don’t say it. That’s probably a good indicator that you shouldn’t say it in the first place. Sometimes you won’t be able to say every single thing you have to say about the community, but that’s ok because refraining from saying something negative can never hurt anything. If it was phrased constructively in the first place, see #1.

        • 1. Yeah I agree about people being way too rude without attaching their name to something, but it’s still not always the best idea.

          2. Eh, even when I did say something constructive it was pretty terrifying. I remember my sophomore year asking a question on the old VBD forums on some gender inequality thread (just asking a question, and in a cordial manner) and getting yelled at by a successful girl on the circuit for being so unenlightened. It’s that sort of response that kids may be afraid of.

          Also even if it’s not actually political suicide, it’s perceived political suicide, so people will still be unable to give their opinions because of that.

          • Ok, sometimes it can be difficult to speak up. It’s the same in real life. I don’t think it’s any reason for anonymity.

  • A regular Joe

    When will the finals round be posted online?

  • Old Timer

    Ari Parker coached Byram Hills JA, who had Steve Renzi as a judge (sitting out for him, no less) in his bubble round. Ari and Steve are good friends, have lots of pictures with each other up on Facebook together, etc. Is this a conflict of interest?

    Plenty of NSD and VBI staff members – many of whom are in management or pseudo-management positions at those camps – judge seniors who will be teaching at those camps those summer. It’s reasonable to believe that these camps have some interest in being able to advertise the accomplishments of their first-year-out lab leaders. Is it a conflict of interest for Eric, or Jake, or Ari, or Bietz or whoever to judge someone whom they have personally advertised as a lab leader at one of their camps?

    It would be interesting to see a more thorough discussion of what constitutes a ‘conflict of interest’ for judges, but I doubt we’ll get that here. I think it’s important to remember that the national circuit LD community is a very small world, comprised largely of people who know each other and are friends with each other. Without some degree of trust in our fellow community members – who are adults whom we may reasonably expect to approach a high school extracurricular activity with some degree of detachment – it would be difficult to run these tournaments effectively.

    • Truth

      I’m not sure why you didn’t mention the better example in rd 7 of the TOC. Jonathan Massey voted for Byram Hills JA against Palo Alto TC. When an attempt was made to change out the judge by a member of the community before the round, Ari told this person not to tell tab and just let it happen. Well, it happened, Byram Hills won and this sparked a lot of controversy (brought several people to tab on Travis’s behalf). Was this a conflict because Ari was the former head coach at Whitman? Possibly. I will say that this is clearly way worse than “Chris for Rebecca,” but I guess since it is Greenhill everyone has to hate. “Whitman Supremacy” at its finest.

      • Old Timer

        Is this true? Ari, can you comment on this? Seems hard to believe tab would allow a Whitman judge to adjudicate a round involving a student coached by a Whitman coach.

        • Truth

          Of course it is true that a Whitman coach judged Byram Hills. You can look to the results packet for that information.

          • Ari isn’t a Whitman coach and hasn’t been one for over a year now. As Tom points out, being a former coach of a school never disqualifies the judges from that school from judging your new kids. And not that I think it matters either way, but to clear up any confusion, my dad does not coach the Whitman team.

          • Truth

            Refer to my last post. “The fact that he had Whitman’s prep in some capacity, is certainly a reason for him to be a conflict for all Whitman-affiliated judges.” Again, this is not to say that he actually did hack for Byram Hills. This is merely pointing out that this should be a school-wide conflict because of prep sharing.

          • First, it is completely unreasonable for a judge to have conflict themselves from students that may or may or may not have the same prep as the students they are affiliated. That would be an impossible standard for MJP to meet because debaters share prep all the time; I can’t think of a single TOC competitive debater that I am friends with that hasn’t shared prep at some point. It is not the judges obligation to know who their kids share prep with

            Second, I don’t even think the student running prep from another school can be faulted severely if at all, so long as they have permission to run these arguments, because it seems unreasonable to say that you shouldn’t be allowed to run certain arguments in front of certain judges depending on who wrote them. Cards aren’t legitimized by the person who cut them but by the source and the standard they appeal to – analytical are similarly bolstered by their logical coherency, and not the person who wrote them.

            I think that your arguments justify judges conflicting students if their schools prep together; I.e. Mountain view judges should conflict Los altos students and vice-versa but don’t justify students conflicting judges of kids they share prep with occasionally, especially in this sort of ask where (to my knowledge) it was one file given before the round. Maybe that file shouldn’t have been given at all, but that doesn’t seem to affect the obligation of the judge or the student debating

          • Truth

            I dont have much time to respond but I mainly take issue with your #2. What you are saying justifies a coach writing a “prep-out,” giving it to their student, that student giving it to a student at a different school, and that different school kid reading the exact prep-out “word-for-word” in front of the coach that wrote it. You say cards aren’t legitimized by the person who cut them but 1. we interpret full texts of cards different and 2. analytics logical coherency is seemingly dictated by the person writing them. A coach probably would write an argument in the way that coach understands it which means there is no chance that the argument could be misinterpreted by the judge even if the explanation was poor. Point being, if a judge wrote a file and someone reads that file in front of them, the judge seemingly would be a lot more receptive (and certainly knowledgable) with the arguments that they themselves cut/wrote. So yes, reading a file that a coach wrote in front of that coach certainly gives that debater a leg-up and I find that problematic.

          • I think we both agree that it’s perfectly okay for a coach to write a prep out, and then have their students give that prep out to friends (maybe that’s not great for the educational value of debate but that’s another matter). It seems then that the only thing we disagree on is whether the receiving student is then justified in running the prep out in front of a judge who who is affiliated with the team running it.

            Your argument for why students shouldn’t run these arguments is that the coaches will be more familiar with the arguments but 1. I don’t think familiarity leads to bias – I.e. Christian Tarsney has read and cut a lot of Bostrum but I doubt that he would be inclined to vote for those arguments in the face of compelling answers. Additionally, familiarity can be a huge detriment at times; I cut a death good file my sophomore year and I now know firsthand how terrible those arguments are. Judges familiarity with an argument doesn’t seem like a good ground by which to conflict them because that familiarity can go both ways. 2. Your argument assumes that the judge is also the author of the prep out but I think it’s safe to say JMassey was not the author of, or even involved in the authoring of, this file. Maybe there is an obligation for students to not read arguments written by someone in front of that person but that wasn’t the case here.

            And Even if you are 100% right, who can we blame and how can we enforce your idea? It seems like the debater giving prep did nothing wrong, it certainly seems like the judge can’t control what was run in front of them, and it doesn’t seem fair to say that the debater running the argument has an obligation to find out the exact source for the arguments they were reading, outside of verifying the legitimacy of cards etc. because arguments are recycled so much that something I write in a prepout might be from an old Martin Sigalow file, and that if I give that file to someone and that file is then read in for of Martin, the debater isn’t at fault for not knowing the exact history of all his arguments.

          • I don’t think that this necessarily follows. I’ve had plenty of people read, verbatim, things that I’ve written, but haven’t found it any more persuasive to me than other arguments. Maybe that’s just because I try really hard not to intervene whereas other people drop students for things running things like an argument that “concludes every action is permissible.”

            Also, wouldn’t this also mean you should be able to run arguments that were first written by someone else? Does this mean nobody should be able to run CX √s bad in front of me just because I made up the shell?

            Edit: Also, why was my other post deleted?

          • anondebater1985

            Shout out to Jonathan Massey, one of the coolest dudes judging the circuit.

            He won the NDT while at Harvard and judges TOC elims, 28 years later

          • On a tangentially related note, the Dripps cards that PVP and others have been reading all topic were actually written by the 1980 NDT champion, Donald Dripps.

      • Neither of those should have been a conflict, people are just stupid. That doesn’t mean there’s any “Whitman Supremacy,” though I’m sure you think you made a clever pun.

        Also I don’t recall ever hearing claiming Ari said to just let it happen.

        Also according to what I hear Travis agreed he lost the round.

        Also, I don’t see why being a *former* coach of a school would prevent any of those schools from judging a new student of that coach. That’s like saying that no Greenhill coaches should have been allowed to judge Lexington because Noah went there (not singling our ghill, I just don’t know where many first-year-outs are coaching that have other coaches).

        • Rebar Niemi

          actually the real clever pun is “whiteman” which I CAME UP WITH.

      • You really want to accuse Jonathan Massey, a 50 year old appellate attorney, of hacking for Josh Altman, a debater whom he may not have even known existed, because of a connection with Ari Parker, someone who quit Walt Whitman? The answer is no, you don’t. This just happens to be the moment in the flamewar where someone appears to play some ridiculous tu quoque (ridiculous because no one affiliated, now or at any point in the past, with Whitman said anything, ever, on this thread implying that Greenhill engaged in any misconduct of any kind).

        • Truth

          So, I guess this is the time I say that Byram Hills was reading Whitman’s prep (the exact same arguments Whitman was reading). This was confirmed by people watching the round who said that they debated and heard whitman read these same arguments. This is not to say that Jonathan hacked for the Byram Hills kid, but it is to say that probably should have been a conflict. So, I agree with Tom in that I don’t think in every single circumstance, being a former coach of a school would prevent any of those schools from judging a new student of that coach. But, the fact that he had Whitman’s prep in some capacity, is certainly a reason for him to be a conflict for all Whitman-affiliated judges.

          • Well, we do not share prep with Byram Hills. So if we re-write some team’s cases and read them in a round we get free conflicts? Sign me up; I’d like some extra strikes. And trust me, Jonathan Massey does not spend his hours (where he’s not, you know, representing clients in federal and constitutional disputes) studying the prep of the Walt Whitman HS debate team.

          • Consider changing your username after that beatdown. You are no Paul Pierce.

      • I agree with Eric and Tom that neither of these rounds was a conflict.

        Josh did not share prep with Walt Whitman in any capacity for the TOC or for any time I coached him this year (the last two topics). I think he may have read one card in that round that Whitman also read on this topic, but I hardly think carding the same article as another team merits conflicting all of that team’s judges.

        No “attempt was made to change out the judge by a member of the community before the round.” No one had any problem with the pairing before the round began. One person in particular who had no affiliation with either of the debaters decided to make an issue of it after the round, causing “a lot of controversy.” It is clear, though, that Josh shouldn’t have had to conflict Jonathan.

        Josh won the round; Massey evaluated it objectively. If anyone has any questions about the round or the “controversy,” please feel free to ask me I was there.


      Without wading into whether prep-sharing should produce a conflict, or whether there was prep-sharing here (which, come on, everybody knows there was), it’s probably helpful to look at the actual TOC conflicts policy, which says prep-sharing does give rise to a conflict:

      “d) The judge has provided exclusive pre-round preparation to a student
      either before or during a tournament through any method including
      electronically, verbally, or through the transfer of resources.”

      I guess maybe there’s some ambiguity about whether students sharing prep implicates their judges but that seems like a pretty stupid and easily evaded distinction.

      • Pretty sure there wasn’t pre-sharing going on there. I know both sides of the proposed conflict pretty well and don’t believe there was.

        Also, if there was, it seems unlikely that Mr. Massey would have been privy to that.

        Also, if there was, I highly doubt that Mr. Massey was heavily involved (read: not at all) in prepping at all. I feel like I may have some insight in this situation given that I worked with Whitman all of last year and wrote most of the prep for ToC…

    • mcgin029

      The TOC has very clear written rules regarding conflict, and they are reasonably strict while still allowing for debates to happen. You are not conflicted from judging someone if you are friends with their coach. You ARE conflicted from judging someone if you have hired to them to coach for your team or if you have a financial interest in a camp (ie, you own the camp and have a profit motive) and have hired them to teach at that camp. People in “management positions” at camp wouldn’t necessarily be included, ie I run the camp tournament at NSD but I don’t have any kind of profit stake in that camp and therefore I don’t benefit in any personal way if an NSD kid wins the TOC. I’m pretty sure Eric and the NDF, VBI, Counterpoint, etc. people are expected to conflict themselves from the FYO’s they’ve hired.

      These rules are readily available and they make interesting reading.

      You’re right that it’s a small world, and that if we conflicted people from judging kids who are friends of friends or whatever, there wouldn’t be many rounds that could be paired.

      • mcgin029

        Ari, btw, is not a profit participant in NSD, as far as I know.

      • sjadler

        For what it’s worth, some of the time you *are* conflicted from judging the students of coaches with whom you are very close. For example, tab required that Chris Theis and Michelle Keohane be conflicted from one another’s kids because they are very close friends, even though Michelle has dropped Chris’s kids on several occasions. The concern in these cases is more about the *appearance* of conflict rather than any sort of actual impropriety, as is noted in the TOC’s own conflict guidelines (albeit poorly worded to make it sound as if the appearance of impropriety is required).

        Chris and Michelle also dated at one point, several years ago. Even though they might be capable of judging each other’s students impartially, at a tournament like the TOC it seems to be in people’s best interest to avoid the appearance of conflict, even when one might not actually exist. Similarly, there was a huge controversy a few years ago about Dan Meyers and Adam Nelson, who were close friends. I think it’s important that we clarify as a community what constitutes a sufficient conflict and how we can make that as clear as possible ahead of time, while still allowing tournaments to run properly.

      • NSD Hack

        Yes, the conflict rules required Eric to conflict himself against NSD FYO’s. So why did he have a ballot in the runoff round and octafinals, judging NSD FYO’s?

        • Old Timer

          I’m curious about this too – why was Eric allowed to judge Yang Yi in the run-off if Yang is a first-year-out lab leader at NSD? It looks like the octofinals round he judged was between two first-year-outs at NSD, so maybe that’s ok (though still against the rules, technically).

          Maybe there’s an argument to be made that mutual preference overrides constraints set out in the tournament rules (if both competitors wanted Eric to judge and didn’t care about the FYO/profit interest rule, go for it), but if that’s the case, it should be written into the rules.

        • I’m not sure where you’re finding these conflict rules, but the 2013 TOC Invitation doesn’t say you have to conflict yourself against FYOs working at your camp. Here’s the complete section on judge conflicts:

          “Judges should preclude themselves from any debater who they have previously coached, had a close, personal relationship with, or for any other reason the judge believes they cannot be objective towards them if assigned. This includes any judge who has done any paid or volunteer coaching, even if conducted digitally or otherwise-remotely. Any college debater or coach should preclude herself or himself from any debater whom they have seriously recruited to attend their school. Judges should preclude themselves from judging their alma matter.”

          • sjadler

            Again, for what it’s worth, people seem to have missed what are pretty significant parts of the TOC conflict guidelines. Once again, I think the community needs clearer standards on what constitutes a conflict. But here is what was emailed out by Andrea Reed about judging LD at the TOC and disclosing conflicts. Asterisks added for emphasis.

            I’m sure this will be downvoted because that seems to be the trend lately, and I’m sure this was just an oversight on Eric’s part (since the link he posted apparently doesn’t have this?) but it’s important we focus as a community on avoiding these situations in the future.

            3. The judge does not believe they are able to fairly and impartially adjudicate a competition involving a particular student for whatever reason. A judge may choose to recuse himself or herself from adjudicating a student under the following conditions *******(If these conditions exist, it is the affirmative duty of the judge to make such information publicly available prior to the round beginning):*********


            ********c) The judge is an administrator of, currently employed by, or anticipates employment from a forensics related enterprise with whom a financial or advisory relationship exists or is sought with the student.******** NOTE: While these guidelines do not prohibit lab leaders/institute staff from judging their lab students at the TOC. However, if those lab leaders maintain consistent contact with those students and/or engage in personal relationships with them, they should recuse themselves from judging those specific individuals.

            So, Emily as a normal staffer could judge Yang, but Eric as the director of the camp is supposed to conflict himself from FYOs, or at least disclose the relationship to the other team before the round. I don’t know what VBI Directors did in this regard. I believe Counterpoint (Chris and Catherine) conflicted themselves from at least most of the kids. I have no dog in this since I’m finished working at debate camps; it just seems like if it’s the rule then it needs to be clearer in the future so people follow it.

          • nikhiln17

            Wait, so you mean Eric should have made some sort of public declaration that named every FYO he intended to hire? Maybe something like this: C’mon Steven, you’re a moderator — at least pretend to read the website.

          • sjadler

            You know full well that’s not what the guidelines are asking for. C’mon Nikhil, stop being condescending and actually engage with the argument.

            I’m not saying Eric acted with impropriety. My point is that the conflict policy was unclear this year and should be clarified. I don’t get why that’s controversial. It’s clear that that post wasn’t Eric’s declaration, since his response was to write off the rule rather than say he had met it.

          • Guest

            Steven, I appreciate your clarification–I hadn’t seen those emailed rules, and I agree with you that it’s a problem for a tournament to have inconsistent rules. In the case of conflict, the rules in the invitation and on the website should clearly take precedence, since they’re the ones that are publicly accessible.

            I also have a question, though–if you don’t think the NSDUpdate post counts as disclosure, then what do you take the guidelines to be asking for in the way of disclosure? To me, the post seems sufficient. I doubt very much that the TOC would want judges to tell the opponent right before the round, at the tournament, that they’re hiring the FYO, since that would lead to all sorts of last-minute judge changes. This is why the tabroom wants all conflicts disclosed beforehand.

          • sjadler

            To be honest, my recollection was that every other year I’ve attended, that sort of relationship required a conflict–not just telling the judges they can recuse themselves if they want. So, if I were directing one of the camps, at least this year, I would have conflicted myself from the FYOs, because that’s been my understanding of the rule (correct or incorrect).

            I do take it to be asking for a before-the-round acknowledgement. For example, in this case, I doubt Jason’s coach Dave would have cared that Yang was a FYO hire, since Valley is also affiliated with NSD and whatnot. I agree that before-the-round disclosure might cause judge changes, but to me that’s more a reason the conflict should be marked/required in the first place rather than dealing with it ad hoc. If people don’t mark it ahead of time, I think that ad hoc thing is all you can do.

            Alternatively, if that list had been framed as anything along the lines of ‘NSD Directors will not be conflicting themselves from the FYOs at TOC, but you have the right to ask for a different judge if you’re uncomfortable’ as opposed to an advertisement for the camp, maybe that would suffice. But I doubt the relationship was disclosed at all to Andrea Reed/the TOC (again, because it seems the TOC was inconsistent in its postings), and that’s a problem the TOC should seek to resolve.

          • mcgin029


          • mcgin029

            The real question of course is whether he acted with *the appearance* of impropriety, as required by the rules.

  • Lifer_At_Rawr

    Christian notes he didn’t know of any potential conflict between Rebecca and Chris whilst helping construct the finals panel. If there is some sort of conflict, that’s undeniably shady for Greenhill not to disclose. Perhaps this isn’t “cheating” like with the fabrication evidence, but it certainly merits some sort of independent investigation (with Mrs. Reed) and public recognition. Here’s what’s sketchy:

    1. Chris was obligated all 7 rounds for LD prelims but judged none. What in the lord’s name was he doing for those seven rounds? The only school that even claims to know him is Greenhill. It’s unreasonable to say he didn’t spend a substantial amount of time with them.

    2. Chris argued on Rebecca’s behalf after round 6. This is something almost exclusively reserved for coaches. Chris might not be officially a coach but he does seem invested in her success.

    3. The Facebook posts confirms this. “Chris Vincent: TOC would not have been possible with your advice. thank you for throwing in your lot with [me].” Why does Vincent, someone who reportedly only gave her one piece of advice in the hallway, merit that? Why not the other judge who voted for her in finals? Why not the other infinite number of people who gave her some form of advice at the TOC?

    Perhaps none of these alone are problematic. But this is the TOC finals round we’re talking about and when there are three different suspicions about one judge that nobody else knows about, non-issues compound into a big issue.

    Let’s not pretend like this isn’t an issue. Let’s not pretend it’s acceptable that the finals panel was constructed with a potential conflict hidden from Tarsney’s knowledge. I’ll be emailing Mrs. Reed and I implore you to do that as well.

  • NoWP

    You don’t have to read Tim Wise to be against white privilege, but if you are ignorant about an issue and you choose not to make an informed opinion about that point (especially if it relates to identity), then that’s not being much of a scholar. It’s certainly not a view of openness. It’s also not listening . If people want peace between the two sides here, a necessary condition for that is listening to the other point of view and THEN judging, not assuming that others (and their literatures) aren’t worth listening to in the first place.

    It’s this bias that’s the problem. In the toc round, the neg’s 6 points are seen as sufficient, but its assumed that (based on Christian’s logic), the neg didn’t have an equal burden to answer the 3 cards that Vincent identified as sufficient. The burden of listening is a two way street. Just because an argument is about identity doesn’t mean there’s less of an argumentative burden to answer it,directly. It doesn’t mean that it’s ok to say “just look at the cards, they have no warrant, so you should defer to the race blind position.

    That makes as much sense as one of my LD friends judging next year and saying “I will assume that all Korsgaard cards have no warrant and I won’t vote for those positions because I don’t believe in that kind of debate.” If I said that the crew here would be in arms. So why is that kind of behavior ok when it comes to topical cases on issues of identity, or micropolitical cases? Perhaps this behavior is viewed as ok because the people (and their alternative world view) speaking such issues have been assumed, to be by some coaches on this board, as not as worthy of being listened to. That’s the problem. That’s white privilege. That’s what I’m pointing to when I demonstrated the strategic foolishness of not being willing to read evidence (even if doing so would allow you to answer it). It’s the assumption that one’s friends, one’s racial point of view, one’s world view should be entitled to winning on face.

    • saying it is “white privilege” to deem certain authors as “not worthy of being listened ” is part of the reason that some people don’t take those accusations seriously. simply saying that certain arguments or cards functionally are evaluated differently is not an example of “white privilege”. let’s not throw these terms around so carelessly.

  • NoWP

    A lot of the people here are crying about the fact that the victims of their
    Alex Jones/birther like conspiracy theories dare to “talk back” or get angry. These boards are
    full of “coaches” and students who are fighting right now to protect their own
    “playground” turf where they can pick on others who are different from them
    without being stopped. These people are ‘nerds’ who at their own high schools
    and colleges are frustrated that THEY aren’t the oppressors who get to “treat
    like shit” people with a different skin color, sexuality, gender or world view
    from their own. In this attitude of entitlement those who resist or speak out
    against their mistreatment are portrayed in the circuit LD community as being ‘uppity.’

    One of the complete lies such coaches and students tell that if only their
    victims responded nicely, or with a good tone, or didn’t ask for the ballot things
    would be more productive.

    That lie is empirically denied. Jessica at Columbia, and
    others at the TOC ran micropolitics and were humble about their cases, were
    / have been worried about hurting others feelings to the point of apologizing,
    and in Harris’ case he gave up his chances at the TOC thinking that this
    sacrifice would be acknowledged by the community bullies as meeting their
    standard for productive, appropriate discussion. What was the result: a judge
    thinking it’s ok to curse out A CHILD, people challenging the 0-7 debater as
    not being genuine (I thought concession = being genuine according to the community! WTF?) and a tab room
    allegedly engaging in the treatment of a student that if the respective university’s
    diversity office or women’s center/advocacy groups knew about it, the debate team could be in serious risk of losing their funding or having tough meetings with the Provost/Dean.

    As anyone who been bullied knows, being meek and apologetic about your desire to be treated with respect will ONLY invite more abuse. Fighting back—even if you lose the fight—at least allows you to retain your personal dignity. (Frantz Fanon baby!)

    Others among us believe in the philosophy of “Don’t start none, won’t be none.” That’s how the real world works.

    Further, debate cases about discrimination, identity and abuse
    within the activity will continue to WIN ROUNDS as long as people keep doing things
    like the following: 1. Refusing to care about the ACTUAL LIVED experiences of
    abuse/discrimination; 2. Asserting they value openness but then contradicting themselves by suggesting that talking about racism is
    unintelligent/stupid; 3. Asserting that one values diversity of thought but then
    refusing to read ideas that disagree with their own epistemology/personal politics and 4. Asserting that victims discussing their experiences of racism/sexism in debate must be just playing the race/sex card. Tali Mendelberg
    describes the racism behind in this use of the “race card” argument on these

    As another example, Christian said in this forum he won’t
    read Tim Wise, another white man who disagrees with him on this issue. What’s
    Christian afraid of? Being proven wrong? Having to think critically about a topic he’s ignorant about? What kind of debater or graduate is this scared of research? #academiccoward #notmuchofaPhDscholar

    That’s why Christian got outcoached by someone who used this
    particular author’s cards to get big wins at TOC of 2011 AND finals in 2013. #it’s-bad-to-let-your-racism-hurt-your-students

    Jan/Feb 2012 should have taught everyone the immorality and stupidity
    of abusing and mistreating others. If this behavior continues, I fear that at
    some point one victim of this community’s mistreatment (or their parents) won’t
    be as kind as Jessica, Jack and Michael and they will be fed up enough to take their case to
    the outside media, which I can guarantee won’t be pretty for circuit LD.

    In the interim, to those of you who want to continue being racist, saying
    sexist things, abusing kids because of their “differences” in scholarship and
    identity, advocating for racist colorblind positions and/or to being a judge lacking the integrity (as a person or debater) to judge the TOC final round fairly (i.e. confessing to being a biased judge by saying they would have voted for a student who still lost substantively) this haiku should
    highlight the most recent consequences of such behavior:

    “Your eyes may shine, your teeth may grit, A TOC title you
    ain’t gonna get!”

    • mcgin029

      That’s not a haiku.

      • Bonkers Montana

        The man has testimonials from Cornel West, Charles Ogletree, Michael Eric Dyson, and Derrick Bell regarding his writing about race. Dismissing him as unqualified makes you look like silly. Try answering the argument.

        • What argument is that? I haven’t seen an argument of his presented on this thread, but maybe I’ve missed it.

          Just two further points, and then I’m off to bed:

          1. In my experience, serious intellectuals typically don’t festoon their websites with “testimonials” to their intellectual prowess, no matter who they’re from. If you’re that eager for the world to know that a famous person once said something nice about you, it suggests to me that you’re not a deep and profound thinker but a self-important blowhard. But I could be wrong.

          2. I don’t feel obligated to engage seriously and respectfully with people who insult me anonymously on comment threads. If you, or NoWP, want to have a serious discussion about arguments, then either (i) be civil or (ii) use your real names.

          • Bonkers Montana

            I don’t think there’s anything uncivil about telling you that trumpeting your refusal to read a given author makes you look silly. I’m trying to nicely tell you that people who know more about race issues than you or I ever will have read Wise and found his arguments compelling, so maybe your glib dismissal lacks foundation. If it makes you feel better, Wise is also one of the most carded authors on issues of race in policy debate (his argument was a central part of the framework of Towson CL’s aff that won 2008 CEDA, for instance, and quick searches show that he remains highly cited on the NDT wiki), so your coaching colleagues seem to have found his arguments worth hearing. Maybe you will find the same?

            I mean, someone says “there are serious issues of inclusion in the debate community and there is an author who makes this point eloquently,” and your response is to mock the very idea of reading that author. I chose to assume that the reason for this was your unfamiliarity with the literature base, because I prefer not to ascribe ill intent to you. I don’t think you’re racist, and I do think (based on what I know of you beyond the conversation here) that you care about issues of inclusion. I also get that you were responding to a direct, anonymous callout, and you really care about the names and qualifications of people who disagree with you for some reason. That said, deciding you won’t engage an argument because it’s made by someone who *gasp* engages in self-promotion on his website *gasp* seems kind of strange, but fair enough. Boasting about that decision is silly.

          • Just a few things about this silly tangent about Tim Wise. Do you not find it odd that one of the”most carded authors” on race issues speaks from a position of privilege? A fact which he himself recognizes and points out in several of his interviews, including saying that people of color forget more about race and oppression in one day than he will ever know. He admits he gets speaking engagements and respect partially due to his race/class/education. Why not cut from the “people who know more about race issues than you or I”? Refusing to read Tim Wise doesn’t make someone look silly. Using Tim Wise because scholars who are PoC endorse him instead of using those authors themselves does seem a bit silly. But that may just be me.

          • Bonkers Montana

            I’m not going to engage on the question of how Wise grapples with his privilege, because I don’t think you’re claiming he’s doing it wrong. I will say that “Refusing to read Tim Wise doesn’t make someone look silly” is a claim without a warrant, but that’s not important right now.

            On the oddity of Wise being a recognized voice on these issues despite his privilege – I do find that odd, and troubling, and I highly encourage people to read and card Bell, Ogletree, etc. (Some of them will be hard to card – Bell’s narrative work might not be reducible in the way needed for a debate round – but you 100% should make the effort). Heck, don’t stop there – there are a lot of great critiques of Tim Wise and the kind of approach to racial questions he represents – go read those, too! My argument is not “Tim Wise is awesome and you should read him.”

            Instead, my argument is this: There has been one author mentioned on this thread who speaks about issues of race, and he’s at least credentialed enough that it’s not insane to read him in a debate. When reference is made to his arguments in support for the claim that the community has not felt inclusive to current students, the response is not to engage on the question of strategies for inclusion. The response is not to engage in critical reflection. The response isn’t even to register disagreement. Instead, the response is to ignore the point (unless folks are preparing long substantive replies to those posts, in which case my bad). The response is to mock the choice of author/scholar, and to proudly proclaim both that you have not and will not engage with his work.

            You might not think that’s a problem. To me, it sounds a lot like ( in its refusal to engage unless the author cited is a “serious intellectual.” When one of the least racist, most inclusive coaches I know starts sounding like that, it’s time to figure out what went wrong.

            I am more years out than I care to admit, so this is no longer my problem. You kids have fun figuring out where you’d like to go from here. As NoWP indicates, though, these arguments are here to stay.

          • I agree with Charles, I think this whole line of discussion is pretty silly, so I’ll just say this and then leave it alone. I haven’t read Tim Wise. I’m skeptical based on the way he chooses to present himself, but whatever, I could be wrong. I don’t think I was “boasting” about not having read him. I also don’t think that my thinking poorly of an author who writes about race issues should make me subject to accusations of racism . People who throw around accusations of racism that lightly cannot, it seems to me, be taking those accusations very seriously. I hope and believe that all the contemporary intellectual figures whose writing I read and respect are opposed to racism. If people in the policy community enjoy Tim Wise’s work, then good on them. Maybe I’ll have time to check him out at some point, and I’ll be convinced. In the meantime, I guess I’ll remain vulnerable to condescending admonitions that my incompetence as a debate coach is due to my not having read his work “carefully.”

    • Wait, what did the tabroom do? What in the name of heaven are you talking about? Having people disagree with you is not abuse. Having people prep you out isn’t abuse, nor is having people think you are inauthentic, untalented, etc. certainly we all hope that others appreciate and think well of us but you can’t go around yelling about “abuse” every time someone thinks someone else’s argument is dumb.

      I don’t know what Fritz said to Jack after their round. Cussing angrily at a student is poor form for a coach or judge and a judge might reasonably get a talking-to for it. But Jack is hardly A CHILD. Try tying a bib on him. Jacks one of the coolest cats I know. He was pissed off, but he can take it. Regardless, that a lot of people think that micropol is bad debate is hardly an instantiation of abuse in the community. You can reject racism, sexism, “ruralism” and any number of other -isms without thinking that its a good idea to turn debate rounds into competing oratory on the various ills of the day.

      • I believe that was a reference to the columbia tabroom. I won’t make a judgement on what they did, but they did get involved with the position before finals (and trapped me in a basement, just in case anyone still didn’t know).

  • Jeff Hannan

    I don’t think I will get answers to this, because I am late to the party and because I am not a very active member in the community, but I really wanted to say something about Racism/racism and cheating/fairness.

    I understand Racism, with a capital ‘R’, to represent a system that distributes unearned privilege and justifies that privilege with an ideology of white supremacy. I understand little ‘r’ racism to be an act of personal meanness or discrimination. I didn’t see the round, and know only what I have read here (I guess I am trying to average out the wildly disparate representations of the affirmative position), but I am guessing that the affirmative is suggesting that certain negative positions/performances are “Racist”, not “racist”. I have been called, and I have accepted that I am, a “Racist”; that is, I am a white male who benefits from and participates in a system of Racism and white privilege. This acknowledgement is a starting point for anti-racist and anti-Racist efforts; I work hard to champion anti-Racism in discourse and education. I cannot deny my privilege, I can only work to lessen it.

    Again, this is just an outsider’s (debate-neutral) perspective, but I believe a lot of the crazy-talk relates to intentionality: when you accuse someone of “Racism”, they (and others) often believe you are accusing them of “racism”, of intentionally acting in a petty, mean, discriminatory, or racist way. They react poorly to this, and we lose the opportunity for an honest, open, and courageous discussion of race. We need to be able to separate out the system from the intention, to examine whiteness and our own complicity in a system of white privilege, and try hard to engage each other without defensiveness. I encourage people to check out Glen Singleton’s “Courageous Conversations About Race” for more on this difficult and important subject.

    I believe a similar issue with intentionality is at play in the discussion about “cheating”. The final round panel was, apparently, not ideal. The tournament administrators have owned up to this, and it looks like everyone agrees we need a better system for assembling late round panels. This sub-ideal panel may (MAY (“MAY”)) have even produced an unfair advantage for the affirmative debater, but to leap from that accusing people, especially children, of “cheating”, seems unfair and base. It seems to me like the affirmative received advice from a judge earlier in the tournament which helped her do well in front of that judge later in the tournament; this is pretty standard for all debaters, no? Also, that judge delivered what seems to be a thoughtful and supportive RFD for the affirmative debater; if I advocated for an unpopular position, won a big victory, and had a judge tell me that “he gets it” or otherwise validate my position/effort, I might be really overwhelmed with gratitude, too. Especially if I had suffered some degree of personal discomfort to reach that point.

    If you’ve read this far, here’s my favorite gif as a reward:

    Finally, every judge who judges in a certain way, whether that judge “votes for any micro-pol position sight-unseen” or “votes for theory before content” or “flows”, is making a decision about who to include and who to exclude from the round (and, probably by extension, the community). I am not ascribing intentionality, just saying what I believe to be true; it is unavoidable that this is the outcome of any judging predisposition. Every single judge “intervenes” in every single decision by walking into the round with a preconceived notion of what will/should happen in the round. This is fine. It’s the nature of communication. So can’t we recognize that we are all coming from different places, sometimes judges make different decisions from one another, and just try to understand these decisions better? Like, communicate and learn and what-not?

    TL;DR – Systemic racism is different than personal racism; we have to do a better job recognizing and combating white privilege; we should try to not to ascribe intentionality to people; we can communicate with and learn from each other much better than we do now.

    • How do you think we should alleviate white privilege (once we have completed the task of recognizing our white privilege via enlightening discussions in round)?

      • Jeff Hannan

        I could write a lot about that, but really, I have no idea. I just do my best to lessen the Racism of my reality and encourage others to do the same. Nevertheless, discussion, self-reflection, and critical analysis of the world around us is a great starting point, which is why books like Singleton’s are so important: we need to figure out how to have discussions about race that are productive, challenging, and yes, uncomfortable, without leaving the table, opting for technical (disengaging) solutions, or resorting to thinly-veiled sarcasm.

        • Sorry for coming off as sarcastic. Mostly likely we do not see eye to eye on what kind of issues debate should ideally discuss. But I fully recognize that good ideas about how to solve problems often begin with productive dialogue on those problems. And yes, I think that being critically aware of the social structures that shape the world around you is a very good thing, and important for being a good person. However, as someone who is actually interested in alleviating human suffering and inequality, I would like to know what things that those who enjoy privilege can or should do to make the world a better place, because I have found that many privileged individuals are fully aware of the privileges they enjoy, yet still don’t do much to make the world a better place. Additionally, discussion of problems can sometimes become a substitute for action. I’m not trying to bait a response from you so I can argue with you, I promise.

          • Jeff Hannan

            I actually didn’t mean to suggest that you had sarcastic; I was more disappointed in the tone elsewhere in the thread.

            I think that race is uniquely difficult to discuss, and so the quality/nature of the discussion is of somewhat greater importance than in other issues. To the extent that institutional or systemic racism stems from implicit beliefs and biases, I think that open and honest discussion can actually begin to solve some of those harms. At the high school I work at there is an ongoing equity effort that begins with discussion; as one component, we have examined achievement and disciplinary gaps in an effort to identify biases that may contribute towards them. Many people just aren’t aware of how bias and assumption can tangibly affect others at communal/institutional scales, and often aren’t aware of the biases they hold or how those biases are pernicious. So discussion can produce a change in attitude, which can tesselate outward through the institution or society.

            I think change begins with relationships; there are thousands of things we can all do on a daily basis to modulate our interpersonal and institutional behavior. I try hard to always consider and, to whatever extend possible, understand the social location of people I interact with; I resist assumptions that spring from my own understanding of the world, and invite meaning through shared experience and the sharing of experiences.

            I don’t control policy, governmental or institutional, but I try hard to influence those around me towards policies that are (more) racially enlightened (than they otherwise might have been). As an educator, I have a unique opportunity to influence a large number of people, an opportunity I try to take advantage of. We need to seek out policies that contribute to institutional racism (“merit” based segregation, 3-strikes or zero-tolerance disciplinary policies, coded or inaccessible institutional communication) and eliminate them. We need to embrace policies that promote understanding and cross-cultural education.

            I still maintain, though, that I have no idea what I’m talking about, and each of us should just try hard to live a virtuous, improving, and engaged life.

            Is this closer to what you’re looking for?

    • Erik Baker

      I have no desire to get any more involved with this than to say that Jeff confronts the realities of Racism on a daily basis working as a teacher at a majority-minority high school with a huge achievement gap far more than most people on this thread. I think this is a really valid and important point to be made regardless of what happened in the round and who “won” or whatever (neither of which I know). Proud to be working for him.

      Also, for the record, this will forever be the best deal with it gif:

    • Rebar Niemi

      Jeff this is awesome. I was going to post something similar about the racist/Racist distinction but could not articulate it this well.

      WHITE POWER/PRIVILEGE IS A SYSTEM THAT WE ALL HAVE BENEFITTED FROM, INCLUDING GREENHILL. I think its cool they decided to engage this issue but would have done it differently myself. I have long thought that if greenhill went purer critical in their approach they would print money[ballots].

      My only suggestion to greenhill would be: THIS IS NOT FAR ENOUGH. You have an obligation to keep pushing da limits – performances, alt roles of the ballot, actively untopical positions – these are the things that should come next for y’all, not a continuation of the squo. just my 1 sense.

  • I’ve known AT for over a decade and Christian for almost that long. The only judge I know well on the panel is Ari, who squirreled. I worked with Richard’s sister for a short time, and might have judged the two finalists once or twice early in their careers since I used to be a pretty high pref for both SLP and Greenhill, but I clearly have no dog in this fight. I’m posting only because I don’t like to see people I respect get attacked and this is a particularly bad version of a bad trend.

    First, AT didn’t stack a panel. Not because he wouldn’t, though I suspect that’s true, but because he can’t. If Greenhill and AT could stack an outrounds panel, why was there a 4-year gap (2009-2012) where they had no debaters in finals of the LD or CX TOC? Why is Greenhill’s finals record 2-1 in LD and 3-3 in CX? It’s not like Dave Huston is a wilting lily anxious to do his cross-town rival’s bidding in the tab room. Acting on private information regarding judge preferences is perfectly ethical unless it rises to an actual conflict of interest, and Chris is not: (1) on the Greenhill coaching staff, (2) financially or otherwise invested in the success of Greenhill, or (3) personally/romantically involved with Rebecca or the Greenhill staff. No conflict, no problem. Giving free advice or even cutting a card or two for a debater you frequently see isn’t a conflict.

    Second, even if the panel were stacked, it didn’t matter. The optimal strategy was to go for the mutual 2. You could have had the debaters parents as the other two judges, and the optimal strategy would still have been to go for the mutual 2. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Greenhill did not pref Ari as a 2. There’s not a legitimacy crisis. It’s not like the winner won outrounds on clipped cards.

    Finally, the salience of this is really undermined by the fact that someone complains about judging every year.

    • Rebar Niemi

      Chad kills it agin. He is right about this being a pretty paltry conflict claim. Also I will stake my reputation to say that Aaron Timmons is a man I respect deeply and I do not believe that he would cheat. disputing the final round decision is perfectly acceptable, but he really isn’t a cheat. He uses means available to all of us in his coaching. I’ve found that even as someone who is consistently a strike or very low pref for greenhill he will treat you with respect and honor if you show him and his students the same. is he a fierce competitor and protective of those students? yes, sue him. if all of us[you] were coached by Mr. Timmons we would feel differently.

      shout out to those behind the scenes.

  • justmysimpleopinion

    Many people in the comments are calling this a “flame war”. By doing so they’re framing all commentators’ positions as unreasonable. Maybe you’re one of those people. Maybe you think that whenever there are opposing sides the best resolution is to just meet in the middle.

    Sir or Ma’am if that describes you then you are a coward. You bring dishonor to yourself and to the activity. You dishonor this country. It is people like you that allowed Madoff to steal money. You are letting Malis and Timmons pervert your passion. As a lawyer, I have to interact with people like you all day long. It sickens me.

    Stand up for yourself and stand up for what’s right. I couldn’t care less about RK or Greenhill. I have no dog in this fight. I stopped debating a long time ago. What I do care about is my former community’s ambivalence towards a clear case of cheating and judge manipulation.

    When you see something wrong, do something! You have a voice and you have the ability to make a change! When you do something wrong accept responsibility.

    This thread is not a flame war. It is not a conspiracy. The allegations are modest. A debater, her coach and a judge have been accused of failing to disclose a conflict, which amounts to cheating. Objective evidence sufficient to support cheating is posted in this thread. This is not something that needs to be debated or argued out.

    Three people made a mistake. They should apologize to you. They should accept some level of punishment. What amount is fair? I won’t pretend to know. They aren’t bad people.

  • I am not NoWP (or any anonymous poster) just for clarification. I always post with a link to my fb (except when I was at the SMU library’s computer, and even there I put my name). I am really trying (obviously poorly) to make sure we all remember that these are kids we are talking about. I am kind of upset that you thought that was me.

  • Roger Rabbit

    lol the LD community is so funny. all everyone ever does is fight. it’s pretty funny, and a ton of policy debaters, like myself, just come on here to laugh at all the arguing. seriously, chill out. just be happy that someone won something.

  • Roger Rabbit

    all the LD community ever does is fight. can’t any of you ever be happy for anyone for winning something? it’s actually really funny. even policy debaters, like myself, come on to this website just to laugh at all of the flame wars, lol.

  • mcgin029

    I imagine that the coaches and students at Greenhill have sufficient positive-self-image that some internet trolls are not going to cause them to go catatonic with self-doubt.

  • NoWP

    Eric, on these NSD boards you yourself have suggested that
    many of the people arguing about racism/sexism in the LD community the past few
    years have not spoken from real, genuine and authentic experiences of harassment and mistreatment but
    are instead just casually playing the race/sex card. This is offensive and morally callous to
    people’s real suffering and indicates a failure of moral or educational leadership

    But I think this error points to the central issue around
    this ‘clash of the civilizations’ in LD debate’s recent flame wars, controversies concerning
    micropolitics and the stories of the mistreatment of children (i.e. from some
    coaches and competitors who disliked Harris’, Jessica’s or Jack Ave’s cases),
    we’ve seen a collective failure to take the LIVED EXPERIENCES of discriminated
    people or situations of ‘materiality’ as a priority.

    Here’s a hint to the circuit: if you want to find a way to
    beat these positions hiding behind idealist,
    race blind, gender blind, utopian, and/or skeptic frameworks (i.e. “we don’t know racism is bad) is stupid
    strategy. There’s mountains of card specific literature written from many
    traditions are hyper specific to the harms of such frameworks and how they play
    out in the real world and a lot of the losses students have gotten weren’t from being ‘punished’ unjustly, but from not taking the time and cutting the cards to learn how to deal with it.

    In any case, by now, there is no excuse for coaches and
    debate students to continue to attack and mistreat students who run micropol,
    race/gender topical cases, etc. The genie has been out of the bottle for years.
    Pretending like issues of race, class and gender aren’t going to come up in the
    debate world is foolish, and those who lose to such cases should only blame
    themselves for not being sufficiently prepared by getting into the literature
    and to win the theory debates. Don’t
    blame the micropolitical debater, or the person writing a ‘race case’ if you
    are too lazy to CUT CARDS and do research on such issues.

    If what Jessica, Michael and Jack have said occurred to them
    is true it would suggest that the circuit wants to people of color, women, quare
    bodies, queer bodies, rural people, multi-raced, etc. to just disappear, take their mistreatment and
    shut up. As the policy world knows, issues are here to stay, so everyone might
    as well learn to debate it and in Shanara’s words, “do some f’ing research.” This
    means taking the ideas from African
    Americans, Asian Americans, queer scholars, feminists, post-feminists, CLS,
    CRT, psychology, sociology, with an academically honest view. If you don’t
    think these populations have a perspective worth thinking through honestly, or have
    ideas worth researching that’s proof of larger issues and feelings of bigotry.

    The example of Chris Kluwe from the NFL (football) is better. He recognizes
    his racial privilege without “casually” dismissing claims and real experiences
    of discrimination,

    “I speak for freedom, even though it is a freedom I
    currently have. I speak for equality, even though I am currently equal. I speak
    for justice, even though it is a justice I currently do not need. I speak for
    gay rights and the rights of every person, no matter their religion, ethnicity,
    gender, sexual predisposition, or social or economic status, to live free of
    the chains of oppression and hate, the barbs of ignorance and small minded
    fear, because that is the life I want to live – a life where I can make my own
    choices. A life where I can be who I am, not what someone else decides I should
    be… Why do I speak out in support of gay rights, of all rights to equality?
    Because if I don´t, then who will be left to speak for me?”

    Part of the problem is that some LD crews across the country
    teach students that Kant, Korsgaard and the metaethics crew ought to be the
    primary focus of LD and that such literatures are immune from rigorous academic
    critique and indites. When identity related arguments and epistemologies
    challenge that philosophy it seems that (too many) coaches and judges dismiss
    the reasoning on-face based on their racial privilege and naivete, i.e. the
    examples earlier intervening as a judge to enforce their privilege on a
    debater. That’s not diversity or openness .

    Such snobbery is also horrible strategy. If the coach of St.
    Louis Park had read Tim Wise carefully he’d have seen that Wise (a white man)
    makes damming critiques of body count consequentialism which I’m told would fit
    NSD’s anti-LARP world.

    Debaters , coaches and directors who support (directly or by
    letting their staffs run wild) public claims like “AT is a cheater” or that
    ”talking about racial privilege is (by definition) stupid” aren’t doing
    themselves any favors, they just provide more evidence that future micropol
    cases can and have used as link evidence in LD and policy. Seriously, guys, stop it. It has to
    be embarrassing to hear college NDT/CEDA people think that circuit LDers love
    being bigots. It doesn’t’ have to be that way, but the attacks on AT and folks
    who stand up to argue against oppression don’t provide any alternative

    NSD COULD be the leader in promoting more inclusion,
    openness and diversity in the circuit, but it would need a top-down change in
    behavior. This would include the academic honesty to thoroughly read, digest
    AND correctly card the books coming from cases like Emporia’s AC. It would mean
    being rigorous about these works to the same extent as people are expected to
    read Korsgaard’s books in camp. It would mean certain coaches having the
    maturity to instead of jumping on/ joining in solidarity with flame wars against certain
    coaches, having the decency to congratulate someone from winning a tournament.

    There is good reason for NSD to show this leadership. I’ve
    been told that NSD was created to fight the orthodoxy of the camps of old which
    shoved Locke/Hobbes/Rousseau down students’ throat. Now it looks at the moment
    like NSD has only switched roles between the lord and serf instead of living up
    to its logo/motto of fully resisting systems of tyranny.

    I want all camps in all debate formats to live up to their
    potential as educational spaces for students. These problems are widespread
    across multiple camps, regions and places, but sadly a vocal minority of NSD’s
    staff have (for example) failed to be leaders in promoting academic openness
    and diversity when it comes to epistemologies that don’t fit in the camp staff’s
    favorite literature base or their own personal worldview. They can, and ought
    to do better. Time will tell if they want to.

    Note that one can choose to focus on anonymity as a red
    herring to rationalize privilege and ignore everything said here. But such denial
    or skepticism about, sexual, gendered, classist or even urbanist(!) oppression won’t
    stop these cases from winning big rounds and tournaments.

    Note: I do not endorse, get paid by, or work for any LD camp.
    I just want students who dare to look at nontraditional literatures to be
    treated as children who are still human beings worthy of respect. If any
    principal saw the way that some of these kids have been treated they would yank
    funding from circuit LD debate programs out of fear of an unsafe educational
    environment and if this continues it may someday get attention from people outside of the community. Students deserve better than what they are getting now. Don’t bother with the line by line, flaming, AT bashing, cheating accusations, etc. expecting a response from me. I’m not responding. Instead, stop and think.

    • “If the coach of St. Louis Park had read Tim Wise carefully he’d have seen that Wise (a white man) makes damming critiques of body count consequentialism which I’m told would fit NSD’s anti-LARP world.”

      I don’t know if this is referring to me, but if so, then a significant barrier to my reading Tim Wise carefully is my not having read him at all, and my lack of any intention to do so. But perhaps I’m just unduly skeptical of philosophers whose personal websites are vehicles for DVD sales and endorsements from Whoopi Goldberg. After all, he is (according to his banner) “one of the brilliant thinkers of our time.” Also, you can tell how much he hates racism because his first name is in black font, but his last name is in white font. So I have no doubt that his critique of “body count consequentialism” (a widely held view among philosophers who haven’t met Whoopi Goldberg) is every bit as damning as you claim.

      Seriously, though, this post brightened my day.

    • No, I did not say that people arguing about racism/sexism in the LD community are disingenuous. I said this: “[h]ow people in this community get the idea that it’s ok to call someone a racist or a sexist, which is, in our culture, something akin to calling them a monstrous human being, when they know nothing about the relevant person, is beyond me. And doing this plainly trivializes the force of those accusations by weaponizing them and turning them into tools to knock down debate rivals.” So, in other words, I did not say that talking about racism/sexism in the community is inappropriate at all. I said that calling a particular, individual person, who you do not really know at all, a racist or a sexist, is not a nice thing to do [I’d add to this that there are obvious exceptions, like if someone did something obviously racist or sexist to you, or in front of you]. It may be tough for one to imagine this if one has had serious experiences with race or gender discrimination, but there really are people in debate who will lay these accusations on people when they have no good reason for doing so except to drag someone else down.

    • Can I just say that it literally baffled me that after Elijah and Ryan won the NDT, everyone was freaking out, praising and congratulating Emporia, noting how powerful that 2ar was, etc. They ran narratives. Their advocacy was narratives good. Elijah helped me with my cases. But when Jack, Michael, or I ran narratives, these same debaters didn’t seem to care for narratives as much anymore.

    • I read that last note as “don’t bother engaging in critical discussion on a very important issue, because I have already laid out my position and I think it is right and no amount of substantive dialogue can change that”. Do I believe that critical theory, micro-political positions, and increasing under-repesented groups’ representation both in debate and in authors cited are important? Yes. Does your post contribute in any way towards those ends? Not if you refuse to allow dialogue on the issue and contribute in a positive way to the discourse.

  • We stand up for and are vocal about highly unpopular ideas in which we have strong convictions. And our students don’t debate the way many of their opponents want them to debate. Those are two things which I’m very proud of, and which would probably play a role in the best explanation. If you disagree strongly with our ideas, and if you don’t like the way they debate, you might be angry when they win against people you like, with whom you mostly see eye-to-eye with on debate methodology. Also, we strike or disprefer most first year outs, and many judges that lots of NSD students prefer highly, so you think the judges who vote for us are hacks, or otherwise less legitimate than the judges you wish you had against us.

    There may be other reasons why people would be angry about the decision or dislike Greenhill – e.g., that you believe that I am an asshole, that AT is an intimidating despot, that Bekah doesn’t know what she’s talking about, or that Rebecca Kuang is a bully who makes dumb arguments and whose coaches do all her work. If you think that, I encourage you to get to know us. This was my last tournament experience for at least two years, and then I’ll go teach at camp, so we have very little time to get to know each other. But, Hi!

    • anon12345

      Who let the tool out of the shed?

    • A regular Joe

      Question, why isn’t Greenhill posting on the Circuit wiki? I know the wiki exists but i’m asking for the purpose of seeing what RK has and what she does in rebuttals, because whatever it is, it seems to be effective.

  • Naturally people are going to disagree about who won the round. NO SHIT. THIS IS FINALS OF THE TOC. THESE ARE THE BEST DEBATERS IN THE COUNTRY. THERE’S NOT GOING TO BE A BLOWOUT. IT’S GOING TO BE AN UNREALISTICALLY DIFFICULT ROUND TO ADJUDICATE. There are different paradigmatic opinions on how to evaluate offense in any given round. That’s why it was a 2-1 decision. That’s why some people disagree with the decision. I fail to understand how this is significant. The decision is not going to be reverted just because people are saying that one of the judges was in some way biased. All involved parties have claimed time and time again that this judge has no affiliation with Greenhill. Simply because Rebecca asked him for some advice that maybe caused her to win a round doesn’t mean that he’s a biased judge, nor does him arguing for Rebecca after her prelims loss. You guys don’t know the reason as to why he fought for her. Quit guessing. You look like conspiracy-theorizing dumbasses.

    Furthermore, Richard and Rebecca are two exceptional debaters, and each of their coaches is clearly going to have a different opinion as to why their debater should have won the round. That’s cool. You’re not the judge. You weren’t on the panel. So shut the hell up.

    Furthermore, no panel of judges is perfect. In front of a different panel of judges, there might have been a different decision. That’s the way debate works. Don’t complain about the legitimacy of the panel’s decision. It’s just life. If they were at the TOC, they are coaches or former debaters with a lot of experience. They know what they’re doing. They have different ideas about how to judge a round. That’s life.

    Thirdly, if I had to pick a list of people to thank for my success in the debate community, that list would include several judges who have given me advice out-of-round. That’s how debate works. It’s an educational community that is designed to foster and promote critical thinking skills. Sometimes you need help along the way. If judges didn’t provide that help to debaters, debate would be a lot worse off than it is now.

    And come on guys, be reasonable. I completely agree that the debaters who were in finals were the debaters who should have been in finals. I have the utmost respect for them. I have seen both of them debate and I wish to emulate their ability and their success by the end of my debate career. Both of them have worked incredibly hard to get where they are today. I don’t endorse, nor am I affiliated with, the Greenhill School OR St. Louis Park High School. I simply think that the accusatory remarks have gotten personal and out of hand, and have pretty much resulted in the unnecessary defamation of two EXTREMELY talented debaters and two incredibly prestigious and respectable debate organizations and their respective coaches.
    **This is not a jab at any of the coaches at either of the schools. I just think the situation has gotten completely out of control.

  • anon94

    Started from disclosure now we here

  • Debate Justice

    This flame war is even bigger than those forest fires at NSD last summer. Burn on and let from the ashes spring true justice!

    Meanwhile, appreciate this haiku:

    TOC is fun,

    But when there is some cheating,

    That is so uncool.


    Hey, does anyone know what happened in the Palo Alto v. Byram Hills round 7? I heard it was crazy!

  • Sam Hamad

    I’ll be posting my RFD for this round once I get a couple finals out of the way. Maybe my decision will give a perspective that creates a discussion to veer us away from all of the “cheating” claims. That’s a conversation that clearly has no resolve, so I don’t see any point in having it.

  • anon12345

    Just something to keep in mind when discussing this man’s judging credentials. Let’s remember the first time anyone heard of this guy. He judged two rounds at last year’s TOC and guess what. He hacked for Greenhill both times. One was a prelim and one was another outround with another 2-1 Greenhill victory. How long is the TOC tab staff going to keep letting this guy show up at the TOC with the sole purpose of hacking for Greenhill?

    • mcgin029

      I don’t know about the elim round, but Chris V’s prelim judging of the ‘Hill was Farhan vs. Bainbridge Haley Brandt-Erichsen. Haley was a great debater and an awesome kid, but Farhan ended up going far in the elims and Haley was 2-5 in prelims. It seems very specious to suggest that CV “hacked” for Ghill in that round. While both debaters were excellent, there was some consensus at the event that Farhan was ahead generally in that match-up.

      If you’re going to post anonymously on a controversial issue, you should try to have some vague idea of what the heck you’re talking about.

      It would also be nice if you weren’t rude, but perhaps that’s too much to ask.

      • anon12345

        You don’t think it’s strange that someone has judged a mere three rounds at the TOC in the past two years, and all three have included Greenhill? In addition, those that were outrounds were each 2-1s for Greenhill?

        I think it’s ridiculous enough that someone who’s so lowly preferred communally that he didn’t judge a single TOC prelim despite being obligated for seven ended up on the final panel.

        • mcgin029

          I think it probably means that he’s not very “well known” in the community, but Greenhill knows and prefs him, perhaps because they are connected to the college policy circuit. Any time a team prefs a relatively new judge they are likely to draw that judge more often than other teams because the judge won’t fit prefs well.

          Your scenario requires us to believe that someone either at the TOC or at the ‘Hill went to the trouble to hack the program so that they could get a presets ballot against Haley and a third of an elim round. That’s idiotic. I don’t know who you are; if you are a younger person who can be forgiven for not understanding how things work, then by all means learn from this and perhaps think before you speak.

          If you’re an older person who should know better, you should consider coaching Chess. We always need more Chess coaches.

          • anon12345

            Dave, I think you’re misunderstanding my position. Your first paragraph proves why it’s ridiculous that he was judging the final round. Greenhill is the only school that knows him, likewise he only knows Greenhill.

            My point is not that they cheated to get him in the back of their room; it’s that a judge who is preferred by likely (if not only) one team should not be judging finals of the TOC ever.

          • mcgin029

            Gah. This is how mutual preference works. Like, six people have explained this on this thread. Here’s a guy, relatively new to LD, but he lives in KY so he’s at TOC. Not many people know him so few pref him and he doesn’t get many ballots. But Ghill knows him so they give him a high rank. Maybe another school gives him a 2 or 3 based on his paradigm or the fact that he did college policy. So he catches a couple of ballots, most commonly with the Hill.

            Tab staff in a mutual pref system only look at the numbers. They don’t make independent assessments of judge quality. They just assign the most mutual panel possible. If you think some judge is an unqualified moron, strike him. But if he gets 2s and 1s, he’s gonna get ballots.

            In this final there were few mutual judges. So they balanced with a 22, a 14 and a 25. And they had very few bodies to choose from. Given the diversity of styles, it is to be expected that there would be little mutuality between these two competitors.

            You have clearly never tabbed a tournament with mjp. If you are just a young kid, I apologize for my bluntness, but you should probably just stop talking about this issue. You have nothing intelligent to add. And you should hold off on posting until you’re brave enough to append your darn name.

          • anon12345

            Dave, I understand how MJP works, but thanks for the condescending lessons, I appreciate them.

            Since it’s becoming more and more clear that you don’t know how to read what I’m actually posting, I’ll just copy and paste the last paragraph from my last post, which you never addressed.

            My point is not that they cheated to get him in the back of their room; it’s that a judge who is preferred by likely (if not only) one team should not be judging finals of the TOC ever.

            What I’m saying is that the TOC needs to take steps to ensure that the final panel is not a mutual 8. I don’t know if this would require paying highly preferred overall judges to stick around until the end of Monday; eliminating the first-year out free strike rule to prevent Greenhill from being able to strike many communally preferred judges in favor of preffing those like Mr. Vincent, who for whatever reason isn’t highly preferred overall; or moving toward a community-based pref system as opposed to MJP.

            Because I’ve never tabbed a tournament, I haven’t offered an opinion on any of these solutions. I am simply pointing out a problem – the quality of the final panel was way too low.

            Stop being an asshole to me simply because I didn’t attach my name to the post and actually consider what I’m saying.

          • mcgin029

            “My point is not that they cheated to get him in the back of their room; it’s that a judge who is preferred by likely (if not only) one team should not be judging finals of the TOC ever.”

            Me in my last post:
            “Tab staff in a mutual pref system only look at the numbers. They don’t make independent assessments of judge quality. They just assign the most mutual panel possible.”

            “What I’m saying is that the TOC needs to take steps to ensure that the final panel is not a mutual 8.”

            Me in my last post:
            “In this final there were few mutual judges. So they balanced with a 22, a 14 and a 25. And they had very few bodies to choose from. Given the diversity of styles, it is to be expected that there would be little mutuality between these two competitors.”

            You started this sub-thread out by accusing Chris Vincent of being a Greenhill hack. You said nothing about needing an overall re-evaluation of how judge preferencing is done at the TOC. You’ve morphed into that because I keep backing you up off your assertions about CV hacking.

            Getting rid of the FYO strike rule is a possibility, but eliminating MJP in favor of community preferencing would be a nightmare. I know; I’ve coached at tournaments that have it. People have long since expressed their strong preference for mutuality.

            Andrea did seek out judges who would be willing to stay to the end, but most of the judges at TOC fly out so it’s very hard to get them to stay, even for money.

            When two debaters with widely diverse preferencing philosophies hit in an elim, you can expect the panel to have a large cumulative preference value. That’s just the way it goes. The previous system for TOC finals was to empanel a group of experienced judges BEFORE the tournament and get them to agree to stay. The results were horrific. For example, *I* once judged a TOC final. More to the point, in 2010, Ross Brown suffered a preference deficit of something like 16 to Catherine Tarsney (on a 9 judge panel). (Nothing against Catherine — Ross’ parents could have been judging the debate and it would have been a 2-0 in CT’s favor.)

            As far as me mistreating you because you are anonymous: If someone is taking a principled stand on a controversial issue, I can see anonymity as a necessary shield against possible repercussions.

            If someone is using anonymity to accuse someone of being a hack, then I view that as a character flaw. And I treat you accordingly.

            If you are some young kid who just doesn’t know better, then, as I said, I apologize for being blunt.

            Finally, please stop referring to me by my first name. I prefer to reserve that privilege for people who have the guts to tell me theirs.

          • anon12345

            Mr. McGinnis,

            I only have one thing to say. Lol, blunt

          • mcgin029

            This is the smartest thing you’ve said in the thread.

      • keinobjekt

        Can we also mention that Chris went 5-3 at the NDT this year? How many other judges in the pool can claim that?

  • Ray

    Can someone post the full cite of the Wise and Leonardo evidence i would like to read them and they are no on the NDCA page or I can’t find them. Thanks!

  • justmysimpleopinion

    It is obvious that you’re trying to reframe the discussion to the substantive issues during the round. I don’t care about them. And here’s why:

    The winner of the most important activity of the year admitted to cheating on her facebook page and no one gives a damn about it! Maybe instead of dismissing my comments, you should objectively consider them.

    I think any outsider to this activity would be appalled that the winner of a round thanked her judge for his “advice”.

    EDIT: Calling this a conspiracy theory is just ignoring the obvious. Maybe RK didn’t actually cheat. But at this point, that needs to be determined by someone objective and independent.

    • Again see 1-8…..I have never coached Rebecca

      Despite the fact that you choose to remain anonymous in this discussion, it might be important to challenge your own beliefs about what you believe to be “cheating” or fair practices in debate. How many times have you been to camp and had your lab leader as a judge throughout the season. Or how many times have you asked advice from another coach or another judge and had them judge you at some other point in the season. She did not admitedly cheat on her facebook page. I know this may come as shock to many but this is a debate COMMUNITY. That means we are all people and have to engage with the people that comprise our community.

      As I said before, in my last post, the last facebook post I ever put about my debate career had a lot of thank you’s to people and even JUDGES that I admired within my career. You should carefully consider how your own privilege is replicated in the way in which you shaped this dialogue as well.

      For example, I might ideologically disagree with the NSD people, but it doesn’t stop us from having to interact with one another in discussions, in debate rounds, and other instances. We all in some way care about this activity, and we all take judging seriously in this space. There is no logical warrant or actual justification as to what constituted her cheating in the final round!!! Goodnight all!!!

      • justmysimpleopinion


        You have not answered my question. Did you or did you not argue on RK’s behalf after she lost a prelim round?

    • GregMalis

      I think I qualify as someone objective and independent. There are a few regular readers of this discussion site that can vouch for my credentials if you choose to question.

      I was the tab room administrator that set the panel for the final round at the 2013 TOC, and I spent a long time working with coaches of both debaters to find the most acceptable panel available at that time. If there was any reason to believe that Mr. Vincent had a potential conflict of interest, there was ample opportunity for the representatives from St. Louis Park to raise the issue. They did not.

      I read Ms. Kuang’s facebook thank you’s and her reply to this discussion, and I have read Mr. Vincent’s input on this as well. It’s clear that she was thanking him for advice given earlier. Such advice hardly rises to a potential conflict of interest or qualifies as cheating. There is absolutely no reason to conclude that Mr. Vincent acted improperly when he did not disclose a conflict, since there was no conflict. Had you (assuming you would actually let us know who you are) brought this issue to my attention, I would have concluded that no conflict of interest exists.

      Here is what may have happened: a judge gives some advice to a debater at some point during a tournament. That debater has multiple cases and chooses which to run based largely on the judge panel. The judge who gave some advise earlier is now on the panel. Debater chooses case that is most likely to appeal to that judge, presumably influenced by the judge’s earlier advice. Some call that cheating. I call that round-winning strategy.

      I hope this puts to rest your fear that truly scandalous behavior occurred at the 2013 TOC. No such behavior existed in the final round. You have submitted your evidence, and I have ruled against you. If you wish to appeal my decision, contact Ms. Andrea Reed, director of debate at the University of Kentucky and TOC tournament director.

      • justmysimpleopinion


        You allowed Aaron Timmons and Ed Williams to influence and question every one of RK’s elim panels. You defending the integrity of your own process is a joke.

        I continue to call for an independent investigation. You, sir, are not independent.

        • GregMalis

          What you claim is false. The only conversation I had with Mr. Timmons about who should judge is when setting the panel for the final round. Mr. Tarsney was an equal and active participant. If you have evidence to the contrary, please share.

          When setting panels for quarters and semis, there were several coaches from various schools who were suggesting names. When they suggested a name, we merely checked to see if he/she is mutually preferred. If a particular judge created an unbalanced panel, we did not use that judge. We took every suggestion and gave it every consideration.

          I suggest that you contact Ms. Reed at Kentucky. Please share with her your concerns about the final round, and please share with her your concerns about my objectivity and independence. She is the tournament director and is the ONLY one that can do what you ask. She probably has not read a single word of this strand, so I recommend that you contact her directly.

          • Whatever else there is to be said about this, I should note that Greg’s work in setting the final round panel was exemplary, thorough, and as far as I could tell perfectly neutral.

          • mcgin029

            One might say that he acted without…

            Never mind. 🙂

          • mcgin029

            Greg –
            Vigorous debate on substantive issues is great. Heated discussion of controversy is fine. People who post anonymously and make unwarranted and rude assertions are trolls. It is kind of you to respond to this troll as you have done, but I invite you to ignore the person. There may be an issue here worthy of discussion but “just my simple opinion” is only making us all dumber. That person would not have the wherewithal to question your independence to your face; they just enjoy yanking people’s chains and being rude behind a mask of anonymity. Not worth your time.
            – Dave

        • David Huston

          The tone of this post is going to be less than cordial. I chose for a number of days to ignore a great deal of this. However, when there are attacks by individuals hiding behind anonymity and making ad hominem attacks, I find it necessary to respond.

          I was the tab room administer up to and including the semfinal round. First, I have no idea who you are. To that end, unless you are working with SLP in some official capacity, you have no cause to call for an investigation or an appeal of the final round. And if you think that Aaron Timmons or Ed Williams had anything to say about any of the panels in the octafinal or quarterfinal rounds that was above and beyond any other input by any other coach (ie MJP), then you have called my integrity into question. All coaches were involved with as much full disclosure that could be offered at the time with the setting of the semifinal and final round panels. If you want to see the data file to see the composition of that or any other panel, name the time and place that is mutually convenient for us both, and I’ll show it to you. You can then check it against what has been posted or from the extensive records that I’m sure you have kept. You will see that every attempt was made, as it was throughout the tournament, to maximize the preference systems of all debaters.

          I have worked with Greg Malis and Cherian Koshy in tab rooms for several years. I have never known them to favor one coach or judge over another. For you to claim otherwise demonstrates your lack of knowledge and experience in such matters. Yeah, you can now claim that of course I can say that and it doesn’t mean much, but others in this thread have taken it upon themselves to defend some questionable acts. Lump me in that category if you wish. I put my evidence against any one’s in that regard and feel pretty safe.

          I’m choosing once I’m done with this post to do the same thing that I do when I’m umpiring softball games. I will ignore the comments from the cheap seats by persons who really don’t understand the rules of the game or how it ought to be played. Don’t hide behind the “there will be political ramifications” if you actually post your name. If you have a comment, have the intestinal fortitude to put your name on these accusations. I’m not hard to find if you want to discuss.

        • Sure, here’s an independent investigation: I’m not necessarily impartial, since I’m aware the Greenhill strikes me and I like Shmikler, but I suppose you can discredit my response if that’s such a problem. I read Rebecca’s original post/have a pretty good idea of what went on in the round. She clearly didn’t cheat to win ToC, based on the evidence presently provided. Judges give kids advice frequently, especially to put into cases that they like. Judges have different preferences. It seemed pretty obvious to me from the panel of finals that the decision could likely end up this way. Judges having these prefs, however, doesn’t mean that someone cheated.

      • justmysimpleopinion

        Ms. Andrea Reed:

        I appeal Greg Malis’s decision. It was made unilaterally. It is wrong. It endorses manipulating tab. It screws over small debaters without obnoxious coaches such as Timmons who control Malis.

        I’m not saying this behavior could ever be completely excised from debate. But approving of it during the most important round of the year is wrong. Everyone knows it’s wrong. And Malis continuing to defend it is even more wrong.

        Make a change. Stand up for your own damn tournament. RK and Chris Vincent cheated. Do something about it.

        • I don’t think this is what was meant by appealing the decision. Andrea Reed isn’t magically notified every time her name is posted on a forum and she also certainly doesn’t concern herself with religiously reading an LD forum.

          I’m also impressed with the quality of argumentation contained in your appeal. I am sure Ms. Reed will be compelled by the premise that “it is wrong” since “everyone knows its wrong.” We should all take a lesson in argumentation from you.

          (Not taking a stance on the actual issue, just wanted to point out how dumb this is)

      • I’m reluctant to post anything about this issue, and I don’t mean my doing so to imply that I think there was a conficting relationship between Chris and Rebecca.

        However, since Greg’s comments might give the wrong impression, I just want to say for the record that at the time the final panel was set, neither Charles nor I were aware that there was any previous contact between the two of them. So in that sense, there was not ample opportunity for us to raise the issue, whether or not it would have been appropriate to do so.

  • justmysimpleopinion

    Sir, do you deny that you argued on RK’s behalf after round 6?

  • Let me attempt to clarify several misconceptions before I dive in substantively to more of this debate:
    1) I have never coached, worked with, or done any active work with Greenhill or with Rebbeca. Just because she thanked me in a post, does not mean that I actively coached her. The advice I have provided her is no different than the advice that I would provide to anyone else in this community. I think the real difference there is that most do not put me in the back of the room or engage me enough to hear that advice.
    2) The issue I have with this characterization of her asking advice at any point in time as somehow cheating, assumes that a) I was the only judge on the panel and b) that anyone in this activity has never judged someone they worked with at a camp or anywhere else. This is funny to me, given the nature of how many people go to camps like NSD, VBI, and UNT over the course of the summer, work closely with lab leaders, and yet have the very same judges judge them, that they worked closely with. It’s inevitable, our community is small and we attempt to remain insulated. For the benefit of the educational value of this activity LET ME BE CLEAR….MY ADVICE TO REBECCA HAS ALWAYS BEEN IN OTHER RFDS WHERE I HAVE JUDGED HER!!!!
    3) I am a full time student, coach of a local high school in KY, and debater myself (in addition to working a part time job), meaning that I don’t have the time to provide active coaching to them. They have a phenomenal staff capable of doing that.
    4) I think the real issue here is not “Rebecca Cheated” but rather the failure to want to substantively engage in the arguments that were presented about the reality of racism. Outside of Christian Tarsney’s engagement of the actual RFD and Jakes (both of which I will substantively deal with tomorrow when I have more time) people are quick to defend that this was somehow cheating, ignoring that there was also 2 other judges on the panel, and reflecting the fact that it was a 2-1 decision, meaning someone else also agreed with me.
    5) I also think that the characterization of RK as a cheater, probably demonstrates that her arguments are true. After all no one is saying that about the conflict with where SLP RS is working this summer? This is not to dismiss anyone or even Richard as a debater. I think he is an excellent debater and did a very good job in that round. What I am saying is that we are ignoring when we pick and choose what we arbitrarily define as cheating.
    6) As far as the round 6 and 7 goes, I was in fact over in the policy world watching a debate. I never engaged what happened with the round or even confronted the person that judged that round. Someone did, but I’m sorry that you are factually incorrect in asserting it was me. That conversation is also somewhat decontextualized because even that engagement was mere question about how the decision was reached, not a challenge to the decision. But then again, it demonstrates that education only matters if it protects the status quo.

    7) In my final post as a debater, I thanked a lot of people that judged me for their influence in my career, as have many of you and many judges, so non-unique. Her thank you doesn’t reflect me coaching her.

    8) Finally, I conclude by saying despite what you think, I attempt to evaluate the round that is layed out in front of me. I’m hoping Ari will join in this conversation based on previous conversations that I have had with him, that he doesn’t disagree with how I reached my decision nor do I disagree with how he reached his. We can all agree to disagree, but at the end of the day I am not a hack for anyone. I genuinely care about the sustainability of this activity, and would never try to ruin it for my own personal agenda. The debate was really good, and really close (which is why it was a 2-1 decision). But would this discussion really happen if the decision had went the other way.

    I will post more later but right now, I need some rest!!!

  • NoWP

    A brief reference to “advice” = assumed to be conclusive or strong evidence of cheating by some. This is as pathetic as the reddit people/the newspaper who accused two innocent men of the bombing. A child gets advice about a K after a round = a cheater according to some here. By this logic, I guess that makes the whole NSD staff (and the staff of all the other camps too) cheaters too because at some point a judge casually chatted with them about debate arguments during a tournament. Honestly, this is looking more and more like one camp’s vendetta against a coach and his student will never end. Let’s be direct: Rebecca’s opponent could have dropped his case, and ‘a priori’ arguments and she’d still be accused of being a cheater. There is no world in which people can just calm down and say congrats, you won the ballots, let’s move on. These constant conspiracies against Rebecca have jumped the shark and really shouldn’t be coming from adults and coaches responsible for children’s welfare. And as an additional note, Larry Liu’s Facebook status is extremely unprofessional and shocking (implying that other camps only talk about/ can ‘pronounce’ racism, that other camps “suck” and that if you do mention the existence of racism you are stupid/unintelligent). Such talk is unbecoming of NSD, reflects poorly on the camp and probably unfairly gives an image that the camp does not respect diverse peoples/literature and points of view that don’t fit in the camp’s analytic philosophy/raceblind tradition. Come on guys, you are better than this, at least I hope.

    • Larry’s post was basically a mad-libbed version of the exact status posted by by someone else in which it was declared that all other camps besides VBI and UNT sucked, and implied that all other camps know how to talk about is analytic philosophers like Korsgaard. In saying that all other camps besides NSD suck, and that other camps just know how to teach you about racism, Larry was ironically demonstrating the absurdity of statements initially made by someone else. One can of course, question whether Larry’s response was appropriate, but it is completely beyond me how you can criticize Larry for his behavior without at the same time criticizing the person who made the initial post. And for the record, I’ve taken lectures at NSD on Critical Race Theory, Poststructuralism, and Lacan, Foucault, Marx, and Althusser. I’ve also given lectures on Foucault and Nietzsche. Non-analytic philosophy has been part of the curriculum for every year I’ve attended or taught.

    • ronmexico

      Let’s count the ways in which this post directly attacks NSD:
      1: NSD staff accused RK of killing an 8 year old boy.
      2: NSD staff advising students should be accused of illegitimate behavior if criticism is leveled at RK for thanking Mr. Vincent (plus a halfassed parenthetical comment about how staff from other camps is guilty of this as well).
      3: NSD is determined to destroy a coach and his student; had RK not won the TOC on a 2-1 decision (2+1=3, by the way, which is the number of judges judging the final round of the TOC), explicitly thanked one of the two judges who judged the final round for advising her and throwing in his lot with her while not thanking the other, and followed the win with a totally unwarranted attack on this demonic institution, everyone would totally still have been pissed about all this. We know this because NSD sucks.
      4: NSD also hates minorities.
      5: NSD is not better than this, most likely.

    • 1. NSD does not endorse the content of the anonymous posts, nor does NSD have a vendetta against any coach or his or her students.
      2. Larry Liu does not speak for NSD, but I fear that this post deliberately distorts what he said. Larry did not say that any camp sucks, nor did he say that mentioning the existence of racism makes you stupid and/or unintelligent. He made a satirical post, modeled after another post targeted at camps other than VBI and UNT.
      3. NSD does not have an ‘analytic philosophy/raceblind’ tradition. We have lectures on CRT and related subjects every year. My personal belief is that the duty to overcome racism is a duty incumbent upon all of us as Americans, and indeed as human beings.
      4. I do not know why people always feel the need to blame NSD for the content of the flamewars that go down on this website. This website is intended to provide a forum for discussion. People are allowed to say what they want within certain relatively generous limits. I do not believe in censorship, and I think that anonymity is absolutely essential if students (and, in some cases, coaches) are to express their views without fear of repercussions. I fear that the unscrupulous are inclined to misrepresent the fact that we allow these discussions to occur as evidence that we are somehow responsible for them in order to sully the name of NSD. I hope that people realize that these accusations are fraudulent.

      • Guest

        This slurring of different camps is kind of nuts. The reality is that mods like epalm, ari, and steven adler, do the community a generous service by hosting this website, which is a relatively accessible forum for discussion. Each camp is comprised of myriad individuals, all of whom agree on some things, and disagree on others. No camp endorses only one formula for how to debate; every single camp has a diverse staff with different backgrounds and preferences. Dividing this community up along camp lines is probably antithetical to the educational and communal of this activity. No one should blame NSD for these flamewars, and no one should blame any other camp for these flamewars either. Individuals choose to post on here; it’s not the camps they went to.

        • I posted the above comment in response to Eric’s by mistake. I meant to post it in response to NoWP.

  • justmysimpleopinion

    I would also enjoin Cheater Kuang from advertising that she “won TOC” until the investigation is completed.

    • Can you please stop? And can the moderators of this website please have some sense?

    • It’s pretty brave of you all to say awful things about a 16 year old, especially anonymously.

  • justmysimpleopinion

    I demand a full investigation by an independent authority.

  • justmysimpleopinion

    It seems that the folks on this website are ignoring the true issue.

    Chris Vincent and Rebecca Kuang cheated. Kuang freaking admitted it in a facebook post when she thanked Vincent for his “advice” at TOC.

    Not only that but he argued on her behalf after she lost to Leah Shapiro rd 6 or 7. I don’t get how you guys aren’t more concerned about this kind of stuff. Who cares about the substantive arguments she made? The round is over. The only thing that matters is that she cheated in the most important round of the year.

    This, by the way, is why TOC is losing ground to Nationals.

    If this kind of BS happened in a courtroom or on a basketball court, the round would be voided at the very least.

  • Paras Kumar

    Just a casual friendly reminder that this community suffers from dementia: by May 15th, no one will post on this thread. And no one will care. Rage on my friends.

  • Old Timer

    It would be cool if, instead of having Christian, Jake, Eric, et al. delivering 4NRs and 5ARs, we actually had the debaters themselves talking about the round and their cases. That would serve as a nice reminder that debate is about giving students a platform on which to speak and be taken seriously; it’s not a forum for philosophy graduate students to argue with each other. And if Rebecca or Richard don’t feel like coming on here to post, maybe we don’t need grown men re-litigating their round. This isn’t a knock on Jake, Eric, or Christian – I know and like all of you, and you’ve each given far more to this community than you’ve taken from it. I just hope you’ll remember to keep this about the kids.

    Thanks to Chris Vincent for taking the time to write up and post your RFD. I hope this becomes more common for the final rounds at the largest circuit tournaments. It would be great if there were a more scalable way to do this – making a habit of videotaping and posting final round RFDs would be a solid step forward.

    • I disagree. Watching people who are far more intelligent and well-trained on the issue is instructive for me and, I imagine, for many students. Debate is definitely about the kids — always should be. But discussion of arguments, strategies, and the finer points of the activity in public is something that doubtlessly benefits from the participation of the older and better-informed.

      Also — on a side note — why on earth is this comment anonymous? Particularly if the mysterious Old Timer is someone who “knows” and “likes” all of the people involved, it seems as though anonymity on such a minor issue is unnecessary. Is your relationship with Eric, Jake and Christian so tenuous that you believe it will be rent asunder by even benign and well-meaning criticism? Like Eric, I believe anonymity has its place. But it’s troubling to me that it has become the norm. We should use it sparingly, Old Timer, if for no other reason than that it sends a bad message to suggest that we cannot disagree without maintaining our relationships, and so we have to hide every time we make anything resembling a critical comment.

      Kudos to all of the folks on the thread (and other threads) who are posting reasonable, respectful criticisms on all sides of the issue without resorting to anonymity.

      • This is not, of course, to suggest that all of the posts here are reasonable and respectful.

      • ipgunn

        Speaking strictly to the anonymity point, this activity is so prone to disputes now it seems that posting even “benign and well-meaning criticism” can be taken the wrong way and used to affect the poster and the poster’s school, judges, coaches, friends, or debaters in an adverse way. Anonymity sometimes seems silly, but I understand when people use it out of an abundance of caution and would rather err on the side of enabling that protection.

  • 1.) Chris Vincent never coached Greenhill. He was too busy coaching me throughout the year. Sorry you all didn’t get what you wanted but don’t drag my coach into this for no reason. It seems like people are channeling their frustration about losing to Greenhill again into random, trivial, claims about lack of objectivity in the judging panel.

    2.) Ok, debate community, let’s just keep promoting equality, fairness, and a safe competitive environment for students, but only online. Whenever we lose or dislike something we’ll just label it unfair or try to blame our problems away.

    3.) I’m going to write a long letter about my experience in the debate community. It’ll hold relevance to this post and to a lot of positions ran at the TOC this year.

    • Do you have any specific suggestions about what we should do to make the debate community more equal/fair/safe?

      • Honestly it will probably never be equal or fair. Some people have more resources and unless I advocate some type of wealth redistribution (which high school debate can surely accomplish) that won’t change. Judges also, always, have subjective interests in round. There is no way to make a debate round completely fair. People will obviously say we should strive to achieve fairness or be fair. I guess that’s noble but it doesn’t happen. My 2nd comment was just to show the hypocritical nature of the community.

        Safety: this is definitely an issue. I’ve felt unsafe with certain people judging me; I know Jessica Xu has a ton of problems with lack of safety in th debate community. If people were less hostile and more inclusive of opinions different from their own than debate can be at least a bit safer. Instead, people resort to claims of hacking and blaming micro political debaters

        • Sorry on my phone and it’s difficult to type and post. I’ll further the above post tomorrow

        • then *

  • b_advocacy_s_kills

    I am mostly done with debate, and honestly I’m so happy about it.I learned a lot from debate and made many (hopefully) life-long friendships. But this environment can be so toxic, and let’s not pretend like that isn’t perpetrated by certain people. I don’t care if you are a high school student, young coach, or “lifer.” We all know better. People know when it is wrong for a certain judge to judge them. People know when it is wrong to launch personal attacks at their opponents. We all know better than to behave the way we do half the time. This activity has changed my life for the better in so many ways, but certain aspects of it disgust me. For the love of God, please have some respect. If you win a round, you don’t need to throw your timer down in triumph, shit talk your opponent, and walk around with your nose in the air- it’s cool to be excited but it’s not cool to be rude. Passive aggressive Facebook posts? Please get a life. If you don’t like a certain camp, you don’t need to make it your personal agenda to prove its superiority and shun people who don’t agree with you.

    Congrats to Rebecca on the win, no one can deny that she is talented. However, after watching many of her rounds I would like to voice my personal problem with how casually she calls all of her opponents “racist.” It’s one thing to call an argument racist, but personal attacks are unnecessary and mean. It is just not OK to casually call people racist. “Dripping with white supremacy” might be a nice phrase that persuades judges, but it’s mean and untrue. This isn’t just to Rebecca, it’s to everyone. Please stop personally attacking people in and out of round. People think that trying to make debate a certain way will make the activity a better and more welcoming place… but dogmatic views that are enforced with such hatred and rivalry is the exact reason why debate gets unpleasant.

    I’m honestly not interested in arguing with anyone, so I’m not going to waste my time responding to any responses to this post, just a heads up. At the end of the day, it’s a high school competition… have fun, make friends, learn something. This isn’t Mean Girls, so stop alienating yourself and others. Peace out.

    • NoWP

      I’m not interested in arguing either, but there’s one line here which is ignorant. “It is just not OK to casually call people racist. “Dripping with white supremacy” might be a nice phrase that persuades judges, but it’s mean and untrue.” Claims of racism are not by definition, made “casually.” Try reading about the concept of ‘white privilege’ first before speaking on the issue. Oh and by the way, that’s written by a white woman.

      • Why are you so condescending? Do you honestly believe that no one besides Rebecca understands what white privilege is? Give me a break. I genuinely believe both finalists are great debaters, and like you, I’m not interested in getting too deep into this discussion here, but I think that there is a clear difference between making legitimate and illegitimate “claims of racism.” I’ve seen multiple debaters in the past run racism ks when their opponents have run arguments that they think are actively racist. However, I don’t think it’s legitimate to just say that anyone who negates on this topic is “dripping with white privilege.” My main issue with this kind of rhetoric is that it comes off as hostile and bullying. There is a way to run an argument that doesn’t require a debater to immediately accuse the other debater of being a morally bad person. Under your logic, it would be okay to just go around calling everyone a racist if they weren’t trying to fight for historically disadvantaged minorities every second of their lives. This just breeds hostility. Debaters I have talked to have felt not only bullied, but offended by this position. One debater who is one of the nicest people I know cried afterwards. If you want to have a discussion, have it, but there is no need to – like you say – “casually” insult your opponents.

        Congrats to both Rebecca and Richard on great careers.

        • Rebecca never claimed that anyone who negates on this topic is “dripping with white privilege.” Debaters who substantively engaged the aff – by agreeing that racism is wrong and discussing rehabilitation and retribution rather than trying to avoid the aff’s substance through framework – did not link into the privilege DA. But so few debaters do that, since they would rather exclude the aff’s substance. It is always the opponent’s choice.

          • Oh, so it’s just when you try to delink her arguments from your standard that you start to perspire white supremacy

          • In non-technical terms, delinking her arguments from your standard = saying racism doesn’t matter. So, yes.

          • Demanding that your opponent explain why their arguments matter under the moral framework you defend in the debate is not the same as saying that their impacts “don’t matter”. And more obviously, one can say that it is problematic to demand such an explanation (b/c it trades off with actually talking about race issues) without accusing one’s opponent of white-supremacy.

          • It is, if you also de-link her arguments from your standard, which is what you said in the post to which I responded. I don’t believe she accused her opponent of being a white supremacist. I think she said that his methodology was problematic *because* it reinforced white privilege in debate, and because it ignores the historical conversation that needs to take place – not far off from the argument you suggest, just impacted more specifically than being “problematic.”

          • Jake, I agreed in cross-ex that racism linked to my framework. In fact, i made three arguments in the NC explaining that sentimentalism is concerned with racism. Yet, I still was “dripping with white privilege”. I’m not questioning Rebecca’s motives/debate skills, I think she’s a great debater who genuinely wanted to engage with the racism debates, but it’s not true that she only said that to people who refused the aff’s substance.

          • anon12345

            Can someone from Greenhill address this? I think this proves that the Greenhill bullying tactics are completely absurd. How is it ok to accuse anyone who negates on the topic of “dripping with white privilege”? To me, this creates an environment where claims of racism are thrown around casually and without any evidence that is counterproductive to addressing real instances of racism.

          • You’re right, I’m sorry Leah. I should not have implied that disagreeing with the standard was the only way in which Rebecca believed people could link into white privilege. Other ways include what philosophers call “ideal theory” of criminal justice (as opposed not to policies, but to non-ideal theorizing or a historically situated discussion), which was the “ahistorical fantasy” link. Rebecca also believed that it perpetuates white privilege to say that our obligation to make criminals suffer for their wrongdoing is stronger than our obligation to resist racial oppression. I take those to be the two links she tried to defend in your round, Leah. (Not defending them here, just clarifying for the lovely anon12345.)

        • NoWP

          You completely failed at reading my comment correctly. The argument wasn’t that Rebecca was the only person who understands what white privilege is (thanks for blatant mischaracterization of what I was saying). Jake does a good enough job of correcting your knee jerk reaction below.

          For example, I myself who is neither an LDer or part of the groups involved, understands white privilege AND gave links from white individuals who articulate and define this concept. Seriously, let’s do some better reading comprehension next time before you post.

          In terms of this bullying position, if you try to de-link or dismiss or exclude her position then it’s damn fair to make it an in round argument. Debaters are responsible for both the content and behavior within their speeches, especially when those are within the context of the arguments themselves. If someone who has a racist attitude, or behaves in a way (even if unknowingly) that feeds into racist mindsets or systems of power, then it’s fair to call that out as a link argument or demonstration of the initial point.

          Yes, it comes off as hostile or bullying when someone who is not seen as a ‘subject’ or as a full person in a community dares to question the systems of power. That’s threatening to those in a more powerful position and as we see with Christian, is seen as “Bullying” to them because it is a direct attack on mindsets that may or may not ground their world view/order of things. There are many debaters who are offended by the mere mention of issues dealing with race even if its topical, not made about their opponent and makes no mention of ‘white privilege.’ It may be uncomfortable or scary to realize the pervasiveness of racism. It may be seen as being “bullied” when a student who has been dragged through the mud in these forums for no reason of her own stands up and says in her own way, “stop it!” If that’s bullying, so damn be it.

          • A couple things:
            1. I wouldn’t dare say that no one understands white privilege after you provided us with that fantastic link to an article from a cartoonist’s blog. When I asked, “Do you honestly believe that no one besides Rebecca understands what white privilege is?” I was referring to her opponents at TOC, which is what this thread is about. I believe context clues are a basic part of reading comprehension, and I’m also pretty sure that reading comprehension isn’t something you can “do.” So let’s understand basic grammar next time before you post.

            2. If you actually read my post, my problem wasn’t with the position. It was with the attacks made in round and her calling her opponents (not their arguments) racists. Jake’s responses just explain why she was able to frame her opponent’s arguments in a certain way; they don’t justify the way she presents those arguments in round. There is a difference between saying “her arguments in this round are feeding into a racist mindset” and “she is dripping with white privilege.” I’m fairly sure Rebecca ended her speech against Carlton in outrounds with “..and….he’s a racist.” If you think calling people names in round is necessary in order to get a point across, then we will just have to agree to disagree.

            3. Did you seriously just say that Rebecca is not seen as “full person” in the community? What does that even mean? I certainly view her as a “full person.” In fact, I believe that on an earlier discussion I publicly criticized someone for calling her names. You say that “if her recognition of her voice” and her “own way” of saying “stop it!” is seen as bullying, you’re “all for it.” Well, if her way of doing this is by insulting others, I’m not.

            I have no idea what the deal is with these allegations about cheating; all I’m saying is that she should have executed her arguments differently so her opponents didn’t feel attacked and uncomfortable.

    • Confronting privilege necessitates feeling uncomfortable; asking people to reflect on the internalized practices of racist, dominant hegemony is not intended as a personal attack. That’s why it’s important to approach privilege -it’s not the person’s fault if they have privilege; the system bequeathed it unto them. There is culpability when the person, when confronted with their privilege, tacitly ignores it or worse, reinforces it. Frankly, when debaters try to sidestep the issue of substantively discussing what steps to solve racism by ignoring it via a framework debate is complicity in the face of racism: issues are pointed out, and they are asked to be justified or explained. Anyone who needs oppression explained to them has obviously never faced it and is thus in a position to qualitatively discuss the case of historic marginalization to reduce its effects or to ignore it. It is important to note that SLP’s position changed from “the NC doesn’t speak about racism,” when asked in CX to “Of course it matters, we solve it” by their coaching staff when challenging the RFD. Funny how the tune changed so quickly. The only person who was directly indicted for personal reasons in that round was RK. Richard ran an off case accusing her of “bullying,” and defaming her character. This is coming from a perspective where I repeatedly witnessed people trash-talking RK and making fun of her commitment to focusing the topic on the racist CJS before and after the final round. The cattiness continued even after I said something to several debaters. Who’s the real “bully” then? Honestly, no one. Everyone is just freaking out because it was a high stakes competition and stress levels were high. What I see is simply a few overly invested people who are taking what is supposed to be an educational high school activity to a ridiculous level. The suggestion then seems to be that it’s okay to be mean about a greenhill debater behind her back, but it is not okay for that greenhill debater to engage in a face-to-face round where she claims, as the aff, that the debate should center on figuring out the best solvency for a racist cjs (which is not a personal attack). Moreover, if you think we were on “the top” in terms of MPJ, you are wrong. The panel was 8-8 total for both sides, and we had the larger disparity between individual mpj points per judge, so that suggestion that Ghill stacked the panel is not only false, but slightly hilarious. Greg Malis has concluded that nothing “sketchy” happened. If you want an investigation, go complain to Andrea Reed- I don’t think she will reveal who demanded it. Be careful what you wish for though, because you will find that if anyone intervened, it was not the two judges on top

      • Bekah, there’s a lot to say about your post, but since you’re attacking me and my debater, I feel especially compelled to respond to that.

        Either you just didn’t flow the final round, or you are intentionally and blatantly misrepresenting what took place. Here is, verbatim, what Richard read on the top of the AC flow during his first speech:

        “The NC framework specifically explains why racism is bad:

        (1) I say that moral oughts come only from the innate structure of our moral emotions. Racism is excluded from the content of morality because racial attitudes are not innate, i.e. the only way she can claim why framework is racist is if she claims that people are innately racist and there’s no chance of solvency, which is clearly wrong.

        (2) The innate structure of our moral sentiments includes a demand for fairness, which racism violates. Contingent factors can suppress the demand for fairness, but my framework explains the progress away from racism since the intrinsic demand for fairness wins out in the long term.”

        That’s what he said, he said it in the NC before CX, and he extended it in the NR after CX. To claim that he was ambiguous about whether his framework condemned racism is simply false.

        If he didn’t give Rebecca the answer she wanted in CX, that’s explained by the shell he read after the NC, which gives reasons why debaters should have to do work to link their *specific* impacts (as opposed to impact categories like “racism”) into their opponent’s framework. He could have been clearer in CX, perhaps, that this was the issue, but Rebecca consistently refused to let him give an extended answer to her questions. He could not have been any more clear, throughout the round, that his framework said racism was wrong.

        I’ve been trying to keep my contributions to this thread, as much as possible, about the content of arguments in the debate. But if you would like me to explain why Richard accused Rebecca of bullying, why I think those accusations were one hundred percent justified, and why Greenhill has no right to give condescending, sanctimonious lectures about “privilege” and “complicity,” I’ll happily do so.

        • Christian, the statement was not meant to be an attack on you or Richard. I think Richard is talented and contributed to the closeness of an already competitive round.

          Re: bullying – it was not Richard specifically, but a large number of people in the community (adults included) who were just plain disrespectful – And that’s only what I witnessed. I think it’s really hypocritical for people who want to create an open community engage in the same cattiness they seek to end and condone it as long as it is against Greenhill affiliated person. Richard instigated the personal attacks in the round. Rebecca was not condemning Richard as a person, but rather the structural foundation of the neg’s position.

          I flowed the round; don’t insult my intelligence and I won’t insult yours. I chalk up your misunderstanding of the way the AC arguments function to your dedication to tolerance rather than to diversity. It was this attempt at “colorblindness” that served as one of the many links to what Vincent calls “the privilege da,” specifically the meritocracy argument. In the CX of the AC, Richard asked under what moral framework did oppression have an impact – specifically, it was asked what “was bad about it.” That was a main takeaway from the AC – that moral philosophies ought prioritize antiracism for its own sake, which most metaethics try to justify or worse, exclude.

          In terms of CX, it was a simple yes or no question: that logically has only two answers. Rebecca said that Richard could explain himself after the answering the crux of the question. She wanted him to take a definitive side.

          Greenhill is an excellent place – if some of us come from a place of privilege, we do our best to get our debaters to recognize that. I would also be careful in ascribing qualities of privilege simply from a debater’s school. Lots of students attend private schools on scholarship and deal with multiple issues. That’s why we teach them about intersectionality and relative privilege. They learn that people have invisible and visible identities and that people need to be conscious of the way they practice and benefit from institutional norms. Rebecca’s maturation as a person is indicative of this – she went from a freshman who thought the battle for equality had already been fought to a senior who recognized and fought for its continuation. I am immensely proud of her.

          Strangely, it seems that your hesitation with controversial/forced interpretations of the topic is limited to the involvement of Greenhill. At Harvard last year, we sat on a panel together, witnessed a debater who was clearly winning on the flow against a very controversial micropol narrative. We split in that round (sadly for one of the debaters, I was on bottom). As I recall, granted it’s been some time, your RFD focused on not engaging the narrative in the method the presenter intended. I was also flowing that round pretty vigorously and it seemed obvious that while the position the micropol debater was advocating was commendable (which I privately told her and spoke with her about), she clearly lost on the flow to several arguments regarding the ballot story.

          That was not the case in this debate. The “conceded” arguments you keep elaborating on (none of which you could specifically reference when challenging the rfd) were articulated as links that re-entrenched the racist practices of the cjs. If you have further, questions, I’d be happy to mail you several books articulating the history of meritocracy as a disguise to mask a racist system. All Rebecca wanted was to focus the debate on which created better antiracist practices: rehab or retribution. It’s too bad that debate couldn’t happen.

          I find your vehemence founded in love for your kid – mine is from a similar source. I am not angry that you care about your debaters. That demonstrates a real sense of loyalty to them that is commendable. The round is over. Let’s not rehash it – the decision won’t change or be revoked because nothing sketchy happened. Let it go.

          • anon12345

            Wait this is actually hilarious. Christian made an awesome post, which specifically referenced arguments in the round that clearly showed Richard was winning. Bekah’s response was a giant rant that was completely not responsive, personally attacked Christian, and mentioned the round a grand total of once.

            Greenhill, if your response to conceded arguments that clearly won Richard the round is “I’d be happy to mail you several books articulating” why you are wrong, that’s probably proof that you lost.

          • C’mon, Bekah…you can’t write a long post largely concerned with rehashing the round and then say “The round is over. Let’s not rehash it.”

            I appreciate your desire to defend your student, and I glad you appreciate mine. But I don’t think our positions are symmetric here. I do think that I’m right, despite the inevitable bias that comes from caring about the interests of someone I’ve spent four years coaching.

            In your original post, you said the following: “It is important to note that SLP’s position changed from “the NC doesn’t speak about racism,” when asked in CX to “Of course it matters, we solve it” by their coaching staff when challenging the RFD.”

            I think that the arguments read in the NC, extended in the NR, which I quoted above very clearly show that that is not the case. And it’s entirely independent from whether or not I understand the affirmative position. The colorblindness issue is a separate link (i.e., separate from Richard’s CX answers), and I’ve already said why I think it was thoroughly beaten back in the round.

            I’m not sure what I said that you took as insulting your intelligence. But don’t insult mine by trying to pass of obviously false claims about logic. Many yes/no questions don’t have factive yes/no answers. One simple reason why that might be the case is ambiguity. Richard, correctly or not, took Rebecca’s question to be ambiguous, and attempted to give an answer which was appropriate in light of that ambiguity, as I explained above.

            Re the Harvard round, I voted for the debater who I thought won the flow. Maybe I was wrong. I would not have intervened for her position, though I was far more sympathetic to it than to Rebecca’s.

            Don’t put “conceded” in scare quotes like they weren’t. First, even if they did link Richard into the criticism, not a single one of them was specifically signposted to on the flow and referenced as generating a link–if that was the case, it was left entirely implicit. Second, this is exactly the “responding to the argument just links you in harder” claim that we spent more of the RFD criticizing. Yes, obviously, if we argue that abstract moral philosophy is good, that links us into a criticism of abstract moral philosophy. But the content of those arguments very clearly answers back the *reasons why abstraction/”colorblindness”/whatever are bad.

            We didn’t get a chance to talk about those six arguments during the RFD because we were busy talking about other conceded arguments. As I recall, it was Greenhill that cut the conversation off, not us.

            With regard to the rest of what you’re saying (criticism of Rebecca during the tournament, the accusation of bullying, and the issue of privilege vis-a-vis Greenhill), you’re making assumptions about my reasons for taking offense at Rebecca’s and Greenhill’s conduct this past weekend. Would you like to hear what those reasons are?

          • bekah

            Christian, I would like to hear your concerns, but not where the trolls will feed. Please facebook or email me. I will have more time to respond there as I am a bit overloaded with finals. I think that we both are a bit blinded by our compassion for our kids. At the end of the day, what we think doesn’t matter. I focused on other things that needed to be talked about rather than specificity because I think Jake did an excellent job explaining those things (which I guess no one is paying attention to). What is outrageous is that Ari admitted that he intervened against Wise and Leonardo, even though Rebecca was winning a link, but y’all (not Christian, but the flamewar collectively) keep insisting that we “stacked” the panel in our favor? We aren’t doing anything but causing stress. I tried to explain that I truly think no one means any harm, as a lot of the animosity was brought on by stress. The round IS over. Whether or not it needs to be re-examined lies in the hands of the tournament director and by other debaters so that they can decide the future mpj rankings of the judges on the panel

          • anon12345

            “Jake, you mischaracterized my position. My taped RFD, which I’m still certain is correct, explains why Richard substantively won my ballot.” -Ari Parker

            I love how you’re just asserting that Ari intervened. Ari correctly evaluated the round and said he *would have* intervened anyway because he believes Greenhill’s tactics are uneducational, which they are.

            Maybe Ari said that to get Nebel to leave him alone because Nebel insisted on grilling him for two hours at the airport after Rebecca won. Someone objectively evaluated the round and voted for Richard. Oh no!

            Y’all deserve this flamewar because this decision is horrible and was likely a hack.

          • I didn’t assert it. I quoted it. And Ari confirmed the accuracy of the quote. I think Ari was wrong to say that mischaracterized his position, given what I have said below. His only reason for thinking that I mischaracterized his position was that someone might incorrectly infer, from my post, that he lied on Monday when he said that he didn’t think Rebecca won the link. Of course Ari didn’t think that on Monday, and of course he didn’t lie about his RFD. I think he just changed it, since he agreed on Tuesday that she did win the links – after considering only those arguments he had on his flow in the 2AR.

          • Advocacy Skilled

            The public has an interest in this, both to ensure that the TOC process is fair and to adjust MJP. We don’t want this locked behind closed doors. Aren’t you an advocate of openness, after all? The real reason you want to end the public’s knowledge of this conversation is because the vast majority of the community believes that Richard won in finals and that Greenhill possibly cheated, and this conversation only reinforces this view in me and others. Christian is crushing you in your online debate, which is embarrassing for Greenhill, so you want to curtail public knowledge of the round. Your justification doesn’t make any sense – downvotes don’t affect your ability to have a meaningful and interesting conversation.

          • Thankfully, the greenhill kiddos are better at debate than I am. Also, there are authors that can articulate things much better than someone who is too emotionally invested in articulating the authentic character of her debater. I’m not trying to re-live the round. I just want people to acknowledge that these issues aren’t so incredibly binary: a lot of people could have treated other people more nicely. Everyone is upset and stressed because they are both really talented. Our inability to see the flow as the other sees it comes from a fundamental disagreement in how debate should happen. That’s fine. We will probably never agree. This is not a reason to throw children under a bus with name-calling and harsh accusations.

            The claim that I fear public embarrassment or “down” votes is hilarious. If I cared about what the community thought of me, I would do a lot of things differently – namely, leave. I decided to ask Christian to speak with me privately because I did not want to wade through the massive amount of awful hate-mail that I endured after coming out as a survivor on this site. (Thanks for being great human beings, by the way.) Especially when the conversation is about how the kids we are responsible for act toward each other. I regret starting that thread here; I should have initiated that privately, but honestly, I was just really upset and could not let it go. I think that it’s time that we do.

  • rkuang

    I won’t post again or probably even bother to look at the site again, but I’ll just clear up a misconception. Chris Vincent DID “throw in his lot” with me…I mean, he voted for me. To get to what you’re actually implying though, there is no (official or unofficial) coaching relationship between us, unless you count some advice on how to answer some random kritik that he gave me in the hallway. I understand this sort of advice is commonly given out to debaters by people who judge them, but maybe I’m wrong and no one communicates with each other outside of debate rounds.

    I edited my Facebook status to avoid the perception of unfairness, but I probably should have just left it as it was because I see nothing wrong with thanking someone for sharing their wisdom. Whoops.

    • akdio

      well done.

    • ronmexico

      Rebecca, what did you refer to as “throwing in their lot” with you for the other three people listed in that paragraph? And why didn’t you thank the other judge who voted in your favor?

    • Friends of Greenhill Debate

      If that’s the case, then why didn’t Sam Hamad “throw in his lot” with you…I mean, he voted for you in finals, right? Shouldn’t he too get an honorable mention in your TOC thank you post, along with every other judge who picked you up in elims?

      I smell shenanigans.

    • justmysimpleopinion

      *** Take the desperate assertions of a cheater with a grain of salt

    • To be honest, if I won TOC I would probably also thank a bunch of people without thinking about appearance of impropriety. I can also think of a few judges who I would potentially thank for advice that wouldn’t have been considered conflicts. Should Rebecca have been more careful in avoiding this appearance? Probably. But come the fuck on, she just won the TOC. Regardless of what you think of Greenhill, Rebecca, Richard, or the round it’s pretty obvious that winning the TOC would be pretty exciting.

      Discussion of the round/RFDs is valuable. This discussion about whether Rebecca/GHill cheated is just kind of dumb.

      • Reading through the posts, I think the discussion that’s more pertinent is whether or not a conflict arose after CV argued for Rebecca after she lost to Leah. It shows that CV seemed to prefer one competitor/schol (Rebecca/Greenhill) over another (Leah/SLP) and was willing to argue the point despite having “no relationship” to either competitor. I also think the fact the he argued AGAINST SLP in that round makes it especially suspect.

  • Hack City

    “It is time that we move beyond the belief that we are objective judges or even objective beings when we judge rounds. This was the thing that I believe shaped the other two judges more so than mine, because we start from the assumption that we are viewing the round objectively. ”

    Translation: “I hacked”

  • Guest

    Anyone who looks at Chris Vincents post should look at RK’s original status on facebook.
    To quote: “finally….and Chris Vincent: TOC would not have been possible with your advice. thank you for throwing in your lot with a tiny Asian girl. i stand on the shoulders of giants.”
    She thanks him in her “people who gave me advice and helped me this weekend”. Obviously not an impartial critic. Nice job stacking TOC panel with hacks and conflicts, real classy.

  • Debate Justice

    Look at the bottom:

    There is concern of the fairness of the judge panel.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Debate Justice.

    • Jayant Tripathy

      There should really be a higher preffed panel in finals of the TOC.

      • Alex Kramer

        The issue was a shortage of remaining judges. If I’m remembering correctly, the finals judges were ranked 2-2, 1-4, and 5-2. Even that was only reached after over 20 minutes of Greenhill, SLP, and tab staff discussing and trying to find additional judges. I wasn’t privy to that conversation, so I’m not sure how the panel was ultimately constructed in these sense of why those particular judges were chosen; I remember SLP suggesting a number of other judges that didn’t make the panel, but the main point that almost all of the judges had already left the tournament remains. This issue happens almost every year, but was especially pronounced this year. Unfortunately, outside of some sort of schedule change allowing the final round to occur earlier, I don’t really see too much changing in the future.

    • FWIW, I have no dog in this fight (pony in this race?) but this is a situation that occurred because there were almost no un-struck judges left at the tournament (and I imagine that there was extremely little overlap between these two schools’ pref sheets in particular). I know that everyone complains about a pre-selected final round panel, but assembling 3 judges out of the many dozens of judges who attended the tournament didn’t seem to be a big problem back when we had a pre-selected panel. If everyone is concerned about preference, then there are other things you can do to ameliorate this concern (e.g. panel 9, 11, or 13 judges and strike down to 5 or 7; eliminate struck judges on a tit-for-tat basis; etc.). You don’t even have to assemble a panel per se – you can just ask well-regarded critics if they would be willing to stick around for the final round a few weeks in advance.

      In any event, this discussion seems to illustrate that there are serious legitimacy-based concerns about the final round judging at TOC. People throw around the term “illegitimate” way too much (it does not simply mean a decision that is wrong, or one with which you disagree), but empaneling 3 judges, two of whom were not mutually preferred, to judge the most important debate of the year does little to ensure the debate community’s faith that the national champion was selected in a fair (as opposed to correct) manner. Again, I have no stake in this fight and have no opinion on who “should” have won the final round – but I imagine that everyone (especially both finalists) would rationally prefer if the final round outcome was less contentious than it is and that the tournament had done more, ex ante, to ensure that the final round was judged by a mutually preferred panel.

  • Christian: Even Ari now agrees (as of yesterday) that Rebecca won the links, and that, on the basis of the arguments, she won the voter. But he says: “I intervened against that style of debate, because it is not the way in which I view debate, which may or may not be racist under the arguments that she extended.” I will email you shortly with a much longer explanation of this, but I think it is evidence that you should re-think whether Richard won the link debate. In this post, though, I’ll just focus on the arguments you mention above.

    I’m going to focus only one of Rebecca’s link arguments, which is targeted at Richard’s assumption that we are only justified in saying that racism is wrong if we can explain some general moral principle or metaethical theory in virtue of which racism is wrong. That’s one of Curry’s two arguments. You say there are six conceded objections to the links.

    Very quickly, I think (1) is the only one of those objections which seems responsive to that link. (2) doesn’t answer that argument, since her link is not the standard of sentimentalism, but Richard’s methodology, including his CX questions and answers, and responses to the aff standard. The same goes for (3) – in the 1AR, she linked it directly to things Richard said in the debate, and (3) assumes it is linking to sentimentalism specifically. (4) has no impact, unless it is the same as (1). (5) and (6) are not about this particular link argument; they are about the “ahistorical fantasy” argument, which I also think she wins but don’t need to get into here.

    The only response is (1). But Curry answers this argument, and the Curry evidence is better than Richard’s warrant for this argument. (Ari agrees.) He would also need a better answer to Rebecca’s objection that the demand for justification leads to an infinite regress. His response is that sentimentalism solves the infinite regress. But sentimentalism is his metaethical theory, not his debate methodology, which assumes that metaethics is necessary. So that is no response. Richard would also need to answer Rebecca’s objection that there is no morally neutral position or metaethical view from nowhere, from which we can stop the regress. Rebecca also responds that racism functions through rationalization, which is what Richard is doing when he says that racism is wrong because of sentimentalism. So no, Christian, I don’t think Rebecca dropped that argument. There is plenty of clash on that issue.

    There is also the question I asked you in the post-round discussion: whether “P explains why Q” is factive with respect to Q – i.e., whether it entails Q. The answer is obviously yes. So when Richard says in the NR that sentimentalism explains why racism is wrong, this entails that sentimentalism is wrong. We already knew that racism is wrong before we had the explanation, just as we knew that magnesium got heavier when burned before we had the oxidation-reduction theory. The fact that racism is wrong is part of the data that metaethical theories, like sentimentalism, seek to explain. So we didn’t need to articulate sentimentalism, or any other metaethical theory, to know that racism is wrong. Even on the view that Richard slips into, we knew that racism is bad before we knew why it is bad. This interpretive upshot of Richard’s claims is not an argument in the 2AR, and I don’t mean it to be a reason to vote affirmative. (I think we already have sufficient reason to vote affirmative, given the link discussed above and the voter.) But it does seem to suggest that a coherent RFD cannot include both the claim that sentimentalism explains why racism is wrong, and the claim that we could not be justified in believing that racism is wrong without appealing to a metaethical theory that explains this datum. And a plausible negative ballot would need to include both these claims.

    • “There is also the question I asked you in the post-round discussion:
      whether “P explains why Q” is factive with respect to Q –
      i.e., whether it entails Q. The answer is obviously yes. So when
      Richard says in the NR that sentimentalism explains why racism is
      wrong, this entails that racism is wrong. We already knew that racism
      is wrong before we had the explanation, just as we knew that
      magnesium got heavier when burned before we had the
      oxidation-reduction theory.”

      I don’t know if this is what you intended to say, but the principle you
      seem to assume here is simply wrong. The fact that P explains Q, in
      itself, tells us absolutely nothing about the justificatory order
      between P and Q. It certainly does not entail that one has to know
      that Q in order to know that P, or even that one can know that Q
      without knowing that P. Constructive proof in mathematics starts
      from premises that purport to explain the truth of the conclusion.
      If you think that any explanatory relation between P and Q entails
      that knowledge that Q is prior to knowledge that P, then you must
      think it is impossible for constructive proofs to arrive at novel
      theorems, which is ridiculous. Any axiomatic conception of ethics
      purports to work in roughly the same way. If I understand you
      correctly, you are assuming that we know metaethical theories by
      abduction or inference to best explanation, not warranting it.

      • I do think most metaethical theorizing is abductive, and I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that inference to best explanation is a way of warranting, or justifying, a belief.

        I did not say that for any P and Q, any explanatory relation between P and Q entails that Q is epistemically prior to P.

        • Who said inference to best explanation is not a way of warranting a belief? I certainly didn’t. I just said that explanatory priority does not entail epistemic priority of the explanandum over the explanans, which is obviously true, and if that weren’t true, then there would be no way of acquiring justification by constructive proof. If you didn’t mean to deny this, then what justifies your conclusion that “a coherent RFD cannot include both the claim that sentimentalism explains why racism is wrong, and the claim that we could not be justified in believing that racism is wrong without appealing to a metaethical theory that explains this datum”? This follows only if it is not possible to hold that one justifiably believes that X is wrong only if (and because) one knows why X is wrong. I do not know what would entail this other than (a) the suspect claim that constructive proof is impossible or (b) the claim that for any true normative proposition, there is a non-constructive way of coming to know that truth. You concede that (a) is wrong; (b) is a controversial, substantive position in moral epistemology, not something that would cast doubt on the very coherence of the position you describe.

          • You wrote “you are assuming that we know metaethical theories by abduction or inference to best explanation, not warranting it.” How does this not imply that IBE is not a way of warranting?

            If “racism is wrong” is a datum, then we know it. And we would know it even if we didn’t know the theory that explained why it’s true. The way in which Richard claims to explain why racism is wrong is like the way in which scientific theories aim to explain our data, not like the way in which a set of mathematical premises explain a theorem (by proving something we didn’t know).

            I do believe that for SOME normative fact/facts, there is a non-constructive way of coming to know it/them. Not sure if I need the universally quantified version that you state in (b).

          • Well, for one obvious reason, the claim that you are assuming and not justifying the claim that metaethical justification is by IBE does not entail that IBE is not a way of warranting beliefs, because it does not even commit me to the claim that IBE does not justify metaethical beliefs. It just points out a problem with your argument. But even if I had said that metaethical beliefs are not justified by IBE, that proposition clearly does not entail that IBE is not in general a way of justifying beliefs, because that proposition has a clear subject-matter restriction to metaethical knowledge. There is absolutely no reason why one cannot hold that IBE justifies e.g. scientific beliefs, but not metaethical beliefs.

            And yes, you are right that you can deny the position that all normative truths are known through construction by saying that some are not, but that obviously does not show that there is any incoherence involved in the opposed view. It just shows that you reject that view, which is neither here nor there when it comes to assessing arguments in a debate round. To demonstrate incoherence, you would need to say that the proposition that metaethical truths explain the truth of the contents of our considered normative judgments contradicts the claim that we know normative truths by construction alone. And if the latter is merely false, that is not enough to show a contradiction – you’d need to show that the former entailed the negation of the latter or vice versa. I thought you were trying to say that the negative ballot story made no sense, not that you disagree with the conception of moral epistemology that Richard defended.

            Richard’s framework arguments used IBE, but not in the way you’re talking about. He said that what explains the fact that normative judgments are intrinsically motivating is that they express sentiments, not that sentimentalism is warranted because it entails a set of principles which do a better job of approximating our considered moral judgments than any competing set of principles does (and sentimentalism does no such thing, since it does not entail any substantive principles of normative ethics on its own – it only does so in conjunction with empirical facts about our dispositions, and those facts are to be ascertained by scientific theory itself,
            not armchair applications of reflective equilibrium). The arguments for why sentimentalism explains why racism is wrong were applications of the theory of normative reasons supported by the framework, and did not assume as a data point that racism is wrong. He argued that anyone has a reason to reject racism, because a desire for fairness
            is innate, and racism is contrary to fairness, whether they recognize that reason or not. Assuming Richard’s identification of morally salient sentiments with innate sentiments, it follows that one cannot know that racism is wrong simply by being disposed to view racism as
            bad, since the fact that one has that reaction does not tell you that it is grounded in an innate, rather than acquired, sentiment. Empirical tests of innateness are mandatory, so his view could not allow that the judgment that racism is wrong is a data point on which the theory is constructed, rather than a result delivered by the theory.

          • Sorry, Eric, I thought “not warranting it” was in contrast to abduction in metaethics, not my assumption.

            In the NR and the post-round, all parties seem to treat the wrongness of racism as a datum that sentimentalism explains. No one is more confident in sentimentalism than they are in the belief that racism is wrong. I just don’t think we are more confident in metaethical theories than in that particular moral judgment – a point based in the debate on Soames.

            Actually, the NC uses the fact that sentimentalism explains why racism is wrong as a reason to believe sentimentalism, not as a reason to believe that racism is wrong (he obviously wouldn’t need to do that, since Rebecca agrees that racism is wrong). He makes those arguments in the first speech. (This doesn’t nullify the link-level problem, which is that he also refuses to agree that racism is wrong under his standard, and does not unequivocally agree that racism is wrong until the NR.) I discussed this with Christian.

    • Ari has said he’ll post his RFD in writing, so I’ll wait for that to adjust my opinions on the basis of his.

      At any rate, what you’re saying is wrong.

      First, the easy stuff: your dismissal of arguments (2)-(6) doesn’t make sense. I have zero link arguments on my 2AR flow that are specific to Richard’s answers in CX. The only argument specific to his answers on the AC framework is her criticism of the “aims” argument, but that’s where there’s a further set of conceded answers, which I can enumerate if you’d like. Therefore, the only feature of Richard’s “methodology” left to link is the NC. And (2)/(3), plus all the arguments that say the NC fw explains why racism is bad, clearly sever that link. (4) is a link turn, and the impact is Rebecca’s–it says that she suffers from the exact same methodological problem, only worse (namely, that it forces us to engage in the same abstract colorblind blah blah blah). That alone should be game over. (5) also delinks the “aims” argument, which leaves Rebecca with no link extended in the 2AR. (6), you’re correct, does not respond to that particular link.

      Now, with regard to (1): The response you claim Rebecca made about “views from nowhere” was not signposted to Richard’s argument on my flow, at least. But more to the point, Richard is very clearly winning the argument that his framework stops the regress (since she concedes arguments which foundationally justify the badness or racism). Your point about the distinction between a metaethical theory and a debate methodology is simply not one Rebecca made in round. It also seems wrong–if Richard stops the regress with his metaethic, then that answers the only reason given why we shouldn’t look for metaethical justification, and leaves unanswered the reason why we should.

      As to whether Curry is better warranted than Richard’s argument…I’ll encourage people to go to the wiki, download the Curry article, and find the relevant section. I don’t know how Greenhill cut the card (out of the 1300+ words of test from which it comes), but I don’t see a real warrant anywhere in those 1300 words, and I think the warrant I explained above (which is exactly the warrant Richard gave in round–I have the text) for the argument at the top of the AC is extremely clear and simple (and, imo, true).

      Your point about explanation is obvious nonsense. I’ll happily grant you that “P explains Q” entails “Q is true.” But, as you should know, that says nothing about the inferential relationship between P and Q. *Sometimes* we explain facts which are already known to us, e.g. by coming up with unifying generalizations. But sometimes we demonstrate and explain at the same time. A constructive proof in logic or mathematics can both explain why a theorem is true, and give me reason to believe that it’s true. A scientific theory can both explain planetary motion, and predict it (i.e. give me reason to believe that the planets will move in particular ways). And foundational arguments fora moral theory can both explain why an action is wrong, and give me reason to believe that it’s wrong.

      • (4) was not impacted in terms of race or white privilege in the debate. I wasn’t talking about the “aims” link, to which most of those responses are directed. The 1AR said that Richard’s justificatory demand for a theory under which racism is bad reinforces white privilege. That’s also what Curry says. That is specific to Richard’s methodology. What would a de-link look like? “I didn’t say that”? You may not have understood that she was talking about this aspect of Richard’s methodology, rather than the “aims” stuff, but I have those down as separate points. And, when Ari and I compared flows in the airport, he did too. He added, “I didn’t listen as carefully as I should have,” and admitted that he didn’t interpret her arguments very charitably.

        So, because the “view form nowhere” wasn’t signposted, it wasn’t an answer? She said in all three speeches that there is no morally neutral middle ground on this issue, from which we can sensibly suspend judgment on whether racism is wrong until given a metaethical theory. If that’s true (and Richard doesn’t mention it), then Richard’s claim to have solved the infinite regress problem is false – he cannot have accomplished the impossible. This is like dropping an answer to the conclusion of an argument: fine, extend your premises, but we know (given the falsity of the conclusion) that at least one of them is false. Philosophers are interested in which premise is false, but the debate judge doesn’t need to know which.

        You say Richard’s argument is stronger than Curry’s. So, you think that the inability to give a non-question-begging proof to racists of why they are wrong (the internal link turn) is a stronger impact than Curry’s conceded point that the methodological assumption in question is the root cause of slavery and white supremacy (the internal link)? OK, it’s fine that you think that, but that’s not justified by any weighing in the debate, and (if both sides get the fully claimed weight of their impact, given the concession – solving the infinite regress doesn’t deny Curry’s “root cause” claim) it seems clearly false. So you should not be so confident that Richard wins this level of the debate.

        I’ll concede that the explanatory relation does not itself imply the inferential one. I’ll weaken to a claim about the claim in this debate: “racism is wrong” is something we all knew before Richard offered his metaethical explanation. And he could have granted that in a way that didn’t link into the white privilege DA – that is, by taking the clear stance in the NC and CX that racism impacted to his standard.

      • NoWP

        Why don’t you just take your butt whipping, go home and get over it? This is called being a sore loser.

    • Jake, you mischaracterized my position. My taped RFD, which I’m still certain is correct, explains why Richard substantively won my ballot. Even if he had not, however, I still would have intervened on his behalf for the reasons I explained to you at the airport. You and I are both more interested in the latter discussion, I think, so I will post that tomorrow.

      • The quoted part of the discussion was after you agreed she won the Curry link. After you said that your view “may or may not be racist under the arguments that she extended,” I followed up with, “And you agree she won the link through the second argument in Curry,” which we spent about 30 minutes discussing. And you said, “Yeah, after thinking about it there was a link,” and “I now do think she won a link.” We clarified your decision – that it was intervention against Wise and Leonardo – about three times. You never framed it as an “even if.”

      • NoWP

        So had Richard not substantively won your ballot, you would have still intervened.
        To quote another, “There is concern of the fairness of the judge panel.
        Sincerely Yours.”

      • I will again re-characterize exactly how I came to evaluate this round. I sat for an hour and struggled in this debate because I thought it was extremely close. While I reached a different decision than Ari, I do not think that Ari is incorrect in how he reached his decision or how is RFD is percieved. Again this reflects the ideological differences that exist within our community, and provides a place to substantively engage these issues. I struggled with Curry for a while, but ultimately concluded that the warrants in Curry were much stronger, because it speaks directly to sentimentalism.

        What the struggle of this round was is a lack of link work on both sides of the debate, so regardless it required a thorough examination and careful consideration of the round. I think had there been an explicit role of the ballot by either side, the nature of the debate would have changed.

        I can’t speak to the questions of intervention, obviously because I only know what goes on in my mind, but this should not discredit the fact that this was a very close debate and arguably deserved to be a 2-1 decision.

        • I was asked not to post my RFD until the affected parties get to state their case to Andrea and the TOC advisory board, so I’ll respect that for now. The vast majority of this thread has educational value, I think, and I hope the conversation continues after Paras’s May 15th deadline, trolls notwithstanding.

          I echo Chris’s sentiments above. A few shout-outs:

          1. To Rebecca, Richard, and their coaches for letting me be a part of the final round. Both teams played hard all season and the final round was no different.
          2. To Josh Altman and Carlton Bone for shocking the world: Josh avoided senioritis, worked his tail off from March-May, and he deserved to be the first debater to clear from Byram Hills; Carlton debated eight rounds the ENTIRE season, and all of them took place this weekend. That will never happen again. Congratulations to Jacob Pritt and Jeff Liu for their great coaching work.
          3. To Elana Leone for capping off a great 2.5 year career this weekend. I hope you enjoyed your epic semester-long college tour.
          4. To the City of Chicago for warming up while I was away. Ram and I encourage you to visit our city soon. Go Bulls!

    • Today in irony, a philosophy student (who is presumably not racist) used philosophical reasoning to justify why his student deserved to win the TOC on the argument that philosophical reasoning is racist.

      • Her argument was not that philosophical reasoning (universally, or even in general) is racist. But, as always, thank you Fritz for your contribution.

  • I’m going to post something longer (mostly not about the final round) in the next day or two, but I feel the need to say a few things here, because I think anyone reading this RFD would get a significantly misleading impression of what my student did and didn’t say in the final round. Given that some of what I say will be harshly critical of this RFD, I want to preface it by saying that I do appreciate Chris taking the time to explain his decision.

    Here are a few of the conceded arguments this RFD ignores:

    1. The argument at the very top of the AC flow that only foundational moral arguments have any chance of solving racism, because if we just assert that racism or oppression are bad on the basis of intuition, anyone tempted towards racism can just say “I have different values,” and without philosophical arguments we end up stymied.

    2. The very next argument, which says that the only way Rebecca can link her “flawed epistemology” claims to the NC is if she claims that our moral psychology is innately racist (s.t. abstract investigation of that psychology would not yield a condemnation of racism), which is (a) false and (b) itself an objectionably racist premise.

    3. The argument, also on the AC, that Rebecca has only linked her arguments to abstract philosophical reasoning generally, but not to the NC framework specifically, and needs to do the latter.

    4. The argument, on the C point in Rebecca’s 1AR strategy, that she bites worse into her own criticism, because her argument forces appeals to moral intuitions, which are mysterious philosophical abstracta.

    5. The many arguments to the effect that, even if in a vacuum it’s more useful to discuss the “materiality” of racism than to explain what’s morally wrong with racism, the former discussion is not a way of affirming the resolution, because retributivism
    directly condemns racism, so that there is no coherent sense in which a debate
    about the AC contention level would be a debate about the resolution.

    6. The argument that the negative is *not* imagining a world, because the negative does not defend a world.

    (Incidentally, these are not the six arguments referenced in the RFD, although they slightly overlap.)

    Rebecca concedes the post-fiat level of the debate in the 2AR (which I do think is an important point), so she needs to win that Richard has done something wrong for which he deserves to lose. It seems to me that the above arguments very explicitly answer back every reason for that conclusion cited by the RFD. And just to repeat, in case it wasn’t clear…all of these arguments were conceded.

    By the way, not that it matters, but I would encourage people to think about how well-warranted any of the argument from Wise, Curry, Leonardo, et al are, as per the RFD or as per the text of the cards themselves, which you can find via the wiki. It seems to me that many of them are very poorly warranted, or utterly unwarranted, and the RFD certainly cites nothing resembling a warrant (which is fine, of course, if they really were there in round). Even if Richard and Rebecca are both relying on implicit clash to answer back each other’s arguments (which I don’t think is the case, because I think Richard is very clearly responding to the content of Rebecca’s arguments, if not all the author names, without having to read in any further links), that would need to be resolved by a comparison of warrants, where Richard wins by default.

    I’ll just close by saying that I’m eager for the video of this debate to get posted, so that anyone who’s interested can decide for themselves what happened.