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Author Topic: Women's Rights Topic Paper  (Read 19470 times)
psadow
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« on: April 23, 2012, 10:25:35 PM »

Here it is.

* Women's Rights Topic Proposal.doc (155 KB - downloaded 1702 times.)
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AbeCorrigan
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2012, 02:55:51 PM »

What are people's thoughts here? I know the unspoken objection will be 'but how do we get to nuclear war.' However, in contrast to some of the other options, I think the Women's Rights topic paper does a really good job painting a picture of what a reasonable Women's rights topic might look like. Honestly, the biggest selling point for me is the level of specificity when it comes to counterplan and solvency debates. Yes, there will be States & other process cps. But I think women's rights is actually an area where there is a ton of good literature on both sides. If domestic topics are what we're looking for, I think this maybe a good place to start for a strategically interesting and educational option.

Abe
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kelly young
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2012, 01:59:52 AM »

My only concern has nothing to do with impact debate - people will find way to maximize their claims no matter the topic.

My concern is that the topic paper doesn't really discuss the need for federal action to resolve many of the problems outlined in the paper. Obviously, VAWA has a federal action key warrant. Reproductive rights likely has a congressional or SCOTUS warrant, as the Casey debates on the Courts topic made clear. But it's a little frustrating that the 101 greatest hits against women list to open the paper describes state actions except for VAWA. While I chastised someone earlier for making the "states CP would slay this topic" argument before the paper was written, I was hoping for some more detailed discussion of why federal action is necessary in the controversy paper given that exchange. I'm certainly not a huge fan of the states CP given how it decimates good domestic debate topics, but that CP is hard enough to defeat when there are good reasons for comprehensive federal action much less when there isn't much of one.

Interesting area, I like domestic topics, I really liked the Title 7 debate topic, I could like this topic much more with some more discussion of the need for federal action rather than state, private, or other action.

Kelly 
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Mike Davis
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 06:04:53 AM »

My bigger concern with this topic is that affirmatives that do directly discuss gender are inviting the negative to counterplan rather than discuss the topic of gender discrimination. Very few, if any, teams are likely to have a straight up case debate on this topic. Instead, I fear that they are likely to run a states or process counterplan with a politics net benefit ensuring that very little debate occurs on the issue of women's rights.

I am curious about how we structure this topic in a way that does not create the incentive to have this be the primary and dominant negative strategy.

Mike
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joe
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 06:38:53 AM »

My bigger concern with this topic is that affirmatives that do directly discuss gender are inviting the negative to counterplan rather than discuss the topic of gender discrimination. Very few, if any, teams are likely to have a straight up case debate on this topic. Instead, I fear that they are likely to run a states or process counterplan with a politics net benefit ensuring that very little debate occurs on the issue of women's rights.

I am curious about how we structure this topic in a way that does not create the incentive to have this be the primary and dominant negative strategy.

Mike


To be fair, all topics invite counterplan debate instead of case debate...it's easier to win that way.

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Malgor
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2012, 10:31:09 AM »

every topic will have counterplans.  it's easier to win with a counterplan than anything else.  In fact, as much rambling as there is about how x y or z topic is great because it has a unified mechanism that combines diverse ideas, the only ground that unified mechanism usually gives you is a processor or alternate actor(s) counterplan. 

Kelly is presupposing the legitimacy of an illegitimate argument which is odd.  But even more strange is that his reasoning for why he's scared of the argument is what proves its legitimacy.  the warrant for federal action being key is that states have a patchwork of policies and don't do anything now.  That's the rationale for the policy.  Saying we should avoid that debate because the neg will just get up and wave a wand to have every state and territory do the same policy at the same time...to me it encourages the worst kinds of topics. 

no one was scared of the Dem Asst topic because of the counterplan to just have the target country implement democratic reforms.

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Mike Davis
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2012, 10:52:00 AM »

I agree that every topic invites counterplans, but I did not see much of a discussion of topic specific counterplans in this paper. My concern is that we won't ever actually get to talk about women's rights since no one is going to say women's rights bad in a straight up debate. However, people will say trade or domestic energy production or first amendment restrictions bad.

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psadow
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2012, 12:30:30 PM »

Re: specific counterplans

While it is true that the do the aff and avoid politics counter-plan will always be available (and always has been), the women's rights topic offers the potential for some specific counter-plan debates precisely because there are so many diverse approaches to understanding and dealing with the problem areas - is a human rights based approach ideal? is a medical model the best solution? is a criminal justice model the best understanding? what type of care should be provided? prevention of pregnancy vs access to abortion?

all of these questions would give opportunities for fairly specific counter-plan ground tailored to the harms areas and plan mechanism of the affirmative, and these examples are only a few off the top of my head.

Re: impact turns

of course no one is going to say women's rights are bad, but one could suggest (along with a counterplan to use a different mechanism) that human rights approaches are bad, that medical model approaches are bad, etc. Each of these approaches has their feminist and policymaking detractors - these questions, i think, get at the heart of the contemporary debate surrounding women's rights much more clearly than a women's rights good/bad debate would.

Will address the federal key warrant/states cp question a bit more in-depth later.
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izak
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2012, 01:26:20 PM »

Mike Davis says, "We'll never discuss women's rights because no one will say that women's rights are bad."  I think that this statement is rhetorically loaded; a discussion of counterplans regarding women's rights are discussions of women's rights.  Now some of these counterplans (like the states CP, but I'll get to that) will attempt to sidestep the question as widely as possible, but if the affirmative isn't ready to make some sort of distinction between expanding women's rights at a national level and at a local level, then they'd probably lose to anything.  But, note well, this is a discussion of women's rights and what they are (namely, it is a discussion of whether or not rights are the kinds of things which should be affirmed universally in theory and nationally in practice). 

Everyone says, "But States CP!"  I would love to debate this topic if only because it will give the community to put this poor CP to rest.  Things are getting out of hand for the negative; I remember when I used to debate, sometimes conditionality was a voter, and object fiat was always a voter.  The affirmative is finally getting a little push back by intrinsicness testing politics DA's, but we really need to get over this question of whether or not we think the states CP is legit.  I have not seen a good theory debate since I saw Kuntal go for performative contradictions bad against Pradeep, but this debate was marred by the lack of a performative contradiction.  I do not see the problem with having a topic where some of the "best" neg ground is the states CP, because this means some of the best aff ground ends up being theory which no one talks about anymore.  Everyone just waves away topics where the states CP might be a concern, and I have a sinking feeling that no one is ready to debate the legitimacy of the counterplan anymore.

Furthermore, there are federal key warrants everytime someone talks about rights.  It's called the Heg Advantage, and I'm sure that most of you are familiar with it.  This is always the US key warrant against (illegitimate) alternate actor CP's on international topics, so I'm not quite sure why no one thinks that the soft power internal links to federal action on rights issues is not a decent federal action key warrant.
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antonucci23
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2012, 02:48:09 PM »

Everyone says, "But States CP!"  I would love to debate this topic if only because it will give the community to put this poor CP to rest.  Things are getting out of hand for the negative; I remember when I used to debate, sometimes conditionality was a voter, and object fiat was always a voter.  The affirmative is finally getting a little push back by intrinsicness testing politics DA's, but we really need to get over this question of whether or not we think the states CP is legit.  I have not seen a good theory debate since I saw Kuntal go for performative contradictions bad against Pradeep, but this debate was marred by the lack of a performative contradiction.  I do not see the problem with having a topic where some of the "best" neg ground is the states CP, because this means some of the best aff ground ends up being theory which no one talks about anymore.  Everyone just waves away topics where the states CP might be a concern, and I have a sinking feeling that no one is ready to debate the legitimacy of the counterplan anymore.

I think there's a widespread perception that many judges are quite reluctant to resolve "big" rounds (e.g., late elims, career-enders) on the basis of theoretical arguments.  This may parallel the sentiment among NBA refs to become markedly less interventionist in late stages of playoff games.  There's an associated perception that judges may not even be willing to enforce their personal predilections - a judge may hate the states counterplan, but feel very gunshy on this issue in a semifinal debate at a major or championship.  This tendency purportedly stems from structural features of theory debate (few cards, minimal direct clash, hyperefficiency makes flowing imprecise) that it's difficult for debaters to resolve by just "being more like the 80s" or whatever.

It's difficult to determine the accuracy of this widespread perception, given the number of variables involved.  It certainly doesn't come out of nowhere.  It's one of those issues in which a fairly small but unified minority can have a disproportionate impact on debate trends, because they impact argument selection.  It's a terrible idea to make "states CP illegitimate" a *necessary* condition for affirmative victory if you're writing off 15% of your potential judges 80% of the time.

I don't have a solution to what's become something of a collective action dilemma.  I'm fairly convinced that this is not a function of generally poor pedagogy or debating, but instead stems from a strategically intelligent attempt by coaches and debaters to play the odds and avoid unnecessary risk.  Those individually intelligent decisions, however, produce a pedagogically suboptimal result.  (Competitive policy debate is rife with these sorts of dilemmas.)

Judge philosophies might start to partially redress this problem.  A sample statement that, IMO, would impact practice if replicated widely enough:

"I am not a fan of the states counterplan, or indeed any non-USFG form of fiat.  I will listen to the theoretical debate on both sides and aim for a fair decision, but I think the affirmative has unusually persuasive arguments at their disposal in this instance.  As a result, I'm extremely willing to vote on "state CP is stupid" in
a. your prelims
b. late elims
c. in an end-of-career situation
d. a situation where one team is clearly superior in most other aspects of the debating, but loses a crucial theory debate."

You may view such a statement as redundant, but it certainly directly addresses the concerns of many debaters deciding their potential range of affirmative cases.
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tcram
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2012, 03:01:38 PM »

Antonucci,

I don't have much of a quibble with what you've said- I agree A LOT with your assessment of why theory is sometimes a non-option, but would you also agree there is a heightened disposition against generics in those very same high-pressure rounds?  Does that dampen the impact of a class of highly influential critics believing theory is a non-starter?

I certainly agree it's a question that involves how debates are judged, but I also sense it is a way that theory is actively debated these days.  Tough to find the way out of the conundrum because they are interconnected problems that reinforce each other.

All I know is two of my earliest college debates entailed Hardy just beating my ass on 'dispo bad' (he may not remember but man do I still have the scars) and Izak beating my ass on 'inherency is a voter for Toni Nielson'....still trying to figure the second one out.
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kelly young
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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2012, 03:30:51 PM »

Furthermore, there are federal key warrants everytime someone talks about rights.  It's called the Heg Advantage, and I'm sure that most of you are familiar with it.  This is always the US key warrant against (illegitimate) alternate actor CP's on international topics, so I'm not quite sure why no one thinks that the soft power internal links to federal action on rights issues is not a decent federal action key warrant.

Because a states CP would solve soft power just as well...

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kelly young
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« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2012, 03:44:07 PM »

every topic will have counterplans.  it's easier to win with a counterplan than anything else.  In fact, as much rambling as there is about how x y or z topic is great because it has a unified mechanism that combines diverse ideas, the only ground that unified mechanism usually gives you is a processor or alternate actor(s) counterplan. 

Kelly is presupposing the legitimacy of an illegitimate argument which is odd.  But even more strange is that his reasoning for why he's scared of the argument is what proves its legitimacy.  the warrant for federal action being key is that states have a patchwork of policies and don't do anything now.  That's the rationale for the policy.  Saying we should avoid that debate because the neg will just get up and wave a wand to have every state and territory do the same policy at the same time...to me it encourages the worst kinds of topics. 

no one was scared of the Dem Asst topic because of the counterplan to just have the target country implement democratic reforms.



Outside of the States CP concerns, discussion of federal action key provides clear indication of the quality of solvency evidence, defense against federalism DA, etc. Yes, I am concerned about the States CP because about 10% of you are vocal in opposition to the CP and 90% of you will likely vote for it every round. It's a legitimate concern even if it's an illegitimate argument. Like you Malcolm, I'm not sure why object fiat or other illegitimacy arguments don't resolve a great deal of this either, but it has been raised as a concern before this round of topics, it was raised in the initial discussion of this topic, so it would probably make a tad bit of sense of discuss it. Be as flippant about the concern as you want, but I guarantee a ton of programs will keep this topic at great arms length until this is discussed better. Snark about soft power advantages isn't a sufficient response.

So continue to rant about how stupid the concern is and I guarantee we will never debate this topic. Take the concern seriously and discuss it (and thank you, Sarah, I appreciate your willingness to do so) and I bet more people will fairly assess the topic.
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Director of Forensics/Associate Professor
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kelly.young [at] wayne.edu
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izak
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« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2012, 03:59:38 PM »

Kelly Young says that the states counterplan solves soft power advantages.  Now, I might not be some big city chicken lawyer, or even viewed as a legitimate policy debater by many, but I know for a fact that, regarding artificial solvency questions generated by the states CP, this is one of the tricker ones.  If there's no distinction regarding how state policies and federal policies are perceived by other international actors, then I suppose that Kelly is right in an absolute sense.  But most of the concern about the states counterplan seems to be that it too readily solves anything and everything, and I'm just throwing out one example where's there's a debate germane to the issue of women's human rights.  The internal links further complicate the debate, since one wonders how readily the federal government trades in soft power generated by state actions (since subnational foreign policy initiatives are usually done for the sake of increasing an individual state's prestige vis a vis other states).  I'm also concerned that Kelly is not too keen on how soft power really works, because in order to solve the impacts to soft power, governments in question have to be able to trade in its influence.  I'm wondering how Florida being a beacon of women's rights is going to help the federal government promote, for example, AIDs awareness.  I wonder less how the federal government becoming a beacon of women's human rights allows it to broker influence over other governments on other issues.  Solvency deficit?

The fact that this debate is more complicated than, "But the states do your mandate," is generic and germane to the women's rights topic, and even exists are all reasons why we should not be so quick to dismiss the topic because of the mere existence of the states CP.  See, we're having a debate about it.  I'm probably going to lose it because I'm izak, but I just want to show that there is in fact a debate about states solvency that goes beyond mandate replication.

I want to thank Antonucci for a thoughtful and insightful post.  I agree with most of it; many judges seem unwilling to vote on an argument because of the way it makes them feel, especially in high-pressure situations like elims at majors.  I can't really dispute that this phenomena exists, though I would like to impact turn it.  I think that Antonucci underemphasizes the effect of how well the debaters handle theory arguments, and I think that if debaters were better at it, it would push back against some judges' apprehension towards voting for theory generally speaking.  I also think that Antonucci over-emphasizes how this would effect strategic thinking regarding, for example, pref sheets, because I don't think one would be excluding 15% of critics 80% of the time.  I think, at best, you'd be worried about these critics half of the time (i.e., that half of the time you were aff), but if we are only thinking strategically, it seems like one would make up for this by being neg 50% of the time.  

I agree that judge philosophies can begin to redress this issue.  I think just a general statement about when one is willing to vote on theory is just as good, and one should save the rest of the philosophy for hashing out concerns about specific theoretical arguments.  On the other hand, I think that we should all be more willing to vote on the debate round that actually happened rather than allowing our personal beliefs to influence the way we vote on theory debates.  This, of course, stands in stark contradistinction to my views about what communication actually entails and our ability to really separate our beliefs from our voting habits.  However, I think that Antonucci really hits it on the head that at least we should be transparent about it.  
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Malgor
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2012, 04:01:22 PM »

ah Kelly, your temperament is at least consistent.  

You are presupposing the value of a certain practice, treating it as inevitable, then moving from there.  My point is that thinking, while you may deem it 'realistic', is precisely what causes us to endorse resolutions that completely side step difficult theoretical questions.  I was a multi-time victim of the constitutional amendment cp as a senior.  Theory didn't work, the perm didn't work, what's a boy to do!  That does not, however, mean that my conclusion should just be tacit acceptance that causes me to just avoid the issue altogether.

It's good to point out that judges often don't back up their words when voting on states theory, but the least productive solution entirely is for someone to frame our choice of a topic based on the premise that this argument is just unavoidable.  It creates a community of passive spectators in the face of argument, and does not recognize that norms are created by coaches, competitors, and judges.  It sidesteps the role we have in the formation of those norms by instead sweeping it under the rug.  It has reinforces the validity of the very argument that generates the problem in the first place.

Now, of course, the next reaction is always "but it IS true."  Norms change, but only when we are forced to confront them.  And, at a more basic level, the notion that an entire topic becomes null because there is no answer is silly.

There are areas, like employment and political participation, that have clear federal guidelines that trump state action. Entire areas of the topic give the aff great rollback arguments.  

There is also the devastating argument that on this topic especially the states counterplan links to politics.  Do you really think all 50 states acting in unison will avoid federal or presidential involvement on the issue?  Not likely.  If the topic is very liberal in the direction of women's rights, the aff can easily win the cp sparks a congressional debate and that Obama lobbies for the plan.  In my experience, this is enough to trigger the link on a vast majority of politics disads 2ns go for.

As long as we are going to be scared by these arguments, then I think we should reject the following topics for the following reasons:

TTI and Tax reform are not viable because of the counterplan to have the industries/individuals voluntarily pay the extra money
Education is not viable because we can counterplan to have private corporations in unison back out of education reform
Latin America is not viable because we can fiat that the farmers stop taking subsidies in america
Cybersecurity is not viable because we can fiat the terrorists/nasty countries won't attack
Energy is not viable because we can fiat individuals to consume less fossil fuels

I could go on with this silliness, but you get the point.
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