2014 Tournament of Champions Student Protest

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  • Morpheus

    “Sadly I lack access to universal reason and normative facts in the same capacity as you, and so I end up being infantile and intellectually unserious.” -Rebar

    • Rebar Niemi

      Siq Kant Burn

  • Adam Bennett

    Halftime Report:

    Freid’s j’accuse set off a firestorm that has created a near record 340 disqus posts! Hats off to everyone involved in making this shit storm a true rival to Jalon-gate! It seems the early commentators’ instincts were to post either about their lack of shock to the emergence of a new greenhill-related controversy, their pure, unadulterated outrage, or some mixture of ambivalence probably created by their near equal dislike for U school (not saying I have a problem with y’all, but face it tons of people do. Just saying)

    Then we started talking about oppression! Very intelligent discussion, but if you just spend a spring afternoon high on the main green of brown university you would learn that everyone is actually constantly and unconsciously oppressing everyone, and that the only cure for systematic oppression is dismantling the right to property and rejecting the gender binary! There you go, oppression solved.

    Babb, no offense, you know I love you, but its clear you need a half time break to regroup. I’ve never seen any group of people get so passionate about evidence ethics before, I mean y’all were HATING on eachother! Damn! Maybe I just can’t get it up over the whole miscutting/misrepresenting cards good/bad dispute because I never cut a single card during my debate career that wasn’t patently false #nukesdontexist (but I only cut like 10 cards my entire debate career too, so that is saying something) #hw4evr

    Now Greenhill has entered the fray. Maybe the tactics seemed right at the time, but the thread was slowing down! Only the die-hards and the people who don’t want to pay attention in class (yo) were left and now you’ve given the Ken Hersheys of the world massive hard ons! I’m sure some anon is orgasming over the idea of arguing with Jake Nebel in a public forum!

    Well thats whats happened so far y’all – lets make this legendary! TO THE TRENCHES <3

  • Christian Tarsney

    Hi guys, just want to clear the air about one thing real quick. I know that since Aaron posted his VBD article with Jonathan Alston, everyone’s been asking, “Wait, why are we being told that we’re all giant racists, by someone who chose not to invite to his round robin the three Jewish debaters in semis of the last two TOCs?” But really, this is pretty unfair. Aaron has always made a point of avoiding hasty accusations of racism and not jumping to sweeping conclusions based on small samples. So I think that in this situation, we should likewise grant Aaron the presumption of innocence and a chance to respond to your concerns. It’s simply not okay, given the limited available evidence, to go around saying things like “Aaron Timmons believes in pogroms,” or “Aaron Timmons wants to revive the Spanish Inquisition,” or making suggestions about what politicians Aaron Timmons might or might not have voted for, given the chance. Honestly, I’m ashamed of you guys for even thinking these things—next time, let’s please just try to follow Aaron’s example, alright?

    • Mike_Spirtos

      Can’t tell if satire or serious :/

    • Jasper Primack

      You’re not “clearing the air”. You’re fouling it up with a personal attack.

      • Christian Tarsney

        How dare you question my sincerity, sir? I challenge you to fisticuffs.

    • Anon

      framework is bad because
      1. AT’s kids were loosing to it
      2. it ensures that big debate programs have a competitive advantage, more people to cut cards, that FW debates can check back (in my experience as the sole debater from my school who’s economically disadvantaged)
      3. AT’s kids were loosing to the article he strawmans
      4. talking about moral sentiments is racist if it doesn’t give race positions an automatic ballot, because although it’s not actually racist, it’s just a hard argument to beat once you get down to it.

    • alex smith

      I’m surprised you didn’t work in a gratuitous “tarred with his own brush” reference while you were at it.

      • Christian Tarsney

        Alex, are you saying that I should be tarred and feathered? (I wouldn’t have thought so, but I just talked to AT and he says that’s what you meant.)

  • Paras Kumar

    Rebecca,

    I hope you can cast aside Fried’s sarcasm (its not too bad) and actually engage this post. I have the same questions and a really earnest desire to have a real convo about this.

    GO BEARS

    • rkuang

      not sure what the arg is or why it’s relevant. even if you would not gone to tab in that situation, it does not mean AT does not have a right to do so. coaches are allowed to file whatever protests they want. tab decides what to do with it. idk toc’s over and idrc we cleared anyways.

      • Martin Sigalow

        Haha

    • Fritz Pielstick

      Downvoted for “GO BEARS”

  • Megan Nubel

    I did not attend TOC so I won’t pretend to know the ins and outs of everything that happened related to tab over the weekend, and I also cannot say that I have completely read every post on this thread.

    I just have a few general comments related to things I have read on this thread that I think are important to highlight.

    I first wanted to point out that there are, quite obviously in my opinion, disadvantages to being on a small team that has less political pull in the community and tab. I debated for a large team in high school and I know that some of the benefits I received because of that fact are ones that I did not necessarily deserve. I now participate in parliamentary debate on a team that is small and only travels regionally, and at national tournaments we are definitely not part of the “club.” Although the advantages of being on such a prominent team in high school were not as obvious to me at the time, I now have a better understanding of the frustration that occurs when debaters from large teams receive what others perceive as privileges because their coach has influence. Yes, tab rooms are run by people who are capable of making their own decisions. But decisions are impacted by many things, and I’m inclined to believe that a student who has a strong community presence advocating for them in the tab room is at an advantage over someone who has no such advocate. I understand that the goal of most individuals who protest to tab on behalf of their students is to help their students. But at the point where those actions increase the disparity between their team and a team or individual that does not have such pull, what is really gained?

    Second, I wanted to express, quite frankly, my embarrassment with some of the attitudes expressed on this thread. As an activity that supposedly promotes critical thinking, engagement, and discourse, I see anything but these things happening in some of the contributions. Of course, this does not include everyone or even the majority of the comments, but unfortunately the negative things often stand out. If you do not have the time to write a post that is, at the very least, not directly rude, then I’m not sure you have the time to post things at all. Saying things like “grow the fuck up,” “I think you’re an asshole,” “you add nothing to the debate community,” and referring to someone as a “fucked up person,” is unacceptable. If you think of yourself as an educator and are simultaneously willing to say these things to and about others on a public board that many young debaters read, I am very concerned. What does it say to debaters when adult and young adult members of the community are unable to have civil conversations with one another? What does it say that we teach students to critically engage their opponents and communities, but we cannot engage each other without swearing, dismissing, and accusing?

    Finally, I would like to say that I am pleased to see a situation in which debaters proactively took action against a perceived injustice. As some criticisms pointed out, the lack of due process and rule clarity related to tab rooms is one of many more injustices that exist in debate and beyond. However, I do not think that this de-legitimizes such a protest as it still shows an initiative to increase due process within the community, which although it does not solve all the socioeconomic, racial, and gender issues, is still something that most would agree is a good idea and probably ultimately helps marginalized groups.

    • Rebar Niemi

      Megan I applaud your more tactful tone even if I still disagree with some of your points. Thank you for speaking such.

      At this point I am more concerned about the things young debaters obviously hear their coaches say in private and everyday.

      The only things worse than the things we talk about are the things we don’t talk about.

      ^This is supposed to have multiple meanings.

      I also feel like while we could stand to treat each other better standards of decorum have some pernicious tendencies and histories.

      I think we need some serious face to face conferencing among basically all the top coaches in national circuit LD. The camps all need to conference. We need to stop this polarization. We need to try and find points of commonality, we all need to make concessions. Whatever it takes, be it camp faculty exchanges, bi-topic townhall meetings, I don’t know.

      Not saying camp divisions are responsible obviously but it is clear that the polarization and problems require actual cooperation to solve and not everyone pursuing their own pet unilateral solutions. Emily Massey mentioned earlier at one point how we need small everyday decisions not top down ones – this is absolutely true. But we also need a “team of rivals” looking toward grand strategy so to speak, and we need for everyone to stop acting like staying in their own little bubble is desirable.

  • Jason Zhou

    Steven*

    • Adam Bennett

      Best post so far

    • sjadler

      Thanks Fashionable J 😉
      good to see you back on the boards

  • BenjaminKoh

    ^This

  • Kyle Jablon

    I’m not affiliated with Greenhill, I’m just a casual observer of this whole…debacle…
    But seriously, dude, what do you hope to accomplish? The Greenhill coaching staff is not going to come down and apologize to you. You’re poking, and prodding an issue that doesn’t need to be poked and prodded.

    Obviously you can’t win outrounds by going to tab and complaining, what happened in this case was obviously that a coach legitimately thought his debater was wronged. I think everyone can agree that’s a pretty instinctual thing to do. Now, as this whole (lengthy) conversation has determined, it was probably not a legitimate wrong to begin with.

  • rkuang

    Here’s a defense of AT’s action’s from Greenhill.

    He saw something happen in a debate that he took issue with. On behalf of his debater, he went to tab to file a complaint. It was then tab’s decision whether to take action based on that complaint. Maybe you think tab made the wrong decision. But if you do, you don’t have the right attack AT.

    What do you think goes on in tournament tabrooms? AT knows people in tab, sure, but these are also grown men capable of making their own decisions. I’m pretty sure they don’t have a vested interest in Greenhill’s success. They’re dedicated coaches of rival programs that compete against Greenhill on a regular basis. To the best of my knowledge, they’re unlikely to succumb to intimidation (unless you think AT’s a “scary black man”?) and they’re not taking bribes. If tab made a decision, that’s their decision. We didn’t strong-arm them into it.

    Contrary to popular belief, Greenhill coaches don’t spend practice scheming up ways to game the system or screw other teams over. AT does what he does because he cares about his students. He intervened on VA’s behalf because he was looking out for VA. You can’t begrudge him for doing what a coach is supposed to do. Maybe you don’t agree with tab’s decision, but that doesn’t give you cause to slander a man who runs a summer institute at no benefit to himself, spends weekends away from his family to coach an infuriating bunch of sophomores (<3), and does so much more for the community than the 20-something year olds posting on this thread.

    Say what you want about how the TOC handled this situation- and a lot of people have managed to have a civil discussion about this so far-but don't try to spin it as "AT is evil." For what it's worth, I'm in the "educators shouldn't teach kids to misrepresent authors" camp, but that's not the point of this post.

    And as for everyone else who thinks this incident somehow diminishes the importance of a broader discussion about privilege and oppression in debate (Mr. Hershey, Mr. Tupler)…grow the fuck up?

    • PlazaMexico

      Rebecca thank you for providing a very eloquent defense of AT’s actions, as I have stayed out of this conversation for the most part I am not going to question or pry into your stance.

      I do want to just clarify on your comment about Round 7. The confusion several of us had, speaking for myself and Jeff who articulated this same question, is about Elijah’s judging status with the Greenhill school in general. Jeff pointed out how Elijah was removed from a panel in a Greenhill and PV Peninsula round at TOC last year because he was determined to be a conflict by tab. Obviously there are situations where a judge would no longer be a conflict, Jeff and I were just wondering the particulars of this situation though.

      I do want to say though that I don’t understand why you needed to articulate your reply in such a manner. You are suggesting that everyone who raised a question about that round harbors the racist assumption that all black people have to be on the same team, but all this does for the discussion is raise tensions and creates another obstacle to constructive discourse.

      Jeff’s question is a fair one, conveyed in a sincere and curious way. He does not merit the libelous accusation that he is a racist.

      • Paras Kumar

        +1

      • rkuang

        I am honestly not sure why Elijah was removed from my semis debate last year. To the best of my knowledge, he wasn’t a conflict then and isn’t one now. If I were to hazard a guess based on reports I heard after that weekend, it would be that PV (or someone else) leveled the objection that someone allegedly saw Elijah arguing with a judge on my behalf after a prelims loss. I do not know if that occurred, and if it did, it was likely because Eli had some strong thoughts about the nature of my position and the prelims RFD. Obviously, that is not grounds for conflicting Eli from all future Greenhill debaters.

        Apologies, Mr. Liu et al. Did not intend to slander you online.

    • Jordan Durrani

      Hey Rebecca, big fan, long time reader, first time commenter. I too take issue with the assumption that everyone who perceives impropriety in this situation harbors latent racist sentiment. I think this tactic is used way too often in “the debate space” to chastise those whose opinions on a high school activity may not fall in line with yours or your coaches. For example, I was deemed a racist at the last tournament I judged by Mr. Alston because I saw the actions of his debater to be rude, regardless of my praise to his kid as the best debater I’ve ever seen to read his type of position. Go after the actual bigots, not people who simply disagree with you.

    • Ken Hershey

      Rebecca,

      With all due respect, I don’t think I’m the one who needs to “grow the fuck up” here. I have no idea how my comments evinced any lack of maturity regarding the issues of “privilege” and “oppression” in debate. I stated my views honestly and without pretense, which is more than can be said about how most people approach these topics.

      As my initial posts made entirely clear, I grant the existence of privilege in debate. My position was — and is — that such privilege is a result of broader social inequality. Since schools are unequal in their influence, status, and resources, it would be foolish to think that all debaters compete on an equal footing and that nobody is “privileged” above their opposition. But unlike Greenhill and its debaters, I acknowledge that I am a beneficiary of such privilege and do not pretend to be competing in debate from a position of disadvantage and oppression. Still less would I ever cynically inveigh against “privilege” and “oppression” in debate in order to win a round, which from what I’ve heard is basically Greenhill’s go-to strategy these days.

      The point of my initial post was not to deny the existence of privilege in debate, but to call attention to the shameless and self-serving hypocrisy of Timmons, who poses as an opponent of privilege in debate while wielding his influence to procure advantages for his debaters that nobody else would ever enjoy. You may think, as your post implies, that what happened at the TOC last weekend had nothing to do with AT’s influence in the community and that any coach could have gotten a judge’s decision reversed on the basis of rules that transparently did not apply to the case at hand. You would be wrong.

      But nevertheless, I can understand why you think it’s time for a mature conversation about privilege in debate. Having attended an elite private school that costs $25,000 per year and has extraordinary debate resources, including a head coach who sits on the TOC Committee, you must be well acquainted with what it’s like to be a disadvantaged outsider whose scant victories had to be snatched from the claws of others’ privilege. I am glad that you and Aaron Timmons are boldly leading this conversation about the pernicious influence of privilege in debate, as I can think of no better self-appointed vanguard of the oppressed.

      • jnebel

        Ken, how do you know that Greenhill debaters don’t acknowledge their privilege, or that they pretend to be competing in debate from a position of disadvantage? I’m not involved with Greenhill this year, so I have no idea what they’ve been running, but it would surprise me to learn that.

        And how do you know that some other coaches in this kind of situation would’ve failed in protesting the decision? From what I’ve heard, there have been no other instances of evidence protests at TOC. If no one has tried, how do you know that they would’ve failed? You might think, “Look, tab’s decision was so obviously unreasonable, and the guys in tab are usually pretty reasonable, that it would be surprising if they made it in normal circumstances. But it’s not so surprising that they would make this unreasonable decision at the request of a corrupt influence, such as AT.” But this rests on a substantive evaluation of tab’s decision and on prior confidence that if AT were to ask something from Greg Malis and Joe Vaughan, he would get it. I myself think that those guys aren’t pushovers to AT, and that although tab’s decision might have been wrong, it’s not obvious that it’s wrong.

        I’m not taking a stance on whether AT’s request was reasonable, whether tab’s decision was wrong or blameworthy, or anything else in this thread. My point is just that things seem to me more complicated than you think they are, and that you might be asserting, and blaming people for, things you don’t know to be true (even if they are, in fact, true).

        • Ron Mexico

          Jake, you’re a clever dude, but do you really want to get into this with Ken? I guess you’re free to try, but he’s got at least 12 IQ points on you.

          • Rebar Niemi

            DO YOU KNOW HOW PUBLISHED BAKERYJAKE IS?

            JMONEEBS HAS MAD PUBLICATIONS.

          • Rebar Niemi

            Ken Hershey ain’t even published on stormfront.

          • Ron Mexico

            I can’t really tell if you’re calling Ken a Nazi, or if you’re disrupting this young Jewish man’s safe space by invoking memories of the Holocaust.

          • Rebar Niemi

            Neither? Merely referencing an extremely in poor taste place of publication to create quasi-comedic tension. Prolly too far. I apologize I’m in this benevolent troll mode but I slip sometimes 😉

          • Rebar Niemi

            Still loling over picking sides in the Ken Hershey v Jake Nebel intelligence contest though.

  • Jasper Primack

    I’m not involved with LD but I want to say two things about Mr. Babb and Mr. Timmons without anonymity(I’m a junior).

    1. Mr. Babb. I know that you’re a judge who’s served in the debate community for a really long time. I think you have good reasons for objecting to the treatment of AT on this page. But you’ve gone overboard. When is it appropriate for a man your age to call out other adults and CHILDREN with statements like this:

    “Dave, get a life. I would respect you if you were invested in this activity as an educational endeavor, but you live to troll people’s legitimate arguments”

    “You add nothing to the debate community.”

    “If the impact Dave makes in students’ lives is reflected in the kind of comments he makes here, then you’re proving my point. I should rephrase—he DOES add something to the community, and it’s a tragic addition indeed.”

    “Dave decides to bandwagon because he’s an asshole.”

    “They’re partisan hacks who care more about bandwagoning than advancing legitimate claims… Sadler, Liu, Kawahara, etc. You don’t know what happened any more than I do. You are small people.”

    “But apparently this is where high-school mob mentalities enjoy their final days of relevance”

    I’m 17 and I know enough not to talk to people like that :/ Don’t sling mud to fight a flamewar.

    2. Criticism of Mr. Timmons. Look, there are a lot of students here complaining about him. Let me ask you this: have you ever been personally slighted by Mr. Timmons? The answer’s probably no. Mr. Timmons did go to tab because he thought a rule had been violated. He has gone to tab in the past because he felt as though his debaters were being treated incorrectly.

    Here’s another question. How many of you coaches who work full-time and watch each round that your students debate in when you yourself are not judging would not lodge a complaint with tab if you felt a rule was being violated? I can only hope your students’ sake that the answer is “Never”.

    Like Mr. Michelin pointed out, Mr. Timmons is a good man and works because he loves teaching and because he’s paid to do so. Don’t criticize him.

    The problem lies with the TOC and tab and only them. Don’t flame each other like children and don’t blame the adults who are paid to be advocates and teachers for their students.

    • Stephen Babb

      Honestly I think I was pretty tame in my descriptions of Dave, but thanks for your input, Jasper.

      • Alex Kramer

        Mr. Babb, the fact that you think you could have been meaner to Dave doesn’t make it okay to call Dave an asshole that has no positive impact on the debate community. I don’t personally know you, but in general, I think it’s really sad when high school students have to call out adult coaches or judges because of how immaturely they’re acting online. If it makes you sleep better at night, feel free to convince yourself that I’m just another partisan hack that wants nothing more than to get upvotes on my NSDUpdate comments, but otherwise, I think you owe Dave McGinnis a pretty significant apology.

        • mcgin029

          I for one am curious to see the harsher comments that Babb forewent.

        • Stephen Babb

          I’m very sorry that Dave chose to inject his uneducated sarcasm into a discussion that had nothing to do with him. I am also sorry that anyone feels the need to defend him. I never realized it was immature to vehemently dislike someone. Oh well. And yah, you’re a hack. I’ll ask again—to you and Jasper, where were you when Josh Tupler called AT a “fucked up person”? When you’re consistent in your condemnation, I might care. That’s my last comment on this for a while. If Dave wants an apology, he can ask for one without being a sarcastic, trolling jerk about it.

          • Confused

            You imply that it’s not immature to vehemently dislike someone, yet you criticize others for “vehemently disliking” AT. It seems to me that it’s okay when someone “vehemently dislike” when you’re being a dick to someone.

          • Stephen Babb

            Allow me to un-confuse you. I’m just asking people to be consistent. I didn’t say it was immature to dislike AT. But if you’re going to defend Dave, you should spend double the time defending AT. There’s no consistency here because it’s just a gang of like-minded individuals with nothing better to do than pat themselves on the back, post anonymously, like each other’s comments, etc etc. I think it’s hilarious so many people like Dave. Good for him. He’s a perfect fit for NSDUpdate. I obviously didn’t come here to win any popularity contests. I know how this message board works. And I know that there are plenty of people who quietly agree with me but have reputations to maintain. I don’t. I’ve had my last stint coaching and judging, so I’m happy to be open.

            And by the way, yo.. Dave was the first one to be a dick. That much is incontrovertible. He tried to be clever and witty about it, but the message was clear as can be. He had no stake in the conversation other than to try and belittle me. People can defend that all they want—couldn’t care less on this end. But don’t act like you’re taking some high road. People attack me for being mean, but they readily like much meaner comments. People attack politics from the safety of an entirely politicized website. People anonymously say I’m being a dick even as they champion maturity.

            There’s nothing immature about calling someone an asshole. There are lots of assholes out there. Confused ones too.

          • Stephen Babb

            Who’s next? Clearly not enough piling on going on.

          • Paras Kumar

            Babb’s awesome. GIVE ME 50 UPVOTES SO HE FEELS THE LOVE!!!!!!!!!

          • Alex Kramer

            Babb, I’m only answering you so people who read this thread don’t get the wrong idea about my ethical views; I don’t really expect anything productive to come out of trying to talk to you at this point. You make a point about consistency in criticism. I agree with you 100% that the earlier comment about Mr. Timmons was reprehensible, and when I see comments like that in the future, I’ll object to them like I’m objecting to your actions right now. But the existence of other comments doesn’t make it okay for you to stoop down to or below the level of the people you criticize. Similarly, maybe Dave shouldn’t have made a slightly sarcastic comment earlier that you took offense to, but him making that comment certainly doesn’t justify you being a gargantuan dick in response. I feel like this is one of the common sense ethics lessons taught sometime in or before early elementary school, and I can only feel sorry that it appears to have eluded you for a couple decades. Also, if you really think these boards are just a huge circlejerk, I bet you’d have better luck helping to improve the situation and in getting people to take you seriously if you acted with a modicum of professionalism.

          • Stephen Babb

            Do my actions justify you calling me a “a gargantuan dick”?

            And if I wanted people to take me seriously, I wouldn’t engage in these conversations. They’re inherently trivial, one-sided and hilarious.

          • Jasper Primack

            Alex, don’t call people “gargantuan dicks”. It’s rude and brings you down regardless of how good your intent is.

          • Stephen Babb

            Well Jasper, you may not approve of my tactics but I will give you this. You’re consistent. Bravo.

          • Alex Kramer

            My apologies. Edited.

          • Stephen Babb

            And one thing I’d say to everyone is WOW this conversation is so tame. Who honestly cares if I think Dave is useless? Dave doesn’t even care. He’s not sitting in a corner crying somewhere. He can take the heat, I promise. If I didn’t think he could take it, I wouldn’t have said it. He has more than enough support, and I’m fairly sure he feels just fine about himself.

          • Jasper Primack

            I’ve never met Dave. I guess I care because debate(and speech) has been so stressful for me and I’d guess many other competitors. When judges, students and coaches start insulting each other in public and attacking people with slurs, thinly veiled racial insults, and personal attacks like this discussion, I can only imagine how all the students watching this feel. It’s not fair.

          • Alex Kramer

            Babb, I care about your comments because I actually do know and work with Dave, and even though he probably doesn’t hold your opinion in very high regard, I also know that personal insults against him online do actually impact him to some extent.

            Also, you contradict yourself. I’m pretty sure someone like Aaron Timmons can “take the heat” (whatever that means) of someone making a single immature comment about him online after a few years of some of the most extensive episodes of cyberbullying I’ve seen, but that doesn’t make that comment okay. The LD community as a whole (me included; I’m nowhere near perfect) can do a ton to improve online discussions, and your attitude just further hinders reaching that goal.

          • Stephen Babb

            Word. Well if Dave is actually upset, then I’m sorry. I doubt he is. But maybe you know best.

          • Stephen Babb

            And rhetoric aside, I’m sure he’s done lots of good things for lots of kids.

          • Josh Tupler

            I would like to talk about the high road. I believe Timmons
            is doing what he thinks is best for the community. He is trying to establish
            standards for evidence ethics, which I disagree with (I don’t think discussing
            this issue with you will go anywhere). But, can we agree that if you believe straw
            manning is unacceptable and warrants a student’s loss at the TOC, you probably
            shouldn’t cite a straw man in an article you publish? Sure, we should be angry
            with tab, but that doesn’t preclude us from being angry with AT.

            Also speaking about embarrassing oneself. Apart from your comments on this thread, I
            think some might think you embarrassed yourself by using your position of authority to drill your closest students too hard.

          • Jasper Primack

            I don’t do LD 😛 I don’t check the boards frequently and I got home at 6 from practice.

          • Stephen Babb

            Well that’s fine. I’m sure you’re good people. I’m just saying.. there’s a lot of background context here, so hold off on judging.

  • Abhi Elisetty

    I have not read all (or frankly, most) of this thread, so excuse this post if it is repeating something that has already been discussed.

    As I understand it, round 7 was repaired due to a challenge raised by Hockaday regarding an earlier round in which a Greenhill debater was purportedly late, even though the round had actually occurred and the win was awarded to Greenhill.

    I judged this debate, and no issue was made prior to the Greenhill debater’s arrival regarding a bye/forfeit, and, absent a few reasonable questions from the Hockaday debater after the round, everything had proceeded normally. I am confused on what grounds a bye was retroactively awarded to Hockaday, given the following:

    (a) I, as the judge of the round in question, was **never notified that my decision would be altered due to a challenge raised by Hockaday FIVE ROUNDS after the fact.** It is absolutely outrageous that a round can be overturned due to a Bye/forfeit without the knowledge of the judge that actually adjudicated the round; in fact, I was shocked when I found out along with everyone else that my decision had been retroactively changed. In my 7 years of involvement in this activity, never has a forfeit/bye been awarded without the judge bringing the issue to tab first. I understand, as per the video, that a text was sent to tab notifying them of the Greenhill debater’s lateness. The truth of the matter is, I was watching my debater’s flight B from the previous round and was therefore late to the flight A of round 2. The Greenhill debater arrived immediately after I did, so it is likely that he was simply waiting for me to arrive. Moreover, I finished the round in time to watch Daiya’s flight B of round 2 in its entirety, so this round could not have been that delayed to merit the awarding of a bye to the Hockaday debater. Moreover, as I understand it, Greenhill was not notified that the decision would be changed — the only party that knew about this challenge at the time was the party that raised the challenge.

    (b) As the tab email regarding forfeits clarifies, **there was no official policy regarding forfeit times.** I want to know what NSDA rule was invoked to justify retroactively changing a decision and repairing an entire prelim because of this change.

    This is also not a victimless error — Daiya was 4-2 going into round 7, and his original opponent (prior to the repairing) was part of the protest and would have forfeited if the round had not been repaired. The repairing prevented an incredibly dedicated debater that has worked all year to get here from ending his career in outrounds of the TOC.

    It is one thing to award a bye to a debater that lost a round that was already debated.

    It is another thing to award a bye to a debater that lost a round that was already debated **without consulting the judge whether the opponent was actually late**

    It is another thing entirely to **repair the final prelim of the TOC** because a bye was retroactively awarded to a debater without consulting the judge whether the opponent was actually late.

    • Emma Weddle

      When does my decision get reversed? I ended up being pulled up because I was the top 4-2 and debating in front of a mutual 4 because the people “protesting” could not judge the re-paired round 7, as it was explained to me. Where is my protest? Where is Daiya’s protest?

      When does Hockaday get punished? If you all want to protest something, then maybe you should protest big schools lying and rigging tournaments just because they can.

      • sjadler

        I get that you’re angry, and I really am sorry that this affected you negatively. But I *really* don’t get your accusations of Hockaday “lying and rigging tournaments just because they can.”

        I was with Scarsdale this weekend (e.g. Joe Vaughan), so I happen to know that some of what Abhi is saying is incorrect. For example, Hockaday did *not* wait 5 rounds to try to get the decision changed; they protested earlier, and tab originally went to forfeit the round but then realized that the invitation hadn’t specified a time-limit to spark a forfeit.

        Here’s where the 5 rounds later comes in: When tab decided to apply ‘NFL rules’ in the other Varad round, Eric Melin made an (incredibly moving) plea for consistency in applying NFL rules in light of the decision earlier in the tournament. This argument could not have been made until that point, because tab had not yet applied NFL rules in another round. (I do not know specifically which rule is being referenced, but supposedly NFL rules contain a time-limit that sparks a forfeit.)

        I just really don’t get the hate for Hockaday in this, and I’m not somebody affiliated with the team. Why would they get punished? It seems they were probably in the right from the beginning but couldn’t take action again until the very moment they did (and yes, I know I’m leaving a lot of Abhi’s post unresponded to, but that’s because all I can really do here is trust Joe and Greg’s account on timing re: the forfeit text and the challenge afterwards).

        • Emma Weddle

          Not a Hockaday thing. It’s a big schools thing. Just so happens that the big school that lied in this instance is Hockaday. Do you really not think that big, influential schools ever do shady things? No more.

          • sjadler

            Uh, the entire point of my post is that I don’t think Hockaday lied. If tab wants to issue some clarification, as Abhi wants, I’m obviously fine with that. But I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by lumping in Hockaday with “big, influential schools” that “do shady things,” and I suspect that if you’d talked with Joe about it or heard Eric’s plea to Greg, then you would agree.

          • mcgin029

            Hockaday is a little less than half the size (in terms of speech and debate members and degrees) of DM Roosevelt.

            EDIT: Spelling

          • mcgin029

            Also, a mutual 4 may not be ideal, but it’s still mutual. Not sure what the Hockaday situation had to do with that.

          • Emma Weddle

            Mr. McGinnis, if this were an extemp tournament, I’d be golden. Unfortunately, this was LD TOC. I am the only LDer at my school, save two novices who did LD once, and may or may not do it next year (fingers crossed! :)). Our entire coaching staff is retiring this year. I am not so sure where you are going with this.

          • mcgin029

            Well, I think there’s a difference between a “big” school and a school that is “good at LD.” You clearly go to a big school — a much bigger school than Hockaday. That doesn’t invalidate any point you might be making about political influence (although in this case I don’t think there was any undue political influence going on, just some weird tab decisions) but it’s not a big school / small school thing.

          • Emma Weddle

            I am really sorry if my wording has confused you. Roosevelt has a lot of PFers- most of them are novices, I think. Most of them also compete on the local circuit in Iowa. Yes, Roosevelt has had an extraordinary extemp program ever since Mr. Strong took over, and Mr. Strong has a lot of influence in the extemp world. That being said, I am the only LDer at my school. You do know quite a bit about my situation there. By “big school” I mean “school with political influence”. Roosevelt is not a school with political influence in the national circuit LD world.

          • Emma Weddle

            Well, Abhi’s experience would seem to indicate that Hockaday was in the wrong. Guess we’ll see where that goes. Or will we? TOC folks don’t seem to be the most accountable…

          • sjadler

            Lol, so I’m reluctant to go line-by-line through Abhi’s post, but I don’t really see anything that would indicate fault by Hockaday. *Maybe* there’s fault by tab in not checking with Abhi, but from their perspective the facts were pretty clear, based on when they received the text, the initial challenge that happened, etc. Again, if tab wants to issue some statement then that’s fine, but I think it’s a bit ridiculous for you to be blaming Hockaday for this.

          • Emma Weddle

            Yes… Hockaday is at fault if their coaches claim that a debater was late, and they were not. Abhi’s post seems to indicate that the other debater was not late.

          • sjadler

            Alright, this is my last post on this subject because otherwise I think you’re just inclined to believe that Hockaday screwed you, when I think it’s pretty clear that they did not.

            Abhi’s post does not claim the debater wasn’t late; he claims that *he too* was late. If Varad had been waiting for Abhi to arrive, as Abhi suggests, that could have been raised during the first challenge; instead, it was determined that they couldn’t forfeit because the rules didn’t include a time limit. Very different scenario.

            Your R2 lateness point is just wrong in this situation; you were flight B of R1 and flight A of R2, so it makes sense that you would be pressed for time. But Varad was flight A of R1 and did not face the same time crunch. It is my understanding that he was prepping during that time and arrived an hour after pairings had come out, and 40 minutes after the scheduled start time. I suppose I could be wrong on this point (about the claim that he was prepping), but tab seemed pretty firm on the other details.

            I understand that you’re frustrated, but this objection just seems like grasping for straws. I really just don’t understand how Hockaday could be the villain in this scenario.

          • Abhi Elisetty

            Just to be clear: I have no gripe with Hockaday’s actions, and I am certainly not accusing anyone of intentional misconduct. I just want an explanation as to why my debater’s career ended the way it did, which I think he and the coaching staff both deserve.

            With that said, I think the notion that the facts regarding a bye/forfeit could be “pretty clear” without consulting the judge is ludicrous. Who determines what the facts are if not the judge? When has a bye ever been awarded without a judge first going to tab to report on a debater’s lateness? How is a text at all sufficient to award a bye to a debater if the judge is never brought into tab to verify lateness? What NSDA rule was invoked to justify retroactively awarding a bye and repairing an entire prelim? If I was so late, my ballot should have been pushed and Hockaday would have then raised the concern with that judge, who would’ve reported the issue to tab, which is how byes normally work.

            These are all concerns, among others, that tab needs to answer. I understand that those in tab are justifiably overwhelmed with what they have had to deal with over the course of the past week, but a public explanation eventually needs to be given.

            This is not merely a concern of “debating a harder Rd 7,” as Leah implied — Daiya’s opponent would have forfeited had the round not been repaired. It is a question of awarding an improper bye vs. proper bye.

            Also, Steven: I know this comment is a “reply” to your comment, but I am obviously not asking of you any of the things mentioned in this post. I just figured this would be an appropriate place to post this comment.

      • Fritz Pielstick

        “Where is Daiya’s protest?”

        Daiya’s protest is elsewhere on this thread. It consisted of some anonymous person implying that mutually-preffed judge Elijah Smith would make an overtly political decision against (I believe) the only black kid competing at the TOC in LD this year.

        • mcgin029

          To be clear though — that was not “Daiya’s protest” in the sense that that was definitely NOT Daiya protesting. That was a mutually preferred judge in that round and, I imagine, a very good judge for Daiya.

          I don’t mean to make any point here except to clarify that Daiya has not complained about anything (and as far as I know has not posted to the board.)

        • Emma Weddle

          Daiya has asked me to post this:

          I have not complained nor will ever complain let alone “protest” Elijah Smith’s decision. He is a member of the community I respect a lot and it saddens me that people are crawling out of the woodwork to attack his decision. Those people are not doing so on my behalf. Any one who is calling to question the legitimacy of his decision are doing so on their own, mistaken, volition. I thought my round against Greenhill was adjudicated 100% fairly by a judge that I am happy and proud to have listened to my final time speaking as a debater.

          • Fritz Pielstick

            So the answer to your original question, then, is that Daiya had no protest because he didn’t want one. Sounds good.

          • Abhi Elisetty

            Fritz: My entire post *is* Daiya’s protest. We of course have no problem with the way round 7 was adjudicated, as numerous posts have made clear. Our problem is with the fact that we went into round 7 thinking Daiya had cleared because his original opponent had forfeited. This was taken away from us because of a repairing based on an improperly awarded bye.

      • Leah Danielle Shapiro

        Emma, I think the key word here is mutual. Yes, she was a 4
        for you; she was also a 4 for me so I think it’s a little absurd to insinuate that this wasn’t fair.

        • Emma Weddle

          I am not sure where you got that. Thank you for reading more into my comment than was written. It sucks that we had to debate in front of a 4. I do not think you would disagree. The way it was explained to me was that judges who were protesting were not allowed to judge the re-paired round 7, which was why we ended up debating in front of a 4.

          • sjadler

            Yeah; it was explained to you incorrectly.

            I was outside initially during R7 (as were all four debaters I was going to be judging); I was assigned to two rounds again when R7 was repaired (not the same debaters, because one had initially been Chloe).

            Judges who were protesting might have had their ballot *pushed*, but unless that happened in your round then you guys just got screwed by a lack of mutuality. In that case, the R7 repair might have hurt you (going from one mutuality set to another), but it could have just as easily benefitted you (going from a small mutuality set to a larger one). The fact of the protest itself seems to have done nothing in your round besides change which randomly-distributed outcome was randomly plucked (unless, of course, the ballot was pushed).

          • Leah Danielle Shapiro

            Right, my point is that debating in front of a 4 certainly didn’t disadvantage you more than it disadvantaged me so I don’t really understand how you somehow feel wronged by the Hockaday situation.

          • Emma Weddle

            Leah, the Hockaday situation made me a pull up. That is how I was wronged by the Hockaday situation. I went from debating another 4-2 to debating a 5-1.

            Steven, I now know that it was explained to me incorrectly. Thank you.

          • Leah Danielle Shapiro

            Just having a harder R7 than you otherwise would’ve
            had obviously doesn’t imply that you were wronged. It just means that tab righted
            the mistake that they made earlier.

          • Emma Weddle

            Yes.. but the point Abhi brings up is that tab “righting the mistake they made earlier” was wrong and based on misinformation. You seem to be missing the point.

          • Jake Kallesburg

            Hopefully.

      • sjadler

        Also, for what it’s worth (I feel like I’m just piling on, but I don’t like inaccurate statements on these threads ….. ):

        I’m fairly sure you were not the top 4-2. Tabroom does not do pull ups from the top of the bracket; I confirmed this by reading the Tabroom documentation, and my understanding is that it pulls up debaters from the bracket beneath that had faced the weakest opposition. (These are correlated, but certainly not perfectly.)

        But also, you didn’t get a speaker award, and by my count there are at least a few debaters who were down-2 going into R7 and *did* get speaker awards. Not super relevant, but just wanted to make clear that even if the overturn were wrong, pulling you up wasn’t screwing somebody who otherwise clearly deserved to break (e.g. what people assume of the top 4-2); you were not penalized by virtue of having spoken well.

        • Emma Weddle

          Ok. I didn’t do the math. That’s just what I was told. I’m not saying I would have won the pre-re-paired round 7. I obviously don’t think Bennett sucks at debate. The pull up part wasn’t super relevant. It’s more the “re-pairing should never have happened” part.

      • John Scoggin

        I understand this matters a lot more to you than anyone else who could comment, but in a very technical sense this comes down to what I viewed as a somewhat strange decision by tab. They decided to give a double win in the round that was previously a loss for Hockaday and a win for Greenhill. I would have thought that if they decided that round was in violation of the forfeit rule it should have been changed to a loss for Greenhill and a win for Hockaday. One less debater at 4-2 and you likely would not be pulled up. I’m sorry that you had to have a judge that you rated so lowly in what turned out to be your last debate round, you deserve better than that.

  • Adam Bennett

    In honour of yesterday’s MEAN GIRLS anniversary:

    • Rebar Niemi

      Adam your behavior is pretty disappointing. The times I have met you you seemed a lot better than this. I thought you were nice.

  • Just a quick comment that I haven’t seen raised yet. While watching the videos of the Tab announcement, I heard one of the arguments for the TD’s decision was that “when a rule doesn’t cover a particular action, it is up to the judge’s discretion to decide.”

    Never mind the fact that even if this is true, that would imply that the LITERAL judge in the round (IE Matt) has discretion here not Tab staff but more importantly this just isn’t true to begin with. If an action isn’t codified as illegal, it is legal. No one would ever be convicted on the basis of “well it seems like what you did should be illegal so even though it isn’t, you’re still guilty.” The default “community norm” of every action is permissibility just like it is in the rest of life. Especially given the TD’s reliance on the argument that there wasn’t codified action so they had to make a seat of their pants decision, it seems preposterous that one wouldn’t just default to non-action in a situation specifically banning an action given no precedent for this in the real world.

    • sjadler

      Well yeah, it was kind of shocking in the moment to hear Greg talk about ‘the authority of the judge’ to make decisions when the precedent isn’t particularly clear, but to deny that Matt Dunay had somehow already made that decision.

      Also, when Greg initially explained the rule they had used (this was inside and was not, to my knowledge, recorded), he said that at NFL Nats the TD has the authority to overturn the judge’s decision if they find it to have been made in error. But nothing suggests that Matt’s decision was made in error, and in fact, later on when we were outside, Greg said that he hadn’t evaluated that at all, but rather whether Matt had the authority to make any decision about it at all. Kind of preposterous.

      • mcgin029

        He’s also referring to the “new” rules that don’t go into effect until 2015. Under the 2014 rules, the judge’s decision stands. Circles within circles.

  • Rebar Niemi

    #dropsmic #poetics>prattle

  • Wade Houston

    Congratulations to Danny DeBois and others who prevailed at TOC. Carlton Bone in particular is a legend whose heroism will no doubt be renowned for generations to come.

    I haven’t had time to read most of the posts about what happened at TOC, but from my cursory view of this thread it appears that a grave injustice was done to the University debater David Branse. Some minority of people seem to think the enforcement of an anti-strawman rule, without notice, was appropriate. Someone please correct me if I am wrong in thinking that their position looks something like the following:

    (1) The use of strawman evidence is automatic grounds for a loss, even if it disclaimed as being strawman in CX, presumably because the judge is in some way subconsciously inclined to give credit to analytic arguments made by a carded author, even if their decision does not rely on an evaluation of the argument found in that evidence. (I’m assuming the evidence in question is not empirical, since I concede that author credibility gives more weight to empirical evidence.)

    (2) The wrong incurred by the use of strawman evidence is so egregious that due process is unwarranted, and punishment of debaters who use strawman evidence is so vital that it should be doled out at the first possible opportunity, even if prior opportunities were arguably passed on. This is so even though most non-dictatorships routinely give notice of new laws prohibiting conduct that is far more harmful than the use of disclaimed strawman evidence.

  • John Lewis

    My thoughts on this whole episode are pretty mixed. I think that high school debate is deeply racist, sexist, and classist, but also think that Aaron Timmons frequently wields his influence and social capital within the activity in a sometimes—but not always—detrimental way. I think that what happened at the TOC this past weekend is an absolute travesty but also think that the protest was not a great way of dealing with it, after it was clear that nobody was budging. I strongly agree with Alex’s suggestion that we should try to focus on the issues which are really at stake here, and not get distracted by a morass of politics and side discussions about evidence ethics.

    But what are the issues at stake? I’ve struggled to articulate why I actually care about this, given that I haven’t judged or coached in nearly a year and a half, and I don’t plan to again, at least not for a while. At root, it’s because I think back to when I was a debater and only had the chance to go to a handful of bid tournaments throughout my career. I would have been furious if I had either lost a round on the basis of some rules I didn’t know existed, or been deprived of the chance to debate my final round at the TOC because the judge walked out. I also know that if I had attempted to mount an evidentiary challenge, I would have been laughed out of the room. And I empathize with those debaters who suffer a whole host of micro- and macro-aggressions and see nobody protesting on their behalf.

    The fundamental issue, to me, is this: that one’s opportunities in debate turn far too much on a complex, multifaceted web of privilege, influence, and reputation that needs to be disrupted on all fronts. Put more bluntly, people who think that there’s a problem with how AT exercises his social capital should also reflect on how white men exercise theirs. It is absurd to suggest, as some have, that white privilege isn’t a thing because AT coaches at Greenhill. But people who think that race and gender matter should realize that nine times out of ten the coach pulling the strings is a white man. This is not to draw some false moral equivalence between the two sets of issues but to point out that they are two sides of the same coin—privilege and influence matter, in part, because we have a system and a culture which facilitates it. On a policy level, this means reforming processes that are opaque and undemocratic, but it also means redressing the more insidious issues of bias and social networking. I don’t have any easy answers but I think a good first step would be a full explanation from the TOC of the process that was applied, the rationale for the decision that was ultimately made, and what reforms, if any, the TOC plans to make moving forward. And a good second step would be thinking more broadly about what we can do to fix this desperately flawed activity.

    • Rebar Niemi

      “people who think that there’s a problem with how AT exercises his social capital should also reflect on how white men exercise theirs. It is absurd to suggest, as some have, that white privilege isn’t a thing because AT coaches at Greenhill. But people who think that race and gender matter should realize that nine times out of ten the coach pulling the strings is a white man.”

      WELL SAID.

  • BenjaminKoh

    I have a lot of respect for and am friends with several of the people this weekend who supported the protest and were there at its origin this weekend. I admittedly was extremely amused by the notion of going on strike originally, but per the progression of the protest, I began to have a disdain for it. I absolutely believe Emily that the original intention was to make round 7 impossible to tab by having enough judges stand outside in absence and refusal to participate with the problematic decisions by tab. I’m not familiar with the NFL Rules- but not upholding Matt’s original decision was entirely problematic- see the discussion below.

    When it became apparent that tab was going to forfeit debaters, I have a major problem with the way the protest began to progress. Ultimately the role of a tournament like this, the most national tournament in the country, is to foster competition and an educational place in what is in large part the finale for many debaters’ 4 year adventure in debate; The finale of the endless prep and tournament weekends; the finale for many who may be going places where participation in debate is hard or impossible. After alot of deliberation, I do not support the debaters and judges who did not judge or did not compete in round 7 at the TOC. Not competing or not judging isn’t a one way decision- the person in question is not the only one effective. I’ve heard of a round that got repaired and a mutual 4 was given due tot eh absence of a mutually preferred judge in a bubble round. There were more events like this that occurred. A debater who I’ve gotten to know over the past weekend walked into his round 7 to no opponent, a debater who is not very economically well off and had to put a lot of effort in preparing to compete and preparing to go to the TOC. He was already out of the tournament, and did not get to debate a 7th round. Simply enough, I believe a debater has the right to lose the last round of their career.

    My debater Nathan has absolutely zero support from his school. Every tournament he goes to is purely out of pocket, and he had to pay a massive amount of money to be able to go to the TOC. I slept on a chair the entire weekend so that he didn’t have to get another room. I’m not saying that I’m a wonderful human being or all that, I also swear too much amongst other things. But, even if Nathan was down 5 by the time that round 7 came along and TOC was just not working out, he would’ve gone to compete. His last debate round should not have to be a win by default, it should be a win or a loss in competition. I’m upset that a lot of debaters who wanted to have that TOC experience that is as hyped up as it is for years did not get it because of the unfortunate result of the protest.

    Hopefully, if something like this happens again, there could be more control of the competitive experience, and there wouldn’t be so many forfeits round 7. I think the protest was powerful, and some backlash against the decisions tab made in the tournament was justified. However, when it began to conflict with the basic TOC experience (especially for the ones who are not connected to the national circuit and may have gotten their bids more locally, for example) of getting to debate.

    • mcgin029

      One clarification —

      The re-pairings did not happen because of the protest, per se. The re-pairing took place because of a separate “tab error” from Saturday that resulted in a debater’s record being changed. This happened during, but not because of, the protest.

      So if the student’s pairing was changed, it’s not down to students’ or judges’ decision to walk out.

      • BenjaminKoh

        Corrected, Thanks

    • Alex Kramer

      It’s unfortunate that some people had a lesser TOC experience, but blaming protesters seems misguided. The underlying moral question is whether (and to what extent) protesters should be blamed for collateral harms associated with acts of civil disobedience. That’s a complicated issue, but I’m inclined to instead blame those in power for creating conditions such that civil disobedience is both justified and necessary. I don’t think the actions of tournament staff this weekend can be viewed as logically or ethically defensible by a reasonable person. Additionally, I think protesting was uniquely key to making tournament staff recognize the issue. Many debaters and coaches (including several high-profile coaches and members of the TOC advisory committee) attempted to talk to tournament staff for more than an hour prior to the student-organized protest breaking out. You could blame protesters for ruining a debater’s TOC experience, but tournament staff could have also solved the issue without all of this drama (and they didn’t). When tournament staff didn’t do so, they created conditions such that protests were the most reasonable remaining option to object to a blatant misuse of power. So while the protest was the immediate cause of lessening some students’ TOC experience, that doesn’t mean the protest is ethically at blame; instead, the tournament staff seems pretty clearly at fault here. Or, to consider other examples – should transportation workers or teachers lose the right to strike against oppressive working conditions simply because protests involve collateral harms to innocent bystanders? Perhaps those in power instead should act morally in the first place and should avoid creating situations where exercising a right to civil disobedience is the only remaining option to have legitimate complaints recognized.

      • Rebar Niemi

        Alex the notion that this is equivalent to

        A. civil disobedience (WHICH IS LAST TIME I CHECKED AGAINST A GOVERNMENT)
        or
        B. a transportation workers strike (WHICH INVOLVES PEOPLE WHO HAVE GRIEVANCES THAT GO BEYOND ONE WEEKEND IN MAGNITUDE)

        is ludicrous and offensive. So effacing of actual suffering. We and our students get to talk and travel and have fun. It’s a total privilege to debate or judge or coach.

        Also I hate this idea that the actions of the tournament somehow mandated this response. Not so. No one made you do anything. No one made any of us do anything. Don’t you dare claim otherwise.

        Please do not make such equivalences. Your framing of the issue seems to indicate that there is something more important in debate than the experiences of actual students. This is not true. But more than that, this is just a totally unproductive approach to the issue that truly betrays those in real need the most – both within the debate community and outside of it, while refusing to actually take responsibility.

        You and I and everyone else TOOK DEBATES AWAY FROM PEOPLE. We made that choice. You can defend it but don’t act like it was forced upon you.

        • Emily Massey

          This seems like an interesting discussion to me; I wish it could happen in an intellectually serious way. But purposely misunderstanding those you disagree with, as well as calling what they say “offensive,” are such infantile ways of arguing. Obviously Alex wasn’t suggesting that these causes’ grievances are equivalent in magnitude; the point was that there is a structural analogy between them, in that you and others are blaming protesters for foreseen but unintended harms that happened only because those in power refused to recognize a legitimate claim.

          • Rebar Niemi

            No Emily, it is offensive. Ask an actual transportation worker that has participated in a strike. This is potentially equivalent to either a Tea Party rally where you declare the federal government doesn’t exist while waving an American flag, or as I stated before Occupy.

            I’m sorry that I am heated about it, I really have tried to reign myself in as much as possible. Sadly I lack access to universal reason and normative facts in the same capacity as you, and so I end up being infantile and intellectually unserious.

            To draw an allegiance between your claims and the claims of actual workers or victims of political suppression is to vampirically feed on those situations for legitimization. You can freely draw analogies to willful and unnecessary protest actions and I will not dispute them.

            I don’t think it is obvious to everyone that there’s a difference in magnitude here – especially with how casually the word civil disobedience has been thrown around. And there are fundamental structural differences here too.

            Look, you seem to think this has turned into some kind of personal vendetta for me against the protest or what have you. This isn’t true. I’m just reacting to the charged language other people are using.

            Every single person I’ve talked to about this stuff with more than a hobbyist/resume padder’s interest in protest and activism thinks this analogy is pretty preposterous and offensive.

          • mcgin029

            I talked it over with my dad, a Teamster for 40 years, and he thought it was great. I used to walk the picket line with him on most contract cycles. He thought it was keen that kids were learning the effectiveness and importance of the power of organization.

            Suggesting that a unionist would be “offended” by students protesting through work stoppage is like suggesting that a physicist would be offended by kids taking intro physics.

            * Disclaimer: By “walk the picket line” I mean I (usually) sat near the picket line in a lawn chair drinking Jolt! Cola.

          • Rebar Niemi

            Well I guess I’m wrong – generalizing about peoples views can do that to you :).

            Still I don’t know something about referring to it as a work stoppage still seems fishy.

            Can we just leave it at protest and not say that it is a work stoppage or act of civil disobedience?

            I don’t understand why this needs to glean legitimization from those descriptors. I just sincerely hope that all these kids come away from this with a newfound appreciation for labor rights.

            PS Dave can I send a new version of the labor rights topic I proposed a while ago to the topic committee? I still want to debate that.

          • mcgin029

            Yes, of course. Obviously I’d like to see it as well.

  • mcgin029

    Two things:

    First, I’m disappointed that a lot of people who are talking about the protest on FB and other locations are dismissing it as stupid or childish. Many of the adults in the community who have commented have lamented that the adults “forgot to be adults.”

    I disagree with this in the strongest terms.

    To be clear, the protest was the idea of a group of students. I supported them by sitting out with them, though there were no stakes for me since I didn’t have a ballot. Many other adults did the same. But it was a student protest.

    In the face of institutional intransigence, work stoppage is the greatest — and in many cases, the only — power that the people have. (See Becker, Craig: “‘Better than a strike’: protecting new forms of collective work stoppages under the National Labor Relations Act.” University of Chicago Law Review, vol. 61, no. 2, Spring 1994)

    Whether you agree with the thesis of the protest or not — and I don’t think any reasonable person can disagree with the thesis of the protest (see below) — it seems counter-educational to deride students for standing up for their principles. The attitude seems to be that “the students should just shut up and do as they’re told.” This is terrible.

    Second, the reason I’m struggling so much with this particular decision at the tournament is that it was made by two people who I respect tremendously. It is just a complete mystery to me how they came to it.

    The number of layers of nonsense that one has to wade through in order to conclude that the decision was remotely correct is stunning.

    First, there is absolutely no reason to believe that NFL rules apply to the TOC in any way. They never have.

    This is not a small point. Enforcing a “rule” that is not codified — that no one has any reason to believe will be enforced — is fundamentally unfair. Codification is key to depoliticizing moves like disqualification or decision reversals. If a coach walks into tab and demands that a decision be changed, the only way tab can do so in a way that does not appear to be political favoritism is to adjudicate the challenge according to a *previously agreed-upon set of rules.* If the tab director can refer ad hoc to some set of rules that was not previously agreed upon, the appearance of impropriety is created. This is particularly the case when the application of the ad hoc rules is made even more subjective by the insistence that only SOME of the rules will be enforced because violation of other rules just isn’t “harmful.”

    Second, the TD’s explanation that they deferred to the “NFL Rules” is nonsense. The current NFL rules of evidence say absolutely nothing about “straw man” evidence. If they deferred to the NFL rules as they will be enforced at the 2014 National Tournament, then (A) there would be no violation, as “straw man” evidence is not referenced in those rules, and (B) the judge’s decision would be binding.

    The current NFL rules make it very clear that in the case of an evidence challenge, the decision of the judge is binding. The NFL rules for 2013-2014 make it clear that “serious distortions of evidence” are wrong, but (A) those distortions are carefully defined and *do not include* so-called “straw man” evidence, and (B) the penalties for serious distortions are clearly up to the judge.

    Here is a link to the page that contains the NFL’s District Tournament Manual:

    http://www.speechanddebate.org/aspx/nav.aspx?navid=254&pnavid=127

    Here is the link for the NFL’s National Tournament Manual:

    http://www.speechanddebate.org/aspx/nav.aspx?navid=255&pnavid=127

    Instead, the TD referenced a set of *trial* NFL rules that are set to go into effect in 2015. As has been pointed out several times, the NFL itself requires that a district’s intent to use these rules be indicated in writing 60 days prior to a competition, or the rules *cannot be used.*

    So even once you make the unlikely leap that NFL rules now, somehow, govern the TOC, the TD is invoking rules that *do not currently exist* and, in addition to that, is *violating* another clearly-stated NFL rules: (A) that the judge’s decision determines the penalty, and (B) that new rules cannot be imposed without prior written notification.

    Third, the fall-back position of the TD’s was that the rule against straw-manning evidence is so patently to the good that they felt moved to enforce it even though there was literally no indication that such enforcement was in the offing — that “straw manning” evidence is so obviously an egregious form of cheating that they cannot but take away a student’s win because of it.

    Discussion in recent days — in recent years, actually — makes clear at least a couple of things: (1) there is significant disagreement on this question. Many well-qualified coaches and judges have indicated that citing an author’s explanation of analytical argument that they do not ultimately endorse is common academic practice; and (2) the community norm in debate currently allows the citation of straw-man evidence in a number of notable and highly common cases.

    I think there’s a fascinating discussion to be had about the practice of straw-manning and why people (incorrectly) think it is an egregious form of cheating, but that’s really beside the point. The “moral outrage” justification for imposing a loss clearly lacks any basis.

    Further, general “moral outrage” is never sufficient basis for imposing a rule to begin with. The NFL — the determining authority, according to the TD — implicitly makes this clear by codifying and gradually rolling out rules rather than imposing them ad hoc. If it were the case that it is reasonable for a tournament’s tab staff to impose uncodified rules based solely on their sense of moral outrage, then the NFL would not be waiting a year and requiring advance notice regarding the new guidelines.

    The whole point of *having* rules is that the expectations of fair conduct are subject to reasonable debate, and thus (A) there should be a democratic process for determining which rules, if any, will be imposed and (B) students and coaches have to be clearly informed about those rules.

    At the end of the day, my problem here is not just that tab made a wrong decision, but that they made a decision that was so *obviously* wrong, and then refused to alter course, even in the face of clear explanation of why their decision did not make sense. I am troubled because I am experiencing cognitive dissonance. I have so much respect for the tab directors, having attended many tournaments where they have tabbed with absolute fairness and reasonableness, that it is just a mystery to me how this happened.

    • Rebar Niemi

      Dave, I have no disagreement with much of your post, but this:

      “In the face of institutional intransigence, work stoppage is the greatest — and in many cases, the only — power that the people have.”

      Since when are debaters employees? Of whom? Do they get paid? Are we employees of TOC? Neither debaters nor us as coaches/judges have any relevant labor rights in this situation (someone may feel free to correct me but I truly would be shocked if that were true).

      I think framing the discussion as one of civil disobedience/rights only teaches impressionable youth that all work stoppages/strikes are as frivolous as this one and that workers don’t actually suffer real consequences for them and aren’t attempting to achieve systemic change. You devalue real political action with this analogy.

      No one was hosed, no one had dogs set on them. People ate ice cream and pizza.

      Occupy TOC is appropriate if only because much of Occupy was similarly pointless and imposed negative externalities on the people it supposedly was trying to help. Much like Occupy X, Occupy TOC was largely white and privileged, and seems to be confused at why the “underclasses” (see Sarah’s comment on my post) wouldn’t stand in solidarity with a bunch of people who really have no conception of structural inequality.

  • Pingback: Debate’s National Championships: Where do we go from here? | NSD Update()

  • MLG

    If anyone wants to switch activities, the Starcraft community could use a boost

  • joseph millman

    I don’t usually post on these sorts of threads, but given the way this discussion is heading, I feel it necessary to make my voice heard and to set this discussion on the right track. The posts in this thread have almost entirely been unified by one or more of these themes: diatribes against the political machinations of Greenhill and AT, Stephen Babb’s rather quaint views on evidence ethics, and discussion of prefiat arguments in debate.

    While these mini-discussions are interesting and valuable in their own right, this is neither the time nor the place for them. They ultimately merely serve to distract from the underlying issue: the egregious violation of perhaps the most sacrosanct principle in competitive debate by the TOC administration.

    Regardless of how much animosity some have towards Greenhill, and however intellectually bankrupt and politically corrupt their actions last weekend may have seemed, these actions would have had no effect if those in charge at the TOC had not made the decision to reverse the round. Likewise, while it seems most unlikely that Stephen Babb’s views on evidence ethics are correct, even if he somehow happens to be right, it has been established that Branse did not violate any TOC rule by reading a straw-manned card, and that the rule under which the tournament forfeited him was A. not applicable to non district tournaments, and B. not set to take place until the next year. Clearly, the “root cause” of all the discontent is the egregiously bad decision made by the TOC admins.

    Whether or not you agrees with the strike last weekend, everyone recognize the absurdity of reversing this win into a loss.

    However engaging these side conversations are, they are merely smoke and mirrors. We neither need nor want another vitriolic flamewar. Instead, we badly need an open discussion of how to reform the TOC process or of alternatives, so that these debacles do not continue to take place at the highest level of competitive debate.

    • Emily Massey

      This is absolutely right.

      • Rebar Niemi

        You are wrong. There is a large portion of this debate about privilege, race, and class in debate. That is not smoke and mirrors. Millman you iz a sweet boi but you choose to ignore this discussion entirely.

        • Adam Bennett

          Wait, Rebar, doesn’t having pre-written block files against every argument solve for privilege in debate? In my experience that definitely prevented anyone’s privilege from giving them an advantage over me!

          • Rebar Niemi

            Adam, no matter how much you troll I still get to host Watch What Happens: Debate Edition. Dibs.

    • Stephen Babb

      I didn’t realize it was “quaint” to prefer evidence be read in line with an author’s conclusions. But my main beef honestly has been that people are embracing that behavior so fully and attacking Timmons so vehemently. If there’s fault somewhere, blame tab. But the reaction has been so overwhelming on behalf of a practice that is at best questionable. And the demonization of Timmons is just sad and laughable all at the same time.

      • Jacob Nails

        Two years ago, I had this *exact* debate in front of you where the neg had a philosophical card that misrepresented the author. When I called it out, you thought it was a waste of time and docked my speaks to 27. Glad to see you’ve changed your mind.

        • Stephen Babb

          I highly doubt it was this exact debate. But obviously I don’t remember round No. 10,567, so sorry to say I can’t offer much of a rationale or defense. Glad to see you’re still hanging on to it.

          • mcgin029

            I should think given how egregiously horrible the act is that you’d remember it, and expect the student to remember it as well. Or — wait — it’s not horrible, it’s no big deal, and of course you’ve forgotten it or — wait. Dang. I’ve completely lost track of your position.

          • Stephen Babb

            Dave, get a life. I would respect you if you were invested in this activity as an educational endeavor, but you live to troll people’s legitimate arguments, shout down tournament directors offering you their time and spout overly long and marginally interesting positions that could be summarized in much simpler terms. In this particular instance, I don’t remember the round because I’ve judged thousands of rounds and obviously don’t remember the vast, vast majority. I suspect that there may have been a difference of opinion in this case accounting for the fact that I didn’t find it egregious enough to remember for the rest of my life. All I have to go on is the losing debater’s characterization of what happened. That’s also all YOU have to go on, so step off.

            Your sarcasm adds nothing to the conversation. You add nothing to the debate community. I would have very little interest in chiming in on these discussions at all but for the fact that people like you lead students so far astray and set such a horrific example about how to handle these situations. I think some people on your side of this argument are wrong but have expressed themselves admirably. Others, like Tupler, have made a mockery of themselves. Your over-investment in the issue (to the extent you jump in on a side-convo initiated by a butt-hurt debater) is embarrassing.

          • Stephen Babb

            And I love that the people who like Nails’ comments have no basis for assessing the facts. They’re partisan hacks who care more about bandwagoning than advancing legitimate claims… Sadler, Liu, Kawahara, etc. You don’t know what happened any more than I do. You are small people.

          • Sam_Azbel

            Babb, you realize that you are just “fueling the fire,” right? Let’s all just agree with millman and be civil. No need to throw ad-Homs at people.

          • Stephen Babb

            Sam you are the man. I agree in principle with what you’re saying, but this fire has been fueled for a long time. I didn’t ask for a kid to dredge up some round from 3 yrs ago. And I didn’t ask for Dave to chime in with his not-at-all-witty contribution. They’d do that with or without me being civil and I’m sick of it. You sir, have your head on straight. Though we might disagree about some things, you’re way ahead of Dave and others.

          • Fritz Pielstick

            Babb, can I submit that most people on this website, myself included, probably need to “get a life”?”

            Pot, kettle.

          • Adam Bennett

            well im stoned whats your excuse?

          • Stephen Babb

            But to be clear, this is about more than ad homs. I genuinely believe that some people are horrible for this activity and shouldn’t be teaching it. I don’t think that about everyone who disagrees with me. A lot of people at that protest were there for good reasons. But there’s a sickening gang mentality that people like Dave love to spearhead because it makes them feel better about themselves. They get high off of people liking their little BS comments on NSDUpdate. That’s just stupid.

          • sjadler

            Hey there 🙂 not sure why you feel the need to call me a partisan hack, or a small person. But the reason I liked the comment is a.) it raised an interesting consideration (and it’s not like you debunked it–you just pulled the ‘sorry I have too much of a life to remember’ card, and b.) it seems in-character of your response to theory arguments generally.

            As I messaged Jacob privately after liking his comment, I noted that theory arguments tend to annoy you, except for when they don’t. This is consistent with how you judged certain rounds of mine involving theory as a debater (e.g. refusing to vote on a wholly dropped NIBs bad shell at the Voices RR because you thought it was dumb), so Jacob’s account sounds reasonable to me. Hopefully that doesn’t make me a small person!!1!

          • Stephen Babb

            I’ve unfriended a lot of people.

          • PlazaMexico

            Babb used “unfriend”, it’s super effective!

          • Paras Kumar

            Shockingly, we got off tracked. There needs to be a conversation of how ya’ll wanna proceed next year. I say ya’ll since it is really the debaters that have the power. You vote with your plane tickets. All I can do is give advice.

            Idk why Babb’s judging legitimacy is being called into question, so I wanna chime in and say I thought Babb was a fantastic judge. I got him several times in the back of the room my senior year (including several rounds on theory) and he made the right decision every time. He always cared, was consistent in what he liked and didn’t like, and judged accordingly. He was also cool, real and gave the best/most insightful/entertaining lecture I’ve ever heard in debate.

            But babb I’m still confused about your stance on this straw-man debate. Is your stance that straw-manning analytical arguments is fine as long as there is an explicit acknowledgment IN THE SPEECH itself? Or running straw-man analytics is always bad?

          • Paras Kumar

            GO BABB! Ya’ll haters. Babb was the chillest judge on the circuit. Dave was a close second (but Dave, I’m not sure ill ever be able to understand your “maturity” and “role as an educator” when i consider octos meadows JL vs palo alto AA at the 2010 stanford invitational. You read google news after the 1ac…i watched you for 30 minutes. Can we agree that was not ok?

            ALSO, IDK why adam bennet got censored. He was dope. except when you dropped my laptop ur sophomore year at Harker. What the fuck adam, what the fuck 🙁

            ps: any one else ever think too much about turning 21 or is it just me? shits triply ya’ll

          • Adam Bennett

            Thanks P! remember, if the laptop was broken I was good for it haha…good times

          • mcgin029

            Re: Google news.

            The aff read a non topical position. Internal to the position he called on the judges to intervene and vote for the performance they’d prefer to see replicated.

            Round over for me.

            This was in the RFD.

          • Rebar Niemi

            Yo Paras wait until you are turning 24 man. I swear to gawd. lollololol. But yeah its trippy I feel you.

          • Guest

            Just turned 27, it doesn’t stop being trippy.

          • Rebar Niemi

            SEE KIDS YOU CAN LEARN THINGS ON THE INTERNET. GETTING OLDER IS TRIPPY AND IT NEVER STOPS BEING SO.

          • tlonam

            Dave is sarcastic but makes good points that obviously express what part of the community believe, and for a large part of this thread, drive some of the more interesting discussions, but its okay if we disagree on that. Your analysis of Dave’s character and contributions to the community are inaccurate, offensive and engage in the very behavior you criticize in this post.

            “You add nothing to the debate community” – Dave has coached tons of debaters to great success at the TOC – making an impact in their lives that is immeasurable and that I’m sure they’d be happy to explain, hosts a remarkable Octas-Bid level tournament a round robin which highlights the achievement of sophomores, works at some of the best camps in the country teaching kids of all levels, and I personally enjoyed the ability to lead lab with him twice this summer and can say he is wealth of experience of information. There is so much more but I think we get the gist.

            To say that Dave adds nothing to the community is so unbelievably misguided and childish that I cannot believe you even wrote that. You should take this flamewar less seriously and put your comments in perspective

          • Stephen Babb

            If the impact Dave makes in students’ lives is reflected in the kind of comments he makes here, then you’re proving my point. I should rephrase—he DOES add something to the community, and it’s a tragic addition indeed. And here you are portending to take the high road while calling me “childish.” Wow now I’m so offended and hurt, you should apologize! Please… Dave jumped into a conversation with no factual basis. I don’t remember the debate. I doubt Jacob’s characterization is 100% accurate. Dave decides to bandwagon because he’s an asshole. Pure and simple. I have no reason to respect that.

          • tlonam

            I don’t think any coach, myself included, can or should be fairly judged by their comments on whatever debate blog is popular that season. The reason flamewars happen is that people get very riled up about certain issues and engage in discussions of various levels of importance and value, but I just don’t believe that someone’s behavior in one argument, or willingness to accept a particular kind of testimony, justifies anyone saying that they provide nothing positive to the community.

            I don’t know anything at all about the round in question, and I don’t really care. I think that a lifetime of positive contributions to debaters success, and a genuine empathy for their wellbeing is not going to be outweighed or even comparable to a person’s discussions on these flamewars.

            I don’t think I’m “taking the high road”, and I don’t mean to insult you but I just think that your comments have escalated unnecessarily and unfairly and that while you might think Dave has acted inappropriately, there has to be a better and more professional way to go about saying that.

          • Stephen Babb

            Escalation happened when Dave chimed in. I was annoyed with Jacob’s comment, but I mean.. I really don’t remember what happened. He could be right for all I know—just not the most objective source. Dave’s sarcasm escalated. He jumped on the bandwagon as this site’s trolls are oft to do. And I’m not going to sit idly and entertain that. He should know better.

          • tlonam

            My point isn’t that you called out Dave, its just that I think you went way too far. I think we should all be able to call each other out, I just think that saying someone provides “nothing” to the community isn’t a good or constructive response.

            And I don’t agree with what Tupler said (even though I think he was making fun of flamewars more than anything else with that particular comment), and I’m happy to go back and make a post, I only saw your post because I went and saw it at the new comments up top when I got on today, but I will unequivocally say that calling someone a “terrible human being” or “providing nothing to the community” for some posts online is wrong

          • Stephen Babb

            Tupler went on to say “fucked up people like AT…” Read the post. I don’t believe it was an ironic performance. 50 people liked it.

          • Stephen Babb

            And the more important point isn’t just you Terrence. It’s dozens of others who have no regard for the principles they ostensibly stand for. This is gang-up mentality, pure and simple. There’s nothing more to it than partisanship and bandwagoning.

          • tlonam

            I don’t agree with Tupler or anyone else making unfounded allegations against members of our community, AT included, in a way that hurts or demeans their reputation unfairly and without cause.

            This happens on both sides (I don’t even know who’s on what side, or what the sides are anymore on these issues) and I think that while I did call you out here (I’ll be honest, I had been noticing this whole thread but your comments are what broke the camel’s back for me, so to speak)

            If you go through the majority of comments I have made on nsdupdate at all, they are generally me feeling uncomfortable with people from every part of the community going too far on flamewars.

          • Stephen Babb

            That’s fair. But for the record, it’s not as if I’m making allegations about Dave. I just don’t like him. For the same reason I don’t like a lot of the people who frequent these discussions. They care more about ganging up and patting each other on the back than they do about standing for something. Maybe Dave is a good coach because of what he’s done for his students. But NO ONE stood up for AT, who’s also done quite a bit for his students methinks. 50 likes instead.

          • tlonam

            I don’t think you are making allegations about Dave, I do think you made a really unfair assessment of his character. I don’t care if you like him or not, I just wanted to point that was probably not the right way to handle it, but I think we are as far as we are going to get on that subject.

            I’m sorry if you feel that I was ganging up on you with anyone, I know that it happens and that it sucks (take a look at my article about analytics earlier in the year).

            I agree that discussions on here have been one-sided and have probably gone too far in calling out AT and Greenhill. I’m not a fan but I think even if thats unfair, we should all be mindful of how we talk about each other on here.

          • mcgin029

            “Apt”

          • Stephen Babb

            And btw Terrence and others—WHERE WERE YOU admonishing people for ad hom attacks when Tupler went off on Timmons? Where was your voice of reason then?

          • Stephen Babb

            Seriously, where’s the collective outrage against Tupler saying, “Where are the personal criticisms of AT being fucked up human being?”

          • Stephen Babb

            Oh that comment got 50 likes? Hah. Oh you hypocritical defenders of “justice” and “reason”. If you’re going to stand for something, be consistent. You stand by and defend Dave being a jerk while you broadly endorse a far more severe personal attack. Great job NSDUpdate commenters! You should be proud of yourselves.

          • chris_miller

            Stop hating on Dave

          • mcgin029

            I am pleased that you found my comments marginally interesting! Thank you for the compliment.

          • Paras Kumar

            can we all at least agree that the first 45 seconds to this song bangs? sorta like that song by fun that talks about your friends in the bathroom and the empire state. y’all gotta give em some love, its hipster and indie as _____ yo

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykddkuU4fzI

      • mcgin029

        The overwhelming reaction isn’t “carding straw-men great,” it’s, “arbitrarily enforcing non-existent rules to take away the fifth win at TOC bad.”

        If you had a student who worked hard all year to get to the TOC and then they won their fifth debate and I wandered into tab and convinced them to reverse the judge’s ballot based on some standard that was manifestly not in the rules, you’d be mad. And you’d be right to be mad. And I wouldn’t accuse you of being mad only because you don’t like me.

        • Stephen Babb

          I would be upset, sure. I would also be upset at whoever cut the evidence (myself or the student). I wouldn’t spend the next 72 hours of my life acting like it’s a civil rights issue though.

          • Eric Palmer

            …didn’t you just spend the same 72 hours litigating the same issue?

          • Stephen Babb

            Um, no. I spent about 20 minutes expressing shock at how out of hands things have gotten. And instead of trolling, hows about you respond to Jake Nebel’s comments on FB.

          • Eric Palmer

            17 posts on NSDUpdate in the past 4 days say otherwise…

            I’ve asked the staff member who gave the relevant lecture to issue a response to Jake. I did this not for your satisfaction, but for the benefit of readers who might have been misled by you or others.

  • Tillman Huett-Lassman

    Here is the next video in the series-this follows about 45 min after the first video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTxq97ZgJjA&feature=youtu.be

  • Jason Zhou

    If the TOC’s position is that reading a straw man in a debate round is cheating, academically dishonest, and worthy of stripping a debater of a win, what should the punishment be for an educator, director of a national debate camp, TOC Advisory Committee member, and host of an octafinals bid tournament, for doing the same in an article he publishes? If the TOC is going to selectively enforce the NFL rule for reading a straw man because it is so academically dishonest (and not enforce other NFL rules because under their own subjective interpretation they aren’t as harmful), I would hope that they would not simply turn a blind eye to the practices of one of their own. If a student who gets caught cheating in the classroom must be brought before a disciplinary board, what should happen to the teacher when they are the ones who are caught? If the TOC wants anyone to take their decision seriously, and not as just a political maneuver, they should immediately remove Aaron Timmons from the Advisory Committee and inform Greenhill that one of their teachers has engaged in practices which they consider to be academically dishonest and unbefitting of a person in a position to teach children. They should also inform Greenhill that if Aaron Timmons continues to teach at that institution, they cannot continue to support the Greenhill tournament and grace it with an octafinals bid. If those responses seem harsh in response to using a straw man in a publication, you should have thought about that before you took a win away from a kid for doing it in a debate round.

    • Paras Kumar

      +1. From a 3rd party observer it seemed like the director was trying to talk his way out of a clearly arbitrary decision. Several questions stand out that I’d appreciate an explanation for by someone from the Greenhill/TOC contingent:

      1. Dimas asked a question about the 60 day provision to inform competitors that NFL rules will be applied. Why was this rule disregarded? It seems on face like this rule is a prerequisite to enforcing all other rules found in the NFL.
      2. What’s the bright line for which NFL rules are followed and which ones aren’t? The director seems to indicate that the delineation lies in the harmfulness of the violation of NFL rules. Who decides the harmfulness? What criteria is used to make this decision? Will there be transparency on this issue or is an independent debater (like me in high school) basically screwed from being able to voice his/her opinion AND be taken seriously due to lack of influence? Does this means plans aren’t ok?
      3. There is clearly a difference between straw-manning empirics and analytics. Jeff touched on this below, and he was spot on. This difference is reflected in Christian Tarsney’s question, and wasn’t really properly addressed. Do we really consider it cheating to straw-man philosophical arguments?
      *THIS DIFFERENCE IS ESPECIALLY RELEVENT GIVEN THAT DUNAY RESOLVED THE ROUND ON THEORY!!! THE STRAW MANNED EVIDENCE LITERALLY DIDNT MATTER.*
      4. Are evidence ethics debates no longer supposed to be resolved in round?

      I’m also curious about what precedent this sets at future tournaments. Does this mean everyone who reads MacIntyre as a skep justification will lose? Does that mean at the 2009 TOC, had someone caught the evidence dispute with Chris Theis’s Sudan DA, octos/quarters/semis would have been a double L? It’s hard to imagine Theis/Cherian Koshy/Pam Wycoff being ok with that. What happens when this happens in out rounds?

      I hope my tone was not sarcastic/mean because I’d really like to engage in a civil conversation on these issues.

      • sjadler

        Realistically, I don’t think you’re going to get a response to these questions from GH/TOC. I’ll do my best.

        1. In the video, Greg seems surprised to even hear of the 60 day provision. This provision exists because the NFL essentially changed its rules, which will be adopted for the 2014-15 season. The provision is to notify district schools if the district will be optionally adopting those rules ahead of time. I agree that it’s silly to enforce rules ex-post, especially if the ‘community norm’ that the rule is supposedly based upon does not yet exist.

        2. There is, quite obviously to me, no good standard for when the TOC decides to enforce NFL rules, particularly after the fact. This speaks to me about, 1.) the importance of letting a judge adjudicate these issues in-round, and/or 2.) the importance of having very clear guidelines about what happens in specific situations. Personally, I think it’s hard to write guidelines that account for all possible scenarios, so I’m inclined to favor 1. But I also understand why it might occasionally be necessary to go beyond the judge’s authority–I just think those circumstances need to be very clearly noted *ahead of time*.

        3. I also agree with this point. Greg’s argument seemed fundamentally misguided (as does Babb’s that he’s been making elsewhere) because they seem to assume that this is ‘mis-cutting’ or an improper use of evidence, when the norms argued for outside suggest otherwise. I do think, though, that if an author does not support the conclusion, then it should probably be tagged “X describes Y argument” or something along those lines, to make it clearer.

        4. This is a good question. Greg continually pointed out that “never before in [his] eight years of running tab has he seen an incident like this” (slightly paraphrased, it’s after the footage stops). And I pointed out to him that, yeah, obviously, because the community norm (which supposedly doesn’t exist) is that the issue gets resolved in round, e.g. Jason Smith’s run-off round, my run-off round, etc. I think if there were very clearly norms of what is *never* okay (lining down a “not”, omitting ellipses while removing clauses), then maybe it’s okay to go a tournament director with those. But otherwise, I do believe the discretion should be left to the judge (or, at least, you shouldn’t get to argue to the judge, lost that argument, and then go to the TD–it should be an instant challenge, that you either win and win the round, or lose and lose the round).

  • Debate1

    I do believe that the TOC for LD is in its final days. It’s time for an alternative that is consistent with its rulings and does give favors to particular large schools. #NDCA #ENDTHETOC

  • Tillman Huett-Lassman

    HERE IS THE VIDEO FOR EVERYONE WHO WASN’T THERE: Here is the video of them explaining the tab decision https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKr9hGMes6s&feature=youtu.be

    • sjadler

      Thank you for posting this–I just want to clarify, so that nobody misinterprets this, the discussion had happened for quite a bit inside before this video (e.g. Greg and Joe’s explanation of the call to Andrea Reed; Eric Melin’s argument to restore a win for Chloe), and continued for quite a bit longer outside. There’s much more to the discussion than just this video, so please don’t take it as anything more than a snippet.

      Happy to answer any questions that people might have about the various incidents. To explain everything at once would take way too long, but happy to fill in the bits and pieces that people are wondering about.

    • Brennan Sterling Caruthers

      John Scoggin lookin ripped and manly

  • Tillman Huett-Lassman

    Who’s that hot protester in the middle of the picture?

  • michelin

    Hello again folks. It’s that time of year and I see another batch of controversy has hit the TOC. I’ve tried to read as many of the comments here as I can. I hope to provide whatever insight I can to this discussion regarding a few of its subjects.

    1) I haven’t yet had the chance to speak with AT about the protest. Aside from the original post and chatter, no substance about the particulars of the protest and subsequent tournament decision have come to light. AT is one of my longest friends (in or out of debate). I am curious to understand his motives. As a person who once ran tournaments frequently, coaches often “try on” tournament administrators before, during, and after tournaments to secure a better place for their students through various means. I have to admit that I’m concerned about both parts of the discussion.

    For one thing, why read a quotation from a philosopher at all if his/her conclusion is different than the argument? Yes, in philosophy, writers will give serious treatment to the arguments they refute. Those treatments can even be persuasive. I’m not a PhD in Philosophy, but my professors always warned me about using those quotations in my papers because it could lead the reader to think the person I’m quoting agreed with the argument when their conclusion goes the other way. Why invite that scrutiny to your argument when there are authors who do support the claim you’re trying to make?

    For another thing, after admitting that the author disagreed with the conclusion, I’m unclear why a double win was granted. I don’t know the details or even the rule that was in question. On its face, the choice the tab made is not a decision I would’ve made because we have to trust that mutually preferred judges will make the right choices. Sometimes judges screw up; sometimes tournaments screw up; sometimes debaters screw up; sometimes coaches screw up. It happens and hopefully we can learn from those errors and move forward with a better tournament. Without knowing more than what was presented in the first post, I’d wonder why the challenge was granted and a double win given.

    2) A new national debate tournament for high school students is a great idea. As a former member of NDCA, I can tell you that this idea is one that’s gone back before some of you were born. When Dr. Patterson was at the direct helm at the TOC, he was clear about the tournament and its intentions. The tournament was originally designed as a recruiting weekend, a time for college and high school debate communities to get together, and of course, it was designed to be a party. Yes, the debates were to be serious and judged by highly competent people. As time went along, the tournament and its bestowed importance grew. People should vote with their feet. I think the NDCA can be a great tournament because you have professional coaches wanting to make the tournament experience amazing. Not enough people attend. Perhaps a new alternative in a location like Denver or Chicago could make sense? Seriously, if y’all want help in finding a location (especially here in Denver) I’m happy to help. It’s a wonderful idea to have a tournament with specified rules in place, which is a true big tent for all comers.

    Oh, and why doesn’t the TOC hire people anymore to judge? It’s a nightmare at UK. I was a hired judge for the tournament several times over. I was often paid for my summer camp work (camps were in July) BEFORE the University of Kentucky sent me my money for judging the TOC in late April or early May. I was assuredly not the only person who had this issue. It was too much of a pain in the ass to deal with so the onus to find good judges moved to teams.

    3) Why does AT criticize institutional power when he works for an institutional power? I don’t pretend to speak for AT, but this is something we’ve discussed. In my conversations with him, I have gleaned two reasons. For starters, he has a son named Joshua. As a teacher at Greenhill, Mr. Timmons can send his son to the best school in Dallas for a fraction of the regular cost. Like many of you know who attend great schools (or will), the connections you make early in life matter as you grow personally and professionally. With a middle class income, AT’s work for Greenhill enables him to give Joshua the gift of Greenhill. It will matter when Joshua wants to attend college (and perhaps grad school) or get a job later in life.

    The other component is similar to the reasoning given to me by Richard Delgado. Dr. Delgado is a prominent CRT writer. When he was working at my alma mater in Boulder, I asked him directly after one of the lectures he gave about why he worked at CU instead of a more integrated University. In essence, he told me that it’s better to critique the system by working to change the minds of the system owners’ children instead of yelling at it from outside. The minds at Greenhill that AT gets to influence and educate about issues of race can help shape future realities. Hopefully those decisions will be for the better.

    Anyway, thanks for reading. Congrats to Harrison DD. From what I’ve seen in tournament summaries, he was one of the most successful students this season and was able to get the job done at the TOC. That’s an amazing accomplishment.

    • sjadler

      Just to clarify–a double win was not granted in the Branse round. In fact, the initial decision (W University, L Greenhill) became a double *loss*–Varad was not given a win, just a win taken away from David. Greg Malis explained that this was because the ‘rule’ (yes, scare-quoted) they were following allowed them to strip the winning debater of the win, but not to then award that win to the other debater. (This revelation about the double-loss did not come out until well into the protest, when tab announced that they were reinstating Chloe Naguib’s win, but that the double-loss in the Branse round would be upheld.)

      • michelin

        Mr. Adler — thanks for clarifying. I’m also glad go see Malis in the video to explain what happened and why the tab responded the way it did. I’m not well versed enough in NFL rules to know about the particulars of this rule or guideline. I agree that reading strawperson cards is bad for debate, especially as the LD community places more weight on carded arguments. I’m just unclear about whether or not the TOC specified that it would defer to NFL or NSDA rules if a conflict wasn’t specified in the invitation. If it was, fair enough. If it was not, then I think a double loss is extreme. I agree with the premise, but the conclusion seems harsh.

        Now that the TOC is finished for this year and one of the 1-2 most accomplished students of the year won, what real alternatives do y’all see for the TOC? If it is not the NDCA, what are the rules for the event? Where will it be held? How do you qualify? Who buys the insurance?

        I agree that the TOC has its faults (many faults); but, it also has decades of experience in managing the beast. If you want to be taken seriously in having an alternative to the TOC, the time is now to get the process started. Who is willing to take the reigns of leadership and make this event run? If the answer is nobody, then I hope you fare well in Lexington next spring. If you want the NDCA, then start lobbying your coaches and the NDCA board members to make that event more prominent.

    • Rebar Niemi

      Wow, fabulous post Michelin. Your point about working from the inside and attempting to influence the system owners’ children is very well taken.

      Good to hear from you, you are missed.

  • Raymond Zhang

    I am interested has problems like these manifested in other forms of debate at the TOC? or is this unique to LD? Like does policy,PoFo, congress have these issues as well?

    • MLG

      PoFo is decentralized when compared to LD so it doesn’t have the same political issues. Don’t know much about congress, but I guess the same. As for Policy, it’s always been murkey.

  • Ilya Gaidarov

    this has classically gotten derailed and out of hand, so for a breath of fresh air:
    congrats danny on an outstanding win, congrats chris on being awesome in general, congrats salim for being a warrior, and congrats to everyone who made it through the toc – it’s one hell of a grind.

    • Martin Sigalow

      I’m glad someone actually said this.

    • Adam Bennett

      There’s another thread for all the nice stuff – this is where people are going to get nasty. God Ilya!!!

  • alex smith

    FWIW, I have serious issues with second-guessing the decision of a judge once it has been made, especially when that happens based on a rule that is by its own terms not binding on the TOC, and when the practices that led to the retroactive loss are not clearly established as unethical academic practice. Most of these issues sound in due process – I don’t think it’s fair to make up rules in midstream, and I particularly don’t think it’s fair to do so when debaters pay a lot of money to attend a tournament in reliance on the expectation that the rules will be applied consistently. If you think this is an unethical evidentiary practice, then make a rule against it and apply it prospectively. In fact, that is *exactly* what the NSDA did. Their roll-out of the rule – in a document that explained its genesis, laid out the rule in exacting detail, and specified that it would go into effect next season – stands in stark contrast to the TOC’s ad-hoc and retroactive application of an unnanounced rule.

    That said, there’s an important lesson to be found in this thread about issue selection. There is no need to defend the practice at issue – whether or not it’s a good or ethical evidentiary practice is immaterial to whether it should have resulted in the round being reversed. There is no need for tinfoil-hat nonsense about Mr. Timmons and Greenhill rigging the TOC (as far as I can tell, they lost in the Octofinals without incident). There is no need to take the position that we should be agnostic about whether rape or lynching is good or bad. These positions come across as sour grapes. They make y’all look bad to the outside world and they make it difficult to take the meritorious arguments seriously. They’re also not arguments you need to win to make your points. I’m not going to take a position on any of these arguments right now (you can probably guess my feelings on them) but my point is just that they are unnecessary, and that y’all would be more persuasive if you focused on making your best arguments rather than airing a list of grievances (and I think this is a symptomatic problem with LD, which is a reason I bring it up . . .)

  • Kevin Cheng

    Good work m’lady! *tips fedora*

  • liifeer

    At Blake, a debater with influential coaches convinced the tabroom that his 2 forfeited rounds should be averaged points instead of given zeros they should have been. This allowed him a bye through the first elim.

    No hate on the debater. No hate on his coaches. But where was the outrage of influential coaches then?

    Notice the packet has been changed to have zeros, and he should have been 44th seed: http://joyoftournaments.com/defn/13/1/130116/2013EdieLDPacket.pdf

    Notice the bracket has him at 14th seed: http://joyoftournaments.com/defn/13/1/130116/2013EdieLDPacket.pdf

    • Jason Zhou

      Why did you avoid using his name and then give instructions on how to find out who he is?

      • liifeer

        I’d hate it if in the future a google search would return something that could be construed as this debater or their coaches being cheaters. Some folks don’t seem to have that same concern. No names for the person running the tabroom or the tournament director, who went back after the fact to try to change history. No names for the coaches and debaters. It shouldn’t follow them in perpetuity.

        • Jason Zhou

          Fair enough, but do you really think someone that is not involved in the debate community is going to google the debater, read your post, understand what it means, conclude that it means the debater was a cheater, and then actually care? I don’t fault you for being cautious, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.

          • liifeer

            on facebook when victorybriefs posted an article that named someone, there was all sorts of outrage about how it could affect their future for getting into graduate school or work or something.

            it is funny that naming names was wrong in that instance but not in the posts below. people want to talk about double-standards tho. and how some people try to use their influence to be abusive. this is another example. People cried foul when names were name when it was people on their side. And they thought that it was a fair thing to cry foul on. clearly what’s good for them isn’t good for others.

            But it shouldn’t distract from the point Im makgin in my original psot.

          • Jason Zhou

            Not sure what incident you’re referring to (I’ve been out of the debate space for about 2 years) but I don’t know how any employer or graduate school is going to read “convinced the tabroom that his 2 forfeited rounds should be averaged points instead of given zeros they should have been. This allowed him a bye through the first elim” and disqualify a candidate on the basis of your post. There’s also probably a difference between an article and a forum post in terms of how they are perceived by employers/schools.

            To respond to your original post, is your position that what happened at TOC and Blake were both acceptable conduct or both unacceptable?

          • liifeer

            i don’t know enough about it to know if the decisions were the right ones. i only wanted to point out that a coach who is probably popular among the people on this message board didn’t face any criticism at all when he went to the tabroom to get points changed.

          • mcgin029

            The coach in question faced criticism — quite a lot of it.

            If I had to guess why the level of criticism is higher in this instance, I’d have to say it’s probably because (A) people react more strongly when someone is arbitrarily harmed than when someone is given a benefit they don’t deserve, and (B) people can, perhaps, sympathize with a student who missed two debates because his coaches screwed up one way or another. In this case, there’s no one to sympathize with except for the kid who had a loss taken away for literally no rational reason.

          • liifeer

            the 33rd seed who had to debate in triples and lost would have received a bye through triples. she is someone who ended up having to apply for an at-large and was in many bid rounds. that person would probably disagree that they weren’t harmed.

          • Nick Smith

            As a point of clarification the 33rd seed didn’t receive a bid this season. But I also agree that this was a crappy situation, one of my students got the short end of the stick with the averaging instead of 0s. I’m not aware of the circumstances that caused this debater to miss two rounds though.

          • Nick Smith

            The first part of the above post is wrong, I was looking at 33rd in packet instead of bracket, whoops… it won’t seem to let me fully delete it though

    • Jeff Liu

      This version of the events is inaccurate. After Ram forfeited his second debate, Zack and I were under the impression that this would prevent him from clearing. We asked the tab room if his second forfeit would indeed prevent him from debating in elimination rounds, and if so, requested that they average his speaker points–we defended this request on the basis that Ram had forfeited the rounds at no fault of his own, but because Zack and I had told him the wrong start time on Sunday morning. It was our fault. When tab informed us that all 4-2 debaters would clear to elimination rounds, we chose not to pursue the request further.

      Later, *independently*, the tab room came to the decision to average Ram’s speaker points for the elimination rounds. We were told that they did this to protect the integrity of the bracket — otherwise, the top seed likely would have had to debate Ram in doubles. This would have been unfair to the top seed, since the spirit of seeding the elimination debates at all is to reward debaters who do well in preliminary rounds with easier early elimination round match-ups. Their decision only affected the seedings, not the speaker awards (Ram did not receive one; whereas, if the speaks had been averaged, he would have been the top speaker).

      In short: Zack and I did not attempt to influence the tab room’s decision in that case after our initial request was denied. The tab room’s decision was not made on the basis of our request, which we had retracted–we had no opposition to Ram having to debate a triples round.

  • Drew Burd

    Hey you all, if you want to watch semis live you can at http://youtu.be/SjDJK8JLfwg

  • Adam Bennett

    OCCUPY THE WEST BANK!!! #eretzisrael

  • Mike_Spirtos

    Bring back Corbin, Mangus, Dweeks, Stacy Thomas, Wolfish, Will, and everyone else. The closest thing is Babb’s Facebook right now, but that’s just: “Aww, shucks, author’s intent is good, maybe, let’s play nice, haha Bleacher Report commentators are smart!”

  • Adam Bennett

    I think that the general decay in the quality of NSDUpdate flamewars over the years is the true loss here. This flamewar is so boring Lifer at Law is basically sitting it out. The criticism is so impersonal and polite that Jake and Rebecca haven’t even come to NSDUpdate to defend their dear leader’s honor! No one is even disagreeing about the facts of the incident! No video evidence is being requested! No petitions are being circulated through facebook for us to sign!

    I think the largest reason that everyone is being so damn civilized is that most everyone (1) acknowledges the problems within national circuit debate and (2) knows there is no solution to them. Why were all those well-dressed young men and women occupying a Kentucky sidewalk? Because they were already down 3 so why keep debating! Few in this thread are even talking about fixing the TOC, and are instead considering the NDCA an alternative. I’ll tell you – the fact that I could pull out a winning record at NDCA my senior year is evidence it is not nearly good enough to replace the TOC. Also, its probably hard to get too passionate about a conflict between Aaron Timmons and University HS (no offense to either party, but you clearly brought near-universal disrespect upon yourselves).

    There is no solution to this level of intervention at the TOC – the stakes are too artificially high for these teenagers and their coaches for anything to dissuade inappropriate intervention. So just accept it for what it is – the TOC is like the Tour de France, corrupt as shit but still idolized by its entrants. The solution – debate in the TOC and spit venom on NSDUPDATE! TO THE TRENCHES!

    • alex smith

      Lifer at Law actually posted, and his post has since been deleted. I will leave it to the masses to decide whether this is a good or bad thing.

      • Adam Bennett

        Clearly a bad thing alex

    • Alejandro Frydman

      May I ask how us from Uschool have brought universal disrespect upon ourselves?

  • Mathew Pregasen

    This just a thought: to increase transparency in the community wouldn’t it be good if schools released the judges they conflicted prior to the tournament to the rest of the coaches from the other schools.. This way a. others can verify the right people were conflicted and b. That no sketchy conflict-“really strikes” took place. This isnt an attack on either side of this issue at Toc but I often hear why wasnt so and so conflicted and this may be a step in the right direction.

  • Ken Hershey

    (1) Aaron Timmons succeeds in having a judge’s decision overturned in favor of his debater.

    (2) On the same day, Aaron Timmons publishes an article lamenting how debate is plagued with privilege, asserting that “our role as educators is to welcome hard conversations that question and deconstruct privilege, not reinforce it.”

    For those who have not yet had the misfortune of reading the aforementioned article, it can be accessed here: http://tinyurl.com/kqql4lc

    so here’s a question for Professor Timmons, our resident expert-in-privilege and apparently the self-appointed arbiter of which arguments should be uncritically accepted and which should be dismissed outright — does using your powerful position as a member of the TOC Committee to serially violate the rules and norms the LD debate community for the benefit of your debater and your (rich) team “deconstruct” privilege, or does it “reinforce” it?

    Just an honest question.

    I don’t have much to add to the criticism of Timmons’ actions in this case. It doesn’t require much of an argument to establish that having a judge’s settled decision overturned on entirely trumped-up and patently fraudulent pretenses is an outrage and is manifestly unfair in a way that threatens the legitimacy of the TOC.

    But what really amazes me more than anything else is how Timmons simultaneously bends (or outright breaks) the rules in his own favor while posing as an opponent of “privilege” and calling for greater fairness in the debate community.

    And what, according to Timmons, does this greater fairness require? Well, according to his article, it basically requires that judges make an a priori commitment to vote for such anti-privilege positions, as after all, the job of a judge is not to determine who won the round, but rather to “deconstruct privilege.” And of course, arguing that debaters who run these pre-fiat positions need to provide warrants for their arguments is offensive in itself, as such an expectation imposes an unreasonable burden on those who have already been subjected to nightmarish oppression. I mean, some of the debaters who run these arguments have even had to suffer the indignity of losing a debate round or have even had to listen to arguments that they found offensive. Pretty terrible, I know.

    And thus we arrive at the conclusion that it is the obligation of judges to fight privilege by uncritically accepting the pre-fiat positions run by Timmons’ debaters, as well as many others who view debate not as an opportunity to seriously engage pressing questions of philosophy and public policy but as a platform to voice petty grievances and complain about non-existent oppression in the debate community.

    For a legitimately disadvantaged debater to make such an argument is an excusable folly. For Timmons or someone who debates for Greenhill to make such an argument is the ne plus ultra of self-serving hypocrisy.

    • Jason Zhou

      While we’re on the subject of that article and hypocrisy, is anyone going to point out that excerpt from Muir is a straw man? The quote suggests that Muir criticizes the notion of debate as a game, when his entire article is a defense of switch side debate and the sophistry inherent to it. Not only that, but they incorrectly cite the article as “The Ethics of Contemporary Debate” when the title is actually “A Defense of the Ethics of Contemporary Debate” as in a defense of the gamesmanship of debate. If your going to get a round overturned based on practices that you view as academically dishonest, you should probably avoid engaging in those same practices for at least 24 hours.

      • mcgin029

        I’ve been turning that article over and over in my head.

        On the one hand, it seems obviously correct to me that judges should not say patently racist and sexist things to debaters. A judge should never say to a debater “it is OK if you are lynched / raped / what have you.”

        I disagree with Matt Hershey that there is no oppression in debate. There is significant racism and oppression in society in general. We live in a country where white men can and often do legally justify murdering women and black people. Refusing to recognize the privilege of your safety as a white person is unreasonable. And refusing to recognize the way that shapes the impact of arguments is unreasonable.

        I also don’t think their article is suggesting that judges should reflexively vote for one kind of position.

        On the other hand, our activity is one designed to test ideas. Under strict utilitarianism, it is possible to argue that doing harm to a smaller number of members of a community is justified if the harm results in a greater good to a larger number of members of the community. That is just something utilitarianism possible under utility. I doubt that most debaters who run utility ever advocate explicitly that, under their framework, doing harm to a minority group is a virtue, but that is an implication of the philosophy. Does that mean that it is ipso facto racist to run a utilitarian framework? Have Mr. Timmons’ students ever run a utilitarian framework?

        I’m also concerned by the open accusations that people in the community run racist positions or racist philosophies. I don’t think that most debaters who elect to run utility are, by dint of that, racists. But if you ask a util debater in CX, “Is it true that under your philosophy, murdering a member of a minority group would be justified if it resulted in a greater benefit to a larger number of people?” — the person might answer “yes.” (They might dance around it by advocating rule utility, but then again they might not.)

        I think that CX admission can be used as a powerful criticism of the utility framework, but I don’t think the debater running utility is, therefore, racist.

        But here’s where I potentially agree with the article. Posit that situation — aff runs util, neg questions in CX whether, under utility, the rights of minority groups can be violated for the benefit of the majority, the aff concedes that they can. Now say that the aff argues that this is just, that murdering members of a minority group *is* fine as long as it produces a greater benefit, and then extends some technical warrants for utility as a concept. Then, the judge accepts those warrants because they are “tab” and votes aff on the Nuke War Advantage.

        That is deeply troubling, and that is where I can see the merit of the argument. As a white person, it is easy for me to take an ivory tower approach to philosophy; to look at it as a pure matter of logic and to disregard arguments like “your philosophy justifies the murder of black people” if there is some other warrant being run that is conceded; to treat that argument like just another line on the flow. I have that privilege because my whiteness makes me safe.

        It is foolish of me to deny it when an African-American person tells me that they find themselves unsafe in our culture. There is plenty of evidence that people of color face much greater risks of real, concrete harm than I do.

        When, on the “It is justifiable to kill on person to save more people” topic, someone argues that it is OK to murder me to save five other people, I can easily treat it as an abstract matter.

        If a black person tells us that it is not the same for black students when we argue that under our abstract ethical philosophy, it is acceptable to murder black people (or to rape women, because skep, or whatever) — as a white man, I need to listen to that. I can’t speak for the lived experience of black people or women or any other group, but I have no reason to think them dishonest when they tell me that arguing that it is OK to do them harm doesn’t come across as simply abstract philosophy. That doesn’t mean I have to reflexively accept every argument made from a race- or feminist-critical perspective, but to blithely assert that oppression in debate, or in the world in general, is “imaginary” is simply wrong.

        • Ken Hershey

          I did not say that oppression is imaginary; I said that it is non-existent in the debate community. If there are real, concrete examples of *oppression* occurring in the debate community, I am happy to hear them and recant my statement. But contra Timmons, losing a round because you couldn’t provide warrants for your position or having to listen to an argument that you find offensive does not constitute oppression. And for Timmons to repeatedly insinuate that those who are skeptical of such pre-fiat anti-privilege positions are in some way comparable to those who were historical bystanders to actual, incontrovertible instances of oppression — segregation, extrajudicial murder, etc. — is utterly absurd and is offensive in its own right.

          I did not and do not deny the existence of privilege in general or within the debate community in particular. What I called attention to was the shameless hypocrisy of Timmons publishing a self-righteous critique of “privilege” and “oppression” in debate on the same day that he successfully overturned a judge’s decision at the TOC in his debater’s favor. As the last sentence of my post made clear, it’s one thing to criticize privilege in the debate community from a disadvantaged position; it’s quite another thing to criticize privilege in debate from a position of extraordinary influence and having just used this influence to violate the rules of debate for the benefit of one’s own debater. I am confident that no instance of alleged oppression in modern debate has produced an outcome as self-evidently unfair as having a decision overturned by the tab room after the round has already been decided, or, to take another Timmons-spawned example from a few years back, to have a debater qualify to the TOC without having attained ANY TOC bids.

          • Dhruv Walia

            Okay what the fuck do you truly believe oppression doesn’t exist on the debate community? If you admit there is privilege that itself is a form of oppression.

          • Ken Hershey

            no it’s not. to admit that privilege exists is only to recognize the obvious fact that some people have received certain advantages that others lack, hence putting them in a “privileged” position relative to others. I obviously do not even pretend to exempt myself from that category, though I find it bizarre that Timmons rails against privilege while using his own influence and privileged position in the debate community to literally cheat for his own debaters.

            privilege is not the same thing as oppression, which refers to an active policy of putting people down or holding them back. recognizing that people do not compete in debate on a completely equal footing because of broader social/economic inequality does not mean that the debate community deliberately discriminates against people, which is a necessary component of oppression if oppression is to be reasonably distinguished from mere inequality.

          • Dhruv Walia

            So when a judge tells my girlfriend that she has to justify why rape is bad that isn’t oppression?

            Or how bout when big programs exclude independent programs from competing?

            How bout when debaters make racist jokes about Indians and get away with it because it’s a joke?

            Sorry you’re a Caucasian male. Forgot.

          • Mike_Spirtos

            The second one of those *can* be justified for liability reasons by schools. Just throwing that out there.

          • Ken Hershey

            oh, I’m so sorry. I had no idea that you had to hear someone say a racist joke and “get away with it” just because it was a joke! that must have been truly terrible and definitely merits the label of “oppression.”

            give me a break. I heard plenty of Jew jokes over the course of my debate career and heard even more in college. yet I have enough self-awareness to recognize that though I have occasionally found such jokes distasteful and offensive, they did not represent “oppression” to any meaningful degree.

          • Dhruv Walia

            Your answer is essentially get over it and stop being a baby. I’m Pretty sure it’s bullying and oppression when it happens repeatedly and people don’t stop when you ask them to and especially when you’re constantly referred to as a terrorist. Maybe you’re a “tough skinned rugged mans man”. That’s you and doesn’t mean it’s okay. You’re own definition is when you actively put someone down. When someone refers me to a terrorist and I also at pretty much half the tournaments I attend get pulled aside for a personal search at the airport YES IT GETS TO ME.

            You’re also ignoring two other incidents of clear oppression. In any case I feel sorry for people like you.

            To respond to Garrett. Honestly if you’re with the group of people who think it’s okay to tell someone that you endorsed their opponent who proved that there is no reason why rape is inherently bad. You can be a part of that group. And honestly if you think that white people jokes exist to the extent that that of other races do I’m sorry you’re just flat out wrong. My girlfriend isn’t a victim of rape but that fact that you blame her reaction as being overly sensitive just proves that you’re a facilitator of this rape culture that exists today.

            also I would love to have Jessica xu jump in. She can prove that oppression exists if you don’t believe me.

          • Garrett Jackson

            I don’t think white jokes exist to the same extent that jokes at the expense of other races exist. But to call out white people as not being able to get your argument or as the source of all the hostility in the world, as Timmons did in his article, is offensive to sensitive people and is not good for your cause.

            I think this white bashing is blatant hypocrisy by these social justice types that shouldn’t be ignored.

          • Dhruv Walia

            Sure I agree what I said was wrong. I shouldn’t have made that generalization and I agree at was wrong about that. But I’m guessing you concede the latter part of my response about you being a facilitator.

          • Garrett Jackson

            I missed that part. I was in the process of editing when you replied.

            I didn’t describe your girlfriend as overly sensitive. I was referring to your point about racist jokes and saying that they aren’t oppressive.

            Asking your girlfriend to warrant an argument in a debate round isn’t facilitating rape culture. If people can’t handle having their preconceived notions questioned and scrutinized during a debate round, then maybe they shouldn’t be debating. Having your arguments attacked is the premise of debate.

          • Dhruv Walia

            Let me copy paste some things from the VBD article. You should read it:

            “Moreover, all arguments are based on assumptions, prior knowledge that we believe to be true. Given the history of oppression, why not adopt these premises rather indifference towards suffering.”

            “But doesn’t having to prove rape is bad open up the possibility that it is not?”

            I deleted some other quote because the response was getting lengthy. If need be all add more.

            THE POINT OF THIS POST IS NOT TO ARGUE FOR PREFIAT DEBATE. Let me repeat that. THE POINT OF THIS POST IS NOT TO ARGUE FOR PREFIAT DEBATE.

            All I’m saying that your tab approach to debate assuming we have to justify WHY rape is bad WHY racism is bad ignores centuries of history and assumes that this oppression never had negative impacts in the real world. Why do we assume that? This perpetuates oppression of our society as AT and Alston correctly argue. I think a better way of phrasing it is not that you don’t justify WHY oppression is bad but instead “I agree oppression is a bad thing. But you don’t provide a framing of the round. I don’t know how I’m supposed to weigh it in relation to other arguments that do have a framework.” <- This is 100% times better. And I don't think the same implications would exist.

            Going back to being overly sensitive. Refer to my post about repeated abuse at airports because of my skin. It's not just about the names but this environment in which I live where I can't seem to escape racism. Even if it's a joke. I agree. If it's a single instance or just a few when someone's like "yo go work on a computer". That's funny I'll agree. My problem is when I repeatedly face it in society and there isn't anything I can do about it.

          • Garrett Jackson

            I’ve read this before man. My “tab approach” doesn’t ignore that rape and racism happen. No, my approach doesn’t assume “oppression never had negative impacts.” My approach does not assume anything. I don’t assume moral realism when I judge a debate. My approach would make Nazis justify why killing Jews is good. Timmons approach, that says judges should accept certain prevailing norms, wouldn’t. To say that we should make assumptions regarding privilege and oppression based on our current prevailing norms is extremely arrogant.

            Debate is not the real world. Making people justify their arguments doesn’t perpetuate oppression.

            I’m sorry about the discrimination you face. TSA truly does disgust me, but that’s not debate. I’ll be honest with you, though. Racism isn’t going to be solved any time soon. The races are different, and ignorant people will always attribute moral qualities to these differences.

          • Dhruv Walia

            I mean sure. Maybe debate isn’t the right forum for prefiat debate. I don’t really speak to that and I think that it is important to justify your positions. At the same time the reason you don’t vote for someone shouldn’t be. I don’t understand WHY rape is bad but instead the framing to this round makes it impossible for me to evaluate it in reference to the other arguments. You see the difference. One is I don’t know why. The other is I don’t know how. And I think it’s very important for the community to shift their views to the latter.

          • Garrett Jackson

            I don’t think any good judge could say “I vote neg b/c I don’t see how rape is bad.”

            A good judge may say. The aff never warrants why rape is bad. The neg points this out. The neg has a clear impact to nuclear war that he explains will kill a bunch of people which links to his utilitarian analysis. Thus, I vote neg on the strength of the warranted link to the standard.

            Now, if the judge just has some floating impacts like rape on one side and domestic violence on another side, well he may have to make some assumptions about weighing one against another. I just don’t think many judges would summarize their RFD as “I don’t see how rape is bad.”

          • Dhruv Walia

            Except a lot of them do Garrett and that’s the problem. No warrant for why rape is bad = No justification for why rape is bad. That is what you’re saying and there shouldn’t be any time WHEN it is acceptable.

            A Good judge would instead say there is no framework to tell me WHAT the impact of this argument is in relevance to an impact about the death of millions. There is a clear framework about nuclear war. Hence I vote for the nuke war scenario. NOT that this debate doesn’t explain to me why I care about racism or think it’s an impact

          • Garrett Jackson

            I respectfully disagree man. First, I think the quotes in the Timmons’ article are a vast oversimplification of RFDs that were chosen for obvious political reasons. Who gives a 1 sentence RFD?

            Second, even if the article is an accurate representation of their thoughts, the way to fix the problem is not to make unwarranted assumptions – the way to fix the problem is to make debaters outline a clear framework and impact their arguments. The debaters who don’t run pre-fiat arguments are the ones with a clear standard that delineates impacts. It’s the pre-fiat debaters who make up reasons why they don’t need a framework.

            I think you end up agreeing with me though. You’re just saying “no framework to tell me why rape is bad but there is a framework about nuke war so I vote neg.” I think that’s functionally equivalent to “no reason why rape is bad but there is a reason why nuke war is bad so I vote neg.” If frameworks don’t delineate between why things are good and bad, what do they do?

          • Dhruv Walia

            They explain how a judge is supposed to conceptualize offense. I do agree with you we need a framework. I just have a problem with how people justify not voting for something absent a framework. You can read my posts, it’s a little different than just saying you don’t tell me why me raping you is a bad thing. It’s instead you don’t tell me how to weigh that in relevance to the death of millions. And that’s the difference.

            I’ll try one last time.

            1. You don’t tell me why rape is bad so it clearly must be justified absent a prohibition.

            2. You don’t give me a framework to weigh it against. I agree that rape is a bad thing. I’m just not sure how to weigh it given other offense that is of a different nature so I can’t vote on it.

          • Garrett Jackson

            Yeah I get your point. We just disagree on whether or not judges should assume certain things are good/bad without a framework. That’s cool. You can make whatever assumptions you want as a judge. I’ve just explained why I think judges should require a framework to determine the character of an impact.

          • Jason Zhou

            Dhruv, is your position that judges should have a rebuttal presumption that oppression is bad, or that judges should never vote on argument whose implication is that oppression is not bad.

          • Dhruv Walia

            It’s the former. I think that we should presume oppression is bad. But if another framework is presented. The debater reading oppression impacts should be obligated to provide links into the new framework/explain how the framework interacts with the oppression impacts. I’m not saying it’s justified to vote on Oppression impacts if the neg provides a Kant framework and the K debater doesn’t do any framework analysis/has no framework. But the more important point is just that there should never be a scenario in which we say “Well I’m not sure why oppression is bad!” Even in something as artificial as debate

          • mcgin029

            “My approach would make Nazis justify why killing Jews is good.”

            This is exactly the problem that Aaron and Mr. Alston are talking about, it seems to me. (I don’t want to put words in their mouths.) You equate the premises:

            “It is wrong to lynch black people.”

            And

            “It is wrong to rape women.”

            And

            “Killing Jews is good.”

            … And you say that your tab paradigm is SO open minded that you would equally well require proof of each of them, as if each statement is morally equivalent and equally in need of proof.

            For a straight, white male protestant, suggesting that the truth value of “Killing Jews is good” and “Raping women is wrong” are on equal (and equally tenuous) ground is unproblematic because it is easy for us to abstract these claims to the point where they have no impact on our lives.

            If I am taking Aaron and Mr. Alston’s argument correctly, their point is that this level of abstraction is NOT so easily tolerable to people who are put into more vulnerable positions by our society. In a rational, humane society, the premise “rape is bad” and the premise “lynching is bad” should be acceptable as first principles in an argument. The premise “killing Jews is good” should be rejectable without the necessity of proof.

            That doesn’t have to mean that every impact to a particular kind of horror becomes impossible to overcome. Infants dying is certainly bad. Every year some number of infants are certain to be killed in car wrecks, yet our society has made a calculation that we should still have cars and should try to avoid infant deaths without prohibiting car driving.

            But I don’t think a reasonable tabula rasa judge should say “Look, at the outset I am open to the possibility that rape is a virtue.” I’m not a fan of the overuse of the “safe/unsafe space” metaphors, but I will absolutely concede that a female debater debating in front of a judge who takes that position has reason to feel unsafe, as an African American debater does if required to debate in front of a judge who holds that the murder of black people is potentially a virtue.

          • Garrett Jackson

            I didn’t get that argument from the article at all, but I think your concern is interesting.

            I think the suggestions proposed by the article are quite dangerous, though. It may be easier for white people to abstract themselves, but so what? Does my Christianity entitle me to feel unsafe around a judge who is an atheist or one who believes murdering Christians could be justified? What if the judge is open to lynching white people?

            You may say that in our society, there are certain disadvantaged groups, but this argument doesn’t have any discernible line in the sand. Our conceptions of who is disadvantaged seems quite precarious. The Timmons’ article seems to assume that the only disadvantaged people are non-whites and females. Should I have been given special privileges because I had no debate coach? What if I converted to Islam?

            Overall, I simply think making value assumptions before the round is dangerous. We may think our society currently holds relatively just ideas about minorities, but in 100 years we may find these ideas absurd. I think assuming that the 21st century assumptions about race, oppression, and sex are correct and shouldn’t be open to debate represents extreme hubris on the part of advocates of social justice.

          • mcgin029

            Again, you’re illustrating the overall point very well.

            It’s nonsensical to assert that the political positions of white people and black people are identical in America because it is possible to conceive of someone hating or wanting to lynch a white person.

            The degree to which that ignores both American history and American present is just… stupid.

            I mean, Fox News stupid.

            Your suggestion that your relationship to the claim that “killing people is OK” is the same as a black student’s relationship to a claim of “lynching black people is OK” indicates that you really have no idea what white privilege is.

            If you think that making a value assumption like “raping women is bad” is — your word — DANGEROUS — then I don’t think you understand the term. And your suggestion that the source of the danger is the possibility that 100 years in the future we may have decided that rape is OK is — I mean, yikes. I don’t think there’s a point engaging past this.

          • Jason Zhou

            “And your suggestion that the source of the danger is the possibility that 100 years in the future we may have decided that rape is OK is — I mean, yikes. I don’t think there’s a point engaging past this.”

            I don’t really think it’s that extreme of a position. Isn’t that exactly why the ACLU defended the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to hold up repugnant signs at military funerals?

          • mcgin029

            No, the ACLU typically defends repugnant speech on the theory that if one permits limits on speech, one cannot control the scope of the limits.

            I’m not endorsing a limit on speech. I’m endorsing an ethical norm. In 1840 the majority of Americans may have thought that slavery was OK; that just meant that they were wrong. And there were people who knew that it was not OK. It’s not like the ethical character changed over time.

            If in 100 years there are people who think rape is OK, they will be wrong.

          • Jason Zhou

            When did Garrett ever disagree that those people were wrong? I’m pretty sure his position has always been that those people should still be allowed to make the argument. If in 100 years most people think rape is OK, they will absolutely be wrong, and we should be allowed to make the argument that it’s not OK even though it runs counter to what the majority of people think at the time. I don’t think anyone here is saying that we rape is OK, it’s that we shouldn’t censor the argument.

          • Jason Zhou

            To clarify, if you think a debater should be allowed to make, and the judge should be allowed to vote on, an argument whose implication is that rape is OK, then I don’t think we’re in disagreement. I’d be ok with a rebuttable presumption that rape, oppression, and genocide are bad, but I’m uncomfortable with the idea that those should not be open for debate. If I’m not mistaken, I believe the authors of the article would disagree.

          • Garrett Jackson

            @jason_zhou:disqus
            Your characterization of my argument is correct. I personally
            think rape and racism are horrific.

            Dave, I don’t think you’re
            answering my argument which is effectively a turn. I’ll try to be
            clear.

            This is the argument: A paradigm that makes moral
            assumptions is bad because it silences those with dissenting opinions.
            In the status quo, we have a rough moral consensus on some issues
            involving race. We do not and cannot know with 100% certainty that this
            moral consensus is correct. Therefore, imposing this opinion on
            debaters through rejection of “offensive” arguments means we risk
            perpetuating injustices that we didn’t know were injustices at the
            time. My mention of Nazis killing Jews was an example of such a dangerous norm that might remain unquestioned in WW2 Germany. I do not personally think assuming “rape is bad” is dangerous in the real world. I
            am saying any norm that cuts off points of inquiry based on prevailing assumptions is dangerous.

            I hope I made this clear. I also don’t think you answered my argument that we do not have a good metric to determine what norms ought to be assumed by judges. I will depart this discussion with an analogy that may be helpful.

            Case
            A) A debater reads evidence that black people commit many rapes. He claims
            blacks can’t control their urge to rape. He advocates a plan to collect
            the DNA of all black people to help fight and deter crime. According
            to our prevailing norms, that’s pretty racist and offensive, huh? I think so.

            Case
            B) A debater reads evidence that people with X gene commit many rapes. He
            claims people with X gene can’t control their urge to rape. He advocates a plan
            to collect the DNA of all people with X gene to help fight and deter crime.
            According to our prevailing norms, this question is a little more
            complicated.

            To me, both of these plans are morally offensive because they presume people are guilty based on their genetics, a factor people can’t control.

            There doesn’t seem to be a morally relevant distinction between case A and case B. However, under what I take to be your paradigm, you would flat out reject argument A because it’s racist, but you wouldn’t reject case B because race isn’t involved. The only difference is that our prevailing norms outlaw case A and not B. This is my problem with your paradigm: If case B is a legitimate point of inquiry, then why isn’t case A?

          • James McElwain

            The fact that you are conflating privileged identities with having influence in the debate community demonstrates that you don’t have a very strong grasp on the concept.

          • Garrett Jackson

            @James McElwain:disqus
            Or it proves that the concept of “privilege” is bunk… White people have control over U.S. politics. Thus, PRIVILEGE! Timmons has control over debate politics. That’s not privilege!

            @Dhruv Walia:disqus
            No, it’s making people warrant their arguments, having unintentionally restrictive rules, and not being overly sensitive. Do jokes about “white people problems” not make the same dangerous stereotypes that minority jokes do by demeaning the problems a group of people face?

            Implying that being a white male means you can’t get it is such a joke.

          • James McElwain

            It’s entirely reductionist to say that privilege = political power for the same reason that Obama being elected doesn’t mean that racism is over.

          • Ryan Teehan

            Honestly, I don’t think that 99% of what has been said in this thread so far actually matters. It doesn’t matter whether you think that these types of assumptions should be questioned. It doesn’t matter what accepting this intuition could potentially do or not do. It doesn’t matter if you see fit to make, incredibly trivializing and misplaced I might add, links between this and the Holocaust. All of the arguments that talk about how debate is a unique space for questioning assumptions make an assumption of safety. They say that this is a space where one is safe to question assumptions and try new perspectives. That is not true for everyone. When we allow arguments that question the wrongness of racism, sexism, abelism, homophobia, rape, lynching, etc., we make debate unsafe for certain people. The idea that debate is a safe space to question all assumptions is the definition of privilege, it begins with an idea of a debater that can question every assumption. People who face the actual effects of the aforementioned things cannot question those assumptions, and making debate a space built around the idea that they can is hostile. So, you really have a choice. Either 1) say that you do not want these people to debate so that you can let people question the wrongness of everything I listed before, 2) say that you care more about letting debaters question those things than making debate safe for everyone, or 3) make it so that saying things that make debate unsafe has actual repercussions.

            On “debate is not the real world”. Only for people who can separate their existence in “the real world” from their existence in debate. That means privileged, white, heterosexual males like myself. I don’t understand how you can make this sweeping claim when some people are clearly harmed by these arguments.

            At the end of the day, you have to figure out whether you care about debate being safe for everyone involved. I don’t think anyone has contested that these arguments make debate unsafe for certain people. If you care at all about the people involved in debate then don’t vote on these arguments. If you care about the safety and wellbeing of competitors, then don’t vote on these arguments. If you don’t, then I honestly don’t understand why you give up your time to coach and/or judge. The pay can’t be that good. I don’t believe that you’re just in it for the money, which is why I ask you to ask yourselves whether you can justify making debate unsafe for certain people.

          • mcgin029

            Yes, but debaters should debate the resolution.

          • Ryan Teehan

            I’m not going to sidetrack this discussion right now with an argument about the legitimacy of affs that don’t defend the resolution

          • mcgin029

            I thought the article by Mr. Allston and Aaron put it rather well when they pointed out that in LD, we accept a myriad of ungrounded assumptions as the bases for argument. In the face of students telling us that they feel threatened when others assert, often aggressively, that they have to *prove* that their rape or lynching are immoral, why in heaven’s name must we insist that those assumptions can’t be in the pantheon of readily accepted ones?

            It seems a fairly safe impact comparison to me. The range of arguments lost by rejecting the notion that racial and sexual violence are potentially acceptable vs the implications for students who feel threatened by those arguments.

            Given that coaches and students are going to great pains to assure us that these arguments are, in fact, making them feel unsafe, then in insisting that the potential ethical legitimacy of racial and sexual violence must remain in the debater’s ideological toolbox requires us to either (A) assert that those students and coaches are lying, and that they don’t actually feel threatened; or (B) acknowledge that we don’t care how they feel, and that our ability to advocate a certain narrow, offensive set of arguments is more valuable than acknowledging their shared and equal humanity.

            This doesn’t mean that you have to concede utility is wrong. If someone presses you in CX if lynching is potentially justifiable under your util standard just say, no, the pleasure to be derived from lynching could never outweigh the social harm it causes. Presumably they would agree.

            And this doesn’t deny the validity of fully open ethical inquiry in the world. High school debate is not the world writ large. No one is suggesting academic censorship.

            I don’t personally find those arguments or positions threatening. My gut reaction when someone says they are threatening or hostile is to think that those are overstatements. I have the privilege of feeling that way because I’m not targeted by those statements. I have no reason to think, when others tell me how they feel, that they are lying.

          • Martin Sigalow

            This is the best explanation of this line of argument I have seen to date, in any context. Well done.

  • Rebar Niemi

    Babb I agree with most of what you say but do not take a stance on the mis-cut because I don’t know enough about it. Why do you feel it was an open miscut?

  • Rebar Niemi

    I do not speak for anyone else. I want to publicly and formally state that I disavow the “protest” that occurred. This was a moment that was easy to get caught up in. That’s why I really feel the need to say my piece.

    At first this seemed like an amusing TOC spectacle. It quickly turned from interesting and amusing (at the very beginning when it had not spread throughout the pool) into something that was upsetting in a lot of ways.

    All of a sudden something like an actual event was happening at TOC. How unusual. Usually there is a bit of drama here or there [eek skellies in da closet] but this had a different energy it seemed charged. I feel this is because tensions in the community are rising and some of those deep skellies are being slowly brought into light – and we simply can’t tolerate inaction. There are parts of opposition to the decision that I agree with. Here is my list of things I must apologize and speak against:

    1. This was largely action on behalf of people who could afford to fly to TOC with their team and coaches like it was nothing. Some debaters wanted to debate their last round ever. Some people wanted at minimum a mutually preferred 2 in a bubble round. The point is you took debate away from people. I was out there too. I took debate away from people. That was not fair to people who paid out of pocket or fundraised. Are you going to recompense them for that?

    2. I egged people on because I thought this was funny. This was an awful choice on my part. I forgot in my misplaced and frankly childish excitement that we do not participate in an activity that is not detached from the realities of our world. I am deeply sorry for being part of the initial vibe and encouraging this. It was honestly offensive to compare this to an actually radical movement.

    3. Once the “general strike” started, my debater’s opponent and judge walked out. I don’t speak for my debater, but we made the choice to walk out, I in part because of my curiosity and my desire to talk to everyone about it and involved. I also felt that there was some reason to disagree with the way the decisionmaking process occurred, but I WAS NOT PROTESTING GREENHILL. Some people will say I am attempting some kind of political move here. That is simply not the case. I did not go far enough, and in lingering participated far too much. I am definitely guilty and I wish I hadn’t.

    4. I tried to emphasize to people that if you were serious you would not speak against Greenhill but instead for a process that is more clearly defined. I personally was surprised to learn that the TOC doesn’t have an official policy they could refer to.

    5. The reason I wish I hadn’t is because Eli was right. This was piddly in comparison to some of the more serious stuff that happens in debate. We all know things that SHOULDN’T HAPPEN. No one ever stands up or walks out for that. At no TOC prior that I’ve been to. At no tournament prior. Sorry 4-2 over 5-1 just doesn’t deserve a mass strike. It was absurd. We look so stupid for this me def included.

    6. This is totally hypocritical, supporting of the squo (namely a polarized and ultimately non-communicative culture that occasionally erupts into some sort of insane spasm briefly), and frankly pretty nasty and violent in a lot of ways. You know what is so much worse than anything we talk about? All the stuff we don’t talk about.

    7. It was a profound moment of groupthink and pretty ill considered in many ways. It genuinely hurt other debaters. Way more than Mr. Branse. That is not something the community seemingly can or will remedy. That totally sucks.

    8. I would rather my one debater get to have a real rd 7 for the experience. I would rather have my other debater GET BETTER THAN A MUTUAL FOUR IN A BUBBLE ROUND IN WHICH SHE WAS A PULLUP. You did that. Damn son. #smh

    Honestly there were many moments. On the one hand it was actually a sort of thing that happened. On the other it caused more harm than good, was reactionary in a lot of ways, and extremely privileged. In retrospect I cannot support that form of protest, its attendant discourse, or its effects. Its fine to have a complaint. There were better ways to do this. And it was totally insulting that we’d walk out for this but not ever to say actually stand up for someone who is seriously vulnerable (which I’m sure all of us know AT LEAST ONE story about). Wish I could reach y’all, I thought we was smart but now I feel like we’re mean and dumb and sometimes very misguided myself included. I wish it wasn’t this way. I don’t want it to be this way. I refer to general state of affairs in the “clash of civilizations,” debate culture, and to this particular action. I obviously love debate and don’t think its all bad, but we gotta do right by each other. All of each other. Different forms of “justice for some” are still “justice for some.”

    • Rebar Niemi

      If you actually believe you have a meaningful protest to make, do not make this about Greenhill. We all guilty.

      • Rebar Niemi

        We all contribute to a culture of shut yo mouth and look the other way when people do or say messed up shit and when we see our favored authorities or friends take advantage or we take advantage or we’re just scared to be punished. There is intentional and unintentional bigotry. There is outright unnecessary cruelty. The culture as a whole is just insane. And we can’t even get it together to just have the debates much less talk to each other? We gotta stop this. I want debate to be good or something… can we do that instead? I stood by and that was wrong.

        • Adam Bennett

          what? There are so many pronouns in this paragraph I have no idea what the hell you are talking about. “There is outright unnecessary cruelty” – very prescient Rebar. Culture is insane, the world does suck, debate should be good (probably not just “something”). Also, what is this “shut yo mouth” culture you are criticizing? Isn’t protesting the opposite of shutting one’s mouth? What should we do? IM SO CONFUSED

    • Sarah McDonagh

      Thank you for voicing exactly what I was kind of too scared to say on this website. As someone who has been very consistently shafted by the structural disadvantages of debate, being told that the last round of something I had to dedicate basically my entire life to for 4 years to get to might not happen because one debater was experiencing the effects of a system that debaters like me have to combat from day one made me sort of ready to cry/was kind of a slap in the face. I’m not tryna make you feel worse, only reinforce that the students you reference are very real, and I sincerely appreciate you writing what you did.

      • Rebar Niemi

        Thanks for responding Sarah. Deep respect. I want you and all those other ppl just to know that I should have known better, that’s all. Imma be ok about it – I just want things to be better than they are.

      • Ron Mexico

        I don’t understand how you presume to know what kind of structural disadvantages David might have gotten shafted by in his debate career, so I’m not really sure how you can weigh the injustice done to you by the “strike” against the injustice done to him by the, to my knowledge, unprecedented reversal of a decision on, again to my knowledge, totally bullshit grounds. That feels very selfish and closed-minded to me.

        • Sarah McDonagh

          I’m not criticizing David, I’m criticizing the community for taking this action because of this situation.

          I’m going to oversimplify because it’s real real unlikely I’ll look at nsdupdate again, but here is the gist:

          If you were a debater participating in the strike, I guess I don’t really have any beef with you. The tournament is run for you, so it makes sense that you can do with that power whatever you want. But I’m disappointed that THIS is what you chose to fall on your sword for, because while I won’t take a stance on the justice/injustice done to David, I am angry that if this merited a strike, why didn’t all of the other structural/political disadvantages at the toc merit a strike? What about the debaters who will never even be here because of structural disadvantages? I think the debaters who sat out were silly because the only time in my experience in which a mass movement attempting to “make noise” about structural advantage was one that a) potentially or actually marginalized other debaters or b) involved sacrificed yourself for something that, while bad, is comparatively extremely minor to the thousands of high school debaters who will never see a round here because of structural disadvantage. What David had happen to him was an unprecedented disadvantage against a TOC competitor. What happens to debaters everywhere is not unprecedented, and their marginalization is accepted as normal by the debate community to the point where we declare a national champion every year at a tournament only debaters who can afford to travel (sometimes vast and expensive) distances, several times, and are able to have time and energy to do the mass of work it takes to get bids, have a chance to QUALIFY to compete at. I see THAT as something to protest against.

          If you were a judge, I did/do probably take issue with your choice, because you are being paid to adjudicate/educate, and by not showing up to your round, you essentially sent a message to participating debaters that the culmination of their debate experience is less important than furthering some kind of confusing “political ideal”.

          if you want to attach your name to your ideas, you can find me on facebook and we can continue the discussion I guess. preferably in the form of a meme.

        • Rebar Niemi

          Man I really wanna hear this list of structural disads.

          • Ron Mexico

            Maybe he’s gay. Maybe he’s got a mental disorder. What the fuck do you know? Maybe stop generalizing for a minute.

          • Rebar Niemi

            I don’t know anything. I asked because you made it seem relevant. You seem to be better positioned than I.

            But you are absolutely correct, I apologize for my snide tone – I don’t mean to suggest that David hasn’t been subjected to structural disads.

      • Emily Massey

        Hi Sarah, I’m sorry the strike affected you this way. I can promise that our intention at the start was never to make anyone miss their round 7–the thought was that if enough people participated, it would be impossible for the tournament to run round 7 at all, so they would hopefully reverse their decision and then we could all go debate. Unfortunately the tournament didn’t quite fix the decision, so then debaters had to make their own call for whether they wanted to go to round 7. Most did eventually go. I’m glad you were able to debate your round.

        I’m not sure I quite understand your other grievance. If you think the system where there is no due process and those with influence can bend the rules in their favor is bad, then why are you opposed to an effort to change this system? It seems like your complaint is that this was only one instance, while kids suffer from the system all the time. Sure, but the fact that people should’ve stood up before this doesn’t prove that it was bad for them to stand up now. I think the reason that the strike happened now was that this was a particularly clear instance, while often unfair decisions happen behind closed doors and not everyone knows about them.

        Also, I completely agree with you that it’s terrible that there are so many structural advantages in debate that prevent lots of talented kids from even trying their hand at the TOC. My sister, Daisy, started an organization to try to begin to rectify this. Here’s the website if you’re interested: http://accessdebate.org/. If you’re proposing that there should’ve been a strike at the TOC protesting this issue, then I disagree. This is not the kind of thing that one decision by the tournament could rectify–it’s the product of broader social inequalities, and it takes lots of hard work and small steps to fix, not one top-down decision. The strike was partially effective only because we had a clear, easily meetable demand.

        • Rebar Niemi

          I look forward to Access Debate’s hiring of some non-white staff/advisory board members. I won’t speak to the class distribution of Access, but I’d wager that it skews toward the heavily upper class.

          • Rebar Niemi

            I fundamentally agree with its mission, but those two concerns in its makeup NEED to be addressed for me to feel comfortable donating or promoting it.

          • mcgin029

            Yes, because we shouldn’t support economic aid to the disenfranchised until … wait… I lost my train of thought.

            Oh, yes, I was being an idiot.

          • Rebar Niemi

            I didn’t say that Dave. I just think that the most powerful part of Daisy’s story is that it featured two debaters who had received financial assistance debating and judging and playing active roles in their community. Our community. It is special when we can foster a sense of compassion and activism that isn’t just I think that Access looks like it could be something special. But I don’t think I have an unreasonable position. I’m not demanding they do anything. I’m just stating my personal preference.

            I hope they get lots of $ and give it to awesome ppl who deserve it. Obviously.

        • Sarah McDonagh

          Sure, I see where you’re coming from, I think the crux of my issue with the strike is that it had the potential to marginalize other debaters at the expense of david which never seems like a great policy in dealing with structural disadvantage. I think my future college DOF said it best when (I’m paraphrasing) he pointed out that the voices of social protest matter, and should be heard, but we should use them for something that moves everyone forward as an activity, not for times that either ignore or re-entrench other inequalities.

          • mcgin029

            Increasing access in debate is important. I applaud efforts that people take to make that happen. I applaud the efforts of coaches who work with programs to find ways for them to go to tournaments, and students, coaches and other community members who build programs like Voices, Access Debate, and the TDC — putting in thousands of person-hours to make debate more accessible.

            Missing one round at a debate tournament (for whatever reason) is not a structural barrier to debate, and can happen for a variety of reasons. If there is an odd number of people in the pool, then one person is going to miss a debate for every round that occurs. If someone gets sick, rounds are missed. If, as occurred last year at the TOC, someone decides to concede debates to make a point, then debates don’t happen. If you were really looking forward to that particular round, then not getting to debate it is a bummer — but it’s not more than that.

            I spent the first decade of my career working in a program that had literally no resources — no district or building money, no wealthy donors, and no long alumni list. We spent literally every weekend in the summer on car washes, selling cookies at the State Fair, performances in Barnes & Noble — once, we were even extras in a movie, which involved staying up all night sitting in the stands of a football stadium. And it wasn’t even a good movie. We qualified kids to the TOC every year.

            I also grew up in a working class household where my parents could not pay for debate trips, and I often had to go to the local instead of the national event because we didn’t have any dough. I got my TOC bids, but it never even occurred to me to attend it because for us, a trip to Kentucky was just not a thing.

            My point is, I get where you’re coming from “structural disadvantage” – wise. My recommendation is: (A) take advantage of the resources that are available; (B) work really hard to develop additional resources; and (C ) harness the energy that you would otherwise use on complaining to do more of (B).

            Also, once you’ve graduated and made something awesome out of your life, make sure that you give back.

          • Sarah McDonagh

            I guess the fundamental disagreement we have is whether or not potentially missing a round at the TOC is bad. I guess we both have different perspectives on the TOC. I am the first LiDo-er from my state to attend the toc in recent history, getting every round was important to me. It didn’t seem fair that I should have to spend a ridiculous amount of money only to potentially get my experience cut short. On the subject of odd numbers in the pool, I also thought that was kind of strange–the TOC can only account for drops/at larges distributed to a point, but at, for instance, the NDT, a non-qualled team is always on standby to debate in case of a drop because it’s considered probably unfair and not good to have a bye at that level of competition. I get that nobody can totally control byes to a point, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re kind of lame. Because the TOC is important to a lot of people, and debates should, if they can, happen every round.

            (TLDR: the toc isn’t just another tournament to me, it’s my reward, and it’s a reward I worked my entire career for, so barring an illness or bye, I don’t think I shouldn’t get those debates. You don’t see missing a debate as fundamentally bad or unfair. We’re clashing in a way that affs that demand neg debaters defend the converse of the resolution can only dream about so this thread is probably unresolvable).

            I sort of resent what might be an incorrectly inferred implication of yours: that I spent time complaining instead of developing resources. I worked all summer so I could pay to go to bid tournaments while other kids went to camp. Our school also fundraises constantly. In the end, I was ecstatic to qual, which is probably a large part of the reason I was upset about people skipping out on rounds, because the opportunity that is the TOC is a lot rarer than many kids who go to schools that routinely qual people realize. anyway, I don’t think that working hard means any debater can’t also recognize and be annoyed with structural inequalities. I don’t think it’s fair that explicit injustice is spoken out against, but implicit injustice is considered part of the game. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to work a lot and still think and have discussions about that.

          • Emily Massey

            I understand that the protest cost some people their round 7s. This was not our intention, but it is nevertheless unfortunate, and I do feel bad about it. See Alex Kramer’s post above for a good reason not to blame the protest, at least not primarily, for this.

            But I don’t understand how the protest “ignored other inequalities.” Unless by “ignore,” you just mean that we did not strike for the explicit purpose of fixing all inequalities in debate. In that case, sure, but in that sense we ignored a lot of important things, such as world hunger, AIDs, and climate change. As I explained above, I don’t think a protest at the TOC is the way to fix broader disparities.

            I am especially mystified by your claim that we “re-entrenched” these other inequalities. The protest was not just for David–it was for a system where everyone gets treated equally according to fair, publicly advertised rules. Nor was the protest the end of our efforts for reform. To me, it seems like the democratic reform for which we are working is precisely the opposite of entrenching inequalities.

            I have to admit, I find it a little frustrating that you and a few other commenters seem to have focused your energies on criticizing the protest. Some people are working hard right now trying to improve the activity, and, with all due respect, the criticisms here feel nitpicky and not very productive. Are there alternative ways of resisting unfair tab decisions that you think people should consider in the future? What about reforms that you think would lessen these bigger inequalities? Why not promote charities?

      • i don’t know sarah personally, nor do i know much of her story — but in the midst of this spectacle, i think people like sarah are probably some with the most relevant perspective on this weekend (and tragically, the conversation seems to consider them the least).

        some people experience four years of systematically being held back and struggling just to be able to GO to tournaments (and nobody ever starts strikes on their behalf). i can only imagine being in their position when, then, their whole TOC almost gets derailed because everybody was up in arms in support of a kid who had a wealth of opportunity that was experiencing this difficulty for once — problems that they faced for years didn’t cause people to march out of rounds or pontificate outside the tournament to gatherings about the injustice of the system, but when a white male with four bids and a big network has been wronged at the TOC, it’s a damn march on washington.

        people say all the time that “there’s nothing we can do about the privilege in debate”. for starters, we can start giving a shit about the people around us and the effect that our actions have on them — people like sarah, for whom this opportunity is not only huge but rare, something that she does not have the luxury to be laid back or uncommitted about (here’s looking at you, kids who joined the protest “because we were down 3 and why keep debating” — because how could this activity POSSIBLY matter beyond making me look better?) — and we can value the time and work and commitment that others put in. we can work on bringing people in from the margins and make their inclusion a CENTRAL aspect of what we do here, rather than comfortably shrugging and deciding that those people are just stuck over there where we don’t understand them or need to associate with them.

    • mcgin029

      A group of students and judges elected to act. They didn’t do it because they were egged on by you or anyone else. At one point, fearing repercussions, I told them all I thought they should go back in and debate — and they told me, basically, to go to hell. Particularly in the case of the students, this was a brave and authentic exercise of their voice.

      If nothing else, it seems that but for the protest, the result for a debater who unfairly fielded a loss on the first day would not have been overturned. That student had the chance to participate in a bubble round that they would otherwise have been denied.

      I think the students who elected to engage in this protest gave more thought to their actions than you did to yours. You shouldn’t project your concern about your own motives onto them.

      • Rebar Niemi

        That may be true Dave. So one student gets a fairer shake and still more suffer. My utils Dave, my utils.

        Also nonuniversalizable

        Also skep negates

        And, wrong forum.

        And, your movement doesn’t solve – you reproduce the same power structure you critique

        And, you should cede the political

        And, you don’t address the root cause – I control the internal link to fair and educational debate.

        And, policymaking excludes your arg

        According to most of the frameworks I’ve heard their actions were ill considered as well as mine.

        • Rebar Niemi

          But seriously I had a great talk with you today and definitely am speaking way more for myself than others – you’re all welcome to feel how you want to feel.

          Definitely an exercise of voice. I just wish I hadn’t been a voice. Whether or not I influenced it I certainly didn’t try to calm things.

          Just want to say that sometimes we’re not always in a position to determine by ourselves whether our actions are biased in some way. We don’t have the ability to know our own biases.

    • im scared

      Rebar. What do you think an acceptable protest looks like? I agree the mass protest was childish but what do you think we should do to prevent futures violations by greenhill?

    • Nick Smith

      #1 is so true

  • Lifer at Law

    Dear Denizens of the Circuit,

    It has often been stated that I’m the hero the national circuit needs, not the one it deserves. It seems, again, that I am needed to save debate from itself. It has come to my attention that an upstanding member of our community, Mr. Aaron Timmons himself, has come under scrutiny. If we’re talking evidence challenge at this point, come on — there’s absolutely no way that USchool is correct here. Like, if Fried is your upstanding voice of reason, you’re evidently doing it wrong.

    Not to say that Aaron is in the right here, though. As a wise woman or man once said, Aaron is a coach “who will deliberately force good-natured tournament directors into complying with your unreasonable, misguided, and insane demands.” Oh wait, that was me. It seems that once again, Aaron has found a way to bypass the judge and sign the ballot himself in his insatiable quest for vacated TOC titles (where you at Christopher Vincent?). It seems that while there is no “overtime period in LD,” it seems that there is instant replay (where Aaron gets to be in the booth with the ref); Aaron has somehow found a way to do the impossible once again and change the results of his team’s rounds from losses to wins. Again, as a wise lifer once said, “If your debaters lose, it’s not a “tie” or some great injustice,” and you ought to just “DEAL WITH IT.”

    Also, who are these kids, AT? I thought we’d have another three years without this bullshit after Rebecca graduated before the next product of the farm system (Flower Mound High School) made it up to the big leagues. Seriously, these kids are completely random and you’re expending this much energy on them? The Greenhill draft is scheduled for this July — is it really worth expending cap space and resources on these nobodies (a la New York Knicks)? I think not.

    Finally, if you think the actions of Aaron Timmons at the TOC this weekend were egregious, let me remind you of the most disgusting and unacceptable practice taking place in the debate (and human) community: that is the shit fetish of Mike Bietz. Still to this day, years after I first brought the shit fetish to light, there is a lack of a substantive response. No one thinks this is ok! Why hasn’t VBI taken action? Eric Palmer recently commented that “I am beginning to think that we need a national debate tournament which is subject to democratic control and which offers due process to everyone.” I 100% agree with this sentiment to remove Aaron and our friendly neighborhood shit fetish from our wonderful activity. To publicly support this sentiment, please tweet #endsfb, since what Aaron and Mike are doing is really quite shitty (figuratively and literally).

    Legally Yours,
    Lifer at Law

    • Lifer at Law

      The biggest loser today: Chris Theis. ’09 TOC? Vacated.

    • im scared

      Are you stoned?

      • Fritz Pielstick

        You must be new here.

  • Ken Hershey

    I’ll share some views in a bit

  • Amia Extemp

    Michelle, the NFL board voted to update its rules quite recently.

    http://d31hzlhk6di2h5.cloudfront.net/20131107/58/2f/c5/97/a7e51dad0bcc10fc89769ec0/Fall_13_Evidence_in_Debate.pdf

    I think the issue is that changing to the new rules is optional, and that the TOC simply decided to stick with the old rules yet punished David for violating the new ones.

    (David would have violated 7.2 C2, had the TOC implemented the new rules)

    Technically, the new rules do allow for an appeal if a rule has been ignored, but again, the rules weren’t in effect.

    • Emily Massey

      Thanks for the link. I’m confused about how David violated this rule, too. Given that David was clear that Ataner didn’t agree with the conclusion of the card, in what sense did he “indicate the argument is the actual conclusion of the author”?

      Maybe it was claimed that David’s use of the card implied that the conclusion was Ataner’s own. This would require demonstrating some community norm according to which reading an non-empirical, philosophical card implies that the author agrees with your conclusion. But it seems that not only does this norm not exist, but we have precisely the opposite norm. As Christian pointed out today, everyone reads the MacIntyre card with the full knowledge that MacIntyre isn’t a skeptic. And judges don’t give philosophical arguments more credence just because they’re carded.

      • Amia Extemp

        Honestly, I don’t think he violated the rule.

  • Sophie Ruff

    Okay, seriously though… when did we change the, last time I checked, 100% accepted norm that the debate round is over once the judge signs the ballot? I don’t really think this has anything to do with evidence ethics, Greenhill vs. University, or rules of the tournament. This is, plain and simple, an abuse of power by both a coach and the tab staff.

    Next time I don’t like the decision a judge makes, I’ll just go to tab and appeal the decision. No wait, I won’t, because the tabroom would turn me away since I don’t have the political capital to pull this kind of shit. Or I won’t, because this is the most corrupt and unethical thing I have ever heard of happening.

    Anyone defending this kind of behavior is lying to themselves.

  • Jayant Tripathy

    Can someone explain how the decision was made? Did University have coaches there to defend their debater at some kind of hearing or did this all just happen behind closed doors?

    Seems to me that if a debater concedes the author concludes differently that’s definitionally the opposite of misrepresenting. Under this interp every author that does not agree with the exact plan text would be misrepresented because they would to some extent conclude differently than what their work is being used for.

    People use parts of different author’s arguments all the time and weave them together to create an advocacy. At best its something that should be debated in the round. Very confused as to how this decision was changed.

  • Fritz Pielstick

    “The people complaining about AT’s actions have all benefited from politics one way or the other at some point.”

    I’m complaining about AT’s actions, and I can assure that I am the last fucking person in this activity to have benefited from politics. Are you kidding me?

  • AnonRocky

    #NDCA2015

  • anonymus

    This comment is clearly just to divert the attention from the real problem. Just because people have benefited from politics does not mean that it is right. And the Ataner card is not mis-cut, but rather Ataner makes a claim and then gives examples of the counter-arguments to that claim. People have been reading this card all topic, and probably even at TOC. The only reason the card became relevant is because Greenhill lost. There are no rules against cutting this type of argument for the TOC. If this where NFL nationals, I assure you david would not have read that card. Its unfortunate the influence politics have in debate.

    • Stephen Babb

      The rules are called academic integrity. Debaters should look into it.

      • anonymus

        Also, i can assure that at one point in your debate career, or student’s careers someone was reading a solvency card that didn’t actually solve.

      • Amia Extemp

        No…the rules are called the TOC’s rules. DQing someone for your interpretation of “academic integrity” is just stupid if it’s not IN THE RULES.

        Besides, Ataner does outline the claims that David read. Ataner just doesn’t agree with them, which David made quite clear.

      • Eric Palmer

        Babb, as someone who has spent nearly a decade in academia, I can assure you, citing someone’s summary of an argument with which they do not agree is not an unethical practice.

        • Oliver

          you see this all the time in peer reviewed journals in academia. Not citing the summary i’d argue is more unethical — plagiarism and such. I am insanely confused as to why such a rule about evidence exists in ANY rulebook whether those rules applied in this instance.

        • Stephen Babb

          Had he been upfront about it from the outset, I’d agree. Waiting until CX to clarify is sketch.

      • AnonRocky

        classy

        • Stephen Babb

          I can’t like my own comment? Not familiar with the rules of NSD Update. But apparently this is where high-school mob mentalities enjoy their final days of relevance (albeit mostly anonymously).

          • Ron Mexico

            Babb, even someone your age has to know one just doesn’t vote for oneself. Come on now. Complain about getting called out if you want, but don’t defend your dumb initial gaffe.

  • Eric Palmer

    Babb, you know full well that NFL Nationals does not even purport to sponsor the same form of competition as the TOC. Why make such a disingenuous claim? I am less familiar with NDCA, but I’m curious about what its real operating procedures are with respect to issues like the one under consideration.

    • Stephen Babb

      I have no idea. But there are other “national-esque” tournaments is my only point. If you want to reform TOC, that’s one thing. Last thing we need is another damn tournament.

      • Eric Palmer

        I think that remains to be seen. If TOC won’t reform, and NDCA promises no real alternative, what else can be done?

        • anonanon

          What is your issue with the NDCA? It seems like a great tournament with the potential to replace TOC.

          • AnonRocky

            #letsgetfree

          • Eric Palmer

            As I said above, I don’t know enough about the NDCA to render judgment one way or the other. What I’m saying is: if the NDCA can’t meet certain guarantees (e.g. an autonomous, democratically controlled LD tournament; a substantial constitution with clear due process guarantees and rules) then, perhaps we should consider going our own way.

  • Amia Extemp

    C’mon. Making such a broad umbrella statement about benefiting from politics is just unfair to the hundred-odd people who stood with David and delayed round seven – not all of us are transparent schemers who just like to bash Greenhill.

    David followed to the tee the evidence rules of the TOC. If he were competing at NSDA nationals he would’ve been DQ’d immediately. You’ll notice that this tournament isn’t NSDA nationals.

    • Stephen Babb

      I’ve been around the activity over 10 years. Don’t have to be a mind reader. Politics cuts both ways. Please.

      • anonymus

        under this logic about politics, whats the point of representing cards correctly? People have been miscutting for well over ten years and it most likely has gone both ways

      • Amia Extemp

        Again, you’re making an appeal to your own authority followed by a broad generalization.

        Either start naming specific names of people you think have thrown around their political weight as much as AT who are criticizing AT now or stop attacking everyone whose opinions you don’t like.

    • mcgin029

      No, he would not have been DQ’d at NSDA Nationals, because the rule in question doesn’t go into effect until the 2014-15 school year. He would certainly *not* have been DQ’d there. The NSDA has clear, explicit, published rules and guidelines and systems of due process to ensure that those rules — and only those rules — are followed.

      • Amia Extemp

        My bad, I mostly do extemp(as you can probably tell) but I follow competitive LD.

        So he would’ve been DQ’d at NSDA nats in 2015.

        Sorry about the mistake 🙁

  • Fritz Pielstick

    I’m going to spare everyone the predictable Timmons-bashing (been there; done that) and instead focus on the TOC itself. Among the numerous problems with the TOC are:

    -A demonstrated willingness to forego rules and logic to work in the interests of certain coaches.

    -A track record of repeatedly enforcing rules in an arbitrary and haphazard manner.

    -Deliberately overturning a judge’s decision at the insistence of one single coach, in an effort to maintain consistency with rules that don’t even govern the tournament.

    -An absolute sham of an at-large selection process that is secretive, mysterious, non-transparent, and an overall disgrace to such values as fairness or competitive equity.

    -An unwillingness to hire judges, even though doing so could improve the quality of the judging pool while also increasing representation of women and/or people of color among those in the back of the room.

    -An unwillingness to take the necessary steps to keep qualified judges around for late elims, leading to such egregious bullshit as final rounds where 2 of the 3 judges aren’t even close to being mutually preffed, and there are no mutual 1s (again, hiring judges could solve this problem…)

    -A demonstrated lack of empathy towards students who compete independently or as hybrid teams, and the administrative obstacles those students must overcome.

    Seriously, what the fuck? If it were a qualifying tournament pulling shit like this, there would be a ton of discussion about why that tournament should lose bids, and rightly so. Why do we keep giving the TOC the benefit of our collective doubt every single year? The reason the TOC continues to do shit like this is that, unlike the qualifying tournaments that people attend during the regular season, they have no competition. They know that they are the only high school tournament with their level of prestige, which means that demand for attending their tournament is pretty inelastic. What incentive do they have to change their ways if they know perfectly well that even in spite of all of the flagrantly absurd things that they do on an annual basis, people are going to keep making the trek out to Lexington every single year to attend the tournament they worked so hard to attend? I think it’s excellent that people were protesting the TOC’s absolutely insulting and infuriating decision, but what is really going to be done about it? Are the people who protested going to roll into Lexington again next April?

    What the debate community needs is for the TOC to have competition. The way you become competitive is by putting out a better product. The way I see it, a hypothetical tournament could be “better” than the TOC by doing the following things:

    -Having a similar level of rep and prestige
    -Having lower entry fees
    -Being located in a large metropolitan area with a major airport, to reduce travel costs
    -Not being located in Kentucky
    -Not pulling the same corrupt, illogical, infuriating bullshit that the TOC pulls year in and year out.

    To me, the only thing in the above list that might be difficult is the first one. That is where you all come in. You gotta vote with your feet. The TOC is only as prestigious as we, as a community, make it out to be. I really would recommend that people at least *consider* boycotting the TOC. I know of some programs that have done this (or continue to do this). If only some teams boycott, nothing will change. A critical mass must be reached. I used to think it was unfair of coaches to deny students the opportunity to compete at the TOC, but now my views are changing. I can’t imagine how David Branse must have felt after being told that he won his round and would be clearing at the TOC, and then being told that he wouldn’t. I can’t imagine how his coaches must have felt, either. How many other students are going to suffer this fate? The TOC doesn’t give a third of a shit about the students who compete their, beyond the students’ capacity to shell out entry fees and make the tournament look legit. If you were out there protesting today, then more power to you. But please at least consider not putting up with the TOC’s bullshit at all next year.

    • Eric Palmer

      Fritz, I think something along these lines can become a reality. What I’d like to hear are more thoughts (from others) on what an ideal LD national circuit championship ought to look like, because I’m willing to throw everything I have at my disposal behind such a proposal. And, one thing you are certainly right about is this: we make the tournament. The TOC is just another debate tournament without the endorsement of our community. We have it in our power to create something that is more fair and more inclusive. We just need to begin to formulate a strategy (this is not to say that TOC could not become that tournament. But if it is to do so, changes must be made).

      • Fritz Pielstick

        NDCA is a solid candidate to replace the TOC. What the NDCA needs is to stay in the same location every single year, so that the number of people attending doesn’t vary greatly due to geography. That would be a great way to build up a large group of people who go to NDCA every year.

        • im scared

          I don’t agree. NDCA has a lot of people on their committee who are friends with schools like Greenhill

        • Jonathan Horowitz

          NDT changes locations every year and is still considered the most prestigious tournament in college debate. I don’t think geography is the problem as much as the belief in what is more prestigious. Until somebody says “Well I won NDCA screw the TOC” then it won’t matter. As Eric said, it’s the debaters/community that make the tournament. We have to change things in order for things to change (I know that sounds cliche but it’s really true)

        • Mathew Pregasen

          Just chiming in here: I attended NDCA’s for the first time this year and I was really impressed actually to how well it was run and the openness involved. Granted it was a smaller, chill crowd so it is easier to maintain than something like TOC but it being a candidate in par with TOC is not an impossibility.

          That being said – one tourney can rise and another can be reformed simultaneously.

  • anon24

    Can someone explain what happened after the Branse-Greenhill thing went down? I know the round was forfeited by Tab but what did Branse/others do about that?

  • PlazaMexico

    So who judged the Bronx Science DM v Greenhill VA debate round 7? I assume tabroom is using Elijah Smith as a placeholder…

  • Matt Hershey

    I’ve been out of the activity for a while now, but I always get a good laugh hearing about the ridiculous stunts that AT pulls.

    People should just stop going to the Greenhill tournament.

    — Former Scarsdale Debater

  • Guest

    It is just saddening how the people that claim that they are trying to make the circuit a better and more inclusive place are constantly involved in ridiculous scandals.

    • Guest

      ..

    • This Seems Fishy…

  • anonymus

    It is really saddening that the people who claim that they are trying to make debate a better place are constantly being involved in scandals.

  • Sam_Azbel

    Great to see all of the camaraderie going on out here. So proud of everyone who decided to take a stand. An egregious wrong was committed by the TOC to David Branse and I am glad that so many people decided to stand up for justice!

  • Brennan Sterling Caruthers

    ..

    • This Seems Fishy…

    • [Chorus sings] BRENNAN HAS A MAN-GINA

  • This Seems Fishy…

    Elijah Smith is judging Varad Agarwala’s bubble round…

    Is it just me or should this not be a conflict for Greenhill?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appearance_of_impropriety

    • This Seems Fishy…

      … aaannd Varad won… can’t vote down your own position, I guess! #wilderson

      • Rebar Niemi

        This is absolutely ridiculous and so offensive to suggest that Elijah Smith who along with Ryan Wash UNITED THE CROWNS AND CAN CALL SCOREBOARD ON LITERALLY EVERY ONE OF US IS SOMEHOW TOO BIASED TO POSSIBLY EVALUATE A DEBATE IN A MANNER YOU WOULD CONSIDER APPROPRIATE. HE IS BETTER AT DEBATE THAN YOU. PERIOD END OF STORY. YOU KNOW LESS. I suggest you quit while you are so so so far behind. I would like to see you have a conversation face to face with him and actually engage him and make your complaint. Come on this is just such an unacceptable thing to say. I am so damn disappointed we should know better. Please reconsider. You’re just not right.

        • Eric Palmer

          Rebar, your general argument is sensible, but are you really trying to say that because someone won NDT and the other college policy title (whatever that is) they can’t be biased, and that it is “offensive” to suggest otherwise? Sorry, I don’t bow down to policy debate titles, I believe you that Elijah is fair, but this is a weak reply.

          • Rebar Niemi

            College Policy is the “best debate” I’ve ever seen. Maybe I am naive, but I honestly believe that their activity is more mature and produces higher quality debaters aka people who know their shit as I assume we would say high quality debaters typically are. He and his partner accomplished the unprecedented. I assume that unlike meaningless LD trophies that win actually indicates serious debate intelligence. I just met him today and would like to get to know him, but damn understandable why no one wants to get to know us and we’re such a debate backwater. All the policy people are laughing at us right now, or they think we’re engaging in little white separatist movements to mimic our big brothers. From my perspective they seem right.

            Not saying you are doing this Eric, just articulating why I feel so vehemently about this.

          • im scared

            I think you’re discussing a separate issue. yeah Greenhill reads arguments like that of a college policy team but it doesnt mean their shit is justified

          • Rebar Niemi

            i think people are conflating these two issues (my issue and according to you THE REAL ISSUE) and i am addressing the one that i think is totally unacceptable – my issue. Your REAL ISSUE I think is a total red herring and def says something about you.

          • Eric Palmer

            Really? An activity which, to my knowledge, converges on utilitarianism and identity politics (both of which, by my reckoning, constitute complete repudiations of the equal and infinite value of the human individual as such – the former, because it conceives of the individual as a mere vestibule of value; the latter, because it reduces the individual to the bearer of a particular collective identity), is supposed to be a superior venue of moral education? That is wildly implausible. And your equation of good debaters with good people strikes me as astonishingly elitist and patently false. Debaters are not morally superior to common people. And, I want to add that I am not so weak as to worry what policy debaters think of our activity. LD must emerge from its position of self-incurred minority in relation to policy debate. I hope others feel the same way.

          • Rebar Niemi

            You are ill informed as to the spectrum of debate in college policy, though those are two possible ways of debating.

            I do not conflate good debaters with good people. That has clearly never necessarily been the case. I don’t really see where you get this. I am explaining my understanding of other people’s perception of our community.

            I would like to think that debate could contribute to one’s personal development.

            I think that discussing what LD should be is valuable. We should think about what we want to be in comparison to policy, and in general.

          • Eric Palmer

            Ok, inform me. What else is going on in college policy? Are there legitimate advocates of the equal and infinite dignity of the human individual winning now?

            I got the elitist vibe from your claim that college policy produces “their activity is more mature and produces higher quality debaters aka people.” Maybe you didn’t mean for this line to be interpreted in this way, but in that case you should probably be more careful. That sentence looks an awful lot like an identification of higher quality debaters with higher quality people.

            And sure, debate can teach us things. I’m not sure that policy debate in its present form does more than afford its students with a particular kind of technical and political education. LD, I think, does better, since LD countenances arguments that appeal to the value of the human individual (but perhaps I need to be educated here). I also think it is worth thinking about what is done in policy. I just object to the slavish worship of policy debate that is all too common among a certain generation of LDers (hopefully the young people have more pride).

          • im scared

            Eric I think both analytical and kritikal philosophy are valuable but I think you would have to agree that the stupid one line interps and tricks that have become so common in LD debate are pretty detrimental to debate and that policy has done a good job of steering away from them. I think that you’re wrong to characterize policy debates “converg[ance] on utilitarianism and identity politics” as something that isn’t a good form of education. I think it’s equally as valuable (See AT and Alston’s article on VBD). But yeah I’m totally with you on LDers need to stop worshipping policy debate

          • Eric Palmer

            Sure, I agree that the proliferation of senseless theory in LD is a bad thing, and policy has done a better job than we have at eliminating that practice. I think utilitarianism and identity politics are morally bankrupt, so that kind of focus isn’t ideal, from my point of view. But I do think debaters need to learn to combat bad thinking, so I don’t discourage those perspectives in debate (hence, NSD’s big tent approach). I am open to disagreement.

        • Jeff Liu

          I am just curious what has changed between last year’s TOC and this year’s. If I remember correctly, in the semis of last year’s TOC, Elijah Smith was removed from a panel in a debate between Greenhill and PV Peninsula. It was determined by the tabroom that he was a conflict when this issue was litigated a year ago. Why is he no longer a conflict now?

          EDIT: To be clear, I am not saying Elijah was not an impartial judge for this debate. Just genuinely interested in an explanation.

          • Rebar Niemi

            I don’t know anything about his conflict status I’m not speaking to that.

    • mcgin029

      Disagree. As far as I know, Mr. Smith doesn’t coach for Greenhill. He’s mutually preferred. And it is indefensibly rude to call out someone’s honesty from behind a veil of anonymity.

      • AnonRocky

        Lies!

      • Emily Massey

        Yes, let’s please not make allegations like this without any good evidence. There were obviously unfair things going on today, but I’ve seen no reason to think this was one of them.

  • Mother Douglass

    Oh deary, oh me… while we are on the subject of Greenhill’s shenanigans… Release the 2013 TOC Final Round Video! #ReleaseTheVid #OhDear #GrandmaKnowsBest

  • Michael Fried

    Round 6 of the TOC Matt Dunay judged David Branse of
    University School versus Varad Agarwala.
    Matt Dunay decidedly voted negative for David. This decision was based on David winning a
    theoretical argument about Varad’s case insufficiently meeting conditions
    appropriate for plans. Matt’s decision
    was not based on the results of the substance debate.

    Immediately after this round, Aaron Timmons went to tab to
    complain about the decision because his debater lost; Greenhill proposed that
    David miscut the Ataner evidence.

    I watched this round.
    Let me convey the following observations:

    1. David conceded in cross examination he was not using the
    implications of Ataner’s ultimate article; rather, David was using the
    philosophical reasoning within Ataner’s article as a logical proof. In Cross Examination, David made it
    explicitly clear that he was NOT CLAIMING, AND RATHER CONCEDING that Ataner
    disagreed with the arguments David was using.
    David conceded to this. Matt
    Dunay 100% knew before making his decision that the warrants from the Ataner
    card were not consistent with the ultimate advocacy of Ataner at the end of his
    article.

    2. Matt Dunay’s decision was absolutely unaffected by the
    so-called strawman argument Greenhill proposed.

    MY QUESTION IS WHAT TYPE OF PRECEDENT DOES THE TOC SET BY
    FORCING A DEBATER TO FORFEIT A WIN WHEN THE INROUND DECISION WAS ABSOLUTELY
    UNAFFECTED. MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHY SHOULD
    THE OPPOSING DEBATER BE REWARDED FOR A VICTORY IN WHICH THE MISCUT EVIDENCE DID
    NOT AFFECT THEIR TERMINAL STRATEGY, NOR AFFECT THE JUDGES REASONING IN VOTING
    AGAINST THEM.

    The TOC is a national championship; punishing debater’s with
    a loss for issues that did not affect them is absolutely absurd to me. More important, the precedent the TOC sets by
    encouraging coaches to overturn decisions based upon minute inaccuracies in
    evidence is startling—debate becomes a cry-baby-whiner-filled activity where
    students who actually can debate are rewarded with losses to kids who cry wolf.

    GO BRANSE!

    • Anon

      #freebump?

    • Paras Kumar

      another LOL in the long history of LOLs by AT. I’d love to hear a defense from someone on greenhill

      • Guest

        you see, there’s this thing called white privilege…

        • Rebar Niemi

          as yes a not so subtle accusation of pulling the race card.

          • Josh Tupler

            THIS FLAME WAR FUCKING SUCKS. Where are the ad hominen attacks? Where are the personal criticisms of AT being fucked up human being. Why aren’t more people being called racist? Where’s Plaza Mexico and Lifer at Law? Anyone seen Wade Houston? I miss the good old days.

            Seriously though, there are problems in debate community. Fucked up people like AT are going to abuse power. He thinks he’s doing a service to the community, and no one can or will persuade him otherwise.

            Most of the wiser people will receive a lot of benefits from debate, move on with their lives, and get out of the activity–not giving two shits about their record at the TOC. There will be some people who stay in the activity and do more harm than good, and their will be a few people who stay and do more good than harm.

            We can all sit around and circle jerk ourselves all we want about privilege, but some things will never change. Here’s to AT. Within the last three years he has qualified a student to the TOC without a bid, reversed a judges decision in round 6, and turned forfeits into double wins. If that is not power, privellege, and hypocrisy, I don’t know what is.

            Peace out,
            A racist, classist, sexist, and ablist in the eyes of those who disagree

          • Kevin Cheng

            Good work m’lady!
            *tips fedora*

          • Stephen Babb

            Please tell me you weren’t sober when writing this.

    • Ilya Gaidarov

      some things never change

      • Eric Palmer

        Get ready for change. It’s time for an alternative to the TOC — unless, of course, the TOC is ready to agree to democratic control and a real constitution which guarantees due process to all and clearly articulated rules.

        • im scared

          You’re on the TOC committee right? Do you know how the challenge went down?

          • Eric Palmer

            I am not at TOC because I had to proctor a final for the class I am teaching. Will investigate.

        • natdebater

          Perhaps NSD could make their own tournament, aside from the camp tournament, that can be an alternative to TOC

      • Greg Meyer

        This is hilarious, though not quite as funny as the screaming matches after semis at the NDT and after semis at APDA nats.

    • im scared

      If they thought it was such a bad violation of the rules why didn’t they just write a theory shell before the round and read it IN ROUND since (from what I have heard) David was reading it pretty often through this topic? Seems like this was their fallback strategy in the case that they lost…

      also I’m posting this anon because I’m scared of backlash

    • Charles Schletzbaum

      So. Does this mean I can complain to tab when someone runs a plan? After all if they are enforcing NFL rules now I guess enumerated plans are back to being illegal…..

    • Guest

      Fuck it at least this way Greenhill will be in outrounds so they can check the TOC’s privledge again.

    • im scared

      ummm.. lol