Mark Windham ParadigmLast changed 11/11 11:13A PST
I debated policy at nationals in high school and on the NDT circuit for UC Berkeley in the 1970's, breaking at the major tournaments. After 24 years as a lawyer, specializing death penalty defense, I became a Superior Court Judge in 2008. As a parent I have returned to the activity, founding a program at New Roads School and coaching for six years. I am indeed a parent judge, but one who understands why you have a perm spike in your K thesis.
Though I evaluate professional advocates every day in my courtroom, I am judging you within a high school debate paradigm. I adhere to debate norms and respect generally accepted debate theory.
I'm a ‘policy maker’ in that I weigh impacts and a ‘Tabula Rasa’ judge in that I am an open-minded skeptic. You have the burden of persuasion on claims you assert, requiring sufficient warrant; dropping is concession, but not equivalent to proof. Sophistry has no weight. Nihilistic K’s annoy me but it is the opponent’s job to refute them. Highly unlikely impact scenarios are not persuasive; prove real links. Regardless of points of order I protect the flow.
Persuasion is an important aspect of debate. Obviously, right? Sometimes this seems lost, however, at the highest levels, when debaters focus on technical aspects. Merely asserting a valid refutation or rejoinder does not necessarily win an argument on my flowsheet. You must clinch your argument in the rebuttal. While I vote on the flow, there is a subjective aspect to what is persuasive, which is true for any judge. For me that would tend to be reasonable weighing of human impacts, or in a meta-debate, something which inexorably results in the most desirable policy fact or value conclusion.
I’m open to authentic value debate, even in policy rounds, and vice versa; ‘net benefits’ will not always be the best framework for evaluation of a resolution. In the real world, cost/benefit analysis is bounded by value limits. While I enjoy policy topics the most, fact resolutions happen! Deal with them. They are the basis for real world argument in science and in law, for example. Impact calculus is misplaced here; preponderance of the evidence, as measured by its persuasive force, is a legitimate standard, as is hypothesis testing.
Novel advocacies such as kritiks, kritikal PMC’s, unconventional counterplans, severance permutations, conditionality, theory and narratives are fine, but artifice may diminish your effectiveness. I prefer substance to procedure. It is most important to address the social issue at hand; clever arguments shouldn't be made for their own sake, but only to advance the substance of your position. I would consider argument that clearly abusive theory is a reverse voting issue. I appreciate case debate.
Speed is not a problem, per se, if you speak very clearly. Repeating your tags would be helpful. If I don't understand you, you can't win the argument. I will not say ‘clear’ or ‘slow’ so pay attention to the judge. While I enjoy and prefer the breadth of argumentation you may present using an accelerated pace, if you double breathe I can't flow you. But fast is fine if it is audible, clear and persuasive. Line by line argumentation is very helpful, but persuading me that a single contention is determinative of the round, when it was presented as part of a spread may be difficult. But if so, of course you must.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to evaluate your debate. I hope that I may contribute to your education as an advocate, with the aspiration that you will use this experience to make this world a better place. I hope to learn from you as well so that I may do the same.