Theory debates are notably esoteric and the debate over whether AFC Bad requires an RVI is case in point. Ultimately, the discussion of this topic has been held back by an overreliance on jargon and a lack of confidence in common sense.

The content of this article won’t directly address last year’s Head-to-Head debate [1], but I’ll hopefully persuade debaters who voted for John that there’s a way to believe AFC Bad doesn’t need an RVI without tying themselves to John’s untenable model for determining which interps are offensive. While I’m willing to discuss the two models in the comment section, I won’t delve further into this for now. I’ll assume AFC Bad is an OCI.

It’s commonly understood that an OCI requires an RVI. In my view, people like John claim, “AFC Bad is not an OCI” to avoid the seemingly impending conclusion that this then requires an RVI. The solution to this problem is to concede AFC Bad is an OCI, but does not require an RVI to justify its offensive plank. I believe this coincides tremendously with our intuitions.

The crux of my position is this: an RVI is not equivalent to every claim that initiating false theory is abusive. The conclusion that “AFC Bad requires an RVI” only seems agreeable when we conflate the two through abstract jargon.

By winning AFC creates bad debate, the neg can impact this back to a fairness voter. “Look,” the neg could claim, “This round would have been prohibitively abusive with AFC; the judge couldn’t have accurately adjudicated the better debater had I not read this shell. I had no option but to read theory, so vote here to rectify the irreparable skew on substance.”

This argument seems a lot less controversial than an RVI since this line of reasoning is analogous to a fairness voter on T. The aff framed the round such that, absent your shell, the judge couldn’t determine the better debater.

Bear in mind that this argument is not confined to AFC. Every spike that frames the round unfairly could be the target of a similar shell.

Why exactly is this distinct from an RVI?

First, for AFC Bad, the offensive plank is as follows:

Substance is irreparably skewed since I had to run theory to thwart the potential world where we debated under the unfair interp.

For an RVI, this potential world could never exist since the original shell was drop the debater. Consequently, the stories are distinct.

Second, let’s assume an awesome CX established the 1AR can’t extend AFC to drop the debater. RVI’s are constrained to be reciprocal voting issues and normally don’t apply to drop the argument shells. The offensive plank I just outlined could still justify drop the debater because there’s no proportionality constraint; it just claims substance was framed in an unfair way, which triggers the voter.

Hopefully I’ve justified two conclusions. First, AFC Bad is an OCI, but the offensive plank isn’t an RVI. The plank is analogous to a fairness voter on T: the aff’s framing for the round would have created unfair debate had theory not been introduced. Second, the conclusion that AFC Bad requires an RVI emerges from an over-reliance on abstract jargon. Even if an OCI usually entails an RVI, it doesn’t always entail one. We should trust our intuitions more.