maxwell fenton Paradigm

Last changed 11/17 5:04P CST

About me: I generally judge Congress, speech, and sometimes PF. In high school, I primarily did extemp (mostly international) and congress at the local, state, and national level.

I'm a political science/philosophy student. When they come up, I can handle more theoretical/philosophical arguments, especially if they're more in the domain of political theory or IR theory. That being said I do like debating the intricacies of policy as well. This paradigm is generally tailored to Congress (which I judge most of the time) but much of it can be applied to extemp and PF.

Things I like:

- Clash is great. Call people out! Don't be afraid to get a bit aggressive especially if someone tries to pull a stunt but don't veer over into sheer meanness. Direct refutation is especially preferred, particularly if you can point out how someone misread an article by telling me what it actually says. Civility is overrated and doesn't reflect the real Congress you're trying to emulate, IMHO. So be loud and angry!

- Sources sources sources. Especially interesting or underutilized sources like think tanks that aren't Brookings, AEI, CFR, etc. Or interesting news sites like The Intercept or foreign news like Rudaw. Or interesting journals. One time someone cited the American Journal of Potato Research in a round and I almost died from happiness. Doing some digging for something off the beaten path a) shows you care enough to do deep research and b) leads into my next point...

- ...interesting and unique points! Don't let debate get repetitious and show me some interesting and unique ways that a bill may affect something that is unexpected. An example: did you know that investing in infrastructure in Afghanistan like highways or public transit may actually let rural terrorism become more mobile and nationwide in urban areas? Or that Tibetan freedom activists are trying to improve their cybersecurity efforts to remove an epidemic of Chinese malware? Stuff like that is great.

- Extemporaneity is also really good. I hate canned speeches because they really reduce the possibilities of debate and the ability to directly refute arguments. And it allows you to be a more dynamic and engaging speaker. I prefer when people speak with notes in Congress and PF -- it's more natural than a memorized speech.

- Impacts!!!! Lots of Congress I have seen lacks direct impacts and linking sources/arguments to them. Tell me why something matters as well as how it matters. Ultimately this is a DEBATE event, and you should reflect that in your rhetoric.

- Enunciation. Don't slur your words together. I understand speaking fast but you can do that without letting speech get mushy. Be crisp.

- POs: I love when POs have personalities even if they are kind of supposed to fade into the background. Make some puns and some observations! This goes for everyone else. I love a good joke or witty statement.

- Pronouns: This should definitely be a norm in speech and debate at this point. If you're in congress, give them while you're walking up to speak. If in PF/speech, give them to me/the team before round. I.e. "That's Representative Maxwell Fenton, school code JX. I use he/him/his pronouns."

Things I don't like:

- Don't be racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, classist etc. etc. Particularly avoid using slurs. If you get really offensive or get into a direct personal attack on someone I have no hesitation about ranking you the lowest possible score and if I know you, informing your coach of what you said.

- I hate when people judge or mention clothing on ballots and I won't dock you for not wearing a suit or whatever. I think people that do judge based on this are fundamentally classist (and maybe worse). That being said you should tuck in your shirt.

- If someone doesn't want to speak whatsoever don't push them to do it. They made the choice to show up and hang out for three hours while everyone else participated. Don't edit the docket because of this.

- Don't speak from your computer. Use a legal pad or notebook. It's super unwieldy and I'm always afraid someone will drop one.

- "Legislation" is a mass noun. There's no such thing as "a legislation," but there are such things as "pieces of legislation." Same with the word "economist" -- it's pronounced ee-KON-oh-mist, not the dreaded "eh-kon-OMM-ist." I have other word pet peeves like this but these are the big two I've seen in Congress/debate more generally.

- "Basic economics" is not evidence. Neither is "logic." Both of those things require sources and people disagree what they mean and how they matter.

- Repetition. One time I saw a Congress round where 10 people from the same school gave the same canned speeches on the No Child Left Behind Act with the same points, same sources, and same text. You will be ranked down if you rehash the same points over and over and over and over. See above for my love of interesting arguments and sources.

- Don't just sit there, particularly if you're in Congress. You're here for three hours. Give a speech or at least ask some questions.

- Disorganization. Give me a roadmap and an intro, and do the "walk" to split up your points visually as well as rhetorically.

- For intros, don't just say the subject and then move into the speech: i.e. "The national debt. I don't like it because...."

- If you're texting or Facebook messaging in round there's no way you're getting a decent rank. If you're using your phone to access sources because of a broken computer or something please tell me beforehand.

- "Are you aware...?" questions are loaded and stupid and demeans the intelligence of the speaker. Don't ask them. Same with questions that are essentially extended comments -- your statement should easily end in a question mark.


If you have any questions, just ask me when you get to round!

Last updated November 2018.

Full Judging Record

Tournament Date Ev Rd Aff Neg Vote Result