National Speech and Debate Season Opener
2017 — Lexington, KY/US
Policy Debate Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (yes I want to be on the chain). Feel free to email me with questions.
Top Level Stuff:
I will not hesitate to call you on card clipping/stealing prep. I don’t need the other team to call you out to vote you down on it. Clearly signpost. I’ll look at the doc if I’m totally lost, but if I have to read along to follow your speech, that’s a problem.
There is no reason not to send out docs or show highlighting of cards you are reading. If you do this you will get a 26.0 — no exceptions.
Tech over truth in general. That being said, my view on the truth of the situation will be a reason I find things more persuasive. If I know a bill has already passed, it doesn't take much to convince me in face of your evidence.
POST-JUDGING NOVICE EDIT: Yes I allow tag team, but don't be too reliant on your partner. Yes I want a roadmap, no you don't have to ask me if I want a roadmap. Please time yourself. No, you cannot start over after starting a speech.
Disclosure: Personally, I think you should post full-text of the 1AC, even if poetry. At a bare minimum, there must be a place where I can theoretically see the whole text. In the case of cites, that means I have the links to see the articles or places to access the cards beforehand. Poetry or narratives must be accessible in some way, either through online availability or being able to ask for the whole text through email. I won't do anything about it if the other team doesn't bring it up, but I am persuaded by disclosure theory.
I am not persuaded by "if you had any questions, you should've asked us," in the absence of them being able to see what they should have questions about.
I don't think new policy affs are a voting issue (because they revolve around the topic), but I think there is an argument for new non-topical affirmatives being a voting issue (because they could be about anything).
Preemption/Changing the Aff:
It's never bad. Not persuaded by links to this or PICs out of this.
Now onto the arguments —
On T, I tend to vote for the vision of the topic that makes the most sense to me (which requires that the teams give me a clear picture of what the topic looks like under their interpretation). I like a good well thought out T debate, but you must have an abuse story that makes sense and doesn't rely on absurd examples. Ground, fairness, and education are all fine, but make it specific.
If this is a non-traditional debate, neg needs a TVA and a reason why their impacts outweigh or come first. Aff needs to do framing of their impact scenarios and why their vision of the topic doesn’t make it impossible to be negative.
Concessionary ground is a fine argument, and the aff needs to answer this beyond saying that they "could've read afro-pess and settlerism." That isn't responsive. The best aff response to this for me is that partial, rather than total, disagreement is best, and that total disagreement (such as DAs) are a negative form of debate (causes dogmatism, bad for education, etc.)
I don't like "fun" as an impact because I think that at best it's an internal link to other impacts and not a very persuasive one at that. I think that there are much better versions of this argument premised on the impact of having to research tons of K affs or bad clash.
EDIT: I have been voting on switch side debate a lot, mostly because people functionally drop it. I find this especially persuasive when your reason to vote aff is "we can spread our message/inject it into debate." If you can reasonably inject it on the neg, I am much more inclined to tell you to go do that. This complicates most aff offense, so I think it's imperative that you have an explicit response along the lines of a criticism of switch side debate (like Spanos or something) or a change in the way that reading it on the neg would complicate your message.
I don't like metaphors about T. I don't think that it is genocide or the settler state. Make arguments about why it is bad specifically that relies on actual implications of their arguments for what it would do to debate, not just what the USFG did previously in the context of your aff.
I love a good status quo debate, however, think they frequently lack relative impact framing. I tend to vote for the teams that explain what they’re going to win and why that matters. Turns case is a bigger deal in debates than it often should be, but if it’s not answered it oftentimes determines my decision.
I don’t judge kick by default, but I will if you make that argument. If both the aff and CP link to the DA sufficiently to trigger the net-benefit, I vote aff. I think of solvency as a sliding scale by default, you will have to prove to me why I shouldn't.
Sufficiency framing is my default until you tell me otherwise, but I'll be more generous about what counts as "sufficient" if you explain why it doesn't need to solve very much.
For specific thoughts, I'll separate these into categories:
Non-uniform is obviously fine, uniform is debatably fine, and multilevel (State and Fed simultaneously) is not fine. Adding on planks (other than the plan) such as funding or removal of balanced budget amendments makes me less inclined to vote that the CP is legitimate.
They’re good. I like these a lot, but make sure you’re explaining why your specific mechanism solves (I think this is often lacking when the other team doesn’t make a lot of specific solvency deficits). Aff teams should make sure to push back against sufficiency framing.
QPQ and Unconditional CPs:
Probably fine, but that's debatable. The closer the solvency advocate is to describing the aff, the harder it is to go for theory. I tend to lean towards the aff on perm do the CP on the QPQ CP (less change), but neg on perm do the CP for the unconditional CP.
Probably not fine, but I’ll hear both sides out. Make sure it’s not too contrived. The more “out there” and not related to the topic the mechanism is, the less likely I am to decide it’s legit.
International or Delay CPs:
Not a huge fan of international or delay CPs, but you can try to make your case. Debatability outweighs education as a general rule, but I’m not set in stone if one side is making better arguments.
I'm fine with most critical literature, just be clear about what the link is to the affirmative. I'm likely to vote on the permutation if you don't explain beyond jargon. Perms are the argument I like the most, negs should make sure to explain why the perm is mutually exclusive (beyond just “it’s a method debate”). Don't try to go for it as a DA, it almost never gets my ballot.
I tend to lean towards that fiat is good even if not "real," but as with most things it's up for debate.
I dislike "gotcha!" tricks, but if explained well enough I can get on board (ie. say more than the words "serial policy failure").
I’ll also separate these into categories:
High Theory (Baudrillard, Nietzsche, etc.):
These are okay, but don’t get to jargon-y. Explain what happens post-aff if your explanatory theory of the world is true. It’s hard to win my ballot on just a case turn, so make sure you have an alt.
Identity (Wilderson, Settlerism, etc.):
This is a fine debate. Obviously, it comes down to a few critical issues related to ontology and explanatory theories of structures. I think the best versions of these debates acknowledge the extraneous examples and explain why their theory is still true. Perms are probably the hardest to win with this kind of K, so I would primarily focus elsewhere (go for that their ontology is wrong, which means the aff is a DA).
Policy-ish (Security/Neolib kinds of Ks):
Make sure you explain why it’s more productive to change structures in the way you describe before doing the aff. I find these Ks to be more persuasive when run more like impact turns (serial policy failure inev and aff bad, alt solves), rather than as high theory (at least v policy affs). Perm is a persuasive argument here, so make sure you’re playing defense to it.
Condo is fine if 2 and under and never outweighs T. I won't vote on ASPEC (or any other spec arg). Vagueness is fine, but you have to prove abuse (I think it can be a good reason to reject perms though). Intrinsicness is almost never persuasive (use this as case defense instead).
Tldr; I'll vote on almost anything, but make it specific.
Args About Debate:
Spreading is good (although I am open to suggestions for making it more accessible). I leave proposed bargains (such as less speech time due to disability or other impairment) up to the debaters.
If you ask the other team to go slower and don't slow down yourself you will get very bad speaks (unless the other team agrees to this).
Debate is very good and I am very unpersuaded by arguments to the contrary (why are you here if this is true?).
If you want to speak in another language, that is fine, but make sure I know what you are trying to say (yes this has been an issue).
G-lang and other language Ks require a reason why the debate should be forfeited and could not have continued even with a sincere apology.
A Note I Never Thought I Would Have to Add:
I will not stand by while you do something that can hurt yourself in debate (including, but not limited to, setting things on fire and self-harm). You will lose the round and receive a 0 (yes this has happened).
Ways to Boost Your Speaker Points:
1. Tell jokes about Tripp Haskins, Jason Sigalos, or anyone currently on Emory or Woodward debate. However, PLEASE do not do this if you don't usually do comedy/don't know how to incorporate it into debate. If you tell a joke badly, it'll probably hurt you.
2. Be clear and concise, I prefer quality of arg over quantity. If you’re right on an argument, make sure that I know it rather than trying to marginally convince me of a lot of arguments.
3. Make sure language matches up both with your partner and the other team. It becomes very confusing very quickly if both sides have their own names for each argument (excluding flows).
HS Email Chain: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
College Email Chain: email@example.com
Current School Affiliations: DOF @ NoBro (2016-), Assistant Coach @ Northwestern (2023-)
Previous School Affiliations: Harvard (2022-2023), Emory (2019-2022), James Madison University (2011-2016), Broad Run High School (2014-2016), Thomas Jefferson High School (2012-2014), Columbia University (2007-2011), Monta Vista High School (2003-2007)
I am less interested in the genre of argument chosen and more interested in its technical execution + quality of ev, with caveats.
- Debate is best when students reference and respond to arguments in the order in which they were presented.
- I will try my best to flow the debate. Easy-to-transcribe soundbytes, emphasis in sentences, and pen time is a must. I cannot flow debaters who shotgun 3 word arguments at top speed nor those who speak in delirious, winding paragraphs.
- I evaluate arguments, not character assassinations. Ad hominem is a logical fallacy. Screenshots are not ev. I have neither the authority nor resources to launch an investigation about outside behavior, coach indiscretions, and pref sheets. Debate like you are grown.
- No double wins, devolution to another game, or soliciting audience participation. First to initiate receives a L and very low speaks.
- Escalating CX unnecessarily, heckling opponents, zoom insults, etc = cringe.
- Cheating, harassment, slurs are a L, 0 speaks, and gets your coaches involved. Same for ethics violations without evidence.
- Asking for a 30 = auto 26.
- Reading cards > Not reading cards. A smart analytic can beat a bad card, but no cards anywhere lowers chances of victory.
- No evidence insertions. Debate is an oral activity.
- My speaker points are lower than the community average. I reserve 29+ to speakers I thought were exceptional. You can improve your points by debating your opponents rather than reading scripts, preparing effective cross-examinations, and reading cards that don't break my verbatim.
- "Judge kick" is not my default, and must be explicitly claimed. It can also be contested by your opponents.
- I am unsure why "new affirmative" means "blank check" for the negative. I have never understood a warrant for why it suddenly makes artificially competitive counterplans legitimate, and don't agree with the community consensus that it automatically justifies deranged conditionality. If the new affirmative is topical, it implies that the negative should have been able to anticipate it and prepare strategies. That said, the affirmative usually folds and lets the negative go bananas, so - more power to them.
- I am more amenable to negative terrorism (2NC CPs, logical CP planks without solvency advocates, word PICs, etc) than most if executed well. I do not necessarily think "counterplans must be textually and functionally competitive" is a truism. That said, I was a 2A, and am amenable to affirmative objections. I enjoy theory debates more than most, but it has been a minute since anyone has been good at debating it.
- Objections about the legitimacy of counterplans that do all of the plan are better explained through competition than theory.
- Critiques aren't counterplans. Links aren't meant to be "unique" or "to the plan" because they aren't "DAs." Private actor fiat of "movements" or "mindsets" makes it easier for the affirmative to win on the perm. Links must be paired with impacts that outweigh, turn, or bracket the case.
- Fairness is an impact for T USFG if explained right, and limits is the most persuasive internal link. Evidence-based debate seems unworkable if there’s significant asymmetries in anticipation. Affirmatives can win without a traditional plan; critiquing neg definitions and providing counter-definitions that establish a model for both sides to engage improve their win rate. “CI - discussion of topic,” “default to us,” “debate bad” and its corollary of naming debaters who used their skills for evil, and poor analogies that T is akin to drone strikes are dissuasive.
Note: Been out of debate for a year, I spend very little time thinking about the topic, cutting cards, or judging. Keep that in mind.
For email chains and questions, my email is crballer1 (at) gmail (dot) com
I will vote for arguments virtually anywhere on the ideological spectrum. You are more likely to get my ballot if you read arguments you are good at rather than ones you think I will like.
Tech over truth, but my threshold for answering bad arguments is very low.
Ks- These debates are either the best, or the worst, please make them the best. Buzz words make bad K debaters. The link debate should always be specific and each link should be impacted out. There doesn’t need to be an alternative. AFF: I like perm+pragmatism/link defense. I want to vote for the team who best contextualizes their thing to the other teams thing in these debates. If the links are more specific than the permutation/link defense, the NEG is in good shape.
K AFFs- Have a method and defend it (which can include defending the lack of a method). I think there is value in having a particular topic, but I am open to the idea that a discussion about the topic is preferable to a topical discussion. For the neg: I like specific strategies. That being said, it is difficult to find specific strategies for every aff. If you like to read FW, I am more susceptible to FW as a counter-method defending law and pragmatism. Structural Ks (Cap, Anti-blackness, etc.) are good routes too. Make sure you question the affirmative’s ability to get a permutation in these debates. I am not fully convinced in either direction and think that there is a good debate to be had. Good spin with strong examples and the root cause/turns case debate usually decide these rounds for me.
Topicality- A list and comparison of the topical affs under each interpretation is necessary from both sides. A topical version of the aff is helpful, but not necessary. There is a direct correlation between how arbitrary the negative interpretation is and how likely I am to default to reasonability over competing interpretations.
DAs- Impact framing, please do it. The importance of link vs. uq is very dependent on the disad- convince me whichever one you are winning is more important.
Theory- The more specific the solvency advocate, the more likely I am to err neg on theory. If you are going to go for theory in the 2AR, spend a lot of time on it. A messy and blippy theory debate will usually favor the negative. All theory arguments (save Condo) are reject the argument, not the team. If I think the status quo is better than the affirmative and the CP, I will only “judge-kick” the CP if told to do so by the negative (without a convincing affirmative response). The illogical nature of this standard pains me, but I think it is necessary to both incentivize technical debating and punish poor strategic choice. I am pretty unlikely to vote for conditionality bad if it is not dropped.
Case- It’s my most favorite thing to debate. Good case debate by the negative can be devastating. Shallow case debate by the negative begs for an aff ballot. 2As: I see you dropping args like it’s hot in the 2AC, don’t do that. Neg: Don’t let them do that. Try to focus the case debate on internal links over impacts, that’s where the aff is usually the weakest.
Impact turn debates are awesome, link turns are the highest form of debate. This is where the real throw downs are at.
If you are deliberately or continually offensive, you will get very low speaks and lose.
If a clipping accusation is made, the round ends. I will consult with tab and evaluate the evidence. For a team found, beyond reasonable doubt, to be clipping, the punishment is either 0 speaks and a loss, or the particular tournament’s own procedure. False accusations are either your average speaks and a loss, if the tournament will do that, or 28s and a loss.
Highland Park (MN) '12-'16.
AFFs must read a plan. NEG teams must either say the plan does something bad or is not topical.
I'm pretty bad for T against policy AFFs unless it's egregious. T is not automatically offense/defense. Terminal defense can beat T.
Yes judge kick.
Presumption goes to the side that advocates less change.
No “inserting” anything, you have to read it.
Conditionality is fine, within reason.
The best debates have lots of case debating, lots of author indicts, lots of re-highlighting the other team’s evidence, and lots of evidence comparison.
I like teams who care about the activity, cut a lot of cards, and know things about the world. If you show me that's you, you will do well. Conversely, acting like you don’t care or don’t want to be here is cringe and a good way to make me not care about what you’re saying.
Yes put me on the email chain: Risha[dot]X[dot]Bhattacharjee[at]gmail[dot]com and I prefer this to pocketbox although you do you. I'd appreciate it if after the last corresponding rebuttal each side puts together a doc of all relevant cards and sends it to me even before I ask but no worries if you forget.
Philosophy last updated December 2016 (goal is to include trends I've noticed in my judging and also new opinions I've noticed myself start developing as I judge a lot, although some of these opinions haven't necessarily played out in my judging yet).
TLDR: I don't really care what you do. I am most familiar with "policy" arguments and do research in high school and college more on the "policy"-side of things, but I judge a lot of different types of arguments, so my familiarity with those is growing quickly.
My own background: I debated at Coppell High School in Dallas for 4 years and then the University of Texas for 5 years, and am now coaching at Georgia State University and Wayzata High School. This will be my third year of judging college debate and eighth year judging high school debate. I typically judge a LOT of debate rounds every year. I was a 1A/2N for most of college, and most of my 2NRs were counterplan/politics or framework. I did debate for UT/in D3, so I had my fair share of “K-debates". I found myself personally going a bit more “left” (with a particular interest in arguments about gender) in my last year of debate, but that was more in terms of opinion and not actually argumentative choices, and I still ended my career going for mostly "policy" arguments. I have generally viewed debate as a game, but can understand why others do not see it that way, and am open to alternate views of the activity.
Top-level: You should do what you do best, and I'll reciprocate by trying my best to approach the debate with an open mind. I really don't care what kind/type of arguments you choose to make. I find that teams have much more success when their judge adaptation involves accounting for specific things a judge might think about a certain argument, instead of just choosing to make a different argument altogether. Do what you do best. The only caveat is you should not say things like "racism/sexism good".
I think that racism and sexism (and other forms of exclusion) are problems in the debate community, but am uncertain as to what I think is the best way to combat forms of exclusion. I do think that debaters are required by the nature of the activity to contest arguments that their opponents make, and that there is value in that contestation. That being said, I think certain things are uncontestable - like I said above, impact turning a form of exclusion is not going to fly. I also dislike it when people try to dispute claims about debate as an activity being racist, sexist, ableist, etc. At this point, I honestly think it's violent to say a certain form of exclusion does not exist in debate, esp to people whose identity forces them to face that exclusion on a daily basis. That is different than, for example, contesting the claim that requiring a topical plan furthers those forms of exclusion.
I’ll ask to be included in any email chains, but I will not open the speech docs in most situations until the debate is over, because imo reading along lessens the impact that good communication would otherwise have on my decision.
I generally don’t think it counts as prep when someone is saving a speech doc to a jump drive, etc.
Pet peeves: “Always already” and “debate space” - i.e. redundancy.
Card Clipping: Like I said above, I won’t open speech docs before/during a speech. So it’s impossible for me to follow along as a debater is reading. That’s just something to keep in mind if you want to call out another team for clipping cards. So, make sure there’s video if you want to make an accusation. I do think that card-clipping is absolutely unacceptable, and if an accusation is made, I will immediately stop the debate to resolve the dispute. If an individual is determined to have clipped cards, they will receive zero speaker points and the team will get an automatic loss. If it is determined that card-clipping did not occur, then I will assign speaker points based on what has happened in the debate so far, and assign the loss to the team who made the accusation. Purposefully being unclear just to get through a card faster is not much different from clipping cards. Since I obviously cannot decide intent, if you are unclear/it is hard to tell if you read a certain part of a card, I will err on the side of you did not.
I appreciate it when people tell me at the top of their last rebuttals what an RFD for them would look like.
I will not yell clear if I cannot understand you (I think that's just as interventionist as a judge yelling "smarter" and I do not share the same views as Dallas Perkins on that subject). So don't assume I'll let you know if I can't understand you....although the lack of typing should probably tip you off.
On a somewhat similar note, if I look confused, it is probably tech related or possibly just how my face usually looks. I rarely (knowingly) react physically when unconvinced by an argument.
Asking a team what cards were or were not read in a speech doc is either cross-x time or prep time, unless their speech doc is egregiously terribad (a standard to be somewhat arbitrarily determined by me).
(Please note that this next thing is really not a big deal, I'm just letting you know in case it helps, but I don't expect any one to adapt in any way to this). -I don't really try to line things up from speech-to-speech while flowing. This is really just how things play out because of the kinds of debate I tend to judge. On that note, in almost any possible situation, no matter what you say, I will almost certainly just flow a speech on a specific argument straight down. Just to be clear, I will obviously still separate off case positions and 1ac pages onto separate pages. But if you're like "I'm going to start with the perm and then this thing and then blah" or whatever else, I'll probably ignore you. You can still say it for the purpose of the other team or your partner or out of spite etc., but just know that I will keep flowing straight down because roadmaps seem to be more like New Year's resolutions than actual truth.
Links are not case arguments. Neither are random framework args. In a K or framework debate, please please please save us all the trouble and just read the links on the same page as the actual arg. I like case arguments but I like being honest about not having specific case args even more. I recognize that there are ways to interact with the aff that do not involve a case debate in the traditional sense. That's fine. What's less fine and substantially more annoying is arbitrarily splitting the K debate (or FW debate) onto two different flows which inevitably become combined in the last rebuttals and create more work for all us.
It is rarely successful in front of me for your only answer to a fully-developed arg by the other team to be that they don't have a card to back it up. By all means point this out if true, but also please substantively answer what is now a fully developed analytic (i.e. still an argument).
Lastly, please be respectful to your partner and your opponents. I don’t like excessively rude people and my speaker points will reflect that. I do enjoy snark if it's intelligent and furthers an argument and isn't just aimed solely at making fun of your opponent. It annoys me when people speak during their opponents' speeches in a way that is loud and/or makes it difficult to hear the speaker (or seems like it would bother the speaker), and is perhaps the only time I audibly intervene during a round (to shush the offender(s)).
"Policy" vs "Policy"
-High school: I do a TON of high school topic research (along with already having done a ton because of last year's college topic) so generally speaking I know what's up. In the past I've judged a lot of clash and left-left debates in high school, but this year I've found myself judging quite a bit more of policy debates as well.
-College: I don't judge many policy debates in college, although this year I've judged a few relatively speaking. I've done a fair bit of research on the topic and almost all of it is more "policy" oriented research. I would like to judge some more "policy" debates but whatevs not my job (or desire) to dictate what people say in front of me, and I certainly do not have anything against debate arguments that do not involve both teams agreeing from the get-go that the discussion should be oriented around the results of USFG-enacted restrictions on ghg emissions.
Topicality: I love a good T debate. Don’t really care what the topicality argument is. If the interpretation is something "silly," then the aff should be able to beat it without help via me giving the interp less weight. That being said, I often think that good explanations of reasonability are often persuasive. The aff will probably lose if they don’t read a counter-interpretation. I also am generally not convinced by most precedence arguments, or arguments about an aff being read all year means that it’s topical. Frankly, I couldn’t care less what the rest of the community thinks about whether or not an aff is topical. Obviously if a precedence arg is conceded I'll evaluate it, but just know that the aff won't have to do much to beat it.
(High school specific: this topic is obviously terribly huge and also lacking good definitions for neg interps - perhaps a useful thing to note about me is that I think of T "definitions" as another standard for a T interp, albeit a rather important one, but I don't think having a definition exactly backing up your interpretation is as absolutely necessary as many seem to think. Sometimes I think the bigger problem with the more obvious or better (in some ways) interps for 'engagement' is their tendency to run into brightline problems).
Theory: I generally default to reject the argument not the team for most theory arguments other than conditionality bad, and have noticed in my judging that it is difficult to convince me otherwise.
Gut-check, I probably think that conditionality is good, 50-state fiat is bad, and international fiat is bad. But I also almost exclusively went for the states counterplan on the energy topic and the Turkey CP on the democracy assistance topic, so I can definitely be convinced by the other side. Trump probably also makes the states counterplan a more important/necessary discussion on the college topic now. Conditionality bad is probably harder to win in front of me, but I'm sure it's doable. Something that is important for me in counterplan competition debates is the question of literature/solvency advocates. The more evidence the neg has about their counterplan in comparison to the aff, the better off they are for the theory debate. That being said, counterplans that result in the aff are probably not competitive.
Disads: I went for them a lot (especially politics) and enjoy these debates (topic disads>politics obviously). Comparative impact calculus and turns case arguments are always ideal.
The risk of a disad can sometimes be so low that it should effectively be rendered zero for the purpose of making decisions. The existence of a counterplan in the debate obviously affects this calculus.
Counterplans: I like them. I like counterplans that are cut from aff articles. I like smart, specific PICs, depending on competition issues and how much evidence there is in context of the aff. See theory blurb above for more details, but would like to reiterate as said above that counterplans that result in the aff are probably not competitive.
If the 2NR doesn’t say anything, I will not revert to the status quo.
Case debates: Obviously always appreciated. I think that zero risk of an aff can very much be a thing, and something that neg teams are often too hesistant to go for. Sometimes affs just doesn't make sense and/or are lying about what their evidence says. Don't be afraid to call them out. I'm not a huge fan of giving affs leeway just because certain things irl (like Trump's win) make it harder to solve while being topical. A good example for college folks is I also disliked judges giving affs an extra benefit of the doubt on the democracy assistance topic because the affs were all terribad and clearly didn't do anything (as may be fairly obvious, I was a 2N on this topic lol).
Criticisms versus Any Kinds of Args:
Criticisms: I explained my general proclivities above, but, things that are important for winning kritiks in front of me include: reducing the risk of the aff (how you go about doing this is up to you), having a clear explanation of what the alt is, and contextualizing link arguments in terms of the aff. Against race args especially, people seem to love going for some version of "only a risk we're better than the squo" and so it is useful for me as a judge if the contextualized link arguments include either an opportunity cost argument or a reason why that's a bad burden to have to meet (i.e. maybe presumption should stop flipping aff in these instances for whatever reason).
I think that role of the ballot claims are almost always not a real argument. They’re self-serving, arbitrary, and just a fancy way of saying that a certain impact should come first. The only role of the ballot imo is just to vote for the better debating.
Performance: Most of my general stuff above also address my thoughts on this. Like I said, you do you. I did go for framework a lot in college, and at the beginning, it was because I really "believed" it. At the end of my career, and now, I see a lot of benefits in having a topic, but I also see a lot of reasons for why the way the topic is constructed and the way that debates occur, can be problematic. But just to be clear – when I debated, I viewed debate as a game. But I respect the fact that this isn’t how everyone approaches debate, and can be convinced that as a judge, I should also not view debate as a game.
"Policy" Affs vs K's
As much as it saddens me to admit, I think (slash hope) we are all aware that I unfortunately do not have the power to actually enact federal government policy if I sign the ballot aff (as cool as that would be). So generally speaking, in front of me, neg teams should stop pointing this out like it's a big deal and if they do, affs should stop being jetti-mind tricked by it.
I have never found an argument more silly (this is slight hyperbole but it makes me cranky) than the blanket statement that "discourse (or reps or whatever) doesn't shape reality", both because that just seems patently untrue (at least as a blanket claim) and also incredibly ironic to say in a communication activity of all things. There are much more nuanced ways of making a similar argument, i.e. perhaps keep in mind that on the aff you don't have to win that discourse/reps/whatever NEVER affect policymaking.
On a similar note to the above, I find almost all framework debates useless. Aff framework arguments on a theoretical level (we get to weigh our aff bc fairness or education etc) are meh to me - even if you win these arguments, that doesn't resolve the substantive arguments the neg will (hopefully) be making about why their links shape the way the aff's policy happens, which in turn affects the aff's ability to get to the impact they so dearly want to weigh, etc. Also everytime I hear "moots 8/9 minutes of the 1AC" I think "so what?". Seems like if the neg wins a link and an impact and those things moot your 1AC, then you should have picked a better 8/9 minutes of things to say. Much more useful than a theoretical fw debate is answering those link arguments on a substantive level and explaining why your offense still applies even if you don't get to weigh your impacts. Also I will probably never decide the neg doesn't "get" their K unless its a warranted argument made and somehow fully conceded by the other team in all the speeches or something. Tbh I appreciate it when affs don't ever try to forward the argument that the neg shouldn't get their k.
On a similar note, I think aff's often should get access to more of their offense than they realize even if the neg wins their "framework", and are often tricked into thinking otherwise.
Judge choice is not an argument. Even when technically conceded by the neg team, there are usually 82930281390 other things said by them in the debate that implicitly answer it, and it's a safe bet that I'll do the "work" (is it even work?) for them.
K's vs K Affs
Dear gawd "method debates" are not a thing. Neg teams say "no perms because it's a method debate!" and all I hear is "maybe if we just arbitrarily call what is clearly still a K alt something different, we can jetti-mind trick Risha into thinking we no longer have to actually answer arguments and can, without any real justification, win that affs don't get perms anymore." This doesn't mean I am just unconvinced by the arg that certain affs should not get permutations - I certainly think there are persuasive, debateable reasons for why affs that choose not to fall under the bounds of the resolution should not - so it just means that "it's a method debate" is not something I consider to be a justification for the claim that affs don't get perms.
Framework Debates vs K Affs
I judge a lot of these, so this is the longest section of my philosophy.
Imo non-fairness impacts are better than fairness impacts against affs that talk about various types of oppression in relation to the debaters' own identities - I think it usually hurts to allow these affs to read their impact turns to fairness and thus focus the debate on what was basically the core aff arg to begin with (and thus also likely their best offense). I do find fairness a much better impact against more high theory-ish affs (or ones that talk about oppression but less in relation to debate/personal identity) than the more social justice-y ones but I don't really have many thoughts on fairness as compared to other impacts against the more high theory-ish affs.
Sort of related to my last point - I don't get this whole procedural vs structural fairness distinction people keep trying to make. Or rather, I get it, but imo it seems like a distinction without a difference, at least how I've heard it explained. Like sure there are different types of fairness and one maybe slightly more controllable than the other but the terminal impact to both (people quit, fun, other args for why ruining the activity matters) seems to be the same so esp when debating an aff talking about a type of oppression esp in relation to debate, the attempt to make a distinction seems not useful and also kind of the point of the impact turns/inevitability arguments the aff usually makes.
2ARs for K affs against framework rarely have success in front of me if a counter-interp is not extended. I find that solely going for impact turns often devolves into having to defend basically that all clash is bad, and in an activity that (presumably, until proven otherwise really) seems to depend on clash in some form, that usually ends up a difficult position to defend. (This applies less to affs that are an impact turn to debate good from the get go, by which I mean the more high theory-ish affs that say the whole thing is bad, and not other affs that usually critique specific parts of it.)
I've found that people are often bad at explaining why debate is good and useful against high theory affs, esp the ones that explicitly say debate (the whole thing and not just like certain specific aspects) is bad/useless. I spend a great deal of my time doing things related to this activity, and I'd like to think it's not completely a waste, so it shouldn't be hard to convince me that debate has some value, yet I have found myself voting for the argument that it does not in the past. Negs need to make sure they tell me what that value(s) of debate is/could be, etc. when pushed by the aff. Or even just pointing out that while isolating certain values of debate is difficult, the fact that we all clearly spend some time doing the activity means something, etc.
Truth testing has not been an argument with much success in front of me. By truth testing, I mean what people generally seem to say in front of me, which is some version of: if the aff is unpredictable and the neg wins they could not (or should not) have prepared for it, then since it could not be tested I should assume everything the aff says about the aff is false. Generally speaking when a team spends minutes of each speech explaining an aff and the explanation makes sense to me, I'm not just going to decide that the neg perhaps not having answers means all the plausible/convincing things the aff said are wholesale not true. To me this argument is really no different than saying new affs should also be presumed untrue if the neg isn't ready for one and thus the aff couldn't be tested, and that I think is generally considered to be a not-great arg by most people. I find truth-testing more persuasive when the impact is some version of the argument that it's key to searching for the best method to resist things, like the aff's impact(s).
In a similar vein to my last point, a counter-interp for affs in these debates should be clearly explained - this means telling me what it is supposed to solve vs not, so this includes making sure it's clear why it doesn't link to your own offense. On a basic level, counter-interp explanations should include a description of the role of the neg in debates and (in most situations) also how you still allow for clash. Neg teams should point out when affs fail to do so, or do so unconvincingly (i.e. explain why the counter-interp doesn't actually solve any of your impacts and/or why it links to their offense).
It makes zero sense to me when neg teams try to have squirrely interps to try and get out of aff offense when those interps involve basically saying the aff is beholden to meeting certain parts of the resolution but not others (seems to be kind of arbitrary and unpredictable and a great justification for the aff choosing to pick a different part of the resolution to not meet).
Affs should clearly explain the internal link between the neg's intepretation and their impact turns. Notice I said interpretation, and not just explain why *framework* causes the impact turns, i.e. be specific to the neg's interpretation instead of making generalizing claims about framework debates.
There have been many times the aff almost completely concedes the neg's topical version of the aff and it doesn't help the neg in any way. This is not to say that I hate topical versions of the aff lol, and PLEASE affs do not take this to mean you can just not answer them bc I'm sure that now that this is my philosophy, I will vote on a conceded tva the very next time I judge framework, but negs should try to understand the point of the aff a little more. Basically, if your tva and explanation of it against all affs that discuss race issues is the exact same, then it's probably not a great tva, at least for me.
I rarely find it convincing when neg teams try to go for the Lundberg card as a reason for why the aff's interp causes extinction or why the neg's interp solves it, due to having never heard a plausible causal internal link chain between a framework interp and extinction. I'm honestly pretty convinced that I will never hear one. This is like my version of all the philosophies that say something along the lines of "stop saying framework is genocide". Which btw is true but not something I've found necessary to include in my philosophy although I guess I kind of have now.
currently the director of high school debate for McDonogh
formerly coached at the University of Louisville, duPont Manual High School (3X TOC qualifiers; Octofinalist team 2002) the head coach for Capitol Debate who won the TOC. McDonogh won the TOC in 2007. I have taught summer institutes at the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Emory, Iowa, Catholic University, and Towson University and Wake Forest as a lab leader.
I debated three years in high school on the kentucky and national circuit and debated five years at the University of Louisville.
I gave that little tidbit to say that I have been around debate for a while and have debated and coached at the most competitive levels with ample success. I pride myself in being committed to the activity and feel that everyone should have a voice and choice in their argument selection so I am pretty much open to everything that is in good taste as long as YOU are committed and passionate about the argument. The worst thing you can do in the back of the room is assume that you know what I want to hear and switch up your argument selection and style for me and give a substandard debate. Debate you and do it well and you will be find.
True things to know about me:
Did not flow debates while coaching at the University of Louisville for two years but am flowing again
Was a HUGE Topicality HACK in college and still feel that i am up on the argument. I consider this more than a time suck but a legitimate issue in the activity to discuss the merit of the debate at hand and future debates. I have come to evolve my thoughts on topicality as seeing a difference between a discussion of the topic and a topical discussion (the later representing traditional views of debate- division of ground, limits, predictability etc.) A discussion of the topic can be metaphorical, can be interpretive through performance or narratives and while a topical discussion needs a plan text, a discussion of the topic does not. Both I think can be defended and can be persuasive if debated out well. Again stick to what you do best. Critiquing topicality is legitimate to me if a reverse voting issue is truly an ISSUE and not just stated with unwarranted little As through little Gs. i.e. framework best arguments about reduction of language choices or criticism of language limitations in academic discussion can become ISSUES, voting issues in fact. The negative's charge that the Affirmative is not topical can easily be developed into an argument of exclusion begat from predictable limitations that should be rejected in debate.
It is difficult to label me traditional or non traditional but safer to assume that i can go either way and am partial to traditional performative debate which is the permutation of both genres. Teams that run cases with well developed advantages backed by a few quality pieces of evidence are just as powerful as teams that speak from their social location and incorporate aesthetics such as poetry and music. in other words if you just want to read cards, read them poetically and know your argument not just debate simply line by line to win cheap shots on the flow. "They dropped our simon evidence" is not enough of an argument for me to win a debate in front of me. If i am reading your evidence at the end of the debate that is not necessairly a good thing for you. I should know what a good piece of evidence is because you have articulated how good it was to me (relied on it, repeated it, used it to answer all the other arguments, related to it, revealed the author to me) this is a good strategic ploy for me in the back of the room.
Technique is all about you. I must understand what you are saying and that is it. I have judged at some of the highest levels in debate (late elims at the NDT and CEDA) and feel pretty confident in keeping up if you are clear.
Not a big fan of Malthus and Racism Good so run them at your own risk. Malthus is a legitimate theory but not to say that we should allow systematic targeted genocide of Black people because it limits the global population. I think i would be more persuaded by the argument that that is not a NATURAL death check but an IMMORAL act of genocide and is argumentatively irresponsible within the context of competitive debate. Also i am not inclined to believe you that Nietzsche would say that we should target Black people and exterminate them because death is good. Could be wrong but even if i am, that is not a persuasive argument to run with me in the back of the room. In case you didn't know, I AM A BLACK PERSON.
Bottom line, I can stomach almost any argument as long as you are willing to defend the argument in a passionate but respectful way. I believe that debate is inherently and unavoidable SUBJECTIVE so i will not pretend to judge the round OBJECTIVELY but i will promise to be as honest and consistent as possible in my ajudication. Any questions you have specifically I am more than happy to answer.
Open Cross X, weird use of prep time (before cross x, as a prolonging of cross x) all that stuff that formal judges don't like, i am probably ok with.
- I debated for Niles West in high school and West Georgia in college. Went to the TOC and NDT if that’s the kind of thing that matters to you.
- BA in Philosophy.
- Currently coaching at Niles West.
- Yes, I want to be on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top level things:
- If you engage in offensive acts (think racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.), you will lose automatically and will be awarded whatever the minimum speaker points offered at that particular tournament is.
- If you make it so that the tags in your document maps are not navigable by taking the "tag" format off of them, I will actively dock your speaker points.
- Quality of argument means a lot to me. I am willing to hold my nose and vote for bad arguments if they're better debated but my threshold for answering those bad arguments is pretty low.
- I’m extremely hesitant to vote on arguments about things that have happened outside of a debate or in previous debates. I can only be sure of what has happened in this particular debate and anything else is non-falsifiable.
- Absolutely no ties and the first team that asks for one will lose my ballot.
- Soliciting any outside assistance during a round will lose my ballot.
- Lack of clarity. Clarity > speed 100% of the time.
- The 1AC not being sent out by the time the debate is supposed to start.
- Email-sending related failures.
- Dead time.
- Stealing prep.
- Answering arguments in an order other than the one presented by the other team.
- Asserting things are dropped when they aren't.
- Asking the other team to send you a marked doc when they marked 1-3 cards.
- Marking almost every card in the doc.
- Disappearing after the round.
- Quoting my paradigm in your speeches.
- If you are caught clipping you will receive a loss and the lowest possible points.
- If you make an ethics challenge in a debate in front of me, you must stake the debate on it. If you make that challenge and are incorrect or cannot prove your claim, you will lose and be granted the lowest possible points. If you are proven to have committed an ethics violation, you will lose and be granted the lowest possible points.
- If you use sexually explicit language or engage in sexually explicit performances in high school debates, you should strike me.
- Yes, I’m fine with tag-team cx. But dominating your partner’s cx will result in lower points for both of you.
- Questions like "what cards did you read?" are cross-x questions, and I will run the timer accordingly.
- If you fail to ask the status of the off, I will be less inclined to vote for condo.
- If the 1NC responds that "every DA is a NB to every CP" when asked about net benefits in the 1NC even if it makes no sense, I think the 1AR gets a lot of leeway to explain a 2AC "links to the net benefit argument" on any CP as it relates to the DAs.
Inserting evidence or rehighlightings into the debate:
- I won't evaluate it unless you actually read the parts that you are inserting into the debate. If it's like a chart or a map or something like that, that's fine, I don't expect you to literally read that, but if you're rehighlighting some of the other team's evidence, you need to actually read the rehighlighting.
- I’m fine with plan or planless affirmatives. However, I believe all affirmatives should advocate for/defend something. What that something entails is up for debate, but I’m hesitant to vote for affirmatives that defend absolutely nothing.
- I default to competing interpretations unless told otherwise.
- The most important thing for me in T debates is an in-depth explanation of the types of affs your interp would include/exclude and the impact that the inclusion/exclusion would have on debate.
- 5 second ASPEC shells/the like have become nonstarters for me. If I reasonably think the other team could have missed the argument because I didn't think it was a clear argument, I think they probably get new answers. If you drop it twice, that's on you.
- For me counterplans are more about competition than theory. While I tend to lean more neg on questions of CP theory, I lean aff on a lot of questions of competition, especially in the cases of CPs that compete on the certainty of the plan, normal means cps, and agent cps.
- If you're reading a DA that isn't just a case turn, it should go on its own sheet. Failure to do so is super annoying because people end up extending/answering arguments on flows in different orders.
- The more specific the link the better. Even if your cards aren’t that specific, applying your evidence to the specifics of the affirmative through nuanced analysis is always preferable to a generic link extension.
- ‘You link you lose’ strategies are not my favorite. I’m willing to vote on them if the other team fails to respond properly, but I’m very sympathetic to aff arguments about it being a bad model for debate.
- I find many framework debates end up being two ships passing in the night. Line by line answers to the other team's framework standards goes a long way in helping win framework in front of me.
- Almost all theory arguments are reasons to reject the argument, condo is usually the only exception.
- Conditionality is often good. It can be not. I have found myself to be increasingly aff leaning on extreme conditionality (think many plank cps where all of the planks are conditional + 4-5 more conditional options).
- Tell me what my role is on the theory debate - am I determining in-round abuse or am I setting a precedent for the community?
- I find impacts about debatability, clash, and iterative testing to be very persuasive.
- I am not really persuaded by fairness impacts, but will vote on it if mishandled.
- I am not really persuaded by impacts about skills/the ability for debate to change the world if we read plans - I think these are not very strategic and easily impact turned by the aff.
- I am pretty sympathetic to negative presumption arguments because I often think the aff has not forwarded an explanation for what the aff does to resolve the impacts they've described.
- I think when teams are aff against T-USfg in front of me, offense that explains why I should prefer your interp is more persuasive than just impact turns.
- I don't think debate is roleplaying.
Former debater (Walter Payton ‘16 and Pitt ‘20) and former coach (Central Catholic high school). No longer actively involved and not familiar with the topic.
luisacusick [at] gmail (put me on the e-mail chain)
I'll do my best to make a decision based solely on the arguments presented in the debate. Your speaker points will benefit from specific and well-researched strategies
Please be kind to your opponents and partner! I am very concerned with the way (esp. national circuit) policy debate trains us to treat other people
- Condo is good. Counterplan theory depends on the quality of the solvency advocate and my proclivities change from topic to topic
- I default to kicking the counterplan for the neg if they win offense but don't win the counterplan
- Skills and process framework arguments are more persuasive to me than topic education arguments
- I don’t like how little evidence quality matters in policy debates. I wish it were debated more
- It pretty much never makes sense to assign anything 100% risk. Likewise, minimizing an argument's risk to a small enough signal means it's overwhelmed by noise, and that's enough to assign it 0 risk
Director of Debate at Alpharetta High School where I also teach AP US Government & Politics (2013- present)
Former grad assistant at Vanderbilt (2012-2013)
Debated at Emory (2007-2011).
Please add me to the email chain: email@example.com
Most of the below notes are just some general predispositions/ thoughts. I firmly believe that debaters should control the debate space and will do my best to evaluate the round in front of me, regardless of if you adapt to these preferences or not.
I flow on paper and definitely need pen time; I've tried to flow on the computer and it just doesn't work for me.
Counterplans- I like a good counterplan debate. I generally think conditionality is good, and is more justified against new affirmatives. PICs, Process CPs, Uniqueness CPs, Multiplank CPs, Advantage CPs etc. are all fine. On consult counterplans, and other counterplans that are not textually and functionally competitive, I tend to lean aff on CP theory. All CPs are better with a solvency advocate. If the negative reads a CP, presumption shifts affirmative, and the negative needs to be winning a decent risk of the net benefit for me to vote negative. I am probably not the greatest person for counterplan competition debates.
Disads- The more specific, the better. Yes, you can read your generic DAs but I love when teams have specific politix scenarios or other specific DAs that show careful research and tournament prep. If there are a lot of links being read on a DA, I tend to default to the team that is controlling uniqueness.
Topicality- I find T debates sometimes difficult to evaluate because they sometimes seem to require a substantial amount of judge intervention. A tool that I think is really under utilized in T debates is the caselist/ discussion of what affs are/ are not allowed under your interpretation. Try hard to close the loop for me at the end of the 2nr/ 2ar about why your vision of the topic is preferable. Be sure to really discuss the impacts of your standards in a T debate.
Framework- Framework is a complicated question for me. On a truth level, I think people should read a plan text, and I exclusively read plan texts when I was a debater. However, I'll vote for whoever wins the debate, whether you read a topical plan text or not, and frequently vote for teams that don't read a plan text; in fact, my voting record is better for teams reading planless affirmatives than it is for teams going for FW. However, I also think this is because teams that don't defend a plan are typically much better at defending their advocacy than neg teams are at going for FW. I tend to think affs should at least be in the direction of the topic; I'm fairly sympathetic to the "you explode limits 2nr" if your aff is about something else. Put another way, if your aff is not at least somewhat related to the topic area it's going to be harder to get my ballot. I do think fairness is a terminal impact because I don't know what an alternative way to evaluate the debate would be but I can be persuaded otherwise.
Kritiks- I am more familiar with more common Ks such as security or cap than I am with high theory arguments like Baudrillard. You can still read less common or high theory Ks in front of me, but you should probably explain them more. I tend to think the alternative is one of the weakest parts of the Kritik and that most negative teams do not do enough work explaining how the Kritik functions.
Misc-If both teams agree that topicality will not be read in the debate, and that is communicated to me prior to the start of the round, any mutually agreed previous year's topic is on the table. I will also bump speaks +0.5 for choosing this option as long as an effort is made by both teams. I am unlikely to vote on disclose your prefs, wipeout, spark, or anything else I would consider morally repugnant. I also don't think debate should be a question of who is a good person. While I think you should make good decisions out of round, I am not in the camp of "I will vote against you for bad decisions you made out of round" or allegations made in round about out of round behavior. But, I have voted against teams or substantially lowered speaks for making the round a hostile learning environment and think it is my job as a judge and educator to make the round a safe space.
I am strongly in the camp of tech over truth.
Yes email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
AFF on T
NEG on conditionality, but even I have my limit (more than 3, no evidence for a bunch of them, combining them later in the debate, amending and adding 2NC cps). NEGs are less good at defending their egregiousness in my recent experience.
I will kick the CP if I think it is worse than the status quo. A neg team doesn't have to say "judge kick" and the AFF isn't going to convince me I shouldn't do this.
I reject the argument and not the team for most every other theoretical objection to a CP.
Will vote on K's. Will care about if the plan is a good idea even if the AFF can't physially make it happen.
Don't have to read a plan, but merely saying the res is bad and dropping stuff will lead to L's.
I am not in the market to award AFF vagueness or poor explanations of cases until the 2AR
Evidence quality outweighs evidence quantity.
Part-time coach at the University of Kentucky, formerly debated at UK (graduated in 2020)
add me to the email chain: genevieveelise1028 at gmail dot com
I am not as actively involved in debate as I used to be. I will judge a fair amount, but don't spend a lot of time outside of tournaments doing topic research, so my level of familiarity is shaped by the debates I judge and/or what my debaters need from me during a tournament. That being said, I'm actively involved in public policy related spheres (primarily international relations) and am a quick read, so most of the time I'll get what you're saying as long as you don't assume I know a bunch of stuff about how prior debates on the topic have played out.
I like for debate to be fun and will generally enjoy judging in debates where it is clear you are having a good time and doing what you're passionate about. Don't be afraid to let your personality show in how you debate - being funny or spicy in the CX are often times I enjoy the debate the most. I was a very committed debater who understands the amount of time and dedication it takes to do this activity seriously, so I will work very hard to make sure that I am evaluating your debate in a way that respects the hard work that you have put into the activity, and the time and energy you are using to be present at each tournament.
Disad and case is awesome, more case analysis that is smart will be rewarded in points. I think smart and specific counterplans are cool. The more specific and in grounded in the literature your CP is, the less likely I am to care about theory. However, counterplans that just fiat that something bad doesn't happen, or counterplans that are generally questionable on premise, I sometimes find annoying and frustrating to judge.
Topicality (vs aff with a plan)
I think a limited topic is good and care immensely about the comparison of one version of the topic to another when it comes to T. If you cannot explain coherently what the difference between the two topics are, I am much less likely to care about your very abstract appeals to the notion of limits or ground.
I think this is one place where my caution above about how much I am involved in debate should apply --- you may think "this T arg never wins, the community doesn't agree with this, etc" and I am pretty firmly out of the loop on that, so I honestly won't know one way or the other.
K (vs aff with a plan)
I judge K's as I would any other argument - I think they need to have a clearly explained link, internal link, impact, and alternative. Being more specific about the topic is far better than some random backfile check about Baudrillard. You should explain your arguments clearly vs using buzz words because I will be much more likely to understand what you are trying to communicate.
The specificity of the link and explanation of the link and how it coheres with your broader theory about the world and interacts with the consequences of the plan are all things that strongly influence how much I am persuaded by the K. I find myself less often voting for the K in debates where the neg relies on a strong framework/prioritize rhetorical/discursive links path but would not preclude this entirely because the aff is often time pressured and poorly equipped to debate about framework and fiat.
I have found myself voting both ways in framework debates, but am usually persuaded by the benefits of clash, procedural fairness, etc. The more specific the aff is to the topic & good aff cards are things that most often lead to an aff ballot in these debates. The negative making a strong, coherent push that includes arguments that appeal to clash while providing defense that proves the topic is compatible with the affs theory are things that most often lead to a neg ballot in these debates.
I think specific strategies against these affs are interesting and good (whether that be a da/k/pic) and will reward this specific research with speaker points. I generally think if something is in the 1AC I am likely to believe there is a link to your argument, and am very persuaded by strategies that utilize the cx to pin down specificities of the 1ac advocacy and then predicate the strategy off of that. If the aff is unwilling to speak specifically about the strategy of the advocacy, I generally tend to be more persuaded by framework.
I generally am not persuaded by strategies that rely on the idea that we should destroy debate, or that extinction is good.
I appreciate the accessibility benefits of online debate but do think it suffers from some quality deficit. If my camera is off during prep time, I have probably walked away for a number of reasons. I'll generally try to pop my camera back on when I get back to signal I have returned, and will also usually keep a headphone in to maintain awareness of when you stop prep. Just give me a sec to turn on my camera and get settled before you launch into an order or the speech. I do have a finnicky webcam, so if I am still in the zoom but my camera suddenly went off during a speech, I'm probably just there and haven't realized my camera is off yet....this is a wip that I'm trying to fix before the NDT.
I tend to lean towards conditionality being good, but would be persuaded otherwise in particularly egregious incidents.
I like when lots of quality evidence is read, and will often read your evidence (and if evidence is referenced in a cx, will usually try to find what you are referencing while it's being discussed). That being said, evidence is best paired with strong judge instruction in the rebuttals. There are instances when evidence is good enough to speak for itself, but in a debate where both sides read decent ev on an issue, I will often find myself voting for the team who tells me how and why their arguments matter more.
After hosting a bunch of tournaments in my time at UK, I am sympathetic to the pleas of tournament hosts and tabrooms. Please be on time, keep things efficient in debates, and clean up behind yourselves.
My facial expressions are likely unrelated to the things you are saying. In particular, I may come across low-energy. This doesn't mean that I am unhappy with the debate (although if I find your debating upbeat, engaging, and high-energy I will probably be a bit more likely to mirror that). Tournaments are a long-haul, I judge a lot of debates at each tournament (often every debate), and there seems to be increasingly little time afforded to restorative things like sleep or eating, so don't worry too much if I'm coming across a little sleepy.
If you have any questions or want to add me to an email chain, I'm at email@example.com. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to learn from you.
I have been coaching at the Naval Academy since October 2016, and before that, I coached Cathedral Prep from 2014-2018. I debated on the national circuit in high school and qualified to the TOC twice, but I didn’t debate in college.
Most of my research and coaching is geared toward the K, but I feel comfortable evaluating a da/cp or da/case debate. I often think that the K is the best way to exploit the weaknesses of the affs that I hear, but that doesn't mean you have to take this route.
When debating in front of me, I'd highly recommend developing the implications to your arguments as soon in the debate as possible. In close debates between technically proficient teams, this is especially important. I appreciate it when a debater is creative and tries to relate to me rather than debating like a computer and into their computer.
I'd like to make things as easy as possible for you, and you're welcome to set up your speaking/video/microphone situation in whatever way makes you most comfortable.
On my end, I'm still learning how to adapt to zoom debates. There seems to be a lower ceiling on arguments I can process through zoom. This is especially the case on theory debates. If you could help me out by slowing things down, I'd appreciate it.
Debate doesn't translate directly from in-person to zoom. There are some limits that we haven't yet come to terms with, but there are also some possibilities (screen sharing comes to mind) that could be interesting, and you're welcome to experiment with that in front of me.
2021 College Topic
There's an important distinction between labor antitrust and consumer antitrust. In labor antitrust, independent contractors and labor unions are considered the businesses with whom the government is interested in limiting anticompetitive business practices. From the most straightforward reading of the topic, aff ground doesn't seem to allow for much labor antitrust. This would have been a significant consideration in at least half of the debates that I have judged so far.
Because of my academic and professional background, I've thought a lot about labor antitrust, monopolies, market power, and the suitability of the law as a remedy to these issues. To disclose a personal bias: I think that there are significant limits on the capacity of antitrust. That's not to say that I don't think there are many instances in which changes to antitrust law would be a good idea. Nor do I think that there aren't radical possibilities in antitrust. But its limits have become relevant and convincing in kritik debates in which the aff takes for granted the fundamental radicality of their proposal. I think this topic would be worthwhile if the debate community reckoned with those limits. In other words, Robert Bork was a real-life sicko, but so are most people, albeit in less apparent ways, who think that Amazon would stop being a problem if a judge told them to knock it off.
- I'm not in touch with community consensus so you might be able to use that to your advantage.
- I really enjoy a good T debate and don't have any strong inclinations toward fairness or education as the ultimate standard.
- I like definitions that define a word as close in a contexts as possible to the other words of the resolution
- I'm often disappointed by T evidence quality. For this reason, source/Expertise/qualifications debates tend to be pretty important. Just because a judge wrote it in a decision doesn't make it a relevant expert definition. Just because the usfg is defined in a certain way in the Bill Emerson English Language Empowerment Act of 1997, doesn't mean it's the best way to understand usfg for debate.
- Debating in the Pennsylvania has given me a comprehensive understanding of inherency as a procedural argument if you want to go there.
- In the last dozen or so framework rounds that I've judged, the neg has won or lost based on whether they had a compelling claim to significant offense.
- It's frustrating to judge a framework debate wherein framework is deployed as a replacement for debating the case. I get that this is tied in some way to the "ground" and "unpredictability" aspects of the arguments you're advancing, but a failure to contend with fundamental questions posed by the aff can come across more as a sin of the neg.
- For me, framework is most useful as a neg strategy in debates where affs are needlessly obscure or cynical.
- I evaluate the link first, and I think it's a yes/no question which controls the direction of uniqueness.
- Most of the best answers to politics disads I've seen aren't necessarily carded answers to the U/L/IL/I parts of a disad, but arguments about the nonsensical nature of certain parts of the politics disad as applied to the aff.
- Although I don't cut politics files, I'm extremely aware of what's going on and familiar with who's writing what about Congress and the White House.
- I really like impact turn debates.
- Except in cases where something sophisticated is going on, it's usually a waste of time to read evidence that "warming isn't real" or "warming isn't a pressing issue." Go after the internal link, go after solvency, turn the impact, solve the impact. It's hard to convince me that warming isn't an immediate, urgent, and moral concern, but I'm skeptical that the only thing we need to do is develop the right tech or enter certain climate talks with sufficient leverage.
- I won't kick the counterplan for the negative unless the negative persuades me to do otherwise.
- There's a fine line between creative, technical counterplans and a contrived trick. Avoid the contrived tricks. I enjoy a creative and technical counterplan, but these aren't the kinds of arguments I spend a lot of time thinking about, so you'll do well to simplify your explanation of it as much as possible.
- I’m most familiar with psychoanalysis and Marxism (including left criticism of Marxism, Marxist criticisms of leftism, and Marxist critiques of other Marxisms).
- I spend a lot of time thinking about labor because of my day job.
- I first look at role of the ballot/role of the judge arguments when I'm rendering a decision, so these arguments tend to have a strong effect on the outcome of a debate.
- The perm, which is tied in important ways to the role of the ballot, tends to be the aff's most strategic line of pursuit.
- I'm willing to stop the debate and give someone a loss for using flagrantly inappropriate language.
- I've noticed that, on very many occasions in which a K debate was underdeveloped, I have recommended the second chapter of Wretched of The Earth to both teams.
- Reject the argument is the default. Spend time on the impact level to convince me to reject the team.
- I heard recently that nobody votes on multiple conditional worlds bad anymore. I guess that means I'd be more willing to entertain this argument than the average judge.
- Against affs which don't read a typical plan text or defend the resolution, I would prefer to hear a nitty-gritty case debate rather than a framework debate. This is a strong preference.
- When debaters unsuccessfully extend framework in front of me, the unsuccess is usually a result of disorganization, a lack of adaptation of pre-written blocks to the specific aff arguments, and my inability to interpret the significance of an abstract debate concept.
- If you go for framework, make sure you clearly implicate the stakes of winning a section of the debate. What I mean by this is that you shouldn't assume we're on the same page about what it means to win, say, that there exists a topical version of the aff, or your limits disad, or the benefits of switch-side debate, or etc. Leave nothing flapping in the wind in the 2nr.
- I enjoy humor a lot.
- Speeches are best when they're persuasive performances; I don't enjoy monotone spreading.
- I like when debaters make smart cross applications from a flow the other team tried to kick out of.
- If the chips are down, flip the table. If, going into the rebuttals, you know you're losing 99% of the debate, see if you can explode that 1% into a win.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org --- of course I want to be on the chain
Program Manager and Debate Coach, University of Michigan
Debate Coach, Whitney Young High School (2010-20), Caddo Magnet (2020-21), Walter Payton (2018, 2021-)
Last updated: September, 2022 (topic specific thoughts on emerging tech/legal personhood are in topicality)
Philosophy: I attempt to judge rounds with the minimum amount of intervention required to answer the question, "Who has done the better debating?", using whatever rubrics for evaluating that question that debaters set up.
I work in debate full-time, so I attend a billion tournaments and judge a ton of debates, lead a seven week lab every summer, talk about debate virtually every day, and research fairly extensively. As a result, I'm familiar with the policy and critical literature bases on both the college antitrust topic and the HS water topic.
I’ve coached my teams to deploy a diverse array of argument types and styles. Currently, I coach teams that primarily read policy arguments. But I was also the primary argument coach for Michigan KM from 2014-16. I’ve coached many successful teams in both high school and college that primarily read arguments influenced by "high theory", postmodernist thought, and/or critical race literature. I'm always excited to see debaters deploy new or innovative strategies across the argumentative spectrum.
Impact turns have a special place in my heart. There are few venues in academia or life where you will be as encouraged to challenge conventional wisdom as you are in policy debate, so please take this rare opportunity to persuasively defend the most counter-intuitive positions conceivable. I enjoy judging debaters with a sense of humor, and I hope to reward teams who make their debates fun and exciting (through engaging personalities and argument selection).
My philosophy is very long. I make no apology for it. In fact, I wish most philosophies were longer and more substantive, and I still believe mine to be insufficiently comprehensive. Frequently, judges espouse a series of predictable platitudes, but I have no idea why they believe whatever it is they've said (which can frequently leave me confused, frustrated, and little closer to understanding how debaters could better persuade them). I attempt to counter this practice with detailed disclosure of the various predispositions, biases, and judgment canons that may be outcome-determinative for how I decide your debate. Maybe you don't want to know all of those, but nobody's making you read this paradigm. Having the option to know as many of those as possible for any given judge seems preferable to having only the options of surprise and speculation.
What follows is a series of thoughts that mediate my process for making decisions, both in general and in specific contexts likely to emerge in debates. I've tried to be as honest as possible, and I frequently update my philosophy to reflect perceived trends in my judging. That being said, self-disclosure is inevitably incomplete or misleading; if you're curious about whether or not I'd be good for you, feel free to look at my voting record or email me a specific question (reach me via email, although you may want to try in person because I'm not the greatest with quick responses).
0) Online debate
Online debate is a depressing travesty, although it's plainly much better than the alternative of no debate at all. I miss tournaments intensely and can't wait until this era is over and we can attend tournaments in-person once again. Do your best not to remind us constantly of what we're missing: please keep your camera on throughout the whole debate unless you have a pressing and genuine technical reason not to. I don't have meaningful preferences beyond that. Feel free to record me---IMO all debates should be public and free to record by all parties, especially in college.
1) Tech v. Truth
I attempt to be an extremely "technical" judge, although I am not sure that everyone means what everyone else means when they describe debating or judging as "technical." Here's what I mean by that: outside of card text, I attempt to flow every argument that every speaker expresses in a speech. Even in extremely quick debates, I generally achieve this goal or come close to it. In some cases, like when very fast debaters debate at max speed in a final rebuttal, it may be virtually impossible for me to to organize all of the words said by the rebuttalist into the argumentative structure they were intending. But overall I feel very confident in my flow: I will take Casey Harrigan up on his flowing gauntlet/challenge any day (he might be able to take me if we were both restricted to paper, but on our computers, it's a wrap).
In addition, being "technical" means that I line up arguments on my flow, and expect debaters to, in general, organize their speeches by answering the other team's arguments in the order they were presented. All other things being equal, I will prioritize an argument presented such that it maximizes clear and direct engagement with its counter-argument over an argument that floats in space unmoored to an adversarial argument structure.
I do have one caveat that pertains to what I'll term "standalone" voting issues. I'm not likely to decide an entire debate based on standalone issues explained or extended in five seconds or less. For example, If you have a standard on conditionality that asserts "also, men with curly unkempt hair are underrepresented in debate, vote neg to incentivize our participation," and the 1ar drops it, you're not going to win the debate on that argument (although you will win my sympathies, fellow comb dissident). I'm willing to vote on basically anything that's well-developed, but if your strategy relies on tricking the other team into dropping random nonsense unrelated to the rest of the debate entirely, I'm not really about that. This caveat only pertains to standalone arguments that are dropped once: if you've dropped a standalone voting issue presented as such in two speeches, you've lost all my sympathies to your claim to a ballot.
In most debates, so many arguments are made that obvious cross-applications ensure precious few allegedly "dropped" arguments really are accurately described as such. Dropped arguments most frequently win debates in the form of little subpoints making granular distinctions on important arguments that both final rebuttals exert time and energy trying to win. Further murkiness emerges when one realizes that all thresholds for what constitutes a "warrant" (and subsequently an "argument") are somewhat arbitrary and interventionist. Hence the mantra: Dropped arguments are true, but they're only as true as the dropped argument. "Argument" means claim, warrant, and implication. "Severance is a voting issue" lacks a warrant. "Severance is a voting issue - neg ground" also arguably lacks a warrant, since it hasn't been explained how or why severance destroys negative ground or why neg ground is worth caring about.
That might sound interventionist, but consider: we would clearly assess the statement "Severance is a voting issue -- purple sideways" as a claim lacking a warrant. So why does "severence is a voting issue - neg ground" constitute a warranted claim? Some people would say that the former is valid but not sound while the latter is neither valid nor sound, but both fail a formal test of validity. In my assessment, any distinction is somewhat interventionist. In the interest of minimizing intervention, here is what that means for your debating: If the 1ar drops a blippy theory argument and the 2nr explains it further, the 2nr is likely making new arguments... which then justifies 2ar answers to those arguments. In general, justify why you get to say what you're saying, and you'll probably be in good shape. By the 2nr or 2ar, I would much rather that you acknowledge previously dropped arguments and suggest reasonable workaround solutions than continue to pretend they don't exist or lie about previous answers.
Arguments aren't presumptively offensive or too stupid to require an answer. Genocide good, OSPEC, rocks are people, etc. are all terribly stupid, but if you can't explain why they're wrong, you don't deserve to win. If an argument is really stupid or really bad, don't complain about how wrong they are. After all, if the argument's as bad as you say it is, it should be easy. And if you can't deconstruct a stupid argument, either 1) the argument may not be as stupid as you say it is, or 2) it may be worthwhile for you to develop a more efficient and effective way of responding to that argument.
If both sides seem to assume that an impact is desirable/undesirable, and frame their rebuttals exclusively toward avoiding/causing that impact, I will work under that assumption. If a team read a 1AC saying that they had several ways their plan caused extinction, and the 1NC responded with solvency defense and alternative ways the plan prevented extincton, I would vote neg if I thought the plan was more likely to avoid extinction than cause it.
I'll read and evaluate Team A's rehighlightings of evidence "inserted" into the debate if Team B doesn't object to it, but when debated evenly this practice seems indefensible. An important part of debate is choosing how to use your valuable speech time, which entails selecting which pieces of your opponent's ev most clearly bolster your position(s).
2) General Philosophical Disposition
It is somewhat easy to persuade me that life is good, suffering is bad, and we should care about the consequences of our political strategies and advocacies. I would prefer that arguments to the contrary be grounded in specific articulations of alternative models of decision-making, not generalities, rhetoric, or metaphor. It's hard to convince me that extinction = nbd, and arguments like "the hypothetical consequences of your advocacy matter, and they would likely produce more suffering than our advocacy" are far more persuasive than "take a leap of faith" or "roll the dice" or "burn it down", because I can at least know what I'd be aligning myself with and why.
Important clarification: pragmatism is not synonymous with policymaking. On the contrary, one may argue that there is a more pragmatic way to frame judge decision-making in debates than traditional policymaking paradigms. Perhaps assessing debates about the outcome of hypothetical policies is useless, or worse, dangerous. Regardless of how you debate or what you debate about, you should be willing and able to mount a strong defense of why you're doing those things (which perhaps requires some thought about the overall purpose of this activity).
The brilliance and joy of policy debate is most found in its intellectual freedom. What makes it so unlike other venues in academia is that, in theory, debaters are free to argue for unpopular, overlooked, or scorned positions and ill-considered points of view. Conversely, they will be required to defend EVERY component of your argument, even ones that would be taken for granted in most other settings. Just so there's no confusion here: all arguments are on the table for me. Any line drawn on argumentative content is obviously arbitrary and is likely unpredictable, especially for judges whose philosophies aren't as long as mine! But more importantly, drawing that line does profound disservice to debaters by instructing them not to bother thinking about how to defend a position. If you can't defend the desirability of avoiding your advantage's extinction impact against a wipeout or "death good" position, why are you trying to persuade me to vote for a policy to save the human race? Groupthink and collective prejudices against creative ideas or disruptive thoughts are an ubiquitous feature of human societies, but that makes it all the more important to encourage free speech and free thought in one of the few institutions where overcoming those biases is possible.
3) Topicality and Specification
Overall, I'm a decent judge for the neg, provided that they have solid evidence supporting their interpretation.
Limits are probably desirable in the abstract, but if your interpretation is composed of contrived stupidity, it will be hard to convince me that affs should have predicted it. Conversely, affs that are debating solid topicality evidence without well-researched evidence of their own are gonna have a bad time. Naturally, of these issues are up for debate, but I think it's relatively easy to win that research/literature guides preparation, and the chips frequently fall into place for the team accessing that argument.
Competing interpretations is potentially less subjective and arbitrary than a reasonability standard, although reasonability isn't as meaningless as many believe. Reasonability seems to be modeled after the "reasonable doubt" burden required to prove guilt in a criminal case (as opposed to the "preponderence of evidence" standard used in civil cases, which seems similar to competing interps as a model). Reasonability basically is the same as saying "to win the debate, the neg needs to win an 80% risk of their DA instead of a 50% risk." The percentages are arbitrary, but what makes determining that a disad's risk is higher or lower than the risk of an aff advantage (i.e. the model used to decide the majority of debates) any less arbitrary or subjective? It's all ballpark estimation determined by how persuaded judges were by competing presentations of analysis and evidence. With reasonability-style arguments, aff teams can certainly win that they don't need to meet the best of all possible interpretations of the topic, and instead that they should win if their plan meets an interpretation capable of providing a sufficient baseline of neg ground/research parity/quality debate. Describing what threshold of desirability their interpretation should meet, and then describing why that threshold is a better model for deciding topicality debates, is typically necessary to make this argument persuasive.
Answering "plan text in a vacuum" requires presenting an alternative standard by which to interpret the meaning and scope of the words in the plan. Such seems so self-evident that it seems banal to include it in a paradigm, but I have seen many debates this year in which teams did not grasp this fact. If the neg doesn't establish some method for determining what the plan means, voting against "the plan text in a vacuum defines the words in the plan" is indistinguishable from voting for "the eighty-third unhighlighted word in the fifth 1ac preempt defines the words in the plan." I do think setting some limiting standard is potentially quite defensible, especially in debates where large swaths of the 1ac would be completely irrelevent if the aff's plan were to meet the neg's interp. For example: if an aff with a court advantage and a USFG agent says their plan meets "enact = Congress only", the neg could say "interpret the words USFG in the plan to include the Courts when context dictates it---even if 'USFG' doesn't always mean "Courts," you should assume it does for debates in which one or more contentions/advantages are both impertinent and insoluable absent a plan that advocates judicial action." But you will likely need to be both explicit and reasonable about the standard you use if you are to successfully counter charges of infinite regress/arbitrariness.
Topicality on NATO emerging tech: Security cooperation almost certainly involves the DOD. Even if new forms of security cooperation could theoretically exclude the DOD, there's not a lot of definitional support and minimal normative justification for that interpretation. Most of the important definition debates resolve substantive issues about what DA and impact turn links are granted and what counterplans are competitive rather than creating useful T definitions. Creative use of 'substantially = in the main' or 'increase = pre-existing' could elevate completely unworkable definitions into ones that are viable at the fringes.
Topicality on Legal Personhood: Conferring rights and/or duties doesn't presumptively confer legal personhood. Don't get me wrong: with evidence and normative definition debating, it very well may, but it doesn't seem like something to be taken for granted. There is a case for "US = federal only" but it's very weak. Overall this is a very weak topic for T args.
4) Risk Assessment
In front of me, teams would be well-served to explain their impact scenarios less in terms of brinks, and more in terms of probabilistic truth claims. When pressed with robust case defense, "Our aff is the only potential solution to a US-China war that's coming in a few months, which is the only scenario for a nuclear war that causes extinction" is far less winnable than "our aff meaningfully improves the East Asian security environment through building trust between the two great military powers in the region, which statistically decreases the propensity for inevitable miscalculations or standoffs to escalate to armed conflict." It may not be as fun, but that framing can allow you to generate persuasive solvency deficits that aren't grounded in empty rhetoric and cliche, or to persuasively defeat typical alt cause arguments, etc. Given that you decrease the initial "risk" (i.e. probability times magnitude) of your impact with this framing, this approach obviously requires winning substantial defense against whatever DA the neg goes for, but when most DA's have outlandishly silly brink arguments themselves, this shouldn't be too taxing.
There are times where investing lots of time in impact calculus is worthwhile (for example, if winning your impact means that none of the aff's impact claims reach extinction, or that any of the actors in the aff's miscalc/brinkmanship scenarios will be deterred from escalating a crisis to nuclear use). Most of the time, however, teams waste precious minutes of their final rebuttal on mediocre impact calculus. The cult of "turns case" has much to do with this. It's worth remembering that accessing an extinction impact is far more important than whether or not your extinction impact happens three months faster than theirs (particularly when both sides' warrant for their timeframe claim is baseless conjecture and ad hoc assertion), and that, in most cases, you need to win the substance of your DA/advantage to win that it turns the case.
Incidentally, phrasing arguments more moderately and conditionally is helpful for every argument genre: "all predictions fail" is not persuasive; "some specific type of prediction relying on their model of IR forecasting has little to no practical utility" can be. The only person who's VTL is killed when I hear someone say "there is no value to life in the world of the plan" is mine.
At least for me, try-or-die is often bizarrely intuitive based on argument selection (i.e. if the neg spots the aff that "extinction is inevitable if the judge votes neg, even if it's questionable whether or not the aff solves it", rationalizing an aff ballot becomes rather alluring and shockingly persuasive). You should combat this innate intuition by ensuring that you either have impact defense of some sort (anything from DA solves the case to a counterplan/alt solves the case argument to status quo checks resolve the terminal impact to actual impact defense can work) or by investing time in arguing against try-or-die decision-making.
Counterplan theory is a lost art. Affirmatives let negative teams get away with murder. And it's getting worse and worse every year. Investing time in theory is daunting... it requires answering lots of blippy arguments with substance and depth and speaking clearly, and probably more slowly than you're used to. But, if you invest time, effort, and thought in a well-grounded theoretical objection, I'll be a receptive critic.
The best theory interpretations are clear, elegant, and minimally arbitrary. Here are some examples of args that I would not anticipate many contemporary 2N's defeating:
--counterplans should be policies. Perhaps executive orders, perhaps guidence memos, perhaps lower court decisions, perhaps Congressional resolutions. But this would exclude such travesties as "The Executive Branch should always take international law into account when making their decisions. Such is closer to a counterplan that says "The Executive Branch should make good decisions forever" than it is to a useful policy recommendation.
--counterplans should not be able to fiat both the federal government and additional actors outside of the federal government. It's utopian enough to fiat that Courts, the President, and Congress all act in concert in perpetuity on a given subject. It's absurd to fiat additional actors as well.
There are other theoretical objections that I might take more seriously than other judges, although I recognize them as arguments on which reasonable minds may disagree. For example, I am somewhat partial to the argument that solvency advocates for counterplans should have a level of specificity that matches the aff. I feel like that standard would reward aff specificity and incentivize debates that reflect the literature base, while punishing affs that are contrived nonsense by making them debate contrived process nonsense. This certainly seems debateable, and in truth if I had to pick a side, I'd probably go neg, but it seems like a relatively even debate (and it's at minimum a better argument than many of the contrived and desperate solvency deficits that flailing affs teams extend against counterplans).
Competition debates are a particularly lost art. I'm not a great judge for counterplans that compete off of certainty or immediacy based on "should"/"resolved" definitions. I'm somewhat easily persuaded that these interpretations lower the bar for how difficult it is to win a negative ballot to an undesirable degree. That being said, affs lose these debates all the time by failing to counter-define words or dropping stupid tricks, so make sure you invest the time you need in these debates to win them.
"CPs should be textually and functionally competitive" seems to me like a logical and defensible standard. Some don't realize that if CPs must be both functionally and textually competitive, permutations may be either. I like the "textual/functional" model of competition BECAUSE it incentives creative counterplan and permutation construction, and because it requires careful text-writing.
Offense-defense is intuitive to me, and so teams should always be advised to have offense even if their defense is very strong. If the aff says that the counterplan links to the net benefit but doesn't advance a solvency deficit or disadvantage to the CP, and the neg argues that the counterplan at least links less, I am not very likely to vote affirmative absent strong affirmative framing on this question (often the judge is left to their own devices on this question, or only given instruction in the 2AR, which is admittedly better than never but still often too late). At the end of the day I must reconcile these opposing claims, and if it's closely contested and at least somewhat logical, it's very difficult to win 100% of an argument. Even if I think the aff is generally correct, in a world where I have literally any iota of doubt surrounding the aff position or am even remotely persuaded by the the negative's position, why would I remotely risk triggering the net benefit for the aff instead of just opting for the guaranteed safe choice of the counterplan?
Offense, in this context, can come in multiple flavors: you can argue that the affirmative or perm is less likely to link to the net benefit than the counterplan, for example. You can also argue that the risk of a net benefit below a certain threshold is indistinguishable from statistical noise, and that the judge should reject to affirm a difference between the two options because it would encourage undesirable research practices and general decision-making. Perhaps you can advance an analytic solvency deficit somewhat supported by one logical conjecture, and if you are generally winning the argument, have the risk of the impact to that outweigh the unique risk of aff triggering the DA relative to the counterplan. But absent any offensive argument of any sort, the aff is facing an uphill battle. I have voted on "CP links to politics before" but generally that only happens if there is a severe flaw in negative execution (i.e. the neg drops it), a significant skill discrepancy between teams, or a truly ill-conceived counterplan.
I'm a somewhat easy sell on conditionality good (at least 1 CP / 1 K is defensible), but I've probably voted aff slightly more frequently than not in conditionality debates. That's partly because of selection bias (affs go for it when they're winning it), but mainly because neg teams have gotten very sloppy in their defenses of conditionality, particularly in the 2NR. That being said, I've been growing more and more amenable to "conditionality bad" arguments over time.
However, large advantage counterplans with multiple planks, all of which can be kicked, are fairly difficult to defend. Negative teams can fiat as many policies as it takes to solve whatever problems the aff has sought to tackle. It is unreasonable to the point of stupidity to expect the aff to contrive solvency deficits: the plan would literally have to be the only idea in the history of thought capable of solving a given problem. Every additional proposal introduced in the 1nc (in order to increase the chance of solving) can only be discouraged through the potential cost of a disad being read against it. In the old days, this is why counterplan files were hundreds of pages long and had answers to a wide variety of disads. But if you can kick the plank, what incentive does the aff have to even bother researching if the CP is a good idea? If they read a 2AC add-on, the neg gets as many no-risk 2NC counterplans to add to the fray as well (of course, they can also add unrelated 2nc counterplans for fun and profit). If you think you can defend the merit of that strategy vs. a "1 condo cp / 1 condo k" interp, your creative acumen may be too advanced for interscholastic debate; consider more challenging puzzles in emerging fields, as they urgently need your input.
I don't think I'm "biased" against infinite conditionality; if you think you have the answers and technical acuity to defend infinite conditionality against the above argumentation, I'd happily vote for you.
I don't default to the status quo unless you explicitly flag it at some point during the debate (the cross-x or the 2nc is sufficient if the aff never contests it). I don't know why affs ask this question every cross-x and then never make a theory argument about it. It only hurts you, because it lets the neg get away with something they otherwise wouldn't have.
All that said, I don't have terribly strong convictions about any of these issues, and any theoretical predisposition is easily overcame by outdebating another team on the subject at hand.
Most theoretical objections to (and much sanctimonious indignation toward) the politics disadvantage have never made sense to me. Fiat is a convention about what it should be appropriate to assume for the sake of discussion, but there's no "logical" or "true" interpretation of what fiat descriptively means. It would be ludicrously unrealistic for basically any 1ac plan to pass immediately, with no prior discussion, in the contemporary political world. Any form of argument in which we imagine the consequences of passage is a fictive constraint on process argumentation. As a result, any normative justification for including the political process within the contours of permissible argument is a rational justification for a model of fiat that involves the politics DA (and a DA to a model of fiat that doesn't). Political salience is the reason most good ideas don't become policy, and it seems illogical for the negative to be robbed of this ground. The politics DA, then, represents the most pressing political cost caused by doing the plan in the contemporary political environment, which seems like a very reasonable for affs to have to defend against.
Obviously many politics DAs are contrived nonsense (especially during political periods during which there is no clear, top-level presidential priority). However, the reason that these DAs are bad isn't because they're theoretically illegitimate, and politics theory's blippiness and general underdevelopment further aggravate me (see the tech vs truth section).
Finally, re: intrinsicness, I don't understand why the judge should be the USFG. I typically assume the judge is just me, deciding which policy/proposal is the most desirable. I don't have control over the federal government, and no single entity does or ever will (barring that rights malthus transition). Maybe I'm missing something. If you think I am, feel free to try and be the first to show me the light...
7) Framework/Non-Traditional Affs
Despite some of the arguments I've read and coached, I'm sympathetic to the framework argument and fairness concerns. I don't think that topicality arguments are presumptively violent, and I think it's generally rather reasonable (and often strategic) to question the aff's relationship to the resolution. Although framework is often the best option, I would generally prefer to see a substantive strategy if one's available. This is simply because I have literally judged hundreds of framework debates and it has gotten mildly repetitive, to say the least (just scroll down if you think that I'm being remotely hyperbolic).
My voting record on framework is relatively even. In nearly every debate, I voted for the team I assessed as demonstrating superior technical debating in the final rebuttals, and that will continue in the future.
I typically think winning unique offense, in the rare scenario where a team invests substantial time in poking defensive holes in the other team's standards, is difficult for both sides in a framework debate. I think affs should think more about their answers to "switch side solves your offense" and "sufficient neg engagement key to meaningfully test the aff", while neg's should generally work harder to prepare persuasive and consistent impact explanations. The argument that "other policy debates solve your offense" can generally push back against skills claims, and the argument that "wiki/disclosure/contestable advocacy in the 1ac provides some degree of predictability/debateability" can often push back against "vote neg on presumption because truth-testing- we literally couldn't negate it" but for some reason in many debates neg's completely blow off these arguments.
I'm typically more persuaded by affirmative teams that answer framework by saying that the skills/methods inculcated by the 1ac produce more effective/ethical interactions with institutions than by teams that argue "all institutions are bad."
Fairness is not necessarily an impact; it certainly may implicate the education that the aff produces, but calling fairness "procedural" doesn't bestow upon it some mystical external impact without additional explanation (i.e. without an actual explanation attached to that). Fairness is an abstract value. Like most values, it is difficult to explain beyond a certain point, and it can't be proven or disproven. It's hard to answer the question "why is fairness good?" for the same reason it's hard to answer the question "why is justice good?" It is pretty easy to demonstate why you should presume in favor of fairness in a debate context, given that everyone relies on essential fairness expectations in order to participate in the activity (for example, teams expect that I flow and give their arguments a fair hearing rather than voting against them because I don't like their choice in clothes). But as soon as neg teams start introducing additional standards to their framework argument that raise education concerns, they have said that the choice of framework has both fairness and education implications, and if it could change our educational experience, could the choice of framework change our social or intellectual experience in debate in other ways as well? Maybe not (I certainly think it's easy to win that an individual round's decision certainly couldn't be expected to) but if you said your FW is key to education it's easy to see how those kinds of questions come into play and now can potentially militate against fairness concerns.
I think it's perfectly reasonable to question the desirability of the activity: we should all ideally be self-reflexive and be able to articulate why it is we participate in the activities on which we choose to dedicate our time. After all, I think nearly everybody in the world does utterly indefensible things from time to time, and many people (billions of them, probably) make completely indefensible decisions all the time. The reason why these arguments can be unpersuasive is typically because saying that debate is bad may just link to the team saying "debate bad" because they're, you know, debating, and no credible solvency mechanism for altering the activity has been presented.
I know I just explained a rationale for potentially restricting your framework impacts to fairness concerns. But still it's nice and often more fulfilling from a judge's perspective to hear a defense of debate rather than a droll recitation of "who knows why debate's good but we're both here... so like... it must be." If that means "procedural fairness" is de-emphasized in favor of an explanation for why the particular fairness norms established by your topicality interpretation are crucial to a particular vision of the activity and a defense of that vision's benefits, that would be a positive development.
If you're looking for an external impact, there are two impacts to framework that I have consistently found more persuasive than most attempts to articulate one for fairness/skills/deliberation, but they're not unassailable: "switch-side debate good" (forcing people to defend things they don't believe is the only vehicle for truly shattering dogmatic ideological predispositions and fostering a skeptical worldview capable of ensuring that its participants, over time, develop more ethical and effective ideas than they otherwise would) and "agonism" (making debaters defend stuff that the other side is prepared to attack rewards debaters for pursuing clash; running from engagement by lecturing the neg and judge on a random topic of your choosing is a cowardly flight from battle; instead, the affirmative team with a strong will to power should actively strive to beat the best, most well-prepared negative teams from the biggest schools on their terms, which in turn provides the ultimate triumph; the life-affirming worldview facilitated by this disposition is ultimately necessary for personal fulfillment, and also provides a more effective strategy with which to confront the inevitable hardships of life).
Many aff "impact turns" to topicality are often rendered incoherent when met with gentle pushback. It's difficult to say "predictability bad" if you have a model of debate that makes debate more predictable from the perspective of the affirmative team. Exclusion and judgment are inevitable structural components of any debate activity that I can conceive of: any DA excludes affs that link to it and don't have an advantage that outweighs it. The act of reading that DA can be understood as judging the debaters who proposed that aff as too dull to think of a better idea. Both teams are bound to say the other is wrong and only one can win. Many aff teams may protest that their impact turns are much more sophisticated than this, and are more specific to some element of the topicality/FW structure that wouldn't apply to other types of debate arguments. Whatever explanation you have for why that above sentence true should be emphasized throughout the debate if you want your impact turns or DA's to T to be persuasive. In other words, set up your explanation of impact turns/disads to T in a way that makes clear why they are specific to something about T and wouldn't apply to basic structural requirements of debate from the outset of the debate.
I'm a fairly good judge for the capitalism kritik against K affs. Among my most prized possessions are signed copies of Jodi Dean books that I received as a gift from my debaters. Capitalism is persuasive for two reasons, both of which can be defeated, and both of which can be applied to other kritiks. First, having solutions (even ones that seem impractical or radical) entails position-taking, with clear political objectives and blueprints, and I often find myself more persuaded by a presentation of macro-political problems when coupled with corresponding presentation of macro-political solutions. Communism, or another alternative to capitalism, frequently ends up being the only solution of that type in the room. Second, analytic salience: The materialist and class interest theories often relatively more explanatory power for oppression than any other individual factor because they entail a robust and logically consistent analysis of the incentives behind various actors committing various actions over time. I'm certainly not unwinnable for the aff in these debates, particularly if they strongly press the alt's feasibility and explain what they are able to solve in the context of the neg's turns case arguments, and I obviously will try my hardest to avoid letting any predisposition overwhelm my assessment of the debating.
8) Kritiks (vs policy affs)
I'm okay for 'old-school' kritik's (security/cap/etc), but I'm also okay for the aff. When I vote for kritiks, most of my RFD's look like one of the following:
1) The neg has won that the implementation of the plan is undesirable relative to the status quo;
2) The neg has explicitly argued (and won) that the framework of the debate should be something other than "weigh the plan vs squo/alt" and won within that framework.
If you don't do either of those things while going for a kritik, I am likely to be persuaded by traditional aff presses (case outweighs, try-or-die, perm double-bind, alt fails etc). Further, despite sympathies for and familiarity with much poststructural thought, I'm nevertheless quite easily persuaded to use utilitarian cost-benefit analysis to make difficult decisions, and I have usually found alternative methods of making decisions lacking and counter-intuitive by comparison.
Kritik alternatives typically make no sense. They often have no way to meaningfully compete with the plan, frequently because of a scale problem. Either they are comparing what one person/a small group should do to what the government should do, or what massive and sweeping international movements should do vs what a government should do. Both comparisons seem like futile exercises for reasons I hope are glaringly obvious.
There are theory arguments that affs could introduce against alternatives that exploit common design flaws in critical arguments. "Vague alts" is not really one of them (ironically because the argument itself is too vague). Some examples: "Alternatives should have texts; otherwise the alternative could shift into an unpredictable series of actions throughout the debate we can't develop reasonable responses against." "Alternatives should have actors; otherwise there is no difference between this and fiating 'everyone should be really nice to each other'." Permutations are easy to justify: the plan would have to be the best idea in the history of thought if all the neg had to do was think of something better.
Most kritik frameworks presented to respond to plan focus are not really even frameworks, but a series of vague assertions that the 2N is hoping that the judge will interpret in a way that's favorable for them (because they certainly don't know exactly what they're arguing for). Many judges continually interpret these confusing framework debates by settling on some middle-ground compromise that neither team actually presented. I prefer to choose between options that debaters actually present.
My ideal critical arguments would negate the aff. For example, against a heg aff, I could be persuaded by security K alts that advocate for a strategy of unilateral miltary withdrawal. Perhaps the permutation severs rhetoric and argumentation in the 1ac that, while not in the plan text, is both central enough to their advocacy and important enough (from a pedagogical perspective) that we should have the opportunity to focus the debate around the geopolitical position taken by the 1ac. The only implication to to a "framework" argument like this would be that, assuming the neg wins a link to something beyond the plan text, the judge should reject, on severence grounds, permutations against alts that actually make radical proposals. In the old days, this was called philosophical competition. How else could we have genuine debates about how to change society or grand strategy? There are good aff defenses of the plan focus model from a fairness and education perspective with which to respond to this, but this very much seems like a debate worth having.
All this might sound pretty harsh for neg's, but affs should be warned that I think I'm more willing than most judges to abandon policymaking paradigms based on technical debating. If the negative successfully presents and defends an alternative model of decisionmaking, I will decide the debate from within it. The ballot is clay; mold it for me and I'll do whatever you win I should.
9) Kritiks (vs K affs)
Seriously, I don't have strong presuppositions about what "new debate" is supposed to look like. For the most part, I'm happy to see any strategy that's well researched or well thought-out. Try something new! Even if it doesn't work out, it may lead to something that can radically innovate debate.
Most permutation/framework debates are really asking the question: "Is the part of the aff that the neg disagreed with important enough to decide an entire debate about?" (this is true in CP competition debates too, for what it's worth). Much of the substantive debating elsewhere subsequently determines the outcome of these sub-debates far more than debaters seem to assume.
Role of the ballot/judge claims are obviously somewhat self-serving, but in debates in which they're well-explained (or repeatedly dropped), they can be useful guidelines for crafting a reasonable decision (especially when the ballot theorizes a reasonable way for both teams to win if they successfully defend core thesis positions).
Yes, I am one of those people who reads critical theory for fun, although I also read about domestic politics, theoretical and applied IR, and economics for fun. Yes, I am a huge nerd, but who's the nerd that that just read the end of a far-too-long judge philosophy in preparation for a debate tournament? Thought so.
10) Addendum: Random Thoughts from Random Topics
In the spirit of Bill Batterman, I thought to myself: How could I make this philosophy even longer and less useable than it already was? So instead of deleting topic-relevent material from previous years that no longer really fit into the above sections, I decided to archive all of that at the bottom of the paradigm if I still agreed with what I said. Bad takes were thrown into the memory hole.
Topicality on water: There aren't very many good limiting devices on this topic. Obviously the states CP is an excellent functional limit; "protection requires regulation" is useful as well, at least insofar as it establishes competition for counterplans that avoid regulations (e.g. incentives). Beyond that, the neg is in a rough spot.
I am more open to "US water resources include oceans" than most judges; see the compiled evidence set I released in the Michigan camp file MPAs Aff 2 (should be available via openevidence). After you read that and the sum total of all neg cards released/read thus far, the reasoning for why I believe this should be self-evident. Ironically, I don't think there are very many good oceans affs (this isn't a development topic, it's a protection topic). This further hinders the neg from persuasively going for the this T argument, but if you want to really exploit this belief, you'll find writing a strategic aff is tougher than you may imagine.
Topicality on antitrust: Was adding 'core' to this topic a mistake? I can see either side of this playing out at Northwestern: while affs that haven't thought about the variants of the 'core' or 'antitrust' pics are setting themselves up for failure, I think the aff has such an expansive range of options that they should be fine. There aren't a ton of generic T threats on this topic. There are some iterations of subsets that seem viable, if not truly threatening, and there there is a meaningful debate on whether or not the aff can fiat court action. The latter is an important question that both evidence and normative desirability will play a role in determining. Beyond that, I don't think there's much of a limit on this topic.
ESR debates on the executive powers topic: I think the best theory arguments against ESR are probably just solvency advocate arguments. Seems like a tough sell to tell the neg there’s no executive CP at all. I've heard varied definitions of “object fiat” over the years: fiating an actor that's a direct object/recipient of the plan/resolution; fiating an enduring negative action (i.e. The President should not use designated trade authority, The US should not retaliate to terrorist attacks with nukes etc); fiating an actor whose behavior is affected by a 1ac internal link chain. But none of these definitions seem particularly clear nor any of these objections particularly persuasive.
States CP on the education and health insurance topics: States-and-politics debates are not the most meaningful reflection of the topic literature, especially given that the nature of 50 state fiat distorts the arguments of most state action advocates, and they can be stale (although honestly anything that isn't a K debate will not feel stale to me these days). But I'm sympathetic to the neg on these questions, especially if they have good solvency evidence. There are a slew of policy analysts that have recommended as-uniform-as-possible state action in the wake of federal dysfunction. With a Trump administration and a Republican Congress, is the prospect of uniform state action on an education or healthcare policy really that much more unrealistic than a massive liberal policy? There are literally dozens of uniform policies that have been independently adopted by all or nearly all states. I'm open to counter-arguments, but they should all be as contextualized to the specific evidence and counter-interpretation presented by the negative as they would be in a topicality debate (the same goes for the neg in terms of answering aff theory pushes). It's hard to defend a states CP without meaningful evidentiary support against general aff predictability pushes, but if the evidence is there, it doesn't seem to unreasonable to require affs to debate it. Additionally, there does seem to be a persuasive case for the limiting condition that a "federal-key warrant" places on affirmatives.
Topicality on executive power: This topic is so strangely worded and verbose that it is difficult to win almost any topicality argument against strong affirmative answers, as powerful as the limits case may be. ESR makes being aff hard enough that I’m not sure how necessary the negative needs assistance in limiting down the scope of viable affs, but I suppose we shall see as the year moves forward. I’m certainly open to voting on topicality violations that are supported by quality evidence. “Restrictions in the area of” = all of that area (despite the fact that two of the areas have “all or nearly all” in their wordings, which would seem to imply the other three are NOT “all or nearly all”) does not seem to meet that standard.
Topicality on immigration: This is one of the best topics for neg teams trying to go for topicality in a long time... maybe since alternative energy in 2008-9. “Legal immigration” clearly means LPR – affs will have a tough time winning otherwise against competent negative teams. I can’t get over my feeling that the “Passel and Fix” / “Murphy 91” “humanitarian” violations that exclude refugee, asylums, etc, are somewhat arbitrary, but the evidence is extremely good for the negative (probably slightly better than it is for the affirmative, but it’s close), and the limits case for excluding these affs is extremely persuasive. Affs debating this argument in front of me should make their case that legal immigration includes asylum, refugees, etc by reading similarly high-quality evidence that says as much.
Topicality on arms sales: T - subs is persuasive if your argument is that "substantially" has to mean something, and the most reasonable assessment of what it should mean is the lowest contextual bound that either team can discover and use as a bulwark for guiding their preparation. If the aff can't produce a reasonably well-sourced card that says substantially = X amount of arms sales that their plan can feasibly meet, I think neg teams can win that it's more arbitrary to assume that substantially is in the topic for literally no reason than it is to assume the lowest plausible reading of what substantially could mean (especially given that every definition of substantially as a higher quantity would lead one to agree that substantially is at least as large as that lowest reading). If the aff can, however, produce this card, it will take a 2N's most stalwart defense of any one particular interpretation to push back against the most basic and intuitive accusations of arbitrariness/goalpost-shifting.
T - reduce seems conceptually fraught in almost every iteration. Every Saudi aff conditions its cessation of arms sales on the continued existence of Saudi Arabia. If the Saudi military was so inept that the Houthis suddenly not only won the war against Saleh but actually captured Saudi Arabia and annexed it as part of a new Houthi Empire, the plan would not prevent the US from selling all sorts of exciting PGMs to Saudi Arabia's new Houthi overlords. Other than hard capping the overall quantity of arms sales and saying every aff that doesn't do that isn't topical, (which incidentally is not in any plausible reading a clearly forwarded interpretation of the topic in that poorly-written Pearson chapter), it's not clear to me what the distinction is between affs that condition and affs that don't are for the purposes of T - Reduce
Topicality on CJR: T - enact is persuasive. The ev is close, but in an evenly debated and closely contested round where both sides read all of the evidence I've seen this year, I'd be worried if I were aff. The debateability case is strong for the neg, given how unlimited the topic is, but there's a case to be made that courts affs aren't so bad and that ESR/politics is a strong enough generic to counter both agents.
Other T arguments are, generally speaking, uphill battles. Unless a plan text is extremely poorly written, most "T-Criminal" arguments are likely solvency takeouts, though depending on advantage construction they may be extremely strong and relevant solvency takeouts. Most (well, all) subsets arguments, regardless of which word they define, have no real answer to "we make some new rule apply throughout the entire area, e.g. all police are prohibitied from enforcing XYZ criminal law." Admittedly, there are better and worse variations for all of these violations. For example, Title 18 is a decent way to set up "T - criminal justice excludes civil / decrim" types of interpretations, despite the fact it's surprisingly easy for affs to win they meet it. And of course, aff teams often screw these up answering bad and mediocre T args in ways that make them completely viable. But none of these would be my preferred strategy, unless of course you're deploying new cards or improved arguments at the TOC. If that's the case, nicely done! If you think your evidence is objectively better than the aff cards, and that you can win the plan clearly violates a cogent interpretation, topicality is always a reasonable option in front of me.
Topicality on space cooperation: Topicality is making a big comeback in college policy debates this year. Kiinda overdue. But also kinda surprising because the T evidence isn't that high quality relative to its outsized presence in 2NRs, but hey, we all make choices.
STM T debates have been underwhelming in my assessment. T - No ADR... well at least is a valid argument consisting of a clear interp and a clear violation. It goes downhill from there. It's by no means unwinnable, but not a great bet in an evenly matched ebate. But you can't even say that for most of the other STM interps I've seen so far. Interps that are like "STM are these 9 things" are not only silly, they frequently have no clear way of clearly excluding their hypothesized limits explosion... or the plan. And I get it - STM affs are the worst (and we're only at the tip of the iceberg for zany STM aff prolif). Because STM proposals are confusing, different advocates use the terms in wildly different ways, the proposals are all in the direction of uniqueness and are difficult to distinguish from similar policy structures presently in place, and the area lacks comprehensive neg ground outside of "screw those satellites, let em crash," STM affs producing annoying debates (which is why so many teams read STM). But find better and clearer T interps if you want to turn those complaints about topical affs into topicality arguments that exclude those affs. And I encourage you to do so quickly, as I will be the first to shamelessly steal them for my teams.
Ironically, the area of the topic that produces what seem to me the best debates (in terms of varied, high-quality, and evenly-matched argumentation) probably has the single highest-quality T angle for the neg to deploy against it. And that T angle just so happens to exclude nearly every arms control aff actually being ran. In my assessment, both the interp that "arms control = quantitative limit" and the interp that "arms control = militaries just like chilling with each other, hanging out, doing some casual TCBMs" are plausible readings of the resolution. The best aff predictability argument is clearly that arms control definitions established before the space age have some obvious difficulties remaining relevant in space. But it seems plausible that that's a reason the resolution should have been written differently, not that it should be read in an alternate way. That being said, the limits case seems weaker than usual for the neg (though not terrible) and in terms of defending an interp likely to result in high-quality debates, the aff has a better set of ground arguments at their disposal than usual.
Trump-era politics DAs: Most political capital DAs are self-evidently nonsense in the Trump era. We no longer have a president that expends or exerts political capital as described by any of the canonical sources that theorized that term. Affs should be better at laundry listing thumpers and examples that empirically prove Trump's ability to shamelessly lie about whatever the aff does or why he supports the aff and have a conservative media environment that tirelessly promotes that lie as the new truth, but it's not hard to argue this point well. Sometimes, when there's an agenda (even if that agenda is just impeachment), focus links can be persuasive. I actually like the internal agency politics DA's more than others do, because they do seem to better analyze the present political situation. Our political agenda at the national level does seem driven at least as much by personality-driven palace intrigue as anything else; if we're going to assess the political consequences of our proposed policies, that seems as good a proxy for what's likely to happen as anything else.
Sheryl Kaczmarek Lexington High School -- SherylKaz@gmail.com
I expect debaters to treat one another, their judges and any observers, with respect. If you plan to accuse your opponent(s) of being intellectually dishonest or of cheating, please be prepared to stake the round on that claim. Accusations of that sort are round ending claims for me, one way or the other. I believe debate is an oral and aural experience, which means that while I want to be included on the email chain, I will NOT be reading along with you, and I will not give you credit for arguments I cannot hear/understand, especially if you do not change your speaking after I shout clearer or louder, even in the virtual world. I take the flow very seriously and prior to the pandemic judged a lot, across the disciplines, but I still need ALL debaters to explain their arguments because I don't "know" the tiniest details for every topic in every event. I have not judged much during the pandemic so please start a little slower and work up to your top speed and please articulate. I am pretty open-minded about arguments, but I will NOT vote for arguments that are racist, sexist or in any other way biased against a group based on gender identity, religion or any other characteristic and I will NOT vote for suicide/self harm alternatives. None of those are things I can endorse as a long time high school teacher and decent human.
The Resolution -- I would prefer that debaters actually address the resolution, but I do vote for non-resolutional, non-topical or critical affirmatives fairly often. That is because it is up to the debaters in the round to resolve the issue of whether the affirmative ought to be endorsing the resolution, or not, and I will vote based on which side makes the better arguments on that question, in the context of the rest of the round.
Framework -- I often find that these debates get messy fast. Debaters make too many arguments and fail to answer the arguments of the opposition directly. I would prefer more clash, and fewer arguments overall. While I don't think framework arguments are as interesting as some other arguments in debate, I will vote for the team that best promotes their vision of debate, or look at the rest of the arguments in the round through that lens.
Links -- I would really like to know what the affirmative has done to cause the impacts referenced in a Disad, and I think there has to be something the affirmative does (or thinks) which triggers a Kritik. I don't care how big the impact/implication is if the affirmative does not cause it in the first place.
Solvency -- I expect actual solvency advocates for both plans and counterplans. If you are going to have multi-plank plans or counterplans, make sure you have solvency advocates for those combinations of actions, and even if you are advocating a single action, I still expect some source that suggests this action as a solution for the problems you have identified with the Status Quo, or with the Affirmative.
Evidence -- I expect your evidence to be highlighted consistent with the intent of your authors, and I expect your tags to make claims that you will prove with the parts you read from your evidence. Highlighting random words which would be incoherent if read slowly annoys me and pretending your cards include warrants for the claims you make (when they do not) is more than annoying. If your tag says "causes extinction," the text of of the part of the card you read needs to say extinction will be the result. Misrepresenting your evidence is a huge issue for me. More often then not, when I read cards after a round, it is because I fear misrepresentation.
New Arguments/Very Complicated Arguments -- Please do not expect me to do any work for you on arguments I do not understand. I judge based on the flow and if I do not understand what I have written down, or cannot make enough sense of it to write it down, I will not be able to vote for it. If you don't have the time to explain a complicated argument to me, and to link it to the opposition, you might want to try a different strategy.
Old/Traditional Arguments -- I have been judging long enough that I have a full range of experiences with inherency, case specific disads, theoretical arguments against politics disads and many other arguments from policy debate's past, and I also understand the stock issues and traditional policy-making. If you really want to confuse your opponents, and amuse me, you'll kick it old school as opposed to going post-modern.
The Resolution -- The thing that originally attracted me to LD was that debaters actually addressed the whole resolution. These days, that happens far less often in LD than it used to. I like hearing the resolution debated, but I also vote for non-resolutional, non-topical or critical affirmatives fairly often in LD. That is because I believe it is up to the debaters in the round to resolve the issue of whether the affirmative ought to be endorsing the resolution, or not, and I will vote based on which side makes the better arguments on that question.
Framework -- I think LDers are better at framework debates than policy debaters, as a general rule, but I have noticed a trend to lazy framework debates in LD in recent years. How often should debaters recycle Winter and Leighton, for example, before looking for something new? If you want to stake the round on the framework you can, or you can allow it to be the lens through which I will look at the rest of the arguments.
Policy Arguments in LD -- I understand all of the policy arguments that have migrated to LD quite well, and I remember when many of them were first developed in Policy. The biggest mistake LDers make with policy arguments -- Counterplans, Perm Theory, Topicality, Disads, Solvency, etc. -- is making the assumption that your particular interpretation of any of those arguments is the same as mine. Don't do that! If you don't explain something, I have no choice but to default to my understanding of that thing. For example, if you say, "Perm do Both," with no other words, I will interpret that to mean, "let's see if it is possible to do the Aff Plan and the Neg Counterplan at the same time, and if it is, the Counterplan goes away." If you mean something different, you need to tell me. That is true for all judges, but especially true for someone with over 40 years of policy experience. I try to keep what I think out of the round, but absent your thoughts, I have no choice but to use my own.
Evidence -- I expect your evidence to be highlighted consistent with the intent of your authors, and I expect your tags to make claims that you will prove with the parts you read from your evidence. Highlighting random words which would be incoherent if read slowly annoys me and pretending your cards include warrants for the claims you make (when they do not) is more than annoying. If your tag says "causes extinction," the text of of the part if the card you read really needs to say extinction will be the result. Misrepresenting your evidence is a huge issue for me. More often then not, when I read cards in a round, it is because I fear misrepresentation.
New Arguments/Very Complicated Arguments -- Please do not expect me to do any work for you on arguments I do not understand. I judge based on the flow and if I do not understand what I have written down, or cannot understand enough to write it down, I won't vote for it. If you don't think you have the time to explain some complicated philosophical position to me, and to link it to the opposition, you should try a different strategy.
Traditional Arguments -- I would still be pleased to listen to cases with a Value Premise and a Criterion. I probably prefer traditional arguments to new arguments that are not explained.
Theory -- Theory arguments are not magical, and theory arguments which are not fully explained, as they are being presented, are unlikely to be persuasive, particularly if presented in a paragraph, or a three word blips, since there is no way of knowing which ones I won't hear or write down, and no one can write down all of the arguments when each only merits a tiny handful of words. I also don't like theory arguments that are crafted for one particular debate, or theory arguments that lack even a tangential link to debate or the current topic. If it is not an argument that can be used in multiple debates (like topicality, conditionality, etc) then it probably ought not be run in front of me. New 1AR theory is risky, because the NR typically has more than enough time to answer it. I dislike disclosure theory arguments because I can't know what was done or said before a round, and because I don't think I ought to be voting on things that happened before the AC begins. All of that being said, I will vote on theory, even new 1AR theory, or disclosure theory, if a debater WINS that argument, but it does not make me smile.
The Resolution -- PF mostly still debates the resolution, which is one of the things I really like about the activity. Please make sure you do debate the resolution when debating in front of me. It would be best if the Final Focus on each side attempted to guide me to either endorse or reject the resolution.
Framework -- This is beginning to be a thing in PF in some places. I am perfectly willing to consider a lens through which I can look at the arguments in the debate, but given the time limits, please keep your framework simple and focused, should you decide to use one.
Policy or LD Behaviors/Arguments in PF -- I personally believe each form of debate ought to be its own thing. I DO NOT want you to talk quickly in PF, just because I also judge LD and Policy, and I really don't want to see theory arguments, plans, counterplans or kritiks in PF. I will definitely flow, and will judge the debate based on the flow, but I want PF to be PF. That being said, I will not automatically vote against a team that brings Policy/LD arguments/stylistic approaches into PF. It is still a debate and the opposition needs to answer the arguments that are presented in order to win my ballot, even if they are arguments I don't want to see in PF.
Paraphrasing -- I really wish the NSDA had decided to kill paraphrasing in PF. When someone paraphrases inaccurately, I have a huge problem with it. I expect debaters to be able to immediately access the text of the cards they have paraphrased -- there should not need to be an off time search for the article, or for the exact place in the article where they drew their paraphrasing from. Taking a 150 page article and making a claim from that is not paraphrasing -- that is summarizing (and not allowed). You must be able to point to the exact place your argument is based upon, within seconds of being asked to do so, or I am unlikely to consider the evidence in my decision.
Evidence -- If you are using evidence, I expect your evidence to be highlighted consistent with the intent of your authors, and I expect your tags to make claims that you will prove with the parts you read from your evidence. Pretending your cards include warrants for the claims you make (when they do not) is unacceptable. If your tag says "causes extinction," the text of of the part you card you read needs to say extinction will happen. Misrepresenting your evidence is a huge issue for me. More often then not, when I read cards in a round, it is because I fear misrepresentation.
Theory -- This has begun to be a thing in PF in some places, especially with respect to disclosure theory, and I am not a fan. As previously noted, I want PF to be PF. While I do think that PFers can be too secretive (Policy and LD both started that way), I don't think PFers ought to be expending their very limited time in rounds talking about whether they ought to have disclosed their case to their opponents before the round. Like everything else I would prefer were not true, I can see myself voting on theory in PF because I do vote based on the flow, but I'd prefer you debate the case in front of you, instead of inventing new arguments you don't really have time to discuss.
Director of Debate at The University of Michigan
General Judging Paradigm- I think debate is an educational game. Someone once told me
that there are three types of judges: big truth, middle truth, and little truth judges. I would
definitely fall into the latter category. I don’t think a two hour debate round is a search for
the truth, but rather a time period for debaters to persuade judges with the help of
evidence and analytical arguments. I have many personal biases and preferences, but I try
to compartmentalize them and allow the debate to be decided by the debaters. I abhor
judge intervention, but do realize it becomes inevitable when debaters fail to adequately
resolve the debate. I am a very technical and flow-oriented judge. I will not evaluate
arguments that were in the 2AR and 2AC, but not the 1AR. This is also true for
arguments that were in the 2NR and 1NC, but not in the negative block.
Counterplans/Theory- I would consider myself liberal on theory, especially regarding
plan-inclusive counterplans. Usually, the negative block will make ten arguments
theoretically defending their counterplan and the 1AR will only answer eight of them- the
2NR will extend the two arguments that were dropped, etc. and that’s usually good
enough for me. I have often voted on conditionality because the Aff. was technically
superior. If you’re Aff. and going for theory, make sure to answer each and every
negative argument. I am troubled by the recent emergence of theory and procedural
debates focusing on offense and defense. I don’t necessarily think the negative has to win
an offensive reason why their counterplan is theoretically legitimate- they just have to
win that their counterplan is legitimate. For the Aff., I believe that permutations must
include all of the plan and all or part of the counterplan. I think the do the counterplan
permutation is silly and don’t think it’s justified because the negative is conditional, etc. I
do realize this permutation wins rounds because it’s short and Neg. teams sometimes fail
to answer it. On the issue of presumption, a counterplan must provide a reason to reject
the Aff. Finally, I think it’s illegitimate when the Aff. refuses to commit to their agent for
the explicit purpose of ducking counterplans, especially when they read solvency
evidence that advocates a particular agent. This strategy relies on defending the theory of
textual competition, which I think is a bad way of determining whether counterplans
Topicality- When I debated, I commonly ran Affirmatives that were on the fringe of what
was considered topical. This was probably the reason I was not a great topicality judge
for the negative my first few years of judging college debate. Beginning this year, I have
noticed myself voting negative on topicality with greater frequency. In the abstract, I
would prefer a more limited topic as opposed to one where hundreds of cases could be
considered topical. That being said, I think topicality often seems like a strategy of
desperation for the negative, so if it’s not, make sure the violation is well developed in
the negative block. I resolve topicality debates in a very technical manner. Often it
seems like the best Affirmative answers are not made until the 2AR, which is probably
too late for me to consider them.
Kritiks- If I got to choose my ideal debate to judge, it would probably involve a politics
or other disadvantage and a case or counterplan debate. But, I do realize that debaters get
to run whatever arguments they want and strategy plays a large role in argument
selection. I have probably voted for a kritik about a half of dozen times this year. I never
ran kritiks when I debated and I do not read any philosophy in my free time. Kritik
rhetoric often involves long words, so please reduce your rate of speed slightly so I can
understand what you are saying. Kritiks as net-benefits to counterplans or alternatives
that have little or no solvency deficit are especially difficult for Affirmatives to handle.
Evidence Reading- I read a lot of evidence, unless I think the debate was so clear that it’s
not necessary. I won’t look at the un-underlined parts of cards- only what was read into
the round. I am pretty liberal about evidence and arguments in the 1AR. If a one card
argument in the 1NC gets extended and ten more pieces of evidence are read by the
negative block, the 1AR obviously gets to read cards. I think the quality of evidence is
important and feel that evidence that can only be found on the web is usually not credible
because it is not permanent nor subject to peer review. I wish there would be more time
spent in debates on the competing quality of evidence.
Cheap Shots/Voting Issues- These are usually bad arguments, but receive attention
because they are commonly dropped. For me to vote on these arguments, they must be
clearly articulated and have a competent warrant behind them. Just because the phrase
voting issue was made in the 1AR, not answered by the 2NR, and extended by the 2AR
doesn’t make it so. There has to be an articulated link/reason it’s a voting issue for it to
Pet Peeves- Inefficiency, being asked to flow overviews on separate pieces of paper, 2NRs that go for too much, etc.
Seasonal voting record:
I do want to be on the email chains: harvard.debate[at]gmail.com and kviveth [at] gmail.com
Dropped arguments and spin can be true/good to an extent. I tend to look more holistically at the argument even if it was "dropped".
CX ends after three minutes. You can take more prep time to ask questions, but it won't be "on the record"
I think some of the most meaningful things I've learned from my decade doing policy debate have come from debating, researching, and preparing arguments that are "not about the topic".
That being said, debate is a competitive activity and the resolution is the only non-arbitrary starting point from which to begin research and preparation. If there were no equal prospect of victory and people were just showing up every weekend to talk about different things, there'd be some engagement, but the incentive to test other people's ideas with a level of rigor and tenacity that we value debate for just wouldn't exist.
The fact that there are a myriad of issues that may or may not be more important than the chosen resolution is certainly an important question we should be asking of ourselves and of the topic selection process, but the topic has already been chosen - that's when limits become important.
In general, I'm much better for aff teams that impact turn topicality / framework than teams that try to engage deeply with counter-interpretations.
The plan is the focus of the debate and perms don't have to be topical.
If you have evidence that compares your CP to the plan, it's probably legitimate
I have a hard time seeing the neg winning on CPs that compete solely off of certainty and immediacy.
The "always a risk of the CP linking less than the plan" is silly.
You don't need solvency advocates especially for smart and intuitive advantage CPs and 2NC CPs out of addons.
I will kick CPs for the neg if the CP is conditional until told not to by the aff.
I'm generally aff leaning on questions of reasonability v competing interpretations. Rejecting an aff that does some core of the topic proposal that is totally debatable because the neg's interpretation is slightly better for the cult of limits turns debate into a war of attrition with zero educational benefit. I find the strict offense/defense paradigm to T very silly.
That being said, affs trying to shoehorn a cool idea into the topic will have a tougher time beating a reasonable T requirement.
Framework is either the most important part of a critique debate or totally irrelevant. It's really helpful to me to elaborate on the what the consequence of either team winning their framework argument is.
In recent years, aff teams have radically underutilized the permutation and alt solvency arguments in favor of impact turns. If that's your strategy I'm all for it! However, given that the worst part of almost every critique is the alternative and lack of links to the plan's action this could be a good path for teams to take.
Most theory arguments are reasons to reject the argument, not the team.
Theory arguments are generally a tougher rebuttal strategy than substance.
Conditionality - Neg teams are garbage at defending conditionality and the aff should capitalize.
Literature usually guides theory questions - if you have evidence that compares the CP to the plan it's probably legitimate
States CPs - I'm generally persuaded by the aff theory argument that the states CP teaches a bad decision making model because the decision to prefer the states as an actor is not an opportunity cost to federal government action. I think most states CPs are bad for debate, but especially those that are uniform and abstracted from the lit about fed gov v. states.
I debated for 3 years at Chattahoochee HS and a semester at UGA.
I felt my paradigm needed updating to reflect my changed views, so I've altered this for the Education topic. Just as debaters evolve and change perspectives the more they debate, my views on this activity (which I previously thought were static) have also changed with each tournament I judge.
As always, regardless of preferences, you should read what you want and go for what you're best at. The notes here are just guidelines for maximizing the possibility of earning a win from me.
If you have any pressing questions that I don't address in this paradigm, just ask me or e-mail me at email@example.com. Please add me to e-mail chains.
I'm a fairly average judge with no significant biases - this doesn't mean I don't have argumentative preferences (I definitely do), just that I don't think I'm ideologically opposed to voting for any argument. I think there's a side to be heard on everything - absolutism in debate shouldn't exist.
Some miscellaneous notes:
-Please stop saying "vote neg/vote aff" in your rebuttals. PLEASE.
-Clash - specifically, evidence and impact comparison - is underutilized and helps reduce risk of judge intervention.
-Make everything clear in the 2NR/2AR - the common culprits are usually DA/Case impacts, Kritik alts, CP solvency, and T interpretations. I find that discussions of these arguments are usually nebulous and force me to insert my own explanations at the end of debates due to lack of explanation.
-Be persuasive! The art of rhetoric relies on it. A persuasive 2NR/2AR indicting silly internal links is so devastating, even if the opposing team may be technically ahead.
-Be respectful. Don't be condescending to your opponents.
-I'm a laid back guy, so humor and jokes are appreciated.
-CLARITY IS SUPER IMPORTANT. My hearing is pretty bad. If I can't hear or understand something important, tough luck. Can't stress this point enough, especially on theory - don't speed through your blocks or you run the risk of me missing important arguments.
-My background in debate at Chattahoochee and UGA makes me more policy-oriented. I would prefer to see a debate involving CPs and DAs as opposed to critical arguments, but I'm not egregiously biased against them. My favorite K's as a debater were Security, Psycho, Neolib, Heidegger, and Virilio (lol).
-I was a 2N when I was a debater, therefore I protect the 2NR a bit.
-I think there is a possibility of zero risk. The burden is on YOU to prove otherwise.
-I used to think competing interpretations was easier to win in front of me, but now I'm more neutral. Both competing interpretations and reasonability appeal to me equally. Case lists in T debates are super important.
-Huge fan of impact turns...if executed properly.
-I don't keep track of prep/speech time since I'm lazy...so that onus is on the debaters.
-I'm more aff leaning on conditionality and process CPs, but everything else is neutral. I'm sympathetic to a "reject the arg" framework for most theory issues other than conditionality.
-Counterplans with specific solvency evidence have a much easier time defeating theory, but you don't necessarily NEED specific evidence.
-Favorite 2NR: DA and a thorough dismantling of the case.
-If you go for the K in the 2NR, interact with the aff more, don't rely on generic links.
-Aff teams - don't be afraid to call out neg bullshit. Your aff is likely a good idea, defend it.
-Non-conventional affs: I don't necessarily think you need a plan; you just need to be congruent with the resolution. Centering year-round debates around one agreed-upon topic and forcing in-depth research on that is, in my opinion, incredibly beneficial; a wholehearted departure from this is a tough sell in front of me. The roleplaying benefits to debate are grossly overstated, though, which is why I personally ascribe to the standard of topic congruence, meaning the biggest impact to T/Framework for me is limits/fairness. Debate is a competitive activity, first and foremost - preserving the competitive equity of the activity that we all love is undeniably important. Discussions of its shortcomings are definitely welcome, but you MUST address questions of equity first.
Westminster Schools 2016
Put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't understand why people sit down for cross-ex. Stand up
The only thing people care about: If you read a planless aff, I will try my absolute best to be objective. Rest assured that a good T-USFG throwdown is my favorite type of debate to watch and think about, and that I will put as much effort into fairly evaluating the debate as you do debating it. I spent / still spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about aff impact turns and answers to T, because I find them very interesting (if only because I find thinking about how to defeat them even more interesting). I find that negative teams often let affirmative teams get away with way more than they should, by failing to question the basic logic (and I do mean basic) of their impact turns with sufficient rigor -- smart affirmative teams will exploit this to the fullest extent.
I also think that many judges are too lenient with "high theory" teams in terms of explanation. If I can't explain to the other team what it means to "transparently prove that transparency is bad," then I'm not voting for you. And even if I knew what that meant in the abstract, absent sufficient explanation in the round, i.e. enough to provide a basic understanding to someone with no familiarity with the concept before the round, I'm still not voting for you. I think this is a reasonable standard given the inherent complexity of many of the theoretical concepts that planless affs rely on, and also one which is consistent with the standard I apply to "policy" debates. The bar for explanation is contingent on the complexity of the concept which is being explained, and that's true no matter if the subject at hand is Baudrillard's theory of information overload, or the technical details of North Korea's nuclear program.
The beautiful thing about debate is that the only thing I cast a judgement on at the end of the round is the strength of the arguments that the debaters have presented. What this means is that any argument that's presented, no matter how incredulous of a reaction it provokes in any reasonable person, has the same opportunity to be considered true as any other argument within the confines of the round, provided you argue for it well. Accordingly, I will do my absolute best to evaluate the round objectively, meaning solely on the basis of how well you argue; but I'd obviously be lying if I said I didn't have any biases whatsoever. Any ideological preferences that I have, however, shouldn't deter you from reading any particular type of argument, but it might change the way you want to explain it so that it's communicated to me in the clearest and most effective way -- that was just a long way of saying tech over truth.
That's not an excuse, however, to run bad arguments. Arguments should be considered "bad" when the threshold for defeating them or proving them wrong is so low, due to their internal inconsistencies or logical incoherence, that they can be quickly and easily dismissed by competent argumentation. The key part of that sentence is "competent argumentation." It shouldn't be difficult to beat time cube, but if you fail to make the necessary arguments, then you'll lose. Tech over truth means that if a team fails to point out why a stupid argument is stupid, then the stupid argument wins -- the corollary to this is that it should be exceptionally easy to point out why the stupid argument is stupid, and thus beat it.
Most 1AC advantages and offcase positions are absolute trash, and can be taken apart with a few smart analytical arguments. I have a special hatred for terrible affs, and am very conducive to analytical presses that point out logical holes and inconsistencies in the internal link chain. I feel like I probably value these analytical arguments more than other people, so use that to your advantage. This also means that I'm probably more willing to vote neg on presumption if you effectively demolish the case.
All of the generic maxims that apply to every judge also apply to me: Arguments must contain warrants. Explain things. Being slow and clear is infinitely better than being fast and unclear (but being fast and clear is the best). Comparative arguments win debates. Cheating means you lose. Be aggressive, but don't be mean. If you steal prep I'll hate you.
Cards are important, so you should have good cards. But in round spin and comparison of evidence are vastly more important, and I'll give way more weight to those arguments. I'll only call for cards if both teams are in disagreement over what the card says or how good it is. Evidence comparison wins debates, and will boost your speaker points.
Cross-ex is a speech, and very important. Done well, it's my favorite part of debate to watch, and I really appreciate a good one.
Everything that follows this sentence is far less important than everything that's above it.
I like them a lot, as long as they're contextualized to the aff and explained well. There's nothing I hate more than a K speech that sounds like it could be given the exact same way in every debate. There are few things I like more than a well done Security K with specific links and smart turns case arguments.
When I find myself voting aff in K debates, it's usually because the negative has either failed to provide enough impact calculus, and/or failed to implicate the aff's offense. Why does structural violence matter more than the risk of extinction? The reason doesn't have to be an ethics first or value to life type argument; in fact, I think a straight up probability comes first argument is far more persuasive. Along the same lines, you're going to want a substantial amount of case defense and root cause or turns case arguments in order to mitigate the aff's offense.
Multiplank advantage CPs that solve the entirety of the aff are sweet, and I don't think they need a solvency advocate that advocates for the whole counterplan in one card. If your aff is really so bad that a cobbled-together advantage CP can solve it to the point that you're reduced to complaining about how unfair it is, you need to cut a better aff.
I don't have this strange hatred that some people seem to nurture for CPs like consult that result in the possibility of doing the whole aff. The aff should absolutely make and extend theory and competition arguments, but I'll evaluate them the same way that I evaluate every other part of the flow -- I don't have any strong feelings about it either way.
I default to competing interpretations. Impact calculus is super important. Explain why fairness / education / whatever should be prioritized. Should we care about protecting the competitive integrity of the game, or should we care about the education we gain, and why? Caselists are also very important.
I default to rejecting the argument not the team if it's a stupid blip like "severance perms are voting issue." For example, if the neg kicks the CP with the severance perm and forgets to say "reject the argument not the team" and the aff gets up and is like "THEY DROPPED SEVERANCE PERMS ARE A VOTING ISSUE," I will laugh at you and trash your speaks.
Slow down when reading theory blocks.
put me on the email chain: email@example.com
coach @ Brophy College Prep.
experience: 10+ years
tldr: i have minimal predispositions - all of the following are my preferences, but good debating will always change my mind. i arbitrate debates purely based off the flow - i don’t read evidence unless 1) i was told to in reference to an argument or 2) the debate is incredibly close and evidence quality is the tiebreaker.
topicality: it’s okay. i think limits are the controlling standard. reasonability is probably a non-starter unless it’s dropped.
framework/k affs: let me start off by saying i would prefer if the affirmative defends something contestable. affirmative teams should not rely on “thesis-level claims” and should engage the line by line, mostly consisting of defense and impact turns. as long as the negative wins that debate in and of itself is good (which shouldn’t be hard), fairness is a legitimate impact. i think decision-making is silly. negative teams shouldn’t be afraid to go for presumption. same goes for performance affs. i don’t think a poem necessarily solves unless tied to tangible advocacy; convince me otherwise. *on the education topic, i’m especially persuaded by the tva*
kritik: it’s okay, but i’d prefer a more technical line-by-line execution by the neg over three minute long overviews that are repeated on every single argument. that being said, i think the ideal 2nc for most k’s should focus less on reading new evidence and more on contextualized analysis to the substance of 1ac. i think most k debates are lost due to lack of explanation or contextualization of the link or alternative. blippy extensions won’t do it for me, unless you can explain your advocacy in tangible terms. i will probably default to letting the aff weigh its impacts, unless you convince me otherwise. affirmatives, this is probably where you should invest the most time. losing 2ar’s either miss offense embedded on the link debate, lose the framework, or let them get away with absurd broad generalizations (or drop a pik). winning 2ar’s buckle down on case outweighs, mutual exclusivity, or well-analyzed impact turns.
da: love them. politics is my favorite argument. case-specific da’s are the best. aff don’t drop turns case. in the absence of a counterplan, impact calc/framing is incredibly important for my ballot and should be introduced earlier rather than later. in the presence of a counterplan, negs should weigh the da to the risk of a solvency deficit. specific internal links always beat general framing pre-empts.
cp: also love ‘em. pics are my second favorite argument. condo is probably good to an extent. decide what that extent is for me. i enjoy watching a well-executed process counterplan so long as you know how to defend it theoretically. unless told otherwise, i default to judge-kick.
case: please bring this back - it’s a lost art. highly encourage re-hilightings of their evidence, specific advantage frontlines, etc. i love impact turn debates. if an aff can’t defend why economic decline is bad, why should it win?
cross ex: i appreciate when you can answer every question straight-up in cross ex, instead of dodging them. cross-ex is a great time to build ethos. i think one of the greatest mistakes i see debaters make round after round is not carrying concessions in cross-ex into their speeches. cross-ex is binding.
Founding Board Member, WUDL (Washington Urban Debate League), 2013-current; former travel policy debate coach at Thomas Jefferson (VA), 2014-19. Debated nationally in HS and at Harvard (1990 NDT champion and Copeland Award winner) before starting a foreign policy career, including a stint in the State Department, earning a Ph.D., and have run the Washington Quarterly journal (you've probably cut or read a bunch of foreign policy cards from it) since 1998 as my full-time job.
I judged about 50+ rounds a year (now maybe 20 in WUDL), but don't teach at summer camps so better to explain topic args early in a year. In the spirit of David Letterman and Zbigniew Brzezinski (and ask a coach if you don't know who they are), here's a top 10 list of things you should know about me, or about what I believe makes you a better debater with me, as your judge:
10. I don't read speech docs along with you while you are speaking (except to check clipping); I use them as reference docs.
If I don't understand you, and it's not on my flow, it didn't happen. This is a speaking activity. Speed is fine, and I'll say "clear" if you're not.
9. Better debaters structure their speech (use #s) and label each new piece of paper (including 1AC advs) before starting to read tags/cites.
Ever listen to Obama speak? It's structured. Structuring your speech conveys the important points and controls the judges' flow (don't use "and" as that word is used in cards ALL the time). The best debaters explain arguments to the judge; they don't obscure arguments to hide them from the other team. Points will reflect that.
8. I generally prefer Affs to have plans as examples of the resolution.
I am indebted to the activity for opening my eyes over the years to the depths of racial tensions and frustration in this country, particularly among today's students, and constantly learn about them from coaches and students running these arguments well. All that said, I do intuitively believe the resolution divides ground and is vital for the long-term viability of this activity (aka I will vote on framework, but neg has to do more than say "you know old school policy debate is valuable...you did it").
7. Portable skills (including switch-side benefits) are real, and will pay off over 1-2 generations when you are trained and in charge.
What you do in this room can help train you to improve government (from inside or outside) even if it takes patience (think a generation). I am an example of that and know literally dozens of others. The argument that nothing happens because the aff doesn't actually get adopted overlooks the activity's educational value and generally feeds the stereotype that this generation demands instant gratification and can't think over the horizon. It's a process; so is progress.
I also intuitively believe teams shouldn't get the right to run an argument on both sides of the topic. The best way to challenge and sharpen your beliefs is to have to argue against them.
6. I'm not a good postmodernist/high theory judge (this includes psychoanalysis).
5. I am more likely to vote on conditionality if there are strategic contradictions.
4. Top debaters use source quals to compare evidence.
Debaters make arguments and use cards--cards don't make arguments themselves. Cards effectively serve as expert testimony, when the author knows more about the subject than you, so use the author's quals as a means of weighing competing evidence.
3. Permutations should be combinations of the whole plan and part or all of the CP or alt to test whether the CP or K is a reason to reject the Aff (aka competitive).
I've found permutation theory often painfully poorly debated with the neg block often relying on trying to outspread the 1ar not to go for perms in HS. Perms are not inherently illegitimate moving targets. Conversely, don't assume I know what "permute: do the CP" means; I find debaters rarely do. MAKE SURE THE TEXT OF A PERM IS CLEAR (careful when reading a bunch at top speed and text should be written in your speech doc for reference and is binding).
POTENTIAL UNCOMMON VIEW: I believe affs have the right to claim to adopt permutations as the option the judge is voting for (the neg introduced the CP/alt into the debate so it's not a moving target) to solve a DA and can offset the moral hazard that "you can't straight turn a CP so why not run one/more", but this must be set up in the 1ar and preferably 2ac.
Finally, I will resort to judge-kicking the CP or K if nobody tells me what to do, but somebody (before the 2ar) should.
2. Good Ks have good alts
At its core, policy debate is about training your generation to make a better world. That means plans and alts are the key to progress. I prefer not to hear generic Ks with either nihilistic (burn it down, refusal, reject the Aff) or utopian (Ivory Tower) alts. But show me a K with an alt that might make a difference? Particularly with a link to the Aff (plan specifically or as example of resolution) rather than the world? NOW we’re talkin’ ...
1. The most important thing: I try to be as tabula rasa as possible.
If you win a debate on the flow, I will vote for it. Seriously. All the above are leanings, absent what debaters in the room tell me to do or what I tend to do in evenly-matched, closely contested debates. But you should do what you do best, and I will vote for the team that debates the round best. You are not here to entertain me, I am here to evaluate and, when I can, teach you.
I save this for last (#1) because it supersedes all the others.
PROCEDURAL NOTE: If you're not using an e-mail chain, prep time ends when your flash drive LEAVES your computer (or if you are on an email chain, when you save the doc) -- before that, you are compiling your speech doc and that's your prep time. I tend to get impatient if there's too much dead/failed tech time in debates.
This is a working philosophy, which I'll update periodically, so please feel free to ask me any questions and if I hear the same one/s a couple times, I'll be happy to update this.
I came back because I believe policy debate was invaluable in my education, loved the competition, learned from and started a career based on the research I did and heard (and still do learn from it and you to this day), and want to create opportunities for others to benefit from competing in policy debate. I owe my career to this activity, and other members of my family have benefited from it in many ways too. I'll do my best to make each round fun and worthwhile.
Compete, make each other better, and have fun. There's no better intellectual game. Enjoy...Let's do this...
Phoenix Military Academy 16
University of Kentucky 20
I measure a debate based off of how well you interact with one another. Clash is important and if you’re not engaging you’re opponent you’re not debating. The more evidence comparison the better.
You should do your best to frame the debate round for me. Tell me how I should sign my ballot.
I don’t take time for flashing, and yes, put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Except consult and process CPs. These counterplans are infinitely regressive to the point where you can just say "Consult my neighbor then do the plan." If you want to go for one of these CPs you have to have pretty great cards saying why your specific process is detrimental to the success or failure of the aff. I will vote on it but very rarely.
The weirder they get the more explanation you’re going to have to give. I am accustomed to the more mainstream identity and anti-state Ks such as: Eco-fem, Neolib, Anthro, and Wilderson.
I will not kick an alt and use it as a DA toward the case. If you want to win on a K you have to win why the alternative is a better option than the aff.
I will most likely always grant you a link, but you have to properly contextualize it the aff.
Clash is important, and I’m docking your speaks if half of the 2NC is an overview.
Aff Ks are cool. You need to show me how your aff interacts with the neg as well.
If it follows the rez: cool
If it doesn't defend anything: cool
If it does defend things: cool
If it doesn’t follow the rez: You need explain why your model of debate is a better than the resolution. In other words, why should I evaluate your form of the debate? You also need a reason as to why it can’t be done under the resolution.
Usually not convincing
You have to go all in for me to vote on it, but keep in mind 17 DA’s are as shitty as 3 CPs/Ks
Clipping will be dealt with accordingly
Any hurtful comments referring to (but not limited to) gender, sexuality, or race is not going to be tolerated.
My name is Stephani not judge.
My pronouns are she/her.
Puns are highly encouraged. Here's my favorite: Why did the bicycle fall over? Because it was too tired! Hah Also Ill boost your speaker points if you reference My Hero Academia as I am currently obsessed with it.
If you have any questions or want more feedback about a round shoot me an email!
Debated at Emory. Coached at Harvard and Northwestern and Dartmouth.
Put me on your email thread, thanks: email@example.com
TL;DR: Be attentive, prepared, and invested. I will do the same in return.
- Judge instruction is the most valuable skill you have and the most important one for you to use. Good judge instruction establishes tenets for judging the situation at hand by declaring what criteria I should care about when making choices.
- More often than not you can understand how I feel about an argument by monitoring my reaction
- My hearing is in the B- to B+ range but it's definitely not an A. Let's aim for a 10% clarity increase.
Clash Debates *Updated in 2020
I care about my flow, following assumptions to their logical conclusions, internal link defense, and answering the arguments the other team is making not the caricature of the argument you assume they're making.
I try to keep my opinions out of my judging in all contexts, but in this context the opinions that I am predisposed to agree with are:
- People shouldn't have to refute the subjective experiences of others.
- Without explaining the causal pathway, an assertion that debate makes us good or bad at something is an incomplete argument.
- Novelty for the sake of itself is silly
- Being told you're wrong isn't the same thing as being told you're bad.
- The debate round is not the same thing as Debate. Endowing the debate round, the single facet of Debate that is engineered to produce dissensus and us-them thinking, with a preeminent role in achieving community good has never made any sense to me.
- Links should have impacts.
- I tend to measure the utility of theories by my understanding of the consequences of adoption. Debate's understanding of consequence is often too narrow. But if you can't explain the material implications of your thing... we will struggle.
- Solving problems is an invaluable skill, but identifying them is a rather cheap one. I find that this belief influences how I think about the K more than any other.
- I don't think conditionality is that bad... but if saying it is constitutes your cleanest path to victory then do that.
- I’m generally persuaded that if a prepared 2A could have anticipated the CP, the CP belongs in debate.
- A disad cannot be low risk unless you've substantively demonstrated that's the case with defensive arguments. Describing the nature of conjunctive risk bias is not that.
- People stopped doing good terminal impact calculus at some point? Don't love it. Please fix.
- Making courageous choices and knowing when to cut your losses is one of the hardest debate skills to master. I reward debaters who do it well.
Best of luck.
Director of Policy Debate @ Stanford University; Director of Debate @ Edgemont Jr./Sr. High School
(High School Constraints - Edgemont)
(College Constraints - Kentucky)
Email Chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
2020-2021 Update: Christmas Edition
Misunderstanding Tech over Truth: Those three words hurt my soul because they've become to only symbolize that a dropped argument is a true argument in most circles; however, it should symbolize that well-done technical debate overcomes the truthful nature of any argument. I want to see you technically execute an argument you've spent time learning and understanding and I'm willing to listen to any argument that shows me this was done. This is significantly different from "I will listen to anything."
Research->Knowledge->Execution: That's the order! I love when students do a lot of column A to make column C easy.
Clarity Trumps: Speed is irrelevant to me. I've been doing debate for a quarter-century and I've judged people at various speeds. The most important part of the debate is clearly communicating ideas to an audience. I speak very fast, so I realize it's inevitable; however, if you're not understood then nothing you do matters. Remember, what you think you said is not always what the other person hears you say.
Policy Debate: What happened to strategies? The trend is to read 3-4 counterplans in the 1nc, rather than debating the case. Fewer off-case positions, with more time invested in debating the case, is usually a more successful strategy to create pressure on 2a's helping you win more ballots.
2020-2021 PF Update: December 21, 2020
I want to see the best version of you debating! As you can tell my opinions on PF have changed dramatically in the past six seasons; however, I still enjoy judging debates when you're trying your best!!
Theory: I'm totally uninterested in PF theory. It's underdeveloped, not well explained, and has no foundational basis in the activity.
Evidence: If the tournament doesn't adhere to a specific set of evidence rules, I will default to NSDA evidence rules. Paraphrasing is allowed unless otherwise prohibited, but must follow the rules.
I will no longer ask for cases or cards before the debate. I do expect that if a piece of evidence or a card doc is requested that it can be produced in a timely manner. To expedite this process, I will allow the other team to prep during the transfer time for a card doc to be sent to the other team unless it's specifically prohibited by the tournament.
Wiki: I don't look at it. My personal preference is that teams would disclose if the other team asks but I am not policing these conversations. I personally believe that understanding the arguments you are debating (if they've been read before) produces better debate; however, am uninterested in listening to a debate about disclosure being good or bad unless something unethical was done during the disclosure process.
2017-2018 PF TOC Update: April 23rd, 2018
As you can see I used to have a very strong leaning towards how evidence needs to be presented during a debate. I've backtracked pretty substantially on this point. Therefore, I won't ask for your case ahead of time. However, I do still prefer evidence that is directly quoted and cited according to the rules of the tournament we are at. I do not like paraphrasing and will only accept paraphrasing as a logical argument to be made in the round and will not credit you for reading a qualified author.
I know a lot about debate, arguments, and the topics you are debating. I have an extremely competitive set of students that are constantly talking about the topic, I tutor students around the world in PF, and I generally like to be educated on the things that students will debate in front of me.
Beyond what I've said above, I'll give you an additional piece of advice: If you would strike Stefan Bauschard or Amisha Mehta then you'd probably want to strike me. I tend to fall somewhere in between where they are at in their philosophies.
Last but not least, I don't intend to steal your cards...we have more than we can use...however if it means you'll throw me up on a Reddit post that can get over 100+ responses then maybe I'll have to start doing it!
**Disregard the section about asking me to conflict you if you feel uncomfortable debating in front of me since I've judged minimally and don't have any experience judging any of the teams in the field more than once therefore, it doesn't apply to you**
2016-2017 Season Update: September 11, 2016
HS Public Forum Update: This is my first year really becoming involved in Public Forum Debate. I have a lot of strong opinions as far as the activity goes. However, my strongest opinion centers on the way that evidence is used, miscited, paraphrased, and taken out of context during debates. Therefore, I will start by requiring that each student give me a copy of their Pro/Con case prior to their speech and also provide me a copy of all qualified sources they'll cite throughout the debate prior to their introduction. I will proactively fact-check all of your citations and quotations, as I feel it is needed. Furthermore, I'd strongly prefer that evidence be directly quoted from the original text or not presented at all. I feel that those are the only two presentable forms of argumentation in debate. I will not accept paraphrased evidence. If it is presented in a debate I will not give it any weight at all. Instead, I will always defer to the team who presented evidence directly quoted from the original citation. I also believe that a debater who references no evidence at all, but rather just makes up arguments based on the knowledge they've gained from reading, is more acceptable than paraphrasing.
Paraphrasing to me is a shortcut for those debaters who are too lazy to directly quote a piece of text because they feel it is either too long or too cumbersome to include in their case. To me, this is laziness and will not be rewarded.
Beyond that, the debate is open for the debaters to interpret. I'd like if debaters focused on internal links, weighing impacts, and instructing me on how to write my ballot during the summary and final focus. Too many debaters allow the judge to make up their mind and intervene with their own personal inclinations without giving them any guidance on how to evaluate competing issues. Work Hard and I'll reward you. Be Lazy and it won't work out for you.
NDT/CEDA Update: I'm getting older and I'm spending increasingly more hours on debate (directing, coaching, and tabulating at the HS and College level) than I used to. I really love the activity of debate, and the argumentative creativity being developed, but I'm slowly starting to grow hatred toward many of the attitudes people are adopting toward one another, which in turn results in me hating the activity a little more each day. I believe the foundational element of this activity is mutual respect amongst competitors and judges. Without this foundational element, the activity is doomed for the future.
As a result, I don't want to be a part of a debate unless the four debaters in the room really want me to be there and feel I will benefit them by judging their debate. I feel debate should be an inclusive environment and each student in the debate should feel comfortable debating in front of the judge assigned to them.
I also don’t want people to think this has to do with any single set of arguments being run. I really enjoy academic debates centered on discussions of the topic and/or resolution. However, I don’t prefer disregarding or disrespectful attitudes toward one another. This includes judges toward students, students toward judges, students toward observers, observers toward students, and most importantly students toward students.
As I grow older my tolerance for listening to disparaging, disregarding, and disrespectful comments from the participants has completely eroded. I'm not going to tolerate it anymore. I got way better things to do with my time than listen to someone talk down to me when I've not done the same to them. I treat everyone with respect and I demand the same in return. I think sometimes debaters, in the heat of competition, forget that even if a judge knows less about their lived/personal experience or hasn’t read as much of their literature as they have; the judges, for the most part, understand how argumentation operates and how debates are evaluated. Too many debaters want to rely on the pref sheet and use it to get judges who will automatically check-in, which is antithetical to debate education. Judges should and do vote for the "worse" or "less true" arguments in rounds when they were debated better. Debate is a performative/communicative activity. It's not about who wrote the best constructive only. It's about how teams clash throughout the debate.
Therefore, as a result, I will allow any person or team to ask me to conflict them if they feel uncomfortable debating in front of me or feel that the current system of judge placement requires them to prefer me since I'm a better fit than the other judge(s). I won't ask you any questions and won't even respond to the request beyond replying "request honored". Upon receiving the request I will go into my tabroom.com account and make sure I conflict you from future events. I feel this way you'll have a better chance at reducing the size of the judge pool and you'll get to remove a judge that you don't feel comfortable debating in front of which will narrow the number of judges available to you and might allow you to get more preferable judges. My email is email@example.com. Please direct all conflict requests to this email.
2014-2015 Season Update: September 2, 2014 (The gift that keeps on giving!!)
The following are not for the faint of heart!
Some days you just can't get ready in the morning without being bothered. Then you just need to be cheered up and it fails or someone threatens to eat your phone.
However, when it's all said and done you can at least sleep having sweet dreams.
**On a more serious note. Dylan Quigley raised a point on the College Policy Debate Facebook group about what "competition" means when people are judging debates. Therefore, I'll go with this answer "Because this is an emerging debate with no clear consensus, I would encourage judges to let the debaters hash out a theory of competition instead of trying to create one for them. I think in an era where students are taking their power to mold the "world of debate" they debate in it is especially important for us judges to *listen* to their arguments and learn from their theories. No shade towards the original post, I just think it's worthwhile to emphasize the relationship between "new debate" (whatevs that is) and student's ability to create theories of debate on their own instead of choosing a theory that's imposed on them." However, in the absence of these debates happening in the round I will default to a traditional interpretation of "competition." This interpretation says the neg must prove their alternative method/advocacy is better than the affirmative method/advocacy or combination of the affirmatives method/advocacy and all or part of the negatives method/advocacy. Also in these situations, I'll default to a general theory of opportunity cost which includes the negative burden of proving the affirmative undesirable.
2013-2014 Season Update: December 25, 2013 (Yes, it's Christmas...so here are your presents!!)
If you love to debate as much as Sukhi loves these cups, please let it show!!
If you can mimic this stunt, you'll thoroughly impress me and be well rewarded: Sukhi Dance
And you thought you had a sick blog!!
Also, why cut cards when you can have sick Uke skills like these and these!!
To only be shown up by a 2-year-old killing it to Adele
Finally, we need to rock out of 2013 with the Stanford version of the Harlem Shake by Sukhi and KJaggz
2012-2013 Season Update: August 22, 2012
Instead of forcing you to read long diatribes (see below) about my feelings on arguments and debate practices. I will instead generate a list of things I believe about debate and their current practices. You can read this list and I believe you'll be able to adequately figure out where to place me on your preference sheet. If you'd like to read more about my feelings on debate, then continue below the fold! Have a great season.
1. TKO is still in play, and will always be that way!
2. You must win a link to a DA - if you don't talk about it I'm willing to assign it zero risk. Uniqueness doesn't mean there is a risk of a link.
2a. "Issue Specific Uniqueness" IS NOT a utopian answer to all affirmative arguments.
3. You must defend something on the aff - by doing so it also implies you should be able to defend your epistemological assumptions underlying that advocacy.
4. T is about reasonability, not competing interpretations. This doesn't mean every affirmative is reasonably topical.
5. Debate should be hard; it's what makes it fun and keeps us interested.
6. Research is good - it's rewarding, makes you smarter, and improves your arguments.
7. "Steal the entire affirmative" strategies are bad. However, affirmative teams are even worse at calling teams out on it. This means they are still very much in play. Therefore, affirmatives should learn how to defeat them, instead of just believing they'll somehow go away.
8. There are other parts to an argument other than the impact. You should try talking about them, I heard they're pretty cool.
9. Your affirmative should have advantages that are intrinsic to the mechanism you choose to defend with the aff. Refer to #6, it helps solve this dilemma.
10. Have fun and smile! The debaters, judges, and coaches in this activity are your lifelong friends and colleagues. We are all rooting you on to succeed. We all love the activity or we wouldn't be here. If you don't like something, don't hate the player, hate the game!
Clipping/Cross-reading/Mis-marking: I hear that this is coming back. To prosecute cheating, the accusing team needs hard evidence. A time trial is not hard evidence. A recording of the speech must be presented. I will stop the debate, listen to the recording, and compare it to the evidence read. If cheating occurred, the offending debater and their partner will receive zero speaker points and a loss. I'd also encourage them to quit. I consider this offense to be more serious than fabricating evidence. It is an honor system that strikes at the very core of what we do here.
An additional caveat that was discussed with me at a previous tournament - I believe that the status quo is always a logical option for the negative unless it is explicitly stated and agreed to in CX or it's won in a speech.
Newly Updated Philosophy - November 18, 2011
So after talking to Tim Aldrete at USC, he convinced me that I needed more carrots and fewer sticks in my philosophy. Therefore, I have a small carrot for those debaters who wish to invoke it. It's called a T.K.O (Technical Knockout). This basically means that at any point of the debate you believe you've solidly already won the debate, beyond a reasonable doubt, (dropped T argument, double turn, a strategic miscue that is irreparable by the other team) you can invoke a TKO and immediately end the debate. If a team chooses this path and succeeds, I will give them 30 speaker points each and an immediate win. If the team chooses to invoke this but it's unclear you've TKO'd the other team or in fact choose wrong, you obviously will lose and your points will be severely affected. Who dares to take the challenge?
Past Updated Philosophy - September 9, 2010
I am currently the Assistant Coach @ Lakeland/Panas High School, College Prep School, and Harvard Debate. I’m also involved with Research & Marketing for Planet Debate. This topic will be my 14th in competitive debate and 10th as a full-time coach. Debate is my full-time job and I love this activity pretty much more than anything I’ve ever done in my life. I enjoy the competition, the knowledge gained, and the people I’ve come to be friends with, and likewise I really enjoy people who have the same passion I have for this activity.
I last posted an update to my judge philosophy a number of years ago and think it is finally time I revisit it and make some changes.
First, I’ll be the first to admit that I probably haven’t been the best judge the last few years and I think a majority of that has come from pure exhaustion. I’ve been traveling upwards of 20+ weekends a year and am constantly working when I am home. I don’t get much time to re-charge my batteries before I’m off to another tournament. Then while at tournaments I’m usually putting in extremely late nights cutting cards and preparing my teams, which trades off with being adequately awake and tuned in. This year I’ve lessened my travel schedule and plan to be much better rested for debates than I was in previous years.
Second, since my earlier days of coaching/judging, my ideology about debate has changed somewhat. This new ideology will tend to complement hard-working teams and disadvantage lazy teams who try and get by with the same generics being run every debate. Don’t let this frighten you, but rather encourage you to become more involved in developing positions and arguments. When this happens I’m overly delighted and reward you with higher speaker points and more than likely a victory.
My experience is entirely in policy debate so I don't care how fast you talk and I will evaluate things according to the flow
Add me to the email chain- firstname.lastname@example.org
I strongly believe that you should do what you do best within a debate round whether that be a very far right, very far left or somewhere in between. Really do you. Card quality is pretty important to me.
The best debates have lots of case debating, lots of author indicts, lots of re-highlighting the other team’s evidence, and lots of evidence comparison.
You really need to express 2 things along with winning the flow-
a. That your vision of debate is good- that means explain what your world looks like and why its better than the squo.
b. That is no possible T version of the aff. This is pretty easy when its just like do the plan with the USFG but if it actually probably solves the aff, then this needs a lot of work in front of me.
I do also believe that the aff should have some tie to the topic
Explanation is key. That applies to all Kritiks cause if you are just spitting jargon at me and the other team, you aren’t gonna have a good time. I don’t think that you need an alt but if you are going to extend it then it needs a very clear explanation in how it functions. On the other hand you NEED a clearly explained framework and links contextualized in terms of the aff.
T is great when its well debated. That means that there is good impact analysis and explanation of the standards. I didn't do any topic research past camp so need to be more clear
Condo is good.
I have a special place in my heart for impact turns and love to listen to those debates.
- If you are mean, I will be mean to your speaks. It is not fun for anyone if you are mean so don’t be. The only time I will interfere in the debate is if you are being overly offensive and you will probably get an 18.
- Clipping cards is not okay. If the other team has evidence that you were clipping or that I know that you are clipping then you will automatically lose and receive 0s
- Please don’t call me judge. It's weird.
IMPACT CALC WINS DEBATE ROUNDS!
Civil rights/LGBTQ+ rights attorney during the week, debate coach by weekend.
Coaching/judging CX for about 15 years now. I do have an international relations background, but not up on all my NATO specific topic lit, so please explain your topic specific jargon.
Tech over truth, insofar as it minimizes my own intervention. But that's not an excuse to throw out a bunch of poorly developed/bad quality args.
In general, it's your debate, not mine. You can choose to follow my preferences on here if you want to, but never limit your ability to debate based on my personal preferences.
I find that case debate is frequently underdeveloped on the high school level. Like, I get you love your K, but you should probably cross apply all that to the S flow please? At the end of the round, I'm basically going to ask myself if the aff is a good idea. As the neg, don't make it harder than it needs to be- tell me why it isn't. As Aff, give me good impact calc and explain why the plan is a good idea, as opposed to just answering off case.
T- I have a very high standard on T, and in general, I'm not going to vote on potential abuse. You need to do more work than that. The standards debate is important and needs to be fleshed out well. Default to reasonability.
Theory- Make it interesting. Super generic theory is lame, and it makes me very sad, especially when you use it to avoid poignant and interesting debate. I really hate rounds that are just people reading blocks at each other instead of actually engaging. That being said, I really appreciate nuanced pre-fiat args, so go for it- tell me all about how fiat is illusory. Tell me all about how policy debate is inherently elitist and how valuing procedural fairness is a bad idea. Or tell me it's a key prereq to structural fairness. Or not. Engage and have critical thought.
Condo is fine, PICS are fine.
I love good K debate. However, you need to truly know and understand your K and articulate it well. Even if I know your cards, I'm not going to interpret them or argue them for you- that's your job. Good analysis always prefer over bad cards. I'll appreciate it if you do a nice job with the alt debate- make me understand the post alt world and flesh out alt solvency. Perf con matters on a reps focused K.
Framework debates are sometimes really frustrating to judge. Chances are, they're going to get to read their K. I'd much rather you spend the time of K proper and impact framing. If the framework debate is what really matters, engage in it with critical thought and clash.
K affs are fine, with some notes. If there's absolutely no potential for clash or when the K aff is just making for really lazy aff debaters, that's sad to me. I think that topic education is important, and I hate when either Aff debaters or neg debaters use the K as a way to bypass properly engaging with the topic lit.
Speed is fine as long as you're clear. I'll tell you if you aren't. I appreciate it if you slow down on your tags, especially super long ones. For the love of all that is holy, if you spread those Lacan tags at me, we will not be friends.
Underviews make everyone sad, me included.
If you are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc., you will absolutely pay for it in your speaks, and we're gonna have a post-round chat.
A good analytic is always better than a bad card, especially in K debate.
At the end of the day, debate is a game. Have fun and learn stuff.
Oakland University - PhD Applied Mathematics (2017)
U of M - Dearborn - BSE Computer Engineering & Engineering Mathematics (2011)
I debated for Groves High School for two years, U of M - Dearborn for one year, and I debated for U of M - Ann Arbor for one year. I have been coaching at Groves High School since August 2007, where I am currently Co-Director of Debate.
Please include me on the email chain: email@example.com
Top Level: Do whatever you want. My job is to evaluate the debate, not tell you what to read.
Speed: Speed is not a problem so long as you remain clear.
Topicality: I am willing to vote on T. I think that there should be substantial work done on the Interpretation vs Counter-Interpretation debate, with impacted standards or reasons to prefer your interpretation. There needs to be specific explanations of your standards and why they are better than the aff's or vice versa. Why does one standard give a better internal link to education or fairness than another, etc?
CPs: I am willing to listen to any type of CP and multiple counterplans in the same round. I also try to remain objective in terms of whether I think a certain cp is abusive or not - the legitimacy of a counterplan is up for debate and thus can vary from one round to the next.
Disads: Sure. There should be a clear link to the aff. Yes, there can be zero risk. The overviews should focus in on why your impacts outweigh and turn case. Let the story of the DA be revealed on the line-by-line.
Kritiks: I enjoy a good kritik debate. Having said that, you shouldn't run the K just because I am judging. If you decided to read the K, make sure that there is a clear link to the aff. This may include reading new link scenarios in the block. There should also be a clear explanation of the impact with specific impact analysis. For the alternative debate, this is where some time needs to be spent. What is the alt? Does it solve the aff? What does the world of the alternative look like? And finally, who does the alternative? What is my role as the judge? The neg should also isolate a clear f/w - why does methodology, ontology, reps, discourse, etc. come first?
Theory: I don't lean any particular way on the theory debate. For me, a theory debate must be more than just reading and re-reading one's blocks. There needs to be impacted reasons as to why I should vote one way or another. If there are dropped independent voters on the theory debate, I will definitely look there first. Finally, there should be an articulated reason why I should reject the team on theory, otherwise I default to just rejecting the argument.
Performance: I find myself judging more and more of these debates. I prefer if the performative affirmation or action is germane to the topic, but that is up for debate. I am certainly willing to listen to your arguments, and evaluate them fairly.
Paperless Debate: I try to give the paperless teams the benefit of the doubt should a computer issue occur. I do not take prep time for flashing, but don't use this as an excuse to steal prep.
Other general comments:
Line-by-line is extremely important in evaluating the rounds, especially on procedural flows.
Clipping cards is cheating! If caught, you will lose the round and get the lowest possible speaker points the tournament allows.
Finally, don't change what works for you. I am willing to hear and vote on any type of argument, so don't alter your winning strat to fit what you may think my philosophy is.
Niles West High School '14
University of Kentucky '18
Chicago-Kent Law School '24
Northwestern University Coach '18-21
University of Kentucky Coach '22-23
Put me on the chain firstname.lastname@example.org
I decide debates by re-organizing my flow around the issues prioritized in the 2nr and 2ar, going back on my flow to chart the progression of the argument, reading the relevant evidence, then resolving that mini-debate. Tell me what I should care about in the final speeches. Use the earlier speeches to set up your final rebuttals.
I try not to consider personal biases when judging policy or k debates. Debates hinge on link, impact, and solvency questions that have to be argued whether its plan/cp, perm/alt, fw/advocacy.
I believe the most important skill a debater should have is the ability to do good comparative analysis.
I'll read evidence during and after the debate. Evidence quality influences my perception of the argument's strength. Bad evidence means there's a lower bar for answering the argument and vice versa.
When trying to resolve questions about how the world works, I defer to expert evidence introduced in the debate. When trying to resolve questions about how the debate in front of me should work, I defer to the arguments of the debaters.
The debates I enjoy the most are the ones where students demonstrate that they are active participants in the thinking through and construction of their arguments. Don't be on auto-pilot. Show me you know what's going on.
Have an appropriate level of respect for opponents and arguments.
I would strongly prefer not to judge debates about why death is good that may force an ethical debate about whether life is worth living.
K Affs: There is a place in debate for affirmatives that don't affirm the resolution. I will not vote for or against framework in these situations based on ideological preferences alone. I wish the activity had clearer rules for what we consider fair game in terms of links to negative offense/competitive advocacies against affs that don't affirm the resolution/read a plan text because I enjoy debates over specifics more than rehashed abstractions. But I am sympathetic to neg arguments about how the aff precluded those good debates from occurring, depending on what the aff defends in the 1AC.
T: I would prefer neg teams only go for topicality when the aff is very clearly attempting to skirt the core premises of the resolution. Going for silly T arguments against super core affirmatives is a waste of everyone's time. Having said that, T debates have the potential to be the most interesting and specific arguments in debate, so if you feel really good about the work you've put into developing your position I encourage you to go for it.
Theory: I feel similarly about theory. It's hard for me to take theory arguments seriously when they're not made in specific response to some seriously problematic practice that has occured in the debate at hand. Debate is supposed to be hard. People are way too quick to claim something made debate 'impossible'.
K: When the neg is going for a kritik, I find the framework debating from both sides largely unnecessary. The easiest and most common way I end up resolving framework debates is to allow the aff to weigh their advantages and the neg to weigh their kritik. You'd be better served spending time on the link/impact/alt.
CP: When judging process counterplans, I'm most interested in whether there are cards a) tying the counterplan to the resolution b) tying the net benefit to the plan. This is what usually pushes me aff or neg on theory and perm arguments.
DA: I usually think the link is the most important part of an argument
Background: Debated at Woodward Academy for 4 years - currently debate at Kentucky.
I am not familiar with the China topic, so any arguments that rely on super topic-knowledge contingent things should be argued parallel to a more informative tone. If you think that your affirmative or you argument in general relies on some topic knowledge, you should explicit say "This requires a bit of topic-knowledge so I'll make it clear..." and then inform me of the content.
Meta-level things: I view debate more holistically than separated between "traditional" and critical styles. Tell me why you should win. Resolving arguments and answering key, framing questions that you have set up in the final rebuttal will get you far in close debates (and good speaks). Be nice to your opponents. OMFG BE NICE TO YOUR OPPONENTS. If you really love this activity, so long as they are nice to you and have good spirit, you should show the utmost respect to who you are debating no matter how good or bad you think they are.
I love love love good argument structure. An argument, at bare minimum, is: a claim, a warrant, and evidence (and cards aren't the only form of evidence).
A good debater provides all three of those. A great debater provides a claim, warrant(s), evidence, and an impact/implication of the argument. The moments where you implicate your argument and exlain why it matters/how it applies to another area of the debate are the moments that gets the judge's attention. An outstanding debater provies a claim, warrant(s), evidence, an impact, and argument resolution. That skill is what puts you ahead in really close debates against good teams. Oftentimes, the implication of the argument is what provides you a gateway to resolving arguments.
CP's - great when used strategically. PICs are great. Process CPs meh.
DA's - love them. Be smart -- know when their advantage turns your DA more than your DA turns your advantage and vice-versa. Know when the link turn outweighs the link and vice-versa. Impact calculus should always take into account the other team's internal links -- it should be a holistic comparison of their overall position, not just the terminal impacts.
Politics -- eh. Im a 2A that hates the politics DA (compared to the 2A's the love it bc they have to give a 1NR). Its probably not intrinsic and you know it. Fiat might solve the link? Even if it doesn't, most times the link isn't good because of thumpers and other structural things. The aff can gain a lot of ethos by showing that they have not only prepared a good strategy but prepared devasting CX questions to embarras the negative out of the gate on some of these things. That's really biased in favor of the aff, but fuck the neg honestly. Idgaf.
Don't get me wrong, I'll vote on the politics DA, I just think in most cases its a silly argument. If the negative thinks that they, specifically, have good evidence, they should be aggressive about that.
Kritiks - i like good kritik debating because its when debaters (who again, are good at it) show a lot of passion. If you are neg, it would help you in front of me to have some aspect of your link that is related to the effects of the plan. It isn't that other aspects of the 1AC aren't things we should talk about, its just that then the perm becomes really persusaive. 2NC overviews should not be more than half of the speech, its simply not necessary. I appreciate organized K debating and line by line. There is almost always somewhere more appropriate on the line by line to put your rants. I am prepared to seperate the debate (with individual sheets of flow paper) into FW, the link debate, and the perm, because I know those debates can get big, therefore it is really nice if the neg explicitly mentions where those debates are happening in the final rebuttal. Remember when I said line by line was appreciated? Just kidding, it's necessary.
K-affs - it helps to have a plan. It provides a predictable stasis for clash and it eliminates the (perhaps) burden of having 1-off FW debates. If you don't have a plan, at least have a stable mechanism/advocacy that you will defend throughout the round. If you are high theory, make the basis of your argument clear - I'm not super well-versed on complicated political philosophies yet - it is something I am still incorporating into my growth as a debater.
Topicality - I will try to do a little studying of the topic so I can know what's up, but generally my topic knowledge (at this moment) is not up to par for ticky-tacky T debates. But for the argument in and of itself, Limits has always been pretty persusaive to me. I think that the aff should be aggressive on made up interpretations of the topic - debaters that show expansive knowledge of the legal scholasrship and what these major articles are actually saying will be rewarded. A lot of the times we vote on what we want the topic to be not what is acutaly is - if the topic is naturally big and the neg is trying to artificially make it smaller with their interp, in that instance, idgaf about your limits DA.
Theory - i think that the negative should get at least 2 conditional advocacies. LISTEN - if they read more than two, the aff can go for condo bad in front of me, BUT, you have to show that you have thought through your standards and the 2AR should crystalize their offense. I think I lean affirmative on 50 state fiat?
Whitney Young ‘15
University of Kentucky ‘19
Cornell Law '23 and coaching UK
Add me to the email chain- Jacindarivas@gmail.com
My name is Jacinda (Juh-sin-duh) so call me that instead of judge.
I will reward smart teams that can effectively and efficiently communicate their arguments to me. Engaging with your opponent, having a well-thought out strategy, and demonstrating that you’re doing consistent, hard work is what this activity is about.
I'm pretty expressive when I'm judging so I would look up every once in a while to know how I feel about particular arguments.
First things first- Everyone is always so angry and doesn’t want to be in these debates. No one ENJOYS clash debates. Please be nicer. Substance wise, I really do believe that affs should have a tie to the topic and should be in the direction of the topic. I am not the judge for an aff that has a couple cards that say a theory and then pretend to say something about the topic. I also believe that debate is an inherently good activity so indicting the entirety of the activity we participate in is not great for me. I think this matters a lot for the way some teams answer framework so be cognizant of this. The only thing that my ballot decides is the winner.
Links should be causal, specific and about the plan. They NEED to be contextualized to what the aff actually did. I have too often judged debates where a team presents a theory of the world but have not explained what the aff has done to implicate that. Explanation is key. That applies to all Ks cause if you are just spitting jargon at me and the other team, you aren’t gonna have a good time. I am not persuaded by arguments that the aff just doesn’t get fiat.
Love them. Obviously better the more specific to the aff they are
I default to judge kick unless expressly informed not to
There can be zero risk of a DA
Conditionality is good.
You can insert a re-highlighting of a card- you shouldn’t have to waste time re-reading a card if they suck at research
Impact turn debates are some of my favorite
Ethics violations (ex. Clipping, a card being cut in the middle of the paragraph, etc.) should just have the debate staked on it. It is a bad form of education and should be rejected. No point in drawing it out.
Further questions- email me at email@example.com
I've been out of debate for about a decade. That means I'm a bit slow, and, while everything is slowly coming back to me, it is in your best interest to keep this bit of information in mind. Be loud and clear or you risk losing me. Do what you're comfortable with, and I'll do my best to accommodate you, but, especially with regard to T and theory (debates on which I never much cared for anyway) my muscles are somewhat atrophied. If given the choice between a debate about the practical implications of public policy and one concerning the underlying epistemological assumptions of the plan, I will usually opt for the second option. My academic background is in critical human geography and my upbringing in the field is highly tied to various strains of social theory (particularly, numerous critical understandings of race, sex/gender, and other axes of social exclusion). With that said, since returning to debate I find myself voting against the K with a fair amount of regularity. Don't pretend to be something you're not. If you're into a more traditional understanding of policy debate then live your truth. I actually really enjoy watching big clash of civilization debates. I love to watch the 2AC spend a lot of time impact turning the K. I think it's fun. I don't necessarily 'hate' traditional policy debate, I just happen to think that our seemingly collective fantasy regarding the existence of the internal link to the politics disad is boring. Entertain me. Go crazy. Be evil. Just be able to defend that strategy. If you really feel like you MUST include framework as a part of your strategy against K teams, my preference is for less of a focus on debate theory and more of a substantive defense of policy making.
To be continued...
Northside College Prep '16 - University of Kentucky '20
I like being on e-mail chains! firstname.lastname@example.org
I will always reward smart teams that can effectively and efficiently communicate their arguments to me. Engaging with your opponent, having a well-thought out strategy, and demonstrating that you’re doing consistent, hard work is what this activity is about. Please be respectful to both your partner and your opponents and give it your best!
I like them a lot. There is such a thing as zero risk of a disad and there can be no link. Do impact calculus, have a clear link to the affirmative. Quality evidence is appreciated, though it's not the only thing! Being able to communicate what your ev says and why your ev matters is key!
Conditionality is good.
I am okay for critical strategies. However, I didn’t debate these so make sure to explain your authors to me. Affirmatives that do little engagement with the critique alternative are likely to lose. Critiques that do little engagement with the affirmative itself are likely to lose. Explain your links in the context of the AFF and your AFF in the context of the alternative. The perm is not always the best strategy and that is okay.
I am willing to vote either way on framework. I should be able to tell that you know and understand what the affirmative is if you are reading it. Framework is best when it engages with the methodology of the AFF and questions the state’s role in activism. I like topic education arguments.
Email chain: email@example.com
I have read and voted for many different styles of arguments. I appreciate thorough, technical debating, regardless of the content of your argument. Try to understand what issues you're winning, which ones you're behind on, and how that shapes the debate. Explain why winning certain issues frames the debate.
I think counterplans have gotten ridiculous. There's no plausible theoretical defense of 75% of counterplans that are introduced in 1ncs. Fiat has become a battering ram to cover up terrible negative debating and strategy. Aff teams have encouraged this by coming up with more and more ridiculous theoretical objections to make against said counterplans. This isn't to say I will automatically vote on theory, but is to say that you can't convince that being negative is so difficult that you needed your 18 counterplans, all with no evidence, that also somehow do the entire aff.
If you say "we can have that debate" or just generally filibuster/look like you have no idea what you're talking about in CX, you will lose speaker points.
4 yrs - East Kentwood High School
4 yrs - Indiana University
Grad Coach @ Wayne State
Yes on the email chain: wayneCXdocs@gmail.com
Don't be an ass. Please respect pronouns. I understand debate is taxing and we speak fast and it is rarely intentional - doesn't change the fact that being misgendered makes it harder to debate effectively. I'm trying to be less invested in punitive paradigms, so I will now approach this issue by factoring affect and dysphoria into my evaluation of the argument and performance of the person that was misgendered (by being more lenient), rather than punishing the person that made the mistake. If the incident is triggering to the point of disrupting the debate, presumption will fall with the person that was misgendered. Trust me, trans people in debate would rather have a substantive debate than squeak a W out of a moment of trauma. We should all work to make this activity less traumatic than it already is. We can all do better.
Debate is a game but the only rule is that I have to submit a ballot at the end with one winner and one loser. I expect debaters to try to win the game. I'd rather you make a controversial and innovative argument then suggesting that there were other debates or conversations to be had. I find that ethos is often much more important to my decision then the flow.
Debate is already traumatic. We are all here to win. Please presume good faith from others who are speaking their truths, unless they prove to be problematic. I dislike judging debates about the character of individual debaters, but will obviously do so if thats what the debate is about. My decision will ultimately rest on who did the better debating, and any judgement rendered is not final nor is it a judgement on the character of individual debaters.
Updated – 9/05/17
Current School Affiliations: Thomas Jefferson High School (2016-)
Previous School Affiliations: Debated at Broad Run High School, 2x ToC Qualifier
Quick Version: Debated on both sides of the policy/K spectrum so I don’t really care how you debate. You are more likely to succeed if you stick to what you are good at rather than adapting – good debate overcomes argument I may not agree with. I do not have a great familiarity with this topic so explaining acronyms and complex education policy will go a long way. The only rules I have are: your speech ends when the timer goes off, I will pick a winner after the debate, and you cannot interrupt an opponent’s speech on purpose. Besides that, have fun and make good arguments.
General Outlook on Debate (a lot of this is shamelessly stolen from Shree Awsare)
- Do what you're good at. My job as a judge is to adjudicate the debate that the debaters present to me, not to influence how the debate goes down. I was coached to always be flexible in my argumentative arsenal so I am comfortable listening to and judging many different arguments. I don't have huge distaste towards particular genres of arguments (like PICs, T, Politics DAs, Ks, etc). I am not a blank canvas, but the idiosyncrasies I display as a judge will have more to do with how you execute your position rather than argument choice.
- Tech > Truth, but with limits. Arguments like "counterinterp: only our case is topical," OSPEC, word PICs, wipeout, and the lizard people are not doing your speaker points any favors, but I am firmly on the boat that if you can't beat a bad argument, you don't deserve to win. However, there is a distinction between bad and offensive (eg: "racism good"), which I will not tolerate.
- In-Round Persuasion is essential. Ev quality becomes important in close debates but is a secondary concern to explanation and ev comparison by debaters. A well-warranted and well-impacted analytic can beat a poorly warranted series of carded claims.
- I will strongly resist "judge-kicking" a CP or a K alt. The neg can explicitly make a framing argument justifying this practice, but there is a strong likelihood that if the aff answers it to a barely adequate capacity, I won't be compelled to "judge-kick" a world the neg has chosen to defend as an option in the 2NR.
Topicality. I enjoy these debates. You should provide a robust, comparative perspective of your vision of how the topic and/or debates should function. This requires an explicit list of what specific cases and/or practices your interpretation permits/disallows and impacting why this is beneficial for the activity. I default to competing interpretations absent a different way of adjudication.
T vs Critical Affs. I’ve been in a lot of these debates on both sides of the issues – several thoughts:
(1) It will be very hard to persuade me that an aff having no connection to the topic is good for debate, affs that have some connection even if they don’t have a plan are good.
(2) Focus on the real arguments. Outlandish claims like "T is the logic of genocide," or on the other hand, "all teams will quit because K teams are off topic" are unpersuasive. Smart teams will make impact arguments that are specific to the limits that are being set--either to defend the benefits of narrowing deliberation over a topic or to point out the myopia of such a curriculum. The team that debates this issue the best is most likely to win in front of me.
(3) For teams defending the wall: Procedural Fairness and mech-based education style impacts are more persuasive to me than "decisionmaking key to end existential threats like global warming." Fairness can be a terminal impact rather than just an internal link, but it needs to be framed and warranted as such.
(4) Uniqueness arguments matter. Inevitability and access claims (and their relationship to the T version of the aff) seem to be where I begin decisions, so take care to develop or debunk them.
Theory: Slow down a bit and really warrant out your theory argument. Reading your generic 10-subpoint block at full speed is not something I consider persuasive. Think about theory debates like T debates by comparing the different versions of debates that each interpretation create. I will default to “reject the argument, not the team” on all theory arguments (except conditionalitiy) unless told otherwise.
Straight-up Strategies. My favorite straight-up strategies involve PICs (real ones... not Word PICs) or Advantage CPs (that compete either through a topic DA or impact turn of 1 advantage). Politics, artificially competitive CPs, etc are fine. Judge Instruction is vital. Does UQ frame the link debate, or do the links frame a close UQ debate and why? Does the DA turns the case or the other way around, and why? None of these questions should be left up to me.
The K: There’s nothing than I hate more than K teams who think they are smarter than everyone in the room who have long spiels of academic works without putting it into context within the debate. I will be impressed if you command significant knowledge about the theory at hand and are able to apply them to the case through examples from popular culture or empirical/historical situations. Of course, if you have no idea what you are talking about that is not good either. Affs should take advantage of negative teams sometimes omitting discussion of one of these three things: the link, alt, or impact.
For teams debating against the K: I am more interested in arguments (analytics and cards) that substantively engage the K while having a robust defense of the case. The K's "greatest hits" are useful but at some point, you are going to have to answer their "K turns the case" and other tricks they may have by using your aff. I won most of my neg debates when aff teams refuse to answer K tricks and I have no problem voting for that as a judge. Cover your bases while protecting your case and answering the K. I do not necessarily need carded evidence to overcome their characterizations, smart analytics are often enough to respond to contrived link or case turn arguments. I think the cleanest path for substantive victory vs the K is to weigh an advantage that outweighs and can't be solved by the alternative, and then win that their "impact filter" arguments (serial policy failure, RC, "your ev can't be trusted," UQ claims, etc) are fallacious in the context of the advantage you've isolated. Debaters on the policy end of the spectrum that I've judged tend to say I evaluate K debates like a "checklist."
Miscellaneous: I won’t count flashing or uploading docs as prep as long as you do it in a reasonable manner.. I am fine with debaters timing themselves, but if for some reason you want me to time I am okay with that too. Also one of my biggest pet peeves is not being ready for a debate – stuff like taking 10 minutes to start a speech after you have flashed the document, not having adequate supplies to debate, and being incompetent with paperless debate is all stuff that is likely to lower your speaks and make me mad.
For TOC 2021: I have only judged one debate on this topic, at Greenhill, so I am a free strike. FREE STRIKE.
I am relatively unfamiliar with the details of the files and cards, so if I do judge you, don't assume I know things that are obvious to people who have judged more.
Director of Debate at Westminster, former lawyer, college debater before that -- but slow it down some if you want your arguments to make it to my flow, which is usually on paper.
It is unlikely that I can flow the tiny details of your pre-written blocks.
I definitely do not know the details of your politics DA or answers - please understand that I am evaluating your DA and answers based on what you say about it in the round.
I don't know the nuances of any T arguments, but I am a former lawyer so I understand some from background knowledge.
Don't assume, and explain well.
Put me on the email chain at firstname.lastname@example.org
1) Make your speeches flowable. I will not be able to flow (and likely will not catch) all the details if you are reading pre-written blocks at top speed with no breaks or changes in inflection. If you're going to read blocks, try to at least pretend you're not reading blocks by having breaks between arguments, emphasizing tags, slowing it down a little on analytics, etc. You are also a lot more likely to hold my attention to details and help me not miss stuff that way. I will reward your speaker points if you do a good job of this.
You would be shocked at how many "good" judges think the same thing about block-reading and the above advice, and how little some judges are flowing, or even catching, of what you think you said.
2) I disagree with approaches that make the personal identity of the debaters in the round relevant to the decision in the debate, especially for high-school-aged students, and I am also not a good judge for these debates because I often do not understand what the judge is being asked to vote for. This does not mean you can't read K arguments or arguments about race or identity, in fact there are many K arguments that I think are true and make a lot of sense, I just don't think a teacher should in the position of ratifying or rejecting the personal identity or experiences of a teenager.
3) "Death good" is a reason to reject the team, and I may auto-vote that way even if the opponent doesn't make the argument.
4) There needs to be a fair stasis point in order to have good debates. Debate is good.
5) Theory: You are really taking your chances if you rely on a sketchy CP that requires winning a lot of theory, because I do not spend a lot of time outside of debate rounds thinking about theory. I can't tell you which way I will come down on a particular theory issue because it usually depends on what is said -- and what I flow -- in that particular round. This applies to T debates and other theory debates too.
6) If it is pretty close between the CP and the aff (or even if it isn't close), you need to give some really clear comparative explanations about why I should choose one over the other -- which you should do for any judge but make sure you do it when I'm judging.
7) I really dislike high theory and post-modernism in debate.
8) Reading cards to decide the debate: For many years I tried to judge without looking at the speech documents during the speeches, but I have recently concluded that is unrealistic because there is an entire additional level of the debate that is happening between the debaters in the speech documents. I don't think it should be that way, but I understand why it is happening. However, if the claims made about a card or set of cards are uncontested by the opponent, I am likely to assume when deciding the debate that the cards say what their reader claimed they say rather than reading both sides' cards or any of the cards.
9) I am not at all deep in the files and evidence especially for most neg arguments, so I am really judging the debate based on what you say and what your cards say as you present them in the round.
9) Links and impact calculus are really, really important, especially in the last rebuttals. However, I think lengthy pre-written overviews are not as good as 2NR/2AR (and prior) explanations based on what actually happened in the particular debate.
I debated in LD for five seasons of middle/high school (2011-2015), and Policy at Wake Forest University four seasons (2015-2019). I also have a master's degree in World History at Northeastern University and am pursuing a PhD in World History at Northeastern; my research interests concern the Left in the US and UK during the twentieth century, particularly the 1960s.
I have strong knowledge of every style of argument, which reflects the versatility that I had as a debater and now a coach. I am absolutely okay with any level of speed, but I'm at the point where I think you'll sound more intelligent if you don't need to rely on debate jargon to make good arguments. Basically, I would lower your speaker points if you're doing analysis that would sound completely unintelligible to someone outside of debate, not just a layperson but even an accomplished academic. So instead of just saying, "the disad controls the internal link, any risk of offense means it's try or die" and moving on because I should get that, please talk about the substance of the real-world issues you're addressing like you've written a paper or had a conversation with a non-debater. You should still use debate terminology when it's obviously important (like if something's a perm, or a case turn, you should say that).
I will generally prioritize dropped arguments, but I still think weighing is important. So, the one exit strategy that I would give a debater who dropped something crucial is for them to explain why the arguments they're still winning outweigh the argument they dropped. This means it's necessary for someone extending a dropped argument to explain why that argument alone merits them winning the debate - no one should win just because of a tally showing that one debater dropped fewer arguments than the other.
I will not mind seeing a card doc after the debate, but I'm not going to decide the debate based on my views about your cards. I think the way I evaluate debates now is so much more about how you're talking about the cards and less about whether I independently judge that your cards are better than your opponent's cards. So if someone's evidence is really bad, you have to tell me that it is, and why - when I look at the card doc, I may feel confident that you were right in that assessment, but if your opponent doesn't have a good comeback I won't intervene and say "actually this card was awesome."
Note about LD theory/T: Read theory or T if it's making a reasonable point about a squirrely aff or a patently unfair practice. In that sense I default to reasonability, not in terms of intervention but rather my gut feeling that you have to meet a high bar for proving your opponent rigged the game. It's absurd to me that people rush to theory instead of doing topic research. I don't think any frameworks are unfair, I don't think the lack of an ‘explicit weighing mechanism’ is unfair, and I don't care if the aff's theory spikes didn't ‘take a stance on drop the debater or drop the argument’.
I am absolutely okay with non-traditional debate styles, but I believe that you should adopt a concrete political project (could be grassroots and decentralized, cultural/artistic, educational, etc.), or explain why you shouldn't have one at all (full pessimism). I don't think you can be half-in, half-out by talking about structures yet claiming that only the traditional Policy debater is naive about real-world change because they're using fiat/roleplaying. If you say "debate is meaningless, fiat is illusory, nothing we say or do at this tournament matters," I'll roll my eyes because (1) that applies to the K also, because you also spend your time doing debate, and (2) everything we talk about in debate, even hypothetical policies, has the chance to influence how we engage with the world once debate is no longer our entire lives. Whether or not fiat is real, I still think you either need to make a normative claim about how other people--not just debaters--should act, or you have to be radically anti-normative (no demands, no future, no change is possible). I personally think it's vapid to just have debates about debate, and given the real-world impacts that people face I think that you either need to expand your vision to the world or explain why the world is irredeemable. In other words, I think that good Left thinking is optimistic unless you systematically justify your pessimism.
Dartmouth, TAS, Interlake. He/him.
Add me: ant981228 at gmail dot com
College people, add: debatedocs at googlegroups dot com
Please include the tournament, round, and teams debating in the subject line of the email.
Key Things to Know
I will flow and vote based on the things you said. NEGs can say whatever but the more it says the plan is bad the better. Conditionality and judge kick are good. AFFs should be T and are likely to lose if they aren't. If you say death good you lose. If you ask for a 30 you will get a 25.
I STRONGLY prefer that all cameras be on whenever anyone in the debate is speaking, but I understand if internet or other considerations prevent this.
If my camera is off, assume I am away from my computer and don't start talking. If you start your speech while I am away from my computer you do not get to restart. That is on you.
Here is how to successfully adjust to the online setting:
1. Inflect more when you are talking.
2. Put your face in frame. Ideally, make it so you can see the judge.
3. Get a microphone, put it close to your face, talk into it, make sure there is an unobstructed line between it and your mouth.
4. Talk one at a time.
Tech determines truth unless it's death good. If you tell me to embrace death because life is bad I will vote against you even if you do not go for the argument. More broadly, all else being equal, I strongly prefer to solve problems without resorting to violence or force if possible.
Otherwise, unless my role as a judge is changed, I will attempt to make the least interventionary decision. This means:
1. I will identify the most important issues in the debate, decide them first based on the debating, then work outward.
2. What is conceded is absolutely true, but will only have the implications that you say it has. Unless something is explicitly said, conceded, and extended, or is an obvious and necessary corollary of something that is said, conceded, and extended, I will attempt to resolve it, rather than assuming it.
3. I will intervene if there is no non-interventionary decision.
4. I will attempt to minimize the scope of my intervention by simplifying the decision-making process. I would prefer to decide fewer issues. If an issue seems hard to resolve without intervening, I will prioritize evaluating ballots that don't require resolving that issue. Example: a DA is heavily and messily contested, and may be straight turned, but the case would outweigh the DA even if the DA was 100% NEG. I will likely not attempt to resolve the DA page. In complex debates, it would behoove you to instruct me on how I should do this, or instruct me not to do this if you would prefer that I resolve the debate a different way. You can also stop this from happening by debating in ways that don't require intervention to evaluate.
I am aware that this procedure can influence my assessment of substance. Given infinite decision time, I would not do this. However, decision times are shrinking. Post-round time is limited; minutes spent resolving complex or under-debated issues that are not outcome-determinative trade off with the quality of my assessment of issues that are. I believe this process net reduces error costs.
I have voted NEG 53% of the time.
I often vote quickly. This does not necessarily mean the debate was lopsided or bad; more likely, it is a sign that the teams clearly communicated the relationships between their arguments, allowing me to perform evaluations as the debate is happening. If I take a long time that means I was unable to do this, either because there was significant complexity in the debate or because communication was poor.
The following are my inclinations - if you don't like them you can change them.
The agenda DA is not a serious argument.
"Framing pages" where you say "DAs are bad" are bad.
CP'ing in offense is underrated.
If no one says anything I will assume I can judge kick. It is very hard to use theory to stop me from thinking about the status quo. Nothing but conditionality is a voting issue. Pretty NEG on most theory, except fiating out of your own straight turned offense.
Competition is usually more impactful than theory. Theory arguments that logically presume you have won a competition argument ("CPs that steal the AFF are a voting issue" assumes you have demonstrated that the CP has stolen the AFF, which is a competition argument. "CPs that are not functionally and textually competitive are a voting issue"... come on, what are we doing here) are a waste of time. Just win the competition argument.
Functional competition + explaining what your plan does + definitions + reasons to prefer your definitions >>>>> anything involving the concept of textual competition. Textual competition is mind poison that corrupts any competition model it touches.
If I can't explain what a CP does and how it accomplishes whatever the NEG says it does, I am unlikely to vote for it. You can avoid this by writing a meaningful CP text AND explaining it in the speech.
I like judging good T debates. I really don't like judging bad ones. What sets these apart is specific application of broad offense to interpretations and impact debating that is specific to internal links, grounded in a vivid vision for debates under your topic.
I do not think the intrinsic value of being "factually correct" about your T argument is very high.
Many parts of a T argument can be enhanced with cards - e.g. link to limits, claims of AFF/NEG bias in the literature, predictability via prodicts/indicts.
Argue by analogy and comparison to other AFFs, especially in CX.
Ks / Planless AFFs
OK for specific Ks on the NEG, bad for random backfile slop, bad for K AFFs, death good = L.
If your K is secretly a DA, refer to the DA section. If your K is not a DA then yes, you need framework and you need an alternative. Whatever issue your framework says should determine the round should be what your link, impact, and ALT are about.
I do not judge many debates involving nontraditional AFFs. The biggest hurdles to voting AFF for me are usually: 1) why can't the AFF be read on the NEG, 2) why is the AFF's offense inherent to resolutional debate or to voting NEG on framework instead of some avoidable examples, and 3) how do I reconcile the AFF's vision of debate or the topic with debate's inherently (even if not exclusively) competitive nature.
I am open to different understandings of what it means for things to compete if there is no plan. However, "no plan, no perms" is nonsense.
The only effect of my ballot is to decide the winner.
Strong strategy, being fun/engaging to watch, being smart, being classy, being clear = higher speaks.
Making wrong strategic choices, being underprepared or ignorant about substance, making CXs annoying/pointless, making bad arguments, being needlessly mean, being a mumbler... = lower speaks.
I do not view speaker points as divorced from substance.
My points are slightly below average.
Asking for a 30 will yield a 25.
Ethics and Conduct
If the tabroom tells me to do something, it is not up for debate. I will do that thing. The rest is what I will do if left to my own devices.
Evidence ethics (out of context? straw-person? lied about quals? cut in middle of paragraph?) should be debated out like any other theory argument. Alternative remedies short of an automatic loss could be more responsive or proportional to the harm: scratching the argument AND evidence, scratching only the evidence and treating the argument as if it is made analytically, assuming an author is absolutely unqualified, requiring the team to produce the full text of articles in question, requiring the violating team to establish a paper trail authenticating other important evidence and presuming other evidence to be fabricated, requiring a team to produce the full text of every article in the debate and presuming other evidence to be fabricated, reducing speaker points, informing the team's coaches after the fact. They MAY be a reason to reject the team, but I will not treat them as such by default.
Clipping - claiming you read words from evidence that you did not read - is different, and a voting issue. It is a form of dishonesty that irreparably distorts teams' speech times, which affects every other issue in the debate, and which opponents are uniquely poorly positioned to police. If you are inexperienced or appear to have clipped by mistake, I will be lenient. Otherwise, it is non-negotiable.
Thoughts on stopping the debate early:
1. This is an exceptional measure to be avoided if possible.
2. Once the debate stops because of an ethics challenge, my first step is to consult the tabroom and do whatever they say.
3. Unless expressly instructed otherwise by the tabroom, the debate will not resume once stopped. The winner and loser will be determined solely by the ethics challenge.
4. An accusing team can stop the debate at any time. They win if they are correct, present compelling evidence that they are correct, and I agree that the conduct justifies a penalty loss. The winner will receive 28.5 and 28.6. Losers who have personally committed an ethics violation receive the lowest points allowed. Losers who have not personally committed an ethics violation - either due to an unsuccessful accusation, or because the partner committed the violation - receive a 27 and 27.1.
5. An accused team can stop the debate, even if the accusing team does not wish to do so, if the accusation concerns the fundamental academic integrity of the accused. This is a very high bar.
6. An accusing team may ask me if I believe certain conduct justifies a penalty loss without stopping the debate. I will take judge prep to answer. This answer is not an invitation to negotiate and obviously doesn't bind the tabroom.
7. I will proactively end the debate for clipping. I will not do this for other evidence ethics or academic integrity issues.
8. Basically none of this applies to novice or JV, where I will resolve the dispute as quickly and narrowly as possible with the aim of maximizing the number of speeches that can happen.
Being racist, sexist, violent, etc. in a way that is immediately and obviously hazardous to someone in the debate = L and 0. My role as educator outweighs my role as any form of disciplinarian, so I will err on the side of letting stuff play out - i.e. if someone used gendered language and that gets brought up I will probably let the round happen and correct any ignorance after the fact. This ends when it begins to threaten the safety of round participants. You should give this line a wide berth.
1. Offense-defense, but can be persuaded by reasonability in theory debates. I don't believe in "zero risk" or "terminal defense" and don't vote on presumption.
2. Substantive questions are resolved probabilistically--only theoretical questions (e.g. is the perm severance, does the aff meet the interp) are resolved "yes/no," and will be done so with some unease, forced upon me by the logic of debate.
3. Dropped arguments are "true," but this just means the warrants for them are true. Their implication can still be contested. The exception to this is when an argument and its implication are explicitly conceded by the other team for strategic reasons (like when kicking out of a disad). Then both are "true."
1. Conditionality bad is an uphill battle. I think it's good, and will be more convinced by the negative's arguments. I also don't think the number of advocacies really matters. Unless it was completely dropped, the winning 2AR on condo in front of me is one that explains why the way the negative's arguments were run together limited the ability of the aff to have offense on any sheet of paper.
2. I think of myself as aff-leaning in a lot of counterplan theory debates, but usually find myself giving the neg the counterplan anyway, generally because the aff fails to make the true arguments of why it was bad.
1. I don't think I evaluate these differently than anyone else, really. Perhaps the one exception is that I don't believe that the affirmative needs to "win" uniqueness for a link turn to be offense. If uniqueness really shielded a link turn that much, it would also overwhelm the link. In general, I probably give more weight to the link and less weight to uniqueness.
2. On politics, I will probably ignore "intrinsicness" or "fiat solves the link" arguments, unless badly mishandled (like dropped through two speeches). Note: this doesn't apply to riders or horsetrading or other disads that assume voting aff means voting for something beyond the aff plan. Then it's winnable.
1. I like kritiks, provided two things are true: 1--there is a link. 2--the thesis of the K indicts the truth of the aff. If the K relies on framework to make the aff irrelevant, I start to like it a lot less (role of the ballot = roll of the eyes). I'm similarly annoyed by aff framework arguments against the K. The K itself answers any argument for why policymaking is all that matters (provided there's a link). I feel negative teams should explain why the affirmative advantages rest upon the assumptions they critique, and that the aff should defend those assumptions.
2. I think I'm less technical than some judges in evaluating K debates. Something another judge might care about, like dropping "fiat is illusory," probably matters less to me (fiat is illusory specifically matters 0%). I also won't be as technical in evaluating theory on the perm as I would be in a counterplan debate (e.g. perm do both isn't severance just because the alt said "rejection" somewhere--the perm still includes the aff). The perm debate for me is really just the link turn debate. Generally, unless the aff impact turns the K, the link debate is everything.
3. If it's a critique of "fiat" and not the aff, read something else. If it's not clear from #1, I'm looking at the link first. Please--link work not framework. K debating is case debating.
1. I'm *slightly* better for the aff now that aff teams are generally impact-turning the neg's model of debate. I almost always voted neg when they instead went for talking about their aff is important and thought their counter-interp somehow solved anything. Of course, there's now only like 3-4 schools that take me and don't read a plan. So I'm spared the debates where it's done particularly poorly.
2. A lot of things can be impacts to T, but fairness is probably best.
3. It would be nice if people read K affs with plans more, but I guess there's always LD. Honestly debating politics and util isn't that hard--bad disads are easier to criticize than fairness and truth.
Versus the K:
1. If it's a team's generic K against K teams, the aff is in pretty great shape here unless they forget to perm. I've yet to see a K aff that wasn't also a critique of cap, etc. If it's an on-point critique of the aff, then that's a beautiful thing only made beautiful because it's so rare. If the neg concedes everything the aff says and argues their methodology is better and no perms, they can probably predict how that's going to go. If the aff doesn't get a perm, there's no reason the neg would have to have a link.
Topicality versus plan affs:
1. I used to enjoy these debates. It seems like I'm voting on T less often than I used to, but I also feel like I'm seeing T debated well less often. I enjoy it when the 2NC takes T and it's well-developed and it feels like a solid option out of the block. What I enjoy less is when it isn't but the 2NR goes for it as a hail mary and the whole debate occurs in the last two speeches.
2. Teams overestimate the importance of "reasonability." Winning reasonability shifts the burden to the negative--it doesn't mean that any risk of defense on means the T sheet of paper is thrown away. It generally only changes who wins in a debate where the aff's counter-interp solves for most of the neg offense but doesn't have good offense against the neg's interp. The reasonability debate does seem slightly more important on CJR given that the neg's interp often doesn't solve for much. But the aff is still better off developing offense in the 1AR.
1. I've been judging LD less, but I still have LD students, so my familarity with the topic will be greater than what is reflected in my judging history.
2. Everything in the policy section applies. This includes the part about substantive arguments being resolved probablistically, my dislike of relying on framework to preclude arguments, and not voting on defense or presumption. If this radically affects your ability to read the arguments you like to read, you know what to do.
3. If I haven't judged you or your debaters in a while, I think I vote on theory less often than I did say three years ago (and I might have already been on that side of the spectrum by LD standards, but I'm not sure). I've still never voted on an RVI so that hasn't changed.
4. The 1AR can skip the part of the speech where they "extend offense" and just start with the actual 1AR.
Currently working with Alpharetta, previously worked with Chattahoochee. I debated throughout high school, then at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma, and am now a member of U of West Georgia debate.
I’m comfortable with all speeds and styles, especially those regarding the k – I’m most familiar with poststructural + positional criticisms, though you should do whatever it is you do best – you can just as easily win with a plan, theory, framework, etc. If you want to test a sneaky new framework strategy, I'll happily adjudicate your chess match; if you're all about the Death K, well, I've done my fair share of that stuff too. Give me your best args and write my ballot. I privilege tech over truth and frequently vote for arguments that contravene my personal beliefs. I judge k affs frequently but this only thickens my belief that they need some relation to the resolution, even if only neg-neg. I thus also believe that the neg, in turn, needs to prove why either A) the aff links to harder to the k than squo does, or B) why that distinction doesn't matter - i.e. how I can vote without presumption and/or L/UQ or why presumption still goes neg, does not exist, sucks, whatever. I am not, personally, keen on the notion that presumption can flip aff, but am willing to entertain the argument and have voted on it when used to exploit a neg weakness.
I flow on paper, if you care. I'll say clear twice and then stop flowing anything incomprehensible. If you begin a speech in unsettling fashion (e.g. giving an inaccurate roadmap or jumping the gun with 400+wpm), I'll act flustered and require a few effervescently dramatic seconds to get my affairs in order. If I'm otherwise not flowing or I'm on the wrong sheet, it's because either you've created a mental backlog of arguments that I'm flowing in retrospect or I'm repackaging your arguments to make them more palatable to my flow, or both.
Some things that frustrate me: excessive rudeness (toward opponents or judges), offensive strategies (racism inevitable/good, for instance), and clipping (zeroes + L = bad time for you). The advent of digital debate brings with it a new and widespread sense of suspicion, and though I will do my best to catch any and all forms of cheating, I ask that debaters remain vigilant for it as well. Also, and I can’t believe I need to write this, please don’t engage in acts of self-harm to win my ballot (you know who you are). Instead, please demonstrate mastery of persuasion, word economy, and 2nr/2ar prescience – teams that reverse-engineer strategies and execute them methodically speech-by-speech impress me the most – a searing cross-ex is, of course, welcome – entertaining and innovative teams will be rewarded with speaker points.
A few final notes: not a huge fan of process counterplans (but I’ll still vote for them), conditionality is pretty good (as is neg fiat), link uniqueness wins k rounds, and maybe, just maybe, go for presumption.
I will vote for the argument that won. I am fine with speed as long as your tags and citations are very clear. Clarity takes priority over speed for me. I am a varsity debater in college so I will know most authors you are reading very well- that being said, you should too. Ethos is very important to me, and I will give high speaker points to those who really command their arguments. I do not like low point wins but I will grant them. Racism, sexism, misogyny, etc; in round will not be tolerated.
USN head coach 2012-present
MBA assistant coach 2000-2002
The stuff you are looking for:
email chain: bwilson at usn.org
K Aff: Defend a hypothetical project that goes beyond the 1AC.
Framework: My general assumption is that predictable limits lead to higher quality debates. Aff, how does your method/performance center on the resolutional question in a way that adds value to this year's topic education? Why does the value of your discussion/method outweigh the benefits of a predictable, topic-focused debate?
Topicality: I am agnostic when it comes to the source of your definitions. Just tell me why they are preferable for this debate. Aff reasonability defense must be coupled with an interpretation, and RTP that interpretation. I will be honest, when it's a T round against an aff that was cut at workshop and has been run all year, I have a gut-check lean to reasonability. Competing interps becomes more compelling when there is significant offense for the interpretation.
Theory: Other than condo, a theory win means I reject the argument unless you do work explaining otherwise. For condo debates, please have a clear interpretation and reasons to reject. I am more open to theory when it is about something particular to the round and is not read from pre-written blocks.
CP's: I prefer CP's that have a solvency advocate. I think a well articulated/warranted perm can beat most plan plus, process CP's.
Politics: I like it better on topics without other viable DAs, but I am fine for these debates.
DAs: I find "turns the case" analysis more compelling at the internal link level.
Cheating: If you are not reading every word you are claiming through underlining or highlighting, that is clipping. If it seems like a one time miscue I will yell something, and unless corrected, I'll disregard the evidence. If it is egregious/persistent, I will be forced to intervene with an L.
If the other team raises a dispute. I will do my best to adjudicate the claim and follow the above reasoning to render a penalty either to dismiss the evidence in question or reject the team. I think I have a fairly high threshold for rendering a decision on an ethics challenge.
RIP wiki paradigms, or how my paradigm started for years but is now showing its age:
I like it when debaters think about the probability of their scenarios and compare and connect the different scenarios in the round. If it is a policy v critical debate, the framing is important, but not in a prior question, ROB, or "only competing policy options" sense. The better team uses their arguments to access or outweigh the other side. I think there is always a means to weigh 1AC advantages against the k, to defend 1AC epistemology as a means to making those advantages more probable and specific. On the flip side, a thorough indictment of 1AC authors and assumptions will make it easier to weigh your alternative, ethics, case turn, etc. Explain the thesis of your k and tell me why it it is a reason to reject the affirmative.
Email: email@example.com Please include me on the email chain.
TL;DR: Choose your battles for the second rebuttals, don't just tell that you're winning everything. Tell me why the impacts that you're winning are more important than the impacts that they're winning. If going for theory args, you should spend at least 4 minutes on it. I flow by ear, not by speech doc so it behooves you to be clear.
General: I expect every debater to flow and to be nice to both opponents and partner. Cross-examinations should be civil and at a conversational volume.
I value clarity over speed and have a tendency not to evaluate arguments that are not sign posted. The clearest speaker will receive the highest speaker points, and I will let you know if you’re not being clear. If I can’t understand you, I can’t flow your arguments, and they probably won’t factor highly in my decision. I don’t care if you sent me the whole speech doc and said it word for word. Debate is a competition of communication and reasoning, you need to be clear. That is usually at the expense of speed, which means you also need to manage your speech time effectively.
I will be more impressed by students that demonstrate topic knowledge, line-by-line organization skills (supported by careful flowing), and intelligent cross-examinations than by those that rely on superfast speaking, obfuscation, jargon, backfile recycling, and/or tricks. This means that instead of reading yet another card, you should take the time to explain why the context of the evidence means that your position is better than that of the other team. This is particularly true in close uniqueness and case debates.
Time and CX: You should keep track of your own prep, speech, and CX times, as well as your opponents', if you deem it necessary. CX is not a shouting match. It’s not a game of interruption
a. Conduct your own CX as much as possible. CX is an important time for judge impression formation, and if one partner does all asking and answering for the team, it is very difficult to evaluate both debaters. Certainly the partner not involved in CX can get involved in an emergency, but that should be brief and rare if both debaters want high speaker points.
b. Aim to ask the question that the debater couldn't answer if that person had the whole 3 minutes.
c. I absolutely loathe when questions are basically “you said this but what about our card that says the opposite?” That’s setting up the debater to then spend 3 minutes telling me why I should prefer their evidence.
d. As the questioner, do NOT let them run away with your time. Ideally they won't because you're not asking questions like the one above. The way to shut them up is saying, “ok that’s fine. Moving on, [separate question]?”
DA/CP: No preferences/opinions
K Aff: I think affirmative teams should have a plan text. On the aff you must win a reason why FW is violent/bad and a reason why this round in particular is key. The reason why either side tends to lose is because they don't interact with the other sides' arguments: that means that k teams should adapt their blocks to answer the specific way the neg team is going for framework and neg teams should engage with the substance of the aff.
Ks on the Neg: Links should be specific to the aff. Even if your evidence is generic, good analysis and spin can still win you the round. If your links are just state bad or based on fiat, I will probably vote aff. SLOW DOWN ON THE K. Assume your judge hasn’t ever heard the K before and is trying to understand the reasoning that it indicts. I am especially inclined to vote for an identified and impacted performative contradiction.
Topicality: I don’t particularly enjoy T debates, but I will vote on them. I generally think that if the neg has specific blocks to answer the case, it’s probably topical. I’d prefer a debate on limits and grounds rather than “abuse” and “fairness.” I’d like to hear a debate on the literature and competing interpretations.
Other Theory (condo, alt vagueness, etc.): I generally dislike theory arguments. Either go for them (whole 2NR/2AR) or just don’t read them. That being said, I will hear them and vote them up if explained and impacted. If you can explain why something such an issue, I will vote on it. However, I am more likely to reject the argument not the team. You must tell me how I should evaluate the debate, meaning in which order I should evaluate theory and policy. I am not inclined to judge kick an argument unless the 2R tells me to (and poor answers).
Paradigm for Kentucky Opener (9/18)
I debated for four years at Stoneman Douglas (FL) and three years at the University of Kentucky where I received degrees in both Philosophy and Engineering. During my debate career, I primarily read kritikal positions in the vein of Baudrillard/Zizek/Badiou/anti-cap as well as some Nietzschean positions.
In terms of my preferences, I would consider myself a flex judge. The longer I have spent not competing in debate (~6 years), the more agnostic towards form and style of debate I have become. To that end, I am willing to vote for nearly any coherently explained and well supported framework that is advanced, however, remember that the use of vogue tech-y shorthand that I am not aware of may be to your detriment. In general, do your thing, and as long as it is well executed, you won't have a problem with me.
Some particular things I feel necessary to highlight:
- Don't steal prep time. I won't make you take prep time to flash documents, but don't abuse that inclination. If you're obviously (and it's always obvious) continuing to prep under the guise of flashing, then you're burning your credibility in my eyes.
- Rebuttal speeches should not just be restatements of constructives. Extensions should utilize embedded clash and advance your argument rather than remind me its still on the flow.
- Normally I'm not a fan of voting on topicality, particularly for popular affirmatives on the grounds that the Negative was unable to prepare/predict/respond to it fairly. That being said, I am more amenable to topicality arguments at a season opener, so keep both those things in mind.
- Theory based arguments have an important role in debate, and while I will vote for them, I would much prefer to vote on something substantive over a "gotcha," "you dropped this" generic theory argument.
- I would consider myself to have a fairly good pre-round understanding of many critical authors, but be careful to not lean too much on that.
- Evidence/Cards contain warrants, not mere assertion. Cards/Evidence that are highlighted too creatively will be given less credence than higher quality cards/evidence.
- Spreading is fine, but given that I judge 2-3 tournaments a year on average, clarity is more important than quantity.
Beyond that, I am more than happy to answer any other questions or concerns you might have about the way I tend to adjudicate rounds.
Add me to the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
High School: Wooster High School // College: Trinity University // Coach: MBA
Topicality vs Plans
I find well-executed T debates some of the most fun debates to judge. However, that requires a few things from the neg: a definition grounded in the resolutional wording and context; a clear explanation why your vision of the topic either shifts the state of current debating on the topic to a better place or prevents debate from slipping into a worse place; cards on the offensive portions of the debate. I would also caution neg teams stop making contradictory arguments on other theory portions (think: condo).
As for the aff in these debates—I’m open to whatever offense you want to go for, but you must do impact calculus.
Topicality vs Planless
I lean heavily neg in these debates. When I do vote neg, it is because the aff has not adequately described a link between their impacts, their solvency mechanism, and the ballot. Exclusion impacts need a solution that rests within your model of debate, and that is something you need to prove just as the neg needs to explain why the ballot remedies a loss of fairness or clash.
Neg teams: go for fairness. Skills, clash (alone), and education are more hassle than they’re worth.
I lean neg on broader theory questions. I don’t think many if any debaters understand functional/textual competition. Permutations are bad for the neg when you’re debating a team that writes them well, but I think that clarity in how the CP operates and what actions it specifically takes is necessary to explaining away perms. I find neg teams are short on explaining what the CP does. I like process CPs, but again, be smart on perms. I am not a fan of fiating in a DA.
If you’re taking a DA in the 1NR and have all that prep time, please use it to read through the 1AC and find solid, supported turns case arguments. If you do, your life and mine become much easier at the end of the debate.
Neg teams need to have a theory of how the world operates and defend it, use it to extrapolate links, etc. I find that when neg teams are asked a question of, “how do you know [the link] is true?” they usually stare blankly into the distance. I like kritik debates, but find myself being frustrated by a lack of link analysis and application to the aff. I am close to 50/50 on the framework portion of K neg vs aff, but I need good impact analysis as to why I should include more than the plan itself. Link debating for the K should operate more than to get you from aff-to-big impact, it should become solvency answers, reasons to reject the team, case turns, etc.
Aff teams need to defend the truths of the plan. Win framework, win the aff is a good and necessary action. Make sure to answer well-done link debate or you risk losing to small concessions that take out the truths you attempt to defend. I don’t think teams impact turn K’s enough (both thesis level impact turns as well as alternative/method turns). If you win the aff, I will look at you favorably.
Please include me on the email chain: (email@example.com)
Assistant Coach at University School of Nashville since 2014.
I generally prefer affirmatives that do something bold and transformative over ones that do something small and technical. On the negative, I most enjoy the kritik and case debate.
Defend a hypothetical project that goes beyond the 1AC
- Affirmatives should defend a project that is independent of the recitation of the 1AC.
- This means voting affirmative should engage some project that exceeds the simple validation of the 1AC's theoretical positions or performative mood.
- Ideally, this is a material project that is specifically outlined and allows for its consequences to be posed as a question.
- This ensures that the negative team can generate (unique) offense through a characterization of how the affirmative project would be hypothetically implemented.
Rarely go for theory
- Nothing is a voter except conditionality.
- Within reason, conditionality is only a voter in rounds with full (plan+advantages/cites) affirmative disclosure.
- I will not vote on conditionality if there are 3 or fewer positions. I may still be unlikely at 4 positions unless the positions are redundant (ie same types of Ks/CPs or solving the same net benefits).
- I have a distaste for multi-plank CPs when # of planks >> sum of aff advantages+add-ons. This strikes me as cynical and needlessly complex. I would consider rejecting the CP if the aff checks out ideologically.
4 years of policy debate at MBA in Nashville, TN; Class of 2016
Current Junior at Vanderbilt University studying Political Science and Medicine, Health and Society
keeping old paradigm at the bottom b/c why not
add firstname.lastname@example.org please
Here's what's important:
I will communicate with you with head nods, eye contact, etc if I like what you're doing or not so pay attention during round
Evidence quality - especially for DAs and terrible counterplans
- I will assign 0 risk of a DA etc if evidence is bad, but team HAS TO SAY IT
- if you compare evidence I will like you
Debate is a speaking activity
- look me in the eye
- Speak clearly
- don't you dare double breathe
- have good posture, don't slouch
- be nice to teammate and opponent or else...
- most of the time people have no idea what they're saying, if you do, you better explain it to me if you want to win
- focus on the links... please
- i'm not your judge for high theory because I hate it
- you probably can read a plan text and be topical....... do I need to say more? Topical version of aff is a winner for me if explained well
- i'll absolutely vote on condo bad - I went for the argument a lot senior year, that being said I expect you to know what you're saying
- Impact work is extremely important
- you NEED a counterinterpretation for any good theory argument, if you use it and explain how your c/I takes care of their offense or at least mitigates it, you've gone a long way
- I know nothing about this topic so be clear with acronyms, stuff
- my parents are immigrants and I was born in the usa
- I dated internationally and know how hard it is to come here
1. Is there prep for flashing?????!?!?!?
No, no there is not. I debated during paperless. And if there are problems, I understand. Please just don't abuse the time or take too long, because the tournament has to keep going.
2. Tagteam cross ex??
3. Do you have any prefs!?!?!?!
If you read this philosophy, you will be rewarded in front of me. If you do things I do not like, then you will lose points in front of me.
I have been out of debate for 2 years, and I do not know anything about the Education topic. Please, explain what your acronyms mean and help me out with complex education law. The more you help me out the more speaks you get.
I will start your speaks at an average of 29.0. This is higher than most judges? Why? Because I think people should be rewarded for what I consider to be good debate. This also means that I will take points away more liberally.
What I like:
- Did you know that helping your partner when they need it, being nice and greeting people around you, giving paper to your opponents when they don't have any (YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE HOW MANY KIDS DO THIS) is not only nice in terms of etiquette but also goes a long way to being a good human being? Be one.
Good posture and speaking clarity
- Debate is supposed to be persuasive. I want people to set good examples of what debate can look like. If you read any comments section of a debate video on youtube, policy debate looks like a joke. Don't make debate a joke.
- Stand up straight.
- Make eye contact.
- Speak up.
- Work on your voice tone (avoid too nasally, whiny, too much bass, graty, too loud etc.). You should ideally be a pleasure to listen to argumentatively and aesthetically. If you have a voice problem, let me know before the round.
Thus, things that will lose you points:
Essentially, the opposite of a lot of the things I mentioned.
- DOUBLE BREATHING - this is a plague, and I would like it to stop. You can get the same amount of air required if you single breathe. Please look up breathing tutorials on youtube to fix this. If you usually double breathe, and you tell me before the round that you will try to work on it but are not perfect, then you get a pass. Triple breathing is insta 28 or less.
- The debate "hunch over with timer or mouse held between my two hands as I move it vigorously back and forth as I gasp for air."
- Being a jerk. There's a difference between being assertive and being mean. I know; there were people on my team that crossed the line. You'll probably get a 26, and you can say goodbye to speaker awards.
- If you are racist or sexist in any intentional way, I will make sure your coach knows and you know.
I have lots of experience with "normal" ks, capitalism, neolib, colonialism, etc.
When you get to high theory (Bathai, Deloser, etc.), the best way to win in front of me is to not read it! If you have to read it, then be self-aware enough that your stuff is bulls****. If you communicate this self-awareness to me then I will actually give you a shot.
I debated always a policy aff, but I definitely will vote on kritiks and critical arguments.
I really like alt explanation. What does the world of the alt look like? Do the aff's impacts get solved? Is it a movement or in round? Why does that matter? That's the most important part of the kritik for me.
This tells you how to beat the K too. Weigh your aff vs. the alt. Tell me what advantages you have that the alt can't possibly solve or solve fast enough for your timeframe. This is always the k's weakest part, but if it is strong it usually gives the neg a big advantage in my book.
The framework is important, and I have won my fair share of round on epistemology comes first or kappeler 95 meaning that alt doesn't even matter, but please please focus on the alt.
Also - more links! Specific links are ALWAYS good.
Also, I like plans. Newsflash, no one outside of debate really cares about what goes on inside a debate. Realize that your "influence over the debate community" is a very small amount over an extremely small, insulated group of people. I am very persuaded by arguments saying that other forums are much more effective for spreading news about something. I've participated in a partial BLM march and the Womens' March. If you care, do something in real life. Debate is not real life. Debate can be your home, and that's great. But so can your local political party, if you want public speaking. So can your counselor's office, if you need someone to listen to. The only thing unique about debate is that you get to "win" something. Life isn't about winning; it's about doing good in the world. Do good the right way, and don't let anyone or yourself delude you into thinking that you couldn't do it better somewhere else.
- That said, if you are so woke and so persuasive that I cannot help but vote for you, then you probably get 30s and win.
- Otherwise, I WILL vote for K affs, I just want to let you know that smart framework debaters will probably win. If you can crush FW as the aff in front of me, then you deserve the win.
#1, slow down on theory and you will win more rounds. Slowing it down shows the judge that you're not afraid of the other team hearing your arguments and believe it or not also lets me write them down.
As a senior, I went for Condo bad 25-50% of my aff rounds. This means I am more likely to vote for condo if you do it well, but if you do it badly then you don't stand a chance.
In general, if you provide solid counter interpretation debate on condo, that's where your starting point should be. If you read a 3 second "condo is bad strat skew time skew impact is education" blurb in the 2AC, you will lose speaker points because you are wasting my time. Neg, if you are in front of me ,and they do this, and you say "THEIR CONDO BAD ARG SUCKS," that's insta 29.5. But if they do it right and you mess up, don't blame me when your speaks drop.
If you want to go for other theory arguments, I will be much more likely persuaded if you give a counter interpretation. IE, if you say 50-state fiat bad, then your c/i could be Neg gets only federal ground with regards to government action. That's not a perfect c/i, but if you can stand your ground, defend it, and the opponent doesn't give one, your point of reference will be the only place to debate from and you're more likely to win in front of me.
Don't give me the "they didn't touch this in the X speech give them 0 arguments ever and for ever against this!" I will allow "new" args as long as they are in the spirit of what has already been said. Obviously, there is a limit, and don't abuse this or I won't consider an arg at all.
Death good and extinction good are nonstarters. Don't go there. That includes racism good, genocide good....
Saying "you guys" is not a reason to vote down a team. If they apologize, leave it alone.
Evidence! Some judges almost don't care to read your evidence at all. If one of your opponent's cards doesn't say something, or is contradictory, FLAG IT! Say - LOOK AT BROWN 15, IT CONTRADICTS...... I will vote down entire disads purely based off of evidence.** I lost too many debates on stupid links that literally say nothing and are just tagged to say something. That said, you have to call it out. I will still read ev, but I won't weigh it as high as if the debater points out a flaw.