Author Topic: Diversity in Debate Revisited  (Read 35474 times)

tcram

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #30 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.

tcram

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #31 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.

rwevans

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #32 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!



kelly young

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #33 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.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2011, 04:52:28 PM by kelly young »
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tcram

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #34 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. 

rcheek

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #35 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.

Hester

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #36 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.


Ryan Galloway

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #37 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.

ozzy

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #38 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

Whit

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #39 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.


nalexander

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #40 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.

aharper

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #41 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.
Allison Harper

Whit

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #42 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.


JustinGreen

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #43 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



BrianDeLong

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Re: Diversity in Debate Revisited
« Reply #44 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.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2011, 10:50:29 AM by BrianDeLong »