Aaron Thomas Memorial Invitational
2021 — Virtual, TX/US
LD Judges Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
I have an MA in communication studies and have served as an adjunct professor of communication, public speaking, and argumentation at US universities and internationally.
In Beijing, I partnered with private academies to create the first policy debate circuit for private English institutions in China and built communication departments with curricula in public speaking, debate, emotional intelligence, and logical reasoning.
I have been judging and coaching debate for around ten years. My original focus was policy and LD, which I competed in in the early 2000s. More recently I have begun coaching and judging World Schools tournaments including the European Open, Winter Holidays Open, Stanford, and Harvard invitationals.
My students have consistently broken in Worlds tournaments and placed in the top ten of Speaker Awards for ESL students. My expertise in coaching is in public speaking and coherent logical presentation slightly more than debate tactics.
Brief Debate Background
My own experience in debate is around twenty years ago as a policy debater. I won seven state tournaments and two regional championships in a row in my two years competing before going to university. I did not compete in college forensics, choosing instead to pursue positions with political groups and I gave speeches in campaigns and in support of bills I wished to see passed. I even had the opportunity to be a direct sponsor of a bill and speak to a congressional committee. Unfortunately, the bill was shot down. I was an impressive speaker but my opponents had money.
As a judge, my paradigm can generally be categorized as stock issue with elements of policymaker. I believe each motion has clear-cut burdens and that the affirmative or proposition team must meet them to win the round.
I expect the arguments to stay focused on the motion and to understand the motion and the spirit of the motion clearly.
The elements of policymaker can be seen in how much I love the weighing of ads vs. disads and well-designed counter-plans. Are you designing the counter-plan to incorporate or replace and can you clearly elucidate mutual exclusivity? Very fun.
I respect evidence but debates are not won or lost on the strength or deliverance of evidence. If any piece of evidence is presented without analysis of its significance and relationship to the motion and to the debate do not expect me to make those connections for you.
In LD, I come from a time when it was still a pure value debate and the points made were based on a logically reasoned explanation of the value clash with presented values and criteria for upholding that value rather than cut cards of evidence. I still expect "ought" motions to be debates about the existence of moral obligations rather than evidentiary proof of solvency.
I know I sound old when I say that, and I am adaptable, but I do love the difference between an LD debate and a policy debate and hate to see those differences dissolving. That being said, I do still appreciate good evidence and will still decide the round on the major points of clash, burden meeting, and weighing.
I don't like PICs, particularly when the difference is tiny and makes the debate semantic. If I want to affirm the motion, I will vote affirmative. I expect a meaningful clash not manipulating the debate to earn a vote. A PIC suggests that negative has little to offer beyond what the affirmative has already offered. CPs are fine, love a good CP, but I expect it to be mutually exclusive and categorically non-topical.
I have seen and debated Ks... Haven't seen one yet that would justify deciding my vote, mostly because they are poorly presented. Race and gender Ks consistently come across as a way to avoid the actual argument. Present the K if you want to point out poor judgments in language, the motion's perspective, or assumptions, but don't make that an excuse not to engage with the underlying arguments being presented.
And honestly, I've watched debaters try economic K's about capitalism being the source of all evil in the world and must be stopped at all costs. So far, the debaters who tried it have shown that it is impossible to prove without a predetermined ideology. But I'm always willing to hear someone take on the challenge and I think there is potential in this and all K's when presented correctly.
However, leave the anti-humanism out of it if I am your judge. To argue that it is "better" if more humans die is not going to win a debate or turn an impact on my flow.
I think that's enough. Be respectful.