The Hilltopper Classic
2021 — NSDA Campus, WI/US
PF Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
January 2021 edition
Please remember that one of the primary goals for competitive debate is engaging in civil discourse. As a judge, the first criteria I evaluate is civility. Debaters who demonstrate courtesy, good will, and generosity of spirit perform more effectively.
I expect a fair and honest debate from all competitors. Please consider what fair and honest means: If you are an experienced debater and you are running a K or CP, especially against a novice debater, you are not engaging in fair and honest debate. Ks and CPs are complex devices intended for Policy Debate. If you apply them to an LD round you are changing the category rules in such a way that disfavors an opponent who has prepped for an LD round. If you plan on running a K or CP, my suggestion is you keep a back-up case in the ready AND prior to the round, you confirm that both your judge and your opponent are comfortable with you running a Policy device. If one of those answers is no, run your back-up case. I reiterate, if you run a Policy device without disclosing it to both your opponent and your judge you are not engaging in fair and honest debate. Please do not conflate pre-round courtesy with disclosure theory.
On running counterplans and kritiks: Since these are strategies devised for Policy Debate and not as conducive for LD, they should be carefully crafted and run sparingly. That being said, I welcome a creative take on the resolution in the form of a counterplan or kritik. Bear in mind that I must be able to weigh the round with compatible parameters so if you do run a counterplan or kritik you must clearly define how the round is to be framed so your opponent may adequately respond to your case and I have enough criteria for evaluation. Counterplans must contain both an explicit values structure and CP framework. Kritiks must apply a primary line of argumentation originating in critical theory or cultural criticism. Please note: Ks and CPs place unnecessary burdens on the negative case that the neg must fully accommodate. I will not expect an opponent to refute complicated devices intended for Policy Debate without being provided the structural parameters to do so. Therefore, the burden for structurally framing the round falls on the Neg when running Ks and CPs.
Disclosure Theory: The ability to think quickly on your feet (adapting to your opponent during the round) is one of the most important skills a debater can cultivate and will be weighed more heavily than prepping out before a round. I won't judge against a debater who has chosen not disclose on the NDCA or any other wiki. Any time spent arguing on disclosure grounds (or out-of-round concerns) will be regarded as time that could have been better spent responding to what is happening in the round.
Another point to consider with fair and honest debating is intimidation. Please don’t confuse clash, meaningful offense or attacking an opponent’s case with aggressiveness or badgering during a round. Know that spreading in all its various forms is an intimidation tactic and that I consider spreading an equity and inclusion matter. If you are a fair and honest debater, then you cannot simply assume your opponent can accommodate lightning pace. Please be advised: Speed reading will heavily impact speaker points in a negative direction in addition to potentially losing the round.
If you are a speedy reader, but not intentionally spreading, modulate your pace. If I do not catch your framework due to unintelligibility or lack of clarity related to speed you may lose the round since I cannot adequately weigh your case against your opponent’s. I will not interrupt your speech to ask you to slow down. My expectation is a conversational pace.
Please be mindful of the debate format in which you are competing. If you are a Lincoln-Douglas competitor your primary goal is to engage in the realm of ideas, not policy. If the resolution leans heavily toward a policy topic, the best debaters will devise a case which is philosophical and reflective. When judging an LD round, I’m listening for original thinking, insightful analysis, logical reasoning, and summary skills.
I pay very close attention during cross-examination for strategic maneuvering that will allow a competitor to control the trajectory of the debate.
If you and your opponent craft similar frameworks (e.g, the same value or value criterion), please do not tell me “it is a wash.” Weighing frameworks is never a wash. Framework components do not cancel each other out. Argue your position with analysis and reasoning in order to identify why your case better meets the V/VC and by extension, the resolution.
If your value is morality, tell me what kind of morality and why it is the most suitable choice in the context of the resolution. Please don’t use circular reasoning - “because morality means my value criterion is good” or pretense such as “I choose morality because it encompasses all other values.” Simply reverting to the notion that the word “ought” in the resolution implies a moral imperative suggests that the debater has not spent much time researching the resolution in order to understand its assumptions and implications. When I evaluate a case framework, I am looking for depth suggestive of a debater who is wrestling with the ideas embedded within the resolution.
Do reiterate your impacts throughout every phase of the debate, but bear in mind that (for me) extremist impacts like extinction, nuclear war and planetary disaster are less important to the impact calculus as thoughtful and well-developed impacts germane to the resolution and your chosen framework. In other words, I will be swayed by impacts that are expressed through a philosophical line of inquiry or reasoned through in a way that reveals the most significant issues inherent within the resolution.
I will favor the debater who accurately summarizes evidence, evaluates it, contextualizes it, and most importantly, provides analyses that are both cogent and eloquent. Please take care that you do not mistake your evidence for your own original analysis. Be very careful of how you cut cards so the bulk of your case consists of your own reasoning and your own thoughts about the resolution rather than reading through your sources (reiterating someone else’s ideas). A helpful tip for developing your case and presenting it: think in outline terms so you are constantly summarizing your evidence, your case, your opponent’s case, and your refutations.
Do outline your voting issues, but be wary of getting mired in the minutiae of technicalities that reduce the round to a “gotcha” game. Do not assume that the judge flows in the same way a competitor does. Be mindful of simplistic, but common errors like an unanswered point is equivalent to conceding that point. Technically speaking, in an LD debate round, it is not. If your opponent drops an argument, it is an opportunity for you to expound upon your own position with respect to that point. Signpost your refutations and avoid assertions like "My opponent dropped "X" argument, so you can "disregard it" or "flow that point to my side." Not every argument can be answered during the round. The best debaters will strategically choose which arguments are the most important ones to address. While clash is important, maximizing meaningful clash lucidly, concisely, and succinctly will likely win the debate. Represent your opponent's position accurately and do not claim that an opponent has dropped an argument if your opponent has not.
Economic arguments: All too often economic arguments take some form of: “X is too expensive because it costs Y.” This really isn’t a sound argument. An economic argument of quality should demonstrate some notion of economic theory to justify it rather than simply assuming economics itself is neutral. Be aware that modern economic theory originated in 18th century moral philosophy. All economic arguments should be purposeful and grounded in theoretical or philosophical principles. A case with primarily economic argumentation should be placed within an economic framework (structured into the value/value criterion). I am generally unpersuaded by economic impacts or assumptions that government spending or taxation is bad. The very purpose of the government is to tax and spend. Your goal in an LD round is to provide reasons for why the government (We the People) should tax or spend.
When judging PF I look for teamwork and collaboration -- how argumentation is extended between the two speakers and how well they complement each other. As in LD, I’m looking for excellent organization and critical analysis that addresses the resolutional “pith.” PF teams, please consider the LD issues noted above concerning technical minutiae, original thinking, sophisticated casing, and argumentation that is both sound and valid. I’m looking for original analysis and reasoning through the issues inherent in the resolution. One of my primary concerns in PF is crossfire. Please demonstrate the highest courtesy during crossfire. The team that can establish civil discourse during this phase of the debate will likely be favored in the event of a tie. Maintaining civility during crossfire will help the debater(s) control how the debate is framed for the judge.
As in LD, thinking in outline terms so you are constantly summarizing your evidence, your case, your opponent’s case, and your refutations is essential for PF competition. Develop a few significant arguments with scholarly evidence rather than a large number of arguments so you can effectively utilize the limited time in a PF round. Varsity PF debaters — I look for seamless interaction between team members, the ability to crystallize key points, and to concisely summarize the logical components of an argument.
If I am your judge, please feel free to ask for clarification of any matter addressed in my paradigm.
Head Coach, Speech & Debate
Golda Meir High School
Excellent sportsmanship, respect for others, and adherence to the NSDA Code of Honor are expected of all competitors.
Code of Honor
“As a student or coach member of the National Speech & Debate Association, I pledge to uphold the highest standards of humility, equity, integrity, respect, leadership, and service in pursuit of excellence.”
Humility: A member does not regard oneself more highly than others. Regardless of a person’s level of success, an individual always looks beyond oneself to appreciate the inherent value of others.
Equity: A member respects individuals and their individual differences as well as fosters equity, diversity, and inclusion. A member promotes empowerment for people from all backgrounds, including race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and ability.
Integrity: A member is honest, ethical, and adheres to the competition and conduct rules of the organization. A member follows the NSDA discrimination and harassment policy and abides by the rules of their schools, tournaments, and localities.
Respect: A member demonstrates civil discourse in their interactions with others. A member maintains and contributes to a safe space and welcoming environment for all.
Leadership: A member is aware their words and actions influence others. A member commits to thoughtful and meaningful words and actions that reflect NSDA core values.
Service: A member exercises their talents to provide service to peers, community, and the activity. At all times a member is prepared to work constructively to improve the lives of others.
Your arguments and impacts should closely align with the resolution or the resolutional actor.
Systematically and concisely organize your rebuttals with clear signposting: Tell me what you are refuting. Refute it.
I look for sound reasoning in your argumentation. Your impacts should logically follow your arguments and link back to the resolution. Be wary of fallacious argumentation: straw man arguments, causation vs. correlation etc.
I am not fond of speed reading. My expectation is a conversational pace for the constructive and all subsequent arguments. Make use of your summary skills to keep your speeches well timed. If you would like for me to give warning, please let me know before the start of the round. Speed reading may negatively impact your speaker points and may result in loss of the round if your case is garbled due to speed.
I am a new parent judge. I did Parliamentary debate in college and policy debate and forensics in high school, and now work as an attorney. I prefer a speed and style of delivery that would be accessible and persuasive to a broad audience. I appreciate sound reasoning, clear organization, effective use of evidence, and responsiveness to the other side’s arguments.