Paul Wexler ParadigmLast changed 1/18 8:08A EDT
Paul Wexler Coach since 1993, Judge since 1987 Debated CEDA,College Parli, HS LD and Policy, College and HS Speech
Current Affiliation: Needham High School Coach (speech and debate) I coach a little with Arlington HS (Massachusetts)
Previous Affiliations: Manchester-Essex Regional, Boston Latin School, San Antonio-LEE, College of Wooster (Ohio) (competitor) , University of Wisconsin (Madison)(coach): Debate and Speech for Irvine-University HS (CA)
LD Paradigm is here first, followed by Policy and then PF at bottom (though much of LD applies to PF where appropriate)
For outrounds and flip rounds, please especially note section marked 'outrounds' at end
Shorter Version (in progress) (if you want to run some of these, see the labeled sections following)
-Defaults to voting criterion.
-Theory-will not vote on fairness or disclosure. See below for note regarding Arlington HS specifically.
Education theory OK but if frivolous RVIs encouraged.I will almost always vote on reasonability.
Will not vote on generic skepticism. May vote on resolution-specific skepticism
-Blips in constructive speeches blown up large in 1NR or 2AR are weighed as blips in my decision calculus
It is highly unlikely I shall vote on tricks, or award higher speaker points.
-No 'kicking' out of arguments unless opponent agrees with said kicking. "You broke the argument, you own it."
-Critical arguments are fine and held to same analytical standard as normative arguments
-Policy approaches (plans/CPs/DAs) are fine. They are held to same prima facie burdens as in actual CX rounds-
Narratives are fine, and should provide a rhetorical model for me to use to evaluate approach.
See below for 'role of the ballot'.
To Access higher speaker points...
Be kind/professional towards those less experienced or skilled. i.e. , make their arguments sound better than they probably are, make your own arguments accessible to them, organize the disorganized ideas of opponents, etc. while avoiding being condescending.
If clearly outclassed, stay engaged and professional. Try to avoid being visibly frustrated. We have all been there! You will absolutely get this eventually. (plus, you never know- you may make the 'golden ticket argument ' to winning the round without knowing it...)
If I think you have done either of these, it will always result in bonus speaker points.
exhibit the ability to listen.
exhibit the ability to use CX effectively (CX during prep time does not do so)
Avoid making offensive arguments, 'ist' arguments or behaving like a jerk - If you have to ask, chances are you shouldn't. "if it looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, chances are it IS a duck." (Being racist or sexist or homophobic means one loses regardless, but behaving like a jerk in a non-'ist' way still means you lose speaker points and if offensive enough I'll look for a reason to vote against you.
The voting standard is the most important judging tool to me in the round. Whatever else you do or say, weighing how the different arguments impact COMPARATIVELY to the voting standard is paramount.
I strongly prefer debaters to focus on the resolution proper, as defined by the topic literature. I tend to be really,really bored by debaters who spend the bulk of their time on framework issues and/or theory as opposed to topical debating.
By contrast, I am very much interested in how philosophical and ethical arguments are applied to contemporary challenges, as framed by the resolution.
My speaker points to an extent reflect my level of interest.
I evaluate a debater's ENTIRE skill set when assigning speaker points, including the ability to listen. See below for how I assess that ability.
One can use alternative approaches to traditional ones in LD in front of me. I am receptive to narratives, plans, role of the ballot to fight structural oppression, etc. But these should be grounded in the specific topic literature- or at least why the specific resolution being debated undermines the fight against oppressive norms.
I am NOT receptive to generic 'debate is bad' arguments. Wrong forum.
Specifics of my view of policy, critical, performance, etc. cases are at the bottom if you wish to skip to that.
Skepticism bores me. I also usually think that (at least for high school students) that it would be a failure on my part to vote for it in a debate round. While it may well be the case that we can't make moral judgements about a particular class of action on a particular topic, skepticism as a whole is substantially different.
I will not vote on...
a)Fairness arguments, period. They will be treated as radio silence. - See famed debate judge Marvin the Paranoid Android's paradigm on this in 'The Debate Judges Guide to the Galaxy.' by Douglas Adams. "The first ten million (fairness arguments) were the worst. And the second ten million: they were the worst, too. The third ten million I didn’t enjoy at all. After that, their quality went into a bit of a decline.” .
Instead, tell me why the perceived violation is a poor way to evaluate the truth of the resolution, not that it puts you in a poor position to win.
b) I will not vote on disclosure theory, it shall be treated as radio silence. I have assisted a little with Arlington High. Arlington High by team consensus does not permit its' members to disclose except at tournaments where it is specified to as requirement to participate by tournament invitation.
c) I will vote on education theory. However, I am actively favorable to RVIs when run in response to 'cheap' , 'throw-away' , generic, or 'canned' education theory.
d)Shells are not always necessary (or even usually). if an opponent's position is truly bollocks fifteen seconds explaining why is a better approach in front of me than a two or three minute theory shell
e) Finally, I am highly unlikely to vote on arguments that center on an extreme or very narrow framing of the resolution no matter how much framework you do- and 100% unlikely based on a half or full sentence blurb.-
'Extreme' in this context means marginally related to the literature (or a really small subset of it)
ON BLIPS AND EXTENSIONS
I believe that debaters indicate through analysis and time management what their key arguments are. Therefore, a one sentence idea in case, if used as a major voting issue in rebuttals, will receive 'one sentence worth' of weight in my RFD. even if the idea was dropped cold.
Simply extending drops and cards is insufficient, be sure to connect to the voting standard and explain the argument sufficiently. I do cut the Aff a little more leeway in this regard than the neg due to time limitations, but be careful.
OLD SCHOOL IDIOSYNCRASY- THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING
1) On sharing cases and evidence,
Please note: The below does not apply to the reading of evidence cards.
1) I believe that listening is an essential debate skill. In those cases where speed and jargon are used, they are still being used within a particular oral communication framework, even if it is one unique to debate. It makes no sense to me to speak our cases to one another (and the judge), while our opponent reads the text afterwards, and then orally respond to what was written down (or for the judge to vote on what was written down). If that is the norm, we could just stay home and email each other our cases.
In the round, this functions as my awarding higher speaker points to good listeners. Asking for entire cases or demonstrates you are still developing the ability to listen and/or the ability to process what you heard. That's OK, this is an educational activity. But don't expect higher speaker points. My advice is to work on the ability to process what you have heard rather than ask for cases or briefs.
Asking for individual cards by name to examine their rhetoric, context etc, is acceptable, as I don't expect most debaters to be able to write down cards verbatim. I expect those cards to be made available immediately. Any time spent 'jumping' the cards to an opponent beyond minimal is taken off the prep time of the debater that just read the case.
I will most likely only ask for cards at the round's end in the case of ethical challenges, etc, or if I failed to make note of a card's substance through some reason beyond a debater's control (My own sneezing fit for example, or the host school's band playing '76 Trombones on the Hit Parade' in the classroom next door during the 1AC)-
ON Non Debater authored Cases
I believe two of the most valuable skills in debate, along with the ability to listen, are the ability to write and research (and do both efficiently).
I further believe the tendency of some in the debate community to encourage students to become a ventriloquist's dummy, reading cases authored by individuals post-HS, is antithetical to developing these skills. Most likely it is also against most schools' academic code of conduct. I reject the idea that students are 'too busy to write their own cases and do their own research'
I will drop debaters -with minimal speaker points- who run cases written by any individual not enrolled in high school.
In novice or JV rounds I will drop debaters who run cases written by a varsity teammate.
Further, if I suspect, given that debater's level of competence, that they are running a position they did not write ( I suspect they have little to no comprehension of what they are reading) I reserve the right to question them after the round about that position. If said person confirms my suspicion about their level of comprehension, they will be dropped by me with minimal speaker points.
THAT SAID my speaker points will reward debaters who are trying out new ideas which they don't completely understand yet- I think people should take risks, just don't let yourself be shortchanged of all that debate can be by letting some non high school student write your ideas for you.
Finally, I am not opposed to student written team cases/briefs per sae. However, given the increasing number of cases written by non-students, and the difficulty I have in distinguishing those from student-written positions, I may eventually apply this stance to any case I hear for the second time (or more) at a tournament. That day has not yet arrived however.
ON POLICY ARGUMENTS (LARPING)
I am open to persons who wish to argue policy positions as opposed to voting standard If that framework is won.
Do keep in mind that I believe the time structure of LD makes running such strategies a challenge. I find many policy link stories in LD debate, even in late outrounds at TOC-qual tournaments, to be JVish at best. Opponents, don't be afraid to say so.
Policy-style debaters assume all burdens that actual policy debaters have, That means if solvency -(or at least some sort of comparative advantage, inherency, etc. is not prima facie shown for the resolution proper, that debater loses even if the opponent does not actually give a response while drooling on their own cardigan. (or your own, for that matter)
I am also actively disinclined to allow the negative to 'kick out' out of counterplans, etc., in face of an Aff challenge, during the 1NR. Think 'Pottery Barn'- "You broke the argument, you own it."
ON NARRATIVE ARGUMENTS
In addition to the 'story', be sure to include a rhetorical model I can use to evaluate the narrative in the course of the round. if you do so effectively, speaker points will be high. If not, low.
ON CRITICAL ARGUMENTS
I hold them to the same analytical standard as more normative or traditional arguments. That means quoting some opaque piece of postmodern writing is unlikely to score much emphasis with me, absent a complete drop by the opponent. And even if there is a complete drop, during the weighing stage I could easily be persuaded that the critical argument is of little worth in adjudicating the round. When debating critical theory, Don't be afraid to point our that "the emperor has no clothes."
In round, this functions as debaters coherently explaining what both they and their sources are being critical of, and doing so throughout the round.
In any case be sure to SLOW DOWN when reading critical arguments.
ROLE OF THE BALLOT-
I believe that debate, and the type of people it attracts, are uniquely superior opportunities to develop the skills required to fight oppression. I also believe that how i vote in some prelim at a tournament is unlikely to make much of a difference- or less so than if the debaters and judge spent their Saturday volunteering for a group fighting to make changes. I tend to take the arguments more seriously when made in out rounds with audiences. In fairness, people may see prelims as the place to learn how to make these arguments, which is to be commended. But it is not guaranteed that I take an experienced debater making such arguments in prelims as seriously, without a well articulated reason to do so.
Also bear in mind that my perspective is that of a social studies teacher with a MA in Middle Eastern history and a liberal arts education who is at least tolerably familiar with the literature often referenced in these rounds. But I also default in my personal politics to feeling that a bird in hand is better than exposing the oppression of the bush.
if simply invited or encouraged to think about the implications of your position, or to take individual action to do so, that is a wild card that may lead to a vote in your favor- or may not. I feel obligated to use my personal knowledge in such rounds. YOU are encouraged to discuss the efficacy of rhetorical movements and strategies in such cases.
ON MORALLY OFFENSIVE ARGUMENTS
Offensive debaters, such as those who actively call for genocide will be dropped with minimal speaker points. The same is true for those who are blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.
I default to skepticism being in the same category when used as a response to 'X is morally bad' types of arguments.
By minimal speaker points, I mean 'one point' (.1 if the tournament allows tenths of a point) and my going to the physical tabroom to insist they manually override any minimum in place in the settings.
If an argument not intended to be racist or sexist or pro-murder could be misused to justify the same, that would be debatable in the round- though be reasonable. "if it looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, chances are it IS a duck." Arguing over if general U.S. immigration is irredeemably racist is debatable in the round, arguing that an entire group of people should be excluded based on religion is racist on face, and arguing that it is morally acceptable (or even amoral) to tear gas children is a moral travesty in and of itself.
Outrounds/Flip Rounds Only
I believe debate offers a unique platform for debaters to work towards becoming self-sufficient learners, independent decision makers, and autonomous advocates. I believe that side determination with a lead time for the purposes of receiving side specific coaching particular to a given round is detrimental to debaters developing said skills. Further, it competitively disadvantages debaters who do choose to emphasize such skills (or do not have access to such coaching to start with).
In elimination rounds this functions as
a) flip upon arrival to the round.
b)avoid leaving the room after the coin flip (i.e., please go to the restroom, etc. before arriving at the room and before the flip)
c) arrive in sufficient time to the round to flip and do all desired preparation WITHOUT LEAVING THE ROOM so that the round can start on time.
d)All restrictions on electronic communication commence when the coin is in the air
Doing all of this establishes perceptual dominance in my mind. All judges, even those who claim to be blank slates, subliminally take perceptual dominance into account on some level. -Hence their 'preferences'. For me, all other matters being equal, I am more likely to 'believe' the round story given by a debater who exhibits these skills.
Have fun! Learn! "If you have fun and are learning, the winning will take care of itself"
In absence of a reason not to do so, I default to policy-maker (though I do have some sympathy for hypothesis-testing).
The above largely holds for my policy judging, though I am not as draconically anti-theory in policy as I am in LD because the time structure allows for bad theory to be exposed in a way not feasible in LD.
I've judged it and coached it since the creation.
Most of what I say under Lincoln-Douglas applies here- The differences OR key points are as follows.
1) I judge PF as an educated layperson- i.e. one who reads the paper but doesn't know the technicalities of debate lingo.
As such your 'extend this" and "pull that" confuse me for the purposes of the round - I will ignore debate lingo unless you explain the argument itself.
Your rate of delivery should be appropriate to the types of arguments you are making.
2)Stand during the cross-fire times. This adds to your perceptual dominance.
3) --Offer and justify some sort of standard I can use to weigh competing arguments.
4) On Evidence...
--Evidence should be fully explained with analysis. Evidence without analysis isn't persuasive to me. (the best evidence will have analysis as well, which is the gold standard- but you should add your own linking to the round itself and the resolution).
--Quantitative claims always require evidence, the more recent the better.
--Qualitative claims DO NOT always require evidence, that depends on the specific claim.
-5)-Be comparative when addressing competing claims. The best analytical evidence compares claims directly within itself.
-6)Produce requested evidence in an expeditious fashion- Failure to do so comes of YOUR prep time, and eventually next speech time.
-7)-Blips in constructive speeches blown up large in summary or final focus are weighed as blips in my decision calculus
8)No 'kicking' out of arguments unless opponent agrees with said kicking. "You broke the argument, you own it."
9) As noted above, I will most likely only ask for cards at the round's end in the case of ethical challenges, etc, or if I failed to make note of a card's substance through some reason beyond a debater's control (My own sneezing fit for example, or the host school's band playing '76 Trombones on the Hit Parade' in the classroom next door during a speech.
Most Importantly- as with any event " Have fun! "If you are learning and having fun, the winning shall take care of itself."