What Else is New? A Competing Interpretation on Theory Debate

What Else is New? A Competing Interpretation on Theory Debate by Carlton Bone

While I have unquestionably been limited in my involvement with the debate community this past year, and much of the preceding year, a recent article entitled, “The Desolation of Theory” by Rebecca Kuang caught me by surprise. I have participated in my share of theory debates, I don’t think I could go as far as calling them “the bubonic plague”. Theory debates aren’t always perfect, but they are far from unsalvageable, and might be better off without articles that take such a pessimistic and critical view of theory.

Rebecca’s arguments assume several things about theory debate which she uses to construct a straw-man for the remainder of her article. She outlines the worst possible impact stories for voters, equivocates between different interpretations, and fails to justify an actual position. While I recognize she did preface her article by calling it a rant, for her to also say she hoped to persuade readers would at least suggest some coherency behind her arguments.

First, I want to challenge the notion that all theory debates stem from pure laziness. The suggestion is ludicrous. Debaters do not initiate theory because an argument is hard to answer and theory is the easy way out. Rather, I would suggest that debaters initiate theory simply because it is another strategic option available in the game: it’s just another argument. Rebecca’s logic suggests that framework debaters contest ethical theories not because it is another legitimate level of argumentation, but instead because contention level arguments are so hard to answer. Debaters have numerous levels to argue on, and choosing theory instead of the substance of an already poorly adapted and questionably legitimate counter-plan is hardly objectionable. Rebecca assumes, rather than arguing for, an outdated model of theory in which theory is strictly a tool to set rules for debate.

Because of the judge’s ability to decide the round on the criteria established in the round, it is important that standards, and voters be justified and impacted thoroughly. Theory jargon increases efficiency, while necessarily sacrificing some level of explanation. However as long as all parties understand the common terminology of the debate, I see no reason to require debaters to elaborate. Additionally, the precedent exists in basically every level of debate, from the increasing colloquial references to the value structure, to counter-plan structure. I feel, and the judges who have voted for me and others as well feel, that the stock warrants for a fairness/education voter are sufficient. Of course, any voter can be torn apart, just like Rebecca was so adeptly able to do with her examples, but the point is that these are warranted claims that, while can be debated, have the necessary strength to merit a ballot.

Theory can be a check on in round abuse, norm setting, or anywhere in between. Because of these principles, we are able to argue the concepts of education and fairness outside of a vacuum and in context of the debate at hand. This is again why the relative important of certain issues to each judge is so important. Because we have judges who vote on criteria in contexts of actual debates held we are able to establish communal norms. Each round debaters can have similar debates on the same issues and judges voting on warranted and sound arguments allows for the perpetuation of better practices. The best example of this is clearly the backlash a prioris recieved when they became more common place, as judges naturally became less tolerant and balance was restored. All that needed to happen were debates on the issue, not critical and borderline intolerant articles written by former debaters.

As for innovation in theory, we need to just look to some of the more successful theory debaters of recent times. All of whom were successful with the same stock arguments purely because of the time and effort they invested into crafting nuanced warrants for traditional voters and standards, and more clever interpretations for the same practices. For instance, we’ve all heard text and topic lit as standards, yet we are only compelled to reason with the arguments behind them when debaters provide specific examples of the literature being excluded, or the portions of text being excluded. Personally, one of my favorite theory debates was topicality, purely because they normally involved an evidenced based clash on definitional and logical constraints on the topic.

In regards to privillege I think Rebecca is confused. If she assumes all debaters enter rounds assuming a level playing field and giving no regard to external factors I am confused. If that were the case, would she expect for every one of her opponents to have a litany of debate coaches from a variety of different debate styles at their disposal or for my opponents to have access to Jeff Liu, unquestionably the best coach-basketball player off the market? Clearly not. The issue of privillege works both ways and has so many confounding variables to attempt and isolate one and account for the relative subjectivity it brings to the round is just absurd. I don’t assume the round to be found on a level playing field, rather I make arguments that rely purely on what I have rather than arguments that exploit what I don’t.

Furthermore, fairness is measured in degrees by most accounts, with things being more or less fair than compared items. To say because we don’t start from an equilibirum of fairness and therefore changes in the fairness throughout the round don’t matter are ridiculous. That’s how debate has to work, otherwise pull-ups would deserve a win becuase they had to debate an objectively better opponent, and debaters newer in the activity would deserve to win because they had fewer chances to actually compete. No matter how we look at it, there are always criteria that we can point at that cause things as being unfair, but theory as an argument, allows us to at least acknowledge those thigns that are in our control in the round, as judges and competitors, and fix them.

As for the specific examples Rebecca listed, I don’t feel the need to address each one. Of course these are all issues that create disparities to begin with, but the point Rebecca doesn’t make (Though to her credit she did promise more on it later) is why these disparities mean in-round abuses don’t matter. We’ve all been told two wrongs, don’t make a right, and one wrong makes everything less wrong right.

No matter your view,  I think we should all be mindful of how we approach issues like this. It’s easy to get frustrated and “rant” about things that upset us. When we do that, however, we risk mocking and shaming debaters who in all reality just want to improve their skills and become more talented competitors. Because of this, if issues need to be discussed out of round its paramount we work on giving feedback and setting aside a lot of the emotional baggage that gets in the way of logical discussion. Otherwise we risk inflaming things and not only preventing resolution from happening but even regressing into poor debate styles due to a stubborn unwillingness to compromise.

Rebecca ends in an odd way. She suggests the capable, intelligent community can address these problems after thoroughly cutting down the validity of anyone who could feel differently than her. However, I couldn’t agree with her more in the importance of leaving resolution up to the community at large. Which is why we should set aside hurtful accusations and provide the support that comes from quality RFDs and patient Q and As after round, support that actually motivates debaters to change.

  • morpheus

    While I agree Wilderson is much less obscurantist than someone like Badiou, concepts such as the fungibility of the slave are not exactly geared towards laymen. Wilderson does follow Fanon, who was deemed exceptional in his unique philosophical ideas that impressed writers such as Sartre.

  • PlazaMexico

    A lot of things have been said about privilege and I guess I ought to elaborate on how i feel, primarily because I think there are few points that ought to be considered. I feel that no matter how one feels about the importance of these arguments have there is no way to argue them in the debate setting without hurting the legitimacy of the issue or other groups. We all agree that the lack of diversity in debate is upsetting how do we compare the obstacles black debaters face to female debaters for instance? Quantify the number in the activity and reduce each to a number? Overly disclose personal information and again find ourselves in the same position?

    From personal experience I have struggled with being restricted from competition. Not because of my race or gender but because of where i went to school. My school prevented me from attending any tournament initially (having a restrictive off campus travel policy that required me to get searched, in the nude, for drugs and other restricted items whenever i returned from the 5 limited visits with my parents). When, after months of arduous work I earned the right to attend the TOC, I faced the difficulty of first finding out what the topic was (something that required internet access, which I wasn’t allowed). When i was able to find it I faced the same difficulty of researching which would have been the end of my ability to compete had it not been for the 3 TOTAL hours i had to communicate and receive articles from my coach at the time. Despite this, I did attend and went on to do fairly well, trying not to exploit the obvious disadvantage I faced only to lose to an argument (though fairly at due to my own strategic choices) about the white privilege I so readily enjoyed.

    Now I am not looking for sympathy, as a matter of fact the exact opposite. I had to overcome a ridiculous amount of difficulties and I hate the idea of using it for a strategic advantage. When Michelle Choi argued that she ought to win our doubles round at the TOC the year before because she was the last potential female in out-rounds, I responded by talking about mental illness. The round devolved to competing assertions and made the judges uncomfortable as they clearly wouldn’t want to cast a ballot and delegitimize the validity of either of our claims. The point i tried to make then, as I do now, is that its absurd to say the suffering of one group is great than the suffering that any one else has to such an extent that we need to change the topic at hand to a discussion over who has it worse.

    If you take anything from this, or the article, is that respect is what matters most. When expressing how we feel, our opinions, or issues we are passionate about if we do so in such a way that minimizes the feelings of others (calling them racist, indolent slugs, or ignorant) we risk turning others against the change we would all like to see.

  • anon24

    Haha I love irony

  • kuangisignorant

    Rebecca – Ignorant

    yeah, this goes out to lifer at law. (maybe you were right)
    Intro

    “ooh baby. Did they make debate difficult for you?”

    (sneeze: oops I’m allergic to bullshit)

    Start of rhymes
    Maybe I don’t know much about satire, but you don’t know anything about being fair

    When I beg my principal to compete in 1 tourney a year, I didn’t think you really care

    Were you there Rebecca when my opponents were stealing my ground?

    Were you there to witness how I ran theory in those rounds?

    In Octas of ToC, what happened becca?

    did you run topicality because you were scared Carlton was gonna wreck ya?

    I never had a coach, I couldn’t afford it

    To comment about debate you are totally unfit

    Quite complaining about racism and the problems of being black

    I hate this privileged bullshit as you debated with rounds with your mac

    You DONO what the heck anyone else has been through.

    Your satire and article….sorry it is plain crude

    Not everyone could go to 8 tourneys like you

    Not everyone could afford multiple coaches like you

    Not everyone had the resources to the same articles as you

    Not everyone had other teammates cut cards like you

    Not everyone could pay 20k for Greenhill like you

    Take a bite of that rich food if this reality is hard for you to chew

    Listen to me, I went to 6 tournaments in 4 years of high school.

    Stop speaking .. you sound like an ignorant fool

    I will scrunch my eyes all I want and ask for the round to be fair

    if our arguments were in a short race, you’d be the tortoise and i’d be the hare

    If you think this is crude and not the truth, I beseech you to preach

    It’s time for you to stop talking about debate and go talk about speech

  • kuangisignorant

    This poem is called Rebecca is Ignorant.

    yeah, shoutout to lifer at law. (maybe you were right)

    Intro:
    _ooh baby. Did they make debate difficult for you?_

    (sneeze: oops I’m allergic to bullshit)

    Actual rhyme
    Maybe I don’t know much about satire, but you don’t know anything about being fair

    When I beg my principal to compete in 1 tourney a year, I didn’t think you really care

    Were you there Rebecca when my opponents were stealing my ground?

    Were you there to witness how I ran theory in those rounds?

    In Octas of ToC, what happened becca?

    did you run topicality because you were scared Carlton was gonna wreck ya?

    I never had a coach, I couldn’t afford it

    To comment about debate you are totally unfit

    Quite complaining about racism and the problems of being black

    I hate this privileged bullshit as you debated with rounds with your mac

    You DONO what the heck anyone else has been through.

    Your satire and article….sorry it is plain crude

    Not everyone could go to 8 tourneys like you

    Not everyone could afford multiple coaches like you

    Not everyone had the resources to the same articles as you

    Not everyone had other teammates cut cards like you

    Not everyone could pay 20k for Greenhill like you

    Take a drink if this reality is hard for you to chew

    Listen to me, I went to 6 tournaments in 4 years of high school.

    Stop speaking .. you sound like an ignorant fool

    I will scrunch my eyes all I want and ask for the round to be fair

    if our arguments were in a short race, you’d be the tortoise and i’d be the hare

    If you think this is crude and not the truth, I beseech you NOT to preach

    It’s time for you to stop talking about debate and go talk about speech

    • Joey Schnide

      #cyberbullying

    • Since when did we deem this okay for anybody to say?
      This is the single most targeted and hateful post I’ve ever seen on this website and whoever decided to hide behind the username “kuangisignorant” really needs to rethink their life decisions. I don’t know Rebecca or anything about her, but nobody deserves this!

    • AJT999

      Dude, you shouldn’t be dissing Rebecca. Especially on NSD Update, which is for constructive discussion. Not to mention, your poetry skills are no match for my rapping swag.

      #Tomasiswag

      Shout out to Nick, that homie speaks the truth
      You must be Sherlock Holmes cuz you’re the anonymous sleuth
      But you aren’t on my level in this rap game
      Shout out to Drizzy Drake, Nothing Was The Same
      I know what you mean, I’m also small school
      I learned with dedication that small can be cool
      With the right dedication and the right sacrifice
      Chillin with my homies and no artifice
      I can feel you man, I’m not super rich
      Call me Kim Possible, homie what’s the sitch
      The community wants to do all it can
      Ask me about swag, because homie I’m the man
      Rebecca truly cares, maybe you should meet her
      If fairness is a voter, then I’m not a cheater
      Homie don’t hate, haters gonna hate
      This rhyme is on point, sorry that it late

      • Emma Weddle

        #tomasisage

        • UTIL.DB8R

          #tomasiisGOAT

    • Sarah McDonagh

      I’m not super involved in the circuit community (read: at all) but I think you/actually a lot of people need to rethink the way y’all talk about privilege. Rebecca’s purported “wealth” (and last time I checked none of us had access to her parents’ income figures so literally why is this discussion even happening) hardly cancels out the oppression she likely experiences as a woman, and as a woman of color. There is no “okay she experiences this form of structural violence BUT it’s okay because she has money,” that’s just you weirdly justifying her oppression. I’m not going to write a poem telling you that you didn’t experience a (clearly) less than satisfactory debate experience because you have some social advantages. Oppression olympics bad, etc.

      I too, am a really poor debater. I, too, am pretty mad about it a lot of the time. But posting this runs the risk of demonizing a super real criticism to be made of the community.

  • Wesley Hu

    “…Jeff Liu, unquestionably the best coach-basketball player off the market.” word

  • Christian Quiroz

    I think that it’s really problematic that you assume she is addressing all theory debates. Rebecca’s argument is that the trend of theory today is what stems from pure laziness, the idea that instead of actually reading topic literature or defending that your Aff is unique you have to argue that their position is unpredictable or it skews your strategy/time etc etc etc. Debaters too often rush to evading the conversation rather than engaging. She’s not indicting ALL theory debates of doing this, she’s indicting these specific practices of theory. If the Counterplan is truly poorly adapted and questionably legitimate then it probably wouldn’t solve for the Aff.. In which case Rebecca literally says “God forbid you be forced to think on your feet and defend the necessity of your aff”. Rebecca just wants debaters to actually debate.

    I’m not even going to respond to the Jargon argument because you haven’t responded to her position/questions. Moreover, it just feeds into the next issues which are impacting your args and more importantly privilege. Now, I admit Rebecca didn’t spend NEARLY as much time as she had to on the latter point but I’m gonna do my best to break it down simply for those of you with the dreaded p word (yes I know because none of ya’ll want to admit that you have it).

    Debate, for those of us in the community that are under systems of oppression, is not a game. Everything we talk about in round, literally everything, is something that we and our ancestry have had to deal with. Oppression doesn’t go away just because you click a button on a timer. Your argument is that it’s absurd to think that we can ever achieve a level playing field, but that’s the point. Your arguments make utterly no sense, you’re saying that we need to try to right the wrongs that we have control over in round but that’s a) a surface level analysis as to how to fix the problem and b) so subjective that often times us minority debaters get shut up because people don’t want to come to grips with their privilege and think that they’re on the moral high ground for ensuring a debater some degree of fairness.

    Arguing for fairness and education in a vacuum with the same ridiculous “warrants” is what leads to the absurd conclusions you’re talking about, that pull-ups and novices should win all their rounds because it would be the obligation of the judge to right the wrongs that happened outside of the round in the round itself.

    This issue is also very key to the issue of privilege. Whenever I say the word black, debaters assume “pre-fiat” “Micropolitics” “Untopical” and pull out their terrible generic T and Theory shells that, like Rebecca said, accuse our position of being unfair/uneducational because these debaters are intellectually lazy and don’t want to read. Your argument is that “it’s just another strategy” but what if, what if, debate isn’t just a game and is an environment that we should learn and discuss really serious issues? Or are you going to make the same old “There are other forums to have these discussions like this one right here or Facebook or blah blah blah” because I don’t see any forums labelled “Critical Race Theory” or “Critical Gender Theory”. In fact, I remember one debater argued that we would hold an open forum after the round to solve for the impacts I talked about, he lost on a 3-0 and guess what, NO FORUM. Debate has become such a game that kids are willing to lie to get a ballot.. You all keep saying “We’ll talk about it some other time” but we never have these discussions and theory becomes another way to just shut us out of the discussion.

    Ya’ll have a lot of privilege to say “it’s unfair for me to talk about black people” because it’s unfair that we can get murdered legally, that we can be enslaved, that we can have our identities eviscerated, and I can go on but ya’ll would probably just pull out another theory shell against me.

    Now this is NOT an indict of theory itself but rather the nature of the current trend of theory which is a method of argument of evasion versus argument engagement.

    Rebecca is right that there are legitimate ways to run Theory and debate workshops have begun to pioneer these methods, but we need ya’ll to understand the problems with the current model of theory and understand your own levels of privilege.

    Btw, The whole a priori thing was like the revolutionary/civil war… White people fighting other white people over land until one side won. Ya’ll will not recognize where we’re coming from until we begin to call ya’ll out not only in round but also on these forums.

    • Tillman Huett-Lassman

      I will likely only post this because I strongly feel getting involved in serious discussions on an online high school debate forum is silly for those who don’t debate. Regardless, this doesn’t make any sense to me. Your criticism doesn’t seem to be unique to theory at all, but rather applies generally to the sentiment of debaters engaging in these positions. Without getting into my personal views of such positions, I think you and Rebecca’s “defense” are inconsistent. 1: The call for more topical debate and forcing debaters to “learn,” as Rebecca puts it, seems to trade off with the defense of a consistent debate advocacy. Most of the portions I have experienced are run on both sides of multiple topics. This seems tquite similar torunning the same “Must defend a plan” shell across multiple topics (not that this is even a good idea). Researching and front lining the same advocacy doesn’t make you more knowledgable about the resolution but rather about the topic you want to debate. 2: The check of privilege, especially in the first article, seems to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Without getting intopersonal attacks, I feel that the debate community at large needs to act on what they advocate. I think it’s terrible that there are racial/gender/income disparities in debate. Things like working at the Texas Debate Collective to help coaches from low income schools grow their programs is what they call “putting your money where your mouth is.” I’m tired of debaters who do nothing besides pretend they care. The best action is action that happens outside of a debate round. Debaters who fundraise for causes and coaches who put together low income camps are the ones who exacerbate privilege. Those who go to private school but don’t volunteer their time, do not. 3: Debate is a game. I know it seems like a recycled phrase, but it is true. Within the confines of the game, you can make whatever arguments you want. You can even indict the game. This is what makes debate unique as an activity available to high schoolers. I really hate to break it to all of those who look at policy debate with rose-colored glasses, but from what I have heard from LDers doing college policy that activity isn’t very much more educational. They still want to win like in any competitive activity participants want to win. To learn more about this concept see: sports, games, pie eating contests, poker tournaments, any argument with your siblings, etc. 4: Theory debates are prettyfun. I agree that there are bad theory debates but, honestly, have you seen novices debate substance? Judging those rounds is often like getting teeth pulled. I feel the same way about that as I see debaters try to debate theory. It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling that others tell me is my inner teacher, proud that they are at least attempting to try something new. I’ve had really good theory debates and really bad theory debates. But why does it personally offend judges when theory debates are bad? To me, judges need to grow up and realize they no longer debate. Someare in college, others in graduate school and some have even graduated to life. Yet, they still push their vision on debate. I’m not saying that coaches shouldn’t influence their debaters, but I am saying that they shouldn’t be dogmatic in their judging styles. My debaters love to debate theory and the reason why I learned of this article was because multiple people close to me took it as a personal attack against them. I reassured them that it wasn’t, but line after line of insults seemed to paint a different picture. Instead of writing an article like that, how about growing up and moving on with your life? I should conclude all of this by saying that I ran a Micropolitical position for an entire year. I truly believed in it. I lost most of the rounds but I kept pushing. I even read it in the finals of a camp tournament, where Jeremy Dang and I had a discussion of how debate ought to be and what our role in shaping it is. We discussed these very same issues. It was emotional and impactful on me. It’s funny because the Camp Director was upset that I did that instead of having a topical debate because it wasn’t as educational as it could have been. Oh, the irony is so strong. Regardless, I am not opposed to any position. In fact, I believe multiple styles and positions are what make debate amazing. Dominating the debate-space with any type of argument is bad. This post was inspired by Rebecca’s article and so contained many more personal attacks against those who don’t agree with me. But then I realized that I was attempting to help young debaters and maybe as a role model, which Rebecca is such a zealot of, that maybe I should tone it down. Also, the insults were just too funny and I didn’t want anyone realizing what funny really is in a debate article.

      • James McElwain

        2: The check of privilege, especially in the first article, seems to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Without getting intopersonal attacks, I feel that the debate community at large needs to act on what they advocate. I think it’s terrible that there are racial/gender/income disparities in debate. Things like working at the Texas Debate Collective to help coaches from low income schools grow their programs is what they call “putting your money where your mouth is.” I’m tired of debaters who do nothing besides pretend they care. The best action is action that happens outside of a debate round. Debaters who fundraise for causes and coaches who put together low income camps are the ones who check privilege. Those who go to private school but don’t volunteer their time, do not.

        I feel like you don’t actually understand what “checking your privilege” means. Those institutional solutions (TDC, etc.), while great, don’t actually do a lot to solve to sort of systemic problems that prevent some kids from fully engaging in the debate community. That’s not to say that there aren’t material barriers that can be proactively addressed, but demanding a student conform to a Eurocentric form of rhetoric isn’t any less violent because you offered that same student a scholarship to camp.

        Further, your call for people to “put [their] money where their mouth is” (I won’t comment on the weirdness of you using that particular idiom in the first place) is a pretty classic strategy for silencing criticism. The fact that you would suggest a student’s criticism is less valuable because they are not actively engaged in “pragmatism” is pretty fucked up. Is Christian “do[ing] nothing besides pretend[ing]” when he criticizes imperialism because he hasn’t dropped out of high school to go join some Marxist insurrection halfway across the globe? Or is there a certain number of hours of community service he has to do every weekend before you’ll take his criticism seriously?

        • Dhruv Walia

          Before I post this – this isn’t relevant to the discussion about theory and the specific problems the people above have with debate. My problem is with people who read micropolitical positions and don’t disclose everything completely.

          If you guys care about this so much why haven’t you disclosed it full text, completely lined down like some debaters do. A perfect example of someone who does read micropol and discloses completely is Bronx Law a high school policy team coached by Eli Smith. To clarify, I don’t practice full text (lined down) disclosure but I think when you read micropolitical positions, you’re obligated to.

          This may not be true but it gives me the impression that you guys don’t care as much about the movement when all you do is post tags and the first and last three words because:

          1. A lot of your cards come from books which you either (a) have to purchase or (b) get through college research facilities which a lot of debaters don’t have.

          2. A lot of the text of your cards don’t necessarily follow from the tag (I’m not saying you miscut stuff but rather that the story of the movement is a little hard to follow when you disclose in the way that you do).

          3. The NDCA wiki is really easy to access and educate yourself with. Even if some debaters will get lazy and not actually read the literature behind the arguments you’re making at least there is SOME education that you get from
          reading the wiki. I can guarantee you that the debaters who would just look at the wiki if it was full text disclosed and then didn’t read the lit behind the cards probably wouldn’t read the lit behind the cards anyway even if it wasn’t full text disclosed.

          As a summary I think you guys aren’t genuine about your position when you don’t full text disclose.

          • James McElwain

            I don’t understand. This just seems like another random reason not to listen to someone’s position. There’s accusations elsewhere about debaters running the same case on both sides and all of a sudden there’s not enough information about their case to engage in good faith? Maybe you’ve never tried, but most of the authors that these positions read take two seconds to find for free online, certainly easier than random phil authors. Have you ever even bothered to email someone who runs one of these positions to ask them for more info if you can’t access their cites? You’re literally speculating about people’s motivations because they use ellipses in their disclosure. This just seems like a non-unique argument about how debaters should disclose. I agree.

          • Dhruv Walia

            1. Christian doesn’t have contact info on his wiki.
            2. If you’re trying to create change it’s YOUR duty to make it as attractive as possible to people trying to learn. When starbucks wants me to buy their product they don’t say it’s my duty to get the information about it, they advertise to me.
            3. All of your arguments don’t explain why it is advantageous to not disclose full text.
            4. When I read my util aff, I’m not trying to change the community. I’m trying to read a good position that is educational and wins the round. When you read your micropol, you are trying to create change. That’s where the distinction comes into play. The reason you have a UNIQUE obligation to disclose full text is because you are trying to CHANGE something. Debaters reading generic positions are not.
            5. Even if I did want to contact Christian about cites it is much more of a hassle to do so. You give no reason as to why it is detrimental to just post it on the wiki.
            6. I personally don’t know Christian so for me it is awkward to email randomly and say “GIVE ME YOUR 1AC”. I’m sure others feel this way.
            7. Your claim about the authors you cut being more accessible is flat out false. It is ten times more easy to get access to a phil paper on jstor or on philpapers than it is to get access to book that costs $30.
            8. Finally I don’t speculate shit. I’m saying to me it seems less genuine and the movement less legitimate when you do use ellipse.

          • Ryan Teehan

            Arguments that implicate the role of the ballot are not necessarily micropolitical. Recognizing there are problems in society and debate and proposing post-fiat alternatives, which was what Christian’s case was on the Nov-Dec topic, is not something distinct from a regular case. The role of the ballot arguments are not, to my knowledge, carded or extensive, they just explain how we ought to performatively and methodologically energize the debate space. To a certain degree the “change” that you point out is not something radical, it is an end to the discriminatory practices that often occur inside debate rounds. You don’t need an author to tell you not to be racist, sexist, classist, ableist, etc. This also brings to light an important distinction within the notion of a movement. I had a discussion with Christian at the Ridge tournament, and he explained that his position was an academic movement but not a “movement” in the sense that it is often used. It is about advocating a particular way of relating to the world and material problems, and thus an avenue to solve them. I think that full-text disclosure is a good thing, which is why I do it, but I don’t really see an obligation to do so. If this post is incoherent or completely misses what Christian told me, then forgive me, it’s late and applications suck.

          • Guest

            You’re so full of shit it’s incredible.

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/155892954/-Wilderson-Frank-Red-White-Black-Cinema-Struct

            http://loneberry.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/65256131-wilderson-prison-slave.pdf

            http://communitysuccess.org/sites/default/files/u9/Alexander-The%20New%20Jim%20Crow.PDF

            That took me literally under four minutes to find online.

            But mostly I don’t buy your argument because it’s pretty fucking obvious from the way you write about this that you aren’t actually interested in learning about his position otherwise maybe you would have spent the four minutes it takes to google these authors and read the articles.

            Also, as Ryan pointed out already, if you need full text before round to engage with a position like Christian’s, you’re doing something wrong.

          • Dhruv Walia

            Couple things. First even if it is true in this specific instance that they are available, I am talking about a norm for future positions like this. I honestly doubt every book used by kritikal micropolitical debaters will be available and accessible without payment. Second, you fail to respond to my other points about how the NDCA wiki is a much easier resource to access even if it is the case that these books are online in some sketchy way – it doesn’t deny the value in using the wiki. Third, you also fail to respond to the point that I made that full text LINED DOWN makes it much easier to understand the arguments as a coherent ballot story. Kritikal literature is pretty fucking confusing and even if it is true you CAN get an idea of what the position says, it is more efficient and accurate to just put the case online. Fourth, Ryan’s post (which by the way isn’t behind the protection of anon like you) misses the point. My problem with positions like Christian’s is that if they don’t attempt to solve for the problems they criticize then they seem pointless. Why should the judge completely alter the role of the ballot to create a “space” that doesn’t solve? So either (a) Your position attempts to solve the problems you criticize and you should disclose properly or (b) you don’t try to solve anything and your position becomes pointless.

            Also, using terms like “you’re full of shit” doesn’t make you seem like a badass especially when you’re behind an anon identity, it makes your argument seem weaker so I recommend you use better rhetoric because it makes you seem “full of shit”.

          • UTIL.DB8R

            I think the argument Dhruv is getting at is not that the content of the position is necessarily inaccessible but that if someone truly believes in a micropolitical position and is winning off of it based on the message it is sending, then that person should be disclosing full text and preferably lined down. It makes zero sense to make others look for and try to understand the arguments the position is making if it wants real change. It would be like any politician or activist proactively making their position accessible. In context of the debate setting, it should not be taboo to disclose full text of the micropolitical position if one wants to create change in the community. For example, Jessica Xu did this exact thing, and I would like to say it had some impact on the community. Check out her wiki from last year, its fully lined down:
            http://debatecoaches.wikispaces.com/2012-2013+-+Livingston+(NJ)+-+Jessica+Xu

        • morpheus

          In Tillman’s defense, his indict seems to be of debaters like Rebecca who clearly have privilege, i.e. attending Greenhill which has a tuition of more than $20K a year and later Georgetown, yet only condescend and accuse others of needing to check their privilege. I think the usage of rhetoric like “aw poor baby” is unnecessarily condescending and demonstrative of this type of mindset. Clearly she has some “privilege checking” of her own to do, as becomes apparent in her demo round with Eli at camp this past summer. The key things to note I think are the cross-x (around 8:04 specifically, “like aliens?” followed by laughter) after the AC and the 2N analysis of Rebecca having the obligation to analyze her own roll in racism (around 39:40). I think Tillman’s argument is much more contextualized here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5Ll4v-Iz90

          • James McElwain

            Well, anonymous internet person, this seems a little personal for you. I don’t know how to understand what you say as anything other than a series of ad homs. I’ve never met Rebecca, so I won’t speculate to her motivations, but I feel like she’s afforded the benefit of the doubt, even if she’s not always 100% on point about what her politics are. At the very least, I’m sure she’ll have the opportunity to further understand and analyze “her own role in racism” as she continues to grow up like a lot of other people, myself included, in this activity.

            It seems like you hold totally unrealistic expectations about how she should act, that she must be some sort of caricature of a perfect leftist activist in order for you to buy her criticism. I don’t understand why there’s this demand that someone perfectly embody their criticism in order for it to be “genuine” other than as an easy way out, of saying “you’re a hypocrite so I won’t engage with anything you say.” I don’t really see any evidence that you’re examining your own role in perpetuating racist norms in the activity. You don’t even seem willing to engage in good faith discussion about it other than being like, “lol, TDC exists, racism’s over.”

          • morpheus

            Ok so to clarify, I think my problem is more isolated in her methodology. I think that I am erring on the side of her being highly privileged, or at least privileged enough to merit her needing to analyze it too. I posted the video to reveal that she very clearly isn’t absolved of blame, as she acts like she is when she says things like “aw poor baby”, or accuses literally every single person she debates as “dripping of white privilege”. I’m merely suggesting that she is in a position where she probably needs to step down from her high horse.

            On the TDC bit, I think we’re on a different page. Tillman’s argument, and the one that I further believe, is that when comparing individuals like Rebecca with individuals like Tillman you see Tillman who volunteers his time at TDC and tries to be a good role model for kids. He doesn’t accuse every single person as being privileged, yet he still has to listen to Rebecca tell him that he’s “dripping of white privilege” and a baby for running theory. Rebecca however chooses to not be a very good role model for kids in the community, minimally with the article she wrote. To pretend that that has a lick of professionalism anywhere within it is deceiving yourself. She also very clearly comes from a position of at the very least similar privilege with people like Tillman. So, when Tillman says to put your money where your mouth is, he means that she needs to actually do some privilege checking of her own, or at the very least not be a condescending child and be a decent role model.

      • Guest

        I appreciate the calls for the community to act on what they advocate, but criticizing Rebecca as failing to do this is laughable. It is unfortunate and embarrassing that some people on this forum have made assumptions about Rebecca apparently without knowing her at all, such as that she “dish[ed] out 20K a year to go to private school.”

        To clarify some of the mistakes in the assumptions made about Rebecca’s authenticity and intentions:

        1. Rebecca attended Greenhill on scholarship from her sophomore year onward. Before that she attended public school.

        2. Besides coaching Greenhill, she coaches 2 students that attend a school that doesn’t fund debate at all. She’s also giving up her winter break to work at a debate camp this winter without pay, so that her debaters can attend the camp for free.

        3. She started Debaters Against Sexism, where over 1,500 people signed a pledge to agree to resist sexism in debate.

        4. She has used the Debaters Against Sexism platform to help women in debate, working with tournament directors like Tim Mahoney (who directs St. Marks and NDCA) to recruit female judges so that they have more of a presence in prelims and on elim panels. Women comprised 36% of the St. Marks elim panels, while only 10% of the Glenbrooks elim panels (another octas bid tournament).

        5. She didn’t teach at TDC because she wasn’t asked to work there.

        As a community, let’s continue to advocate for meaningful things in and out of round, while avoiding making speculative accusations against the character of individuals. I hope the discussion can refocus on supporting awesome things like TDC, volunteerism in the form of coaching underprivileged students, and scholarships for tournaments and camps.

        • morpheus

          Ok, and that’s fair. Again, I’m not too aware of all the circumstances, but I see assumptions made are off point. That being said, I think her lack of professionalism really harms her cause, and is something she needs to address before accusing every other person of needing to check their privilege. I admire Tillman for not saying things like “aw poor baby” and actually writing an intellectual response. And while I am impressed with the things you mention, that still doesn’t justify her being nearly as elitist about it. When trying to fight things like this, solidarity seemingly would solve a lot more problems than childish articles. I think the video of the demo round goes to show that she isn’t in a place to say everybody except herself is “dripping with white privilege”. While some of the speculations may have been off point, it still goes to show that she needs to get off her high horse and a) be a good role model by acting professionally and b) not absolve herself of all blame when it comes to matters of “checking your privilege” and accusing everyone else of “dripping with privilege”.

        • Guest

          I think it’s unfair for you to point out that Rebecca attended a public school before Greenhill when Rebecca clearly wants nothing to do with her old school. Rebecca’s judge philosophy page says simply that she only debated “3 years at Greenhill”, indicating her 1st year at FMHS meant nothing to her. Rebecca also did not even attempt to acknowledge her first school after her successful debate career. This is doesn’t indicate Rebecca doesn’t have good intentions, nor is that what I’m insinuating. I just think it’s very unfair for you to use this as a justification for your position.

    • Adam Young

      You presuppose throughout your post that theory debate is not true
      debate. “Rebecca just wants debaters to actually debate.” Who said that
      theory debate is not actual debate?

      I personally find theory to be the best form of debate. No theory debater is going to win a debate against another good theory debater unless they a. get super duper lucky or b. engage in the theory debate. Theory encourages us to think on our feet. Theory debate, as opposed to an extremely topical debate, is a debate in which we have to critically think about things in which there is no literature on. There are no philosophy articles or real world instances to use for support, (or at least they are very few in number). In an extremely topical debate (and by extremely topical, I mean a debate that uses empirical examples more than logic and reason), however, nearly all the arguments we use are gathered from some sources online. We just cut those cards. We didn’t use our own reasoning. Theory debate encourages us, as you put it, to “think on our feet.” We are only using our own minds, and maybe the minds of other debaters, to write these shells. We can write shells about whatever we want, and our opponents have to respond to them (or strategically avoid doing so), but we can only use real world examples that did in fact occur in the real world. Whereas a topical debate is limited to the scope of the resolution, a theory debate has no limits.

      An extremely topical debate definitely teaches us more about the real world, but it certainly does not develop our critical thinking skills nearly as much as a theory debate. While both are important, in my opinion, it is far more crucial to foster critical thinking skills than to expand our knowledge of the real world, but that’s just me. The point is, theory debate is actual debate, and it is by no means a lesser form of debate than topical debate.

      • CTYcrossoverJA

        ADAM YOUNG ON NSD; it is the legend

      • Josh You

        By that logic, a topical debate in which we discouraged students from citing or even being familiar with the relevant scholarly literature would be preferable to one in which we didn’t do that. There’s a lot of value in using people who are a lot smarter and knowledgeable than us as a starting point for arguments, and your depiction of evidence-based debate as mindless is downright silly.

        • Adam Young

          I’m not stating that topical debates are noneducational at all. I’m merely stating that using both are good, but theory debates are better, in terms of educational impacts, and should occur more frequently than heavily topical debates (once again by heavily topical I’m referring to plans, cp’s etc.) in order to best promote critical thinking skills. Obviously it is educational to research literature on the topic, but it is also educational to write and run theory.

          • Josh You

            your argument is that theory debate is good because there’s no literature so debaters have to think on their feet. if that’s the case then a topical debate in which debaters ignored the lit would be better than one with a lot of evidence since that would replicate the allegedly good qualities of theory debate. But I doubt anyone thinks that’s true.

          • Adam Young

            The type of debate you claim my argument implicitly justifies definitionally cannot exist since you must look to the topic lit in order to attain real world evidence, which is a necessary component of any plan or heavily topical case. Moreover, what my argument actually implies, if you apply it to case writing, is that having some topic lit is good, but it’s more educational if a large portion of the case comes from your own thought. For instance, making use of analytics, arguments that debaters themselves make, in the framework and the contention level is far more educational than merely using arguments of other authors or real world evidence. Those don’t require the debater to use his or her own thoughts to make an argument and consequently, don’t promote critical thinking skills nearly as much as if the debater made the argument on his or her own. However, all my argument would imply would be that using a little bit of both analytics and cards would be ideal since doing so garners the same beneficial impacts that come from writing your own arguments, while using the work of other authors to help develop those arguments further.

          • CTYcrossoverJA

            Adam young spits the truth; young money for the win

          • anon94

            there is actually an activity where you engage in topical debate without using piles of research that a ton of people find educational – its called APDA. call it a dumb activity if you want, but its not unheard of to have a debate event that stresses thinking on your feet over research.

          • Josh You

            As it happens, I actually am a parli debater. I don’t think it’s a bad activity but it’s definitely not as rewarding as high school LD, in large part due to the much lower research burden.