Update: If you love to run theory in LD, you probably should strike me.
I've never particularly liked theory, but over the last couple years theory in LD has turned into a profoundly uneducational whine-off that devolves into students running baseless accusations of "abuse". Especially in a time where debaters are starting to call out real life abuse they may face from the debate community, it's becoming harder and harder for me to stomach rewarding "their definition is abusive because now I have to run theory and that's a time skew" (which is self-fulfilling) type theory arguments with a ballot. I firmly believe that the discourse we use in rounds can shape our worldviews and community norms. "Abuse", a term that should carry significance, is subconsciously rendered meaningless because it's flippantly tossed around to win a ballot. It develops connotations of self-serving technicalities that I firmly believe seep into how we view people speaking out about real abuse.
(It occurred to me that some debaters may want to borrow the above paragraph, so if you do, please keep the cutting I've bolded to avoid accidentally misrepresenting the argument.)
Short version: I’m a flow judge down with most K’s, spreading, CPs (condo or uncondo) narratives, performance, and projects. If you bite into your own K, you're screwed. For the love of coffee, SIGNPOST. Don’t run bad science. I love IR and current events. I hate Eurocentric perspectives. Theory debate is meh at the best of times when it’s done well and downright painful when it’s done poorly or unnecessarily. I really don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other on RVI’s. Topicality: ¯\_(ãƒ„)_/¯ . Weigh impacts. I will listen to whatever you have to say as long as it is well supported, do not just assume certain things are good or bad. Case debate is fun. Framework debate is interesting, whoever wins framework controls how I will view the round and usually gets my ballot. I’m incredibly non-interventionist (unless someone’s winning the “the judge should be a critical intellectual” arg, then be prepared for what intellect you have unleashed.) and rarely vote on presumption, unless something egregious happens in round. Don’t be a jackass - at this point, and especially given how misogynistic debatespace can be, if you're excessively rude to your opponent I am not going to reward that type of behavior with a ballot if it's an otherwise close round. Like, it's not that hard to not be a jerk, it usually saves you time.
Last thing - lots of teams have been running Indigenous something or other in front of me. I guess they inherently assume this is good judge adaptation. It frequently is not. If you are planning on doing this, please scroll down to the bottom and read my opinions on this instead of telling me how to think about my own identity.
(Also, I like a lot of different things. I'm super nerdy. Please don't feel constrained in the breadth of arguments you can run in front of me; there's more to me than my race. *cries single tear*)
^you’ll probably be fine with just that, the rest is provided for kicks and giggles.
Launching the Logorrhea
Use your head! Analysis: I want to see critical engagement with the literature. Don’t just say that something is true or desirable because some author said so. Explain what you are arguing in your own words, tell me why it matters and why it is important to be heard in this round. Blippy arguments aren’t going to have much punch. When you extend, restate the analysis; I dislike extending points for the sake of just having stuff on the flow, tell me why it’s important in the round.
Disads: I want a clear link/internal link story. This is often lacking in politics disads, which are interesting when done well and awful when they’re like “voting for this bill drains the president’s political capital”. Be specific and intrinsic. Impact calc is important as is reminding me why I should be weighing all this under your framework. I’m not tied to Probability >Magnitude or Manitude>Probability – you convince me which one I should prioritize. Timeframe can be a good tie-breaker for this.
Theory: See update at the top. If you run it, please make sure it's warranted. I have voted on it and will if it isn't responded to, but it’s not exactly my favorite type of debate. Clarify what you mean by “reasonability” and why you are being more reasonable.
Non-topical Affs: Go for it. Extra-topical plans: If you’re all debating the resolution straight up, being extra-T isn’t very fair.
Let's be clear on the need for speed: I can handle pretty fast spread, just make sure to enunciate. I will yell clear if needed, but after 2 or 3 "clears" you will start losing speaks if you don’t listen. Please don’t spread out teams that can’t spread; it’s mean and I will be mean back to you on the ballot.
Speak up! I award speaker points for content, strategy, and structure more than talking pretty.Let's all play nice. Watch your rhetoric; anything racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, abelist, or transphobic will nuke your speaks. My speaks are generally higher than 26. 27-27.5 is average-proficient, 28 is awesome, 29 is " I really wanted to give you 30, but there was (blank) tiny issue". 29.5-30 means the round was pure beauty in motion.
RVI's: Ok, for whatever reason, this is like cilantro for most people in the debate community; they either think they're the best, most clever thing ever or that they're a horrible abomination. I really, seriously, don't have a strong opinion either way, I think it is very much a case by case situation.
K's: Feel more than free to be creative and unique, just make sure it makes sense. What I mean is that you should thoroughly understand what you are running, stay consistent with your framework, be able to handle the obvious questions it will incur. Back it up with analysis and justify why this is significant. It is always really obvious when somebody is running a case that was just handed to them by a coach or more senior competitor. I’m decently familiar with critical literature/arguments regarding Anthropocentrism, Ecofem, Indigeneity/Settler Colonialism, and Racial Positionality. I know little bits and pieces of other areas (like Disability Politics or Queer Theory – and a bunch of random stuff written by Marxist doctors on healthcare and neoliberalism; I had a weird summer in 2016.) and am more than happy to listen to whatever you want to run, I just might not be terribly familiar with the lit so make sure to clearly explain the thesis. Please feel free to ask me before the round if you want a clarification on my knowledge base. Furthermore, if you are critiquing somebody's rhetoric within the round and tell me that the role of the judge is to be a critical intellectual, don't bite into that rhetoric. It will end badly for you.
There are a few specific K's that I have more strict criteria for.
Nietzsche: Please for the love of all that is good in the world, don't run a Nietzsche K in front of me unless you have actually read some Nietzsche. All the bastardized embrace suffering stuff I hear all the time is not Nietzsche.
Give Back the Land/Decolonization: This can either be done really well or really poorly. A lot of the time, running this is pretty much just commodifying the suffering and exploitation and genocide of hundreds of Peoples for the ballot in a round. Please don't be one of those teams or I will drop you. Read “Decolonization is not a Metaphor” if you disagree with this and then think about what I said again. If you are running this case without any cards from Native authors, that is a serious paternalistic problem. It's also hard when the "plans" proposed don't leave room for biracial Native Americans, especially considering we have the highest "out-marriage" rates of any ethnicity. I don't wanna hear any "Noble Savage" type garbage. If you argue that we need to increase Indigenous knowledge production and all the stuff happening to Natives is really bad and oppressive and stuff, but you don't have a goddamn plan for tangibly reducing harm to people like me, stop talking. Things like rates of substance abuse, suicide, domestic violence, poverty,and cultural erasure have affected my life and my family and friends. THIS IS NOT A GAME TO ME. These are not arguments for your academic curiosity. These are real things that affect real people. I do not have the luxury to play with these concepts in academic abstraction, and I won't tolerate you doing so. If you want to argue in-round solutions, they better actually be solutions. None of this "we need to imagine a different government" BS. We have been imagining for a long time. If you are running this case to help rhetorically overthrow colonialist power structures and are actually representing Native voices, then you belong on the other half of the equation are running this case for the right reasons.
Speed K's: Just have solid reasons for why your opponent spreading is abelist or exclusionary. If you have a disability that makes spreading either impossible for you to perform yourself or listen to/flow, if you have asked your opponent not to spread before the round, and your opponent still spreads, then yes absolutely run a speed K.
Quick thing on poetry- a lot of arguments I’ve heard against poetry being used in round are really classist and racist. I do not believe that poetry is only a tool of the elite and educated or that marginalized individuals who use it are traitor pawns of the ivory tower. Arguments that essentially boil down to “poetry is exclusionary because it’s bourgeoisie” are not going to work for me. Arguments that say poetry only embodies White ideals of beauty and that PoC poetry will inevitably be co-opted are viscerally offensive to me.
I won't drop you in the round if you run this, but I will drop the argument.
Narratives: Hell. Yes. I strongly believe narrative debate has an important role in asserting the voices of marginalized groups in academia. These are experiences and perspectives that the overwhelmingly wealthy white able cis/het male institutions of academia have isolated. Other authors publishing nuanced work on these topics can be rare, which is part of where narrartives come in to fill that gap. Narratives are NOT whining- narrative debate is a way for the debater to become a producer of knowledge. Talking about structural violence with first person language does not make these topics any less academic; somebody else does not need to study you for your problems to be worthy of being heard and debated.
That being said, if you are running a narrative – do NOT make sweeping assumptions about your opponents or judges, particularly in regards to things that nobody should have to feel forced to disclose about themselves to a room full of strangers, like mental health status, gender identity, sexual orientation, or a history of experiencing abuse/domestic violence. Your job is to attack power structures, and I have no tolerance for teams who invalidate their opponents' identities and their rights to display them how/when they choose to.
Please don't let the round turn into the Oppression Olympics. Don't let your args against narratives devolve into "actually, I am more oppressed than you because X " - narratives are to highlight structural violence, it's not personal. It is not about you, the debater running a narrative is an empiric to a larger argument that highlights particular systems of power. We shouldn't have to pretend like these systems don't apply to us in some way when we run cases, and at the end of the day, nobody is attacking YOU, they are indicting particular systems of power. Engage with the power structures in the round.
Each round is different, so these are just guidelines and if you have a question that this didn't answer, feel free to ask.
Good luck, have fun!