College Policy Debate Forums

DISCUSSION => Open Topic -- Any issue => Topic started by: rwevans on April 07, 2011, 11:05:38 AM

Title: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 07, 2011, 11:05:38 AM
Now that the season is over I thought I would post something related to diversity in debate.  I attended this year’s CEDA nationals and I must say that there was a huge difference in the makeup of the of the community at that tournament.  There were definitely way more diverse faces in 2011 than there were in 2000 when I attended my first CEDA. 

I think that is pretty awesome.  That being said, the community definitely seems segregated, mostly by style of debate, but that segregation by style of debate has resulted in racial segregation as well.  Debaters of color who have chosen non-traditional styles of debate are largely ghettoized in a corner and largely marginalized by the community.  Even if it’s not personal, it’s problematic.  Thus, despite all of the advances in diversity in debate, I still don’t think it’s a good place for minorities.

Diversity ought to be a primary concern for the community.  Even the SCOTUS recognizes the compelling state interest in promoting diversity in academia.  This is even more important for debate, which is the foundation of democracy and marketplace of ideas.  Some awesome scholars and scholarship is produced in debate, but it would be greatly improved if it were the product of vigorous debate with diverse populations where there is equal footing.  A debate community that is not diverse is hardly having a debate.

Diversity, then, must be a means and not an end.  Diversity is the means by which the community produces well rounded and well tested scholars and scholarship.  This means that just having people of color in the community without facilitating their meaningful participation is a failure.  I think that is where we are in the community now.  So called ”stylistic minorities” are tolerated and not embraced, except for when they become less and less of a stylistic minority.

I think style of debate, including the role of the resolution, needs to be discussed more here and less in debates.  It seems that how we should debate has been left to debaters to decide in framework debates.  But, no one realizes that those are real debates that mean something outside of who wins or loses.  Just because traditional debaters can convince traditional judges that there are benefits to traditional debate  does not mean that the thing has been decided.

I am of the opinion that almost all of debate should be rethought.  You cannot incorporate diverse people into a once non-diverse activity and expect it to stay the same!  Everything about current debate was made by elite white men for elite white men.  If there were a debate  community comprised mainly of racial minorities do you think we would have the same debate community?  Nope, it would be vastly different.  While, some of you would say it would be “ghetto,” I say it would be different.  I do not think that current debate is inevitable, it's a product of it's people.  We made it, we can change it.

So much of debate is so entrenched that very little is up for debate.  This is a lesson you learn as a debater.  There is tons of precedent within the community that dectates how debates are decided.  This is how as a 2N or 2A you know whether and what you are wining:  because you know how the debate community decides these things.  Which means that all of “traditional debate” is an artifact of it’s non-diverse days.

Further, I will posit that it is indeed how debates are decided that produces such racial polarization.  I have always been of the opinion that debate is racist because the people itself are racist.  It’s not speed, not the USFG, not the flow.  It’s the people, more specifically the judges who have removed themselves from responsibility in how they decide debates.  As a debater, it’s was always the judges that made me feel the least comfortable.  The other team can say what they will and I will be there to call them out, but how the judge decides the debate in an allegedly “objective” way is where the problems begin for me.  I would win racism outweighs nuclear war in every debate that’s judged by Tiffany Dillard Knox and I would lose that debate 10 out of 10 times if (insert generic judge x here) were judging.  Who’s right in that?  The debate community would have you believe it’s because TDK is a bad judge.  I would have you believe that Generic Judge X is just voting as a white male would and telling me that I lost the argument. 

What is odd is that judges are largely left out of the discussion in most debates.  It’s as if the judge is just interpreting what happened as opposed to an active participant in the debate.  Focusing on arguments as opposed to people is at the core of this.  Judges aren’t decided whether Heg is good or bad, but instead are voting for the team they found most persuasive.  What is persuasive is largely dictated by who you are.  In other words, who is deciding these debates and how?  Judges must be brought in the debate.  Hence,  I have a modest proposal for deciding the debates that may improve diversity.

Resolved:  The judge/ballot should be the focus of the debate and not the plan.

Under the current traditional model of debate, the negative must prove that the plan/aff is a bad idea.  Some may call this parametric debate.  But ultimately, the question is whether the aff is a good idea.

I think there should be equal access to the ballot and recognition that there is always forced choice between the affirmative and negative and that ultimately the judge votes for teams and not arguments.  Therefore, the question becomes what is the most productive way to cast my ballot.   What are the advantages to voting aff vs the advantages of voting negative, which means both teams have to do DO something that is net beneficial.

Reasons to prefer:

1.   Better limit on the debate.  It would allow smaller teams to focus on a negative strategy that is most persuasive as opposed to chasing down the Aff.  In today’s  debate community where teams apparently may or may not have to be topical the research burden on the negative is ridiculous.  I don’t hear much of a discussion of this any longer, but negative research burden used to be important.  I mean, you know have to carry so much evidence it has to be on a computer.  Judges also demand cards for everything so it’s out of hand.  Debaters are like student athletes and let’s not forget the student part.  I think this is particularly important for students of color who may not be as prepared for college as their counterparts.

2.   Better clash.  In the squo, the Aff is encouraged to say as little as possible so as not to generate links for the negative.  This allows that “we could do that” syndrome.  Or, “we aren’t anything so we can be everything, including your K.”  Indeed, I have seen 2 minute affs with 6 mins of preempts.  Ridic!  Permutations on the K have become out of control and they stem from the idea that the job of the negative is to prove the aff a bad idea.  Maybe that shouldn’t be the role of the negative.  Especially, if the Aff doesn’t have to be topical.

3.   Increases the value of performance.  I can read a poem and then make arguments about the value of voting for that poem and the aff can’t just snatch it and add it the 1AC.   I attended the Michigan debate camp several times and Roger Solt would always give the K lecture in which he would say the Kritik is a verb and not a noun, which means you have to DO IT in order for it to be done.  Judge focus means that only one performance can be voted for AND every debate is a performance.

4.   Bodies matter.  Who says what and when MUST BE UP FOR DEBATE.  Voting for teams, people and performances as opposed to ideas, independently of how they were presented opens the debate up.  For example, in last year’s pro debate tournament me and Deven Cooper had the privilege of debating Mike Hester & Jon Sharp.  We read our quare aff and they argued community backlash.  But, as far as I am concerned they performed the community backlash in the debate.  Two white men, one from Kentucky and the other from Georgia arguing to 2 (non black or gay judges) that there will be violence if those judges vote for the black queers is problematic?  What does it mean when the judge casts his ballot for that argument?  There is no account for the role of the judge and the autonomy that judge has in choosing what to affirm.  If we just evaluate that debate in terms of whether our plan/performance can produce the advantage identified (change debate) the negative may very well win.  Just because they win the argument doesn’t mean they win the ballot because the material harms to voting for them outweigh the benefits. 

5.   Teams should ONLY be accountable for what they do and MUST be accountable for what they do.  For example, fullerton reads their K of whiteness against Towson.  Because Fullerton spoke first and positioned themselves against whiteness now the negative has to either defend whiteness or find another way of talking about it.  But, what does the Aff’s K of whiteness have to do with the negative, especially if they themselves are not white.  Why should the negative have to defend the behavior of others?  Further, what does the Aff’s indictment of USFG policy have to do with me?  Perhaps each team should discuss the benefit of what they do.

6.   Normativity.  Current debate takes place as if we are describing a world that we ourselves are not a part of.  This is the most problematic of it all.  We are all a part of the field of pain a death and our current style of debate prevents us from recognizing that.  For instance, I judged a debate in elims of CEDA nationals in which East LA was negative against Whitman and they argued that black people were slaves and went on and on about the plight of the black body.  I didn’t find it persuasive and I found it quite disturbing to listen to.  Why would I enjoy being called a slave by two non-black bodies and told how I must decide the debate.  I just told them that I wasn’t voting for it.  I then had a long discussion with their coach about the truthiness of the argument, which I found to be irrelevant.  To me it mattered more how the debaters presented the argument (Liberty slayed me with the argument earlier) and that he and they failed to realize that I was the only black body in the room and that their words had an actual effect on me.  In other words, their debate argument was playing out in real life.  I am the black body and I agree that it’s pretty tough, but hearing East LA call me a slave didn’t make me any happier that day.  Neither did Whitman’s casual “global warming outweighs slavery” argument, but I digress.  We are talking about people people!  We need to debate the consequences of voting one way or another and we need to openly discuss and debate who finds what persuasive.

I just wish debate could be more fun for certain of us.  This requires that we humanize debate.  I think this is a start.

Other notes:
1.   This is kind of like plan-plan, but it’s performance-performace.
2.   This doesn’t alter the debate between two traditional debate teams, but slightly levels the playing field btwn traditional and non-traditional debates.  The squo heavily favors traditional teams.
3.   There are undoubtedly advantages to plan focus debate, but it doesn’t do anything to humanize debate.
4.   I argue that Judges are racist not because they hate people of color, but because they are largely indifferent to the racially disparate impacts of current debate practices.  Further, we have to stop talking about “whiteness” and start talking about white people (humanize the debate).  Judges are complicit and must realize that casting their ballot one way or another has material consequences, so they must be reminded when they are white.  There must be individual responsibility as opposed to institutional responsibility arguing that debate is racist means that no one in particular is responsible when everyone in particular is responsible.
5.   Judge focus solves the USFG every year problem.

I hope this was clear and is productive.  I didn’t do much editing or revising because the email itself is way longer than I care to sit and type.  I care deeply about debate and even more so about diversity in debate and I hope this discussion happens in some meaningful way without timers and blocks and cards.  I love debate, but hate listening to debaters debate and judges judge.  It makes my heart bleed.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Paul Elliott Johnson on April 10, 2011, 11:36:34 PM
Rashad,

what do think of abolishing MPJ as one way of allaying some of your concerns? It seems like to some extent debate segregation is accelerated by the ability to create various pockets of "expert" judges, and this produces a set of judges so unfamiliar with a certain style of debate that they are more hostile/unreceptive to the arguments produced?

PJ
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Hester on April 11, 2011, 11:41:47 AM
i like this idea as a way to develop 'judge adaptation' skills debaters don't need as much when MPJ gives them who they want all the time. i've thought a return to the days when certain prelims did not use prefs (tournament invites use to indicate "prefs will go into effect Rd ____" ) would be a way to access the benefits of both MPJ and random (with constraints always in effect, of course). segregation retards development of debaters making arguments as much as it limits the ability of judges to become familiar with those args. of course, your idea assumes judges keep an open mind, and don't simply refuse to vote for certain arguments.

in general, i think we should encourage variation and experimentation at tournaments.


Rashad,

what do think of abolishing MPJ as one way of allaying some of your concerns? It seems like to some extent debate segregation is accelerated by the ability to create various pockets of "expert" judges, and this produces a set of judges so unfamiliar with a certain style of debate that they are more hostile/unreceptive to the arguments produced?

PJ
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Ryan Galloway on April 11, 2011, 12:01:21 PM
Panetta and I have floated the idea of different major tournaments having different brands of MPJ, similar to the way tennis and golf have different "surfaces" that the players adapt to.

As a hypothetical, one could use ordinals at GSU.  Then, Kentucky could use categories.  Then, USC could use random with 25% strikes.  Then, Fullerton could use 1-6 categories.  Other tournaments could intersperse their ideas in between.

If you want to be the best, you need to win on grass, clay, and a hard court.  If you want to be the best, you've got to be able to win on the different playing fields throughout the year.  Can you convince somebody who you don't often see to vote for you?  It seems to be an analogue to the different surfaces.

I do not expect to see this idea adopted, as tournaments that have experimented too much with judge preference systems have seen support driven down.  At the same time, I am sympathetic to the argument made by Hester and Johnson that we are creating enclaves of deliberation where people just don't talk to each other.  My anecdotal experience is that this is limiting the ability for healthy dialogue and respect between folks with slightly different approaches to the activity.

Those that charge the net should occasionally be forced to play on a surface that rewards baseline play and spin control.  Those that bomb the ball 350 off the tee should be forced to occasionally play on a cramped shorter course that rewards an iron up the middle.

The best should be able to do it all.  Want to win the Copeland?  Be forced to slow down and adapt from time to time.  Be forced to find a way to beat the run and gun style in front of a judge that mildly prefers it. 

Mostly a thought experiment, but a fun one to think about.

RG
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 11, 2011, 12:31:33 PM
No it doesn’t, the community uses MPJ as a redline to keep the community segregated, but you can remove MPJ and the community would still be hostile to alternative styles of debate.  The hostility is not because of ignorance.  It’s intentional.  The community must change.

Separately, I agree that MPJ is problematic for several reasons.  First, Judges are auditioning for teams when it should be the other way around.  Judges are concerned that how they vote will negatively impact who they judge.  This encourages polarization.  All you have to do is read judging philosophies and you will see judges making it clear where they stand and who they want to judge.  Pretty much locks people in and excuses poor decision making (not to be confused with poor decisions).  Everyone is catering to their base and it’s more polarizing than ever. 

Second, stylistic minorities will always be disadvantaged in a system where the majority can usually handicap the debate in their favor with the help of an almost always favorable judging pool (part of which they concretize through the MPJ see above).  This is one the ways is which lack of diversity limits the potential of debate. 

Third, MPJ does create the idea that judges must be experts, but sadly, more than anything judges are expected to be experts at debate, which is only one of the many ways that debates are distorted.  The only thing that matters is this world is the debate argument and many of these debate arguments have already been decided and its just a matter of how they align themselves up on the flow this time.  People do not matter in this world, especially when they do not have a card to speak for themselves because debate judges judge debate evidence and debate judges know the best debate evidence because they cut the best debate evidence. 

MPJ does nothing to promote diversity and inclusion.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: joe on April 11, 2011, 06:21:28 PM
Three Unrelated Ideas:

1. Put me down for less performance in debate...99% of the time they are super vacuous.  

2. It's pretty depressing to orient the debate towards what can be done with the ballot, because the answer will always be 'not much".  I prefer the escapism of fiat/imagining stuff outside of our agency to the fetishization of my own experience.

3. People should feel free to run MPJ-free tournaments...and watch their numbers crash.




Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 11, 2011, 07:21:03 PM
Joe,

This was posted as a discussion of diversity in debate.  Care to discuss your 3 "unrelated ideas" in the context of diversity in debate?

I'll discuss them anyways:

1. Put me down for less performance in debate...99% of the time they are super vacuous.  

First, all debates are performances.  I use the term not in the dance/rap/drama sense, but in the sense that what is relevant in a speech is not just the content, but the presentation.  Therefore, we can and should evaluate the value of the full act, including who is speaking, what they are speaking (the relationship between the two) and so on.  

Second, perhaps part of the reason these debates are "super vacuous" is because it's been hard for them to fully develop because the majority of those debates are spent with one team fighting to simply be heard and teachers, such as yourself, aren't helping the students develop these arguments.

Third, current debate is vacuous.  It's predictable, sterile and lacks diversity.  The resolutions change and the arguments stay the same.  Next year's copeland winner will have a heg/competitivenesss advantage on the aff- I bet you a dollar.  The 2NR will go for politics or framework in the final round of (insert tournament)- I bet you two dollars.

Debaters don't even make eye contact anymore.  They stand and read blocks from a computer.  Instead of talking to judges, they talk outloud and expect judges to grab their arguments and put it on paper.  Debaters are so lazy they can't take the time to say alternative, opting for "alt" instead.  It's not interesting, it's not challenging and it's not the end all be all.

2. It's pretty depressing to orient the debate towards what can be done with the ballot, because the answer will always be 'not much".  I prefer the escapism of fiat/imagining stuff outside of our agency to the fetishization of my own experience.

First, the ballot has an impact, especially when it is casts for or against certain arguments.  This is true whether you choose to recognize it or not.  Your ignorance to that fact is exactly the problem.  Debates are about people and some of those people are involved in these debates.  How you vote matters and you should be more careful with your ballot.

Second, I am glad that you enjoy the escapism of fiat.  What a luxury for you.  But does that have to be the only way to debate?  Why do you think your way is the best way?  Why do you think your way has to be the only way?

Third, you are fetishizing your own experience whether you admit it or not.  When you make decisions in debate it's largely based on your own experiences YET YOU GIVE THE ILLUSION THAT IT'S COMMON KNOWLEDGE.  No, your post is a fetishization of your own experience and so to are your debate decisions.

Fourth, knowledge from lived experience is relevant.  Your dismissal of it only highlights some of the sexism and racism underlying the commitment to debate as we know it.

Last, fiat accomplishes nothing.  It's intellectual masturbation, but the porn stays the same.  Eventually, people stop cumming.

3. People should feel free to run MPJ-free tournaments...and watch their numbers crash.

Well everyone should do it and watch it not.  These tactics have been tried before:  
http://abcnews.go.com/Archives/video/jan-14-1963-gov-wallace-segregation-12539652

Maybe the USFG should send in the troops.


 
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: joe on April 11, 2011, 08:14:34 PM
Joe,

This was posted as a discussion of diversity in debate.  Care to discuss your 3 "unrelated ideas" in the context of diversity in debate?

I'll discuss them anyways:

1. Put me down for less performance in debate...99% of the time they are super vacuous.  

First, all debates are performances.  I use the term not in the dance/rap/drama sense, but in the sense that what is relevant in a speech is not just the content, but the presentation.  Therefore, we can and should evaluate the value of the full act, including who is speaking, what they are speaking (the relationship between the two) and so on.  

Second, perhaps part of the reason these debates are "super vacuous" is because it's been hard for them to fully develop because the majority of those debates are spent with one team fighting to simply be heard and teachers, such as yourself, aren't helping the students develop these arguments.

Third, current debate is vacuous.  It's predictable, sterile and lacks diversity.  The resolutions change and the arguments stay the same.  Next year's copeland winner will have a heg/competitivenesss advantage on the aff- I bet you a dollar.  The 2NR will go for politics or framework in the final round of (insert tournament)- I bet you two dollars.

Debaters don't even make eye contact anymore.  They stand and read blocks from a computer.  Instead of talking to judges, they talk outloud and expect judges to grab their arguments and put it on paper.  Debaters are so lazy they can't take the time to say alternative, opting for "alt" instead.  It's not interesting, it's not challenging and it's not the end all be all.

2. It's pretty depressing to orient the debate towards what can be done with the ballot, because the answer will always be 'not much".  I prefer the escapism of fiat/imagining stuff outside of our agency to the fetishization of my own experience.

First, the ballot has an impact, especially when it is casts for or against certain arguments.  This is true whether you choose to recognize it or not.  Your ignorance to that fact is exactly the problem.  Debates are about people and some of those people are involved in these debates.  How you vote matters and you should be more careful with your ballot.

Second, I am glad that you enjoy the escapism of fiat.  What a luxury for you.  But does that have to be the only way to debate?  Why do you think your way is the best way?  Why do you think your way has to be the only way?

Third, you are fetishizing your own experience whether you admit it or not.  When you make decisions in debate it's largely based on your own experiences YET YOU GIVE THE ILLUSION THAT IT'S COMMON KNOWLEDGE.  No, your post is a fetishization of your own experience and so to are your debate decisions.

Fourth, knowledge from lived experience is relevant.  Your dismissal of it only highlights some of the sexism and racism underlying the commitment to debate as we know it.

Last, fiat accomplishes nothing.  It's intellectual masturbation, but the porn stays the same.  Eventually, people stop cumming.

3. People should feel free to run MPJ-free tournaments...and watch their numbers crash.

Well everyone should do it and watch it not.  These tactics have been tried before:  
http://abcnews.go.com/Archives/video/jan-14-1963-gov-wallace-segregation-12539652

Maybe the USFG should send in the troops.


 

I'm not into the line by line...I guess you'll win on your powertagged Governor Wallace turns. 

I'm not really interested in alternatives to debate that involve more poetry and bad attempts to turn the ballot into something "meaningful". I've seen plenty of these debates and don't really want anything to do with them.  sq>plan-plan>>>>>performance-performance.  Why does every attempt to include those who are at the margins of debate have to start with artsy nonsense and performance theory? I was with you through a lot of that first post, then you got to tinkering with the ballot and the stuff about dueling performances and I had to chime in and disagree.

Maybe these opinions make me a total asshole, a racist, and a bad educator.  I still will sleep okay tonight.


Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 11, 2011, 08:25:36 PM
And why should an admitted racist be allowed to represent a university and judge students at debate tournaments?

 
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: joe on April 11, 2011, 08:41:37 PM
And why should an admitted racist be allowed to represent a university and judge students at debate tournaments?

 


Below the belt.  I'd never insinuate that you shouldn't be allowed to represent a university and pursue your livelihood over a disagreement about debate.  Especially when what you are saying is such a gross misrepresentation of what I said.

Anyways, I'm out of this conversation.  You and I are both indebted to Hester and I don't want him to have to see his people fighting like this.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 11, 2011, 08:56:31 PM
That is my point.  This is not merely a disagreement over debate.  You also once completely went off on a black female judge in this community based in part on how you decided a debate and talked to her debaters.  With venom.  Don't you think that the attitudes you just displayed on this message board were reflected in that performance of yours at last year's CEDA?  You don't think that the attitude you just expressed on this message board gets reflected in the way you decide debates?  You don't think that debaters are harmed by your comments?  You don't think I was harmed by your previous comment?  It reminded me of how hostile the community is.  That there isn't a place for minorities in the activity.  That maybe I should stop engaging the community about this at all and just move on with my life.  That you are speaking for a currently very loud silent majority?  Words have an effect inside and outside of the debate argument.

Why should you be allowed to judge debates?

Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: koslow on April 11, 2011, 09:37:07 PM
Mr. Evans, you shouldn't listen to rumors.

Koehle's certainly an asshole, but perhaps a more productive jumping-off point: http://youtu.be/b0Ti-gkJiXc
So how to hold people in the community accountable? I agree with just about every one of your initial points, but what does that mean for teams and judges? You say performance v. performance, but I doubt I was in a debate last year where neither side read a framework. Should the judges prefer performance/performance to an explicit framework argument by either team?

If someone engages in racist practices, they should get called out on and held accountable for it, but that's the current system. I don't see a better way to address it without adopting a paternalistic stance towards the debaters.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: ChristopherThomas on April 11, 2011, 09:43:17 PM
And why should an admitted racist be allowed to represent a university and judge students at debate tournaments?

Why should you be allowed to judge debates?



you have made a very important and necessary conversation about our community into a debate of ad homs and that is sad. This conversation comes up often. Seemingly, it never goes anywhere because it turns into the same us/them argument. Ask yourself now, what have you done to create a safe and open space for people to voice their opinions about the matter? Because as a once debater, now judge/coach, I do not feel welcome to post here without some retaliation or being told I shouldn't judge debates. I guess Green and Hicks were right, switch-side may cause more tolerance.

It is an open forum concerning an activity that prizes a diversity of argumentation. I believe you said...
"Diversity, then, must be a means and not an end.  Diversity is the means by which the community produces well rounded and well tested scholars and scholarship."

You also said...
"Diversity ought to be a primary concern for the community.  Even the SCOTUS recognizes the compelling state interest in promoting diversity in academia.  This is even more important for debate, which is the foundation of democracy and marketplace of ideas.  Some awesome scholars and scholarship is produced in debate, but it would be greatly improved if it were the product of vigorous debate with diverse populations where there is equal footing.  A debate community that is not diverse is hardly having a debate."


I certainly hope this statement is not only concerning diversity in terms for people of color in the community, but diversity than spans genders, races, ages, classes, as well as argument diversity. Why do you get to deem someone's argument...no wait, they themselves....not worthy to post in a open forum? Slightly ridiculous, I think. Don't you think your comments harm debaters also? Don't you think your attitudes express how you judge debates? While you may not feel your words/actions are hostile and exclusionary the fact that you get to publicly denounce someone's ability to judge a debate is unprofessional, unnecessary and just mean...seriously, just mean.  Good example of hostile; When other people get to determine the views, beliefs, opinions of others and therefore dictate to an entire community how to treat that person.

 I wasn't in said debate, but I certainly can believe there is context that is largely left out from this discussion.

Your arguments and intentions seem noble. But you have been completely disrespectful, and that is just the truth. I don't even know most of you, but this is pathetic if this is what we believe to be a "discussion [that] happens in some meaningful way without timers and blocks and cards."
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 11, 2011, 10:01:05 PM
No no.  I will not allow this to happen.  Do not try to turn this into an attack on me.  I began this thread with an invitation to discuss diversity in debate and offered one possible new way of thinking about the debate.  That received mainly silence.  No one offered there own concerns or comments or ideas for how to make the community more inclusive.

Joe, then decides to bypass the discussion of diversity in debate with "3 unrelated comments," attacks alternative styles of debate as vacuous, meaningless and and fetishisism.  AND then, he concludes with this gem:  "Maybe these opinions make me a total asshole, a racist, and a bad educator.  I still will sleep okay tonight."  Silence on that from this message board.  I call him out on that indefensible comment in the face of a very serious conversation and legitimately question whether someone who has that attitude towards debate and debaters should be allowed to judge.  I did debate and I know what type of impacts these types of comments, which happen in debates more often than you would believe, have on debaters.  I am not much of a cryer, but I shed tears at almost every debate tournament because I wondered why I dedicated 8 years to a community that is this hostile to minorities. Talk to some  minority debaters and get a better understanding of how hurtful comments like that are.  

Now, here you guys are attacking me?  Now you want to attack my original post?  This is what you choose to defend:  
"Maybe these opinions make me a total asshole, a racist, and a bad educator.  I still will sleep okay tonight."  How am I the one who was being disrespectful here?  

This is not okay.  

I will ask again.  What ideas do you have more making debate more diverse and less segregated?
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: PaulK on April 11, 2011, 10:55:06 PM
Accusing a community of being hostile to minorities =/= an attempt at engaging in an open and productive discussion. If really you believe that rhetoric and the style that we choose to approach a subject is as important as your posts proclaim, then you should take a moment to examine your own words, not just those of others.

Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: DevenC on April 11, 2011, 10:59:44 PM
RASHAD.....I SO AGREE WITH YOU BUT...I DONT THINK THERE IS REALLY ANY RATIONALIZING ANYTHING WITH SOME OF THESE PEOPLE WITHOUT BEING LABELED AS "US/THEM" TYPE OF PERSON OR A SEPARATIST, WHICH I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH BUT....AND THIS ISNT TO BE RUDE TO ANY OF THEM....I THINK ALOT OF THE WHITE PEOPLE IN THIS ACTIVITY COULD GIVE A TWO SHITS ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE, LATINOS, OR ANYONE ONE ELSE EXCEPT THOSE LIKE THEM......"SEE JACK ROGERS' STUDY FOR THAT EMPIRICAL STUFF" I MEAN ITS KINDA WHY DAYVON AND I STOPPED SAYING DIVERSITY...AND DECIDED TO BE IT....AND BEAT THEM UP SIDE THEIR HEADS....AND YEA I DONT THINK RACIST, SEXIST, PEDOPHILE, OR IDIOT JUDGES SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO JUDGE BUT THEY ARE ....IT IS WHAT IS....POINT BLANK THEY DONT REALLY GIVE A FRICK SO WHY SHOULD SOME OF US GIVE A FRICK ABOUT THE TOPIC OR THE RESOLUTION..WHEN THAT IS ONLY CRAFTED TO HAVE A SPECIFIC CONVO....CUZ AT THE END OF THE DAY....THEY REP US OUT, SAY WE ARENT GOOD ENOUGH, PLAY THE GOOD OLE BOY GAME....AND PAT U ON THE BACK AND SAY "BE GOOD NIGGER"............
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 11, 2011, 11:10:56 PM
I must be able to accuse the community of being hostile to me as a minority in order for us to have an open and productive discussion. 

I chose hostile carefully.  There were other considerations.

You decided to jump in on this debate:  why did you choose to comment on my saying the community is hostile to minorities instead of commenting of Joe Koehle's comment that ""Maybe these opinions make me a total asshole, a racist, and a bad educator.  I still will sleep okay tonight."

Which one bothers you more?
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: jgonzo on April 11, 2011, 11:11:20 PM
An idea has been proposed, decreasing the amount of MPJ.

Either it is the case that the debate community, as a whole, is not open to alternative styles of argument (a claim that is impossible to prove as valid, but that intuition suggests is false, given that alternative argument styles persist), or it is the case that some judges are not open to alternative argument styles, whereas others are open to alternative argument styles. MPJ may well protect teams that employ traditional argument styles, but only to an identical degree that it would protect teams that employ alternative argument styles, given that it allows teams to select the judges that are most likely to be open to their particular argumentation style. If, over multiple iterations, MPJ (a content-neutral system) creates judge placements that are, on average, hostile to alternative styles, I think that one of two things is likely (possibly both):

1. Teams that use traditional argumentation styles are more adept at gaming the MPJ system than teams that use alternative argumentation styles. I find this incredibly unlikely and, at best, only marginally beneficial in terms of wins and losses.

2. The judging pool, when aggregated and averaged, is more receptive to traditional argumentation styles than alternatives.

I think that #2 is more likely. I do not think that this proves such broad pronouncements such as "the community" (as if such a monolithic thing exists) "is intentionally hostile to alternative argument styles." Instead, I think it suggests that more judges prefer traditional argument styles than prefer alternative argument styles. My personal experience is that the gap between the two is not massive in terms of numbers, but has meaningful effects.

What all of this means, ironically, is that eliminating MPJ is probably a NET LOSER for teams that use alternative argument styles. Given the pretty amazing power of Gary's judge assignment algorithm (provided that Gary hasn't designed it to recognize alternative arg teams and screw their judge placements), MPJ is actually better at protecting teams that prefer a smaller portion of the pool than any weaker system of prefs would be, given that such a system would force everyone to go deeper into the pool.

Be careful what you wish for - you might get it.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: PaulK on April 11, 2011, 11:35:06 PM
I must be able to accuse the community of being hostile to me as a minority in order for us to have an open and productive discussion. 

I chose hostile carefully.  There were other considerations.

You decided to jump in on this debate:  why did you choose to comment on my saying the community is hostile to minorities instead of commenting of Joe Koehle's comment that ""Maybe these opinions make me a total asshole, a racist, and a bad educator.  I still will sleep okay tonight."

Which one bothers you more?

I obviously don't know the considerations that have drawn you to interact with Joe the way that the two of you do. I don't have much to add to the conversation between the two to you, which is why I didn't decide to make a comment on his response to your post. Your accusation of selective bias is probably apt and also obviously I don't know what its like to advocate alternative styles in debate.

However, I do think that you are over-assuming the neutrality of your words. There's a difference between voicing a perspective and asserting an entire group of people of INTENTIONAL and OVERT racism. Just as I can't claim to know what your experiences or intentions are like, you can't know what mine is like. I may or may not disagree with what Joe said, but that doesn't mean that its an appropriate response to try and attach those sentiments to everyone else in the community.

All I'm saying is that there's a chance that people respond to your comments negatively more because of the way you've presented them, than because of their content.

Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 11, 2011, 11:58:52 PM
j,

I don't think that abolishing the MPJ is the solution to diversity/inclusion/segregation in debate.  I do think that abolishing MPJ is an independently good idea however.

What ideas do you have for changes that can be made to make debate more inclusive and less segregated?


I am of the opinion that alternative styles must cease to exist as alternative styles and instead accounted for as a competing style in a regular debate.  I offered the idea that the debate should decided based on the biggest benefit to the ballot where the judge compares the net benefits of voting for either team based on arguments in the debate.  For instance, I remember on the treaties topic Northwestern used to make an argument about the necessity of making demands on the state in the context of the death penalty.  To me, that is a perfect example of a topical affirmative by traditional standards that reads net benefits to their very own behavior in the debate.  They therefore would be able to weigh the advantages of that performance against a team like say Towson who might perform black rage and discuss the benefits of affirming that performance.  The team with the better solvency argument and comparative impact claim is likely to win.  This offers the possibility of good debates where, including policy and not-necesarilty policy arguments.

Further, if you are a team who wants to just read a plan with heg impacts and weigh those impacts you should be allowed to do so.  If you find yourself in a debate with a performance team that discusses the benefits of voting for them, then you read net benefits to doing the things that you do hopefully that are specific to your aff.  Teams really have to do this on the aff anyways.  The only change I propose is that the role of the negative should not be to prove the aff to be a bad idea, but instead be held to the burden of proving that casting the ballot for the negative is net beneficial.

This of course would eliminate the permutation as we know it because it recognizes forced choice between the affirmative and negative.

In debate terms, this is a permutation to the argument that we need a non USFG actor resolution.  There needs to be a way to include a discussion of the USFG without requiring a discussion of the USFG.  If you want to discuss the USFG identify and defend the benefits of such and argue that those benefits are superior to those captured by the benefits of a negative ballot.  You eliminate the straw-person argument and just compare what each team did in the debate as opposed to the team that identified the worse evil.  It is no longer what you say and all about what you (which includes what you say).  

If judges where more receptive to this debate criteria, do you not think it would foster a more inclusive debate without radically altering the current model, which has its benefits, but is not perfect?  

Let me know, thanks!
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: stables on April 12, 2011, 12:20:16 AM
When the moved from the old listserv to the forums we knew there were going to be a lot of adjustments. It took some time to adjust and I know that some folks found the forums not as easy to use. I believe we have become more comfortable with the site and that is good news. This should be a place for not only day to day business but also to advance discussions and thought experiments without an easy solution. It is important to keep in mind, however, that as a site for discussion this site is only as good as we make it. A couple of reflections on the current discussion before I offer some ideas that relate to the original thread.

1 - The posts or absence of comments of posts doesn't necessarily speak to some broader judgment. It certainly can be true, but I am not sure that we are ready to make final judgments on this or any thread. What we can do is to promote a better discussion than we see in other places and allow that to inform our actions, both individually and collective. This site works best if we challenge each other to think and reflect, but I don't think anyone can read any of the threads as conclusive of much more than who decided to reply and who decided to lurk. Watching this thread tonight is reflective that the community notices the controversy. The challenge remains that once the dust of this thread settles we need to assess what we have learned and we can do to improve.

2 - I mention the old list because I worry this once-promising thread may include some of the troubling features of e-discourse. I have known both Rashad and Joe for years and I have a hard time believing that this conversation would evolve this way in person. I don't pretend they (or any of us) would necessarily agree. They are both very intelligent and strong in their beliefs. I judged them both and I know it was never easy to vote against them :)  No one is looking for us to pretend we agree. I do think, however, that their shared commitment to debate and the people in debate would focus those disagreements toward the important challenge of improving debate. I read some of tonight's comments and cringe because they are not worthy of the fine people that utter them. Especially as coaches and judges, we all have an obligation to express ourselves in ways that set an example for others. Specifically there isn't any room in debate for people who don't share the goal of making debate a healthy site of diverse perspectives and even more diverse people. At the same time, anyone who, as a debate professional, expresses that debate is worthless is at some level being insincere. Debate is a method of inquiry that has played a role in all our lives. It can (and should) always improve, but it is still an essential method of learning.

Now back to the original thread -

I was very much struck by the tension the original post. Returning the judge (and their ballot) to the central role in the debate strikes me as somewhat in tension with the idea of allowing teams to argue and contest the standards for the debate itself. The evolution of modern debate to allow a remarkable amount of discretion to mutually pick the judge has been lauded as a success of allowing students (and coaches) to identify the critics they most prefer. This developed to replace the discretion that tournament directors had to place judges and indeed the fragmentation of modern debate method has often been linked to this trend. Modern debate encourages debaters and coaches to innovate and as long as they can select judges that will validate their perspective. I am not sure that returning the judge (and their preferences) to an elevated position will actually produce the types of changes Rashad suggests.

What you saw tonight is a discussion that there is some frustration from coaches of all ideologies about the hyper-specialization of MPJ. I know I have struggled to find any academic or athletic forum that allows the competitors to pick their critics, without other limits. I do think there is ample room to consider how judge selection (including questions of preference and other determinants of suitability) might better influence the community we want. I think we can agree judging is very important. The question is how to consider judge placement as an instrument of community practice so that it promotes the community sought by the community.

More broadly let me return to Rashad's question about how do we continue to improve diversity in debate? A few years ago I judged a debate at the ADI which included evidence from one of the more significant studies about diversity in debate, Ten Years of Demographics: Who Debates in America. Authors:   Stepp, Pamela L.; Gardner, Beth, Argumentation and Advocacy, v38 n2 p69-82 Fall 2001. It was obvious to me at that point that plenty had changed in the time since the survey was done and that we needed to be able to ask these bigger questions once again. I know it may seem like the most boring answer in the world, surveying our community, but reading the study (which I encourage everyone to do) also opened my perspective to some broader questions. A big question for me is how do we conceptualize the diversity we seek? I imagine that there are a number of ways in which ours, like any community, should measure itself against. Do we know what those even are?

This search for goals got me to appreciate the unique challenge of our community. We are a loose collection of schools. We have public and private, 2 and 4 year, and all types of institutions. Why does this matter? Why did I mention the survey? I think an important way forward in our growth as a community has to be a recognition that our first responsibility to diversity is to faithfully represent our home institutions. We don't arrive at debate tournaments without already having squads that are the product of a large range of issues and policies (i.e., admission, cost, academic, etc.).  We can all point to specific issues that make-up a team at a given moment (i.e, this debater quit, this novice just joined, someone else is sick, etc.) but over a reasonable period (say 4 or 5 years) of time every director and every institution should be able to proudly note that their debate program is representative of their overall student body. Every institution, as Rashad correctly notes, has federal and state responsibilities to ensure diversity of student populations. We also know each of our member schools is somewhat different. Why not take the next step from Stepp and Gardner and assess how our programs do as representative of our institutions?

This idea of benchmarking has become more important to me in recent months because I believe one of our central goals as a community to is nurture our best community practices and work to address our biggest problems. I feel like starting here allows us to recognize the good work of many of our directors even as we accelerate these trends across the country. I mentioned this idea to some folks about NCA panels because I believe we have a lot to consider across the various axis of diversity and that looking to our home units is the most responsible place to start.

I also want us to move in this direction because it correctly fixes an important part of the responsibility for promoting a diverse community among our faculty and coaches. As with any debate arguments in a round, there are limits on what is produced by the end of that debate. We are a better community when our students are talented advocates of how we can improve. At the same time, it is insufficient and a dodge of responsibility to place the burden on undergraduates to field teams that represent the best of our institutions. This isn't a wrong forum argument at all - I have just seen too many talented young people who are placed into harms way because our coaches can't engage in other on important questions.

If you got this far I imagine you, like me, don't believe this is an endpoint. We are only just talking about students and the diversity of our competitors, not our coaches or our climate.

I also believe that if we aggressively represent our institutional practices we will also make headway on hiring practices that engage a second dimension, the professional staffing of our activity. I, like Rashad, believe we are slowly making some headway in our undergraduate population but I also feel that progress is more limited in terms of our coaching. Benchmarking data like what the NCAA uses is a great way to look across our differing institutions and ask some of the difficult questions about who staffs our programs. Over time, there may be no important goal that ensuring that the people who run debate are themselves are a vibrant collection of individuals.

 Perhaps I find myself very conflicted about the belief that moving away from a focus on a single proposition and its emphasis on researching events not within our own frames of reference will satisfy the goals of diversity or intellectually rigorous debate. Policy debate is hardly the only form of debate and it is hardly alone in struggling to do something American society has struggled with, to provide a fair academic environment for students from all walks of life and from all types of institutions. As our society becomes overwhelmed with digital sources of information I find the arguments for engaging this research model to become more, not less, compelling as essential life tools for all of us. This is the reason the new secondary school guidelines emphasize the importance of reading and mastering "complex non-fiction texts." I firmly believe that the skills that academic policy debate can teach is more essential to all citizens today than at any point in the last 100 years. Learning how to function in a sea of questionably qualified information is no longer something that just debaters do.

But in all fairness we need to be reflexive to how we don't maximize full potential of this pedagogy. Stating it is good to engage in policy debate is is not the same as policy debate naturally teaches of the right skills. The competition of debate drives us all and that engine produces the personal investment that makes debate such a remarkable environment. Debate must always be understood primarily through competition - without it we are a panel discussion and all of the attendant loss of personal investment.

The role for those committed to debate is to identify and express ways in which unchecked competition produces specific unhealthy practices. Here is the the tension, we need to see ourselves both as those who want to compete (or judge) and those who want to ensure a great foundation for that competition. When we consider both roles we can start to point to how we encourage both.

Let me provide one example. For me, as the topic committee chair, I am distressed by the inability to debate domestic topics because of the absurd construction of the states cp. We do debate a range of topics, but even when we have a domestic topic it has to be framed around the unique exercise of federal authority and typically as something that the states alone cannot do or undo. I ranted at length about this in my education topic paper at  http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=778.0;attach=158  and wished that we could come to a competitive/ educational compromise that encouraged certain amounts of state action (such as those demonstrated as possible by past practice)  and discouraged the magic wand of every state acting together (and the federal government providing the funding, etc. etc). This example was designed to allow the engine of policy debate to work, in my opinion, better because our students would debate something incredibly important in their lives and in their society. I don't pretend there weren't other objections, but the presence of this competitive practice clearly dissuades us from voting for or effectively debating many of the most pressing issues of the day.

Like adjusting how MPJ works, or the survey or the national standards, finding a new compromise on the states CP isn't a magic solution to diversity in debate. I highlighted the challenge of getting our range of schools to find commonalities because I think we both need to think big and globally in our efforts while never losing sight that small compromises can be important. We know debate is remarkable because it encourages competition. Our challenge is to find the terms of that competition that promote the values we all seek.

Thanks for reading.

Gordon








 
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 12, 2011, 02:49:41 AM
Gordon,

Thank you so much for engaging me with regard to the substance of my original post.  I really think your comments are important.

First, you state that “Returning the judge (and their ballot) to the central role in the debate strikes me as somewhat in tension with the idea of allowing teams to argue and contest the standards for the debate itself.”  

Currently teams do not set the standards for the debate.  Debate standards already exist.  The role of the negative is to prove the affirmative to be a bad idea.  This is a judge made rule and it handicaps performance based teams because it makes them easily susceptible to competition based arguments, especially when the Affirmative is encouraged to say as little as possible.  Current debate standards handicap dabates in favor of a specific style of debate.

I saw this example play out at CEDA nationals.  Traditional Aff team reads traditional Aff against West Va.  West Va argues that I should use my ballot to protest speed.  Aff says no link, we didn’t do anything wrong, we win because the aff is a good idea.  But west va said I could use my ballot to protest.  Who wins?  I think the traditional model says Aff and the Aff knew this which is why they NEVER even attempted to answer the other team’s argument.  They relied on precedent in guiding me in how to decide the debate, but never debated the framework itself.

Further, teams rarely have a fair chance to debate the standards of the debate, because those debates are judged according to biased standards and judges themselves are biased in favor of traditional debate.  Your interpretation of debate relies on an unbiased objective judge who merely interprets the debate.  My argument is that this is a false reality and that judges have opinions and biasis that are a product of their lived experience and that this reality must be incorporated into the debate.  In the absence of that, my concern is that there is no fair way to have a debate.  

You also state that “Perhaps I find myself very conflicted about the belief that moving away from a focus on a single proposition and its emphasis on researching events not within our own frames of reference will satisfy the goals of diversity or intellectually rigorous debate.”  

My concern here is that you think there is a such thing as “researching events not within our own frames of reference.”  The entire debate community is set up from the reference point of heterosexual white men.  This includes the desire to focus on foreign policy, war and the state to the exclusion of identity politics and the structural violence that happens daily including on our very own message boards.  When we talk about the USFG in debates we are talking about the interests of elite white men:  is it no wonder that debate is all about politics, hegemony, economic competition and proliferation of weapons?  All the solutions offered  and all of the evidence written are from that reference point.  So, my question to you is when will the debate community debate in a way that doesn’t utilize the white male as the only frame of reference?

It shouldn’t be surprising that so many minorities and women seek alternative ways of debating.  Alternative models of debate based largely in identity is the only fair way to engage in the debate for these individuals.  Perhaps, it is the only way the women and minorities will ever be the subject of the debate and in the debate.

You also state that:

Policy debate is hardly the only form of debate and it is hardly alone in struggling to do something American society has struggled with, to provide a fair academic environment for students from all walks of life and from all types of institutions. As our society becomes overwhelmed with digital sources of information I find the arguments for engaging this research model to become more, not less, compelling as essential life tools for all of us.

First, you assume that knowledge gained from a specific form of research is superior to other forms of knowledge.  Right now, debate suppresses other forms of knowledge that is valuable.  It’s based on lived experience and it’s relevant to every discussion.  You have to be allowed to have an opinion before you can ever begin to make a judgment on the opinions of others.  Therefore, debate fails to achieve its intended goal for everyone.

Second, you assume that only policy debate with its normative focus will result in research.  I think judge focus would refocus research towards more diverse topics and people.  I am not advocating for the elimination of research and policy discussions.  I am advocating for a more humane and inclusive way of deciding these debates.

Third, traditional debaters are overwhelmed by digital sources AND They are discouraged from making sound decisions because switch side debate is good and so is conditional argumentation.  So they read whatever they want.  Who cares what it really means because they can also preempt, permute and drop it.  Perhaps the other teams should be able to discuss as a debate argument why voting for such a performance is bad even if that team wins that their plan/interpretation is a good idea.  My model of debate always holds teams accountable for their arguments.

You also said:  “The role for those committed to debate is to identify and express ways in which unchecked competition produces specific unhealthy practices. Here is the the tension, we need to see ourselves both as those who want to compete (or judge) and those who want to ensure a great foundation for that competition. When we consider both roles we can start to point to how we encourage both.”

I am so with you here and I think about this a lot and I have thought about it from many different angles.  Please understand that I love debate in most of its forms.  I believe in plans, stock issues and reading more evidence that anyone should ever read in a debate.  But, I also see what positive effects alternative styles of debate have on minority participation.  You will notice what style of debate brought them into the activity.  

As a coach, I once sent two women debaters into a debate round to argue why voting for them as a women was a better way to solve for patriarchy than voting for the two dudes arguing a non-topical queer aff.  We only had evidence about the importance of materiality of the body and a pep talk.  They lost the debate, but they both said they significantly preferred having a debate about themselves because they felt confident in what they were talking about.   It was a confidence I had been trying to get them to speak with all year and it came in knowing you are right because you are talking from lived experience.  

That is one of the ways that debate has the potential to be empowering and transformative.  It can be a place where people can find their voice.  How can we better encourage this type of debate instead of discourage it?  Not instead of, but in addition to?

I want judges have to commit to embracing alternative styles of debate soley because they increase diversity.  Some things about debate might change, but it won’t be the end of the world, right?

If my idea fails, what ideas do you have?

P.S. - If you work with me on diversity, I’ll work with you on the states CP.   I’m pretty sure it’s a voting issue.


Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: izak on April 12, 2011, 11:11:34 AM
A side comment on eliminating MPJ, because i found it irresistable--

If DevenC is right about an issue which can only express with the caps lock key, then there is a real sense in which Zizek's account of ideology can help shed light on why MPJ persists in the face of calls for diversification.  Ideology operates by being "disavowed"--we know a situation to be one way, but we act as if it is another.  We know that debate is not as diverse as it could be, but we act as traditional policy debate can fill the gap.  We know that judges absolutely cannot disconnect their subjectivity from their decision, but we act as if decisions generally come from neutral ground (and then proclaim the bias of the status quo for traditional policy debate as natural--that is, as a community "commited to diversity", we presume against diversity).  For Zizek, the structure of disavowal is necessary for the subsistence of ideology because it allows us to endlessly circle around the kernel of ideology (for Zizek, class conflict; for this situation, perhaps diversity) without committing ourselves to the psychic burden of actually "believing"* said ideology.

For Zizek, in societies committed to some vision of liberal multiculturalism, racial and cultural oppressions will form kernels of ideological investment which can never be acknowledged but must constantly recirculate themselves in order to maintain the original structure of oppression.  It should come as no surprise, then, that when faced with an actual embodiment of oppression and the attendant "emotional outbursts" that may entail, the privileged and elite call for "politeness" or "political correctness," because, after all, we all want diversity, we are all committed to a cosmopolitian culture.  In his bleaker moments, Zizek may announce that it is precisely the commitment which is desired and so racism must live on so that we may have something to fight against, but I don't think that this has to be true of the debate community.  What I do think is true, however, is that traditional policy debate certainly does link to the diversity K if only because the bodies which make up the TPD community seem not to reflect the bodies which make up the nation.  The weakest of all possible links, I suppose, but this is my starting point...

What does any of this have to do with MPJ?  If we assume that Deven or Rashad are right to say that the lack of diversity in debate can only be sustained by the kinds of practices we endorse, we must then recognize for each and every individual his or her complicity in the establishment and maintainence of the non-diverse structure of debate.  If Zizek is right, this reality is what must be passionately disavowed in order for said structure to maintain itself.  The elimination of MPJ might then be characterized as a traumatic encounter with the Real, the judging community coming face to face with a world which it has itself had a hand in creating.  That is, those who appeal to explanations of non-diversity in debate which rely on its being an "accident" of priviledge (and not, for example, the result of who we are, what we want, and what we care about) instead would encounter themselves constantly voting against diversity, instead would encounter expressions of privilege in the community that appear necessary.  So instead of realizing that MPJ enables some alternative styles of debate to win every so often (as if the goal of this kind of debate is the accumulation of ballots outright), one realizes that MPJ's isolation of certain styles and groups of critics is what disavowal does to maintain a legitimate-looking commitment to diversity while containing the radical potential of this commitment. 

And of course it's disavowal all the way down--the way the community would continue to vote as if nothing had happened post-MPJ-elimination would find its explanation in how the traditional teams were simply "winning," "better arguers" with "more better evidence."  And so we disavow ourselves--**

izak

*For Zizek, the content of belief is not exhausted by cognition; rather, there is a behavioral dimension to belief whereby if one does not act on what one supposedly believes, there is no belief.  He draws examples from religion, how religious belief is meaningless if it does not manifest in ritual.  In other words, belief is performed.

**Zizek usually leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but he has certainly perverted me in ways I cannot imagine.  For example, this post, which I hardly recognize as my own, was literally seething in my brain until I wrote it because (for once) Zizek really seemed right about something.  So, if you hate Zizek as much as some do, I suppose the only solution is to stop being so amenable for his analysis. 
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: SCOTUS on April 12, 2011, 11:45:25 AM
So much of debate is so entrenched that very little is up for debate.  This is a lesson you learn as a debater.  There is tons of precedent within the community that dectates how debates are decided.  This is how as a 2N or 2A you know whether and what you are wining:  because you know how the debate community decides these things.  Which means that all of “traditional debate” is an artifact of it’s non-diverse days.

I do not believe that 'debate' (as if some monolithic, homogenous entity existed) "entrenches" anything. In terms of the community, literally EVERYTHING is up for debate; from the speeches to the debaters themselves, from the policy content of a resolution and speeches, to the way arguments epistemologically know and understand reality, to the way debaters themselves ontologically orient themselves. We debate both the debate's content (key to heg) as well as the debater's actions ("don't say fuck").  

This becomes more strongly relevant as you call for change outside of 'traditional debate'; there is no reason that debate can't be racially inclusive AND 'traditional' in an argumentative sense.  

Quote
Further, I will posit that it is indeed how debates are decided that produces such racial polarization.  I have always been of the opinion that debate is racist because the people itself are racist.  It’s not speed, not the USFG, not the flow.  It’s the people, more specifically the judges who have removed themselves from responsibility in how they decide debates.  As a debater, it’s was always the judges that made me feel the least comfortable.  The other team can say what they will and I will be there to call them out, but how the judge decides the debate in an allegedly “objective” way is where the problems begin for me.  I would win racism outweighs nuclear war in every debate that’s judged by Tiffany Dillard Knox and I would lose that debate 10 out of 10 times if (insert generic judge x here) were judging.  Who’s right in that?  The debate community would have you believe it’s because TDK is a bad judge.  I would have you believe that Generic Judge X is just voting as a white male would and telling me that I lost the argument.

I think the first part of your post is exactly why this idea wouldn't work, but I'll put that later.

If you "won" it or "lost" it, then you should of won or lost; I do not see why a judge's predisposition should affect your argument. I thought that was the point of arguing. If you provide deductive reasoning as to why something is true, then it does not matter who your critic is - logic is universal. This is back to basic Toulmin 101; you provide a claim, you give empirical or analytic evidence that the claim is true, and then you explain the claim's impact. None of those things are contingent on your judge.

It is possible that many judges view some arguments as non-falsifiable or based on non-falsifiable claims, and therefore only true contingent upon their support of your argument to begin with. This seems to be the case, based on your description; some judges accept the premise of your claim while others do not, which is where the element of discomfort is introduced.

If that is the case, then your argument really boils down to "more people should agree with me to begin with!" without justification. If you can justify a position not only as GOOD but also as TRUE, then it should be given weight. And honestly, I think everyone agrees that racial disparity in the debate community is BAD. But the nature of that disparity, its manifestations, and its intrinsic ties to the community (the TRUTH of your position) is where I think you lose most people. Its not about the people making arguments, but the false nature of the arguments they're making.

A thought experiment shows this; do you expect a judging difference between a black debater that runs "heg good" versus a white debater who does the same? No; it would boil down to whose arguments defeated other arguments. I do not this this is a controversial premise.

However, when a debater (of ANY race) begins to make broad, sweeping and untestable indictments of the people and actions of those who populate the debate community, judges are hard-pressed to see the truth value of the position. I see this echoed in your post; you brand the judging pool as "x generic judge" and then attack them as being structurally unwilling to vote on racism > NW. I do not see why a majority of judges have any structural bias against racial arguments - and this is an empirical question. Where is your data to back this MASSIVE claim up?

Did you do a survey of RFDs? Even a survey of paradigms? And your data isn't  judges who DONT vote on racism > NW (because the team running NW may have won that debate), but judges who WONT vote on racism BECAUSE its racism. Framed in this way, it becomes extremely clear that behind your extremely powerful rhetoric, you rely on empirical premises which do not have empirical backing.

This broad, unsupported type of claim seems representative of many which your post makes, and is a reason that I am comfortable affirming increased diversity while simultaneously being comfortable discarding other broad and unwarranted claims you make.


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What is odd is that judges are largely left out of the discussion in most debates.  It’s as if the judge is just interpreting what happened as opposed to an active participant in the debate.  Focusing on arguments as opposed to people is at the core of this.  Judges aren’t decided whether Heg is good or bad, but instead are voting for the team they found most persuasive.  What is persuasive is largely dictated by who you are.  In other words, who is deciding these debates and how?  Judges must be brought in the debate.

Again, I see claims that are not warranted.

At  the end of a debate, the judge IS deciding the truth value of an argument. You say heg; at the end of a heg debate, the judge chooses whether, in terms of that debate, heg had been demonstrated as good or bad. Just because a judge can think of arguments that defeat a debater's position (which is why they don't personally believe it) does not mean that they should inject those unmade arguments into an rfd; but at the end of the debate, the judge's duty is certainly to evaluate the truth value of arguments made by the debaters.  

I admit that there are certain basic assumptions that most people make, as conditioned by their lives. That a day is composed of 24 hours and completed by a rotation of the earth on its axis. That saving human life is a good thing. That being alive is a good thing.

I think that's what paradigms are for, or at least should be for: they explain these basic assumptions. We have reasons for believing these are true, and thus do. This is inevitable; life forces us to form opinions on certain issues. A paradigm articulates these opinions explicitly, so that the debaters can have a better understanding for their arguments.

Its important to note that these assumptions are not IMMUTABLE, but only existent. In other words, if a team really wants to run timecube in front of me, they need some way to justify that a day is NOT 24 hours. Justification (and what counts as justification - which is another assumption we should identify in paradigms) is probably not existent, so timecube teams may have a problem winning their argument. This is their fault, not mine - they have the duty to prove their argument true. I am unwilling to make assumptions for them in order to grant their argument. It is their duty as debaters to prove any argument they bring up.

This applies as much to race based arguments. I do not view debate as structurally racist, because I have never seen proof that it is. I would require empirical justification of this claim before I was willing to evaluate any argument which was contingent on winning the premise of debate being racist.  

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Hence,  I have a modest proposal for deciding the debates that may improve diversity.

Resolved:  The judge/ballot should be the focus of the debate and not the plan.

Under the current traditional model of debate, the negative must prove that the plan/aff is a bad idea.  Some may call this parametric debate.  But ultimately, the question is whether the aff is a good idea.

With you so far.

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I think there should be equal access to the ballot and recognition that there is always forced choice between the affirmative and negative and that ultimately the judge votes for teams and not arguments.

Not with you anymore. The judge only votes for a team BECAUSE of the arguments they make in the debate. That's why the activity is called debate. The team is the vehicle for affirming the arguments made by that team. If Northwestern got up there and just beat off for an entire round, the judge wouldn't vote for them because they're Northwestern. Even though they as a TEAM are probably better than whoever they're beating off against, they're just beating off. The judge's role is to adjudicate whose arguments are true, and, once truth value has been ascertained for all arguments, how those arguments interact in terms of impact. ie; its true that voting aff solves genocide, but true that it also causes nuke war. Absent a different impact framing, more lives are saved by voting neg. I admit this assumes that saving life is good; this is one of those basic assumptions earlier identified.

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Therefore, the question becomes what is the most productive way to cast my ballot.   What are the advantages to voting aff vs the advantages of voting negative, which means both teams have to do DO something that is net beneficial.

Exactly what kinds of things do  you think a team should "do"?

I am a white, middle-class male who attends the University of Florida. By nature of my genetics, the top three -ism's do not apply to me; racism, classism, sexism. How exactly would debaters like me, who love this activity, participate in your model of debate? You seem as exclusive as the worst which you identify in your post.

That aside, I think that there is a disadvantage to making "do" over "truth" the determinant of debate. First, it brings us away from the critical analysis that makes debate worthwhile; abstract 'good' or 'bad' is only as useful as it is relevant - and its relevance is determined by the truth of its applicability.  

Second, I think your model of debate opens the door for classism. Let's say I offer the judge to donate 1000 dollars to a charity of their choice. I CERTAINLY "do" more than almost any other team. But this narrows debate down to 'who has more cash'. I admit, I do not have a grand for every round I debate. Nor should debate be an auction-room for "who does more". Explain to me, then, how you can advocate voting for who can "do" the most when that model is more exclusive and possibly classist?    

Finally, if it is the judges who are structurally unwilling to vote on this type of argument, what on earth makes you think that they would be willing to do so in your model?

I stopped here because I was unsure of what "your model" even constituted. What exactly are you proposing be done? Does CEDA/NDT formally declare a performance focus? Are you just affirming the idea of focusing on the judge in the abstract? If so, how do you manifest that idea in a specific form? How exactly do you translate it into reality? Please explain.

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Reasons to prefer:

1.   Better limit on the debate.  It would allow smaller teams to focus on a negative strategy that is most persuasive as opposed to chasing down the Aff.  In today’s  debate community where teams apparently may or may not have to be topical the research burden on the negative is ridiculous.  I don’t hear much of a discussion of this any longer, but negative research burden used to be important.  I mean, you know have to carry so much evidence it has to be on a computer.  Judges also demand cards for everything so it’s out of hand.  Debaters are like student athletes and let’s not forget the student part.  I think this is particularly important for students of color who may not be as prepared for college as their counterparts.

This doesn't seem to support your project; you outline a number of bad practices and throw the baby out with the bathwater. If it is bad that "judges demand cards for everything", why would they stop demanding cards under your model? Why not try to teach new judges not to demand cards constantly?

Further, you acknowledge that teams refuse the topic; if you somehow get "your model" (whatever that is) to be implemented, what makes you think that people will conform? Just like we have policy models of debate which performance teams kritik,  if we have a performance model of debate then policy teams will kritik it. Except instead of the first words of the 1NC being "fiat is illusory", they'll be "roleplaying is good". Simply declaring one of two schools of thought as superior does not - in any way - make the second school of thought go away. All you do is invert the current binary; instead of A vs B, you make it B vs A, and do nothing to address the REAL crux of your problem - the "structural racism" which you apparently think the community embodies.

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2.   Better clash.  In the squo, the Aff is encouraged to say as little as possible so as not to generate links for the negative.  This allows that “we could do that” syndrome.  Or, “we aren’t anything so we can be everything, including your K.”  Indeed, I have seen 2 minute affs with 6 mins of preempts.  Ridic!  Permutations on the K have become out of control and they stem from the idea that the job of the negative is to prove the aff a bad idea.  Maybe that shouldn’t be the role of the negative.  Especially, if the Aff doesn’t have to be topical.

The less they say, the less ground they have. If they say too little to give ANY links but eke out some ground, they are not substantial (policy terms) or are in-round abuse (non-policy terms).

Also, if an aff can outline how it solves a problem in the status quo that would not otherwise be solved in two minutes, then good for them! Why do you get to judge that?

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3.   Increases the value of performance.  I can read a poem and then make arguments about the value of voting for that poem and the aff can’t just snatch it and add it the 1AC.

Sure they can. The 1AC will just be a different poem instead of "key to heg". How does your model eliminate the usage of opportunity cost?

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I attended the Michigan debate camp several times and Roger Solt would always give the K lecture in which he would say the Kritik is a verb and not a noun, which means you have to DO IT in order for it to be done.  Judge focus means that only one performance can be voted for AND every debate is a performance.

This misses the reason perms exist. They are not simply some structure 'created' by the debate community to give affs some leeway on K's. "perm" is logical shorthand for a more lengthy explanation of opportunity cost. If your performance is not an opportunity cost to my performance (meaning that it is an opportunity intrinsically foregone) then there is no reason to believe the aff is less good.

And if it just becomes about "who can do more", then the neg can behave in a way that functionally perms the aff; after the 1AC is done, the neg can redo their performance, slightly differently and just a little better. With better grammar, let's say. Technically, the neg has "done" something better than the aff. If opportunity cost is out the window for a "who can do more" model, the neg just refocused the debate to

Also - how would you compare performances? Especially those centering around art, music, or poetry. These are things which have intrinsic worth, which is also not comparable (either inter-comparison or intra-comparison). Who are you (and HOW can you) say one piece of art is better than the other? What metric are you using and why should everyone use it? Does poetry outweigh art, but only if its in iambic pentameter? Is verse a voting issue? I do not see a way to compare performances that is not infinitely more arbitrary than the harms you outline now.


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4.   Bodies matter.  Who says what and when MUST BE UP FOR DEBATE.  Voting for teams, people and performances as opposed to ideas, independently of how they were presented opens the debate up.  For example, in last year’s pro debate tournament me and Deven Cooper had the privilege of debating Mike Hester & Jon Sharp.  We read our quare aff and they argued community backlash.  But, as far as I am concerned they performed the community backlash in the debate.  Two white men, one from Kentucky and the other from Georgia arguing to 2 (non black or gay judges) that there will be violence if those judges vote for the black queers is problematic?  What does it mean when the judge casts his ballot for that argument?  There is no account for the role of the judge and the autonomy that judge has in choosing what to affirm.  If we just evaluate that debate in terms of whether our plan/performance can produce the advantage identified (change debate) the negative may very well win.  Just because they win the argument doesn’t mean they win the ballot because the material harms to voting for them outweigh the benefits.  

I think their argument was a little (a LOT) more complex than "community backlash", and reducing it to that is as silly as reducing performance teams to "vote for me because I'm black". Neither is true, and you're wrong to do it. However, sharp and Hester are plenty qualified to defend themselves, so I'll leave this be.

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5.   Teams should ONLY be accountable for what they do and MUST be accountable for what they do.  For example, fullerton reads their K of whiteness against Towson.  Because Fullerton spoke first and positioned themselves against whiteness now the negative has to either defend whiteness or find another way of talking about it.  But, what does the Aff’s K of whiteness have to do with the negative, especially if they themselves are not white.  Why should the negative have to defend the behavior of others?  Further, what does the Aff’s indictment of USFG policy have to do with me?  Perhaps each team should discuss the benefit of what they do.

Your model doesn't change this...
In your world

5.   Teams should ONLY be accountable for what they do and MUST be accountable for what they do.  For example, fullerton reads their poem against Towson.  Because Fullerton spoke first and positioned themselves against anti-poetry now the negative has to either defend anti-poetry or find another superior thing to talk about.  But, what does the Aff’s  poetry have to do with the negative, especially if they themselves are not anti-poets?.  Why should the negative have to defend the behavior of others?  Further, what does the Aff’s indictment of anti-poetic policy have to do with me?  Perhaps each team should discuss the benefit of what they do.


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6.   Normativity.  Current debate takes place as if we are describing a world that we ourselves are not a part of.  This is the most problematic of it all.  We are all a part of the field of pain a death and our current style of debate prevents us from recognizing that.  For instance, I judged a debate in elims of CEDA nationals in which East LA was negative against Whitman and they argued that black people were slaves and went on and on about the plight of the black body.  I didn’t find it persuasive and I found it quite disturbing to listen to.  Why would I enjoy being called a slave by two non-black bodies and told how I must decide the debate.  

I just told them that I wasn’t voting for it.

 
I then had a long discussion with their coach about the truthiness of the argument, which I found to be irrelevant.

Then you found wrong.

An argument presented poorly is only relevant insofar as it affects the truth articulation. WHY would you refuse to vote for something which is TRUE? The reason it was "disturbing" and "not persuasive" was because it was false (in your eyes). If you dropped them just because you didn't like them, then you are an EXAMPLE of the worst of the community which you indict above. Disliking someone is not a (legitimate) RFD.

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 To me it mattered more how the debaters presented the argument (Liberty slayed me with the argument earlier) and that he and they failed to realize that I was the only black body in the room and that their words had an actual effect on me.  In other words, their debate argument was playing out in real life.  I am the black body and I agree that it’s pretty tough, but hearing East LA call me a slave didn’t make me any happier that day.  Neither did Whitman’s casual “global warming outweighs slavery” argument, but I digress.  We are talking about people people!  We need to debate the consequences of voting one way or another and we need to openly discuss and debate who finds what persuasive.


Reasoning should rule the day. It is the only fair, objective standard - or the closest we have to being object. "I don't like" is INFINITELY harder to predict than "this doesn't logically follow". You "disliking" something does not mold reality, and is not fair as a metric.

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I just wish debate could be more fun for certain of us.  This requires that we humanize debate.  I think this is a start.

We go from discussions of the best pedagogy to 'being more fun'.  ::)

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Other notes:
1.   This is kind of like plan-plan, but it’s performance-performace.

So...all the reasons plan-plan is bad apply?

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3.   There are undoubtedly advantages to plan focus debate, but it doesn’t do anything to humanize debate.
Here is where I ask you to defend why the advantages of plan focus are outweighed by and/or mutually exclusive with "humanizing debate".

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4.   I argue that Judges are racist not because they hate people of color, but because they are largely indifferent to the racially disparate impacts of current debate practices.  

So your solution is...FORCE them to care? I'm certain that they'll form opinions, but these opinions seem more likely to resent your application of force than to appreciate it.

Education is different than forcing a model of debate; I support education and awareness. I do not support coercion.


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Further, we have to stop talking about “whiteness” and start talking about white people (humanize the debate).  Judges are complicit and must realize that casting their ballot one way or another has material consequences, so they must be reminded when they are white.  There must be individual responsibility as opposed to institutional responsibility arguing that debate is racist means that no one in particular is responsible when everyone in particular is responsible.

You have not demonstrated that casting a ballot has consequences outside of determining 1/6 of a prelim record, or 1/3 of an elim round. What do you think is a material consequence?



tl;dr "no solvency and case turns itself"
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 12, 2011, 11:55:36 AM
That was dope.  Zizek speaks to people.  I have often wondered why we don't use the arguments we learn in debate to alter the way we debate.  I have developed my own thought on debate after debating CLS, gender IR, Heidegger, Spanos and most importantly normativity.  These are debate arguments, but also real discussions about how we orient ourselves.

I was thinking to myself and there is only one person that explains debate to me in a way that I can  understand.  The only author ever read in debate that spoke to me:  Pierre Schlag, in The Problem of the Subject, (69 Tex. L. Rev. 1627, 1668) speaks on much of what I have already said here:

Now, in one sense, the rule-of-law vision has largely ignored this problem. For much of its history, the rule-of-law vision has simply presupposed the existence of such a competent subject. In its scholarship, for instance, the rule-of-law vision has quite systematically and unconsciously assumed the perspective of a normatively and epistemically competent agent and, in turn, reduced the agent to a certain idealized image of the appellate judge. Indeed, most rule-of-law scholarship is addressed to this idealized image of the appellate judge -- an image that depicts appellate judges as important legal decision makers who operate more or  [*1668]  less autonomously within a field of legal doctrine, but who are receptive to rational legal argument and committed to accepting the better argument. 135 The idealized appellate judge is one who does a "close reading" of the cases, venerates legal precedent, and rarely departs from the traditional pathways of conventional legal interpretation or reasoning. In this way, by presupposing the effective presence of such a competent agent, rule-of-law thinking has elided the problem of the subject.

Yet there is another crucial sense in which the rule-of-law vision has always been concerned with at least one version of the problem of the subject. Rule-of-law thinkers have been persistently concerned that, insofar as law as craft depends upon the individual subject, his or her actions and thoughts need to be constrained in some way. Typically, the problem of the subject first presents itself to the rule-of-law vision as the risk that some errant individual subject, some person occupying the critical role of judge, might fail to read the doctrine "correctly" and thus might "impose his personal values" on the rest of us. 136 This way of thinking about the problem of the subject is so deeply ingrained in rule-of-law thinkers that they are often incapable of or unwilling to think about the subject in any other way. Instead, they often subsume or reformulate other very different concerns about the problem of the subject within this problematic strategy of constraining the deviant autonomous individual subject.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: ozzy on April 12, 2011, 12:04:12 PM
T IS A VO,TER FOR LIFE
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 12, 2011, 01:48:48 PM
I wish people would stop saying that I am making general assertions about the debate community as if I don’t know anything about debate.  I debated for 8 years.  I have been to every major debate tournament in high school and college debate.  I didn’t miss a single major debate tournament in 8 years of debating from 1995-2003.  I have been to all the best debate camps (a whopping total of 17 cumulative weeks at debate camp).  I’ve had all of the best lab leaders you can imagine.  I’ve taught side by side with some of the best debaters and debate coaches at debate camp.  I have been coached by some of the best debaters, judges and coaches.  As a debater I talked about debate all the time because I thought it was the only thing I had in common with debaters.  So I kept track of what happened in my debates, my friend’s debates, my coach’s debates.  8 years of dedication to learning a craft. 

You cannot win CEDA nationals and get to the semi-finals of the NDT without understanding how judges evaluate debates.  For me, not much of debate is natural.  I learned it from judges.  I always thought that the only person that mattered in a debate is the judge and that’s where my focus should be.   I always wanted to know what is going on in debate.  I remember when I first heard of a floating pic.  I thought to myself, wait judges are going for this?  Bet, I can dedicate 3 secs of my speech to this one sentence that could dramatically alter the debate and should the aff drop it I will force this judge to vote for this argument because a debate was already won on it, therefore there’s binding precedent.   I also remember losing a T debate because the negative asserted development assistance has to be in the plan.  I thought, that’s it?  Judges are falling for that?  Sure, I can take 3 secs to drop that and see where it goes.  You tell me what you are voting on and I will do it.  Point blank.  Eventually, I realized that my speeches were writing themselves because in debate you are not only debating the other team, you are also debating the judges silent expectations that good debaters know are there based on experience and precedent.

In the process of studying what judges do want to hear, I also learned what judges don’t really want to hear or vote on.  Whereas I would like judges on record expressing disavowal for certain arguments in a debate (the same way I expect people here to speak out against certain things), policy judges prefer to “make an objective opinion about the validity of arguments.”  It’s difficult to engage in a fair debate when two white males are arguing to a panel of three white men that genocide of native americans is good because the west is best.  Indeed, it’s hard for me to even debate the topicality sheet of paper in that debate because I cannot get passed the fact that the west is best argument is problematic at best.  How is this a fair debate?  I guess I should have to debate the logic of the argument, but I don’t even fully have the language to compete.  It’s hard to engage in debates when you feel attacked.  However, it’s because I certainly don’t think these three white males are racist, right?  Surely, they don’t want to vote for this argument?  Surely, they realize they have a choice in how they vote, right?  If I just make the argument that they shouldn’t vote for this argument the good person over there (sometimes my friend and/or mentor) will vote for me, right?  The answer is NO.  9 out of 10 times.  Why?  Because judges have somehow removed themselves from having any responsibility in debates.  This does not foster an inclusive environment.  That’s why I think it is important to recognize the choice involved in how judges cast their ballot.  It’s accountability.


I find it important to speak in part from my personal experience.  And perhaps only those close to me understand the way in which I struggled between speaking my mind on issues of race and gender and competitive success.  I have delivered speeches that I didn’t want to give because a first-round was on the line (and a first round was almost always on the line for us).  I know what it’s like to let things go that are killing you inside slide because you are winning heg impact turns.  I know what it is like to debate for more than yourself and sometimes in sacrifice of yourself.  It’s a terrible fucking choice. 

The point is this, when I describe debate I do it as an expert in policy debate and from personal experience.  I have also made some pretty specific link and impact arguments related to the epistemological violence of current judging practices.  Those were hardly assertions.

I actually think I have unique insight into debate because so much of it was a learned behavior for me.  You see, in debate, I am not Michael Vick, I am Peyton Manning.

Now, enough about me, what ideas do you have?
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Paul Elliott Johnson on April 12, 2011, 02:55:56 PM
Rashad,

is it your position that a there is not a language intelligible to policymakers that can make racism a more important problem than that of international conflict, or is it simply that so far debaters have failed to find that language? If it is the former, then you are identifying a structural issue with debate itself (and indeed, policymaking), and one that speaks to a potential failure of switch side to promote pedagogical reflexivity. With that as your conclusion, you seem to locate its cause in the refusal of judges and debaters to activate their agency in ways that disrupt this globalized "policy centric" logic. If it is the latter, then perhaps what you are really after is the production of a set of public idioms that can emphasize to policy-centered judges that the actual costs and consequences of racism are very high indeed. And it seems as though triangulating to the topic, while risking the annihilation/reconfiguration of the more radical politics you gesture towards here, is also a maneuver that holds out hope that we might produce these race-conscious public idioms that enable judges to decide that social justice issues ARE more important than international conflicts.

PJ
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: tcram on April 12, 2011, 03:08:59 PM
There is a lot to digest going on in this thread (I'm sure there's some Zizekian term for when a topic is nothing more than the subsumed whole of its tangents), but I think a reason why there is a divide between your observations based on experience (extensive though it is) and the inability for several other people to see the structure of racism may be related to inherent limitations of your experiential method.  Does your experience demonstrate that you were an exceptional debater? Undoubtedly.  But please realize that the deep elimination rounds of the NDT (or any other major national tournament) is a club that the average debater and average judge is not privy to.  Many of us who couldn't afford that 17 weeks of debate camp or were never had 'first rounds' on the line see different structures in place.  So, while your experience gives you strong evidence to draw inferences from, there needs to be a qualification to those inferences, or there should be a research effort to find how far and how deep these structures of racism run in the community (random aside: a sub-forum for coordinating research projects or announcing calls for papers on this website would be a great way to facilitate the important work that Gordon so aptly demonstrates the need for in his well-written post).  Because when a strongly felt inference that you draw is (and it IS. I can find no such qualifying statements in your original post) applied to every person who participates in intercollegiate policy debate, it does feel like a strong assertion without evidence to make it ring true.  But this is all a digression.  

I am with you in terms of a gutshot feeling that debate often feels like it is 'getting worse'.  Evidence is more recycled.  Cards are worse.  Judges call for EVERYTHING.  Real communication is pushed to the margins.  Some schools are concentrating debate wealth and talent on such a scale that it can only be described as 'gross'.  Elimination round participants are far more often than not white men.  Judges are far more often than not white men.  Whether or not any of this is reducible to a structure of racism, I am not convinced.  But I am relatively confident that race is a relevant variable at times and certainly alters dynamics in debate.  I think that the voices that get to speak in debate are much more so reflections of economics than race, but I can certainly understand the epistemic value that increased diversity has.  So I do want to press on and talk about ideas.

First, CChessman does raise a lot of good questions about your proposed 'role of the ballot' model.  Putting aside some of the claims that are more specious (like logic is universal for EVERYONE), could you comment on some of the workability questions he/she raises?

Second, in the vein of Gordon's appeal that education must temper competition, what would we think about shifting the question away from how judges judge for a moment and instead think about creating topics that allow for different creative approaches and a diversity of content?  If it is true that outside of the top 20 or 30 'critical' judges and the 20 or 30 'hardline policy' judges is nothing more than a big soft (white?) middle that silently prefers the marginalization of alternative perspectives, creating a new persuasive appeal centered around 'teams assert the role of the ballot' would likely just produce more of the same.  Debates will recycle the same old tropes of every 'clash of civs' debate as we spiral back into a framework question.  

Another problem with the 'role of the ballot' model is that I think it will reinforce trends that make it harder and harder for average squads and students to compete.  You are correct; research burdens matter.  But they matter less for large squads with lots of resources.  Students who are relatively new to the activity will find it even more difficult to stay engaged when there is no 'topic' but rather dueling oratories about 'x cause is more efficacious than y cause'.  And a large school with three or four coaches and more researchers on retainer can produce files on 'x method is bad' and 'y method is good'.  We have to face the facts sometime: policy debate now requires students to master more things than ever.  Sometimes that is easy for the gifted or well-coached.  It is difficult for other people and I think your model may reinforce a worse trend or structure of exclusion.

As a result, I really do think things need to start at how we select topics.  A compromise must be struck between education and competition if the activity is going to thrive in the long term.  In a lot of ways, I thought the immigration topic was an enormously wasted opportunity.  We said we wanted to debate about one of the most pressing, interesting and complicated issues that we as citizens encounter and instead it was the 'economy' topic in a lot of ways.  I think debate can be made better, but I think that requires a return to the resolution, both by squads that seek to avoid anyting 'kritiky' at all costs and by those squads who think the resolution has nothing to offer them or (worse) use it as their primary strategy regardless of topic content.

Just some thoughts.  Good discussion for the most part.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 12, 2011, 03:44:22 PM
This discussion is an example of why these debates are handicapped.  It's impossible for me to discuss racism because only you can decide when racism is happening and you will do that based on a rational thought process and research.  In this world nothing I say matters because you are unwilling to comprehend what I am saying.  And you don't think that this opinion is at all related to who you are and is instead just an honest evaluation of the discussion.

Still, no one is arguing that debate isn't exclusionary, that debate isn't hostile to minorities or that I am wrong about anything I've said.  You just said that I can't prove it  BY YOUR STANDARDS.

Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: tcram on April 12, 2011, 04:02:54 PM
"Hey I agree that a lot of what you observe is correct but don't know if I'm convinced about the policy you advocate.  Want to talk it through?"

How is this laying down some unmeetable burden of proof?  Where am I shifting around the goalposts?  Yes, research is good not because 'oh oh I have a card on that, case closed', but because it allows people to know the nature of the problem they are confronting so that less energy is sunk into the idiocy inherent to the form of VBB.  Have your discussion about how the top 25 is fucked up with the top 25 and let it all shake it out I suppose.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: tcram on April 12, 2011, 04:07:36 PM
And yes, the syllogistic form Christian presents is as structural certain and universal as the grammar of a math problem.  Coincidentally it is about as useful for solving social problems as a math problem.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 12, 2011, 04:37:10 PM
You seem to think that the only way you can understand something is if it is read in a book.  You seem to think that the only way you can come to know something is true is after empirical research where presumably we aggregate everyones experience and make conclusions.  You also think that my inability (or perhaps my unwillingness) to universalize and aggregate my experience into a grad explanatory narrative that proves without a doubt that debate is exclusionary.

I find that unnecessary.  I also find that my inability (or unwillingness) to make definitive claims based upon research you deem acceptable to resolve the question of whether or not current debate practices are exclusionary.  Especially since anecdotal evidence suggest that minorities disproportionately engage in some form of alternative style of debate.

Now, who is right?  I don't know.  But I do know this, why would you choose to believe that I (your possible friend, teammate, mentor or mentee, or just fellow debater) am either mistaken, crazy or lying about my feelings, thoughts and experiences in debate and about debate?  Why would you choose the answer that makes me feel like less of a member of your community.  Just because you don't experience debate and life the same as I do doesn't mean my description of the events are wrong.

Discounting lived experiences is one of the many ways to exclude the knowledge production of women and minorities.  Where are my feminists?  This isn't just about race.  This exclusion is exact reason why all of the research that this community relies on and so desperately seeks is flawed and inaccurate and must be supplemented by arguments and experiences of debaters.

Why not always err on the side of inclusion and respect?  You have choice in how you think about this.  I've had enough cognitive behavioral therapy to know!


Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: kelly young on April 12, 2011, 04:50:26 PM
And yes, the syllogistic form Christian presents is as structural certain and universal as the grammar of a math problem.  Coincidentally it is about as useful for solving social problems as a math problem.

Chomsky writes extensively about universal grammar - a better example would be causal logic or argument from sign rather than a categorical syllogism. This theory has some supporters and critics.

Christian, see Bill Balthrop's article, ARGUMENT AS LINGUISTIC OPPORTUNITY: A SEARCH FOR FORM AND FUNCTION, Conference Proceedings -- National Communication Association/American Forensic Association (Alta Conference on Argumentation), 1980 1st Conference onArgumentation, p184-213, 30p. It's available on Communication & Mass Media Complete data base. He has a rather lengthy review of Chomsky's work at its relevance to argumentation studies. You may find it helpful, you may not.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: tcram on April 12, 2011, 05:04:58 PM
You seem to think that the only way you can understand something is if it is read in a book.  You seem to think that the only way you can come to know something is true is after empirical research where presumably we aggregate everyones experience and make conclusions.  You also think that my inability (or perhaps my unwillingness) to universalize and aggregate my experience into a grad explanatory narrative that proves without a doubt that debate is exclusionary.

If that is what I 'seem' to think then I suppose I'll take it on the authority of your experience that that is what I think (much less what I said) and we'll leave it at that.

I do always err on the side of inclusion and respect, or at least I have in my experience.  Why are you unwilling to take that on my authority, even though we don't know each other and our experiences are not the same?

You clearly want my words to say more than they are.  "Research is ONLY a dead white man's book" and "Experiential methods of knowing should be rejected a priori" are two statements that are equally stupid. 
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rcheek on April 12, 2011, 07:15:29 PM
"Why not always err on the side of inclusion and respect?"

Why can't exclusion and disrespect be good? Beyond your gut check on things debaters just shouldn't get to say/do, these concepts have potential merit. Everything you (rwevans) have said seems to limit the creative potential of the community by imposing limits on how debate should function. I am not sure that there is any other activity in the world that allows for active contestation of evaluative mechanisms at all let alone as much as policy debate. I like debate a lot and it has been an enormous influence in how I think as well as the life trajectory that I am on, but the increasing attempts at making debate more politically and socially transformative than it actually is are very annoying. Debate is fun, its educational, and it has great potential to help individuals in launching them into law school, graduate school, and a plethora of exciting careers where they might actually make a difference. What it cannot do is dismantle large oppressive structures in any way relating to a ballot. These things (racism, sexism, classism, isisms) can and should be discussed in debate without restrictions, but that is mostly to preserve the pedagogical and competitive benefits of debate. Debate is a mere microcosm of the social and political world, if the goal is to change the world, start somewhere more productive. Is it just me or is the debate community becoming more and more sensitive? Seriously, of all the white, elitist, institutions and activities that exist in the world, is the open minded usually left of center liberal feel goody activity of debate really that bad? C'mon.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Hester on April 12, 2011, 07:50:59 PM
There's actually some historical evidence within our activity for the claim that MPJ helps "alternative style" teams more than it hurts them, competitively speaking. A few years back, Louisville tried an innovative approach towards judging, making the argument that the round should be judged by "lay people" rather than the assigned judge. In a very creative manner, they provided a framework whereby the debaters would seek out the first non-debate person they came across outside the room (i.e., someone who just happened to be on campus, in the building, etc), offer them $20 to judge the debate, and that person would have the authority of the ballot. Aside from the logistical issues of being able to find such a person on a college campus on the weekend morning, the results were - from the perspective of Louisville's success - mixed at best. They lost many more debates than the assumption underlying the framework (that debate judges were inculcated with traditional biases that worked against alternative-style teams while lay judges off the street would be more attuned to their arguments) suggested would be the case. [note - still a pretty cool idea and Louisville as a program deserves a lot of credit for at least trying new ways of debating] One interesting outcome was that the lay judges were much more likely to understand "topicality" than was assumed - and maybe even more than the regular judges who attend tournaments. When shown the resolution, they tended to have a 'gut-check' rejections to AFFs that were more K-ish in their approach.

Obviously, lay judges were not ready or willing to hear people speed-read at them. However, speed is variable - teams can slow down. What was much harder to change were the way teams structure their arguments. One of the most unique things about debate is just how much of the (non-existent) rulebook is 'up for debate.' People who have spent a significant time in the activity tend to take for granted the way we allow the very rules of the game change depending on the competitors ability to define and defend them. This flexibility is NOT something the lay public is used to. Thus, when the resolution begins with "The USFG should" and ends with some reference to gov't policy, lay judges tend to have a very strong sense of what falls "out of bounds" and no amount of referencing "ontological violence" or even "structural racism" can shake their belief that the topic limits the discussion as a prior rule.

Louisville's experiment thus not only cautions teams who identify with "alternative styles" to attend to their pref sheet carefully; it also shows why the Resolution we choose to debate may matter more than who we ask to adjudicate the round...


What all of this means, ironically, is that eliminating MPJ is probably a NET LOSER for teams that use alternative argument styles. Given the pretty amazing power of Gary's judge assignment algorithm (provided that Gary hasn't designed it to recognize alternative arg teams and screw their judge placements), MPJ is actually better at protecting teams that prefer a smaller portion of the pool than any weaker system of prefs would be, given that such a system would force everyone to go deeper into the pool.

Be careful what you wish for - you might get it.

Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Ryan Galloway on April 12, 2011, 08:16:15 PM
I loved the lay judge challenge.  I think it really put to the test whether or not the arguments we make in debate have the ability to bridge to the real world.  Suzuki & Mitchell talk about this idea somewhat in an article where they mention that the purpose of a debate PROGRAM must be more than just competition and that we should be willing to engage in public debates to ensure that we aren't becoming too insular of a community.

In a by-gone era, I was always impressed with teams that could adapt to a parent judge in the prelims and then beat you silly in front of a panel of expert judges in the elims.  If they beat you in those two debates, they've truly got your number.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: ozzy on April 12, 2011, 08:59:22 PM
In a by-gone era, I was always impressed with teams that could adapt to a parent judge in the prelims and then beat you silly in front of a panel of expert judges in the elims.  If they beat you in those two debates, they've truly got your number.

hell yeah
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Whit on April 12, 2011, 09:02:25 PM
Much of this post was heavily influenced by the work of Suzanna Sherry. She speaks to me in a way that I assume Schlag speaks to Rashad.

Reason is the preferred method of deciding debate rounds. Despite the occasional controversial claim of ‘repping out,’ judges, for the most part, are expected to reach a decision based on their reasoned assessment of the arguments presented in the round. Judges are expected to rely on experience, observation, logic, learned customs, and tradition. Decisions shouldn’t be made exclusively on deductive logic, but should be consistent with it. Certain types of questions are always valid responses to a reasoned decision: “Doesn’t that contradict the way you decided a round earlier?”; and “Is that consistent with the evidence presented in the round?” Other responses are always invalid: “This argument must be true (or false) because I say so”; and “I believe this argument to be true (or false) regardless of its consistency with evidence presented.” To be deemed reasonable, an argument cannot be illogical or inconsistent. Reasonable arguments should stand on their own: neither the identity of the debater or the institutional role of the author should be relevant to the persuasiveness of the argument. Reasonable arguments invite a response and must therefore depend upon a commonly shared perception of reality. Appeals to a perception of reality that are shared only by the faithful cannot count as reasonable. Thus, the argument that “I view this differently because of my lived experiences” is a concession that reasoned argument has been abandoned. Reasoned arguments should make appeals to fairness and consequences and not rely primarily on emotional manipulation. I don’t see anything wrong with this way of deciding debates.

The problem with debating over the ballot is that differing perspectives will inevitably conflict. "Why should debates be evaluated from your perspective and not mine?" will be the question that rules every debate about the ballot. How do you resolve a debate about whether debate should be more inclusive of women or racial minorities? I suppose I would vote for whoever spoke to me more, but that would always be tainted by my way of knowing. I don’t see how your method of deciding debates resolves my latent bias. Would you rather we fully embrace our bias when we vote rather than at least attempt to make an objective reasoned decision? Do you honestly believe that would make debate more inclusive or accepting? If deep down we really are all a little bit racist (or sexist, classist, elitist), then asking judges to strive for objectivity would seem to be the only hope of getting a fair shake.

What if the vegans in the community find us hostile because we serve ANY meat at our tournaments? What are the limits of reasonable accommodation? What happens when the religious conservatives come knocking? They’ve been excluded from our community. Their conviction that the world is only 4,000 years old, dinosaurs never existed, and homosexuality is evil is just as deep as your belief about debate. Must we also be accepting of their ideas? They would be great allies with your assault on empirical reason. If, on the other hand, we won’t be inviting and accepting of their epistemologies, then my question is: Who gets to be the arbiter of which personal views are valid and which are not?

The fact that you fail to confront is that for many of us, the debate community is the most inclusive and accepting community we know. That is our personal experience. Your personal experiences don’t compute because they run counter to everything we know and understand. Your experiences and feelings about debate and life don’t make you wrong (…or crazy…or untruthful), but there is no obligation for me to share those feelings (and I could never share those experiences). To assume that obligation would create an impossible burden. Aside from the fact that I would be ceding any sense of freedom to think for myself to the convictions of others, I would have to poll every student who quit debate (or even worse never chose to join in the first place) about how I could have made debate a better place for them or gotten them to stay. Each individual’s story would be different. The broad sweeping changes to debate would be relentless and inevitably contradictory.

Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: nalexander on April 13, 2011, 01:06:47 AM
1. Debate is already making very large concessions to vegans, sometimes to the point of screwing over meat-eaters like myself. Case-in-point, no meat at CEDA... made me pretty sad, but i understand.

2. Your argument would make more sense if the majority of debaters of color didn't feel the same way that Rashard feels. The debate community is hostile to debaters of color in unique ways. When one thinks of history, its very easy to understand why the norms of fairness and reasoned argument are hostile to many debaters of color. Until a decade and a half ago, there was not a large number of debaters of color in the community. This is not to say there were none, but before the UDLs, there were not many debaters of color that had any method for getting into policy debate. With the creation of UDLs, an explosion in the number of students of color that were introduced to this world occurred. The problem of this was that UDLs -- while controlled and oftentimes run by former policy debaters -- never implemented many of the norms that the national policy debate community took for granted. So when the select few debaters of color from UDLs went to debate camp, we were oftentimes shocked by many of the norms ya'll take for granted. My first debate camp experience was one where all the UDL debaters were segregated into Group C, where we were "protected" from debating everyone else because it was assumed we could not keep up. Looking back on that now, while he may have been right to say we would not be able to "keep up" (cuz everyone was faster, more flow-centric, and were running a range of theoretical and kritikal positions we had never heard of), the whole idea of "keeping up" is what debaters of color are challenging when we challenge your norms. Why are debate competitive norms so REASONABLE? You talk about reason, but to pretty much anybody besides debaters debate does not seem reasonable. I say this as a black debater that loves debate and grew to become a pretty fast, pretty flow-centric debater. But I began running performative and anti-oppression positions because I felt there was a serious disconnect in what debaters say debate is and how it operates in relationship to debaters of color. UDLs have changed the very make-up of debate and this community has to adapt to the fact that there are now tens of thousands of debaters of color in this country (and more of them are becoming more critical and more performative). This community needs to learn to be less hostile to people who come from different experiences. Debaters are always talking about "relationship to difference," its time to show and prove how "tolerant" we can be.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: aharper on April 13, 2011, 06:36:56 AM
1. Debate is already making very large concessions to vegans, sometimes to the point of screwing over meat-eaters like myself. Case-in-point, no meat at CEDA... made me pretty sad, but i understand.


Actually, not so much.  I did not attend CEDA, but teammates told me that all of the pizza provided had cheese, which is not vegan friendly.   I can't tell you how many times the only tournament provided food I have gotten has been salad that was intended as a side dish for everyone else at the tournament or have had to leave the tournament to find a meal.  There is a lot of great vegan food out there, and some tournaments have done a very good job of finding appealing, filling, and nutritious options.  Other tournaments have offered doughnuts (almost never vegan) and coffee for breakfast and pizza (which typically consists of bread and sauce, not much for nutrition). 

I am also not sure how no meat "screws over" omnis, but this is outside of the scope of this thread.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Whit on April 13, 2011, 07:22:45 AM
1. Debate is already making very large concessions to vegans, sometimes to the point of screwing over meat-eaters like myself. Case-in-point, no meat at CEDA... made me pretty sad, but i understand.

The vegan thing was just to point to the fact that once we start making wholesale changes to the structure of debate, there will always be new groups in need of accommodation. How have we made debate more receptive to religious conservatives? I would dare say the community is far more hostile to them than any racial minority.

2. Your argument would make more sense if the majority of debaters of color didn't feel the same way that Rashard feels. The debate community is hostile to debaters of color in unique ways. When one thinks of history, its very easy to understand why the norms of fairness and reasoned argument are hostile to many debaters of color. Until a decade and a half ago, there was not a large number of debaters of color in the community. This is not to say there were none, but before the UDLs, there were not many debaters of color that had any method for getting into policy debate. With the creation of UDLs, an explosion in the number of students of color that were introduced to this world occurred. The problem of this was that UDLs -- while controlled and oftentimes run by former policy debaters -- never implemented many of the norms that the national policy debate community took for granted. So when the select few debaters of color from UDLs went to debate camp, we were oftentimes shocked by many of the norms ya'll take for granted. My first debate camp experience was one where all the UDL debaters were segregated into Group C, where we were "protected" from debating everyone else because it was assumed we could not keep up. Looking back on that now, while he may have been right to say we would not be able to "keep up" (cuz everyone was faster, more flow-centric, and were running a range of theoretical and kritikal positions we had never heard of), the whole idea of "keeping up" is what debaters of color are challenging when we challenge your norms. Why are debate competitive norms so REASONABLE? You talk about reason, but to pretty much anybody besides debaters debate does not seem reasonable. I say this as a black debater that loves debate and grew to become a pretty fast, pretty flow-centric debater. But I began running performative and anti-oppression positions because I felt there was a serious disconnect in what debaters say debate is and how it operates in relationship to debaters of color. UDLs have changed the very make-up of debate and this community has to adapt to the fact that there are now tens of thousands of debaters of color in this country (and more of them are becoming more critical and more performative). This community needs to learn to be less hostile to people who come from different experiences. Debaters are always talking about "relationship to difference," its time to show and prove how "tolerant" we can be.

a. To be quite frank, I don't think you or Rashad speak for "the majority of debaters of color" or even the majority of UDL students. "The plural of anecdote is not data." Having worked with UDL students from Atlanta, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Chicago at camp and as a primary coach, I can say that my experiences with them are vastly different than yours. I think it more likely that you are speaking for a small subset of UDL debaters who have been trained and encouraged to debate non-conventional method. We can debate the merits of whether teaching that style to students is more effective in retaining UDL students, but that is a very different issue than claiming that traditional forms of debate are structurally racist.

Furthermore, even if it is true that you and Rashad are speaking for the majority or even entirety of debaters of color, my comments would still be valid. It doesn't change the fact that groups will inevitably differ and compete in their claims against the debate community. Your primary motivation is racial diversity. What happens when that goal runs up against some other form of inclusion? The standard you have established for lodging a complaint is: "I can't prove it, but I just feel a sense of hostility." Anyone can lodge that complaint for any reason. There is no way to resolve this under the criteria that have been presented so far.

b. The absence of minority debaters before the existence of the UDL does not suggest that debate norms were the cause. I don't even think it suggests a correlation.

c. Competitive norms are reasonable, because they use the criteria I laid out in my first post:
Judges are expected to rely on experience, observation, logic, learned customs, and tradition. Decisions shouldn’t be made exclusively on deductive logic, but should be consistent with it. To be deemed reasonable, an argument cannot be illogical or inconsistent. Reasonable arguments should stand on their own: neither the identity of the debater or the institutional role of the author should be relevant to the persuasiveness of the argument. Reasonable arguments invite a response and must therefore depend upon a commonly shared perception of reality. Appeals to a perception of reality that are shared only by the faithful cannot count as reasonable. Reasoned arguments should make appeals to fairness and consequences and not rely primarily on emotional manipulation.

d. You are incorrect in your assertion that only debaters care about reason. The overwhelming majority of PEOPLE care about reason. In fact, the only people who don't think reason matters are fringe groups on right and left of the political spectrum that most mainstream academics and the common person on the street would consider radical. See Hester's anecdote about Louisville's experimentation with lay judges for further confirmation of this.

Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: JustinGreen on April 13, 2011, 08:53:24 AM
Rashad - thanks....I agree more conversation is necessary and more individual accountability is desirable.  I am also with you that identifying institutional oppression as a source of the problem often times ignores the role that individuals play in fostering that system.  You know damn well from my track-record for voting for you as a debater that normativity can be a compelling argument, especially when combined with claims for social justice.  Sorry - no line-by-line here, just some thoughts from a personal perspective....If it is all about the judge - I at least want to offer insight from this judge's perspective.  It's not exactly word-efficient - for those of you looking for provocative fights - skip this post......

KSU will likely vote for any topic that does not have a USFG actor - go passive voice.....but yes centralized topic so that all can prepare well-developed, practiced, and articulated arguments in whatever style debaters choose.  While I agree the judging pool is important, I think that judging pool is increasingly informed and believe in the agent of action as a constraint.  If everyone votes/advocates for a non-USFG actor, the bifurcation in the community has less of a "rule-of-law' rationale.  While it won't change everyone's mind, it probably would change how some think.

The notion of "stylistic minority" is contingent.  Based on the judging philosophies at CEDA Nationals, those who wanted to exclusively argue in the style of traditional debate were the "stylistic minorities".  The NDT - a dramatic flip-flop.  I recognize there is still a larger social element that goes beyond the question of "the judge" and to one that looks at why social segregation occurs.  I seriously doubt there is a singular answer to this problem.  There were people at times in corners at CEDA; there was also a very large presence of "non-traditional ethnic minority debaters" following late elimination rounds at CEDA - I didn't think there was as much segregation there as there was in other social gatherings.  The NDT, well, different ballgame...I am with you.

Any conversation about diversity/exclusion should look at the role of the judge, but also needs to look beyond that question.  How we as people interact with each other.  I encourage our students to make friends, establish respectful relationships and break out of their molds to expand how they think and relate hopefully others do the same.  As Tuna Snider says "change can only start to come when your voice is heard" (paraphrased).

My guess is that you intended this to mean ethnic minorities who choose to debate outside of the traditional debate norm.  Certainly not all people of any group want to make the same style of argument.  I witnessed this battle over style amongst minority groups in D.C., Baltimore, and Houston.  I watched a school composed of entirely Black students leave policy debate both because they did not like the overreliance of evidence and because they did not appreciate that teams ignored the topic.  This particular instructor/coach considered himself a Black Nationalist.  Any speech scholar who looks at the tactical logician approach of Malcolm X (word efficient, loaded with examples and statistics) and compares that to the narrative style of M.L.K. can learn from both.  

Unfortunately, structural poverty is a barrier that I personally face in getting more students of color involved in debate.  As a Director who has spent 8 of his last 10 Summers working with urban debate league students and failed to effectively recruit students due to lack of scholarship dollars at the institution where I reside, the diversity of faces, for me personally takes a much more dramatic dollars and cents rationale.  The same ethnic minority students that seek out advise during the year from me whether it be about the spending disad, non-violence, states counterplan, or critical pedagogy consistently lead off with "I need money to come to KSU".  My choice as a Director - offer 1 student every 4 years a full ride or spread that same money around to 10-15 students who are each personally responsible for financing their education.  Even if I wanted to give it to one student, my administration would not support a squad of 2 debaters.

I am with Joe Koehle in that I prefer debates that center around strategies for change.  How to advocate for that, who should be the agent, whether or not what one does in a debate matters, well...those should be up for debate - and I hope that the judges KSU gets are able to expand their filters of decision to recognize how their comments effect students. Reading a poem or arguing that oppression exists - well - those debates kind-of stink in the same way that advantages without internal links stink too........  (...I personally know Joe - have a larger context for his comments and a great deal of respect for what he has done, but agree that his flippant response was not the most effective way to foster dialogue.  If anyone wants to know why we want him as a coach/judge, I am happy to oblige.)

I distinctly remember a debate between MSU and Towson CL - several years back (before Towson made the switch in tone and style that reflects Deven's recent post) where Towson advanced an argument about Iraqi Resistance movements, but MSU won that their aff was a precondition to that movement succeeding.  In the process, MSU made an argument that "there are plenty of Black people in debate".  This argument was not responsive and I found it offensive, but Towson did make this an issue in the 2nr after the 1nr made a very articulate set of arguments that would have easily rendered them the ballot.  The problem with a purely judge correction focus is that it does remove the agency from debaters.

Debaters - SPEAK UP - be prepared to defend - it's not easy to put your heart on your tongue, but I think you'd be surprised how many times judges appreciate it and yes there will be judges who disagree.

Thankful its the off-season and not every dialogue must be an argument,

Justin


Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: BrianDeLong on April 13, 2011, 10:46:14 AM
One interesting outcome was that the lay judges were much more likely to understand "topicality" than was assumed - and maybe even more than the regular judges who attend tournaments. When shown the resolution, they tended to have a 'gut-check' rejections to AFFs that were more K-ish in their approach.

Obviously, lay judges were not ready or willing to hear people speed-read at them. However, speed is variable - teams can slow down. What was much harder to change were the way teams structure their arguments. One of the most unique things about debate is just how much of the (non-existent) rulebook is 'up for debate.' People who have spent a significant time in the activity tend to take for granted the way we allow the very rules of the game change depending on the competitors ability to define and defend them. This flexibility is NOT something the lay public is used to. Thus, when the resolution begins with "The USFG should" and ends with some reference to gov't policy, lay judges tend to have a very strong sense of what falls "out of bounds" and no amount of referencing "ontological violence" or even "structural racism" can shake their belief that the topic limits the discussion as a prior rule.

Louisville's experiment thus not only cautions teams who identify with "alternative styles" to attend to their pref sheet carefully; it also shows why the Resolution we choose to debate may matter more than who we ask to adjudicate the round...

As a member of one of the teams that took Louisville up on their challenge, I think I can add a little more perspective to this discussion about MPJ and lay judges. As a background, we decided to not exclude Sarah Partlow from our debate, rather we asked to make the debate round into a panel of 2 lay and one Partlow. From memory I believe the topic was China. In policy-based rounds we were running what most would consider to be a nonstrategic and non-topical space weapons treaty affirmative. While debating Louisville we slowed down and changed our affirmative to basically be a rejection of U.S. weapons in space. We knew Louisville would not call us out for not following the topic to the T. Besides, most of our authors blamed the U.S. for the space mil problem anyway.

From my perspective one of the difficulties  for Louisville with lay critics was that they walked into a debate tournament expecting policy oriented arguments. In the mind of many of these critics we are all destined to be lawyers, which means debate is a training ground for professional lawyerisms. My three years of insular stock issue and lay judge experience in Wyoming and Colorado trained me well for this environment. An in-depth discussion of structural exclusion in a debate community, argued and performed using a method of hip-hop, failed to persuade the judges who have a complete lack of commitment to this community. They do not have a historical knowledge base about debate and where it has been, where it is and where it is going. Since Wyoming CD spoke first and initiated a proposal, "space weapons are bad," perceptually one of the judges thought there was a lack of clash when Louisville failed to argue against our policy.

I think this touches on a serious discussion that moves beyond MPJ to the question of evidence of racism in the structural as well as the particular/atomized inter-relations of individuals in this debate community. Debate rounds about personal experience as well as racism/sexism in debate rarely stay within the realm of "personal experience." Implicitly and at times explicitly critics are asked to look into their memory banks to evaluate what they too have seen (and maybe actions committed) over their experience in this community. Granted, the personal experience arguments of debaters may function as a lubricant to have the critic re-evaluate their memories of experiences. In these debates questions are raised: Have I observed racism/sexism in our community? At times yes. Have I seen a division of racially identifiable groups in social gatherings outside of debate rounds, obviously yes.

Some of the difficulty Rashad with your argument is that while some of us within this forum, and I actually would say a large percentage of the members of this community will agree with you in terms of "yes" there is some racism, there are questions of type and prevelancy of racism in a community that in general is viewed positively as a space that is "open" to difference and discussions/deliberations about a wide area of issues.

Furthermore this taps into more questions about 1) To what extent am I and my team responsible for the racism in debate. Am I or my debaters engaging in exclusionary practices?* 2) is it inherent to the discourse and performance of debate rounds, especially those rounds I am judging and my students are debating in?** 3) are there other causes of these problems that a) are not entirely bad (are benign)*** and b) cannot be fixed with a ballot.****

*I question how strongly Wyoming CD's (and Wyoming's) actions linked to past performance/racism arguments. I also question how strong the link is to Indiana's new program. While Rashad started the post with "community," I am not clear on how far the global community links to what I am practicing and teaching.
**I think you are taking it as a given that critics in mass are inherently against performance in debate. I would argue that a large percentage would say it can be good for debate if done well. Thus, my observations and experience produces a slightly different conclusion than what your interpreted-experience produces.
***The commonplace of segregation of groups with those you identify with is not ALWAYS bad. In other words, my observation of segregation of people does not inherently prove a structural bias or problem with debate. It is up for debate.
****For example: In team meetings and at tournaments there has been a tendency in the past to misidentify and oversimplify what some project team's arguments are outside of a particular debate round. The corrective in terms of pedagogy is for the coach is to give the project teams a fair shake. Evaluate how some critics have voted for these arguments, and locate a means to engage in the argument.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: cwebb on April 14, 2011, 10:04:43 AM
So I didn't really have time to read much beyond the first post. So if what i suggest has already been mentioned I apologize.

I agree that the debate should happen here, or in some other forum. It seems like there is a lot that can actually be done. As long as people have the option of voting for a non-traditional argument....sometimes....and then going on about their day, they get to tell themselves that they are not "part of the problem." Not only do I think that this prevents anything from actually changing, but I also suspect that it creates an environment that is mildly unfair to the debaters who prepared to talk about agriculture, nuclear weapons, the middle east, or immigration before the tournament.....To be sure, I'm not trying to start anything here. It is just an observation. If one team is prepared to talk about something more than another team, one team has an advantage. I have one question, and then a series of proposals.

Again, this is not a joke. I am not trying to be funny. Please consider the following:

Question: Can someone - or some group of people - create a list of the suspect practices being discussed? If this has already been done, I apologize. I think it would be useful to just get an exhaustive list of the things we are talking about.


Proposals:

(1) CEDA/NDT should require that, each year, teams give money to the organization. This money will be set aside for minority scholarships at the beginning of the next year. If you do not contribute the money, your teams cannot compete. There could be 10 to 20 scholarships, the amounts would be determined based on these costs. Also, they should be reals scholarships. Getting a "scholarship" for $100 isn't helpful. These scholarships should pay for full tuition and some living expenses. The goal is to get more minority students into universities, not make everyone feel better about themselves. We cannot send everyone to private schools, but a reasonably good public university in the recipient's state.

(2) CEDA/NDT should require that every team add one new minority member - with a full scholarship - each year. If the school is a four year university, the school should have four members of the team going to school on this type of scholarship in any given year. If a team does not meet this requirement, the team does not get to compete.

(3) No more speakers at award ceremonies. There should be a panel during every banquet devoted to the topic of minority participation. The members of the panel will discuss any issues at the tournament, and issues that have arisen since the previous tournament, different things that people in the community are doing to promote minority participation, and anything else. I know that everyone claps when we have a guest speaker....it is the polite thing to do....but it would be more useful to have an ongoing conversation about this topic.

(4) There needs to be a resolution about these issues. I don't know how it would be worded. "Resolved: The debate community (or some other actor) should......something about practices, organizations, participation....and/or Afghanistan" (Sorry, that was a joke....but there should be a resolution. Alas, there would be no politics disadvantages, and negative teams would not be able to consult Japan. The negative teams would have to seriously research issues related to THIS topic. It would not suffice to read a couple of articles over the summer....if you get to it. The result, a serious discussion  about the issue and scholarship associated with the issue.

The requirements would be somewhat costly. So we may have to stay in cheaper hotels. We might have to pay for our own food (no more catering) but more people would have the opportunity to go to college. Teams would have to actively search out people and persuade them to participate. There would be a real incentive. Even if the people have never debated before, teams could find prospective students who may not get the opportunity to go to a four year university otherwise. That seems like enough upside to try and make it work. Instead of quibbling about framework, or voting for the argument....sometimes, you could offer someone a great opportunity. Some people who are currently debating that are not minority students could potentially lose their scholarships, or some people who wanted to debate a particular school that were not minority students might not be able to. Those people can transfer to cheaper schools, or they can debate without a scholarship. Are there really that many people doing it for the money? And before those of you who go to private schools complain about how expensive it is, don't. Breaks my heart rich kids, looks like you will have to settle for public school like the rest of us.....or maybe not, because your parents really are wealthy.

The banquet change seems like the easiest thing to enact. As for the resolution, this really wouldn't be that big of a change either. Affirmatives would have to make arguments that they may not be used to making, and they would have to find creative ways to make their case. Negative teams hardly talk about the topic anyway. This might be refreshing. There probably wouldn't be able to condition the counterplan or change the agent. You would just have to answer the affirmative argument. There would be not politics disadvantages, if you wanted to read a disadvantage you would have to come up with a  real link to the plan.

I realize that a lot of people may no like these suggestions at first glance. I apologize, I am not trying to upset anyone. I am not trying to start a fight. The great thing about actively trying to find people to participate is that....if you think debate is a valuable educational experience at all.....it is beneficial for those new people would get exposed to the activity. AND, more people get to go to college.

I don't think I said anything offensive. If I did, I apologize. We are all a bunch of liberal people, so there should be some other people who find these ideas appealing.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Jessica Kurr on April 14, 2011, 11:51:06 AM
My only question is about the requirement of scholarships in order to compete. Some schools, both large and small, don't have departmental support on that level of financial aid to offer a full scholarship to 4 individuals at the same time for the means of debate (Note, a bunch of schools have academic, financial-need scholarships that would fit this purpose, but that seems distinct from what you are proposing). If schools don't have the financial means to provide those scholarships, why should they be banned from competing? Even if they received the CEDA/NDT scholarship you illustrated, there wouldn't be enough of those to go around. How does that model just prevent large programs from becoming larger and small programs from going non-existent?
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: JustinGreen on April 14, 2011, 01:33:47 PM
CWebb,

I am not offended, but your proposal - although well-intentioned is highly misinformed.

Schools already give dues to CEDA...those are primarily used for conducting the CEDA National Tournament.  It sounds like you are proposing an additional $100 per school.  175 schools are registered for CEDA.  Your sum total is then $17,500 and that's if everyone is still part of the organization.  This does not cover a single student at many universities and would likely cover few.  State regulations also make it impossible for many schools to contribute to scholarships.  The State of Kansas will not let Wichita, Emporia, KU, or KSU spend its tax dollars on scholarship contributions to those who reside in other states.

"CEDA/NDT should require that every team add one new minority member - with a full scholarship - each year." If your goal is to massively reduce the numbers and/or get teams to switch to parli/worlds - this proposal can help fill that mission.  If an administrator is forced with complying with this regulation or disbanding a squad all-together to save money, my experience is that they will choose to disband the team over putting an additional 8-35K per year into a squad for a scholarship, just to have the right to compete.  Many squads do not have scholarship dollars at all.  Scholarships are also often inter-woven with academic scholarships and independent of the question of debate - enforcement here is extremely murky at best.

The last time the community embraced DIVERSITY FORUMS - late 90s early 2000s; they were not that helpful.  Although Ed Panetta and Jarrod Atchison's article regarding this question is well-written.  The common sense argument that the people who most need to be there - the quote, unquote ESTABLISHMENT of TRADITIONAL DEBATE, simply don't show up and prepare for their upcoming debates.

I encourage you to write a topic paper if you are serious about your resolution - it will allow us to better engage this question.  Although I beg to differ that the political reactions (i.e. politics disad) would not be part of such resolution.

Hoping to shed light,

Justin Green

p.s. I apologize if your post had an ironic bend that I missed.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 14, 2011, 01:34:35 PM
Anyways, as I was saying...

Plan focused debate is bad because it centers the debate around what is said as opposed to what is done.  Therefore the body becomes irrelevant.  This renders gender and race invisible and irrelevant.  Certainly, difference based on the gender and race is rendered invisible.  Ignoring the ways the body performs in a debate round is a bad model for debate.

First, it’s not natural.  

Example 1:  When a lay person judges a debate round they usually do so on the basis of performance.  “I voted for team x because they were clearer in their argument and I liked argument X in particular.”  Sure, they decide the debate based on arguments, but its usually also based on more than the comparison of the arguments to also include a comparison of bodily performance.  I know I am always on the bottom of these decisions because the better sounding team usually loses the substance of the debate (in debate terms).  

Example 2:  I remember having my mind disciplined by Brian Prestes at debate camp before my junior year at Michigan.  In a debate I said as many of us have said at some point:  “vote negative on topicality because we better solve limits.”  He said:  you don’t solve anything.  Interpretations solve, plans and counterplans solve, but you don’t solve or do anything.  Sure, this was mere a discursive move, but dramatically altered the way I viewed debate from that moment on.  I did mean what I said:  voting for us is better for limits in debate because the ballot incentivizes and disincentivizes certain arguments and to the extent that we represent this interpretation of debate, voting for us will lead to better limits.  But, this is not how debate is viewed.

Second, it’s a limited view of education.  

Plan focus is a the traditional and limiting view of education where you simply regurgitate things back to a judge/teacher by repeating what that they want you to hear.  For instance, you tell the teacher how to build a computer as opposed to building the computer.  This is not how it's done in law school, for instance, we are asked to spot facts and apply the law as opposed to recite the law back.  It’s much harder and much more engaging.

I definitely think that this would improve the way debaters debate.  For instance, how often do you judge debates in which you want to say to the other team that their best link arguments are based on what the other team is doing or has done in the debate?  Debaters rarely know how to apply their argument to the bodies and people in the debate.  Therefore, debaters rarely know the specific links to whiteness that are happening in the debate.  Instead they construct an idea of it before the debate and debate against that in the debate round.  Same thing for many critical arguments.  Making what happens and what the bodies in the room do in the debate the central focus REQUIRES SPECIFIC LINK ARGUMENTS.  Not just to what the other team has done, but also to what you are doing.  Read advantages to what you have done (“we made a demand on the state to end the death penalty which solves biopower”).  This model of debate recognizes the role that biopower plays in the room and forces the debaters to debate what is happening and not what could be happening and/or might happen if something that isn’t or didn’t happen happened.  Another example, would be to read a poem that criticizes our foreign policy and then read evidence about the disruptive nature of poetry in IR.  It’s been done.  The point is to put theory into practice.

Furthermore, while I don’t think a model of debate that makes the body relevant necessarily means there will/should be poetry, music and the like, it could and that’s a good thing.  There was once a time when this country celebrated the arts.  It was an important part of education.  It supplements other forms of learning and can be an important avenue of self expression.  When art is used to express argument and it draws from the mind and the body and evidence and lived experience it’s education and debate at it’s best.

I must say that I watch Deverick Murray & Adam Jackson debate last year at CEDA and it literally the best I had ever seen anyone debate.  They were debating with the entirety of their bodies and were making arguments in ways I hadn’t seen arguments made including creative spoken arguments.  Of course, this was lost during the process of flowing.  It was good stuff though.

Third, plan focus has destructive effects.

I will refer back to the Whitman v.  East LA debate.  Because bodies and not arguments are the only thing that matter these two teams get to debate in front of me as they would anyone else and I AM EXPECTED TO VOTE AS WOULD ANY OTHER JUDGE.  This is problematic because I am not every other judge and for the most part the idea of how a good judge should vote is based on a white male perspective.  So, East LA gets to refer to me as a slave, make arguments I remember on my flow about how they (two non-black people) control the “world view of the debate” and that in that world I was a slave.  Am I expected to react to that in the same way as say Justin Green?  When Whitman says that “global warming outweighs slavery,” which I acknowledge as a winning debate argument, am I supposed to respond to it and vote for it as would say David Heidt?  

I also once judged a debate in which two teams, neither of which were gay or black, were going on and on about the gay black experience in quite offensive ways that made it incredibly uncomfortable for me to sit there because they were talking about me and they did it as if I wasn’t there and it didn’t matter that I was.  When I explained how conflicted I was listening as a gay black man, I asked them how should I decide the debate, without blinking an eye I was told as “a normal judge would.”  I however, am not “a normal judge.”  This matters.  The sad part is that if either team had listened and paid attention to what the other team was saying and doing and debated how the performance didn’t solve its advtantage because say the other team is in half drag and isn’t gay it would have made for a smarter and better debate, but debaters aren’t being trained to engage that way because of plan focus.

The subsequent discussion with the East LA coach furthers the problem of the body.  His explanation of the argument to me and explanation of my life to me after having read some book ignore who I was and who he was and my ability to understand my own situation quite easily.  Further, that I was concerned with how the argument played out in the debate round more than the argument itself.  Clearly, the lessons from the book didn’t translate into life.  He hadn’t learned how to treat black bodies in front of his very own face.

My last prelim debate at the NDT as a senior was against Fort Hays and in that debate they demanded that we have a personal relationship to the topic or explain why we had chosen our aff and not to give the land back to native americans on the treaties topic.  We lost and I simply found it disturbing that two white men could tell me that my explanation about why my black ass chose to read a death penalty aff discussing the discriminatory ways it’s applied wasn’t quite strong enough and that the two non-native American dudes FROM KANSAS should win this debate instead because they SAID that giving the land back is most important and read evidence from Native American dude (does his identity not matter in this discussion?).  The idea that who said what when and how shouldn’t matter in that debate is odd to me.  You also cannot tell me that identity of the judges didn’t matter.

My interpretation of debate requires that teams do something worth voting for and that they read evidence about the advantages of what it is they have done and perhaps disads to what the other team has done.  This certainly requires rigorous research, more critical thinking skills, more parts of the brain and more parts of the body.

I would refer you all to a pro-debate round between Me/Deven Cooper and Mike Hester/Jon Sharp.  In that debate we were arguing that our gay black bodies and stylistic performance has the TOPICAL effect of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in debate by decentering whiteness and masculinity, both of which manifest themselves in holding nuclear weapons at the center of reality.  We had very specific evidence and it was topical and featured our bodies as the plan.  We did something in that debate and its performative effect is solidified in the ballot.

We also made this same argument on the negative without regard for the Aff team.  Why?  Because we were asking the judge to affirm our bodily performance in each instance and it’s a performance that can only be ours and cannot be permuted because no one else in the room can solve our advantage because they can do what we do how we do it.  
It’s an interpretation of debate that is affirming as opposed negating.  Affirm what we have done (in the same way that West Va asked me to affirm their protest in that formerly mentioned CEDA debate).   This is in contrast from negation.  For instance, why vote for Towson because they said whiteness is bad?  Just because you correctively identify something that is bad (whiteness, excluding certain workers, failure to ratify the ctbt, etc).  A better interpretation of debate would be to require each team to seek out something worth affirming.

Furthermore, my interpretation of debate helps us move beyond simply competing identities.  That is a relic of plan focused debate because it becomes whiteness vs gayness vs blackness vs women and theoretical identities.  Performance based debate recognized that identity and politics are created in the act.  Therefore, only what is happening before the judge is what matters, not who you are, especially since who you are is constantly being reconstituted.

You may think this is a limiting interpretation of debate, but I don’t think so.  It’s definitely fairer.

 Pre-empts:
1.   Your generic defense of “traditional debate” fails.  You must make specific arguments about plan focus.
2.   Arguing that plan focus is (1) fairest or two (2) most educational without discussing (1) fair for who and (2) what type of education and (3) effects on diverse argumentation must fail, especially without responding to my initial claim that lack of diversity undermines the the educational value of debate.
3.   I am hardly making a debate is racist argument and really never was.  I am making a debate judging practices are inconsistent with diversity and inclusion.
4.   I would like to remind people that each judge has a right to decide how to decide debates.  Plan focus has been the default for years, but it doesn’t have to be your default.  I am talking to you individual person reading this.  Yes, you can change how you vote.  Just because you want to be more inclusive.  
5.   Don’t respond by telling me that the debaters should decide how to debate because (1) that’s irrelevant, I am talking about how judges should judge and (2) given judging philosophies and the very comments on this board judges have already decided how debates should be debated and decided and (3) debaters shouldn’t be in charge of something so important where important educational considerations are up for grabs.  When one team says in a debate that an interpretation excludes them from debate its more than an argument it is a reality we must consider.
6.   You must recognize judge choice and stop pretending that judges are acting in accordance with reason and good judgment.  Even if you are right, judges still exercise choice over what is important and decide what is persuasive and not persuasive.  This is all subjective.  To the extent that it is not it is because judges now judge based on past precedent when the subjective views of a white male judging pool were already solidified, which removes subjectivity in current decisions, but makes the decisions themselves no less subjective.
7.   Your knee jerk defense of reason is misplaced and is missing a link argument to why my method of debating and judging would destroy reason.  Judges can certainly reason why they vote one way or another and it should be based on the arguments in the debate.  But the focus is not on what is said, but based on what is done when the judge votes one way or another.  That’s all.
8.  One specific impact argument to plan focused debate based exclusively on fiat is played out on this message board.  In response to diversity issues in debate two specific options for change were offered as if it could be fiated:  (1) abolish the MPJ and (2) have non-USFG actors.  But exactly who are you talking to when you say request this change?  There's no one at the other end of that line capable of implementing these changes.  In the process, no one has considered what they can individually do to effectuate change.  That's plan focused debate training for you. 



Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: cwebb on April 14, 2011, 05:40:52 PM
Tax the rich schools....redistribute wealth to the poor schools....ok, so maybe that won't work. There are complications. 17 k should cover tuition at some universities....def mo state. 10-20 scholarships is out of the question. 17 k is one scholarship, that is one person who doesn't have the opportunity to go to school right now. Make it happen.

Some schools can afford to offer minority scholarships and some can't. Figure out which schools can, and require them to offer minority scholarships. Any counter argument sounds strangely similar to..."stop punishing our success."

I don't have time to write a topic paper. Was there a topic paper for the legal topic? Sort of seemed like the powers that be sort of decided that was happening. I also think i heard that the China paper was really short. What does the topic paper need to say....there is some literature...topic committee...go forth....

Don't allow people to vote no on the resolution, because they probably will. Just make it happen. If you do anything else people will just come up with excuses about why it is not feasible. Clearly it is if people are showing up at tournaments and talking about it now. Having a topic would just require that everyone show up to talk about the same thing.

ALSO, let us not forget...in this plan focus good/bad debate....that most negative strategies don't focus much on the plan. Or, at least, most negative strategies don't focus on contesting the plan. They do all of the plan (consult, courts, etc) or they involve some weak, generic evidence that gets a free pass because all negative minded debaters can agree they don't want to have to do any real work (politics disadvantage). As it stands, the plan focus good argument is a little weak at this point in time. Thus, having a topic which complicates "plan focus" to some degree is not that big of a deal.

That being said. I think focusing on the plan is good. Plan's should be topical. The negative team should have to say the plan - as an example of the resolution - is bad. If this isn't happening, the team that has deviated should lose. This is why we need to have a topic about whats going on in this conversation. Year one, we have a deep discussion about it. We figure out what we need to do, we implement, and we move forward. We revisit at the awards ceremony at each tournament, and perhaps again in subsequent years. In the years that follow, everyone can talk about whatever they want, they just have to come up with creative ways to link it to a topical plan. Adding the requirement is great, because it forces people to think creatively, and maybe even research areas that they are not familiar with....These arguments have been made before, everyone needs to start taking them seriously.

My feeling is that this is an argument that should not be happening in debate rounds...at all. If we think there is a problem, or there may be a problem, we need to be doing everything possible to address the problem now. Voting for this argument doesn't help anything. There is no progress made. So these alternative proposals are meant to address concerns about debate practices, and the make up of the debate community. The obvious objection is that...this has been tried before...and it didn't really work. I'm saying you need to make it mandatory. You clearly need to force the hands of people who are otherwise unwilling to do anything more than sign a ballot and give someone good speaker points, because nothing is changing.

If these requirements run programs into the ground, maybe that is good. Maybe they should go away, and maybe the people that are currently debating that won't get a chance to if their programs cannot survive these harsh requirements shouldn't debate any more. SEEMS EXTREME RIGHT.....well....if you disagree, then you should STOP VOTING FOR THIS ARGUMENT.

I think the distinction between what I'm proposing and diversity forums is that you have to show up if you want to find out if you cleared, and hear who won top speaker. Make it mandatory! This probably won't run any programs into the ground. People can just sit, listen, and contribute - if they like - while they are eating dinner.

no irony intended
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: jregnier on April 14, 2011, 05:51:41 PM
Quote
My last prelim debate at the NDT as a senior was against Fort Hays and in that debate they demanded that we have a personal relationship to the topic or explain why we had chosen our aff and not to give the land back to native americans on the treaties topic.  We lost and I simply found it disturbing that two white men could tell me that my explanation about why my black ass chose to read a death penalty aff discussing the discriminatory ways it’s applied wasn’t quite strong enough and that the two non-native American dudes FROM KANSAS should win this debate instead because they SAID that giving the land back is most important and read evidence from Native American dude (does his identity not matter in this discussion?).  The idea that who said what when and how shouldn’t matter in that debate is odd to me.  You also cannot tell me that identity of the judges didn’t matter.

It seems like at least once a year somebody sends me an email saying that Rashad has called me out publicly.  I appreciate that this was a round that stuck with you (it stuck with me too), but I'd appreciate it if you were a little more considerate to the event when you decide to use us as your whipping boys.

1.  Yes, I am white.  Yes, I am from Kansas.  Yes, my life experiences greatly influence my perception of the world and the judgments that I make in it.  Yes, our arguments are intertwined with our (embodied) positionality.  You're absolutely right that "who said what when and how" should matter in debate.  As I recall, that was in fact pretty much the central thesis of our argument in that debate round. 

2.  You present a very complex set of scholarly arguments as if they have a simple resolution.  The problem of "speaking for others" is not so easily resolved.  This is an issue that I constantly struggle with, and it was something that Fort Hays was struggling with in the specific debate round that you reference.  I'm fine if you think that we came out on the wrong side on this one, but please don't pretend that our positions did not come from careful reflection on the problem of being white while speaking about issues of oppression.  You may believe that being white disqualifies a person from speaking about race and other forms of oppression.  You may be right.  But I'll maintain that I have a responsibility to do so.  It is also a responsibility to do so carefully.  It truly may be that my 22 year old self wasn't as careful as I should have been, but it wasn't for lack of trying.  We debate, we make mistakes, we learn.  I don't remember if we read Spivak or Alcoff in that debate, but I take to heart the idea that it is the obligation of those with privilege to attempt to unlearn that privilege, which can only come through a reflexive practice of speaking with and for others.  Whenever I read your comments about Fort Hays, I always feel that your real problem with us was that we had the gall to debate you. 

3.  You lost that debate because you are the one that created mutual exclusivity between what we were doing and what you wanted to do.  You were the one who said that you didn't give a fuck about anybody else (paraphase, but pretty damn close to the exact language that you used), particularly Native Americans because they weren't a part of your life.  You were the one who refused to acknowledge the fact that nobody (including yourself) is immune to the problem of privilege.  I remember this debate so vividly because I'd never in my life seen somebody perform so explicitly the dangers of an overly strict identity politics.  Before then I'd never actually seen somebody say out loud that they didn't give a fuck about somebody else's oppression.  It was surreal.  Did the identity of the judges in that debate matter?  Absolutely.  But does that mean that you deserved to win?  No.

4.  I'm truly happy that you had an epiphany late in your debate career to become a more outspoken advocate for changing debate practice.  I loved your initial post in this thread.  I thought it was thoughtful and well-argued.  In fact, it reads almost just like a framework block that FORT HAYS would have read circa 2000 (about the same time that YOU would have been playing the role of hegemonic wonk).  Don't forget that you executed the style of hegemonic debate as well as anybody else (better than most).  And don’t forget that YOU used it as an exclusionary weapon.  That history was an important element of that debate round because it was an inescapable part of “who said what when and how.”
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: DevenC on April 14, 2011, 05:54:38 PM
How about this kind of discussion needs to be held on a face to face level instead of here, because alot of these people barely have the guts to say in person what they do here...very cowardice to do this on a forum exclusively where the people who  really need to be in the discussion arent here...kinda why i told rashad its really almost impossible to appeal to people who are stuck in their ways....clearly we have judges who just dont give a shit about what some alternative teams have to say and it is in a sense structurally embedded.. could be on racial lines and/or others. For example, the Kentucky Round Robin 2009...Dayvon and I had to be in front of judges who are suppose to be the best and brightest critical thinkers from schools like USC, MSU, NW, WFU, Emory, UCBerk and other places but clearly GRETA and HEIGHT were never going to give what we had to say a fair shake although we were negative....but our judges are willing to do it for them and even myself.. i vote for their fw and C/p and disads its not like i wasn't indoctrinated by their style in highschool and i get it but...why not let this "game" be about what the students want instead of yalls ideals because you arent debating anymore.....so at the end of the day MPJ may be good in some ways to protect us from the perceived evil that exists to our arguments but when will it be cool for people like them to just let us be and hear us...so that we wouldn't have to place them in the NEVER pref end...if this is one of  the most "progressive" or "liberal" institutions in college then why not really live up to that?...if not Dayvon and I have a nice two worded phrase for what this is......
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 14, 2011, 07:00:28 PM
Jason,

You said:

It seems like at least once a year somebody sends me an email saying that Rashad has called me out publicly.  I appreciate that this was a round that stuck with you (it stuck with me too), but I'd appreciate it if you were a little more considerate to the event when you decide to use us as your whipping boys.

My bad.  It's not personal, I promise.

You also said:

2.  You present a very complex set of scholarly arguments as if they have a simple resolution.  The problem of "speaking for others" is not so easily resolved.  This is an issue that I constantly struggle with, and it was something that Fort Hays was struggling with in the specific debate round that you reference.  I'm fine if you think that we came out on the wrong side on this one, but please don't pretend that our positions did not come from careful reflection on the problem of being white while speaking about issues of oppression.  You may believe that being white disqualifies a person from speaking about race and other forms of oppression.  You may be right.  But I'll maintain that I have a responsibility to do so.  It is also a responsibility to do so carefully.  It truly may be that my 22 year old self wasn't as careful as I should have been, but it wasn't for lack of trying.  We debate, we make mistakes, we learn.  I don't remember if we read Spivak or Alcoff in that debate, but I take to heart the idea that it is the obligation of those with privilege to attempt to unlearn that privilege, which can only come through a reflexive practice of speaking with and for others.  Whenever I read your comments about Fort Hays, I always feel that your real problem with us was that we had the gall to debate you.  

I think this is important.  I don't have a problem with you speaking for others or talking about the oppression of others.  My problem is not that you had the gull to debate me is that you debated me as if I were every other debater.  You made my race and your race invisible in that debate.  I think it's relevant that I am black and that I chose a topical option of discussing the death penalty because it implicates my daily life.  That's why I chose that Aff in that debate.  How should I react when two white males tell me that really the most ethical thing I could have done was to look at the treaties topic, with the DP as an option and argue for giving the land back to native americans?  Furthermore, how exactly am I responsible for land being stolen from Native Americans when I myself was brought here against my will.  Moreover, why is any of this a reason to vote for you.  I don't know how this argument plays out against other teams and under different circumstances.  

**Edit**
This is relevant to my original discussion because it's an example of forcing me, the black dude, to defend the actions of the USFG as if that thing represents me in any way or as if I am responsible for it's actions.  My point is that a model of debate in which debaters are exclusively responsible for their own bodily performance would allow me to say hey dude, I didn't steal any land and had no part in it. 

You will note that this would also make me angry against Louisville in those debates.  I think that when race matters, race matters boo.


3.  You lost that debate because you are the one that created mutual exclusivity between what we were doing and what you wanted to do.  You were the one who said that you didn't give a fuck about anybody else (paraphase, but pretty damn close to the exact language that you used), particularly Native Americans because they weren't a part of your life.  You were the one who refused to acknowledge the fact that nobody (including yourself) is immune to the problem of privilege.  I remember this debate so vividly because I'd never in my life seen somebody perform so explicitly the dangers of an overly strict identity politics.  Before then I'd never actually seen somebody say out loud that they didn't give a fuck about somebody else's oppression.  It was surreal.  Did the identity of the judges in that debate matter?  Absolutely.  But does that mean that you deserved to win?  No.


I don't argue decisions.  You won because you won.  I don't remember what I said, but damn if that don't sound like me.  Still rings true to me.  I just think you will have a hard time ever convincing me that I am more privileged than Native Americans and even if it were true, you couldn't convince me that YOU KNEW IT.  That's where my anger stems from in that debate.  I have a shitton of my own problems and battles to fight.  For instance, the government is trying lock me up and kill me because I am black.  Where's the privilege in that?  I am not one to compare oppression.  But, I don't see anything wrong in fighting to end my own oppression.  Underlying this comment and that debate argument was the idea that indeed stealing the land was the original sin and the worse and most important thing to ever happen.  But for me, the original sin is when my ancestors were dragged here against their will and everything that has happened since.  Does that mean I deserve to win?  No. Can I be fucking pissed?  Hell yes.  Apologies?  None.


4.  I'm truly happy that you had an epiphany late in your debate career to become a more outspoken advocate for changing debate practice.  I loved your initial post in this thread.  I thought it was thoughtful and well-argued.  In fact, it reads almost just like a framework block that FORT HAYS would have read circa 2000 (about the same time that YOU would have been playing the role of hegemonic wonk).  Don't forget that you executed the style of hegemonic debate as well as anybody else (better than most).  And don’t forget that YOU used it as an exclusionary weapon.  That history was an important element of that debate round because it was an inescapable part of “who said what when and how.”

This is important as well.  I love the way I debated and would do it all over again if given the choice.  I think debaters should debate how they want.  How I would debate and how I think people should debate is irrelevant to how judges should judge these debates.  

I would still rather have judges decide my theory arguments than anything related to my life and the last thing I would want to do is talk race or gender to you people for 10 rounds a weekend.  Chile cheese!  Apparently, some people do and they should be heard fairly.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: SCOTUS on April 14, 2011, 07:12:22 PM
You lost that debate because you are the one that created mutual exclusivity between what we were doing and what you wanted to do.  You were the one who said that you didn't give a fuck about anybody else (paraphase, but pretty damn close to the exact language that you used), particularly Native Americans because they weren't a part of your life.  You were the one who refused to acknowledge the fact that nobody (including yourself) is immune to the problem of privilege.  I remember this debate so vividly because I'd never in my life seen somebody perform so explicitly the dangers of an overly strict identity politics.  Before then I'd never actually seen somebody say out loud that they didn't give a fuck about somebody else's oppression.  It was surreal. 

This.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 15, 2011, 11:14:10 AM
I don’t think I was done.  I feel the need to share/show more.

First, I am concerned that Jason thought that I was attacking him and/or Ft. Hays when I don’t think that I was.  I referred to that debate as an example because I feel it is important to provide examples and stories and context.  Sometimes you have to provide names, faces and bodies to the picture to fully understand what is going on.  So, what you see as an attack, I see as evidence.

I think it was important for instance to provide my point of view in that debate, which after further reflection was very different from yours which I will discuss further later.  I feel it is important to teach through stories and personal experience.  I am kind of a simple guy, but that’s a lesson I learn from Oprah.  She has a platform for people to share stories where we all learn that we and they are not the only one.  On this message board, this isn’t considered research when in reality it’s primary research.  My experiences can be aggregated and turned into numbers, statistics and theories.  Several people have already cited tome some examples of debate research that does that I assume.  But my point is that the specific context of everything is lost when that is done so I must be detailed and provide context.  That debate also helped inform my thoughts today, so part of what I am saying is if this happened to you, wouldn’t you think the way I think about debate?  This is consistent with my thought that our views of debate are formed in large part by our experience, so sometimes I must share my experience.

Further, to think that my opinion doesn’t matter merely from my perspective as a black person or gay person is silly and contradictory to everything that debate stands for.  Almost all research is tailored to specific demographics and if it weren’t you would fail all the time!!  So, to sit here and tell me that almost everything about your identity doesn’t matter is disingenuous and demonstrates why the method of teaching persuasion in this activity is failing.

It is clearer to me that you believed that that debate was more about your ability to speak for others whereas I thought it was about my ability to speak for myself.  And then in all the audacity of your whiteness have the gull to come on this message board and say that I was being small minded and wrapped up in my own life.  And yes, I am getting a bit snippy here because sometimes I think only me and Deven get the tone with which you all speak to us.  You clearly have a different view of us than we have of ourselves.  

But, let me explain to you the arrogance of your post.  You already began from a position of thinking it was possible to speak for others.  Why?  Because you have always been able to speak for others.  I am a black male, when exactly have I been able to speak for myself, let alone others?  Debate, may be a unique opportunity for me to have a voice and speak for myself and when I do you say no, you sir, must speak about Native Americans.

I do think it’s a black tradition to take care of your own house before you get involved in anyone elses business.  I do think it ingrained in the white psyche that you CAN speak for others.  You are the people who legislate.  You make decisions for everyone.  So, when I say I don’t give a fuck about Native Americans because my house isn’t in order (or I don’t even have a house myself) it doesn’t occur to me that I am being arrogant.  When I, unlike you, never thought speaking for others was an option let alone the only option.

I do think it’s important to speak for yourself.  This is why I did.  This is why I was frustrated that because you thought you could speak for others you didn’t have to speak (or more importantly be responsible) for yourself.  Which doesn’t sit tight with black people and especially not coming from white people.  

Furthermore, you think citing evidence insulates you from my criticism.  Spivak's or Alcoff's opinion on speaking for others has nothing to do with the full context of that debate.  My frustration is not that you had the gall to debate me, it's that when you did you thought you were on some higher moral ground because of your revolutionary style of debate which masked the utterly ridiculous nature of some your arguments particularly when addressed directly at me.  Like I am the devil for reading a plan, being topical and speaking fast.  Sit there and say that shit ain't fun when you know it is!  That's hardly the problem in debate.  It's the imperialism involved in how people think.  There, sir, is where you guys failed.

Implying that it was me who was blinded my identity then is what drives me over the top.  This was about your white identity, which is wrapped exclusively in your mind and not tied to the whiteness of you’re your body.  My identity politics is connected to the blackness of my body because it is reality.  Yours is wrapped up in your mind and therefore never has to be rooted in your body or your experience.   Part of your identity is the ability to think and speak for others.  This is not my identity.

This is ultimately why your methods of judging are dangerous.  When you make decisions without considering your own lived and bodily experiences you decisions probably won’t make sense!  Non-racist people begin to make racist decisions.  Non-sexist people begin to make sexist decisions and the racists and sexists are just in there helping.  Certainly, none of it makes sense.

Furthermore, bump you for referring to my style of debate as hegemonic.  This is another example of decontextualizing my life and erasing the blackness of my body.  My style of debate was counterhegemonic, thank you very much.  I learned very early on as a child that white people always win because they control the rules.  Therefore, as a debater I made sure that I always controlled the rules.  If I didn’t, you would have boo!  How hegemonic is that?

STILL WINNING!!!!!
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Whit on April 15, 2011, 01:37:43 PM
First of all, I never said either team has to read a plan or that the debate should be about the plan. My only argument was that judges should use logic and reason as their primary method of resolving debates. While I mostly judge teams that debate ‘traditionally,’ I’ve also judged quite a few teams that many would consider to be critical or even performance teams. I have always used this method to decide the debates.

It is also my understanding that you don’t wish to exclude debaters from having plan focused debates. You said in your original post that this wouldn’t change the way two traditional teams debate one another. You also said that you yourself liked having a topical plan that you had some personal relation to.

As best as I can tell, the major point of contention between us is the importance of identity in decision making by judges. I don’t think the identity of the debaters should matter AT ALL in the decisions the judges render. You obviously think that identity is very important. That’s why I didn’t understand this portion of your post:
“Furthermore, my interpretation of debate helps us move beyond simply competing identities.  That is a relic of plan focused debate because it becomes whiteness vs gayness vs blackness vs women and theoretical identities.  Performance based debate recognized that identity and politics are created in the act.  Therefore, only what is happening before the judge is what matters, not who you are, especially since who you are is constantly being reconstituted.”
As I see it, and I could be totally off base (so feel free to correct/explain more), your method of deciding debates would very much force the judge to decide between competing identities. Every problematic round you listed in your personal experience involved a situation where the argument being presented was not congruent with the identity of the person debating.

I’ll elaborate here (again please correct me if this is an oversimplification):
Whitman v East LA: Two non-black individuals made arguments about slavery. You didn’t like this because you felt they had no connection to slavery. The identity of the debater was a key factor in your like/dislike of their performance.

Random Debate: All four participants (neither black, nor gay) talked about the gay black experience. You didn’t like it because you felt they had no personal connection. The identity of the debater was a key factor in your like/dislike of their performance.

Fort Hays Debate: Two white males made arguments about native americans. You felt they had little personal connection to the argument (especially in comparison to you, because your identity as a black male causes you to have unique feelings about the death penalty). The identity of the debaters was a key factor in how you felt about this round.

You and Deven: You feel positive about this experience because it was two black gay males talking about how their identity related to the topic of nuclear weapons. Identity was essential to this experience.

Towson JM: You didn’t elaborate as much on this debate, but did say you felt positively about the round. At the risk of assuming, I would guess that it was because two black males were talking about issues of race. The identity of the debaters was important.

Now, if every debater should have some personal connection to the arguments they present, then it would seem that debate would always be about identity. How do you determine a personal connection to the argument without first establishing who you are? Here is my problem with this. Debate is competitive. If each debater has to establish a personal connection to their arguments, then each debate will become about competing identity. These debates suck. The judge has to look a team in the eye at the end of the round and say, “Sorry, but your emotional investment and personal connection didn’t measure up this round.” What’s worse, is that the RFD will likely be, “I was just feeling this other team a lot more.” Furthermore, in a community where the majority of judges are white males, I am skeptical of how often judges will personally identify the perspective of minority and women debaters.

Moreover, I think there is a propensity for judges to make some often faulty assumptions about the identity and experiences of the debaters involved. Three examples:
1) Late in my debate career (the Natives topic), my partner and I were debating at the Alabama Crimson Classic. We were debating a team from MTSU, who was reading an affirmative that we didn’t think was topical. The judge was Shanara Reid-Brinkley (apologies for any misspelling). We went for topicality. They made the argument that topicality excludes the perspective of Native Americans. We countered that not being topical excluded us from participating in the debate. We lost the round. Shanara said that she found the Native exclusion argument persuasive. I asked how she resolved the argument that we would be excluded. She concluded that it was ok to exclude us from the debate over Native Americans because we weren’t oppressed. “You aren’t oppressed.” I still tear up at the thought of this. I still remember feeling like I had been punched in the gut. It was clear to me that when she looked at us, she just saw two white males from a private school who may have looked affluent because their coach encouraged them to ‘dress-up’ for tournaments. She didn’t know that my partner and I were poor. Very poor. Ben didn’t take it badly. For me, however, it was a defining moment in my debate career. Ben and I hadn’t discussed our identity in that round, so perhaps it can be said that we were somewhat to blame for the misperception. I don’t think this is the case. I don’t think the identity of the debater should EVER be a factor in a round. I don’t want anyone to ever feel the pain I felt because their identity was the deciding factor in a debate round.
2) I judged a debate between Harvard Luxemberg/Malumphy and Fullerton Clark/Ward at the NDT one year. Throughout the debate, Fullerton made arguments about how Christine and Dan were privileged and wealthy. They even said ‘HAHRVAD’ in that kind of snobby way as a derogatory slam. I knew Christine from the local Georgia high school circuit. I knew she was from rural Georgia and wasn’t extremely wealthy. Much of what Fullerton was saying wrong and borderline offensive. I sat waiting for her to tear into this team and counter their lies. She didn’t. When I asked her about it, she said she didn’t think the debate should be about those kinds of issues and chose not to advance any arguments along that line. It probably cost her the debate. But it shouldn’t have. She is right that debate shouldn’t be about identity. Because when debates are about identity, there will inevitably attacks on the other team’s identity. You’re right that the specific links to whiteness will be better under your model (lolz…they’re white), but I don’t want teams to think it’s ok to (or that they have to) research the black bad or gay bad disad.
3) Your debate against the Fort. I think you presume they had no connection to the argument, but I would beg to differ. Yes, the argument was from two white males from Kansas (more specifically Fort Hays, Kansas). The argument was very much about two individuals confronting the wrongs of their ancestors. I’ve heard Fort Hays debaters talk about the history of their school/city, it’s involvement with the military, and problems with buildings on campus named after people who did despicable shit. I think it’s likely they had a very personal connection to the argument, and that in some ways it was about confronting whiteness. I recognize that you also had a very personal connection to your affirmative. Don’t you see that this debate is the epitome of your model? Almost plan-plan like…. Should we repeal the death penalty or give the land back? Your displeasure over that round is the feeling that every losing team will have under your model of judging. I poured my heart and soul into connecting to an argument, but it just didn’t stack up to two white dudes who felt guilty because their ancestors mistreated native americans (obviously a flippant oversimplification of the arguments, but you get my point…I hope).

I’ll write some more later to respond to your pre-empts about why I think a reasoned based approach to judging debates is better, but I have some cards to cut right now.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: Whit on April 15, 2011, 02:39:25 PM
one more story:

I debated on the Title 7 topic. My partner was gay. I didn't know it at the time, because he hadn't come out to me. My coach forced me to write the same-sex affirmative. He knew my partner was gay and thought it would be good for us as a team, even though he didn't reveal his primary motivations at the time. As a straight male, I had very little connection to the argument. To be honest, I would say I was hostile to the idea. I harbored some pretty homophobic ideas.

Two things:
1) Researching an issue that I had no interest or connection to was pretty transformative in my worldview and attitude. Had I resisted my coach's wishes because of a lack of personal connection, there is a chance I would still harbor some pretty heterosexist feelings. That's why I've always found it silly, absurd, and selfishly narrow-minded when identity debaters say they don't want to debate the topic because it doesn't relate to them. Sometimes it is good to learn about things you aren't personally interested in.

2) Conversely, talking about same-sex discrimination was not liberating and empowering for my partner. Years later when he finally came out to me, he told me those rounds were torture. He didn't believe the aff would have done anything to make the world a better place. He would have rather talked about something else. Not everyone wants to be forced to talk about their identity.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: spurlock on April 15, 2011, 05:15:15 PM
" It's the imperialism involved in how people think.  There, sir, is where you guys failed."

fort hays never talked about how imperialism is a way of thinking?  hmmm......
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: jregnier on April 15, 2011, 05:35:48 PM
[Ugh, I reread this post after I wrote it.  It demonstrates very well the problem with trying to debate a kritik on the line-by-line with a huge overview.  Forgive the fragmentation of the arguments]

To start, there’s a lot of what Rashad has said that I agree with.  I think that the positionality of the debaters and the judges should be a much more active part of the evaluation of arguments in debate.  This is the only way that we, both as scholars and as members of a community, can take seriously the important questions about how knowledge gets produced. 

As much as possible, I want to defer to those who can concretely speak to the experience of violence and degradation produced by systems of privilege.  As a coach, this has been an interesting and difficult process.  It has often been hoisted on me to write the “Louisville Strat” or the “Towson Strat.”  The first thing I would always tell my debaters is this: your problem is that, at bottom, they’ve got an argument that is just fundamentally true; the debate community is racist.  I would try to put together some arguments for them, but felt that by doing so I was performing a big part of the argument, which is to allow the debaters to not directly confront these issues themselves.  As a result, a couple of years ago, I decided that I will never again write my team’s strategies against “project” (not an unproblematic term) teams.  I’ll help my students to think about the issues, but they’re the ones that have to put the actual positions together.

These problems of positionality and privilege are ones that I’ve encouraged my debaters this year to think through with regard to the question of immigration.  We began a process (that is far from complete) of thinking about what it is that gives somebody the sense of entitlement to speak and understanding the ways that our experiences shape perspectives and judgments about issues.  In a lot of ways, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface, and so I am genuinely interested in hearing from people (Rashad and Deven being two that have contributed to this thread) that can help us make this reflection more effective.

In response to Rashad’s recent posts (in which the tone gets a bit more combative):

Quote
You already began from a position of thinking it was possible to speak for others.  Why?  Because you have always been able to speak for others. 

Depends on what you mean by “began.”  If you mean that I was brought up that way within certain systems of racial, sexual and other forms of privilege, then you’re absolutely right.  This is something that debaters need to become much more aware of in their debate practice.  It’s a hard problem to even begin to set the terms of, but it’s a necessary one, especially for people as privileged with a voice as debaters.  This is a place where you have my complete and total agreement.

If, on the other hand, you mean that we began that debate from the presumption that it was possible to speak for others, then I say false.  I don’t know if it’s possible to speak for others.  Nevertheless, I think that its necessary to speak for others.  If I were to pull a cutesy deconstructionist move, then I might even say that it is (im)possible to speak for others.  As I said in my last post, speaking for others must be conjoined with a reflexive process of critically examining one’s own position of privilege as well as speaking with others.  That is something that we attempted (and inevitably to some extent failed) to do with our arguments.

Quote
Further, to think that my opinion doesn’t matter merely from my perspective as a black person or gay person is silly and contradictory to everything that debate stands for.  Almost all research is tailored to specific demographics and if it weren’t you would fail all the time!!  So, to sit here and tell me that almost everything about your identity doesn’t matter is disingenuous and demonstrates why the method of teaching persuasion in this activity is failing.

I’m not sure if you’re talking to me right now, but I’m pretty sure that I never sat anywhere and told you anything of the sort.  I think I was pretty explicit in saying that identity does matter.

Quote
It is clearer to me that you believed that that debate was more about your ability to speak for others whereas I thought it was about my ability to speak for myself.  And then in all the audacity of your whiteness have the gull to come on this message board and say that I was being small minded and wrapped up in my own life.  And yes, I am getting a bit snippy here because sometimes I think only me and Deven get the tone with which you all speak to us.  You clearly have a different view of us than we have of ourselves. 

I’m sorry if I implied that you were being small minded.  That’s not what I meant.  I do think that you are oversimplifying some complicated issues to make them black and white (so to speak).  I also think that it’s irresponsible and runs counter to your own goals to say that other people’s oppression doesn’t matter to you and that only your own life matters.

Quote
I am a black male, when exactly have I been able to speak for myself, let alone others?  Debate, may be a unique opportunity for me to have a voice and speak for myself and when I do you say no, you sir, must speak about Native Americans.

And that’s why it was a debate.  I’m not saying that you’re wrong.  In that debate, we were not trying to dismiss your voice.  We were trying to complicate the easy picture of opposition that you were creating.  Some strategies of resistance can unintentionally have negative consequences for other groups.  Was our alternative “correct” (in the metaphysical sense), I don’t know.  Did it express a valid concern about certain strategies for opposition to systems of domination?  I think so.  Do you have a solid argument that we could be wrong?  Absolutely.  That’s why it’s called “debate” and not “agree.”

I do, however, want to complicate the picture so that it doesn’t get taken up by those whose positions I wouldn’t support.  Just because we’re supposed to disagree with one another most certainly does not mean that anything goes.  It doesn’t justify abstracting arguments out of their situational embeddedness.  There is a valid question about whether it’s appropriate for two white guys from Kansas to be talking about African and Native Americans.  Anybody who says otherwise is falling prey to white (male, heterosexual, western, bourgeois) systems of privilege.  A great example of this was that super silly post earlier in this thread using Sherry’s theory of rational argument. To quote a few of my students, “OMFGROFL!”

Quote
I do think it’s a black tradition to take care of your own house before you get involved in anyone elses business.  I do think it ingrained in the white psyche that you CAN speak for others.  You are the people who legislate.  You make decisions for everyone.  So, when I say I don’t give a fuck about Native Americans because my house isn’t in order (or I don’t even have a house myself) it doesn’t occur to me that I am being arrogant.  When I, unlike you, never thought speaking for others was an option let alone the only option.

This is a false binary.  Speaking for yourself is inseparable from speaking for others.  Every time that you say something (especially if you’re saying it to others), you are inevitably speaking for others.  This is particularly true when talking about systems of oppression.  As a middle-class, heterosexual, white male American, whenever I talk about any political issue (even if I really try to make it only about myself), it inevitably has implications about others.  You may say that I should stop speaking.  The problem is that even the decision to not speak is an act of speaking.  AND, it’s one that’s encouraged by systems of privilege.  White people don’t want to speak about race issues.  Men don’t want to speak about feminist issues.  Every time you tell them that they don’t get to talk about those issues, it makes them feel more comfortable and justified in accepting their positions of privilege.

For instance, how would I say to myself, “I am going to challenge systems of racism in debate,” without implicitly speaking for the interests of those affected by racism?  Our relationships with others are inherently inter-subjective.  We become people through our relationships with them.  Any time that we say anything about anything, we are invoking those inter-subjective relationships.

Quote
I do think it’s important to speak for yourself.  This is why I did.  This is why I was frustrated that because you thought you could speak for others you didn’t have to speak (or more importantly be responsible) for yourself.   

I accept that this is your perception of what happened, but it doesn’t match up with mine.  I believe that we were speaking for ourselves throughout, and I believe that we were taking responsibility for ourselves.  I don’t disagree that it’s important to speak for yourself.  You should lay yourself out there.  You should own what you say. 

Quote
Like I am the devil for reading a plan, being topical and speaking fast.  Sit there and say that shit ain't fun when you know it is!  That's hardly the problem in debate.  It's the imperialism involved in how people think.   

I once heard Bush say on the radio that the reason why we needed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages was because we are a country that believes in individual freedom where people are allowed to live their lives as they see fit.  I nearly wrecked the car because my brain exploded.

I just had the same reaction to your last statement.  It’s the imperialism involved in how people think?  How is that separable from reading a plan, being topical, and speaking fast?  Isn’t that the argument you made in the first post on this thread?  That plan focus is bad because it distracts from the role of the judge?  Isn’t it a pretty standard argument among more identity-focused teams that speed and the line-by-line participate in an imperialism of thought?

Quote
Implying that it was me who was blinded my identity then is what drives me over the top.  This was about your white identity, which is wrapped exclusively in your mind and not tied to the whiteness of you’re your body.  My identity politics is connected to the blackness of my body because it is reality.  Yours is wrapped up in your mind and therefore never has to be rooted in your body or your experience.   Part of your identity is the ability to think and speak for others.  This is not my identity.

I’m not saying that you were blinded by your identity.  Your identity is what enables you to see.  I’m saying that you were blinded by your strategy of dealing with that identity.  Was I partially as well?  For sure.  But don’t think that I wasn’t aware of that blindness.  In Rumsfeld’s terms, it was a “known unknown.”  Do I sometimes have a tendency to abstract arguments into some free-floating realm?  I do.  It’s a weakness.  It’s something that I work on.

I think that the most powerful thing that you’ve said in this interaction is when you said that I treated you as if you were every other debater.  That hits home.  I see the danger that you describe concerning color-blindness.  But I don’t think there’s an easy answer here either.  You know well that it’s equally dangerous to homogenize people based on their skin color.  I didn’t know you.  The only “you” I knew was one that I thought was a serious asshole (I was a serious asshole too).  One tries to treat people in a way that kind of matches up with the way that they present themselves.  When I saw you, I saw a guy who “played the game.”  So I treated you like a guy who played the game.  That’s not to say I was blind to your color, but you’re probably right that I didn’t adequately account for your embodiment.

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Furthermore, bump you for referring to my style of debate as hegemonic.  This is another example of decontextualizing my life and erasing the blackness of my body. 

You’re right that there is a certain counter-hegemonic force to a black body performing as you did, but that doesn’t give you a pass.  As much as I decontextualized the blackness of your body, you do the same.  There may be something subversive about a black cop, but as KRS-One once said, “The black cop is the only real obstacle / Black slave turned black cop is not logical.”
 
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Furthermore, how exactly am I responsible for land being stolen from Native Americans when I myself was brought here against my will. 

Privilege is multifaceted.  Debate gives you privilege.  Being an American gives you privilege.  Being a man gives you privilege.  Having a college education gives you privilege.  Going to Duke law school gives you privilege.  I’m not saying that this tells the whole story about who you are, but to ignore your own privilege participates in the same type of problem that is whiteness.

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This is relevant to my original discussion because it's an example of forcing me, the black dude, to defend the actions of the USFG as if that thing represents me in any way or as if I am responsible for it's actions.  My point is that a model of debate in which debaters are exclusively responsible for their own bodily performance would allow me to say hey dude, I didn't steal any land and had no part in it. 

You have a false binary between body and argument.  You’re right that the body matters, but it’s not the only thing that matters.  What you say also matters.  You’re implying that you can say anything and it will be ok because you’re a black dude.  Rhetoric matters.  If you invoke and defend certain concepts (like the USFG), then you’re responsible for the baggage that comes along with them.  You can try to say that you twist those concepts against themselves.  You can try to say that you redefine them or something else.  Maybe you do, maybe you don’t.  That’s the debate. But, good or bad, you’re responsible for the things you say.


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I don't remember what I said, but damn if that don't sound like me.  Still rings true to me.  I just think you will have a hard time ever convincing me that I am more privileged than Native Americans and even if it were true, you couldn't convince me that YOU KNEW IT.  That's where my anger stems from in that debate.  I have a shitton of my own problems and battles to fight.  For instance, the government is trying lock me up and kill me because I am black.  Where's the privilege in that?  I am not one to compare oppression.  But, I don't see anything wrong in fighting to end my own oppression.  Underlying this comment and that debate argument was the idea that indeed stealing the land was the original sin and the worse and most important thing to ever happen.  But for me, the original sin is when my ancestors were dragged here against their will and everything that has happened since. 

This is where you lose me (and probably most of the people you’re trying to convince).  If we accept your logic, then there’s no reason that white people should give a fuck about you.  If I accepted your logic, then I would spend all my time thinking about economic class (on that topic, you KNOW NOTHING about me) and wouldn’t concern myself with engaging you in a dialogue about race.  Your argument is unsustainable.  You want people to listen to you, but simultaneously tell them that they should only care about themselves.

I think that it’s probably to some extent inevitable and necessary to hierarchize forms of oppression.  I’m ok with that.  Some things are worse than others.  I think that somebody probably does get to tell me that my lower-middle class childhood and current economic difficulties are not a big deal compared to what others have to go through.  They’re right.  I’m fine if you say that the continuing genocide of Native Americans isn’t as big a deal as the racism present in the death penalty (the “perm” probably would have been the better strategy though).  But I don’t think that you can dismiss out of hand the argument that it’s something that should be considered.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: jregnier on April 15, 2011, 10:09:27 PM
Deven,

I have a question that relates Rashad's proposal to focus on the judge to a couple of rounds that I judged you in.  You may or may not remember the post-round discussions.  If you do, sweet.  If you don't, then I'll try to be as specific as possible.

Rashad wrote something above that was provocative.  He said that when I debated him, I treated him as if he were any other debater.  There's a danger in this kind of color-blindness.  This reminded me of those rounds that I judged of yours.  One of the things that made it really difficult to decide those rounds was that I felt like you weren't thinking about the positionality of the judge.  While I thought that you did a great job talking about your positionality and about the problem of white aesthetics generally, I struggled to figure out how I should go about making a decision.  To use Rashad's phrase, it felt like you were treating me as if I were any other judge.  And by that, I don't mean that you treated me as if I were white (in fact, that may have been the problem).  I mean that you treated me as if I were a "blank slate" to evaluate the arguments objectively without reference to my positionality.  Specifically, I didn't know what was being asked of me.  I didn't know what I would contribute by voting one way or the other. 

A similar problem played itself out this year when I judged a Towson/Louisville debate.  It became a classic revolution vs. reform kind of debate.  Voting was a weird experience: a white dude telling four black debaters what he thought black people should do to best liberate themselves.  But more than that, it was made especially weird by some of the arguments being advanced by Towson, who argued that black people should stop looking to white people for approval and should just seize power... and that was the reason that I, a white dude, should give them approval.  I didn't think that they were necessarily wrong about the need to seize power, but I didn't know how to reconcile that with my decision on the ballot. 

I recognize that it's probably unfair to foist this responsibility on you because it is not exactly your problem.  But I am curious to hear your thoughts about how to account for the positionality of the judge that's called upon to make the decision.  Especially in a situation like I describe with the Towson/Louisville debate because the answer can't be to defer to the embodied performance of blackness.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: rwevans on April 17, 2011, 09:31:55 AM
This is it.  I mean it you guys.  This is really it...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2P-BKqAv0M

Fin.
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: DevenC on April 17, 2011, 01:44:55 PM
Deven,

I have a question that relates Rashad's proposal to focus on the judge to a couple of rounds that I judged you in.  You may or may not remember the post-round discussions.  If you do, sweet.  If you don't, then I'll try to be as specific as possible.

Rashad wrote something above that was provocative.  He said that when I debated him, I treated him as if he were any other debater.  There's a danger in this kind of color-blindness.  This reminded me of those rounds that I judged of yours.  One of the things that made it really difficult to decide those rounds was that I felt like you weren't thinking about the positionality of the judge.  While I thought that you did a great job talking about your positionality and about the problem of white aesthetics generally, I struggled to figure out how I should go about making a decision.  To use Rashad's phrase, it felt like you were treating me as if I were any other judge.  And by that, I don't mean that you treated me as if I were white (in fact, that may have been the problem).  I mean that you treated me as if I were a "blank slate" to evaluate the arguments objectively without reference to my positionality.  Specifically, I didn't know what was being asked of me.  I didn't know what I would contribute by voting one way or the other. 

A similar problem played itself out this year when I judged a Towson/Louisville debate.  It became a classic revolution vs. reform kind of debate.  Voting was a weird experience: a white dude telling four black debaters what he thought black people should do to best liberate themselves.  But more than that, it was made especially weird by some of the arguments being advanced by Towson, who argued that black people should stop looking to white people for approval and should just seize power... and that was the reason that I, a white dude, should give them approval.  I didn't think that they were necessarily wrong about the need to seize power, but I didn't know how to reconcile that with my decision on the ballot. 

I recognize that it's probably unfair to foist this responsibility on you because it is not exactly your problem.  But I am curious to hear your thoughts about how to account for the positionality of the judge that's called upon to make the decision.  Especially in a situation like I describe with the Towson/Louisville debate because the answer can't be to defer to the embodied performance of blackness.


I agree that it cant be just defer to blackness....however i do think that as a judge you should let the arguments be a way to decide as well as what you do know about the history of black struggle and resistance...i think you should look at it as who best advances a practical or more persuasive way to implement what each side is saying....like...what does this do for debate or what framework is set up for discussion...if that is the question...but i think for me..im down with black people doing traditional/ alternative/ kritik whatever debate it is as long as they here and dont try to bump each other in a way to say they are wrong...but i do think they should be able to advance their arguments on the basis of method. As for you as a judge...after a while dayvon and i were like " look we aren't going to talk about diversity proper or what a judges' place should be unless that was something brought up"....we tried to think that people would be open minded and fair except the people i listed above.. it is kind of hard to launch an argument about how judges should be when we want to talk about literature that many people dont hear or see or read in this community...so sorry if we didn't make the position you should take clear but at some point we just wanted to debate in a way that was true to an aspect of our culture and not have to totally be tied to some of the Louisville arguments of confrontation with the judge...maybe that was us falling into the narcissistic parts of debate but at the end of the day we had to live with ourselves and not the judges or what they think...it was just the hope that we could make judges more open to any black debaters behind us
Title: Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
Post by: jonahfeldman on April 22, 2011, 11:58:43 PM

I do care about you. 

I do care that there are people in the debate community who feel isolated, excluded, discriminated against, underappreciated, and misunderstood.  I do care that there aren’t enough African Americans in debate, enough Latinos and Latinas, and enough women.  I do care that debater’s return from a tournament feeling hurt by something a competitor, coach or judge carelessly, foolishly said; maybe something I said.  I do care that there are harmful interactions constantly at play that I don’t notice or can’t understand because I won’t ever be directly affected by them.

My problem is not that I don’t care; my problem is that I don’t know what to do about it.  Should I just do what you tell me to do because you’re black and I’m white?  Should I accept the changes you want to make to debate even though everything that I know tells me that it would be a less beneficial activity for the debaters after those changes?

I’m not sure.  Maybe the things I “know” about what’s best for the debaters are the result of my background, my privilege, and my skin color.  Maybe the things I “know” about what’s best for the debaters come from 17 years of intense involvement in the activity, from thinking a lot about what debate is and what it does for those who participate in it, from being (at times) a perceptive and intelligent person.  Maybe some of each…I’m not sure.

I say these things to hopefully provide perspective on what some people in the larger debate community may be thinking.  I can understand why it’s frustrating that nobody seems to be doing much about a real and obvious problem.  I can understand why it’s frustrating that most people, including myself, have more criticisms than solutions.

I appreciate that you started this conversation and I’m sorry that I took so long to join in….perhaps until after it was finished.  It’s a discussion that’s important and that we need to be reminded about.  But I hope you can understand that there are many people who do give a damn even if they don’t agree with your solution or have a better solution.
---Jonah