2021 — NSDA Campus, WI/US
Varsity Policy Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Benjamin Hamburger 1/2018
Sure, you can add me to an email chain. benjamin dot hamburger at gmail. So you know, I probably will NOT follow along on your speech doc, though.
For Wisconsin paradigm defining purposes, you should consider me tabula rasa. don't make me talk about it too much though because there's no such thing as that.
Information about me:
*I have judged and coached in what would be considered "national-circuit" style Midwestern high school debate since about 1998 as a card-cutting coach, as the primary policy coach, as a head coach, and now as a coach and teacher in the Department of History and Social Sciences at Central High School in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I am now getting old in debate terms--37 at the time of writing--which means I have old ideas and am grumpy about certain things.
*A Debate History:
1993-1998 Policy debater at Hastings High School, Hastings, NE
1998-1999 Judge/minor card cutter, Hastings Senior High School
1999-2005 Assistant Coach for Policy Debate at Fremont High School, Fremont, NE
2005-2007 Director of Forensics, Iowa City High School, Iowa City, IA
2007-2016 Assistant Varsity Coach, Cedar Rapids Washington High School, Cedar Rapids, IA
2016-Present Director of Debate, La Crosse Central High School, La Crosse, WI
*Academic Info that Might Be Relevant:
B.A. in Political Science (emphases in international relations and political theory) and History, a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
M.A. in Secondary Social Studies Education and History from the University of Iowa.
Argument choice issues:
*Choose your arguments. I try to avoid evaluating rounds based on what I like to hear. Even if I don’t like your argument, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost it, etc. My self-estimation is that I am fairly even on the K vs. Policy question. I believe that both are very interesting and useful styles of debate. Most of the time framework debates aren’t particularly productive, the aff will win that they get to weigh the case, the neg will win that they get some form of an alternative, etc. (hint: if you are serious about winning framework, don’t waste your time on the rest of the debate—prove that you’re serious about it and go for it.)
*One of the areas I am slightly old school. Left to my own devices, I am more likely than many judges to evaluate the risk of a disad as zero if there is a step which has been substantially defeated. I do not particularly prefer offense-defense paradigms, it is my feeling that it is necessary to win your arguments to get a DA. Similarly, I think you need to win a link to generate offense, so without justification I do not default to a uniqueness-focused decision-making process. In spite of these warnings, a justified argument can change those decision-making processes. Generally, though, a good politics debate with developed turns-case analysis is a thing of beauty. Quality of evidence comparison/warrants will always beat number of cards.
*I have increasingly found myself somewhat lost in fast debates about security policy which include multiple interacting internal links--not because I am incapable of understanding them, but because I am not as familiar with these arguments as you all are. On occasion debaters need to slow down and explain some arguments.
*My favorite negative strategies are about criticisms that isolate and condemn social injustice or reveal power relations and debate epistemology smartly. I have no problem with generic criticisms like security and the cap k, but to win them or to get decent points requires specific discussion of the 1ac—isolating the links and their implications for evaluating the aff is what makes it awesome. Affs lose lots of K debates largely because they pile up cards rather than planning what the 2ar endgame looks like. Often affs are better served defending their own assumptions than reading argument-specific cards that are not part of a specific strategy. To wit, affs regularly go for permutations or no link arguments when they claim an advantage which impact turns the k while conceding a utopian alternative. Because I am a sucker for well-developed analysis about epistemology/ontology, I don't think as a rule the 2nr needs to go for external case defense, at least if you can give examples of how aff authors have specific problems or biases. Wisconsin teams have proven to think that mindless tech can win you a permutation, this is not generally true--most neg args against one permutation work against all of them.
*I consider myself generally well-read on critical arguments, but that reading maybe stopped being so robust in like 2007 or 2008, and so I'm not as up-to-date on the more recent turns in that literature. I can observe some additional relevant tendencies: I often find myself frustrated in rounds that involve a lot of psychoanalytic arguments (I get the cap bad part of Zizek. That may be about it). I dislike the Nietzsche alternative viscerally. In spite of my feminist leanings, Donna Haraway makes no sense to me. In each of these cases, if this is your only game, I am probably not a good judge for you. I will also explicitly note some critical arguments with which I am well acquainted: I’m fairly well read in Foucault, Heidegger, lots of feminisms, critical international relations business, objectivism, cap bad, etc. Lots of experience now with Afro-pessimism, Orientalism, at least some entrée into queer theory args. I still need someone to convince me that Bataille and Baudrilliard are more smart than confusing.
*I’m probably a decent judge for a T debate. Most of the theoretical issues are up in the air—competing interpretations vs. abuse as a standard, etc. If you concede a competing interpretations arg, though, be aware that you’ll need offense on your interp.
*I can enjoy a good theory debate, but if you actually want to win it you probably need to convince me early on in a debate that you are going to do something other than just read your block at full speed. i have a natural dislike towards theory debates that i see as unnecessary. I'm not the ideal judge if you *plan* on going for theory a lot, but again, i try to evaluate those debates fairly. I will note that I do not have a neg side bias when it comes to counterplan debates--be it issues of conditionality, fiat, or competition issues. Some people see that fact in and of itself as an aff side bias on those theoretical issues, but what it means is that i am more than willing to vote aff because a counterplan is cheating, if you win that debate.
*I have found that I am getting older and more dinosaur-like on counterplan theory: I think I have an aff bias on these issues: multiple counterplans, consult counterplans, and conditionality.
*Non-traditional affs: it seems that I am going to judge my share of clash-of-civs rounds, which is fine. I generally think that negative teams do not work hard enough to generate smart arguments against non-traditional affs, so I start with a slight lean against framework arguments, but a sophisticated execution of those debates are often successful. I will also say that aff teams that make efforts to meet some standard of topicality also will find me more forgiving than teams that do not; I think negs do deserve some degree of a starting point.
*I believe my job as a critic is to evaluate a debate as it occurred, rather than retroactively applying my standards of what debate should look like to your round. I try as hard as I can to stay to this standard, but some intervention is inevitable. Read below in the “self-observed biases” section. I try to remain agnostic about the various frameworks for evaluating debates, so that means that if there is a difference in the round as to how I should evaluate it, you should propose your framework explicitly and defend it. My presumption is that debate should be an educational activity, and it would be hard to shake me of that idea, as I am an educator by trade. However, I am open to debates about what kinds of education debate should bring, and how it does so.
*My decisions are nearly always decided by a close review of the 1AR, 2NR, and 2AR, with references to the negative block as necessary. I am not, however, a perfect flow, and you should be aware of that and flag important arguments as such. I believe a part of persuasion is correct emphasis.
*It is fairly uncommon for me to read evidence after a debate--use the evidence yourself, refer to warrants, etc. If you think you have good evidence, you need to show it off. The "in" thing to say is that I reward a team for good research, but the most important part of good research is understanding why your evidence is good, and exercising your ability to explain and use the evidence. I do not plan to do evidence comparison for anyone.
*As regards "offense/defense" distinctions: I understand the importance of offense, but I do not discount the art of defensive argumentation. The fact that the other team does not have a turn does not mean you are winning. I have probably evaluated the risk of a disad or other impact as zero (or close enough to not matter) more than the average judge.
*I generally speaking will not seriously consider any independent issue that is not in your final rebuttal for at least 2 minutes--I do not reward a refusal to put all eggs in one basket. This is particularly true for theory arguments. If you feel that a theoretical issue is strong enough to justify a vote, plan to spend the better part of your final rebuttal on it, or don't expect my ballot on it.
In Round Decorum:
*Not much here--but I absolutely cannot stand when debaters talk audibly during an opponent's speech. Increasingly it is hard for me to follow what a fast speaker is saying anyhow--when you're talking too, I am liable to get angry at you.
*I think most of the time you will tend to get better speaker points if you stand up when you speak. Also, pay attention to where your opponent is and where you are when you cross-ex--it is a speech. Cross-ex's where all the debaters are sitting across the room from one another and staring at their computers is not a good persuasive strategy.
*I will also likely get grumpy at you about your paperless crap, especially when it makes a debate round last 20 minutes longer than it should. Don't worry about that too much. Unless it gets out of hand. If you don't know the difference, watch me, and you'll be able to tell.
I work for MPS - Rufus King High School
I did 4 years of policy debates in high school.
I've judged mostly novice debate for a few years.
How fast can students speak during speeches? Medium Speed
If a student is speaking too fast or unclear, will you give any cues to them? Yes. Will say slow or clear
List stylistic items you like debaters to do.
1. Debaters should start with a roadmap and include signposts during their speech.
2. Debaters should do a line by line refuting the opponents arguments
3. Debaters should include an impact calc in the final speeches
List stylistic items you do not like debaters to do.
1. I do not like rudeness
2. I do not like partners to talk to the speaker during their partners speech excessively
List types of arguments you prefer to listen to/evaluate.
1. Disadvantages are important to the negative attack
2. I’m open to inherency and solvency attacks
3. I’m open to counter plans
List types of arguments that you prefer not to listen to.
1. I do not understand kritiks, it will probably be hard to get me to vote on this for you.
2. I rarely vote neg on topicality, it would need to be the full shell with voters that make sense.
I love clash, I love line by line. I really want debaters to take apart each other’s arguments. This is best accomplished by listening to each other.
I want the last speeches to include an impact analysis that shows why their position leads to be a better world.