I am the debate coach at Kickapoo High School in Missouri. I have been involved in policy debate since 1994 as a student and/ or coach. The 2020-21 topic marks my 25th. If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cliff's Notes Version:
- As long as we are online, please make sure you are adding intentional breaks between arguments. These can be verbal or non-verbal but they are necessary to make sure flowing is happening from the oral arguments instead of just from the speech doc. As an example, clearly say the word "next" or "and" after each card/ subpoint/ etc. or slow down for the tags to where there is a noticeable difference between the card or warrants and the next tag. This is one of those things that the technology just isn't as good as being face-to-face, but it may make debate better down the line.
- Disclose on the wiki pre-round unless you are breaking a new case. I can be persuaded, relatively easily, that this is a voting issue (this is not about small details in the case, but overall picture). Once a case is broken, please put it up as soon as possible. If you read it at last tournament and haven't found time to put it up, that's a problem. Also, at a minimum, the negative should be posting their main off case positions. Before the round, the aff and neg should both know what the opponent is reading as a case and what positions they have gone for at the end of debates on the negative. Having coached at a small and economically disprivileged school most of my life, the arguments against disclosure literally make no sense to me.
- I like politics a lot more than Ks - My perfect generic 2NR is politics and an agent CP. The best way to win a K in front of me is to argue that it turns case and makes case impossible to solve.
- I don't like cheap shots - I think plan flaws are a reason to ask questions in the CX or pre-round. Make debate better.
- K Framework - I prefer to do policy making. However, you need to answer the project if they run it.
- Cheating CPs - I don't like backfile check type CPs (veto cheato) or "I wrote this for fun" CPs (consult Harry Potter/ Jesus). I do like topic agent CPs (like have China do the plan, have the private sector do the plan).
- Link vs Uniqueness - Uniqueness determines the direction of the link - if it is not gonna pass now, there is no way the link can make it pass less.
- Cross-ex is always open unless another judge objects.
- Be Nice and FLOW!
High School Policy Specifics:
I am a high school coach but I do work in a circuit that has a lot of lay judges. However, I do cut a lot of cards, coach at camps, and think about the topic a lot which means that I have a pretty good grip on the topic. This means I may not know the intricacies of how your particular argument may functions in the high school environment you are competing in right now.
High School LD Specifics:
My default is that I don't need a value and value crit. in order to vote for you. However, I can be persuaded that it is needed. If the affirmative reads a particular interpretation of the topic (i.e. they read a plan) then, absent theory arguments about why that's bad, that becomes the focus of the debate. If the affirmative does not read a plan then the negative can still read disadvantages and PICs against the entirety of the topic. I don't terribly love NRs and 2ARs that end with a series of voting issues. Most of the time you are better off using that time to explain why the impacts to your case outweigh your opponent's case as opposed to describing them as voting issues. If you are going to make an argument in the NC that there is a different framework for the debate than what the affirmative explains in the AC, you need to make sure you fully develop that position. Framework functions very differently in LD compared to policy so make sure your blocks are written out for that reason.
I'm not a big fan of a big theory pre-empt at the end of the 1ac. I think the aff case is the time when you should be making most of your offensive arguments and most of the time theory is set up to be defensive. This is particularly silly to me when the aff has more time in rebuttals than the neg does anyway.
NFA LD Specifics:
I am relatively new to this format of debate but I like it a lot. I think debate should be viewed through a policy framework in this style of debate, but I can be persuaded out of this belief. However, if your main strategy is to say that the rules of NFA are problematic or that you shouldn't have to weigh the case and the DA, then I think you fighting an uphill battle.
Also, given the limited number of speeches, I tend to err on the side of starting aff framework as early as possible (probably the AC). This is mostly to protect the aff since if it's not brought up until the 2ac/ 1ar it is possible for the NR to straight turn it and leave the 2ar in an unwinnable position.
In Depth Stuff:
I tend to prefer policy oriented discussions over kritikal debates but I will be happy to evaluate whatever you want to run. My favorite debates come down to a clash between specific arguments on the flow of the advantages and disadvantages. On theory you should number or slow down your tags so that I get the clash. I can flow your speed if it is clear, but if you want me to get the 19 reasons why conditionality is a bad practice you should slow down to a speed I can flow the blips. That said, I tend to prefer fast debate to slow debates that ultimately don't point to the resolution of the topic.
Read warrants in your evidence. Full sentences are how people speak. They have things like nouns, verbs, and prepositions. Please make sure that your evidence would make sense if you were reading it slowly.
If the round is close, I tend to read a decent amount of evidence after the round if there is a reason to do so. If you want me to call for a specific card please remind me in the 2nr/ 2ar.
Also please give reasons why your offense turns their offense besides "war causes x."
Disclosure theory note:
I have a VERY low threshold on this argument. Having schools disclose their arguments pre-round is important if the activity is going to grow / sustain itself. Having coached almost exclusively at small, underfunded, new, or international schools, I can say that disclosure (specifically disclosure on the wiki if you are a paperless debater) is a game changer. It allows small schools to compete and makes the activity more inclusive. There are three specific ways that this influences how ballots will be given from me:
1) I will err negative on the impact level of "disclosure theory" arguments in the debate. If you're reading an aff that was broken at a previous tournament or on a previous day and is not on the wiki (assuming you have access to a laptop and the tournament provides wifi), you will likely lose if this theory is read. There are two ways for the aff to "we meet" this in the 2ac - either disclose on the wiki ahead of time or post the full copy of the 1ac in the wiki as a part of your speech. Obviously, some grace will be extended when wifi isn't available or due to other extenuating circumstances. However, arguments like "it's just too much work," "I don't like disclosure," etc. won't get you a ballot.
2) The neg still needs to engage in the rest of the debate. Read other off case positions and use their "no link" argument as a reason that disclosure is important. Read case cards and when they say they don't apply or they aren't specific enough, use that as a reason for me to see in round problems. This is not a "cheap shot" win. You are not going to "out-tech" your opponent on disclosure theory. To me, this is a question of truth. Along that line, I probably won't vote on this argument in novice, especially if the aff is reading something that a varsity debater also reads.
3) If you realize your opponent's aff is not on the wiki, you should make every possible attempt before the round to ask them about the aff, see if they will put it on the wiki, etc. I understand that, sometimes, one teammate puts all the cases for a squad on the wiki and they may have just put it under a different name. To me, that's a sufficient example of transparency (at least the first time it happens). If the aff says it's a new aff, that means (to me) that the plan text and/ or advantages are different enough that a previous strategy cut against the aff would be irrelevant. This would mean that if you completely change the agent of the plan text or have them do a different action it is new; adding a word like "substantially" or "enforcement through normal means" is not. Likewise, adding a new "econ collapse causes war" card is not different enough; changing from a Russia advantage to a China, kritikal, climate change, etc. type of advantage is. Even if it is new, if you are still reading some of the same solvency cards, I think it is better to disclose your previous versions of the aff at a minimum.
4) At tournaments that don't have wifi, this should be handled by the affirmative handing over a copy of their plan text before the round.
5) If you or your opponent honestly comes from a circuit that does not use the wiki (e.g. some UDLs, some local circuits, etc.), I will likely give some leeway. However, a great use of post-round time while I am making a decision is to talk to the opponent about how to upload on the wiki. If the argument is in the round due to a lack of disclosure and the teams make honest efforts to get things on the wiki while I'm finishing up my decision, I'm likely to bump speaks for all 4 speakers by .2 or .5 depending on how the tournament speaks go.
Topicality- I believe the affirmative should affirm the topic and the negative should negate the plan. It is fairly difficult to convince me that this is not the appropriate paradigm for the affirmative to operate under. The best way to think about topicality in front of me is to think about it as drawing lines or a fence. What does debate look like for a season when the negative wins the topicality argument vs. what does it look like when the affirmative wins. Affirmatives that push the bounds of the topic tend to be run more as the season progresses so the negative should be thinking through what the affirmative justifies if their interpretation because the standard for the community. This also means that there is no real need to prove real or potential *problems in the debate.
If the affirmative wants to win reasonability then they should be articulating how I determine what is reasonable. Is it that they meet at least one of the standards of the neg's T shell? Is it that there is a qualified source with an intent to define that thinks they are reasonable? Is it that there is a key part of the topic literature that won't get talked about for the season unless they are a topical affirmative?
If you want me to vote on Topicality the 2nr (or NR in LD) should be that. Spending less than the entire 2nr on a theoretical issue and expecting me to vote on it is absurd. I would only vote neg in that world if the affirmative is also badly handling it.
Counterplans- I love counterplans. I typically believe the negative should be able to have conditional, non-contradicting advocacies but I can be persuaded as to why this is bad. Typically this will need to be proven through some type of specific in round problem besides time skew. I think that the permutations should be more than "perm: do both, perm: do the plan, perm: do the CP."
Kritiks- I am not as deep on some of this literature as you are. You should take the time in CX or a block overview to explain the story of the K. The one area where this is not true is regarding sexist/ racist language. Don't have phrases in your vocabulary like "postman", "fireman," or "congressman." This doesn't mean that I will automatically vote on anything that is contrived to be offensive though. Performance style debate is interesting to me but you will have to explain your framework from the beginning. I probably tend to be more easily swayed by the framework arguments about clash compared to exclusion. I will tend to default to preferring traditional types of debate.
Politics- I like good politics debates better than probably any other argument. I like interesting stories about specific senators, specific demographics for elections d/as, etc. With this being said, I would rather see a fully developed debate about the issue. I tend to evaluate this debate as a debate about uniqueness. Teams that do the work tend to get rewarded.
My perfect debate- Without a doubt the perfect round is a 2nr that goes for a pic (or advantage cp with case neg) and a politics d/a as a net benefit.
*Questions of "abuse" - This is a soapbox issue for me. In a world of significant actual abuse (domestic abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, bullying, etc.), the use of the word to describe something as trivial as reading a topical counterplan, going over cross-x time by 3 seconds, or even not disclosing seems incredibly problematic. There are alternative words like problematic, anti-educational, etc. that can adequately describe what you perceive to be the issue with the argument. Part of this frustration is also due to the number of times I have heard debaters frustrate community judges by saying they were abused when the other team read an argument they didn't like. Please don't use this phrase. You can help make debate better.
Paperless and speaker point stuff-
I used to debate in a world where most people had their evidence on paper and the one thing that I believe has been lost through that is that people tend to look more at the speech doc than listening to the debate. I love paperless debate, just make sure that you are focusing on the speech itself and not relying exclusively on the document that the other team has sent you. Flowing well will often result in improved speaker points.
If you are using an online format to share evidence (e.g. speechdrop or an email chain), please include me in the loop. If you are using a flashdrive, I don't need to see it.
I don't expect teams to have analytics on the speech document. I do expect teams to have every card, in order, on the speech document. If you need to add an additional card (because you've been doing speed drills), that's fine - just do it at the end of the speech.