Matt Cekanor ParadigmLast changed 2/22 9:11A CDT
Experience- This will be my first year coaching at Northview High School. Before moving to Georgia, I coached for 7 years at Marquette High in Milwaukee, WI and I debated there for four years.
*As I have gained more coaching and judging experience, I find that I highly value teams who respect their opponents who might not have the same experience as them. This includes watching how you come across in CX, prep time, and your general comportment towards your opponent. In some local circuits, circuit-style policy debate is dwindling and we all have a responsibility to be respectful of the experience of everyone involved in policy debate.*
Yes, add me to the email chain. My email is email@example.com
Big picture “ideologies”
-Judging debates on the arms sales topic is most difficult for me when the negative strategy relies on winning an internal link or link turn to affirmative strategies in order to win an off-case position. Absent specific link or comparative sequencing analysis, I find it difficult to evaluate the distinctions between the China War advantage and the Deterrence DA, for example. I believe these debates are most successful at the highest level, but teams that are slower or might not have the strongest strategic vision often fail to win these negative strategies.
-I believe that rounds often lack comparative claims about the relative quality of arguments and how this impacts the interactions of arguments. Put another way, impact calculus does not only pertain to weighing the magnitude, timeframe and probability of impacts against each other but also pertains to comparing the way in which defensive arguments, claims about qualifications, evidence quality or other similar arguments impact how I should evaluate certain arguments within the round. When debating, always ask the question "Why?", such as "If I win this argument, WHY is this important?", "If I lose this argument WHY does this matter?". If you start thinking in these terms and can explain each level of this analysis to me, then you will get closer to winning the round. In general, the more often this happens and the earlier this happens it will be easier for me to understand where you are going with certain arguments. This type of analysis definitely warrants higher speaker points from me and it helps you as a debater eliminate my predispositions from the debate.
-For me to vote on a single argument, it must have a claim, warrant, impact, and impact comparison. This also applies to how I judge DA an CP debates.
A DA is not a full DA until a uniqueness, link, internal link and impact argument is presented. Too many teams are getting away with 2 card DA shells in the 1NC and then reading uniqueness walls in the block. I will generally allow for new 1AR answers.
Similarly, CP's should have a solvency advocate read in the 1NC. I'll be flexible on allowing 1AR arguments in a world where the aff makes an argument about the lack of a solvency deficit.
- Yes, terminal defense exists, however, I do not think that teams take enough advantage of this kind of argument in front of me. I will not always evaluate the round through a lens of offense-defense, but you still need to make arguments as to why I shouldn’t evaluate a debate through offense-defense. Again this plays into evidence questions and the relative impacts of arguments claims made above.
With those three main paradigmatic questions out of the way, here are my thoughts on particular arguments. This list is by no means exhaustive and if you have any questions about specifics, feel free to ask. Again, these are just predispositions that I would like to eliminate as much as possible while judging but I cannot shy away from the fact that they exist and will impact the way I think about rounds.
Case- Debates are won or lost in the case debate. By this, I mean that proving whether or not the aff successfully accesses all, some or none of the case advantages has implications on every flow of the debate and should be a fundamental question of most 2NRs and 2ARs. I think that blocks that are heavy in case defense or impact turns are incredibly advantageous for the neg because they enable you to win any CP (by proving the case defense as a response to the solvency deficit), K (see below) or DA (pretty obvious). I think that most affs can be divided into two categories: affs with a lot of impacts but poor internal links and affs with very solid internal links but questionable impacts. Acknowledging in which of these two categories the aff you are debating falls should shape how you approach the case debate.
DA- I most often evaluate the DA through a lens of probability. Your job as the aff team when debating a DA is to use your defensive arguments to question the probability of the internal links to the aff. Likewise, the neg should use turns case arguments as a reason why your DA calls into question the probability of the aff's internal link. I think that an interesting argument that is often not taken advantage of by the neg is DA is the prerequisite for the aff argument.
CP- While, when it is a focus of the debate, I tend to err affirmative on questions of counterplan competiton, I have grown to be more persuaded by a well-executed counterplan strategy even if the counterplan is a process counterplan. The best counterplans have a solvency advocate who is, at least, specific to the topic, and, best, specific to the affirmative. I do not default to judge kicking the counterplan and will be easily persuaded by an affirmative argument about why I should not default to that kind of in-round conditionality.
K- I think that the best critiques are critiques that directly engage the action of the affirmative, however, criticisms or the representations of the aff are also fair. Most rounds on the K are won in front of me when the 2N explains how the K turns the case or is somehow a prerequisite for the aff. I do find permutations persuasive when this sort of analysis is lacking, however. I also find that I will give higher speaker points to the team that explains links to specific lines in their opponents' evidence or to the logic within cross-x answers etc.
I will say that I think the strategy of going for the K with case defense is an argument combination that is rarely taken advantage of. I think that case defense allows you to provide substantive ways in which I can call into question the assumptions of the aff. I think that it is very difficult in high school debate for an aff team to come back from a block that consists of the K and case defense exclusively (NOTE: This is not me encouraging you to exclusively debate like this in front of me, I just think that it is an under used strategy).
More familiar bodies of literature: Queerness, security, Lacan, capitalism, anthro
Somewhat familiar: Afropessimism, settler colonialism
Less familiar: Baudrillard, Bataille, Deleuze
K affs- After having judged an increasing amount of debates between plan-less affs and framework, I have started to realize that my thoughts on this question are changing.
1.) Topicality is winning more debates in front of me- While I think that it is possible for teams to win debates vs. plan-less affirmatives without reading topicality, my thoughts on T as an effective strategy against these affs have changed to the point where I think this is a strategic position.
2.) The form vs. content distinction is persuasive- Teams that make arguments that distinguish between the content of the affirmative and the form of policy debate are generally persuasive to me. I think that the evolution in TVA and negative state action arguments have persuaded me that the content of the affirmative can be accessed through "topical" action. This, of course, does not mean that there isn't room for discussion here. Aff teams should be specific when making these arguments.
3.) Case in T debates- Regardless of the side you're on in one of these debates, I think that a lot of the debate comes down to whether or not the aff can access the affirmative and if this gives them offense on the T debate. I have been persuaded by "aff comes first" arguments in the past, particularly when the case is conceded. Negatives need to have arguments (preferably specific ones) about why the aff can't access their offense.
4.) I do think there are situations in which it is a fair expectation that the negative should have a specific answer to the affirmative that does not rely on a generic T, cap or disad shell. In particular, I tend to be persuaded by arguments about the predictability of “debate about debate” being a round for which the negative should have been prepared.
For reference, here is what I used to say about K affs (circa 2016-17):
I want to start out this section of my paradigm by saying that I have not judged many debates in which the affirmative has not read a plan text. I have openly coached teams that do not read plan texts and am open to the idea, however, I am not an experienced judge in this area of the debate. This means that if you are a team that does not defend resolutional action or does not read a plan text you must be clear as to how your advocacy statement or performative impact rectifies the impacts isolated in the 1AC.
I think that strong negative offense against these positions stems from kritiks or disads to the performative action/mechanism of the affirmative. In other words, I think the best answers to these affirmatives directly answer the thesis of the affirmative. I do not think that framework/T debates are the best answers to these arguments. Again, if framework is your response, that's fine but you will need to be making portable skills arguments that are contextualized to lack of access in debate, otherization in the debate space etc., to win my ballot in framework debates.
T- While I used to say that T is not necessarily my strong suit, I think that this has changed in the last year particularly given the lack of affirmative creativity on the arms sales topic. I think that portable skills are the best impact teams can make when they are engaged in T or theory debates. Comparative impact calculus and a discussion of how each team accesses their impacts will be important in winning my ballot in T debates. I find it incredibly problematic when there are multiple T interpretations in the round, especially when there are multiple definitions of the same word. However, as mentioned above, I think that an affirmative team can persuasively make arguments about why aff creativity outweighs predictability, particularly on this topic.
Theory- I debated on a team that engaged in a lot of theory debates in high school. There were multiple tournaments where most of our debates boiled down to theory questions, so I would like to think that I am a good judge for theory debates. I think that teams forget that theory debates are structured like a disadvantage. Again, comparative impact calculus is important to win my ballots in these debates. I will say that I tend to err aff on most theory questions. For example, I think that it is probably problematic for there to be more than one conditional advocacy in a round (and that it is equally problematic for your counter interpretation to be dispositionality) and I think that counterplans that compete off of certainty are bad for education and unfair to the aff. Again, portable skills are the most important to me in terms of my predispositions so you will need to do work in round to explain your arguments in this context.
Individuals who have most influenced my thoughts about debate/who's decision making calculus was (at least at one point) similar to mine: Tyler Thur (former partner), Ben Schultz (former coach).
Speaker point range on arms sales (for post-round reference):
Average- 28.2 (though teams I've judged that have cleared at circuit tournaments average ~28.7)
I recommend that you go to the bathroom and fill your water bottles before the debate rather than before a speech.