Jeremy Pena ParadigmLast changed 1/6 2:19P MDT
While I was in high school I qualified for the TOC three times, clearing in my junior year and reaching the finals in my senior year. Back then, I ran plenty of arguments that were out of the mainstream, including de-development and utopian counterplans and deontological framing, but kritiks and the framework debate did not exist in their current forms. I did not debate in college and I do not judge college debate. A few years ago I began coaching at Albuquerque Academy, so I have had some time to catch up to high school debate as it is now.
I do my best to judge the round that the debaters want to have. That means that I often vote for a team that runs arguments that I don't prefer, because that team does a good job of explaining and debating the argument and the other team does not. I will not vote against a team simply because they don't debate in the style I prefer.
Almost all the "rules" of debate are debatable -- that's the beauty of the activity. Only the rules about the format of the activity are absolute. That includes time constraints, side constraints, and each debater doing one constructive and one rebuttal, etc. But any assertions about whether conditionality or severance or intrinsicness arguments (for example) are legitimate or illegitimate can be justified or attacked based on in-round abuse and their effect on the activity in general. By default, I think one or two conditional advocacies are okay, that the aff can't sever, and that the aff can't solve all the disads via intrinsicness spikes, but in any given round I could be convinced otherwise.
What I really don't like is a quick analytical argument that becomes a ballot-controlling showstopper in the rebuttals. Reverse voters, floating PICs/PIKs, and arbitrary role-of-the-ballot assertions can be abusive when they come out late in the debate and are suddenly the most important issue in the round.
I'm a big fan of a good T debate. Parsing words is challenging and fun, and directly relevant to life in the real world. Again, the impact is debatable and I'm just as open to reasonability / high threshold arguments on T as I am to limits and extra-T arguments.
A strange thing happens with kritiks. While I am highly suspicious of most K's, and particularly so of alternatives, I end up voting for K-heavy neg strategies frequently. That's because even the simplest K's can be very complex in their effect on the round, and many affirmative teams aren't confident in their ability to interrogate and refute a K. For the neg, my advice is to slow down a bit on the link explanation and say it in your own words. I credit analysis over "evidence" especially on the link. For the aff, my advice is, don't let them get away with anything. Challenge every part of the argument. A forceful, analytical no-link argument can win over any number of cards if the neg can't explain its link sufficiently clearly. I don't consider alternatives to be a settled area of debate, so I like to hear them attacked and defended. I heard one judge explain to an affirmative team, "I don't know what the link to the K was but the 2N sure read a lot of cards on it so I vote neg." I will never be that judge.
Framework arguments can produce some of the most thought-provoking debates. Because this mostly comes up when aff offers a kritikal or non-policy advocacy, my views here are similar to my views on K's. On the other hand, I do credit published evidence from debate scholars when it comes to framework; I think those sources are well-qualified to offer insight into the activity. A policy-oriented framework feels like "home" to me, but the contributions of some non-traditional affirmatives have been immeasureable. Bottom line: I'd love to hear a good framework debate.
There's nothing better than a genuine case-specific disad. But how often does that happen? I really like creative disads with up-to-date evidence. I like nuclear war as an impact, not because nuclear war literally will ensue but because those are truly the stakes when nations deliberate about foreign policy. Impacts abound: even if nuke war is off the table, something as "minor" in the debate sense as a US recession is a big impact to me (and probably exacerbates most structural impacts too, so argue that). But as big as impacts can get, links can get infinitely small. There are so many variables in this world that I will disregard trivial risks, so "infinite impact means you vote neg even on a microscopic probability" will be refuted easily.
Absent a K/framework situation, a negative team that doesn't use a CP cripples itself. Agent of action is an important question that we should debate. Neg doesn't always need solvency evidence of its own to carve up a case if the plan doesn't match the 1AC solvency. Despite that, there are some categories of counterplans that I dislike: conditions, consultations, study, delay, sunset are some examples. If a counterplan includes international or multi-actor fiat, i would like to hear that debated.
I often call for the plan. I will only call for evidence if the round really comes down to it and/or one of the debaters encourages me to do so. On the other hand, if both teams agree to flash or email me the speech docs in real time, that is fine with me. As to highlighting, my view is, if the round comes down to the evidence, you only get credit for the words you read, but the remainder of the writing can hurt you if it goes the other way. I encourage you to dissect the evidence of the opposition. Don't just say "no warrant," tell me what the evidence actually says and how it falls short.
Coaching is a second occupation for me, as I am also a lawyer for the federal government. I generally remain open to arguments that are critical of the federal government (the surveillance topic was very challenging in this regard). That said, if you make an argument like "every federal action is inherently racist," I will probably take it personally even if I try not to.
Oh yeah, disclosure refers to your practices too. Please don't ask me to enforce social norms regarding disclosure because I do not consider that my job.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and congratulations on selecting such a rewarding activity.