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Author Topic: topic wording proposal  (Read 3184 times)
Hester
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Posts: 153


« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2017, 07:43:11 AM »

Short answer - yes, both/and. By that, i mean the TC was fully aware that part of the argument being made was "even if you don't like it personally, put it on the ballot so the community can decide," and still there were no "yes" votes from the TC for putting it on the ballot.

It's important on this point to note that "let the people decide" is not as strong a warrant for including something on the ballot as it may initially seem. There are two reasons for this.

First, it's not a warrant that uniquely justifies any one item being included, but rather is a warrant for including any/every item that is mentioned. For example, during our weekend deliberations, there were at least a dozen different wordings that were mentioned - "united states federal government" vs "united states" vs "united states government" is just one of the many, many variations in wordings that exemplify this. Given how the voting works, why not have a little (a), (b), and (c) version of every resolution so that the different agent phrasings are each represented, so the community can then choose? In theory, the topic ballot could be similar to the judge pref sheet at nationals, with each voting member ordinally ranking 200 resolution wording options, some only slightly different than others. Once you have accepted "let the voters decide" as a justification for putting anything on the ballot, it's not clear how anything could be left off the ballot. The counter to such an approach is that while the ranking system we employ may theoretically allow for an infinite number of choices to be ranked, IRL the time to think through and research about what each option would functionally end up looking like is very finite - the more options there are, the less we can learn and make an informed judgment about any particular option. Thus, we don't find the "let them vote" as persuasive as it may seem at first read.

Second, i specifically asked about this part of the process prior to the Topic Area Ballot voting. Last year, there had been some pushback at the fact that not every submitted topic paper was placed on the topic area ballot. i asked for community feedback on what role the TC should play - are we a filter, making selections? should there be no filter role, and instead our job simply being to transfer whatever is submitted to the ballot? The response was near universal that we should engage in filtering, making judgments that include some items and exclude others. i engaged the community in dialogue on this question for this very reason - so that there wouldn't be any post-hoc complaints that the TC was playing gatekeeper. Once the response was clear that the TC being a gatekeeper was desired, that same logic was applied in the second phase, the Resolution Ballot. Thus, we made choices about what went on the ballot and what got kept off. Although this was our modus operandi for the 2017 topic process, we are not required to employ the same logic next year and if there is strong opinion that the TC should operate differently, we will.

These are generic reasons for why the TC wasn't persuaded by that reasoning. As for specific reasons why the TC ultimately didn't include Straussian options on the ballot, some TC members (not all) didn't feel there was enough time to fully 'vet' the idea, others were persuaded by the Facechat posts arguing that these options don't avoid T/Framework debates sufficiently to the degree claimed (i.e., no solvency for the cited harms), and others were simply suspicious that the most vocal advocates for options proposed as being an olive branch/life preserver for K teams were folks whose history is not one very friendly to K Affs.

As noted in my last post, i do think David Strauss should be commended for his attempt to address the issue (i.e., i'm not one who discounted his proposal due to suspicions that he was offering a trojan horse resolution wording), and strongly believe that all of us should be using the next 10 months to continue the discussion so that perhaps we can come up with ideas for how to maximize the best debates over the subjects that are most important to the best education our activity can deliver.

Hester,

Thanks for the reply. So there were people on the TC avidly against it being made an option for the community to vet/discuss for a month and vote upon, as opposed to just being opposed to the proposal?
I think that distinction matters, a lot -- and I can see reasons that might have been the case (there are things I would feel that way about myself), but if either you/someone else who was there during that process or better yet the people themselves could speak to what the warrants were for choice bad, I would appreciate it.
1. it confuses me, bc for many of the reasons Strauss has explained it's tough for me to fathom how the squo can be net-better, and so i'd like to understand; 2. more importantly, getting that reasoning out there seems like the only real way to find a proposal agreeable enough to the key players that we avoid a repeat of this next year.
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dstrauss13
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« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2017, 01:23:48 PM »

I’ve been very torn whether to post a substantive response in the wake of my proposal being rejected.  I had decided against, but there is something my esteemed colleague Dean Hester has mentioned that I would like to address.  Mike identified three basis for objection to my proposal.  1) It was too late – I believe I’ve already communicated my feelings about that.  2)  No solvency – this seems purely defensive, not an offensive reason to reject.  3) There was distrust because the proposal seemed to have support from those who have been strong past supporters of the policy side (me).  It is this last objection that I would like to speak to:

When I posted my proposal, there were a lot of objections stuck on specific terms and wordings.  I believe these objections missed the forest through the trees.  When you strip away the technical language, my proposal was actually very very simple:  If there is even 1 example of topical action that you can support, than you can and should do so, if you object to every example of topical action, than you should defend your belief that topical action is objectionable.  You can choose.  And you can do whatever else you want.  There is no ceiling on resolutional action, only a floor.  That floor is that you have to express some opinion one way or another.  And again, you can choose.  Or to put it differently for the math nerds, if N = examples of desirable topical action, than necessarily, N must equal one or more, or N must equal zero.  There is logically no other option.  So whatever you do think, there’s a resolutional action for you.  That’s it.  That’s the whole thing.  Simple.

I didn’t really know how my proposal was going to go over.  I was prepared to come down hard on whoever said no.  If my colleagues on the policy side remained beholden to their beloved topicality I was ready to come at them with the weight of a thousand hammers.  Basket of deplorables.  Still said it, still mean it.  I anticipated I would get a lot of competitive objections from the policy side “topicality…limits…blah blah blah”.  I never really expected to get serious opposition from the resistance-folks.  It’s important to remember, rejection of my proposal does not occur in a vacuum.  Rejection of my proposal is INSISTENCE on USFG-only resolutions (that’s a factual statement, check the slate of resolutions if you don’t believe me).  I mean, given everything we have heard from the resistance about USFG only resolutions and topicality being ACTIVE PERFORMANCES OF OPPRESSION….if we are to take ANY of that seriously, I thought there was NO WAY that the non-policy folks could object.   I couldn’t fathom it.

When my proposal was shot down based on strong objections from the non-policy side, I was stunned….and furious.  I felt the message to the community was clear.  To me, there was no other logically possible conclusion about the RFD:  1)  we will not defend traditional resolutional action, even contingently, we find that too objectionable.  We will also not defend that traditional resolutional action is objectionable, we find that objectionable.  2)  Given that we will not defend ANY resolutional action, we prefer, in fact INSIST on USFG-only resolutions BECAUSE its easier for us to claim those resolutions oppress us, and thus defeat topicality (hence the “protection” of policy teams).  3)  wins>>>>debate.

I’m not going to type a long defense of those conclusions.  My point is not that I am right, just that is how I felt.  That is how I feel.  But here’s the thing….and here’s where I loop back to Hester’s stated concern….what if I was wrong?  The objection that Mike is citing is not an objection to my proposal, it is an objection to the messenger.  And just as I feel completely convinced about how to read this, what if the problem wasn’t my proposal, and what if the problem wasn’t you all….what if the problem was ME?  Maybe there’s a group of people who feel just as confident as I am that they are right.  Maybe this group felt like “Here comes white dude Topicality Dave with his trick to rig the system and ruin the resistance”.  So here’s what I will say to people who felt that way…..What if we are both wrong?  I say this completely earnestly, I would love NOTHING more than to be proven wrong.  For real.  Throughout history too many mutually beneficial deals have been left on the table by competing factions because they simply couldn’t trust each other.
 
I still like the logic of my proposal.  However, I’m 1000% open to ways the wording could be tweaked or changed while leaving the basic premise of the deal intact.  I’m also not so arrogant as to think I have the only good ideas.  I’m interested in any proposal as long as it contains the following 2 elements:  1) builds resistance affs into the topic and 2) provides predictable and defensible negative grounds by forcing all affs to defend *something* stable and genuinely controversial.  If there is ANYONE on the non-policy side who is interested in working with me on something like this for next years resolution, please contact Dave Stoecker-Strauss, dstrauss13@gmail.com.  I will work with anyone.  Maybe if we both take the time to work together, we can BOTH prove EACH OTHER wrong along the way….because that’s usually how real change happens…..Get at me.
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ScottyP
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Posts: 52


« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2017, 10:42:48 AM »

I don't want to overstep my bounds or anything here Strauss- this is your house, your world-  you're a real Julius Caesar , but I'll tell you my 2 cents based on conversations I had with people over nonstate options for wealth redistribution. Your framing of the rez was either state good or state bad, but that ignores a 3rd option- debate not about the state. Essentially the criticism seems to be no matter if its in the role of Hero or Villain many proposals for alternative wordings still center the state and some people just don't want to talk about it. Now whether or not you think that is a more/less legitimate objection I don't know, and how to come u with a rez that allows traditional policy and debate without the state (as opposed to just state bad) I'm not sure about. But I see a lot of policy people framing discussions as "x or y" which is sort of a K 101 mistake.
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Hester
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Posts: 153


« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2017, 11:36:15 AM »

Just to clarify on #3 - Wimsatt being one of the first and most vocal advocates for it was what set off alarms for some. So it wasn't just the messenger, but also the choir.

imo, that isn't refutation of Strauss' call for more developed discussion of how to address the issue his proposal intended to resolve. The activity would benefit significantly from rethinking the framing of resolutions as a means to increase meaningful clash in debates.

I’ve been very torn whether to post a substantive response in the wake of my proposal being rejected.  I had decided against, but there is something my esteemed colleague Dean Hester has mentioned that I would like to address.  Mike identified three basis for objection to my proposal.  1) It was too late – I believe I’ve already communicated my feelings about that.  2)  No solvency – this seems purely defensive, not an offensive reason to reject.  3) There was distrust because the proposal seemed to have support from those who have been strong past supporters of the policy side (me).  It is this last objection that I would like to speak to:

When I posted my proposal, there were a lot of objections stuck on specific terms and wordings.  I believe these objections missed the forest through the trees.  When you strip away the technical language, my proposal was actually very very simple:  If there is even 1 example of topical action that you can support, than you can and should do so, if you object to every example of topical action, than you should defend your belief that topical action is objectionable.  You can choose.  And you can do whatever else you want.  There is no ceiling on resolutional action, only a floor.  That floor is that you have to express some opinion one way or another.  And again, you can choose.  Or to put it differently for the math nerds, if N = examples of desirable topical action, than necessarily, N must equal one or more, or N must equal zero.  There is logically no other option.  So whatever you do think, there’s a resolutional action for you.  That’s it.  That’s the whole thing.  Simple.

I didn’t really know how my proposal was going to go over.  I was prepared to come down hard on whoever said no.  If my colleagues on the policy side remained beholden to their beloved topicality I was ready to come at them with the weight of a thousand hammers.  Basket of deplorables.  Still said it, still mean it.  I anticipated I would get a lot of competitive objections from the policy side “topicality…limits…blah blah blah”.  I never really expected to get serious opposition from the resistance-folks.  It’s important to remember, rejection of my proposal does not occur in a vacuum.  Rejection of my proposal is INSISTENCE on USFG-only resolutions (that’s a factual statement, check the slate of resolutions if you don’t believe me).  I mean, given everything we have heard from the resistance about USFG only resolutions and topicality being ACTIVE PERFORMANCES OF OPPRESSION….if we are to take ANY of that seriously, I thought there was NO WAY that the non-policy folks could object.   I couldn’t fathom it.

When my proposal was shot down based on strong objections from the non-policy side, I was stunned….and furious.  I felt the message to the community was clear.  To me, there was no other logically possible conclusion about the RFD:  1)  we will not defend traditional resolutional action, even contingently, we find that too objectionable.  We will also not defend that traditional resolutional action is objectionable, we find that objectionable.  2)  Given that we will not defend ANY resolutional action, we prefer, in fact INSIST on USFG-only resolutions BECAUSE its easier for us to claim those resolutions oppress us, and thus defeat topicality (hence the “protection” of policy teams).  3)  wins>>>>debate.

I’m not going to type a long defense of those conclusions.  My point is not that I am right, just that is how I felt.  That is how I feel.  But here’s the thing….and here’s where I loop back to Hester’s stated concern….what if I was wrong?  The objection that Mike is citing is not an objection to my proposal, it is an objection to the messenger.  And just as I feel completely convinced about how to read this, what if the problem wasn’t my proposal, and what if the problem wasn’t you all….what if the problem was ME?  Maybe there’s a group of people who feel just as confident as I am that they are right.  Maybe this group felt like “Here comes white dude Topicality Dave with his trick to rig the system and ruin the resistance”.  So here’s what I will say to people who felt that way…..What if we are both wrong?  I say this completely earnestly, I would love NOTHING more than to be proven wrong.  For real.  Throughout history too many mutually beneficial deals have been left on the table by competing factions because they simply couldn’t trust each other.
 
I still like the logic of my proposal.  However, I’m 1000% open to ways the wording could be tweaked or changed while leaving the basic premise of the deal intact.  I’m also not so arrogant as to think I have the only good ideas.  I’m interested in any proposal as long as it contains the following 2 elements:  1) builds resistance affs into the topic and 2) provides predictable and defensible negative grounds by forcing all affs to defend *something* stable and genuinely controversial.  If there is ANYONE on the non-policy side who is interested in working with me on something like this for next years resolution, please contact Dave Stoecker-Strauss, dstrauss13@gmail.com.  I will work with anyone.  Maybe if we both take the time to work together, we can BOTH prove EACH OTHER wrong along the way….because that’s usually how real change happens…..Get at me.

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dstrauss13
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Posts: 15


« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2017, 11:37:15 AM »

Scott - you are not overstepping, I think that's a great comment, and I honestly have no interest in being Caeser (those who know me know I'm mostly an idiot...plus it would really conflict with my 9pm bedtime).  Here are a few reactions:
1) I would be completely fine with an entirely non-state res, as long as it forced the aff to defend something stable and controversial.  Like I said, if anyone has any ideas, get at me.
2) I don't believe if is fair to characterize my proposal as "state good or state bad" - my proposal clearly allows the aff to defend a near infinite amount of non-state options (see my 2ac a2 "this shifts debate away from non-gov").  For what its worth, I think my proposal also allows teams to defend non-state K+state action good if they wanted to....Louisville liz/tonya, Fullerton Cameron/Josh both got to quarters of NDT with similar strategies, NU won 2 ndts with it.  They did not lose on T or PIC very often.
3) if the response is "but we don't want to talk about the state *at all*", that option is still available to the aff - just as it is now - they just have to make a more nuanced argument vs topicality.  This only runs into problems if the argument in favor of it is weak, but if the argument in favor of it is weak, than I'm not sure why we should care.  In any case, the option is there, this seems exclusively a concern about winning ballots.  I'm honestly more concerned with education and good debates.  
4) "We don't want to talk about the state at all" was not the relevant point of comparison.  There was no alternate resolution that allowed for that.  This is important.  The choice was solely "usfg only" vs "non-usfg options".  Apparently, a ton of people insisted on "USFG only".  Hence my frustrations.  I believe within the framework of "we don't want to talk about the state" that my alternative was CLEARLY better than the squo, bc it at least allowed for SOME discussions beyond the state.  Its CLEARLY *less* exclusionary than the option people insisted on.  This is frustrating because many of those same people are now going to reject the resolution they insisted upon on the grounds that it is too exclusionary.

Like I said, I think there's a lot to Scott's comments, and if anyone has any ideas, please contact me.  We're a relatively smart group of people....surely if we put our minds to it.....
5)  Again, my brain works simply, but it sure seems like "we don't want to talk about the state at all" relies at least implicitly on the assumption "the state is bad".  If so, I think the aff should have to defend that.

On a different note, I know this is super annoying, but my last name is no longer Strauss.  I hyphenated when I got married.  Its bullshit that only women should have to take the man's name, or that only women should have to hyphenate.  As I believe in marriage equality, my wife and I choose to mutually hyphenate.  I know most people don't know that, but I'd prefer if you just called me "Dave" to reflect that.  Ok, I can't believe I just said that....I'm the worst...but still.
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adenney
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Posts: 13


« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2017, 08:05:06 AM »

Your posts here make it sound as if your only reaction to criticism from the K side of the spectrum is to assume bad faith on their part. That approach makes me even more skeptical of the proposed solution than I initially was. The wording is heavy-handed and wouldn't resolve the issues it tries to address. Other folks have hashed that out, so I don't intend to do it here. I think many of the frustrations that policy-oriented/state-oriented debaters and coaches have would be at least partially resolved by taking some pages from the playbooks of K teams. "There's no perm in a method debate" with actual, well-explained reasons for why that's true (and yes that's a thing, I have judged debates where this argument was made in a compelling way) and solid preparation against prereq arguments would make it much easier to go for state good arguments on the neg.


On a different note, I know this is super annoying, but my last name is no longer Strauss.  I hyphenated when I got married.  Its bullshit that only women should have to take the man's name, or that only women should have to hyphenate.  As I believe in marriage equality, my wife and I choose to mutually hyphenate.  I know most people don't know that, but I'd prefer if you just called me "Dave" to reflect that.  Ok, I can't believe I just said that....I'm the worst...but still.

Noted. Definitely not annoying.
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jonahfeldman
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Posts: 96


« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2017, 08:35:48 AM »


"Just to clarify on #3 - Wimsatt being one of the first and most vocal advocates for it was what set off alarms for some. So it wasn't just the messenger, but also the choir."

This is a very disturbing move to chill speech.  You just stated publicly that the topic committee, in part, rejected a proposal because one of the brightest debate minds who is eager to contribute because he loves debate took the time to explain in depth why he thought it was a good idea.  You've declared that participation in the discussion by some is a poison pill that will doom a proposal.  Can we get the full list of people who that's true for?  
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Hester
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Posts: 153


« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2017, 05:36:35 PM »

The facebook conversation - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1528490870789384/permalink/1681226355515834/ - is where all of this got started. Wimsatt posted his proposal, several people responded, Varda specifically states "It is telling that it's the "only instrumental policy good" folks who want this." The replies are there in the thread.

Every day of the Topic Committee meetings was live-streamed and discussed in real time on Facebook. Anyone who believes this is "disturbing" or that "poison pills" are in play can exert the effort to figure out whatever it is they want to learn about the the discussion of the Strauss proposal.

Wimsatt is indeed a bright mind, i'd go so far as to say brilliant...his work as a student rep on the Topic Committee last summer was great and still appreciated. fwiw, Wimsatt actually responded to Varda's post: "Guilty as charged that I'm an "only instrumental policy good" person supporting this :-)."

No chilled speech. No poison pills.

If anyone else is disturbed, feeling a bit chilly, or worried that their advocacy may torpedo future discussions, the only advice i can give you is to consider that the Topic Committee's 'unlimited powers' apply only to constructing resolution wording options - we don't have the ability to restrict anyone's speech or 'punish' anyone for speaking out about the process. Please reference the various threads on this forum and Facebook for evidence of that fact.



"Just to clarify on #3 - Wimsatt being one of the first and most vocal advocates for it was what set off alarms for some. So it wasn't just the messenger, but also the choir."

This is a very disturbing move to chill speech.  You just stated publicly that the topic committee, in part, rejected a proposal because one of the brightest debate minds who is eager to contribute because he loves debate took the time to explain in depth why he thought it was a good idea.  You've declared that participation in the discussion by some is a poison pill that will doom a proposal.  Can we get the full list of people who that's true for?  
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