Josh Imes Paradigm
Updated March 2018
New School Debater 2007-2010 / New School Coach 2010-2014 / WVU Coach 2014-2016
I have been mostly out of the activity for a few years, but have gone to a few tournaments here and there. I have only judged 3 debates on this topic.
Please feel free to do what you are most comfortable with. I have a reputation for being very critically oriented, but I feel as if I vote for policy arguments more and more. I am still pretty far left of center, but not as far left as I was when I first started. I will not, however vote for arguments that I find morally repugnant. If you don't know what those things might be, then "better safe than sorry" might be a good strat.
Some general comments that will help you understand how I feel about certain parts of the debate. I think that a compelling, developed argument without cards will often beat a highly carded, poorly explained argument in almost every case. If you can make smart arguments and analytics, then I am probably going to be persuaded by you. I don't think that every arguments needs to have a card to be true, and I don't think an unwarranted card makes a bad argument true.
A few technical things: I vote more and more on my flow than on my overall perception of a debate. If I don't know what you're saying, then you should probably be clearer or slow down. I don't want to read a lot of cards after the round, but I will read important ones that you tell me to if you explain why I have to read that card. Tell me that it directly answers their important cards, or that it is the best piece of evidence that shows why you win, or that it's written by an author I like, and then I'll probably read it. When it comes to the end of the debate, give me specific ways to vote for you. The easier you make it on me, the more likely I'll be to vote for you.
T- I used to be very biased towards T arguments, but I am less so now. I think that T arguments can devolve into blippy extensions of a three word definition. Those are the kinds of T debates I dislike. If there is a specific reason why an interpretation changes the way an aff functions, then I am open to that debate. I think that an argument over "how much is substaintial" is not particularly useful. I am completely fine with non-topical affs, in fact I like them a lot. With that having been said, with great power comes great responsibility and that responsibility is often answering T and FW. For me, “T is fascist” is not enough. You need to explain why you need to be non-topical and why a topical version of your plan is a bad idea. I am more likely to buy abuse stories that involve education in a coherent way, saying non-topical plans kill education is not enough, explain how that type of education is bad, and why a topical version might work better, or just a modified version. If you are going for the "topical version" argument, then you should probably have an example of what a topical version would be.
FW- I default to the framework of the aff unless the neg on face challenges it, but the aff also has to defend their framework and answer the other team’s objections with substantive answers, “aff choice” isn’t enough. If they want to use USFG policy to do something, then so be it. If they want to use themselves as agents, then that is good too. You have to defend which option you choose. I feel that debates about debate can be important and useful, but only if they are substantive and meaningful (I don’t find the Shively “Euthanasia” card falls into those categories).
DA’s- As a debater, I never read DAs, but I am becoming more comfortable with them. I don't do tons of policy research every day, so I may not know every scenario currently being read. That only means that it is the neg's responsibility to explain the story of the disad and the warrants of the cards. This is the bare minimum for any argument. I am sympathetic to K’s of DA’s, so be warned. That doesn't mean that I have an aff bias on disads, but that I am more familiar with the literature critiquing them than the uniqueness card you cut last night. Just one thing that might help you out, I am pretty willing to buy a “try or die” situation against a DA if there is not enough impact work done. This is especially true absent a CP. If it comes to Plan v. DA, I’m probably going to pick plan unless you explain to me why I can’t. If you make it seem like the plan action will certainly lead to the demise of the entire world then there should be some seemingly factual warrants to why this is the case (remember this doesn't have to be a card, see above).
CP’s- Competition is key. Explaining it is even better. There needs to be a clear discussion to how the CP competes and is net beneficial to the aff. I need a clear net benefit and why that is more important than plan action. I also need clear explanation on the Perm debate. Each Perm should be answered individually or group for some logical reason. Do not make a Perm argument on one perm, drop the others and then pretend you answered them all. I flow your answers on the specific Perm you mention. Be clear and be precise on the Perm debate. I will get to theory below.
K’s- I said at the top I was a K debater, so if you are a K team, this is a blessing and a curse. I will be automatically more attracted to these arguments, but will also hold them to a higher standard. Don’t expect that I know what you’re talking about even if I do. I try my best to only evaluate the arguments made, not what I know about the philosopher/philosophies you are citing. You will win easily if you explain how your arguments function in relation to the other team’s arguments. You will lose easily if you throw out high theory jargon and expect me to connect the dots.
Theory- I don’t particularly like it because it always seems to be lacking. Are multiple perms really that detrimental to anybody? Does it really skew your time that much to answer “do both” and “do the plan, then the alt?” I’ve never seen a really good theory debate and I don’t want to see a lot of bad ones to find a good one. If it’s something you like to do, then do it, but you’re really going to have to sell me on why your scripted block beats their scripted block. One way to do this is give specific examples to the debate you're in. I will be much more likely to buy your theory argument if you make it seem like X thing is bad always, but in this round it is just egregious.
Non-Topical Affs- These are the affs I have the most experience with and what I am used to judging. If you are the team that is looking for the straight up policy debate judge that just finished spending his Friday night cutting politics updates, I am not the judge for you. If you are the K team that is looking for the person that won't automatically vote them down for not being topical, then I am the judge for you.
I think that debate should be much more of an open space than it is. Just because something isn't what you do, doesn't make it automatically wrong and if you debate in front of me with that mentality, you will probably lose. Engaging arguments is the most important part of debate for me.