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Maria Judith DeMarco
Texas Tech University '19
I competed in circuit congressional debate in high school and NPTE/NPDA for 4 years in college. During 2 of those years I also competed in IEs and attended the AFA-NIET. My former coaches (including Adam Testerman, Joe Provencher, Katelyn Johnson, David Hansen, Jackson DeVight) and my former partners (Fiker Tesfaye and Cody Gustafson), inform the majority of my views about debate. If you have any additional questions about my background, where I’m at now, or anything else regarding my judging philosophy, please feel free to ask at tournaments or add & message me on Facebook.
I love good debates! <3 That is all. I do not enjoy being in the back of rounds when debaters are clearly unprepared, disinterested, or otherwise demonstrate a lack of engagement; there are too many individuals who make enormous sacrifices for students to not reciprocate by investing all they can. This also extends to my personal role as a critic. I care about the rounds I watch and will not be a judge who carelessly makes a decision.
What you can read in front of me:
I'm a progressive/flow critic so feel free to read whatever you want. I will vote on the flow and the arguments made to reduce judge intervention as much as possible. One thing to note is that I do not view values as offense in and of themselves. Just because you have a good value framing does not mean you have a good advocacy which reflects/achieves that value, so I will never vote on a value alone.
Read any argument you want but be mindful of theory. I do not prefer one type of debate over another, and do not have any favorite arguments. Though I read the K, performances, and other identity arguments for the better part of 3 years, I read straight up policy arguments for most of my senior year and fell in love with that strategy.
Feel free to read (almost) anything & please do not make assumptions about what debates I like to see – simply use the best strategy given the topic and your own personal preferences.
If you are considering breaking a new position or wondering if you can read creative arguments in front of me, go for it. I have read a wide variety of arguments from afrofuturism to feminist rap, and I love hearing unique positions. If you don’t talk about the topic, great (although specific topical links are preferred). If you talk about the topic, also great. I do not necessarily require specific links to the resolution if you are reading a “project” or other argument about the debate space rather than the topic.
However, perhaps my strongest opinion at the moment is that I am *very* over frivolous theory debates. This refers to theory that (and I’m being generous) is overly “nuanced” to be meaningful. I will reluctantly vote on these arguments if you decisively win them, but will be less receptive and have a higher threshold if you go for 3 sheets of theory in the block without collapsing, or read a canned/irrelevant “specify your ethics” argument when it is a very, very thinly-veiled time suck. Unless there are legitimate violations or these arguments are clearly applicable, there are almost always more strategic and pedagogically productive interpretations that have the same utility. To quote the wonderful David Worth, “I am tired of debates that are mostly logic puzzles.” I have taken the LSAT and can assure you I do not need further practice with it.
Theory that is going to be an uphill battle with me as your critic:
- please don't read "speed/spreading bad" args
- multiple sheets of theory which are not collapsed in the MO
- ethics/philosophy SPEC
- any CP theory that is not conditionality
- PMR theory
That being said, I do not have predispositions to viewing a theory debate any other way than how you tell me to evaluate it. I do think that most arguments function through competing interpretations; for example, reasonability is often just another way to interpret the rest of the debate that follows. I would also appreciate having a copy of any interpretations that are particularly complicated to avoid confusion and intervention.
A note on Politics DAs:
I don’t always feel the most comfortable in evaluating politics disads. Though I frequently read ptx, it took me longer than normal to fully understand how the politics scenario would break down. If you choose to read politics, it would be best to slow down slightly on the links. Also, tenuous links are a no-go. If you are creating several internal links that are only tenuous, I will have a hard time finding a way to vote for you because it’s unclear whether you even garner an impact.
How to win my ballot with the K:
Please ensure that you know what your K does, and that you are able to articulate that clearly. It’s fine to be more ambiguous in the beginning, but by the end of the round, I want to have a clear understanding of what your solvency mechanism is and what it will do to solve the main points of clash in the debate. If you are going for proximal impacts and your solvency mechanism is predicated on your K doing something in this particular room and round, you need to win why those impacts are more important than other impact calculus like timeframe/magnitude/probability/severity.
More importantly, you need to ensure your solvency mechanism addresses the impacts you are going for. For example, do not go for proximal in-round impacts if you’re reading a K that claims to solve capitalism. This does not apply if you clearly explain that in-round solvency is a prerequisite or has inroads to solving other impacts in the future. However, doing that type of analysis requires warrants (not assertions) that it might lead to something later. For example, a Cap K with dialectical materialism or similar solvency for gaining class consciousness within a certain round also needs to explain how a few people gaining consciousness could realistically translate into solving capitalism writ large.
A note on answering Ks:
Always read a perm! There is rarely a reason not to and I will be sad if you are decisively winning the rest of the debate but lose because you did not perm.
I intend to write RFDs that minimize personal biases, though I have zero problems docking speaker points for insensitive comments regarding sexual violence, racism, misogyny, etc. I have participated in too many rounds where teams read Nietzche, Buddhism, or similar Ks and thought it appropriate to inform me that sexual violence and abuse are inevitable and ought to be embraced. Not only are these arguments often traumatic to hear, but they are also gross mischaracterizations of actual philosophy; if you do not fully understand said philosophy then avoid debating it altogether. Weaponizing nonsense like this for the sake of a ballot is just not the move, and if you find yourself resorting to verbal violence to get a W, it demonstrates a general lack of care as well as skill. However, do not take this as an open invitation to pretend that violence is happening in an attempt to win by saying to prefer "tech over truth" if nothing offensive has truly happened. Tech and truth are not mutually exclusive.
I try to stick to the most commonly used speaker point breakdown. A below average debate will be around 26, average will be around 27-28, and above average will be around 29. 30s are reserved for speeches that I thought were near-perfect. If you have questions about an RFD or how you might improve speaker points in another debate in front of me, please ask for more feedback.
Use it, go for it, it's great. Frequent judging and coaching means I can keep up and my flowing is not rusty. That said, make sure you clearly signpost.
Leader speeches/1NCs and rebuttals:
I was a double leader for almost my whole career. I love LOCs/1NCs that have lots of case turns, and would prefer a few turns that are related to your off-case position(s), but are combined with more turns that garner external offense. I am willing to listen to an LOC that is straight case but have rarely seen it done well.
I also do not enjoy flowing rebuttals on separate sheets of paper. If you feel the need for me to flow them separately, it should be because the debate was particularly messy or if it is the only way you have learned to give the speech.
I love impact calculus and it is an absolute necessity to compare and weigh your impacts against your opponent’s impacts throughout the speech. I do not prefer certain impacts over others, but I do need clear reasons why your impact is more important; i.e. magnitude does not matter in a world where the impact is improbable. I also need a clear thesis and overview at the beginning of your speech that is at least one sentence explaining why you win. It is okay (and sometimes necessary) to give a speech that answers back line-by-line arguments in the block, but I would prefer if you group arguments or simply tell me what the most important issues are in the debate because it is generally more efficient. You can also provide a brief explanation about why you are not answering a certain argument with a line that says something like “the most important argument on this sheet of paper is X – the others do not have terminalized impacts.”
Warrant comparison in rebuttals is a great way to boost your speaker points. It is crucial that I know why your warrant is a better indicator of an impact than the opponent’s, especially if you are going for the same impact. For example, a round where both teams are going for an Econ impact but disagree on whether consumer confidence or investor confidence is key to the economy needs to articulate why their metric is preferable. Please also make sure you do not mix up your warrants by changing what argument they correspond to from speech to speech.
For people new to parli:
As someone with minimal debate experience prior to joining college parli, I am unsympathetic to the notion that the NPDA format is wholly inaccessible to people who do not have a debate background/did not come from policy. That being said, I am 100% understanding of the substantial learning curve when it comes to Parli, especially for teams with limited resources/coaching/travel opportunities/etc. Please let me know if you are in need of additional resources and I will do my best to help you!