Greenhill Fall Classic
2020 — Addison, TX/US
Policy RR Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Former debater at Newark Science '18 and Wake Forest University '22 in LD and Policy debate
For the email chains: b.aaron3693 [@] gmail [.] com (won't look at docs unless necessary)
Update for TFA:
I haven't judged on this topic aside from at a summer LD camp so break down any topic jargon because it's been a minute. I veer towards explanation over blippiness. With the time constriction of LD, I get the necessity to speed through everything but clarity is key. I NEED non-monotonous and clear spreading for me to properly flow you, especially when everyone has different WiFi conditions.
Additionally, I'm not the best judge for tricks or half sentence explanations. Unless you can explain complex arguments well in CX and/or your speech, I will just not get it. Aside from that, my paradigm for policy should work for yall below.
The debate is what you make of it. Start off slow so I can get used to your voice and err on the side of explanation over blippy arguments. I think the flow is important but blatantly disrespectful/harmful engagement in round will not get my ballot.
Did primarily Kritikal debate but started off with traditional policy arguments so do with that what you will.
Engaged mostly with antiblackness positions of all varieties and anti-humanist Ks in college and high school. Good for anything else too.
Anything too high theory needs to just be explained well. Make sure to translate jargon into something practicable.
I'm an examples heavy judge. I thrive on being able to connect whatever the heck you're talking about in debate to something that actually matters in the world.
Stock concerns (cps, das)
Yes. Read them. I don't have the most robust understanding of the topic so break down any acronyms. Not the best for hard core politics angles because I oftentimes find them becoming arbitrary in debate.
Yes. I'm a fan of both sides. I've both kritikally responded to framework as the aff and ran framework multiple times on the neg myself. I've also coached both ways.
This flow is about models of debate. For K aff teams, if you go for the impact turn, I need to know what your alternate model of debate looks like. For neg, same thing. There needs to be good comparative analysis here. In clash debates, I can go either way but my decision ultimately becomes determined by what model of debate I can see as being best post-round. If I can't envision what debate looks like for the better post the round, then I probably won't vote for you.
Lastly, check your privilege as much as possible. No judge (or person) is unbiased and it'd be asinine to think otherwise. I will dock speaks or vote you down if you say something actively harmful.
I'm also increasingly becoming more comfortable with just not voting for something if I can't comprehend it in the debate. Explanation and crystallization is essential.
Ultimately, be sure to be charismatic and have fun!
Director of Debate at the University of Texas
firstname.lastname@example.org - please add me to your email chain
Square up. Friday night lights. Fight night. Any given Sunday. Start your engines and may the best debater win.
My bias is that debate is competitive and adversarial, not cooperative. My bias is that debate strategies should be evidence-centric and, at a minimum, rooted in an academic discipline. My bias is that I do not want to consider anything prior to the reading of the 1AC when making my decision. My bias is that I will only flow one speaker in each rebuttal unless it is clearly and compellingly established in the constructives why I should flow both speakers in the same speech.
For me to vote on an argument it must have a claim, warrant, and impact. A claim is an assertion of truth or opinion. A warrant is an analytical connection between data/grounds/evidence and your claim. An impact is the implication of that claim for how I should evaluate the debate.
I think about permutations in a very precise way. I do not think it's the only way to think about them but I am unlikely to be persuaded to think otherwise. I think that a plan specifies a desired outcome. There are a set number of means to achieve the desired outcome. I also think that a counterplan or alternative specifies a desired outcome with a set number of means to achieve that outcome. A permutation asserts that it is theoretically possible for there to be a means of action that satisfies both the outcome of the plan and the counterplan or alternative. A permutation could be expressed as where the set numbers of the aff's and the neg's strategies overlap. Permutations are defense. Rarely do they "solve all their offense." It would behoove affs to know what offense they are "no linking" with the perm and what offense the perm does not resolve. This discussion should ideally begin in the 2AC and it must take place in the 1AR.
---"Perm do the counterplan" and "perm do the alt" are claims that are often unaccompanied by warrants. I will not vote for these statements unless the aff explains why they are theoretically legitimate BEFORE the 2AR. I am most likely to vote for these arguments when the aff has 1) a clear model of counterplan/alternative competition that justifies such a perm AND 2) an explanation for where the aff and the cp/alt overlap
I would prefer that debaters engage arguments instead of finesse their way out of links. This is especially awful when it takes place in clash debates. If you assert your opponent's offense does not apply when it does I will lower your speaker points.
In that vein, it is my bias that if an affirmative team chooses not to say "USFG Should" in the 1AC that they are doing it for competitive reasons. It is, definitionally, self-serving. Self-serving does not mean the aff should lose, just that they should be more realistic about the function of their 1AC in a competitive activity. If the aff does not say "USFG Should" they are deliberately shifting the point of stasis to other issues that they believe should take priority. It is reciprocal, therefore, for the negative to use any portion of the 1AC as it's jumping off point.
I think that limits, not ground, is the controlling internal link for most T-related impacts. Ground is an expression of the division of affirmative and negative strategies on any given topic. It is rarely an independent impact to T. I hate cross-examination questions about ground. I do not fault teams for being unhelpful to opponents that pose questions in cross-examination using the language of ground. People commonly ask questions about ground to demonstrate to the judge that the aff has not really thought out how their approach to the resolution fosters developed debates. A better, more precise question to ask would be: "What are the win conditions for the negative within your model of competition?"
***Old Paradigm (Still True)***
I judge debates based on execution. My decisions rarely come down to just 2NR v 2AR. They are strongly influenced by how ideas develop in CX, the block, and the 1AR.
The best rebuttals will isolate a unique impact and explain why their opponent's impact is either less important or impossible to resolve. The most persuasive rebuttals, to me, are those that explain how I should evaluate the debate given the available information. This is especially true in debates about debate where neither side agrees on a normative method for evaluation.
I can't stress how irritated I am by students that make sweeping claims about argument styles that they don't usually engage in. Debate is hard and everyone puts in an incredible amount of work. Oftentimes, people don't get credit for their effort. That stinks. That does not mean, however, that other folks' contributions are less valuable than yours because they approach the game differently.
I think there is an important role for philosophical arguments in debate, with caveats. Ks should disprove solvency. I think creatively interpreting the resolution is interesting. Affirmative teams that decide the resolution doesn't matter in advance of the debate and only impact turn their opponent's positions bore me. I would rather affs be deliberately extra-topical than anti-topical. Link arguments should be consistent with framework arguments. The terms used in speeches and tags should reflect the language of the literature base they are meant to represent. Not all Ks of humanism are the same. Not all Ks are Ks of humanism.
I think there is an important role for policy arguments in debate, with caveats. Vague plan writing does not equal strategic plan writing. Impact evidence is often outdated and/or includes multiple alt-causes. I perceive a degree of self-righteousness from debaters that have extensive experience going for T-USFG but have little experience going for T in other situations. I perceive a higher degree of self-righteousness from debaters who preach the merits of research when going for T-USFG while very obviously reading evidence they copy and pasted from other school's open-source documents.
What you should expect of me:
1) I will evaluate the debate and cast a provisional decision about which team did the better debating based on the content of the speeches and the cross-examinations.
2) I will flow your debate in an excel template and save a copy after the debate for scouting purposes.
How I think about debate:
I. The aff's burden is to prove that the 1AC is A) an example of the res and B) a positive departure from the squo. The neg should disprove the 1AC and can win by establishing that the aff is wrong about either A or B. The neg can also win by offering a counter-proposal that competes with and is net beneficial to the 1AC.
II. In order to accomplish A, the aff should be able to:
1) provide an interpretation of the resolution
2) explain how the 1AC meets their interpretation of the resolution
3) demonstrate that their vision of the resolution is superior to the neg’s
III. In the event that the aff argues they do not have to abide by the terms of the resolution, the aff should be able to:
1) provide sound reasoning for why the agreed upon point of stasis fails to address the agreed upon controversy area
2) explain the roles of the aff and the neg in their vision of debate
3) demonstrate that their vision of debate is superior to the neg’s
IV. The aff cannot win by simply flipping the burden of proof and indicting the neg’s interpretation of the resolution.* The aff must at all times defend a contestable proposition. If III (see above) occurs, the neg's burden is not to disprove the solvency and harms of the 1AC (B). Rather, all the neg should have to disprove is that abandoning A is necessary to solve/talk about B. If the neg can demonstrate that the original stasis point can accommodate the harms area then the aff has not proven that abandoning the res must occur.
*Exceptions to IV: language Ks, conditionality bad
Things I enjoy:
· When debaters express a nuanced knowledge of the resolution/controversy area
· Good jokes
· Bold choices
· Exposing specious arguments in C-X
· Solvency debates
· Links to the plan
· Supporting claims with high-quality research
· Final rebuttals that begin with a brief explanation of the key issues in the debate and why they have won given the arguments presented in earlier speeches
· When debaters prioritize answering the question, “What should debate look like?”
· Creative permutations—a perm says that there is a possible world in which both the 1AC and the counter-proposal can occur simultaneously, or that the counter-proposal is an example of how the aff’s proposition could be implemented—the aff should describe the permutation in both rebuttals and explicitly argue what elements of the neg’s strategy it mitigates/solves. Asserting the hypothetical validity of a perm and being intentionally vague until the 2AR does not an aff ballot make.
Things I don’t enjoy:
· When debaters compensate for dropping an argument by asserting that it is new
· When embedded clash becomes an excuse for not flowing
· When debaters make straw person characterizations of argument styles they do not personally engage in
· Trained incapacity
· “Death good”/ “death not real”
· Basic strats
· Recycled strats
· Recycled blocks
· K 1NC shells that I can find in my inbox from previous seasons
· “Procedural fairness”
· Teams that don’t take advantage if/when their opponent impact turns fairness
· Affs that don’t defend a substantial departure from the squo
· Affs that don’t specify the terms of the 1AC/backtrack on the terms of the 1AC for the purpose of permuting the neg’s counter-proposal
· Bad internal links
· C-X belligerence
· Hyperbolic impacts
· Counter-perms (honestly, it’s been 10 years and I still don’t get it)
· Asserting “perm do the counter-proposal” when it’s shamelessly severance
· When great CX moments don’t make it into the speeches
· Failing to capitalize on 2AC/block choices and settling for coin flip decisions
· “Point me to a line in the card where it says…” OR “I just ctrl F’ed that word in the document and it isn’t there”
Debated: Norman High School (2005- 2009), University of Oklahoma (2009-2014)
Coached: University of Texas at San Antonio (2014-2015)
Caddo Magnet High School (2014-2015)
Baylor University (2015-2017)
University of Iowa (2017-present)
I am not too biased against any particular argument, it's your round so do what you do, but do it well.
I did however primarily read kritiks, but I have also done strictly policy debate in my career, so I have been exposed to a wide variety of arguments and I am not someone who will always vote for the k or for FW. I like to think that I am a favorable judge for either.
Kritiks: Although, I am familiar with some kritiks, I do not pretend to be an expert on all. There are still many kritiks that I have trouble understanding. That being said, I think that case specific links are the best. Generic links are not as compelling especially if you are flagging certain cards for me to call for at the end of the round. It seems that many times debaters don't take the time to really explain what the alternative is like, whether it solves part of the aff, is purely rejection, etc. If for some reason the alternative isn't extended or explained in the 2nr, I won't just apply it as a case turn for you. An impact level debate is also still important even if the K excludes the evaluation of specific impacts. It is really helpful to articulate how the K turns the case as well. On a framing level, do not just assume that I will believe that the truth claims of the affirmative are false, there needs to be in-depth analysis for why I should dismiss parts of the aff preferably with evidence to back it up.
Performance/Methodology debates- Since I debated for OU and I debated in the D3, I am not unfamiliar with these debates. I am in no way biased in one way or another. I think that arguments need to be competitive. The things you may talk about in your performance/methodology may be true, but there needs to be a clear link articulated to the argument that you are debating. Many times competing methodologies start to sound really similar to each other, so teams need to establish a clear difference between the arguments.
Clash of Civ. debates- I think that these debates can be really great because clash is kind of important. However, these debates tend to get really muddled, so you need to work extra hard to make things clear for me rather than just assuming I will lean one way or another. When it comes to K Affs v. FW, I think that you need to do a lot of work and don't just go for generic arguments like switch side without giving specific examples of things like in round abuse, etc. or interesting impact arguments. Ex: just saying roleplaying good/bad without a really good explanation is not going to be compelling.
CPs- I really like counterplans especially if they are specific to the aff, which shows that you have done your research. Although PIKs are annoying to deal with if you are aff, I enjoy a witty PIK. However, make it clear that it is a PIK and explain why it solves the aff. Generic cps with generic solvency cards aren't really going to do it for me. However, if the evidence is good then I am more likely to believe you when you claim aff solvency. There needs to be a good articulation for why the aff links to the net benefit and good answers to cp solvency deficits, assuming there are any. Permutation debate needs to be hashed out on both sides, with Da/net benefits to the permutations made clear.
DAs- I find it pretty easy to follow DAs. However, if you go for it I am most likely going to be reading ev after the round, so it better be good. If your link cards are generic and outdated and the aff is better in that department, then you need to have a good reason why your evidence is more qualified, etc. Make your scenario clear, DAs are great but some teams tend to go for a terminal impact without explanation of the scenario or the internal link args. Comparative analysis is important so I know how to evaluate the evidence that I am reading. Tell me why the link o/w the link turn etc. Impact analysis is very important, timeframe, probability, magnitude, etc., so I can know why the Da impacts are more important than the affs impacts. A good articulation of why the Da turns each advantage is extremely helpful because the 2ar will most likely be going for those impacts in the 2ar.
Theory- I generally err neg on theory unless there is a really good debate over it. Your generic blocks aren't going to be very compelling. If you articulate why condo causes a double turn, etc. specific to the round is a better way to go with it. I think that arguments such as vague alternatives especially when an alternative morphs during the round are good. However, minor theory concerns such as multiple perms bad aren't as legitimate in my opinion.
Topicality- Generic T shells are not something that hold my attention, however, a specific definition or a T in tandem with another position to get a link, is strategic. If you are going to go for T, then go for it starting in the block and make it a legitimate option and I will evaluate it.
Other notes: If you are unclear, I can't flow you and I don't get the evidence as you read it, so clarity over speed is always preferable.
Don't be rude, your points will suffer. There is a difference between being aggressive and being a jerk.
Impact calc please, don't make me call for everyones impacts and force me to evaluate it myself. I don't want to do the work for you.
The last two rebuttals should be writing my ballot, tell me how I vote and why. Don't get too bogged down to give a big picture evaluation.
Accomplish something in your cross-x time, keep me interested, have an agenda during your cx and use the answers you get in cx and incorporate them into your speeches. Cx is wasted if you pick apart the DA but don't talk about it in your speech.
Updated – 2019
Yes I want to be on the email chain --> email@example.com
I FLOW ON PAPER. I judge debates much more effectively / think harder about the debate / give better comments when I flow on paper. This is the only thing that I wish debaters would more effectively adapt to – give me a little pen time when you transition from card to card / arg to arg and please consider that I have to flip sheets between arguments.
I believe judges should adapt to the debaters, not the other way around. I will do my absolute best to objectively and fairly judge your debate, regardless of the arguments you choose to read. I would much prefer that you read the arguments you’re interested in / are better at debating than attempting to adapt to what you interpret as my preferences based upon what I have written here.
I find myself to be a much more “technical” judge than I once thought, and by that I mean I tend to pay a lot of attention to the way arguments evolve as the debate progresses. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the 2NR / 2AR spin game, but that those “spins” need to be traceable to previous speeches. In addition, I have and will vote on technical concessions SO LONG AS there is an IMPACT to that concession – debaters concede irrelevant arguments all the time, as it turns out.
I evaluate debates in segments – I think each flow has compartmentalized “mini-debates” that take place within them that I evaluate piece by piece (for example, on a critique, the “link debate” “perm debate” “alt debate”etc etc, on a disad the “uniqueness debate” “link debate” “impact debate” “impact turn debate” etc etc etc). If you label these segments clearly and follow these segments throughout the debate, I will be a great judge for you and your speaker points will reflect your organization / flow tech.
WITH THAT SAID!! I do enjoy non-traditional flow and speaking styles, so do not be afraid to pref me if you debate with a different style – I judge these debates a lot and have no problem following / figuring out what needs to be evaluated.
I’m a very expressive judge. You will know if I am feeling your argument if you pay attention to my non-verbal communication. I believe debate is a communication activity and you, as debaters, should know how I’m vibing with your arguments throughout the debate.
Note about speed: Speed is fine, but please make your card / argument transitions clear with vocal inflection. If I miss an argument, 97% of the time it’s because I didn’t hear you say “and” and I thought you were still reading evidence. Your speaker points will reflect it if you SLOW DOWN on tags and don’t just read them like another piece of evidence. IMHO, debate is still a persuasive activity, and being persuasive gets you bonus points. I will always be fan of a slower, persuasive rebuttal.
I don’t think you will have an issue reading almost any argument in front of me, but since folks seem to just read philosophies to find out how people feel about K debate and framework, I guess I’ll say some stuff.
Affirmatives: I think affirmatives should, AT THE VERY LEAST, be in the direction of the topic (but being topical is so much better). I think the best K affs have a resolutional component and have literature that is inherent to the topic. I can and have been persuaded otherwise, this is just my baseline.
Affirmatives should have a solvency method - I don't particularly care if that's an instrumental affirmation of US(fg) action or not (see FW discussion below), but you've gotta have a method that you have solvency for - I really don't like affs that state a lot of problems and argue that the revelation of those problems somehow does anything - that's not negatable. This is along the same lines of "advocacy" statements that don't take an "action" (I use the word action very carefully - I think a lot of things are actions). Statements are quite difficult to negate.
I think topicality debates need to be SLOWER than other arguments - you want me to write down more, you need to give me more time to flow. In general, I DESPISE T debates that are read entirely off blocks and read at the speed of cards. I don't think this is helpful, I don't think this creates depth, I don't think this is good for education, and I'm probably flowing like 2 words / argument tbh.
I am significantly more persuaded by topicality arguments (ie: the affirmative needs to defend international space cooperation bc that’s key to limits) than framework arguments (ie: debate is a game, the affirmative needs to defend instrumental USFG action bc them’s the rules and and it's unfair and they are cheater cheater pants).
I think negative limits arguments have the capacity to be quite persuasive if teams go for the correct internal links based upon the aff / 2ac strategy. One of the biggest mistakes I see (primarily) 2Ns make is going for the wrong limits scenario. Just like any argument, some links are stronger than others, and you don't need every link to win in the 2NR, so pick the best ones that you think tell the most compelling limits story based upon the particular affirmative. Don't forget to contextualize limits arguments to the COUNTER-INTERPRETATION not (only) the aff itself.
Topical versions of the affirmative are important, but you have to actually explain WHY they are topical versions of the aff (ie how they meet your interpretation, even better if they also meet the counter interp) and how they address the affirmative team’s offense. Ev for TVAs is preferred. I don't think you need to have a TVA to win the debate.
Things that are not persuasive to me:
“Small schools XYZ”
I’ll default to competing interpretations unless you tell me otherwise. Reasonability – how do I decide what is reasonable and by what metric do I use?
To make a link argument, YOU HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE AFF. The aff has to have DONE SOMETHING that you have linked to an argument. I don’t think links of omission are links. If the 2NR is explicitly going for a link of omission, you’re going to have a hard time.
I don’t think criticisms always need an alternative (critique IS a VERB, after all). Make sure you explain how the "alternative" interacts with affirmative solvency / how they are different / how the alt accesses the aff (beyond just a generic root cause explanation).
I'm a sucker for K tricks - affs: don't get bamboozled.
Aff fw v ks: Often is an argument made in the 2AC that is just repeated over and over and not advanced in any meaningful way. If you think framework is important for how I evaluate the K debate, you need to do better than that.
“Role of the ballot”:
I have significant problems with ROBs. I think "role of the ballot" is an empty and meaningless phrase. The "role of the ballot" is to let tabroom know who won and lost the debate. I don't think my ballot does anything for activism / changing the structures of debate / anything at all. I tend to think most ROB claims boil down to "ROB: Vote for me" which is silly af.
Now, this is different than telling me how to evaluate the debate, how I should filter impacts, how I should prioritize arguments, or in general, how I should make my decision. You can and must do that to win the debate.
Permutations are tests of competition, and that is all. That means if you read severance / intrinsicness - those are reasons to reject the perm, not the team (unless the negative team gives me a compelling reason for why the team should be rejected, tbh, haven't heard one yet.).
There is a lot of discussion about why competition standards for advocacies / methods should change when a K aff is read – eh, I’m unconvinced this is true. My default position is that your method should compete, which means, it has to withstand the permutation test. I could, perhaps, be persuaded that the affirmative shouldn't get a perm if the negative is willing to commit the time and energy to explaining why competition standards should change, how they should change, what debate looks like with those competition standards, how it applies in that particular debate, etc. Sound like a lot? Yeah, it kinda is... just beat the permutation with disads and solid link explanations.
You can be certain that I absolutely will not reject a perm on an assertion of "no perms in critical debates" or "no plan, no perm."
is highly under-appreciated. Oftentimes 2ACs just assume the neg doesn’t know anything about the aff and entirely mishandle case arguments. Punish. Them.
I have and will vote on case turns if they outweigh the aff or if the aff has such diminished solvency that they outweigh the aff.
Theory: most theory debates are garbage. Prove me wrong. If there is one conditional K or CP, don’t waste your time. If the alt isn’t actually vague, make a different argument.
Speech & Debate Teacher and Assistant Coach at NSU University School
Conflicts: Indiana University, North Broward Preparatory School
Education: BA (JMU '15), MPA (IU '18)
Last Major Update: December 2020
Hello! If you have me in the back and do not recognize my name, that is because I just joined for some practice debates and the end-of-camp tournament.
Feel free to read my philosophy, but as it needs to be updated, here is a short version.
1. I am a "flow" / "tech" judge. The majority of my coaching experience is in collegiate and high school policy debate.
2. I have not been working a camp this summer. I have some background knowledge on many of the proposed PF/LD topics for this season, but you should not assume I am familiar with either the topic the NDF selected or your particular case. Explaining more and using fewer acronyms will help you.
3. I much prefer you read cards, but if you have been practicing paraphrasing, I will adjust.
4. Please send any evidence you are reading or paraphrasing before your speeches. Please include me on the chain (see below for my email).
5. Besides during post-round comments and re-do rotations, I am happy to answer follow-up questions via email.
I. Big Picture
Yes, put me on the e-mail chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am not a "blank slate," but my preferences are not immutable beliefs. I find myself in "clash" judging purgatory, but enjoy a wider range of debates.
I lean slightly closer to "truth" in terms of "tech vs. truth." Tech matters, but when issues are closely contested I err towards intuitive and well-explained arguments.
I find the "offense/defense" paradigm useful, but not absolute. Risks can be negligible and defense can be "terminal," but I generally view issues in terms of relative risk.
The clearer you frame the debate, the better. I take the time when deciding to see if arguments are intuitively or implicitly answered in other places. However, what you consider intuitive may not appear the same to me.
I am not actively researching either the "Criminal Justice Reform" or "Alliances" topics outside of spot work when hired. You should err on the side of over-explaining.
II. Judging and Debating Practices
Please scale back your top speed slightly. I flow on a computer and try to type as much as possible without much shorthand.
I read evidence during debates. If evidence is contested in CX, I will likely jump to it. This influences how I hear and understand arguments. The lower quality of evidence or highlighting, the more leeway I am likely to give in answering the argument, consciously or not.
You do not need to read aloud small re-highlightings of evidence, but do not expect me to read large un-underlined portions of evidence to figure out if you are right. Similarly, I am fine with "inserting" charts that are difficult to verbalize.
The more late-breaking an argument the more open I am to new responses. My perception of what is "late-breaking" or "new" is based on how I understand an initial argument. Do not sandbag opponents to the point that you are also sandbagging me.
For "decorum," reasonable sass, snark, or shade are fine. I am not a good judge for more hostile approaches, such as interrupting opponents mid-speech.
I am also not a good judge for "alternative" practices such as calling for double wins, "stealing" my ballot, kicking participants out, breaking time limits, turning the debate into a different contest or game, etc. I will flow a debate and award a win.
I take longer to make decisions than most judges. I spend time working through each part of the debate because I lack "intuition" about how arguments tend to be resolved. A long decision time does not necessarily reflect the debate being "close" or "messy" (though it may).
III. Digital Debate
I trust you will follow the standard best practices. There are a few things that may be different when debating in front of me.
- If my camera is not on, I am not present. Do not take my silence plus camera off when you ask "is anyone NOT ready?" to mean I am ready.
- When you are moving your computer to set it on a stand, please turn your camera off. It is dizzying to see the camera spinning.
- I do not plan on being particularly strict in tracking "tech time" as long as everyone is giving their best effort to promptly resolve issues. Do not abuse this leniency.
- If a large section of a speech is cut out or incomprehensible, I will default to the tournament's procedures. If it is up to me, I will ask clarifying questions after the speech about portions of the speech I missed. It would be ideal if you have a local recording of your speech you could attach to the email chain instead.
I enjoy good T debates. If asked outside of a debate, I think more narrow topics are preferable. Proving the topic is at all narrow seems difficult for both high school and college topics this year.
When going for T, given that I am not actively researching the topic, your impacts need to be concrete. In addition to having a caselist of problematic affirmatives, you may need to over-explain why those affirmatives are uniquely problematic, whether in terms of research burden or debatability.
I tend to think in terms of competing interpretations. Even if asked to default to "reasonability," I have a hard time determining what is "reasonable." This is best explained to me as either a "functional limits" argument or a reason why sufficient defense is enough to vote affirmative. Even then, affirmatives are better off prioritizing offense for their interpretation instead of relying on me to decide what is "reasonable enough."
In terms of categories of T arguments:
1. Criminal Justice Reform
I don't have a strong opinion on "T - Enact," nor have I been in the weeds of the literature or debates. In the abstract it seems strange to exclude judicial affirmatives, but I understand the concern of "agency aff proliferation." While you may have had this debate many times, it is still new to me. You will need to be less technical and do more evidence/impact comparison.
I similarly don't have strong feelings about other contested terms, such as whether or not "reform" is bi-directional or what falls under "policing." If you are going to read a questionably topical affirmative, I would encourage you to not only have good evidence proving your affirmative is "in the literature," but also a good defense of how your vision of the topic is actually debatable.
I have judged zero college debates (outside of practice debates). Because I am not familiar with community trends, I may be more open to arguments about the debatability of particular interpretations regardless of their popularity (see "Enlargement" affs).
I default to a middle ground. I understand that there's an incentive to make plan texts vague-ish to avoid the worst PICs, but I prefer if teams are upfront about the most likely interpretation of what their affirmative does in practice. Vague CX responses make me grumpy and more willing to give the neg leniency in spinning the aff.
4. "New Affs Bad"
"New Affs Bad" as a reason to reject a team is generally unpersuasive. However, new affirmatives may justify the neg getting argumentative leniency.
These debates are generally frustrating. Two things you can do to make them less frustrating.
- Have a robust defense of your model of debate, including what debates look like, what is the role of each team and the judge, what are the unique benefits, etc.
- Pick and choose more. Many times it feels like teams are reading packaged overviews without resolving or comparing key points of offense.
I believe affirmatives should have some relationship to the topic. At the bare minimum, affirmatives should "affirm" something. I am much less sympathetic to affirmatives that are purely negative arguments or diagnoses of the status quo.
Many of the discussions about whether debate is "just a game" or a "site of subject formation" seem shallow and strange. I don't think it's credible to outright ignore either the competitive or educational aspects of debate. Instead of running to the extremes, you will be better served by defending a model of debate that accounts for both. Still, I've certainly voted on impact turns or nihilistic views of the activity.
In terms of terminal impacts, I used to be pretty strongly in the "fairness is just an internal link camp." I am less so now. I think both "clash" and "fairness" can be impacts in themselves if supported by a thorough defense of a model of the activity and how my ballot functions.
I am generally less persuaded by "truth testing" style arguments. Even if "iterative testing" matters, I am unsure why that means I should outright "presume" against the content of the 1AC, since both and the aff and neg arguments will rely on assumptions of argumentation and the world more generally. If you want me to skeptical of the aff, I am much more persuaded by arguments about how the structure of debate incentivizes polemical arguments that both warp content and provide poor pedagogical opportunities.
"TVAs" can be helpful, but need to be specific. Solvency evidence is ideal, but not mandatory. If the 2NR is going to sit on a TVA, be explicit about what offense you think the TVA accesses or resolves.
I am generally unpersuaded by arguments that the reading of topicality itself is violent. There may be serious problems with the curriculum a particular model encourages, but it is hard to convince me that merely introducing topicality is analogical to "stop and frisk," "forced outing," etc.
While I believe I have a decent familiarity with critical theory, I am not actively reading. If there is some critical difference between your argument and similar arguments, clear explanation is paramount. Buzzwords and author-names-as-arguments annoy me. Even if evidence is not specific, explanation of links, “turns case” arguments, permutations, etc. should be.
Uniqueness still matters. The neg needs reasons why the alternative actually resolves their link arguments/generates uniqueness, or a reason why it does not have to. The aff should press poorly explained alternatives and link uniqueness.
I default to assuming the aff can test the mutual exclusivity of alternative advocacies. However, I am open to alternate standards of competition. The less the aff outlines a clear method or advocacy, the more I am persuaded by “no plan, no perm.”
I prefer permutation texts. I am sympathetic to the perm's explanation shifting as the alternative morphs, but your explanation must rise above “do both.”
“Counter-perms” are not a thing. Just defend a PIK or explain why portions of the aff should not be considered intrinsic offense.
It is relatively easy to convince me CPs rooted in topic literature are legitimate, especially PICs. CPs that compete solely based "certainty," "immediacy," or "ban the plan" planks are much easier to convince me are illegitimate.
I think CPs probably should have solvency advocates of "comparable quality" to the 1AC. I can be persuaded that Advantage CP planks that are based on 1AC evidence do not need a separate solvency advocate. But card-less Agent CPs, "Con Con," etc. do not pass the smell test.
2NC CPs out of new impact turns, add-ons, or shifts in aff solvency explanation seem reasonable to me, but that's up for debate.
I do not automatically judge-kick CPs. If asked the status of the CP, I understand the phrase “the status quo is always an option” to mean "the status quo is always an option for the 2NR." If you want me to separately evaluate the status quo versus the plan if I conclude the CP is a bad idea, you must make additional arguments.
Framing is everything: impact calculus, link driving uniqueness or vice-versa, the works. Smart arguments and coherent narratives trump a slew of evidence.
I find most "DA Turns the Case" / "Case Turns the DA" debates spend too much time on terminal impacts and not enough time on internal links.
Most 2AC theory blips against Politics DAs do not rise to the level of a complete argument. “Fiat solves the link,” "black swans thump the link," or "a logical policymaker could do both" are incomplete. That being, I am open to arguments about the intrinsicness of DAs.
Quality over quantity. Give me typing time. A “dropped” argument is only a true argument if it was properly explained and flow-able in the first place.
Limited conditionality is probably reasonable. It is difficult to persuade me that one or two conditional advocacies wreck the activity. Performative contradictions could raise additional problems, but it is up for debate. I think there are substantially fewer issues when considering advantage CPs and conditionality. Negs should still be clear under what conditions, if any, they can kick individual planks.
Outside of conditionality, it is difficult to persuade me that theoretical objections to particular CPs, permutations, or arguments are a reason to reject the team, especially if they do not make it into the final rebuttals.
X. Non-Policy Formats
I am a policy critic at heart and have little experience with LD. I am indifferent to whether the discussion focuses on competing philosophical/moral models or a policy proposal. Given my background, there are some things you may need to adapt.
Line-by-line refutation matters. - I appreciate the value of embedded clash, but there are limits. You should at least be attempting to line arguments up. You should completely extend arguments in later speeches and not assume I will fill-in arguments you reference.
"Theory" arguments have their place, but should not replace substantive debate. - There is a difference between a "cheap shot" or "spike" and a healthy objection to a particular debate practice. You should know the difference before "going for theory" in front of me.
Assumed I am informed, but not an expert, on your philosophy. - I have both an academic and coaching background in a range of critical arguments and theories. However, I am reading less critical work these days. Additionally, the terms you use for an argument may not be the terms I'm familiar with for the same argument. You are always better off over-explaining and avoiding unnecessary jargon.
B. Public Forum
I am not a "lay"/"flay" judge nor a "blank slate." The overwhelming majority of my coaching and judging experience has been in policy debate. I will flow extensively, including "crossfire." I do not think every issue must be an "existential crisis" to matter for policymaking, but I expect complete and well-warranted arguments.
1. I am not a fan of "paraphrasing." - I think it is a harmful practice that hides evidence from scrutiny and provides cover for academic dishonesty. Evidence should be presented in full context with a complete citation in real time. That requires:
a) Complete citations.
b) Complete paragraphs that excerpts are drawn from.
c) Excerpts that are read are clearly indicated with underlining or highlighting.
d) Evidence that is likely to be cited should be sent to opponents before a speech is delivered. Having evidence available "upon request" is not sufficient.
If you simply paraphrase and do not read a sufficient amount from a piece of evidence to support your interpretation of that evidence, I will consider your argument merely your opinion.
2. Line-by-line refutation matters. - This means both:
a) Answering arguments in a coherent order relative to how they were initially presented.
b) Completely extending arguments and their warrants in later speeches.
I will not extend arguments for you into later speeches. I will, however, put in work to determine if arguments are intuitively answered in other portions of the flow when comparing the final speeches when things do not line up.
If neither side seems to be extending much of a complete argument by the end of the debate, expect me to intervene.
please add me to the email chain: email@example.com
I love debate and I will do my absolute best to make a decision that makes sense and give a helpful RFD.
I want to give you a sense of my decision making process, which I think is especially important for high school debaters since I am judging many more of those this year. I begin processing the debate with link/uniqueness in most cases. I do this because it is typically the more complex aspect of the debate and needs to be debated with the most care and detail. Ultimately I don't think this influences the outcome a ton but it does mean that I do not just compare the impacts and then vote. There are many features of any given argument that also influence how those impacts may or not play out. A lot of 2NR/2AR's start with impact comparison and that is awesome and I am not asking you to change that. Just make sure this does not trade off with robust explanation/comparison/synthesis of the other parts of the argument.
Competing interpretations are easier to evaluate than reasonability. You need to explain to me how we determine what is "reasonable" if you are going for reasonability. I am typically more persuaded by arguments about limits and fairness but I do think the CJR topic presents the opportunity for more persuasive arguments about topic education. That being said, there still would need to be a "this is how our interp effects the negative" part of the strategy.
Affirmatives should be about the topic. I will be fairly sympathetic to T-USFG arguments if I do not know what the aff means re: the topic after the 1AC. I would feel much better if your specific critique was clear from the very beginning.
I think teams are meming a bit on both sides of T-USFG/Framework debates. Phrases like "third and fourth level testing" and "rev v rev debates are better" are kind of meaningless absent robust explanation. Fairness is an impact that I will vote on. Like any other impact, it needs to be explained and compared to the other team's impact. I have also voted on arguments about ethics, education, and pedagogy. I will try my best to decide who wins an impact and which impact matters more based on the debate that happens.
I do not think the neg has to win a TVA to win topicality; it can be helpful if it happens to make a lot of sense but I don't think the negative is under any obligation to provide a way to solve the aff.
I would love to see you go for a disad and case in the 2NR. I do not find it persuasive when an affirmative team's only answer to a DA is impact framing. Impact framing is important but it is one of a number of arguments that can and should be made.
-CJR specific: I am aware the DA's aren't all great. I don't think that's a reason to give up on them. It just means you need a CP or a lot of really good case arguments.
I really enjoy a sold k vs the aff debate. I think there are lots of interesting nuances available for the neg and the aff in this type of debate. Here are some specific thoughts that might be helpful when constructing your strategy:
1. Links of omission are not links. Links of “commission” will take a lot of explaining.
2. Debating the case matters unless there is a compelling framework argument for why I should not evaluate the case.
3. If you are reading a critique that pulls from a variety of literature bases, make sure I understand how they all tie to together. I am persuaded by aff arguments about how it's very difficult to answer the foundation of 3+ different bodies of critical literature because they often have different ontological, epistemological, psychoanalytic, etc assumptions.
4. Aff v. K: I have noticed affirmative teams saying "it's bad to die twice" on k's and I have no idea what that means. Aff framework arguments tend to be a statement that is said in the 2AC and repeated in the 1AR and 2AR - if you want fw to influence how I vote, you need to do more than this. Explain how it implicates how I assess the link and/or alternative solvency. Done well, I do think aff fw arguments can be really useful.
I see the utility in core topic counterplans. I think specific counterplans are even better. Counterplans that read evidence from the 1AC or an aff author - excellent! I don't have patience for overly complicated and convoluted counterplans.
I do not subscribe to (often camp-driven) groupthink about which cp's "definitely solve" which aff's. I strongly disagree with this approach to debate and will think through the arguments on both sides of the debate because that is what debate is about.
Solvency deficits are a thing and will be accounted for and weighed along with the risk of a DA, the size of the DA impact, the size of the solvency deficit, and other relevant factors.
I am generally neg leaning on cp theory but if you want to make an argument about why a certain cp is illegitimate (cough, con con) I will do my best to objectively evaluate that argument.
Some people think it is auto-true that politics disads and certain cp's are terrible for debate. I don't agree with that. I think there are benefits/drawbacks to most arguments. This matters for framework debates. A plan-less aff saying "their model results in politics DA's which is obviously the worst" will not persuade absent a warrant for that claim.
Love a good case debate. It's super under-utilized. I think it's really impressive when a 2N knows more about the aff evidence than the aff does.
Please don't be nasty to each other; don't be surprised if I interrupt you if you are.
I don't flow the 1AC and 1NC because I am reading your evidence. I have to do this because if I don't I won't get to read the evidence before decision time in a close debate.
For debating online:
-If you think clarity could even possibly be an issue, slow down a ton. More than ever clarity and quality are more important than quantity.
-Let's just try to have grace with each other. Sometimes online debates are smooth and other times they are not.
I have been coaching debate at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy in Austin, TX since 2005, where my focus is almost exclusively on policy debate. I was a three-year policy debater at Plano Senior High School in Plano, TX, and debated policy for one year at the University of Texas at Austin. I judge an average of 80-100 debates per season.
If there’s an email chain, please add me: yaosquared at gmail dot com
If you’re using a flash drive, prep stops when you pull the flash drive out of your computer. If you’re using an email chain, I won’t count attaching and emailing as prep time. Please do not steal prep.
If you have little time before the debate, here’s all you need to know: do what you do best. I try to be as unbiased as possible and I will defer to your analysis. I would rather listen to a politics+CP debate than a kritik debate, but I would also rather listen to you debating your strongest argument than you adapting to my preferences. As long as you are clear, go as fast as you want.
Most judges give appalling decisions. Here's where I will try to be better than them:
- They intervene. Perhaps "tech over truth" doesn't mean what it used to. I will attempt to adjudicate and reach a decision purely on only the words you say. If that's insufficient to reach a decision either way--and it often isn't--I will add the minimum work necessary to come to a decision. The more work I have to do, the wider the range of uncertainty for you and the lower your speaks go.
- They aren't listening carefully. They're mentally checked out, flowing off the speech doc, distracted by social media, or have half their headphones off and are taking selfies during the 1AR. I will attempt to flow every single detail of your speeches. I will probably take notes during CX if I think it could affect my decision. If you worked hard on debate, you deserve a judge who works hard as well.
- They give poorly-reasoned decisions that rely on gut instincts and ignore arguments made in the 2NR/2AR. I will probably take my sweet time making and writing my decision. I will try to be as thorough and transparent as possible. If I intervene anywhere, I will explain why I had to intervene and how you could've prevented that intervention. If I didn't catch or evaluate an argument, I will explain why you under-explained or failed to extend it. I will try to anticipate your questions and preemptively answer them in my decision. I like answering questions and discussing debates, but if you take a hostile stance, I will gladly and enthusiastically explain to you why you just weren't good enough.
- I’m not a professional debate coach or even a teacher. I work as a finance analyst in the IT sector and I volunteer as a debate coach on evenings and weekends. I don’t teach at debate camp and my topic knowledge comes primarily from judging debates. My finance background means that, when left to my own devices, I err towards precision, logic, data, and concrete examples. However, I can be convinced otherwise in any particular debate, especially when it’s not challenged by the other team.
- Tech over truth in most instances. I will stick to my flow and minimize intervention as much as possible. I firmly believe that debates should be left to the debaters. I rarely make facial expressions because I don’t want my personal reactions to affect how a debate plays out. I will maintain a flow, even if you ask me not to. However, tech over truth has its limits. An argument must have sufficient explanation for it to matter to me, even if it’s dropped. You need a warrant and impact, not just a claim.
- Evidence comparison is under-utilized and is very important to me in close debates. I often call for evidence, but I’m much more likely to call for a card if it’s extended by author or cite.
- I’m now over a decade removed from my own debate career and I don’t judge or coach at the college level, which means I’m usually a year or two behind the latest argument trends that are first broken in college and eventually trickle down to high school. If you’re reading something that’s close to the cutting edge of debate arguments, you’ll need to explain it clearly. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear new arguments. On the contrary, a big reason why I continue coaching debate is because I enjoy listening to and learning about new arguments that challenge my existing ways of thinking.
- Please mark your own cards. No one is marking them for you.
- If I feel that you are deliberately evading answering a question or have straight up lied, and the question is important to the outcome of the debate, I will stop the timer and ask you to answer the question. Example: if you read condo bad, the neg asks in CX whether you read condo bad, and you say no, I’ll ask if you want me to cross-out condo on my flow.
- Don't over-adapt to me in these debates. If you are most comfortable going for procedural fairness, do that. If you like going for advocacy skills, you do you. Like any other debate, framework debates hinge on impact calculus and comparison.
- When I vote neg, it’s usually because the aff team missed the boat on topical version, has made insufficient inroads into the neg’s limits disad, and/or is winning some exclusion disad but is not doing comparative impact calculus against the neg’s offense. The neg win rate goes up if the 2NR can turn or access the aff's primary impact (e.g. clash and argument testing is vital to ethical subject formation).
- When I vote aff, it’s usually because the 2NR is disorganized and goes for too many different impacts, there’s no topical version or other way to access the aff’s offense, and/or concedes an exclusion disad that is then impacted out by the 2AR. Without a credible counter-interpretation that the aff meets and that establishes some sufficient limits on the scope of debates, I lean negative.
- Over the years, “tech over truth” has led me to vote neg on some untruthful T violations. If you’re neg and you’ve done a lot of research and are ready to throw down on a very technical and carded T debate, I’m a good judge for you.
- I'm a stickler for the quality of a definition, especially if it's from a source that's contextual to the topic, has some intent to define, is exclusive and not just inclusive, etc.
- Reasonability is a debate about the aff’s counter-interpretation, not their aff. The size of the link to the limits disad usually determines how sympathetic I am towards this argument, i.e. if the link is small, then I’m more likely to conclude the aff’s C/I is reasonable even without other aff offense.
- The kritik teams I've judged that have earned the highest speaker points give highly organized and structured speeches, are disciplined in line-by-line debating, and emphasize key moments in their speeches.
- Just like most judges, the more case-specific your link and the more comprehensive your alternative explanation, the more I’ll be persuaded by your kritik.
- I greatly prefer the 2NC structure where you have a short (or no) overview and do as much of your explanation on the line-by-line as possible. If your overview is 6 minutes, you make blippy cross-applications on the line-by-line, and then you drop the last three 2AC cards, I’m going to give the 1AR a lot of leeway on extending those concessions, even if they were somewhat implicitly answered in your overview.
- Framework debates on kritiks rarely factor into my decisions. Frequently, I conclude that there’s not a decisive win for either side here, or that it’s irrelevant because the neg is already allowing the aff to weigh their impacts. Usually, I find myself somewhere in the middle: the neg always has the right to read kritiks, but the aff should have the right to access their advantages. Kritiks that moot the entire 1AC are a tough sell.
- I’m not a good judge for “role of the ballot” arguments, as I usually find these to be self-serving for the team making them. I’m also not a good judge for “competing methods means the aff doesn’t have a right to a perm”. I think the aff always has a right to a perm, but the question is whether the perm is legitimate and desirable, which is a substantive issue to be debated out, not a gatekeeping issue for me to enforce.
- I’m an OK judge for K “tricks”. A conceded root cause explanation, value to life impact, or “alt solves the aff” claim is effective if it’s sufficiently explained. The floating PIK needs to be clearly made in the 2NC for me to evaluate it. If your K strategy hinges on hiding a floating PIK and suddenly busting it out in the 2NR, I’m not a good judge for you.
- Just like most judges, I prefer case-specific over generic counterplans, but we can’t always get what we want.
- I lean neg on PICs. I lean aff on international fiat, 50 state fiat, condition, and consult. These preferences can change based on evidence or lack thereof. For example, if the neg has a state counterplan solvency advocate in the context of the aff, I’m less sympathetic to theory.
- I will not judge kick the CP unless explicitly told to do so by the 2NR, and it would not take much for the 2AR to persuade me to ignore the 2NR’s instructions on that issue.
- Presumption is in the direction of less change. If left to my own devices, I will probably conclude that most counterplans that are not explicitly PICs are a larger change than the aff.
- I’m a sucker for specific and comparative impact calculus. For example, most nuclear war impacts are probably not global nuclear war but some kind of regional scenario. I want to know why your specific regional scenario is faster and/or more probable. Reasonable impact calculus is much more persuasive to me than grandiose impact claims.
- I believe that in most cases, the link is more important for determining the direction of risk than uniqueness. The exceptions are when the uniqueness can be definitively determined rather than probabilistic.
- Zero risk is possible but difficult to prove by the aff. However, a miniscule neg risk of the disad is probably background noise.
- I actually enjoy listening to a good theory debate, but these seem to be exceedingly rare. I think I can be persuaded that many theoretical objections require punishing the team and not simply rejecting the argument, but substantial work needs to be done on why setting a precedent on that particular issue is important. You're unlikely to win that a single intrinsic permutation is a round-winning voter, even if the other team drops it, unless you are investing significant time in explaining why it should be an independent voting issue.
- I think that I lean affirmative compared to the rest of the judging community on the legitimacy of counterplans. In my mind, a counterplan that is wholly plan-inclusive (consultation, condition, delay, etc.) is theoretically questionable. The legitimacy of agent counterplans, whether domestic or international, is also contestable. I think the negative has the right to read multiple planks to a counterplan, but reading each plank conditionally is theoretically suspect.
Parker Coon - he/him
Bakersfield High School 2015 - University of Mary Washington 2019
Never got a TOC bid. Qualled to the NDT 4 times
This is likely my last tournament involved with the activity, certainly the last one that I'll have any experience researching and evaluating debates on. I overhauled and made this philosophy as up to date as possible because I think the occasion merits it.
I have only judged 8 rounds on this topic (4 Aff 4 Neg if you're curious). I understand if that is too low for a TOC team to be comfortable with, but I've also been heavily involved in research and (mostly negative) strategy for Chaminade AH. I'm keeping thoughts I have on it below:
- The Abolition K is OP and any 2A not using that as the starting point for aff construction deserves to lose.
- Courts affs are instrumental to a well rounded education of how the criminal justice system works but are incredibly difficult to be neg against. I am unsure how to resolve this tension.
- I am much more persuaded by positional competition than plan text in a vacuum arguments. It's an agent-centered topic. You should spec and defend yours.
- All complaints regarding court enacted rules will be forwarded to Jaden Lessnick.
- Criticizing DAs is much more actionable on my end than reading Kessler et al, especially when there's a credible counterplan involved.
Virtual Debate Housekeeping:
If my camera is off then I am not ready for your speech.
You should ask for a visual or audio cue from me before you start talking. "I'm going to start in 10 seconds" is the worst.
I find it more difficult than usual to flow rapid fire analytics. Please keep this in mine while you structure and give your speeches.
I have 2 monitors, and I move the Zoom window fairly frequently due to executive dysfunction. If it looks like I'm not looking at my screen, I'm probably looking at the other one and it has your face on it.
Still flowing on paper. Might need to get up and grab more occasionally.
Top Level - How I judge debates
I try to judge in the moment. I flow on paper, I think about your arguments as you make them, and I generally have a good idea as to who I think is going to win on what argument going into the 2NR and 2AR. Obviously I'm not checking out at that point, but there's little I abhor more than someone reconstructing a debate through cards and transcripts after it's been finished. What that means for you is:
1) My hand cannot move faster than your mouth, especially over zoom. If there's something you need me to have down, slowing down, changing your tone, and saying "star this arg" are a non-exhaustive list of options you have.
1.5) Numbering your arguments if you are the second person to put ink on a piece of paper, and following and flagging those numbers in your later speeches will make the debate much easier to keep track of, which means more points for you.
2) Making choices, oration, storytelling, and overall vibes matter even more than usual. Rereading the 2AR you have prescripted and expecting me to pick up the pieces and line them up in the best way possible against what the 2NR said will not end well for you.
3) Early, grounded, nuanced claims make later speeches more efficient and persuasive for my processing.
I think modularly and tend to construct decision trees in my head based on the small truth claims that are argued over and ultimately agreed upon by the end of the debate. Small details don't go away very easily. I have a lower threshold for what is considered a logical/expected cross application, and I take explicit concessions very seriously. Saying 'non-unique' to answer a case turn usually means your aff doesn't solve.
My first question when resolving any debate is whether or not the aff solves the impacts they claim to. Defining 'solving' might come down to a framework debate, but I vote on presumption frequently. Presumption just about always goes negative in my mind, both because the negative is 99.99% of the time in favor of less change (even in the rare scenario that they are stuck with a CP) and I presume that change is inherently risky, but also because if the aff is shown to not meaningfully change the status quo, then the debate had no need to happen in the first place, as there is nothing for the neg to rejoinder.
Resolving impacts also influences the way I see impact calculus as well. Absent a serious asymmetry in impact/impact defense quality between the two teams, timeframe, and whether or not the aff actually does anything to make the impact more or less likely to happen (link/solvency) matters much more. "Econ turns warming" in the abstract is much worse than "Economic decline means that the aff will reduce much less emissions than their cards assume due to shifts in attitude towards and viability of necessary green tech". "Security rhetoric causes endless war" is much worse than "The aff's securitizing rhetoric towards China likely means that follow on policy will be more aggressive towards them, causing a security dilemma and nuclear war."
Topicality and other Procedurals:
I like games. I want games to be both playable and worth playing. T should explain to me what your vision of the topic is, and why it meets those two criteria better than your opponent's. What's viable? What will both sides gravitate towards? What's the counter? What's the counter to the counter? These are all questions you should answer.
These are strategic arguments you should have in your arsenal against certain affs. I am completely unpersuaded by arguments that are not based on the interpretations ("Everyone reads this aff," "They read this aff," "It's on the wiki," "No in round abuse happened," etc).
I'm firmly in the competing interpretations camp. Reasonability to me just means that I shouldn't employ traditional impact calculus to evaluate small differences in both team's visions for debate, but then I don't know how I should evaluate T outside of erring aff on every decision. I'm not super keen on doing that, so if you have an alternative way I should go about defining something as reasonable, telling me would help.
A lot of the above stuff applies. My record lately is more aff leaning than I or others might expect, but that's because neg teams are not meaningfully interacting with the case when it's been built from the ground up to answer framework.
I like fairness impacts. They're external, and I have an interest in preserving a game that I enjoy. This doesn't mean Shively 2k automatically makes a neg ballot, but that there has to be better impact calc by the aff than 'it's just an internal link next'. It's very difficult to convince me that debate is not a game; you would do better saying debate is not a game worth playing if it doesn't include _____."
Switch Side Debate and Topical Versions of the Aff only have to solve the aff's offense on T, not the entire aff. Going back to the game design discussion helps here as well. Is the TVA good or bad? How do neg teams respond? etc.
When I was debating, this was always the 2NR against K affs. I'm much more versed in thinking about these debates than K v K debates.
Ks on the neg:
I've been thinking about these and pushing the teams I coach to go for them a lot more. I think out-lefting affs on a topic that requires them to push more and more to the left is strategic and easy to explain.
I have a policy 2A's understanding of just about any K you're thinking about reading. If you think there's something that a lot of people in this camp are missing from your speeches, employing the flagging tactics above would help.
I care a lot more about framework than alternatives. I really think of them as the same argument unless you have a cap-esque impact that's also utilitarian and comparable to the 1AC's impacts. The second question I ask at the end of the debate is why I care about the Ks impact more than my default utilitarian consequentialist preference for the aff. Framework also answers the question of what I can do about it. "Don't tolerate the aff" is a good place to start.
I care about presumption even more in this debate. The best Ks invalidate the way the 1AC is theorizing how systems work. External examples and reexplanation of the aff's internal links are necessary in achieving this.
For reps Ks specifically, I think you need some defense to the representations before you can access your offense. Being right is a good justification for what the aff said.
Don't love the fiat double bind.
In my heart of hearts I'd like every debate to be about whether or not the aff should happen, not how it should happen, but topic bias and lack of specification have made that incredibly difficult as of late. The gold standard for the neg is finding a solvency advocate that directly compares the implementation of the counterplan versus the aff. Absent that, do anything you can defend.
The cult of the intrinsic perm is weird to me. Justifications for why it should exist seem to just amount to "this CP is bad for debate" which is a winnable impact all on its own.
For conditionality specifically, I've been mostly cured of my aff bias, and negation theory makes the most sense for demarcating the roles of each side. Negs still need to have offense.
Slowing down and getting off your blocks will help you immensely.
I did it. I like it. It was most of my 1NRs. It's all spin. Spin better and with more nuance than your opponents and you'll likely win. Apparently these are coming back in 2021, so getting behind and not thinking through your angles will be an easy way to lose.
If your uniqueness card is a screenshot of a FiveThirtyEight-esque model, I will not vote for your disad. All it says is that you do not know how probability and risk work.
- Speaker Points: My scale usually starts at 28.5, but I'll override that if the tournament has their own scale. https://vimeo.com/5414305
- If the majority of the 2NC is recuttings of aff evidence that I conclude resolve in your favor, the lowest you will get is a 29.4
- Overviews: Very much hate them. Why would you waste time explaining what you (hopefully) already have me understanding clearly after the 1NC? Especially when all of the arguments can be more efficiently answered on the line by line?
- I have always tended to root for the underdog. Take that as you will.
For e-mail chains and any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
About me - I debated for 8 years competitively, starting at Douglas High School (Minden, NV) before transferring to Sage Ridge (Reno, NV) where I debated with the incredibly brilliant Kristen Lowe. We were the first team from Northern Nevada to qualify to the TOC and had a pretty consistent record of deep elim appearances. I went on to debate at Wake Forest University (class of '17) with varying amounts of success on a wide range of arguments, finishing my career with Varun Reddy in semis of CEDA. I currently work as a legal assistant and lobbyist in Reno/Carson City when I'm not out and about judging and coaching debate.
I have also been published a couple times. I don't think any of it applies, but please don't read my work in front of me. That's just awkward.
Minor update 9/18/19 - What ever happened to impact calc? Ya know, magnitude, timeframe, probability? I will actively reward, with speaker points, debaters that can show me this isn't a lost art... especially with DAs.
Generally - YOU DO YOU!!! I cannot stress that enough. Be aware of my general thoughts on debate, but I want to judge the debate that you want to have!! I have increasingly found that my role as an educator and adjudicator in debate prioritizes the debaters themselves, whatever argument that they want to make, and providing them with the advice and opportunities to be better that I can. It is extremely unlikely (but not impossible) that you read an argument that is entirely new to me.
Whether the 1AC has a plan, an advocacy text, or neither, truly makes no difference to me. It is up to you to explain to me why I should care. I have become increasingly frustrated with the people so quick to say "no plan, no chance at my ballot". This is a pedagogical question.
I consider myself a hard working judge. I will flow, I will read cards, and I will take the time to make the best decision I can.
That being said, the following are my thoughts on certain arguments and some pointers on how to win my ballot.
The kritik - Really dig K debates. I'm pretty well read in a lot of different theories and genuinely enjoy reading critical theory, but I still prefer clarity in explanation. The less jargon you use, the easier it will be to win a K in front of me. Overall, I find that framework args are increasingly irrelevant to the way that I evaluate these debates. Both teams will (hopefully) always win why their conversation is good, so just do the impact calc. But also answer critical framing args about ethics/reps/ontology/etc. For the aff - I find that permutations are pretty underutilized when it comes to mitigating links and find myself voting aff in policy v K debates on permutations more than I would have anticipated. Alternatives are usually the weakest part of a K IMO so leveraging bits and pieces that may not be mutually exclusive, in addition to winning some offense/defense, will go a long way. I also think impact turning is something that is truly underutilized by affirmatives that are facing off with a kritik. Digging in on certain points of neg offense can work wonders. DO NOT say things like anti-blackness, sexism, ableism, etc. are good though. PLEASE explain why your aff outweighs the K, especially if you have big stick impacts that are basically designed for some of these debates... For the neg - framing is absolutely essential. I like 2NRs on the K that guide me through my decision in a technical fashion. Links should obviously be as contextualized to the aff as possible. I am frequently persuaded by teams that realize the alt is a dumpster fire and shift to framework for the same effect. I am more likely to vote negative when there is case debating happening in line with the K, as well. Whether that is impact defense or some sort of "satellite" K, well, that's up to you.
The flourishing of performance debate has really effected the way that I think about form and content in the debate setting. I think these arguments are extremely valuable to the activity and I thoroughly enjoy debates about debate as well.
The DA - I think these debates are pretty straight forward. Do your impact calc, win your link, answer uniqueness overwhelms, etc. I like power plays where the aff straight turns a DA, especially if the 1NC was a lot of off case positions.
The CP - don't judge as many of these debates as I would like. A good counterplan with a specific solvency advocate will impress me. I think these arguments are relatively straight forward as well. In terms of theory issues like PICs bad, condo bad, etc., I truly don't have much of an opinion on these issues, but that doesn't mean I will let you get away with shenanigans. I would prefer arguments to be contextualized to in round abuse claims and how the role of the affirmative became structurally impossible. Rarely do I judge a theory debate, but I would be interested to hear more of them.
I do not default to kicking the CP for the negative. I think the 2NR needs to make that choice for themselves and stick with it. That doesn't necessarily mean I cannot be persuaded otherwise, however. This question should be raised before the 2NR for it to be persuasive to me.
Topicality - I like T debates. Limits isn't an impact in and of itself, I want to hear more explanation on how limits effects what should be your "vision of the topic" holistically, what affs and ground exist within it, and why those debates are good. Education impacts that are contextualized and specific will go a long way for me, whether it be in the context of the aff or the resolution.
I am increasingly persuaded by teams that give me a case list and explain what sort of ground exists within that limited topic.
Framework - I am an advocate for engaging with the affirmative and whatever it is that they have to say. I don't think framework should be taken off the table completely, though, and if you do plan to go for it just know that I require a lot more work on a topical version of the aff and some sort of in-road to how you resolve the claims of the 1AC. There are a lot of framework debates I have judged where I wish the 2NR did some work on the case flow -- ex: aff is about movements, 2NR makes arguments about why movements are coopted or repressed, therefore state engagement is essential.... whatever.
Procedural fairness is becoming less and less persuasive to me. I would vote on it if I have to, but I likely won't be happy.
I believe that debate is a game, but a game that has unique pedagogical benefits.
I may seem "K happy" but I promise my judging record proves that I am more than willing to vote on framework. But like I said, there needs to be more interaction between the affirmative and a limited vision of the topic. I have found that a lot of teams give case lists (both on the aff and the neg) but there is little to no clash over what those affirmatives are and why they are or are not good for debate. If you are trying to make arguments about why your vision of the topic provides a better set of affirmations, whether policy or critical, then there must be some comparison between the two. And those comparisons must have some sort of impact.
Other things - if there is anything else, please feel free to ask me. I know that some of this is vague, but my thoughts tend to change based off of the argument that is being presented and how exactly it is explained. I probably lean more on the side of truth over tech, but that doesn't mean I will make a decision wholly irrelevant to what is said in the debate unless I feel that it is absolutely necessary and something terrible happened. Plus I like to think I keep a clean flow so obvi tech still matters. I have absolutely no qualms checking debaters that are being rude or problematic. That being said, I look forward to judging you and happy prep!
This event should be accessible to all--meaning please keep your rate of delivery in check. No that does not mean you have to be painfully slow. In fact, you can go fast enough where a typical person would think to themselves "that person is speaking fast." That person, however, should not think to themselves "I can not understand them." 98% of PF debaters are within my expectation here--the 2% should know who you are. Both teams have the right to request their opponent to slow down if they are struggling to keep up. Debate should be for everyone and not just those who can afford debate camp and those who speak English as their first language... If both teams love fast debate, and everyone agrees to it, then let's go all out speed because I enjoy fast debate too (just give me a heads up).
Warrants win. Turns win. Weighing wins. Offense wins. Yes I flow. Crossfire is less important to me than most--if something important happens, get it on the flow in your next speech. Grand crossfire is not an opportunity to bring in arguments you didn't get to in the summary. If it wasn't in the summary and the final focus, I probably won't vote on it. Yes, you should frontline in the 2nd rebuttal.
Public Forum time structures are not suitable for debating Kritiks with alternatives. However, debating ethics directly related to the topic and arguing it outweighs/should come first is good with me. No plan texts or counterplan texts please (note: a counterplan text is not saying 'another solution is better than the solution being presented by the resolution' -- that's just an argument, just answer it...)
Very high threshold on theory. Despite being tech over truth 95% of the time, I have limited tech expectations on theory since I don't want to punish students who couldn't afford debate camp to learn the technical aspects of theory. If something truly unfair happened in the debate, then go for it by arguing 1) we should have this norm and 2) you violated that norm. To beat theory argue it 1) shouldn't be a norm or 2) you didn't violate the rule or 3) we should have a different norm instead of the one you provided. If you argue theory every debate, I'm not the judge for you. It is a check on unfair debate practices, not a strategy to catch your opponent off guard. I believe I have voted on theory 2 times in the hundreds of rounds I've judged--I have yet to vote on theory in PF.
I believe the activity is approaching the point where it should be the norm to send all the evidence you read over to your opponent rather than doing this inefficient 1 card at a time nonsense. Whatever you do though, please be efficient. I blame inefficient evidence exchange on the team fetching the evidence, not on the team requesting it.
Questions? Just askPOLICY
If you have any specific questions--feel free to ask
Prep stops when you stop prepping, but please send the doc within reason -- include me in the email chain
Tag team CX is acceptable, but it doesn't score you any points
In your last speech—go for arguments and never go for everything
Clash matters -- do not run away from your opponent's arguments
Aff should defend the topic. Neg should have links to the aff
CJR topic: Going for the status quo on the neg is a bold move
This is supposed to be an academic space. Don't swear. Don't make a mockery out of the activity. Don't exclude your opponents from this awesome activity. Don't be rude. Student safety comes first. I have voted down teams for crossing the line.
Alternatively, no need to be fake nice--I'm all about the competition. Being aggressive is fine--calling your opponent's argument "dumb" is not.
Gender norms related to debate are bad. As an example, everyone should feel welcome to be aggressive during their speeches with me as a judge. If you don't want to be--that's cool--you do you.
Debate can be stressful--if you find yourself in an important debate with me as a judge, it might be a good idea to watch the following video. I may be stressed as well and watching it during prep time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZZkZPcxp_I
17th year in debate. Currently the Director of Debate at Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls South Dakota. Debated 4 years in high school doing traditional LD. Since then I have coached policy debate. I have a fair amount of experience in both circuit and traditional circles.
Higher threashold for theory than many--it generally requires a legitimate claim based on questionable actions by the other side. I’ve voted on it before, but it has to be developed and it has to dive deep into the standards. I generally default to competing interpretations unless convinced otherwise. Have offense against their interpretation and use the standards to prove substance to your theoretical objection. If you go for theory in any sense of the word, tell me whether it’s a reason to reject the team or argument and provide offense for that.
Also: 10 second theory shells deserve 10 second responses. Even if they are conceded--I would still probably default to reject the arg. If you want me to make your theory argument enough weight to make me ignore everything else in the debate and vote for you, then give it the time it deserves.
On conditionality: 1 is fine--2 is probably fine--3 is debateable--4 probably not fine
Link story is usually the largest uphill battle, so you should probably have more than one link
Specific links are good links
Disad turns case is important
Risk of uniqueness is a thing
Link turns need uniqueness to be offense
Not sure what else to say--CP's are strategic and should be used often. Ones that are specific to the aff are especially fun.
Although everything is up for debate... I do have a strong belief in affirmatives defending the topic/advocating for topical action. If negative is required to address the affirmative... then affirmative is required to address the topic. That does not mean you have to run a plan text. That does not mean you can not run kritikal impacts. It does mean doing more than saying some of the words in the topic.
I have a higher threshold for K links on the negative than most. As an affirmative, you should challenge these directly.
K jargon is only persuasive to well read judges on the literature. I am reasonably well read on some K lit, but you should assume I am not.
Kritiks on the neg should fundamentally argue the affirmative is bad.
CJR topic update: lots of legitimate K ground on both sides. I am not "anti-K." Instead, I am "pro-clash." In past years, I have found many debates missing clash because of affs running away from the topic and neg links being barely related to the aff.
TLDR: If your version of debate doesn't promote clash, you're going to have a tough time winning my ballot. Beyond that, it's about the learning.
I very much dislike judging clash of civs rounds. If you feel that is the best debating you can do on the neg, then go for it, but it almost certainly won't be my favorite debate of all time. I've voted for and against framework/T arguments against K affs. If you have another strategy that you feel is viable, that would be great.
Recently I judged 7 consecutive clash of civs debates at a single tournament. There is nothing like hearing 14 hours of promises that the education is right around the corner, when clearly it is not. The only good links I saw all tournament were analytics. As an educator, I don't want to experience that again--but I also understand the desire to run strategies that win ballots.
I have 7 years of experience in policy debate: I debated 3 years at Little Rock Central (2013-2016) and 4 years at the University of Kansas (2016-2020). I currently am a GTA at Wake Forest and Coach for Bronx Science.
When it comes to evaluating debates, two things are the most important for me:
1. clear judge instructions in the rebuttals of how I should filter offense and arguments made in the round. Impact and Link framing are a must. if I cant explain the argument myself, I probably can't vote on it.
2. Impact comparison and clear reason why i should prioritize impacts in the round between the neg and aff. Each argument should have a claim - warrant - impact for me to evaluate it as such.
Use these to filter the rest of my paradigm and general in round perception.
Most of my debate experience was in critical debates on both the aff and neg (I was a 1A/2N), but i’m not unfamiliar with the technical aspects of policy debates.
I’m probably not the best for Topicality debates in general when it comes to plan policy debates and less likely to vote on Framework vs plan-less affs if going for impacts such as fairness/competitive equity or predictability. I generally lean more into truth over tech in most debates, but tech is important for impact comparison.
Its my first year as a college debate judge, so making sure i clearly understand what i should evaluate without intervention from me comes down to how you go for your arguments. The less judge intervention i feel like i have to do, the happier we are all in the post-round RFD.
Truth over tech/Tech over truth? - Depends, i view myself evaluating truth before tech concessions but that isn’t always the case. I think technical concession are important for evaluating impact debates, so utilize both these to your advantage.
Framework on the Neg? - I’ll evaluate any negative arguments about the meta of debate. If you win your model of debate is good and the aff in question doesn’t access it then generally I’m pretty neutral on Framework arguments. Same for K’s with framing questions, the way you want me to evaluate a prior question should be framed as such.
10 off? I’d prefer if you didn’t, gish galloping is a fascist tactic.
Theory arguments? I believe theory arguments are heavily underutilized in high school debates. I evaluate conditionality and presumption debates as much as I evaluate K vs Framework. I have a certain threshold for certain arguments that I will vote on in theory debates, I think condo is a definite aff/neg ballot if it gets dropped in the neg block or rebuttals. I tend to vote neg on presumption, in those debates I think a lot of the perm debate and solvency portions of both sides are important to those rounds. CP contextual theory, perm text theory, textual severance, etc im all game for theory. i think theory debates get underutilized a lot
I consider myself to be pretty flex when it comes to arguments that teams want to read. I debate more critical but you should read whatever arguments that you are comfortable with. Any racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc will be met wth speaker points that reflect, so don't be an assho|e.
I read them, I think that you should read whatever you read on the aff. I will vote for them, but I at least think they should be in the direction of the topic and a reason why the topical version doesn't solve.
If performance is your thing - go ahead go for it.
FW on the neg
I will vote on a neg FW but I think that there are certain arguments that I'm gonna have a harder time pulling the trigger on, i.e. fairness. I don't think fairness is something I would absolutely vote on but of course that all depends on the round. I also think the neg should be doing a lot of work why the state/usfg is worth it, why the aff isnt good for a model of debate, or why the judge should care. Generic args on framework aren't gonna cut it for me tbh, i need a concise way of why i should view the debate through the neg and why the aff doesnt solve etc etc.
Pretty versed in most of the lit but you shouldn't use a lot of buzzwords in front of me. I think you should say why the aff is uniquely bad and how the alternative can resolve its impacts and the squo. Why perms don't solve, links are disads, etc etc. I find alternative debates to be the most shallow, I think even if you are winning reason the links are disads you still need a reason the alt isn't the squo. Role of the ballot arguments are self-serving but it makes is a lot easier to evaluate them when they are dropped or not contested by the aff. Aff teams: FW on Ks is underutilized, I think you should make arguments about why you should get to weigh your impacts vs the K.
Any other questions just ask before the round, "If you can't dazzle me with excellence, baffle me with bullshit."
Head Coach - Washburn Rural High School, Topeka, KS
Debated at Manhattan High School
Email chain - email@example.com
First thing is first, if anything in this paradigm isn't clear enough, feel free to ask me before the round, I'd be more than happy to clarify.
Tl;dr - I judge quite a bit, about 100 rounds last year, and am generally pretty familiar with the topic from coaching and working at camps. As a competitor I gravitated toward plan oriented affs and CP/DA strategies on the neg and have coached teams who debate similarly, but I am open to you debating however you would like to. I have literature deficiencies in some areas that make me less knowledgeable of certain strategies. I am also a teacher who believes in debate as an educational activity, so I am generally open to listening to you debate in whatever fashion you're the most comfortable.
If you would like to know more specifics, they are below.
Topicality: I feel like topicality is usually a question of competing interpretations, but just like anything else in debate, you can persuade me otherwise. I tend to think that debaters are not great at explaining the offense that they have on T flows, and particularly, how offensive arguments interact with one another. I have seen a lot of 2ARs recently where the aff doesn't extend a terminal impact to their counter interp. I pretty much always vote neg in these situations. All too often the neg will go for a limits DA and the aff will say precision, but no one will discuss which one has more value in creating a stable model for debate. Reasonability alone is not an argument that makes sense to me, absent an offensive argument. Good is good enough is nonsense - if you are close to beating a DA, I'm still going to vote neg. If you want to utilize a reasonability argument more persuasively, I would suggest that you frame it almost like sufficiency on the counterplan and have an offensive reason that inclusion of the aff is good. As far as spec debates, I usually find them quite dull. I am growing weary of affs that obviously defend a certain agent with their solvency advocate and advantages but will not defend that agent when debating an agent counterplan. Stop this and defend your arguments please.
Framework: I find that framework debates to me are usually an issue of fairness. I find myself generally not super persuaded by the value of topic education vs the value of whatever educational outlet the affirmative has chosen to discuss is. The aff usually has better evidence about the importance of their particular educational outlet anyway, especially given the fact that they know what it is and can adequately prepare for it. Fairness is a bit more contestable from the negative perspective, in my opinion. Central to convincing me to vote for a non-resolutionally based affirmative is their ability to describe to me what the role of the negative would be under their model of debate. K affs can gain a lot of leeway with me by being in the direction of the resolution and defending at least some links in the realm of topic literature. I am not a very good judge for affs that have no resolutional basis. Regardless, I also think that the aff has a better chance by focusing most of their time on impact turning framework and then using the directionality of the aff toward the topic in order to win some defense against the negs framework claims.
Theory: Most theory debates are people reading blocks back and forth and are totally useless. I usually default to rejecting the argument and not the team. Conditionality is a potential exception to that rule, but it has been a long time since I saw a team ready to debate condo very well.
Kritiks: I am not as familiar with the literature base for this style of argumentation. That doesn't mean I don't vote on the K, it simply means that you need a little more explanation for your argument than you otherwise might. I think that good K teams are able to contextualize their argument with the world of the affirmative. Recently I've judged a bunch of K debates where the links all seem to be descriptions of the status quo, but the affirmative is not very good at winning that the aff is in the direction of the alt. If the neg is going to try and go for just framework and a link/ethics argument, I think it is important that they focus a substantial amount of time on the framework debate, and try and have an interpretation of framework that is not completely arbitrary and should try and win that there is a unique link to the aff. If you are able to win framework and a unique link then you're probably good without an alt. If you are going to go for an alternative, it is probably important that you explain to me how the alternative functions and how the alt resolves the links to the K and probably portions of the affirmative, otherwise you will be susceptible to losing on the aff outweighs. Be descriptive of how the alt functions. I have also found myself recently voting for the aff in the vast majority of debates where the 2NR does not have a thorough contestation of the affirmative. You don't explicitly have to go to the case pages, but you should definitely be calling into question the truth of the 1ACs internal link chains or the efficacy of it to solve the problems that it seeks to solve.
Disads/Counterplans/Case: These are the types of debate I am most familiar with. I think the case debate is under utilized, and that the education topic may have been the worst thing in recent memory at teaching people to debate the case. I wish that more teams would focus on the internal links to the aff advantages instead of just reading impact defense and hoping that a DA outweighs. I think delay counterplans are cheating. Conditions and consult counterplans I can easily be convinced are cheating, but having a solvency advocate helps.
Things I like: Rebuttals that paint a clear picture of what an aff/neg ballot means. Evidence comparison. Debaters who don't read off their computer for the whole debate. Debaters who are funny/having fun. Warranted arguments/smart analytics. Well thought out strategies.
Things I dislike: Bluetooth speakers, must define all terms, running arguments you don't really understand, death good, topicality = genocide, general rudeness, stealing prep time, and clipping cards. If you enjoy doing these things, you probably don't want me to judge you.
Disclaimer: I love the activity of debate, and think that it is a place where all types of debate styles/debaters should be welcome. If you are excessively rude to the other team (laughing during speeches, being disrespectful in cross-x, etc) I will let you know. If the behavior continues, there is a strong chance that I will vote against you on principle.
i debated policy for 4 years in hs at georgetown day school and now debate for the university of west georgia
read whatever you read and it’ll be fine. i judge plenty of k v k debates, “clash” debates, and policy throw-downs and have voted just about every which way
make sure you extend warrants for all your arguments in every speech. merely saying they dropped/conceded x is dropping x.
control the story, don’t just rattle off arguments back and forth, tie them together into a narrative
tell me how and why i should sign my ballot
use your fw/framing arguments, don’t treat them as a separate debate, apply them to the flow
engage the case and not just in the 1nc
use your knowledge and experience to make analytic arguments even if you don’t have a card
use lots of examples and debate the other teams, less abstraction generally makes it easier for me to understand your argument
if you don’t know what the other team is talking about, try googling it rather than ignoring it
leverage perfcons to your advantage
use your cx, don’t just treat it as filler time, the cx is extremely important to how i come to understand your arguments and if you’re pointing back to moments in cx to prove your argument you are much much more likely to win my ballot
trust your partner, you are a team, one seamless organism, and fighting amongst yourselves does more harm than your opponents could ever hope to do on their own
be racist sexist homophobic transphobic or otherwise spout fascist nonsense
speed through a 15 second overview in the 1ar without extending warrants and internal links for the affirmative, especially your solvency mechanism
say insert highlighting here, i usually do not follow along on speech docs and will not flow anything you do not say aloud.
read a ton of off if it means you aren't gonna develop your arguments until the 2nr (though i am still cool with 10 off starts, just make sure you are collapsing down and there is some synergy between your positions)
think that that just because you have a card and they have an analytic your argument is intrinsically stronger, absent author quals, arguments about your evidence’s data set etc there is no reason for me to evaluate them as distinct in any way
assume i agree with your argument and so i’ll let you get away with not doing the work
read extremely contradictory arguments
block everything out to the extent that you’re just ignoring the other team
treat your arguments the same in every speech, your arguments should evolve with the rest of the debate and rarely do i vote on arguments where you are just repeating verbatim the extension from your previous speech without any added depth
blaze through analytics without giving me any pen time
how to get extra points:
read arguments you are passionate about
do author indicts
go for a presumption argument by which i don’t mean “the ballot doesn’t resolve this k affs impacts” i mean terminal defense
recut and or spin or opponent’s evidence
read plan flaws, theory arguments that aren’t blocked out into oblivion, and other tricky arguments like the minor repair
creatively weave your off case positions together (especially for k teams not going for a one off strategy this can be a truly beautiful thing to watch, though i definitely here for your one or zero off strats as well)
Yes, email chain. firstname.lastname@example.org
Debater--The University of Michigan '91-'95
Head Coach--Oak Park and River Forest HS '15-'20
Assistant Coach--New Trier Township High School '20-
--Old School Policy.
--Like the K on the Neg. Harder sell on the Aff
--Truth is slightly >Tech. But silence is concession.
--Quality of Evidence Counts. Massive disparities warrant intervention on my part.
--Not great with theory debates.
--Prefer arguments that originate from Truth and Research. The more you respect the value of research in your round, the happier I will be.
--I am a better judge if the round is about substance rather than procedure or ethos.
Advantage vs Disadvantage.
I will always give more credence to the team that has a more consistent narrative and better explains causality from A to B to C. I can and will vote against an argument if cards are poor exclusive of counter evidence being read. Coherent and plausible stories with good evidence will always win out in my mind. You not understanding obvious political reality will cast a bit of a shadow over your credibility.
Not a big fan of Pre-Fiat DA's: Spending, Must Pass Legislation, Riders, etc. I will err Aff on theory unless the Neg has some really good evidence as to why not.
KNOW YOUR POLITICS!! Knowledge of the Legislative process is about the only decent thing that this DA teaches you. Teams that know how PC or Floor Time actually work will earn my ballot far more easily.
It is perfectly okay for Agents to be a part of the debate. No International Fiat and Object Fiat please. 50 State is iffy for me. Have a solvency advocate and I become flexible on all of this.
PICs-- all good.
Process Counterplans-- You had better have a solvency advocate and a good one and you had better prove why your "process" is somehow valuable and/or educational. Absent that, I will err aff on CP theory debates. The more generic the CP is, the more likely I will vote on Perm do the CP.
Some thoughts about CP theory debates--Largely okay with lots of conditional arguments. 4-5 condo is no big deal for me. Be advised that I don’t spend much, if any, time thinking about CP theory so I have no real baseline for how I feel about intrinsic perms or functional vs textual competitiveness or things of that ilk. That said, if you choose to have this debate you open yourself up to my whims. The best way to avoid this is to prove that the other team’s model is bad for debate and education.
I will judge kick automatically unless given a decent reason why not in the 1AR.
If you lean on high theory or K Affs, just do yourself a favor and put me low or strike me. If you can't do that...
I have voted for a lot of K-Affs and it is usually because the Aff effectively impact turned Framework and beat back a TVA. If you can do those things, you can get my ballot.
Topic relevance is important.
If your goal is to use the K-Aff as a means to teach an old white male who engages with both capitalism and the state for a living something valuable, then I am all ears. I love being taught things and you have done the Aff justice. If your goal is to make blanket statements about why certain people are good or bad or should be excluded from valuable discussions then I am not your judge. We are all flawed.
I do not like “debate is bad” arguments. I don't think that being a "small school" is a reason why I should vote for you.
Kritiks vs Policy Affs:
Truth be told, I vote Neg on Kritiks vs Policy Affs A LOT. I have even voted on Neg FW as Offense.
I am prone to voting Aff on Perms, so be advised College Debaters. But I also do not feel that an Alt is always necessary, especially with Reps K.
I am not up on the Lit AT ALL, so the polysyllabic word stews you so love to concoct are going to make my ears bleed.
I like reading cards after the debate and find myself understanding nuance better when I can. If you don’t then you leave me with only the bad handwriting on my flow to decipher what you said an hour later and that’s not good for anybody.
When I usually vote Neg its because the Aff has not done a sufficient job in engaging with core elements of the K, such as Ontology, Root Cause Claims, etc.
I am not a great evaluator of Framework debates and will usually err for the team that accesses Education Impacts the best.
Because it theoretically serves an external function that affects other rounds, I do give the Aff a fair amount of leeway when the arguments start to wander into a gray area. The requirement for Offense on the part of the Affirmative is something on which I place little value. Put another way, the Aff need only prove that they are within the predictable confines of research and present a plan that offers enough ground on which to run generic arguments. The Negative must prove that the Affirmative skews research burdens to a point in which the topic is unlimited to a point beyond 20-30 possible cases and/or renders the heart of the topic moot.
Plan Text in a Vacuum is a silly defense.
Limits and Fairness are not in and of themselves an impact. Take the impacts to the next level.
Things that make me happy:
Nuanced Case Debates. Obviously being prepared. Impact Turns. Link Turns. (not at the same time) Specific Links. Tricks and Traps. Debating evidence. Beating an argument in Cross Ex.
Things that make me unhappy:
Spark. OSPEC. Over highlighting. Hidden Theory Arguments. New Affs Bad. Poor disclosure ethics. Wipeout. Not using that awesome thing your partner said in CX in your speech. Trying to prove why debate makes people bad. Calling me “judge.” Turning debates into poetry slams or video games.
PUBLIC FORUM SUPPLEMENT:
I judge about 1 PF Round for every 50 Policy Rounds so bear with me here.
I have NOT judged the PF national circuit pretty much ever. The good news is that I am not biased against or unwilling to vote on any particular style. Chances are I have heard some version of your meta level of argumentation and know how it interacts with the round. The bad news is if you want to complain about a style of debate in which you are unfamiliar, you had better convince me why with, you know, impacts and stuff. Do not try and cite an unspoken rule about debate in your part of the country.
Because of my background in Policy, I tend to look at things from a cost benefit perspective. Even though the Pro is not advocating a Plan and the Con is not reading Disadvantages, to me the round comes down to whether the Pro has a greater possible benefit than the potential implications it might cause. Both sides should frame the round in terms impact calculus and or feasibility. Impacts need to be tangible.
Evidence quality is very important.
I will vote on what is on the flow (yes, I flow) and keep my personal opinions of arguments in check as much as possible. I may mock you for it, but I won’t vote against you for it. No paraphrasing. Quote the author, date and the exact words. Quals are even better but you don’t have to read them unless pressed. Have the website handy. Research is critical.
Speed? Meh. You cannot possibly go fast enough for me to not be able to follow you. However, that does not mean I want to hear you go fast. You can be quick and very persuasive. You don't need to spread.
Defense is nice but is not enough. You must create offense in order to win. There is no “presumption” on the Con.
While I am not a fan of formal “Kritik” arguments in PF, I do think that Philosophical Debates have a place. Using your Framework as a reason to defend your scholarship is a wise move. Racism and Sexism will not be tolerated. You can attack your opponents scholarship.
I reward debaters who think outside the box.
I do not reward debaters who cry foul when hearing an argument that falls outside traditional parameters of PF Debate. Again, I am not a fan of the Kritik, but if its abusive, tell me why instead of just saying “not fair.”
Statistics are nice, to a point. But I feel that judges/debaters overvalue them. Often the best impacts involve higher values that cannot be quantified. A good example would be something like Structural Violence.
While Truth outweighs, technical concessions on key arguments can and will be evaluated. Dropping offense means the argument gets 100% weight.
The goal of the Con is to disprove the value of the Resolution. If the Pro cannot defend the whole resolution (agent, totality, etc.) then the Con gets some leeway.
I care about substance and not style. It never fails that I give 1-2 low point wins at a tournament. Just because your tie is nice and you sound pretty, doesn’t mean you win. I vote on argument quality and technical debating. The rest is for lay judging.
Relax. Have fun.
I debated at Blue Valley Southwest High School for 4 years and am currently debating at KU
I am heavily persuaded by arguments about why the affirmative should read a topical plan. One of the main reasons for this is that I am persuaded by a lot of framing arguments which nullify aff offense (TVOA, argument testing, etc). The best way to deal with these things is to more directly impact turn common impacts like procedural fairness. Affirmative teams would also be well served to offer a competing interpretation of debate, designed to mitigate the negative impacts.
Fairness is the most persuasive impact to framework.
I'm not great for the K. In most instances this is because I believe the alternative solves the links to the aff or can't solve it's own impacts. This can be resolved by narrowing the scope of the K or strengthening the link explanation (too often negative teams do not explain the links in the context of the permutation). The simpler solution to this is a robust framework press.
I really enjoy good T debates. Fairness is the best (and maybe the only) impact. Education is very easily turned by fairness. Evidence quality is important, but only in so far as it improves the predictability/reduces the arbitrariness of the interpretation.
CPs are fun. I generally think that the negative doing non-plan action with the USfg is justified. Everything else is up for debate, but well developed aff arguments are dangerous on other questions.
I generally think conditionality is good. I think the best example of my hesitation with conditionality is multi-plank counter plans which combine later in the debate to become something else entirely.
If in cross x you say the status quo is always an option I will kick the counter plan if no further argumentation is made (you can also obviously just say conditional and clarify that judge kick is an option). If you say conditional and then tell me to kick in the 2NR and there is a 2AR press on the question I will be very uncomfortable and try to resolve the debate some other way. To resolve this, the 2AC should make an argument about judge kick.
Questions comments and concerns can be directed to email@example.com
Don't send me comments
Yes, add me to emailsm please: gonza310 at gmail (at camp, use firstname.lastname@example.org)
2021 - now includes me complaining about stuff:
1. Since I only judge K-T/FW debates anymore, it's increasingly becoming clear that I think that fairness is probably internal link....but it's an internal link to pretty long list of some really good stuff in debate, so just list out what you think that stuff *is* at some point, please.
2. Flow, or I will give you bad speaker points.
New for 2018-2019:
High School Debates:
0. I will, at my own discretion, treat evidence that is highlighted such that the remaining words still follow basic grammatical rules as necessarily superior to evidence that is not. If I have to read and/or search unhighlighted parts of the evidence to make sense of the parts that you *did* read, then *your* version of that evidence isn't very good, even if the full, un-highlighted card is quite good...
Rando stuff that I've added:
1. I will not automatically judge-kick conditional CPs. 2NR must signal to me to do it, in which case (absent a compelling aff response) I'm happy to do it, but I don't remember to do it every single time unless signaled, and it isn't fair for me to do it inconsistently.
The majority of what I've written below is of a positive/empirical nature, rather than normative/ideal. I obviously have opinions about debate, arguments, etc., but who doesn't? Every time a debate happens, the activity changes a little bit, as do my thoughts and opinions about it. If anything, what is below describes how I have voted in the past more than I how I intend to vote in the future.
That being said, there are a number of practices that have developed various degrees of normative force over time in our activity. Arguers who seek to overturn norms (not universally, obvi) are necessarily dealing with a task of overcoming presumption. I don't think that this is a particularly high bar (certainly not high enough that it should discourage you from trying); I just think it's the best explanation for my past voting behavior.
Speaker Points: who even knows anymore. I'll assign some.
Newest Complaint: 2NC/1NR - please don't group disparate parts of a flow and call it "the link debate" or "the uniqueness debate." While there are def. parts of flows that deserve grouping, this is a technique that is over-used and isn't very smart. There's a good chance you'll drop something the other team said.
Paperless addendum: Mark your cards during your speech. Save the speech doc from which you spoke, with marks. Be prepared to send it out after the speech if the other team requests that you do so. Regardless, I will expect to receive a post-round doc of all relevant cards WITH MARKS CLEARLY NOTED. If I don't, I will not consider the cards as part of my decision. If this document includes evidence that was not read in full (all portions that are highlighted) but is not marked as such, I will definitely blow up your speaker points and will may just vote for the other team on the spot. If you discover, after sending the document to me, that it is missing a mark, don't hesitate to correct it. Honesty and transparency are what we're aiming for here.
Clipping: Auto-loss, auto zero points for the debater. This is obvious.
SWEAR LESS: I didn't care about this nearly as much when I was younger, but as I've become older, I've increasingly become of the belief that all of you kids need to stay off my lawn. Let's try and cut down on the swearing during actual debate speeches, it's just not particularly becoming and it gets us in trouble with the higher ups. I'm sure there's any number of things you can say about this, but honestly, I probably disagree and this is one of those spots where I assign the speaker points and you'll just have to adapt. If this is a non-negotiable item for you, I take no offense to you moving me down the pref sheet, as is your perogative.
T/Framework/Etc. - I have rarely made the decision that topicality was not a voter. In all but the most extreme instances, I have typically decided that the affirmative should have to try and read a topical plan. I phrase this as an empirical statement rather than a normantive one, but I think it would be unfair of me to not let you know that I've been more likely than not to side with the negative when they make an argument to that effect. Here's the big catch: what the words that are configured into this “plan” (and the resolution) mean are significantly open to debate (or how they are best understood/interpreted) but it's plainly obvious what the directions of most topics are and what one would do to have some fidelity to that. I am inclined to think that people who claim that it is actually impossible to make arguments about social justice in the context of most any recent debate are, well, incorrect and really aren't trying very hard.
Theory – I don’t seem to vote on this much, but I’m probably just waiting to meet the right theory debater. I have an intuition that the multiplicity of worlds advanced in 1NCs these days are probably unfair, I just haven’t heard a team that has really made a good set of arguments as to why. Be careful with the words “logical policy maker”: logical policy makers might consider lots of different counterplans, but they probably think the politics disad is really, really stupid, too. I don’t have too much of a dog in the fight with regard to intrinsicness, etc. – I coach a lot of teams to go for politics, but I do also think that debate is probably worse off for it at the end of the day. I find most totalizing theories of CP competition pretty self-serving and stupid, particularly “textual competition.” I have not heard a compelling reason why it makes sense as a standard, rather than just something that conveniently excludes a number of undesirable counterplans. If those CPs are bad, there is likely plenty of good reasons to reject them on their own and we don’t need a counterintuitive competition standard to prevent them from being run.
ASPEC – this is my least favorite debate argument. New rule: 2ACs don’t have to spend any more time answering it than the 1NC spent reading it. If the block makes a big deal, I’m inclined to allow a TON of new 1AR argument—and you can still probably say “cross ex checks” and get out of Dodge. This is one of the only things I am actually willing to impose by judge fiat.
Consultation CPs – these are my second least favorite debate arguments. Any generic strategy that creates an incentive for the aff to read plans that would be vetoed by any relevant international actor is probably a bad argument. I still vote on them, just don’t expect great speaks, even if you think you gave the best speech of your life, which, by virtue of making it about a consultation CP, you have not.
Critiques – I used to be the guy that K teams struck. Now I seem to be a middle-of-the-road sort of fellow. Maybe even K-leaning. This is not because I think critiques are totally awesome and the past/present/future of debate. I actually think many, if not most of them are surprisingly shallow and silly, but most teams seem incapable of acquitting themselves as anything less than even more shallow and dumb. My research interests go vastly farther into the critical than do my debate interests, so there’s a good chance I know what you’re talking about. Don’t be afraid to make arguments that have some theoretical depth, but in so doing, do not fail to make them relevant to the question of the debate (theorizing biopower is totally fascinating, but you need to make it into a reason to not do the plan).
Decorum/Attitude/Behavior – ethos matters in a persuasive setting. Become comfortable with the fact that debate judges (this one in particular) are not logical robots. We are big, jiggly masses of flesh. This means that you should make some attempt at being likeable in debate rounds. I rarely find myself voting for teams that I do not like and yet I feel as if I make decisions on the basis of relatively objective criteria. This does not make much sense unless one understands that how judges feel about you effects (affect?) how they understand and evaluate every other facet of the debate. I have spent more than 20 years of my life in this activity and rarely regretted it (until recently). I still love almost every person I've met through debate, but I am having an increasingly hard time coming to grips with how many of us are behaving (myself included, from time to time). Make it the sort of place that other people want to be and not only will judges reward you, but you will likely reap an enormous number of other intangible benefits as well. Only one team wins the tournament – everybody else should have a pretty good reason that they came. Year after year, I find that the only good reason (and the best reason that I could imagine) is “everybody else.”
A quick guide to getting good speaker points:
-get to the point, and be clear about it
-"extinction" or "nuclear war" is not a tag
-a well explained, logical, argument trumps an unexplained argument merely extended by it's "card name"
-Ks must pass the make sense test
-cross x is a speech-i figure it in as a substantial factor in speaker points
Here is an explanation of how I evaluate debates at a meta-level:
While I think there is value in the offense/defense framework for evaluation, for me to vote on offense there has to be substantive risk. Second, quality trumps quantity.
Also, "extinction" is not a tag line. I don't even like tag lines like "causes nuclear war." I need complete sentences, with claims and warrants.
Where does the evidence come from? there are not enough debaters talking about the quality of research their opponents are quoting.
Get to the point. On any given controversy in debate, there are relatively few arguments at play. Get to the core issues quickly. Point out the central logical/argumentative problems with a given position. I am much more compelled by a speaker’s ability to take the 2-3 core problems with their opponent’s position and use those fallacies to answer all of the other team’s advances. It shows you have a grip on the central issue and you understand how that issue is inescapable regardless of your opponent’s answer
Calling for cards: I will do this, but I don’t like to read every card in the debate. If you opponent is making well explained arguments you should be very wary of just saying “extend our smith evidence”.
Arbitrary interpretations are one of the worst trends in debate right now. If your interpretation of debate theory is wholly arbitrary and made up it doesn’t seem very useful for me to uphold it as some new norm and reject the other team.
Conditionality is good, it would take a very decisive aff victory with a very tangible impact (in policy debate). Whatever your arbitrary counterinterpretation is that limits the neg to X number of conditional positions…..sorry, I wasn’t born yesterday. If conditionality is good it’s good.
While I'm fine with conditionality, I am persuaded by other theoretical objections (multi actor fiat, uniform fiat without a solvency advocate, etc). I also think that a theory argument that combines objections (conditional multi actor CPs) could be a reason to reject the team.
My personal belief is that the negative can only fiat the agent of the resolution, and that competition based off the ‘certainty’ of the plan (consult/conditions) is not productive. This does NOT mean I have a low threshold in voting aff on agent/actor cps bad, but it does make my threshold lower than most. To win these theory debates on the aff, see above point about cutting to the core 2-3 issues.
On topicality-you need tangible impacts. You’re asking me to drop a team because they made debate too unfair for you. “limits good” is not an impact. “They unlimit the topic by justifying x types of affs that we cannot hope to prepare for” is an impact. There must be a very coherent connection between neg interpretation, violations, and standards in the 2nr.
Counterplans: I spoke above about my theoretical beliefs on counterplans. I think counterplans should be textually and functionally competitive. I am sometimes persuaded that purely functional competition (normal means/process counterplans) should probably not be evaluated. If you’re aff and theory-savvy, don’t be afraid to go for theoretical reasons the process cp goes away.
Floating Pics/Word PICs- I’m great for the aff on these. I believe that every position has theoretical reasons behind it related to education and competitive equity. The aff counterinterpretation of “you can run your K/word K as a K without the CP part” generally solves every pedagogical benefit of those positions-this means the aff just needs to win that competitively these positions are bad for the aff, and it outweighs any ‘educational benefit’ to word/floating pics. I'm persuaded by those arguments, making it an uphill battle for the neg if the aff can explain tangible impacts to the competitive disadvantage the PIC puts them in.
The story must matchup. I will vote on such non-offensive arguments like: your uq and link evidence don’t assume the same group of politicians, you have no internal link, passage of that bill is inevitable, Trump has no PC etc. Of course I don’t vote on these in isolation-once again, refer back to my meta-approach to debate-you need to explain why that core defensive argument trumps everything else the neg is saying.
I’m generally not compelled by framework against a Neg K-I think all Ks have a gateway/framing issue that is much easier and more logical for the aff to attack. For example, if the neg reads an epistemology K you are much more likely to win reading a card that says “consequences outweigh epistemology” or “epistemology focus bad” than you are to win that the other team is cheating because of their K. Focus on answering the gateway issue so that you can leverage your aff against the K and get the decision calculus of the debate back in your favor. Subsequently for the neg the issue of ‘framing’ is also very important.
That being said, I don't like Ks that are just framework arguments. Ks should have alternatives that actually resolve link arguments. I'm not going to weigh a K impact against the aff if the K can't resolve it.
In the 2ac, don’t make a bunch of perms you have no hope of winning unless they are conceded. Perm do the alt is not a perm. Make 1 or 2 permutations and EXPLAIN IN THE 2AC how the permutation overcomes neg links/risks of the impact.
Ks are a great example of the “there are only 2-3 arguments” theory I subscribe to. If you’re debating a 1 off team, it’s much better for me if you don’t read 40 cards in the 2ac with as many different caveats as possible. Instead, read a good number of argument but take the time to explain them. What part of the K do they refute? How do these arguments change the calculus of the round? When you do this I put much more pressure on the neg block to get in depth with their explanations, which I find usually helps the aff.
T > Framework. Given that most impact turns to T come from pedagogical reasons, you need to prove that your interpretation provides space for the ‘good education’ the aff thinks is key to stop genocide/war/racism/turkeys. Topical version of your aff is compelling, as well as giving other examples of topical action that prove the aff could have accepted the parameters of the resolution and gained the same educational benefits. Then it’s just a matter of proving that competitively the K aff hurts the neg. Also, prove how your competitive equity impacts implicate their education impacts.
These are great. Impact defense is kinda meh unless it's real specific. Solvency and internal link answers are where it's at. Make alt causes great again!
It’s all about probability-magnitude is ok but only when you’re discussing it in terms of “our impact causes yours”. Extinction outweighs is trite because by the end of the debate all impacts are extinction or nuclear wars that easily result in another impact in the debate that has been claimed as extinction (nuke war hurts the environment, aff said that causes extinction). Probability is key. Establishing risk is where it’s at. A higher risk trumps a higher magnitude in most instances.
Cross Examination: it’s a speech, I grade it like a speech. Be funny if you can. Base the cross x on core issues in the debate, and base it on quality of evidence and establishing risk/threshold for various arguments.
Assistant Director of Speech and Debate at Presentation High School and Public Admin phd student. I debated policy, traditional ld and pfd in high school (4 years) and in college at KU (5 years). Since 2015 I've been assistant coaching debate at KU. Before and during that time I've also been coaching high school (policy primarily) at local and nationally competitive programs.
Familiar with wide variety of critical literature and philosophy and public policy and political theory. Coached a swath of debaters centering critical argumentation and policy research. Judge a reasonable amount of debates in college/hs and usually worked at some camp/begun research on both topics in the summer. That said please don't assume I know your specific thing. Explain acronyms, nuance and important distinctions for your AFF and NEG arguments.
The flow matters. Tech and Truth matter. I obvi will read cards but your spin is way more important.
I think that affs should be topical. What "TOPICAL" means is determined by the debate. I think it's important for people to innovate and find new and creative ways to interpret the topic. I think that the topic is an important stasis that aff's should engage. I default to competing interpretations - meaning that you are better off reading some kind of counter interpretation (of terms, debate, whatever) than not.
I think Aff's should advocate doing something - like a plan or advocacy text is nice but not necessary - but I am of the mind that affirmative's should depart from the status quo.
Framework is fine. Please impact out your links though and please don't leave me to wade through the offense both teams are winning in that world.
I will vote on theory. I think severance is prolly bad. I typically think conditionality is good for the negative. K's are not cheating (hope noone says that anymore). PICS are good but also maybe not all kinds of PICS so that could be a thing.
I think competition is good. Plan plus debate sucks. I default that comparing two things of which is better depends on an opportunity cost. I am open to teams forwarding an alternative model of competition.
Disads are dope. Link spin can often be more important than the link cards. But
you need a link. I feel like that's agreed upon but you know I'm gone say it anyway.
Just a Kansas girl who loves a good case debate. but seriously, offensive and defensive case args can go a long way with me and generally boosters other parts of the off case strategy.
When extending the K please apply the links to the aff. State links are basic but for some reason really poorly answered a lot of the time so I mean I get it. Links to the mechanism and advantages are spicier. I think that if you're reading a K with an alternative that it should be clear what that alternative does or does not do, solves or turns by the end of the block. I'm sympathetic to predictable 1ar cross applications in a world of a poorly explained alternatives. External offense is nice, please have some.
I acknowledge debate is a public event. I also acknowledge the concerns and material implications of some folks in some spaces as well. I will not be enforcing any recording standards or policing teams to debate "x" way. I want debaters at in all divisions, of all argument proclivities to debate to their best ability, forward their best strategy and answers and do what you do.
Card clipping and cheating is not okay so please don't do it.
NEW YEAR NEW POINT SYSTEM (college) - 28.6-28.9 good, 28.9-29.4 really good, 29.4+ bestest.
This trend of paraphrasing cards in PFD as if you read the whole card = not okay and educationally suspect imo.
Middle/High Schoolers: You smart. You loyal. I appreciate you. And I appreciate you being reasonable to one another in the debate.
I wanna be on the chain: email@example.com
I've been judging debates for a long time. I prefer listening to debates wherein each team presents and executes a well-researched strategy for winning. The ideological flavor of your arguments matters less to me than how you establish clash with your opponents’ arguments. I am open to most anything, understanding that sometimes “you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do” to win the debate.
At the end of the debate, I vote for the team that defends the superior course of action. My ballot constitutes an endorsement of one course relative to another. To win the debate, the affirmative must prove their course is preferable when compared to the status quo or negative alternatives. That being said, I interpret broadly exactly what constitutes a plan/course of action. An alternative is proven a superior course of action when it is net beneficial compared to the entirety of the plan combined with part or parts of the alternative. Simply solving better than the affirmative is not enough: the alternative must force choice. Likewise, claiming a larger advantage than the affirmative is not enough to prove the alternative competitive. A legitimate permutation is defined as the entirety of the "plan" combined with parts or parts of the alternative. Mere avoidance of potential or "unknown" disadvantages, or a link of omission, is insufficient: the negative must read win a link and impact in order to evaluate the relative merits of the plan and the alternative. The 2AC saying something akin to "Perm - do the plan and all noncompetitive parts of the counterplan/alternative" is merely a template for generating permutation ideas, rather than a permutation in and of itself. It's your job to resolve the link, not mine.
I believe there is an inherent value to the topic/resolution, as the topic serves as the jumping off point for the year's discussion. The words of the topic should be examined as a whole. Ultimately, fairness and ground issues determine how strict an interpretation of the topic that I am willing to endorse. The most limiting interpretation of a topic rarely is the best interpretation of a topic for the purposes of our game. The topic is what it is: merely because the negative wishes the topic to be smaller (or the affirmative wishes it bigger, or worded a different way) does not mean that it should be so. An affirmative has to be at its most topical the first time it is run.
I don’t care about any of your SPEC arguments. The affirmative must use the agent specified in the topic wording; subsets are okay. Neither you nor your partner is the United States federal government. The affirmative is stuck with defending the resolutional statement, however I tend to give the affirmative significant leeway as to how they choose to define/defend it. The affirmative is unlikely to persuade me criticisms of advocacy of USFG action should be dismissed as irrelevant to an evaluation of policy efficacy. I believe that switch-side debating is good.
All theory arguments should be contextualized in terms of the topic and the resultant array of affirmative and negative strategies. Reciprocity is a big deal for me, i.e., more negative flex allows for more aff room to maneuver and vice versa). Conditional, topical, and plan inclusive alternatives are presumptively legitimate. A negative strategy reliant on a process counterplan, consultation counterplan, or a vague alternative produces an environment in which in which I am willing to allow greater maneuverability in terms of what I view as legitimate permutations for the affirmative. I’ve long been skeptical of the efficacy of fifty state uniform fiat. Not acting, i.e., the status quo, always remains an option.
Debate itself is up for interrogation within the confines of the round.
I tend to provide a lot of feedback while judging, verbal and otherwise. If you are not clear, I will not attempt to reconstruct what you said. I tend to privilege the cards identified in the last two rebuttals as establishing the critical nexus points of the debate and will read further for clarification and understanding when I feel it necessary. Reading qualifications for your evidence will be rewarded with more speaker points. Reading longer, more warranted evidence will be rewarded with significantly more consideration in the decision process. Clipping cards is cheating and cardclippers should lose.
I value clash and line-by-line debating. Rarely do I find the massive global last rebuttal overview appealing. Having your opponent's speech document doesn't alleviate the need for you to pay attention to what's actually been said in the debate. Flow and, for god's sake, learn how to efficiently save/jump/email/share your speech document. I generally don't follow the speech doc in real time.
"New affs bad" is dumb; don't waste your time or mine. When debating a new aff, the negative gets maximum flexibility.
I believe that both basic civil rights law as well as basic ethics requires that debaters and judges conduct themselves in rounds in a manner that protects the rights of all participants to an environment free of racial/sexual hostility or harassment.
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-)
Last updated: April, 2021 (most relevant updates are in the topicality section, which has some pre-TOC assessments of T on CJR; there's also a new rant in the "general philosophical disposition" section)
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 alliances topic and the HS criminal justice reform 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.
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.
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.
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 basically indefensible. 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 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.
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 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.
**Just a brief update for the high school community on the CJR topic:
ConCon is a non-starter in front of me!
T-enact against Court Affs is almost an equal non-starter!
**Updated pre-GSU 2019**
Yes I would like to be on the email chain: email@example.com
I will listen to all arguments, but a couple of caveats:
-This doesn't mean I will understand every element of your argument.
-I have grown extremely irritated with clash debates…take that as you please.
-I am a firm believer that you must read some evidence in debate. If you differ, you might want to move me down the pref sheet.
I have been a long-term fan of the great Shannon Sharpe. Now that he is the co-host of Undisputed, he often serves up Hot Dubs and Hot Ls daily. Please see ways below in which you or your team might earn one of these Dubs or Ls:
To Earn a Hot L:
1. You stumble, fumble or go silent on a fundamental series of CX questions related to your Aff, primary Neg position or issues germane to the topic.
2. You are blatantly racist, homophobic, sexist or are in any other way discriminatory in the debate space.
3. You decide that theory, skepticism or RVIs are more important than substance (specifically for LD).
4. You clip or cross-read.
To Earn a Hot W:
1. Debate well!
2. Be nice!
3. Don’t do any of the things in the Hot L section!
Note to all: In high school debate, there is no world where the Negative needs to read more than 5 off case arguments. SO if you say 6+, I'm only flowing 5 and you get to choose which you want me to flow.
In college debate, I might allow 6 off case arguments :/
Good luck to all!
Updated 2020...just a small note: have fun and make the most of it! Being enthusiastic goes a long way.
Updated 2019. Coaching at Berkeley Prep in Tampa. Nothing massive has changed except I give slightly higher points across the board to match inflation. Keep in mind, I am still pleased to hear qualification debates and deep examples win rounds. I know you all work hard so I will too. Any argument preference or style is fine with me: good debate is good debate. Email: kevindkuswa at gmail dot com.
Updated 2017. Currently coaching for Berkeley Prep in Tampa. Been judging a lot on the China topic, enjoying it. Could emphasize just about everything in the comments below, but wanted to especially highlight my thirst for good evidence qualification debates...
_____________________________ (previous paradigm)
Summary: Quality over quantity, be specific, use examples, debate about evidence.
I think debate is an incredibly special and valuable activity despite being deeply flawed and even dangerous in some ways. If you are interested in more conversations about debate or a certain decision (you could also use this to add me to an email chain for the round if there is one), contact me at kevindkuswa at gmail dot com. It is a privilege to be judging you—I know it takes a lot of time, effort, and commitment to participate in debate. At a minimum you are here and devoting your weekend to the activity—you add in travel time, research, practice and all the other aspects of preparation and you really are expressing some dedication.
So, the first issue is filling out your preference sheets. I’m usually more preferred by the kritikal or non-traditional crowd, but I would encourage other teams to think about giving me a try. I work hard to be as fair as possible in every debate, I strive to vote on well-explained arguments as articulated in the round, and my ballots have been quite balanced in close rounds on indicative ideological issues. I’m not affiliated with a particular debate team right now and may be able to judge at the NDT, so give me a try early on and then go from there.
The second issue is at the tournament—you have me as a judge and are looking for some suggestions that might help in the round. In addition to a list of things I’m about to give you, it’s good that you are taking the time to read this statement. We are about to spend over an hour talking to and with each other—you might as well try to get some insight from a document that has been written for this purpose.
1. Have some energy, care about the debate. This goes without saying for most, but enthusiasm is contagious and we’ve all put in some work to get to the debate. Most of you will probably speak as fast as you possibly can and spend a majority of your time reading things from a computer screen (which is fine—that can be done efficiently and even beautifully), but it is also possible to make equally or more compelling arguments in other ways in a five or ten minute speech (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQVq5mugw_Y).
2. Examples win debates. Well-developed examples are necessary to make the abstract concrete, they show an understanding of the issues in the round, and they tend to control our understandings of how particular changes will play out. Good examples take many forms and might include all sorts of elements (paraphrasing, citing, narrating, quantifying, conditioning, countering, embedding, extending, etc.), but the best examples are easily applicable, supported by references and other experiences, and used to frame specific portions of the debate. I’m not sure this will be very helpful because it’s so broad, but at the very least you should be able to answer the question, “What are your examples?” For example, refer to Carville’s commencement speech to Tulane graduates in 2008…he offers the example of Abe Lincoln to make the point that “failure is the oxygen of success” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMiSKPpyvMk.
3. Argument comparison wins debate. Get in there and compare evidence—debate the non-highlighted portion of cards (or the cryptic nature of their highlighting). Debate the warrants and compare them in terms of application, rationale, depth, etc. The trinity of impact, plausibility, and verge analysis doesn’t hurt, especially if those variables are weighed against one another. It’s nice to hear good explanations that follow phrases like “Even if…,” “On balance…,” or “In the context of…” I know that evidence comparison is being done at an extremely high level, but I also fear that one of the effects of paperless debate might be a tilt toward competing speech documents that feature less direct evidence comparison. Prove me wrong.
4. Debates about the relative validity of sources win rounds. Where is the evidence on both sides coming from and why are those sources better or worse? Qualification debates can make a big difference, especially because these arguments are surprisingly rare. It’s also shocking that more evidence is not used to indict other sources and effectively remove an entire card (or even argument) from consideration. The more good qualification arguments you can make, the better. Until this kind of argument is more common, I am thirsty enough for source comparisons (in many ways, this is what debate is about—evidence comparison), that I’ll add a few decimal points when it happens. I do not know exactly where my points are relative to other judges, but I would say I am along a spectrum where 27.4 is pretty good but not far from average, 27.7 is good and really contributing to the debate, 28 is very good and above average, 28.5 is outstanding and belongs in elims, and 29.1 or above is excellent for that division—could contend for one of the best speeches at the tournament.
5. All debates can still be won in 2AR. For all the speakers, that’s a corollary of the “Be gritty” mantra. Persevere, take risks and defend your choices
(https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit). The ballot is not based on record at previous tournaments, gpa, school ranking, or number of coaches.
6. Do not be afraid to go for a little more than usual in the 2NR—it might even help you avoid being repetitive. It is certainly possible to be too greedy, leaving a bloated strategy that can’t stand up to a good 2AR, but I usually think this speech leaves too much on the table.
7. Beginning in the 1AR, brand new arguments should only be in reference to new arguments in the previous speech. Admittedly this is a fuzzy line and it is up to the teams to point out brand new arguments as well as the implications. The reason I’ve decided to include a point on this is because in some cases a 2AR has been so new that I have had to serve as the filter. That is rare and involves more than just a new example or a new paraphrasing (and more than a new response to a new argument in the 2NR).
8. Very good arguments can be made without evidence being introduced in card form, but I do like good cards that are as specific and warranted as possible. Use the evidence you do introduce and do as much direct quoting of key words and phrases to enhance your evidence comparison and the validity of your argument overall.
9. CX matters. This probably deserves its own philosophy, but it is worth repeating that CX is a very important time for exposing flaws in arguments, for setting yourself up for the rebuttals, for going over strengths and weaknesses in arguments, and for generating direct clash. I do not have numbers for this or a clear definition of what it means to “win CX,” but I get the sense that the team that “wins” the four questioning periods often wins the debate.
10. I lean toward “reciprocity” arguments over “punish them because…” arguments. This is a very loose observation and there are many exceptions, but my sympathies connect more to arguments about how certain theoretical moves made by your opponent open up more avenues for you (remember to spell out what those avenues look like and how they benefit you). If there are places to make arguments about how you have been disadvantaged or harmed by your opponent’s positions (and there certainly are), those discussions are most compelling when contextualized, linked to larger issues in the debate, and fully justified.
Overall, enjoy yourself—remember to learn things when you can and that competition is usually better as a means than as an ends.
And, finally, the third big issue is post-round. Usually I will not call for many cards—it will help your cause to point out which cards are most significant in the rebuttals (and explain why). I will try to provide a few suggestions for future rounds if there is enough time. Feel free to ask questions as well. In terms of a long-term request, I have two favors to ask. First, give back to the activity when you can. Judging high school debates and helping local programs is the way the community sustains itself and grows—every little bit helps. Whether you realize it or not, you are a very qualified judge for all the debate events at high school tournaments. Second, consider going into teaching. If you enjoy debate at all, then bringing some of the skills of advocacy, the passion of thinking hard about issues, or the ability to apply strategy to argumentation, might make teaching a great calling for you and for your future students (https://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_emdin_teach_teachers_how_to_create_magic note: debaters are definitely part of academia, but represent a group than can engage in Emdin’s terms). There are lots of good paths to pursue, but teaching is one where debaters excel and often find fulfilling. Best of luck along the ways.
Berkeley Prep Assistant Coach - 2017-2020
I have an appreciation for framework debates, especially when the internal link work is thorough and done on the top of your kritik/topicality violation before it is applied to pivotal questions on the flow that you resolve through comparative arguments. On framework, I personally gravitate towards arguments concerning the strategic, critical, or pedagogical utility of the activity - I am readily persuaded to vote for an interpretation of the activity's purpose, role, or import in almost any direction [any position I encounter that I find untenable and/or unwinnable will be promptly included in the updates below]
I have almost no rigid expectations with regard to the K. I spent a great deal of my time competing reading Security, Queer Theory, and Psychoanalysis arguments. The bodies of literature that I am most familiar with in terms of critical thought are rhetorical theory (emphasizing materialism) and semiotics. I have studied and debated the work of Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze, to that extent I would say I have an operative understanding and relative familiarity with a number of concepts that both thinkers are concerned with.
I think that by virtue of evaluating a topicality flow I almost have to view interpretations in terms of competition. I can't really explain reasonability to myself in any persuasive way, if that changes there will surely be an update about it - this is also not to say nobody could convince me to vote for reasonability, only that I will not default in that direction without prompt.
Theory debates can be great - I reward strategic decisions that embed an explanation of the argument's contingent and applied importance to the activity when going for a theory argument on a counterplan.
I believe that permutations often prompt crucial methodological and theoretical reflection in debate - structurally competitive arguments are usually generative of the most sound strategic and methodological prescriptions.
Judging for Berkeley Prep - Meadows 2020
I have judged enough framework debates at this point in the topic to feel prompted to clarify my approach to judging framework v. K aff rounds. I believe that there are strong warrants and supporting arguments justifying procedural fairness but that these arguments still need to be explicitly drawn out in debates and applied as internal link or impact claims attached to an interpretation or defense of debate as a model, activity, or whatever else you want to articulate debate as. In the plainest terms, I'm saying that internal link chains need to be fully explained, weighed, and resolved to decisively win a framework debate. The flipside of this disposition applies to kritikal affs as well. It needs to be clear how your K Aff interacts with models and methods for structuring debate. It is generally insufficient to just say "the aff impacts are a reason to vote for us on framework" - the internal links of the aff need to be situated and applied to the debate space to justify Role of the Ballot or Role of the Judge arguments if you believe that your theory or critique should implicate how I evaluate or weigh arguments on the framework flow or any other portion of the debate.
As with my evaluation of all other arguments, on framework a dropped claim is insufficient to warrant my ballot on its own. Conceded arguments need to be weighed by you, the debater. Tell me what the implications of a dropped argument are, how it filters or conditions other aspects of the flow and make it a reason for decision.
Judging for Damien Debate - Berkeley (CA) 2016
In judging I am necessarily making comparisons. Making this process easier by developing or controlling the structure of comparisons and distinctions on my flow is the best advice I could give to anyone trying to make me vote for an argument.
I don't feel like it is really possible to fully prevent myself from intervening in a decision if neither team is resolving questions about how I should be evaluating or weighing arguments. I believe this can be decisively important in the following contexts: The impact level of framework debates, The impact level of any debate really, The method debate in a K v K round, The link debate... The list goes on. But, identifying particular points of clash and then seeing how they are resolved is almost always my approach to determining how I will vote, so doing that work explicitly in the round will almost always benefit you.
If you have any questions about my experience, argumentative preferences, or RFD's feel free to ask me at any time in person or via email.
Current Debate Coach at Caddo Magnet HS
LHSSL Executive Secretary
Please show up on time. Have email chains, stands and other needs set up before the start time of the round.
I generally look to the fastest and easiest way to resolve the debate. In order to win you should make clear impact calculus throughout the debate and provide a specific path for round resolution in the 2NR/2AR. First tell me how you win the round, then tell me why even if I buy into some of the other team's arguments you should still win. This is how you win my ballot.
I default to a policy maker framework. I will vote for non-policy strategies but they MUST present a clean structure for their impacts. I prefer the affirmative to have a plan text. I do not consider myself an activist or that my role is to balance forces within the debate community.
Identity Politics - You should probably not pref me. You MUST have a link to the aff or specific in round actions for me to vote on this. I understand and sympathize with the issues in round, but this is not my preferred argument. It will take a lot of convincing to get me to vote on a strategy that is outside the resolutional bounds. I ultimately believe that traditional forms of debate have value.
Theory – I think theory is definitely a voting issue, but there needs to be some form of in round abuse for me to truly buy that it is a reason alone to reject one team or the other. I do not think that simply kicking a CP in block is a time skew that is truly worth voting against a neg team unless there are other circumstances. I do love tricky CP's (consult CP's, clever agent CP's, process CP's etc.) and it would be hard for me to believe that on this topic they're really that unpredictable.
Case - I must say I have a hard time being persuaded that the negative has enough weight on their side to win with only case defense and a DA. What can I say, I'm a product of the late 90's. I much prefer to have a CP/K in there to give the flexibility, especially with a topic that allows for affirmatives to have heavy military impacts. Please be careful and make sure that if you takea case only route that you attack each advantage with offense and have a very very weighty DA on your side.
Kritiks- Not my bread and butter, although I do understand their strategic benefit, having come from an underfunded public school. It is my preference that K’s have a clear order and structure. I will vote on the K if you win that your impacts outweigh the impacts of the plan and that there is a true need for action, but I would not be the judge to introduce an extremely loose and unstructured argument to. I understand and buy into threat construction and realism claims, but in the end, I much prefer a well executed CP and politics debate to a poorly executed critical strategy. You will need to a have link specific to the plan. Links based off of the SQ will not be enough for me.
Framework - I default to the framework that the aff can weight the impacts of their plan versus the impacts of the neg.
Impacts – I believe that impact analysis is at the heart of a judging decision. You are an advocate for your arguments and as such you should provide insight and analysis as to why your specific impacts are the greatest in the round, how they should be evaluated by the judge and how they change the evaluation of the impacts to the other team’s case. Without this assessment I feel like you leave too much wiggle room for the judge to pick their personal preference of impact.
T - normally I like T, not my favorite on the arms sales topic
Speaker points- Speed can be an advantage in the round and should be encouraged, but always with the intent of being clear first. My ability to clearly understand your arguments is crucial to getting them evaluated at the end of the round. The ability to provide analytics and analysis in the round will get you much further with me. As far as CX is concerned, I simply ask that the person who is supposed to be asking/answering the questions, gets the first shot at speaking. If they ask for help that’s perfectly fine, but don’t overwhelm your partner’s ability to conduct their own cx. Baseline speaks for me is 28.5 and you move up or down from there. I hardly ever give above a 29.5
Yes, I want to be on the email chain, please put both emails on the chain.
I attempted to resist the point inflation that seems to happen everywhere these days, but I decided that was not fair to the teams/debaters that performed impressively in front of me.
27.7 to 28.2 - Average
28.3 to 28.6 - Good job
28.7 to 29.2 - Well above average
29.3 to 29.7 - Great job/ impressive job
29.8 to 29.9 - Outstanding performance, better than I have seen in a long time. Zero mistakes and you excelled in every facet of the debate.
30 - I have not given a 30 in years and years, true perfection.
I am willing to listen to most arguments. There are very few debates where one team wins all of the arguments so each of you must identify what you are winning and make the necessary comparisons between your arguments and the other team's arguments/positions. Speed is not a problem although clarity is essential. If I think that you are unclear I will say clearer and if you don't clear up I will assign speaker points accordingly. Try to be nice to each other and enjoy yourself. Good cross-examinations are enjoyable and typically illuminates particular arguments that are relevant throughout the debate. Please, don't steal prep time. I do not consider e-mailing evidence as part of your prep time nonetheless use e-mailing time efficiently.
I enjoy substantive debates as well as debates of a critical tint. If you run a critical affirmative you should still be able to demonstrate that you are Topical/predictable. I hold Topicality debates to a high standard so please be aware that you need to isolate well-developed reasons as to why you should win the debate (ground, education, predictability, fairness, etc.). If you are engaged in a substantive debate, then well-developed impact comparisons are essential (things like magnitude, time frame, probability, etc.). Also, identifying solvency deficits on counter-plans is typically very important.
Theory debates need to be well developed including numerous reasons a particular argument/position is illegitimate. I have judged many debates where the 2NR or 2AR are filled with new reasons an argument is illegitimate. I will do my best to protect teams from new arguments, however, you can further insulate yourself from this risk by identifying the arguments extended/dropped in the 1AR or Negative Bloc.
GOOD LUCK! HAVE FUN!
Yes, I want to be on the email chain. Codymorrowtx1@gmail.com
***April 2021 rewrite—there’s a pretty good chance something I say in my RFD is going to be on here somewhere.
I have had many circuit debate influences, including folks who lab led or otherwise taught me, my debate teammates, students I’ve coached, judges I’ve had, debaters I watched a lot, and many others. Some of the strongest include Debnil Sur (who taught me circuit debate), Vinay Ayyappan, Albert Li, Rafael Pierry, Dhruv Sudesh, Tyler Vergho, Abhishek Rengarajan, Taylor Brough, Amber Kelsie, Ken Strange, Rishab Yeddula, Devansh Taori, Joshua Joseph, and Michael Koo.
General Experience: I debated at Bellarmine in San Jose, CA. I traveled on the national circuit my junior and senior year debating with Vinay Ayyappan. I read K arguments on the circuit, went for policy strategies at tournaments like state/nationals, and debated stock issues in front of parents at local tournaments. I went far at the NSDA tournament and qualled to the TOC. In college, I briefly debated with Tony Hackett reading K arguments and qualled to the NDT my frosh year. This is my fifth year coaching at Bellarmine (where I’ve been the main coach for circuit debate) and I have primarily coached teams reading policy arguments. I have been both a 2A and a 2N.
Topic Experience: I have a good amount of experience with both the policy and K lit on the CJR topic.
1. Tech over truth. But...
2. Debate is subjective and arbitrary. I consider “dropped arguments are true” to be not particularly helpful. Every judge has a different threshold for what a sufficient warrant is and a different understanding of the implication of every argument. The response will be, “Limiting subjectivity/arbitrariness is still good.” I partially agree. There are different kinds of subjectivity/arbitrariness. Using my knowledge of a particular subject area to navigate a complicated debate seems good. Using my personal opinion on a particular subject area as the sole grounds to make my decision seems bad. In some cases, there is a clear consensus on how judges will evaluate an argument (e.g. dropped Topicality). If there’s a gray area you fear may not go in your favor, you’re best served being as specific as possible in explaining the argument and its implication. All of this being said, my threshold for what constitutes an argument is probably lower than the average judge.
3. I try to line up arguments on my flow despite flowing on a laptop. Please keep that in mind. Specificity in roadmaps is appreciated when needed (e.g. if you’re about to spend 3 minutes on the perm in the 2NC, let me know beforehand so I can add more cells).
4. I prefer final rebuttals that have substantial (not inefficient) overviews to frame the debate.
5. “Specific brightlines and warranted calls for protections (anytime) will be zealously adhered to”—Michael Koo. Your 2NR shouldn’t say “new 2AR analysis is bad,” it should say, “The 2AR can’t apply the uncertainty deficit to the announcement plank, the plank was introduced in the block with an explanation of why it solves certainty and the none of the 1AR uncertainty warrants assume announcement.”
6. Spin over evidence, although some issues require evidence more than others. If you really want to make evidence matter on a specific question, then tell me why. Smart analytics can save you the time it takes to read multiple mediocre cards.
7. I usually flow CX.
8. I don’t mind postrounding. I take a lot of time to decide and carefully think through my decisions, and I’m ready to defend them. A good faith engagement where you try to understand how I voted is probably best, but to be honest you can treat it however you like. Fair warning though (in case you didn’t know): most of you are bad at postrounding.
Speaker Points: I’ll roughly follow this scale.
29.4+ — the top speaker at the tournament.
29.2-29.3 — one of the five or ten best speakers at the tournament.
29.0-29.1 — one of the twenty best speakers at the tournament.
28.7-28.9 — a 75th percentile speaker at the tournament; with a winning record, would barely clear on points.
28.5-28.6 — a 50th percentile speaker at the tournament; with a winning record, would not clear on points.
28.1-28.4 — a 25th percentile speaker at the tournament.
27.8-28.0 — a 10th percentile speaker at the tournament.
1. Slow down in online debate.
2. Cheating means you will get the lowest possible points. You need a recording to prove clipping. If you mark a card, say where you’re marking it, actually mark it, and offer a marked copy before CX.
3. In general, debaters who do good line-by-line will get higher points in front of me. It’s not the only way to debate, but I find it tougher to resolve debates where there is less direct clash, and I think only a few debaters can effectively create clash without lining up arguments. If you think you’re up to the challenge then go for it.
4. Use specific language, don’t hide behind jargon. Sufficiency framing on CPs is incredibly powerful but is useless 95% of the time. Cite 1AC evidence to define the solvency threshold: “The threshold established by their X evidence is that the US needs a significant concession on prolif to China. This means the aff winning they’re a bigger concession doesn’t matter because the CP is sufficient to get China to the negotiating table.”
1. I like watching T debates, but they’re kinda weird on the CJR topic.
2. I will evaluate T through interpretations. However, consider Ken Strange’s refrain, “The negative must show that the affirmative interpretation is bad for debate.” This seems like a higher burden than how competing interpretations is usually understood (e.g. “their interp is slightly larger so any risk of limits means you vote neg”). The articulation of reasonability that will persuade me is that the substance crowdout generated by T debates outweighs the difference between the two interps. Note that reasonability is about the interps, not the aff. It means the aff gets their interp comparison offense plus substance crowdout as bonus offense. Quantify how much substance crowdout matters in the debate (for example, it matters more if topic education is a relevant impact in the debate). Also, the risk of substance crowdout is higher if there’s a strong aff predictability argument (because one implication of aff predictability is causing more T debates). Debate all of this out in round.
3. Relatedly, T is a negative burden which means it is the neg’s job to prove that a violation exists. In a T debate where the 2AR extends we meet, every RFD should start by stating clearly what word or phrase in the resolution the aff violated and why. If you don’t give me the language to do that in your 2NR, I will vote aff on we meet.
4. I observe a lot of grammar issues in both T and competition debates. For example, two things being distinct doesn’t mean they’re exclusive. I’m not going to go through all the common examples I’ve observed here, but if you’re the one initiating one of these debates, be especially thoughtful and precise about your language and your logic.
5. Debatability matters a lot on T, but the definition needs to meet some basic quality threshold (the criminal justice is distinct from criminal law interp probably doesn’t meet it, but that requires good debating by the aff to establish). This is best impacted by aff predictability.
6. Functional limits, aff predictability, and reasonability are under-utilized by the aff.
Theory and Competition
1. I’m probably more willing to listen to a theory debate than most judges, but...
2. Theory blocks are terrible. Theory blocks spread at top speed are even worse. Theory blocks spread at top speed over Zoom are so bad that you just shouldn’t bother.
3. I largely concur with what Rafael and Tyler say about theory and competition on their philosophies. I’ll list a few key points below.
4. Just like with T, both teams should think carefully about what the interpretation and violation actually are. The burden is on the team advancing the argument.
5. Make relevant cross applications from other theory arguments and topicality.
6. Dropped theory arguments are an easy out, I won’t evaluate the substance if I don’t need to. I’m not going to feel better or worse about my decision depending on which team was ahead on substance.
7. Positional competition is hard to justify unless the aff very clearly grants it.
8. Going for competition is generally better than going for theory.
9. Limited intrinsicness (either functional or textual) is probably best to check against any number of “artificial” CPs. But there are also convincing neg arguments about the bad practices this justifies, so it’s a debate to be had.
1. A lot of aff teams simply do not work hard enough to generate deficits to various counterplans. Imagine the political blowback as a result of invoking X random political process (see parole CP...). You think that would be good for the business confidence scenario in your 1AC? If you’re struggling to apply your advantages in this way, then write more strategic advantages. 2As should be thrilled in the absence of specific neg ev applying the CP’s process to the aff. You then get a ton of leeway to spin deficits and the neg will struggle to push back.
2. Presumption goes to less change. Debate what this means in round. Otherwise, it goes aff in the event of an advocacy.
3. Decide in-round whether I should kick the CP.
1. There is such a thing as zero risk. I think about this like I think about significant figures or the signal-to-noise ratio.
2. Make sure that turns case arguments are actually turns case arguments.
3. I like substantial impact turn debates (heg/dem/war/etc.). Organization is obviously a concern there, try to group the debate early on.
4. Minimize overviews, put as much as you can on the line by line.
K’s vs. Policy
1. All debate is storytelling, but K debate especially so.
2. I’m fairly well versed in most common K’s.
3. One common reason affs lose is by being too defensive. Think about how your heg advantage interacts with a settlerism K.
4. Overview length needs to be well justified, I generally will tell you that it should have been smaller. If you can speak for 3 minutes and explain every issue in the debate clearly without line by line, go for it. But most of us can’t do that very effectively.
5. “Recognize when it’s a horrible idea to kick the alt”—Albert Li.
6. Framework is a critical part of many K’s. I’m not “over framework” like a lot of judges. How I should "weigh the aff" versus the K is rarely self evident. I don’t mind a little bit of arbitrariness in a framework interp if you are instructing me clearly on how to evaluate your offense versus their offense. But really think about how your arguments interact. I’ve seen neg teams make the argument “reps shape plan implementation” and then non-ironically explain that as a reason to ignore plan implementation, which makes absolutely no sense. If the neg wants me to devalue plan implementation, then your arguments should actually be reasons why prioritizing evaluating plan consequences is bad. Treat framework less like a theory argument and more like a substantive one.
7. If the neg’s link offense centers on evaluating plan consequences, then I will have to evaluate the positive consequences of the plan as well.
8. The perm is overrated as the basis for affirmative strategy, but it is almost always a no-cost option you can include somewhere in the 2AR.
9. When applicable, the perm double bind can be a powerful aff argument. There are some cases it clearly doesn’t apply (for example, if the K is a very direct impact turn to the aff, or if there’s a robust neg framework argument). However, if you are reading a Cap K alt centered entirely on workers movements against an aff that reduces police funding, you need to explain why the plan prevents those movements from being successful. Otherwise, the perm will capture the offense of the K and whatever contingent offense the plan has.
Framework vs. K Affs
1. I’ve been on all sides of this debate.
2. Framework debates, like K debates, are much more about storytelling than about technical concessions because the implications of those concessions will often not matter in the grand scheme of things. This is particularly important for 2Ns to remember.
3. An impact is an outcome that is self evidently bad enough to matter. Pick the most strategic version of framework depending on your audience and your opponent. When I’m your audience, you can convince me that many things are bad enough to matter, ranging from fairness to skills. The teams I coach usually have: 1) a more procedural clash thesis impact, 2) an impact about how clash over the content of the topic is particularly educational. But stick to what you’re good at.
4. Impact comparison. If the aff’s model makes it substantially harder for the neg to engage but the neg’s speech act was problematic, which way do I vote?
5. All this discussion of “TVA,” “switch-side debate,” and “ground versus our aff” tends to miss the point. These are merely vehicles for each team to explain what debates under their model actually look like and why they are better than debates under the other team’s model. As the neg, you should explain to me what specific debates occur under your model (i.e. give examples of affs and neg strategies against them) and why that solves your impacts and theirs. Perhaps the debates we have where we critique specific policy reforms are better for critical education than comparing structural theories. As the aff, you should explain to me why the specific debates they say occur under their model don’t solve your or their offense. Perhaps the Courts CP doesn’t prepare us to engage movements and sidesteps discussion of the substance of the aff. The aff should describe debates under their model in concrete terms, not just list off structural K’s as neg ground and make vague references to “DA’s to our method.” It is odd to me that framework debates lack discussion of the specific kinds of debates that actually happen in each world.
6. Relatedly, “TVA solves” doesn’t answer every aff argument, especially if they have a K of your performance.
7. You don’t need to counter-define every word in the resolution. The justification for this is functional limits, which is an under-utilized aff argument in framework debates. For all practical purposes, I probably don’t need to worry about insert big policy school reading a new K aff every debate. I also probably don’t need to worry about an aff arguing the state government of Alabama should enact criminal justice reform. However, I may have to worry about every journal article advocating a mindset shift in the context of criminal justice turning into a K aff (depending on what the aff interp is). Everyone is best served by being realistic about their impacts and not jumping straight to hyperbole.
8. Policy T and Framework aren’t perfectly analogous. A world without courts affs (endpoint of T-enact) is far more plausible than a world without planless affs (endpoint of T-USFG). Some aff arguments (like the Floodgates DA) take advantage of this. It’s at the very least a conversation worth having and something all teams going for framework should reflect on.
9. Collapse down in the 2NR. You are more likely to lose because you insufficiently answered aff offense and didn’t compare impacts than you are because you didn’t extend an additional impact.
10. If a team going for framework also reads 5 contradictory off in their 1NC, chances are you can concede claims on some of the other off to undermine their framework argument.
K’s vs. K Affs
1. These were my favorite as a debater.
2. Debate more about what the perm means. Affs need to be held to a higher standard for explaining the perm. In fact, you should be explaining the perm as of the 1AC. What I mean by that is that you should be setting a framework for how I think about your advocacy/performance in relation to other advocacies/performances. Residual link analysis on the perm makes a ton of sense in policy rounds but doesn’t make sense in most K v K debates. Don’t discuss the perm as an abstract theoretical question, discuss it in the context of the specific debate you are having. These thoughts are vague, debate it out on your own terms.
3. It’s not enough that disagreements exist between your literature bases. Explain to me why that means the aff is undesirable.
Soft-Left Affs vs. Policy
1. The main difficulty for many of these affs is answering CPs, not DAs.
2. For most affs, the best way to debate framing in front of me is to treat it like a well-contextualized Security K. Rather than saying war in general is unlikely and that security reps in general are bad, construct a compelling critique of the particular DA scenario(s) they’re reading. Just like with the Security K, this involves winning significant defense to the DA itself. If executed really well, the K becomes sufficiently offensive and this can help you get out of a CP that solves all or most of your aff.
3. In general both sides end up agreeing consequentialism is good. This is fine for the aff as long as you are doing the above to generate offense against the DA.
4. For the neg, it seems more strategic to weigh 7-8 billion against the aff instead of “extinction is categorically first,” but it’s your call.
1. If you correctly use the term “nchtr” in round, you will get a 0.2 speaker point boost. Don’t use it unless you’re gonna do it properly.
2. Email ani dot prabhu98 at gmail dot com if you have questions.
3. Please put me on the email chain and send cards in a Word doc (not in the body of the email).
4. Emailing isn’t prep but don’t take forever.
5. I concur with Tyler’s policy for re-highlightings. Essentially, the closer a re-highlighting comes to being a new argument that you’re advancing, the more likely it is that you should be reading it instead of inserting it.
-I vote for things that I don't like, the debate is yours to make what you will. That does not mean I have no opinions.
-T: Substantial means many things; compare evidence and impact T like a DA.
-I have a hard time understanding teams that run Neolib/Cap with a Spending DA (?). This does not make a lot of sense to me and I can be persuaded to vote on the performative contradiction (distinct from condo).
-Things I am unlikely to vote for: Inherency, "speed kills", claims without warrants, poorly debated T violations, "multiple perms are bad".
Read a topical plan----------------------X--------------------say anything
Usually some risk---------x---------------------------------Zero Risk
Conditionality Good--------------------X----------------------Conditionality Bad
States CP Good------X------------------------------------States CP Bad
Process CPs------------------X------------------------Ew Process CPs
Competing off immediacy/certainty---------------x---------------------------No
Politics DAs are a thing-------------------x-----------------------Good Politics DAs are a thing
Read every card----------x--------------------------------Read no cards
Lots of evidence--------------------------------------x----Lots of good evidence
Judge Kick---------------------x---------------------Stuck with the CP
Reject the Team--------------X----------------------------Reject the Arg
CPs need cards--------------------------------------x----Smart CPs can be cardless
Competition is based off the plan----x--------------------------------------Neg gets to define the plan
Fiat solves circumvention---------------x---------------------------Trump's President
K alts need to do something-------------------------------X-----------but you're asking the wrong question
K links about the plan---------------X---------------------------K links about a broad worldview
Not my Baudrillard-----------------------------------------X yes your Baudrillard
I will try to keep in these range for speaker points:
29.3+ — the top speaker at the tournament.
29.1-29.2 — one of the five or ten best speakers at the tournament.
28.8-29.0 — one of the twenty best speakers at the tournament.
28.6-28.7 — a 75th percentile speaker at the tournament; with a winning record, would barely clear on points.
28.4-28.5 — a 50th percentile speaker at the tournament; with a winning record, would not clear on points.
28.0-28.3 — a 25th percentile speaker at the tournament.
27.7-27.9 — a 10th percentile speaker at the tournament.
Have fun and be kind.
She/her or gender neutral pronouns. Yes, I want to be on the email chain: lucia.scott at barstowschool.org
Previous debating: K-State (2013-2016), Kapaun Mt. Carmel (2009-2013)
Coaching: Barstow (2018-Present), Baylor (2017-2018), Kapaun Mt. Carmel (2013-2017)
I appreciate scrappy debate. If you like to use tricks to win, fine by me. If you think an argument is silly, it shouldn't be too hard to beat.
What I don't appreciate is cowardly debate, and yes, I think there's a difference. I don't love watching rounds where the core strat seems to be answering nothing. Debate is about arguments and controversy. Embrace it. It's awesome.
Tech over truth with some exceptions as outlined below. However, the less true an argument is, the less tech you need to beat it. This is particularly true of 1NC strats the just shove a bunch of garbage non-arguments in to try to freak out the 2A.
Quality over quantity; what constitutes quality is, of course, up for debate.
Questions are not arguments. I see way too many 2NRs/2ARs that say, "What does the alt/aff even do?" instead of just explaining why it wouldn't do anything.
I read cards to make sure you aren't clipping, but what they actually say doesn't factor into my decision unless there's some contestation by the debaters about the content of the evidence. Don't let a team get away with reading garbage cards that don't say anything. I'm not going to make that argument for you.
The rest of this paradigm is written in very certain terms to avoid confusion, but all of these are really just my defaults. My goal is to do as little intervention as possible. Like a lot of judges, I enjoy debates when you enjoy debates. I'd rather see you do your thing and do it well.
I get grumpy about arbitrary interps of theoretical arguments (conditionality, ROB's, really anything). This means I do think "conditionality bad" is a better interp than "they get three conditional advocacies." Relax, I don't actually think conditionality is bad, but I don't think there's really a difference between three vs four or four vs five or five vs six conditional advocacies.
With the exception of conditionality, theoretical objections are reasons to reject the argument or reasons that justify you also doing some theoretically illegit thing, like perm do the counterplan.
For topicality, you need impacts. You're saying this team should lose the debate. That's a pretty steep punishment. You need to win more than just a violation here. I feel like a lot of debate in high school has devolved to just "if you win the violation, you win" type of debating. Standards/reasons to prefer are a thing for a reason. What affs would be allowed under their interp that you shouldn't have to prepare for? What off case positions do you lose access to?
I think "lit checks abuse" solves 90% of policy-based limits arguments. Aff teams should also make more arguments about why whatever ground the neg loses isn't ground they should have had in the first place. I think big topics are better than small topics provided those big topics have good neg generics. Politics is not a good neg generic.
Reasonability, to me, means that the neg had a reasonable amount of predictable ground, not that the aff is "reasonably topical," whatever that means. I don't think that means the aff's counter interp has to be "reasonable."
My favorite part of debate. I can be persuaded to (and even like to) vote neg on presumption, but the work done needs to be specific. I'm more likely to assign a low or no risk of the aff if there's a compelling internal link debate than if the 1AR dropped the third impact D card that's non-specific and two lines long.
I also think a well-leveraged aff can do a lot on other sheets of paper, especially when comparative work with the neg's offense is done.
Big pet peeve of mine is treating the aff like it's just one big page if it isn't. E.g. the 1AC had an advantage and a solvency contention, but the 1N just says "case" in their roadmap. Where on case? If it doesn't matter, you're not doing very good case debate. Same thing with the 2AC order. Why did you make the 1AC more than one page if you're not going to treat the pages as separate???
This is where "quality over quantity" and "the less true and argument is, the less tech you need to beat it" become really important. Affs can beat bad disads on defense if affs explain why that defense is more important than everything the neg is saying (same goes for the neg with bad aff advantages). In terms of impact calc, I think probability is generally the most important. Zero risk is a thing. Uniqueness determines the direction of the link.
On balance, I think counterplans should be functionally and textually competitive. A 2A who's good at theory can win process counterplans just go away with enough work. I think counterplans should have solvency advocates, especially if you've added seven planks just designed to fiat out of solvency deficits. I don't kick the counterplan unless the 2NR tells me to. I am willing to vote aff on zero risk of a net benefit even if the counterplan solves 100% of the aff.
I don't have any preferences as far as whatever lit base you like to read in debates. I'm not afraid of the big bad Baudrillard.
My threshold for a link here seems to be comparatively low. I think this "links must be to the plan text" argument people keep making is absolutely ridiculous. If you get to weigh the aff, I think the neg should get links to the advantages.
My threshold for the alt is relatively high. Examples are good. I don't necessarily think you need to win the alt to win the k, but it's probably a good idea to have an alt. Framework strats are also viable in front of me. If you've won the 1AC is anti-black or a settler project, and you're winning your framework arguments, you probably win the debate.
Framework arguments that compare world-views (i.e. "extinction outweighs epistemology") are far more compelling than framework arguments about procedural fairness (i.e. "the K is cheating"). I can be persuaded not to weigh the aff, but this is an uphill climb. You really have to commit to this strategy.
For the 2AC, stick to the things that are really important. Don't read things/ make arguments you'll never go for unless they're actually dropped. It's a waste of time you don't have. Always ask about floating piks. It's usually only a floating pik if you don't ask about it.
I think it's reasonable for K affs to say that all they have to do is prove their method is good; if the method is good, I should vote for the aff. I am generally not persuaded by "winning is key to our method" arguments. Probably means you've got a bad method. Similarly, not of fan of consciousness-raising arguments. I don't know why that means I should vote for you.
I think T violations that deal with substantive parts of the resolution are better than framework violations about the fg. I think affs should be making the argument that any education claims about the fg are non-unique; it's part of the topic every year. I think the neg should make arguments about why policy education on this specific topic is good.
Anything can be an impact if you tell me it's an impact and explain why it outweighs your opponent's impacts. I generally think, for the neg, fairness-based impacts provide the best external offense, and education-based impacts provide the best in-rounds to the aff. Both the aff and the neg should be doing some comparative work about how education and fairness implicate one another.
On balance, I think impact turn strats are better than counter interp strats for the aff in these debate. I think ethics arguments are the best offense for the aff. Affs can also internal link turn the majority of the neg's standards if they spend the time doing it instead of extending a wreck of random disads that are all basically the same.
I think the TVA and switch side are the best defense to the aff's impacts. I conceptualize TVAs as counterplans (an alternate mechanism to solve the same impacts while avoiding the net benefit, e.g. under limiting). That means I hold a TVA to similar standards; I think it should have to solve all or most of the aff and that the TVA should have a solvency advocate. Half the TVAs I hear aren't topical; not enough aff teams make this argument.
Arguments about micro-aggressions - Fine as long as you explain the implication for this debate/ perhaps the community as a whole. Tell me what you want me to do about it.
Arguments that compare conditionality to structural privilege - Fine as long as you warrant them. Just saying, "This is the logic of..." isn't enough; tell me why.
So clipping. If you have somehow misrepresented what you have read/ if there is not a way to tell from the speech doc what was read, you have clipped. I've had some recent judging experiences that are moving me toward clarity being a clipping issue. If I can't understand any of the words in your cards, and it seems like this is to get in more cards, that's probably clipping. If I catch clipping, I will make sure I'm sure (usually during prep time), and then stop the debate. If a debater accuses someone of clipping, the debate stops right then. If the challenger is correct, they win. If they are not correct, they lose. I don't really know what to do with speaks here, tbh. I will give the person who clipped a 0, but everyone else is probably going to get somewhere between a 28.5 and a 29.5.
I start at a 28.5 and move up or down from there. If I think you should clear, I'll give you at least a 29.
Director of Debate @ GDS (the actual GDS, not the camp, not the affinity group, not the cultural phenomenon...well, maybe the cultural phenomenon...)
(Relevant) Background: Debated in HS (program doesn't exist any more) and college (Emory); coached at Emory, West GA, USC, New Trier, Kentucky, and GDS; taught around 75 labs (including, but not limited to the Kentucky Fellows, SNFI Swing Lab, Berkeley Mentors, Antilab, and the forthcoming Quantum Lab). This is what i do - i teach, coach, and judge debate(s). This is both good and bad for you.
This is Good for You: One could say that i have been around, as it were. If you want to do something that people do in debates, i got you. If you want to do something that people don't do in debates, i won't freak out.
This is Bad for You: This ain't my first rodeo. If you want to do something that people do in debates, i have seen it done better and worse. If you want to do something that people don't do in debates, i probably remember the last time that somebody did it in a debate.
Are You For Real? Yah, mostly...i just don't think judging philosophies are all that helpful - any judge that is doing their job is going to suspend disbelief to as great an extent as possible and receive the debate in as much good faith as they can muster...but almost nobody is upfront enough about what that extent looks like.
Well, that's not especially helpful right now. OK, you make a strong point, imaginary interlocutor. Here are a few things that may actually help:
1 - Flow the Debate - I flow the debate. On paper. To a fault. If you do not take this into account, no matter how or what you debate, things are going to go badly for you. Connecting arguments - what used to be called the line-by-line - is essential unless you want me to put the debate together myself out of a giant pile of micro-arguments. You Do Not Want This. "Embedded clash" is an adorable concept and even can be occasionally helpful WHEN YOU ARE MANAGING THE REST OF THE FLOW WITH PRECISION. There is no such thing as "cloud clash."
2 - Do What You are Going to Do - My job isn't to police your argument choices, per se; rather, it is to evaluate the debate. If debaters could only make arguments that i agreed with, there would not be much reason to have these rounds.
3 - If you are mean to your opponents, it is going to cause me to have sympathy/empathy for them. This is not an ideological position so much as an organic reaction on my part.
4 - "K teams," "identity teams," and non-traditional/performance teams pref me more than policy teams - Make of that what you will.
5 - Stop calling certain strategic choices "cheating" - This is one of the few things that just sends my blood pressure through the roof...i know you like to be edgy and i respect your desire to represent yourself as having no ethical commitments, but this is one of the worst developments in the way people talk and think about debate since the advent of paperlessness (which is essentially The Fall in my debate cosmology). Reading an AFF with no plan is not cheating; reading five conditional CPs in the 2NC is not cheating; consult NATO is not cheating. Clipping cards is cheating; fabricating evidence is cheating, consulting your coach in the middle of the debate is cheating. An accusation of an ethics violation (i.e., cheating) means that the debate stops and the team that is correct about the accusation wins the debate while the team that is wrong loses and gets zeroes. This is not negotiable. Ethics violations are not debate arguments, they do not take the form of an off-case or a new page and they are not comparable to anything else in the debate.
Also - just ask.
Edited most recently in March 2018. I debated in high school at Greenhill School (2006) in Texas and debated in college at Michigan State (2010). I have been helping coach Greenhill since my graduation. A fair number of the assumptions that one would draw about me being affiliated with those institutions are probably true. In a given year, I will probably judge 60+ HS policy debates, ~5 HS LD debates, and under 5 college policy debates. There are a couple special notes at the bottom for the latter two groups.
Case Debates – Case debate is underutilized, there are few things that I am more impressed with than beating a team on their own aff. Although, too many teams gloss over the fact that there needs to be uniqueness for neg case turns.
Disads – Defensive arguments are important, and I am willing to assign zero risk of a disad if the affirmative has damning defensive arguments even if the affirmative lacks any offensive arguments. Negatives who rely on there always being a risk of a link will leave me unimpressed. That being said though, I often think that many times a lack of offense does result in a moderate probability of the disad.
CPs – I lean negative on most CP theory issues (more on theory below), although I’m not a fan of the consult cp. I also lean negative on legitimacy of the states CP. This does not mean that affs cannot win theory debates in front of me. Additionally I think some of the arguments that affs make as to why some counterplans are bad, tend to be much better when used as a reason why the permutation is legitimate. Negs should be sure to weigh what happens when there is a solvency deficit to the cp when making their impact calculus arguments. Conversely, affs need to have an impact to their solvency deficits.
Kritiks – Teams must articulate an impact to what happens if they win their framework arguments. I don’t think the negative must have an alternative but I find it hard for the neg to establish uniqueness for their links without one. Affirmatives need to find ways to leverage their aff against the implications of the kritik as well as making sure that they are still able to access their offense if they lose their framework arguments. Negs must also discuss why the aff in particular makes the squo worse. I’m certainly not well versed in much kritik literature so avoiding buzzwords and jargon can help my understanding. If you want me to vote on a kritik, it would benefit you to debate it very much like a CP/DA: turns the case, solves the case, xyz comes first, etc.
Topicality – I tend to view T debates in an offense/defense framework. Its all about competing interpretations, whomever creates the best world for debate should win, issues of abuse are not necessary but can be helpful. That being said, I’m also not a fan of the cult of limits, just going for your interpretation is more limiting will most likely lose to a broader interpretation that is more educational. Also, your K aff's impact turn of T does not amuse me – topicality is a voting issue.
Theory – I lean neg on most theory questions but this is not to be taken to mean that I like to hear your XYZ-Spec argument, your points will go down. Conditionality, or multiple conditional counterplans are both fine. The caveat to this is that I'm not sure if I'm a fan of conditional counterplans with half a dozen planks each independently conditional (ie 2nr could be planks 1-6, or 1-3, or 1&3, etc.). This doesn’t mean I won’t vote aff on theory though, whomever can make their trivial distinctions seem most important will probably win.
Non-traditional affs – I’ve debated at Greenhill and Michigan State, if that doesn’t provide some hint, I’ll break it down some more. The Aff should probably be topical, probably have a plan, and probably also have to defend the effects stemming from the hypothetical enactment of said plan - I've yet to be convinced by a reason as to why any of these things are bad.
General Notes: All of this being said – I will evaluate the arguments made in the round even if they are contrary to my beliefs, this is a guide of what I think and how I will default with a lack of argumentation. Evidence comparisons are important, Impact comparisons as well. There needs to be a decision calculus set up in the final rebuttals – i.e. you can still win the round even after admitting a solvency deficit to your CP. I do like being on the email chain of documents but will NEVER be reading the speech doc during the speech – you need to be clear. I’m only going to flow what the person who should be speaking says, if your partner yells out an argument during your speech, you have not made it.
College debate note: I will judge at one college tournament roughly every four years, this being said, please, please, please, assume I have next to ZERO topic knowledge (careful with acronyms too). I judge a ton of debates, just none on your topic.
Lincoln-Douglas debate notes: Well, you’ve read all of this which means two things: 1. I’m probably judging you. 2. Something has gone terribly awry for both of us. If possible, I’d basically prefer your LD debate to be policy-esque, I can obviously follow whatever but still have no idea what a criterion is. For some reason when I say this, people seem to think theory args are a good idea....most LD theory args seem to be asinine standards that the other team needs to follow…I will not vote on this, and will probably lower your speaker points. Also, if you intend to win due to a theory argument, you need a reason to reject the team – otherwise the obvious remedy is rejecting the argument.
4 years in Kansas in high school, 4 years at Baylor University, now a grad student and coach at KU and Barstow.
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Do what you do best, I think it is the burden of the judge to adapt to what the debaters want to do and will do my best to be unbiased when evaluating arguments.
Judge instruction/telling me how to write my ballot is really important, points will be higher and you'll be more likely to win if you put the pieces together in the 2NR/2AR, are actually honest about the parts of the debate you're winning and losing, make even if statements, etc.
I lean truth on truth vs tech questions, especially in instances of dropped args. I try to be conscious of this, but it will be helpful for you to contextualize the importance of dropped args as well as preempt potential applications of other arguments to answer it. Basically, you need warrants still.
It is really difficult for me to process what you're saying if you're talking at the same time as someone else, ex. in CX or if prompting your partner. This is especially true in the world of online debate. Try utilizing other forms of communication with your partner if at all possible.
I think you should probably have to read re-highlighted ev, not just insert it. Open to persuasion but debates where both teams are inserting re-highlightings without analysis or explanation are negative persuasive to me.
**1/5/21 addition** I struggle weighing impacts that are based on in-round or debate-specific arguments against impacts that are external to debate, whether fiated or based on exporting subjectivities/ethics (most of these debates are planless affs vs. an impact turn/DA/CP strat). When neither side does explicit impact calc, I find myself generally voting for the debate or round specific arguments because the team making them has usually made more of at least an implicit impact framing argument. So for these debates it's really important for me that you have impact framing that deals with the sequencing question - which genre of impact comes first - and instruction on what that means for the rest of the debate. Does it mean I don't evaluate it? If you lose sequencing why does yours still outweigh? These seem like basic comments but I think most impact calc in these debates happens assuming you've won a sequencing question about internal vs external impacts which makes it really hard to resolve.
Don't start prep time until both teams are on the call/Discord channel/etc. with their partner. If you're with your partner in person and the other team is not that means prep doesn't start until they confirm they're in communication with each other.
Just like in person debate, you absolutely should not record anything other than your own speeches without explicit permission from every person on the video/recording.
If anyone's internet cuts out/anyone has a tech issue, I will pause speech time and note the last argument the speaker made prior to the issue. I'll also unmute myself and tell the speaker to pause if they haven't already.
Tech issues will not affect speaker points, but you also need to likely slow down just a little and be more clear than you would be in person.
PLEASE make sure either you or your partner can hear the judge(s) and other team if they say something during your speech, we have to be able to tell you to pause if someone's internet has cut out.
2ACs should usually make multiple theory arguments, I will vote on it if you win it.
Slow down some. Impact it out in the 2NR. Don't forget to explain what winning competing interps or reasonability actually means for you.
DAs and CPs
I don't do a lot of topic research, so it'll be helpful for both of us if you do a little more explanation on topic specific things like link stories/solvency mechanisms/etc.
Good analytics can definitely beat a crappy DA. Floor time links on politics make me sad. I like cheating CPs.
Explain why winning framework matters for you and how you still win the debate even if you lose framework.
I don’t think you need an alt to win but a well-explained one will make it much easier to do so.
2ACs should explicitly answer each of the link arguments even if it's just by explaining that it's a link to the status quo, a block that can impact out a dropped link argument well is likely to get my ballot as long as they are somewhat ahead on the framework or impact framing debate.
Good. I do think it is possible to vote neg on presumption, so specific analysis about aff solvency or method is important. I find myself voting overwhelmingly aff in debates where the negative concedes the aff in the 2NR, so I strongly recommend extending your best 1 or 2 case arguments regardless of what else you're going for.
For the neg: 1) You need to answer the case – their theory is wrong, reform is possible, etc. A 2NR that has no way to cut back the aff’s ability to impact turn fairness or topic education is in a rough spot. Presumption can be a good arg. 2) I default to fairness is not an impact but is an internal link to debatability, clash, topic education, etc. This doesn’t mean don’t go for it as an impact, just that you need a warrant. 3) Framework is about the model of debate the aff justifies, it’s not an argument why K affs are bad. If you’re going for framework as a way to exclude entire critical lit bases/structural inequalities/content areas from debate then we are not going to get along.
For the aff: 1) You need a counter interp or counter model of debate, it's really helpful if you can explain what debate looks like under this model. 2) I am not a huge fan of the 2AC strategy of saying as many disads to framework as possible without explaining or warranting any of them out. 3) Leverage your aff as an impact turn to framework. The more effectively voting aff can resolve the impact turn, the easier it will be to get my ballot.
- College specific: I haven't judged or researched at all on this topic. I have debated and researched alliance arguments for the past two years so I know base level stuff, but please explain as much as possible.
Email me if you have questions and please put me on the chain: dylan.willett8 at gmail dot com. I coach for the Asian Debate League. I debated for UMKC. In college, I mostly went for framework, topic DAs, and an assortment of topic critiques. As a coach I mostly have spent the last year working on core counterplans and politics DAs, but have spent a lot of time working with critical approaches to the topic as well.
*I am in Taiwan which is at minimum 13 hours ahead of the tournament I am judging so make sure to start off at a pace where I can adapt to your speed and speed up progressively through the speech because I might begin the debate a bit groggy*
Be bold, it will be rewarded if you do it well. I find that debates that center less on reading tons of evidence and more on extrapolation, spin, and application are my favorite. This doesn't mean don't read cards where you need them, but proliferation of evidence can only get you so far without analysis.
I begin my decisions by attempting to identify what the most important arguments are, who won them, and how they implicate the rest of the debate. The more judge instruction, including dictating where I should begin my decision by showing me what is most important will help determine the lens of how I read the rest of the arguments
I am a big fan of case debates that consist of a lot of offense – impact turns or link turns are always better than just pulling from an impact d file.
I think that I mostly lean negative on theory arguments – I would be really sad if I had to parse through a huge theory debate like condo, but am willing. I think I start from a predisposition that condo, PICs, etc are okay, and change based off the theory debate as it develops. I think theory is an important part of an affirmative strategy versus good, and especially cheaty, counterplans.
I feel like I pretty close to about 50/50 in framework debates and the best teams spend a lot of their speeches on these flows answering the nuanced developments of their opponents. Aff or neg teams that just say a different wording of their original offense in each speech are setting themselves up to lose. I am interested in hearing what debates would look like under each model. I like education arguments that are contextual to the topic and clever TVAs and impact turns are good ways to get my ballot while making the debate less stale.
Ks, DAs, CPs, T, FW, etc are all fine to read and impact turn – as long as I am judging a round where there is some attention to strategy and arguments are being developed, I will be happy. Definitely willing to vote on zero risk of a link.
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Online Debate: I have judged and participated in roughly 75 online debates this season. Things I've found to be useful are going slower than you normally would and sharing analytics if they’re already written out in a speech doc. Also, I feel it's important to note that I flow on paper, so with lag and poor mic quality, it's extra important to give me enough pen time. Lastly, if my camera is off, I am not ready for your speech unless I've said otherwise.
Note for CHSSA: I would appreciate that you stick to a lay-style of debate unless there is an agreement between both teams to have a flow debate.
Rounds Judged on this Topic: 47 (aff ballots: 19; neg ballots: 28)
About Me: I did policy debate for three years at Green Valley High School in Las Vegas and I’ve been debating at USC and coaching Chaminade College Prep in LA for almost two years now. I qualled to the TOC my senior year of HS and am currently in my second year of college debate. I am majoring in physics and in astronomy, so please don't assume I know all the intricacies of econ, IR, the law, etc. because it's not something I am actively studying. I'd say I have pretty good intuition about most things though, but it's always better to simplify the arguments you're making in front of me because I don't like to think too hard.
tl;dr: All the below thoughts are in no way set in stone and the way I evaluate a round depends a lot more on what happened in those 2 hours than anything I'll say here; with that in mind, I will vote for any argument as long as I think you are winning it. I'd say I'm pretty tech > truth, but this only goes so far (e.g. if your argument starts off with near-0% risk, even if you technically win the argument, I will only evaluate your argument with the level of risk that your evidence indicates I should). Most importantly, if I don't know how to explain to the other team how they lost to your argument during an RFD, then you're not getting my ballot.
CJR Specific: I would much rather listen to a "soft left" or K aff on this topic than a "big stick" aff. I feel like the majority of big stick affs on this topic have very, very sketchy internal links and impact stories, and I personally believe the majority of big stick affs defeat the educational purpose of this year's topic. Similarly, I have found myself wanting teams to go for the K on the neg more than I want them to go for a process CP with an internal net benefit or a generic politics DA for the same reasons. However, do whatever you do best, and I promise I won't let these hot takes influence my decision.
Additionally, here's two more CJR specific comments taken straight from Parker Coon's paradigm that I agree with wholeheartedly:
-The Abolition K is OP and any 2A not using that as the starting point for aff construction deserves to lose
-Courts affs are instrumental to a well rounded education of how the criminal justice system works but are incredibly difficult to be neg against. I am unsure how to resolve this tension
Rhetoric: Debate is a rhetorical activity meaning if I can’t understand you, I won’t vote for you. Speed is fine, but clarity is key. A dropped argument only matters if you extend a claim, warrant, and impact to it. Please be nice to each other, we’re all here to learn and have fun.
K's in General: I am not going to lie, I am not proficient in any K literature whatsoever. So please, assume I have no idea what you’re talking about, explain your author's jargon, develop my understanding of your theory during the round, and tell me the RFD in your 2NR/2AR. However, I really try to not let my lack of knowledge be a determining factor in the decision. If you're going for a K, I tend to try extra hard to flow everything you say and read along with evidence as you are speaking, as well as be extra expressive so you have some indication if I am buying what you're selling.
Framework/K Aff's: I think that an affirmative team should probably read a topical plan, but well-researched and topic specific non-plan affs are generally more interesting to me than bland policy affs. I feel that framework debates turn into two ships passing in the night very quickly, so the more clash you have on either side, the better off you’ll be. Negative teams should try to have specific answers to the aff’s case and cross apply those to framework if they want a greater chance of winning the debate. Skills or fairness, I don't care, just have an impact or prove to me the aff doesn't. Most TVA's are egregiously bad (sometimes, not even topical), so read it on the neg is probably the better 2NR extension to make.
K’s on the Neg: The affirmative should probably get to weigh their plan. Negative teams need to explain their arguments in depth and without jargon. Alternative’s are usually incredibly vague and meaningless to me; please explain them to me like I were a five year old, I promise I won’t find it patronizing. Please provide specific and detailed link, internal link, and impact stories.
Topicality: I was coached by Cade Cottrell, which means that almost every aff I read throughout high school was borderline topical at best. I love creative and innovative affs that are right at the boundary of topical and non-topical, but I’ll still hold the line if the neg proves they have the better interp. I think that the best affirmative argument against any T violation is a combination of arbitrariness and reasonability, but my default is competing interpretations.
CP’s: Read whatever and however many CP’s you want, just make sure you can theoretically justify them if this becomes an issue in round. If you're neg tell me to judge kick, if you’re aff tell me why that’s bad; I’m leaving it up to you to decide if I should allow it or not.
DA’s: I can see myself voting aff even if there aren’t any cards read on a DA if the negative team’s story is entirely incoherent. Turns case and solves case arguments are distinct and need to be answered differently; neg teams should probably have both. Link turns case arguments are more persuasive than impact turns case. The more specific the DA the better, but generic DA’s are fine. Impact calc is generally the most important part of these debates.
Theory: These debates rarely end up being good. I think theory args other than conditionality are probably not a reason to drop the team. 2A’s that terrorize the neg with theory will get higher speaks, but 15 seconds should be sufficient on ridiculously contrived and self-serving theory.
People I Agree With: Cade Cottrell, Samin Kamal, Ali and Kareem Safieddine, Parker Coon, Jaden Lessnick.
Things to do for Higher Speaks: I believe that the ballot is enough of a reward for the team who did the better debating, so ethos/logos/pathos will be how I evaluate speaker points. In general, you should make jokes about anyone mentioned above, do line by line, be funny, don't be rude, and end speeches/prep early when you are CLEARLY ahead.