WISDAA Debate Festival
2022 — NSDA Campus, WI/US
Lincoln-Douglas Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
David Henning--LD Judging Philosophy
Version 3.36—January 14, 2023
Wisconsin State Debate Tournament Edition
School Affiliation: Director of Debate at Sheboygan South; current President of the WDCA.
LD Rounds judged this season: 26 Lifetime (LD/PF/Policy): 425/75/2100 Years Judging: 39
IMPORTANT—READ FIRST. Over the course of the last few years, I have noticed several disturbing developments in LD. Stuff I never thought I’d have to discuss but actually have to. I have that at the end of this philosophy, after the quotes. If you haven't read it yet, do so. There's a new quote too.
My experience with academic debate: I began my debate career during the Carter Administration. I was a policy debater in high school and college during the mid-1980s. I was an independent (mostly high school) policy debate judge for many years. This is my thirteenth year as Sheboygan South's debate coach and I was a college policy debate coach for four years. This is my sixth year of coaching L-D debate. I've had some success both as a debater and as a coach. And I have many funny debate stories.
My Paradigm: Tabula Rasa, but please don’t insult my intelligence or agency. Don't tell me I "have to" do or vote for something. Ignore my philosophy at your own peril. Ask if you are unsure. I’m coming closer to Bill Batterman’s Critique of Argument paradigm as applied to LD, since some aspects of policy debate paradigms make little sense in LD, although hypothesis testing has some appeal. I like original, unusual or counter-intuitive arguments when done well. Do not assume that anything is inherently good or bad. Far too many debaters assume that things like wasting money, destroying the Constitution or climate change are inherently bad and fail to read impacts to them. I don’t care about “wasted money” and want you to put the bodies on the flow. Hopefully all of them. Provide impacts and analysis if you’re not doing so. And be aware that I oppose "common sense," especially in a debate round.
Technology Time: For this tournament there is 10 minutes allotted to deal with technological issues that may affect the round. If you think you might have tech issues, say something so we can get it resolved. See tournament rules for more information.
Argumentation: A well-written, structured and reasoned case is essential for both debaters. That includes substructure. Be aware that evidence matters, so does evidence quality. Provide qualifications, when possible, for the sources you use and tell me why your evidence is of high quality and/or better than the evidence used by your opponent. Clash directly with the arguments your opponent makes. That means the line-by-line rather than just an argument dump or an overview. Tell me specifically why you achieve your value as defined by your value criterion (or achieve your opponent’s) and why that means you should win the round. Do impact calculus, telling me why the impacts of your case are worse than or outweigh that of your opponent. This is probably the most important thing you can do in the round. Provide a few clearly explained voting issues near the end of your last rebuttal, and make a convincing call for the ballot.
Policy Debate or “National-Style” Arguments: Idebated and coached both high school and college policy debate, and judged policy debate for 30 plus years. I like policy debate. I am open to pretty much anything you can throw at me. That said, I don’t think LD is a particularly good forum or format for many of the policy arguments. Kritiks, counterplans and disadvantages are OK, but in LD they are nebulous since there isn’t an agent of change in the resolution, affirmatives do not offer a specific plan, and whether there is fiat in LD is another issue altogether. How can the K, CP or DA link if there isn’t a plan? Those running such arguments will want to keep that in mind and explain very clearly how their arguments are linked to the aff or the resolution. Likewise, an affirmative claiming solvency or advantages must meet that same burden. The same holds for kritiks, at least those based on policy action. The format issue may be even more important. In policy debate, you have more speeches with which to refute and extend arguments. Ks, CPs and DAs introduced in the policy 1NC mean that both aff and neg can get to third line arguments. Fewer speeches means less developed arguments. You physically cannot get past first and sometimes second line argumentation in LD. Speeches are shorter than in policy, which means less time to develop such arguments and read cards. The end result is that debaters just read their argument, the opponent reads their first line answers, and that’s it. For complex (or really cool) arguments, this is unsatisfying and shallow. I really don’t have a solution to any of these issues, and I don’t reject policy arguments in LD, but this is something to keep in mind.
Topicality: Don’t, unless it is particularly egregious. I dislike topicality. Unless you can show me actual, in-round abuse I’m not interested. Don’t tell me that the aff reduces education when you’re doing just that by running lousy topicality arguments.
Framework: Framework is usually so poorly argued I rarely see the point. A framework is an integral part of Lincoln-Douglas debate. By this I am referring to the value and value criterion for the round and/or the role of the ballot. You must specifically define and explain your value, hopefully something better than an ill-defined “morality.” That’s subjective and pretty much every social or cultural group has their own morality. The Nazis had their own “morality”--horrible, but defined. The word "ought" does not imply morality. Define and explain your value criterion. Tell me how your case will best achieve your value as defined by your value criterion. You may attack the framework and case of your opponent, or demonstrate how your case better achieves your opponent’s value as defined by their value criterion. Argue the superiority of your value/value criterion to that of your opponent. Be clear with your analysis. If there is a Role of the Ballot you must explain that also. If there are policy arguments, you must say why you outweigh the negative.
Debate Theory: Theory has its place, somewhere, but it is never argued well in LD rounds. Don’t read cards from some debate coach at me. Why is that coach more qualified than you, me or someone judging in the next room? OK, why are they more qualified than me? Explain your theory positions and tell me why they matter in this round. What are the in-round impacts to your theory argument? Are there impacts on the activity itself? Does my ballot have a role in your theory argument? If you are claiming some kind of “abuse” of theory, show me the actual in-round abuse—potential abuse is not enough—and tell me why it should be voted against. I can’t remember the last time I voted on an abuse argument.
Quotes Related to my Judging Philosophy (ask if you have questions)
“It’s a basic truth of life that we tend to give more credence to the opinions of people who “know what they are talking about.”--Kel McClanahan.
“Add it up, it all spells duh.”--Buffy Summers
“Yankee detective are always on the TV, ‘cause killers in America work seven days a week.”—Joe Strummer (The Clash)
“They tell lots of lies about me. They say I killed six or seven men for snoring. Well, it ain’t true. I only killed one man for snoring.”---John Wesley Hardin
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.”--Mark Twain
“The Good Earth—we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.”—Kurt Vonnegut
"Wrong thinking is punishable; right thinking is as quickly rewarded."—The Keeper, planet Talos IV
“The most popular songs are always the worst.”---Natalie Maines
"She's a monster of staggering charmlessness and monumental lack of humor." ---Richard Burton, on Lucille Ball
“People say Bob, what do you do with the money we send you? We spend it.”--- Pastor Robert Tilton
"You talk about your Olympic gold medal--big whup. I was all-county in the triple jump."---AJ Styles, to Kurt Angle
“Without freedom of speech I might be in the swamp.”---Bob Dylan
"The numbers don't lie. . . I got a hundred forty three and a thirds percents of winning."---Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner
"The judge's jokes are always funny."---Dan Hansen
"When Stalin says dance, a wise man dances."—Nikita Khrushchev
". . . there are no truths outside the gates of Eden.”—Bob Dylan
"What is truth, if you know what I mean?”—Lionel Hutz
"Nothing really matters much, its doom alone that counts."—Bob Dylan
"You know, it actually can happen. I mean, the chances of it happening are very rare, but it can happen actually. Which is crazy. Not that it—the chances of it are, like, you know, it's like probably “pigs could fly.” Like, I don't think pigs could fly, but actually sharks could be stuck in tornados. There could be a sharknado."---Tara Reid
LD General Issues
This is not English class or forensics. Do not write your case as if it were an assignment that you are going to turn in to your teacher. It’s not an essay. Nor is it an oratory or persuasive speech. Do not “preview” the names of all of your contentions, and then go back and read them. Start with the first contention. Then go to the second contention (if you have one). Provide me with some substructure. I don’t want a preview like you would do in a school paper or presentation or a forensics speech. Previewing messes up my flow. And note that you must use evidence in your case.
Put the citation first, before you read your card, not after. Many judges try to get the tag and the cite. I won’t know it’s a card if you read the cite after your evidence, and then where should I put the cite? You’re already on to the next argument or card. Read the tag line, name and date, then the body of the card. Provide the complete citation in a small font size (8)—that means qualifications, source, the link if it’s an on-line source, date of evidence, date you accessed the evidence and your initials. If you fail to provide a complete cite, or even a partial one, then all I have is some writing by someone with a last name and a date. I can’t treat that as evidence if I can’t see the full cite should it be necessary for me to do so. This does not mean a list of internet links at the end of your speech. That’s useless for debate (and academic) purposes.
Provide the Correct Date. This is the date the article or book was published, not the day you accessed it online. Virtually every online article lists the date the article was first published. Use that date. If the article was updated, and you are accessing the updated article, use that date.
Do Not Use Ellipses ( . . . ). In academic writing it is acceptable to cut out chunks of text you do not want to use. That is not OK in debate. You must keep all the text of the card. If you do not, judges and debaters don’t know if you cut out something important, like “not” or “never.” That’s taking a card out of context. Shrink the text you are not reading to a small font size (8). Both Paperless Debate and the Google Debate Add-on have a shrink feature. Use it. If your opponent notices ellipses in the body of your card and points it out in the round, then it is no longer a card. If ellipses are in the original, indicate that.
Do Use Brackets [ ] sparingly. Brackets are appropriate for brief explanatory or clarifying text. A few words, maybe a sentence. Use sparingly and only when essential. If you’re adding multiple sentences to your card you are altering the card itself, and that is inappropriate. Adding a lot of text is akin to taking a card out of context.
Delivery Style: Speak loud and be clear. That is the most important thing. I work hard to try to get down as much of each speech as possible on my flow. Speak toward your microphone. If it is especially noisy where you are, do your best to cut what noise you can, and then speak louder into the microphone. Your points may suffer and I may miss arguments if I can’t hear you clearly. I don't care if you sit or stand. I don't care if your camera is on or off. I don’t care about eye contact or gestures or a forensics-style polished or memorized speech. That stuff is meaningless in a debate round.
Do not expect 30 speaker points. The magical speaker point pixies have been very active the last few years. I have never seen so many 30s given out by judges. No one I have seen this year has warranted a 30. I have not given a 30 in fourteen years. 29s are relatively rare, but I do give them. And remember (coaches and judges take note of this) that there are tenths (or halves) of a point, and I use them regularly. The strangest thing is that I have not changed the way I award speaker points. I was once one of the highest speaker point judges, and now I am one of the lowest. But don't worry, I haven't given less than a 25 in sixteen years.
Heed my “louder” and “clear” warnings. Many debaters ask me if I am OK with speed. I answer yes. I seriously doubt if you're fast enough to give me trouble. But clarity is much more important than rate. Often it goes like this: I answer yes, the debater then proceeds to speak at a much faster than normal (conversational) rate, but is unclear. I shout “clear.” No change in delivery. A little while later I again shout “clear.” No change. In my previous philosophy I said I may deduct a speaker point after repeated “clear” warnings. I will now deduct a half speaker point if I have to give a “clear” warning after three. At some point I will give up shouting “clear” and your speaker points will suffer a little more. You have been warned, because clarity is key.
Have a way for your opponent to see your case and evidence. Use NSDA File Share in the competition room. You can also put the document in the chat. Use email chains if that fails. Include the judge in the chain. Should evidence be challenged in the round, judges and competitors must have access to this.
No New Arguments in Rebuttals. New arguments in rebuttals diminish or eliminate the opportunity for your opponent to respond. I will not vote on or consider new arguments in rebuttals, whether your opponent points this out or not.
Other issues. A roadmap is short, just the order, like affirmative, then negative, or the other way. Don’t tell me every argument you plan to make, or all the things you plan to refute. And you refute opponents' arguments, not "rebuttal" them. Don’t read a bunch of definitions at me—it’s usually pointless and is difficult to get down on the flow.
Use all your prep time. Even if you don’t think you need it (you do), I need it to write comments. I will be unhappy if you don’t use all your prep time.
I disclose and provide comments, and I encourage you to ask questions after my decision and comments.