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Author Topic: Concerns / Discussion of Topics  (Read 4931 times)
kevin kuswa
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Posts: 345


« on: June 13, 2014, 01:38:33 PM »

HI all,

On my way back to wonderful Walla Walla, but I wanted to send out a massive thanks to the Topic Committee--I really enjoy working with all of you and the commitment and effort was really incredible.  Also, big thanks to all the folks who came to the meeting and helped shape the topics as well as to everyone who chimed in on-line.  Some of the most important contributions came from these groups, including a number of debaters--our most important constituency.  The community's input was invaluable and we all appreciate the efforts, small and large.

We'll have the official ballot out fairly soon and the unofficial list of topics has been posted (thanks, Paul!).  We will also provide some explanation and a short guide to the topics for voters.  In the meantime, feel free to express concerns and thoughts about the topics here.

Thanks once again to Justin, Dan, and JCCC for a really great job hosting us.

Sincerely,

Kevin
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brubaie
Jr. Member
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Posts: 77


« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2014, 06:11:35 PM »

Hi Dr. Kuswa/topic committee reps,

Thank you all for your hard work in crafting such a large and diverse slate of topics.

I have two quick questions regarding the portion of several resolutions reading; "the United States federal government should eliminate all or nearly all de facto criminalization of bodies of color, gender non-conformity and/or homelessness in the United States."

I don't mean either of these questions to suggest any cynicism towards including these areas (bodies of color, gender and non-conformity) in the topic, but rather offer two questions regarding "de facto" and "nearly all."

1) Why de facto instead of de jure? I know many codes against blackness, for instance, are better understood/targeted socially rather than legally, but how does the agent in that phrase, the USFG, eliminate de jure criminalization?

2) What does it mean to eliminate "nearly all" de facto criminalization of bodies of color? I understand "nearly all" when there are a particular set of legal codes and any one could be a PIC, but it seems like the strong affirmative-leaning ethics arguments would be as persuasive without nearly all and the Neg might perhaps more meaningfully engage the case.

Thank you again for your hard work and your help in thinking through these questions!
« Last Edit: June 14, 2014, 06:14:17 PM by brubaie » Logged
kevin kuswa
Sr. Member
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Posts: 345


« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2014, 07:43:47 PM »

Hi Brian!

Good questions.  I won't speak for the committee or the other folks that contributed to the de facto wording, but I have a couple of thoughts about your questions.

For #1, you asked how the USFG can eliminate de jure criminalization.  I think you meant de facto.  The way the USFG would eliminate de jure criminalization is by fiating new legislation that removes prohibitions or by fiating the removal of prohibitions/penalties.  Can the USFG change laws regarding crimes on the state and municipal levels?  In some instances, I don't think they can--if they do, they do so through preemption, the commerce clause, the Supreme Court, etc.  There is a big section on this is Wording Paper 3.

In terms of how the USFG can eliminate de facto criminalization, I think it would need to be through a more creative interpretation of what is meant by "USFG," but a more traditional view that includes fiat, would probably act through the Supreme Court (using particular cases about issues like racial profiling, sentencing disparities, or even equal protection--along with obiter dictum on the issue at hand) or through a concerted public relations effort (where the federal government uses its sway through the media and other channels to provide education, awareness, consciousness about the need for change).  I think both of those options would involve a more realistic view of change in the debate context, talking more about social movements, critical scholarship, and the USFG as metonymy.

For #2, my guess is that almost all the affs in the de facto area will select "all," but I also think it might be hard to demonstrate the ability to achieve "all." At that point, it is an affirmatives choice whether to talk about the ideal and utopian possibilities or to talk about striving for the best we can reach, even if partial and incremental.  Both of those approaches have advantages and disadvantages which is what makes that topic so outstanding.  So, under "all," I think the affirmative can be idealistic or pragmatic and the same would hold true for "nearly all."  The difference under nearly all is that the aff loses a bit of their opportunity to be absolutist or to claim an ethical imperative, but the aff gains an answer against the PICs.  For example, if the neg wants to PIC out of the criminalization of the homeless in instances where the homeless are violating an town hall ordinance about living in a public space that may be close to a toxic waste hazard and the Net Benefit is preventing the homeless from getting cancer, the aff will not be able to permute as easily if they are advocating a removal of "all de facto" criminalization (and this example is actually both de facto and de jure).  If the aff is defending "nearly all," they can probably still permute without severing part of the aff.

I hope that makes sense--please post any follow ups.  Thanks, Kevin

Hi Dr. Kuswa/topic committee reps,

Thank you all for your hard work in crafting such a large and diverse slate of topics.

I have two quick questions regarding the portion of several resolutions reading; "the United States federal government should eliminate all or nearly all de facto criminalization of bodies of color, gender non-conformity and/or homelessness in the United States."

I don't mean either of these questions to suggest any cynicism towards including these areas (bodies of color, gender and non-conformity) in the topic, but rather offer two questions regarding "de facto" and "nearly all."

1) Why de facto instead of de jure? I know many codes against blackness, for instance, are better understood/targeted socially rather than legally, but how does the agent in that phrase, the USFG, eliminate de jure criminalization?

2) What does it mean to eliminate "nearly all" de facto criminalization of bodies of color? I understand "nearly all" when there are a particular set of legal codes and any one could be a PIC, but it seems like the strong affirmative-leaning ethics arguments would be as persuasive without nearly all and the Neg might perhaps more meaningfully engage the case.

Thank you again for your hard work and your help in thinking through these questions!
« Last Edit: June 14, 2014, 07:45:43 PM by kevin kuswa » Logged
brubaie
Jr. Member
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Posts: 77


« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2014, 09:03:10 PM »

Thank you for the quick and thorough response! Hope others will chime in early with questions and concerns and continue the discussion.
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RW Evans
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Posts: 27


« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2014, 11:25:26 PM »

But, the problem with this topic is that this:

For example, if the neg wants to PIC out of the criminalization of the homeless in instances where the homeless are violating an town hall ordinance about living in a public space that may be close to a toxic waste hazard and the Net Benefit is preventing the homeless from getting cancer, the aff will not be able to permute as easily if they are advocating a removal of "all de facto" criminalization (and this example is actually both de facto and de jure).  If the aff is defending "nearly all," they can probably still permute without severing part of the aff.

Is not true.  The Aff would definitely permute and say that the pic is not an example of criminalization of the homeless.  It is about public safety.  Why would the plan eliminate that ordinance?  The aff can certainly pick and choose (AND NOT SPECIFY) which laws are eliminated as de facto criminalization of the homeless and which ones just effect the homeless.  And guess what?  The net benefit will likely prove the lack of competition. 

With de facto in the resolution, why would the affirmative ever need to choose between all and nearly all.  Eliminate all de facto criminalization means eliminate nearly all de facto criminalization.  Because who really knows what is or is not de facto criminalization of who or what, right?  Isn't that point of the resolution?  If such were clear, the resolution wouldn't need de facto, no?
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kevin kuswa
Sr. Member
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Posts: 345


« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2014, 09:42:28 AM »

Rashad, that makes sense, especially with my example, but there may be better examples where the neg can obtain a competitive PIC against "all" that "nearly all" solves.  In general, though, I think these affs are going to defend "all."  The other (non-PIC) reason affs may want to defend nearly all is to defend the idea that complete elimination is not possible but that major strides can be made.  "All or nearly all" is certainly not the greatest phrase for that topic, but it's not useless.

I still think the passive option is the best route for next season, regardless of your debate style.  Folks want a wide open topic with lots of leeway--that would be topic #10.

But, the problem with this topic is that this:

For example, if the neg wants to PIC out of the criminalization of the homeless in instances where the homeless are violating an town hall ordinance about living in a public space that may be close to a toxic waste hazard and the Net Benefit is preventing the homeless from getting cancer, the aff will not be able to permute as easily if they are advocating a removal of "all de facto" criminalization (and this example is actually both de facto and de jure).  If the aff is defending "nearly all," they can probably still permute without severing part of the aff.

Is not true.  The Aff would definitely permute and say that the pic is not an example of criminalization of the homeless.  It is about public safety.  Why would the plan eliminate that ordinance?  The aff can certainly pick and choose (AND NOT SPECIFY) which laws are eliminated as de facto criminalization of the homeless and which ones just effect the homeless.  And guess what?  The net benefit will likely prove the lack of competition. 

With de facto in the resolution, why would the affirmative ever need to choose between all and nearly all.  Eliminate all de facto criminalization means eliminate nearly all de facto criminalization.  Because who really knows what is or is not de facto criminalization of who or what, right?  Isn't that point of the resolution?  If such were clear, the resolution wouldn't need de facto, no?

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RW Evans
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Posts: 27


« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2014, 11:01:23 AM »

Well played professor Kuswa.  Now I know why there is only one passive option and several bad alternatives.  No further questions for this resolution.
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kevin kuswa
Sr. Member
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Posts: 345


« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2014, 05:17:52 PM »

All of the topic alternatives are fine--some have a few more words than others.  My own preference would be to see fewer federal options, but I think the diversity across the types of activities and the agent-mechanism is helpful in terms of making a choice.  There are a lot of words, but they are related to the same main theme and they make sense.  The affirmative and negative can read those words and know where to start.  In my experience, it is rare to deal with a topic that is centered around a mechanism, not an area, but then specifies five areas that have to be considered and leaves the door open to a number of other areas.  No gripe with James Herndon and Jackie Poapst at all--they provided a solid platform and they included a lot of research. They also earned the most votes from the community.  The result, though, was something that required a lot of distinct research from the Committee.  All-in-all, for those who have not started heavy reading in the area, it is a great topic area with a lot of interesting issues to debate and I hope the wordings reflect the potential of the area as a whole.     
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ElleMallon
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Posts: 3



« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2014, 12:47:15 AM »

So I'm concerned about the inclusion of trans identity on the debate resolution.

I'm a trans femme who has read trans discourse kritiks in the past.

I quite frankly don't trust the debaters or the judging pool to deal with this well. In my experience spending the entire debate talking about why it is violence and a reason to reject my opponents because they misgendered me, leads to me being exclusively referred to as "he" in the RFD. I think that if there are people who want to talk about this it should happen within the K debate. Once debate is a safe space to talk about transness then we can start putting it into the resolution, but until then, sit back and be educated by the trans debaters who read the K.
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"A human life, no matter how long it endures, is short. None of us are perfect but we must have the courage to fight for justice, contend against injustice, and protect others from danger, in any circumstance and with all our might, even at the risk of our lives."

Charlotte von Mahlsdorf
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