Golden Desert Debate Tournament 2023 at UNLV
2023 — Las Vegas, NV/US
VPF Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
I am a parent judge with some experience.
Please speak slowly and clearly.
Please respect other speakers during crossfire and do not interrupt opponents.
Your case is the most important part of the round.
Please weigh in the round and compare your arguments.
PF Paradigm 2022-23 Season:
I consider myself tech>truth but I have been approaching a closer equilibrium between the two lately due to the poor state of evidence ethics, power tagging, clipping, and more. Further, I know stakes can be high in a bubble, bid, or important round but let's still come out of the debate feeling as if it was a positive experience. The complexity and dynamic nature of debate can be so rewarding and equally thrilling. But if you pair that with inflexibility, curtness, or even acrimony the debate devolves into a Pyrrhic victory at best for you and a painful experience for us all. Life is too short for needless suffering. Please be kind, compassionate, and cordial.
GPC: Florida Blue Key/Glenbrooks/La Costa
Lot's of docbots on this topic. Don't just read backfiles/block docs and think that's a speech. Implicate every response explicitly and connect it to your opponent's speech or your partner's. If they are running "ukraine-russia" and you just read "a2 ukraine-russia" without doing comparative analysis on why your a2 has better evidence, warranting, or interacts with those responses you are not moving the debate forward. For example, "start off on their link evidence. Their Smith 22 card claims that Russia's primary motivation in invading Ukraine was retaliation against US-Nato Expansionism. This is wrong for two reasons. Our Jones card from last month specifically highlights two motivations that matter to Russian domestic politics more and thus make GPC a none issue or the alt causes more likely. Black Sea access and ethnic Tartars. These effect Putin's power in the kremlin more because.... x.... our evidence postdates their because y... our evidence is better because it looks at 15 years of Russian moves in the region... our evidence is better because our author is a Kremlinologist for 40 years.... our warranting is more intuitive because z." Give me something y'all. I feel like people are just reading docs they didn't even write and there is no work being done in the round.
2022 Fall Stats Update: Importing my Tabroom data I've judged 612 rounds since 2014 with a 54% Pro and 46% Con balance. There may a slight subconscious Aff bias it seems. My guess is that I may subconsciously give more weight to changing the status quo as that's the core motivator of debate.
- What I want to see: I'm empathetic to major technical errors in my ballots. In a perfect world I vote for the team who does best on tech and secondarily on truth. I tend to resolve clash most easily when you give explicit reasons why either a) your evidence is comparatively better but also when you tell me why b) your warranting is comparatively better. Obviously doing both compounds your chances at winning my ballot.
- Weighing Unlike Things: I need to know how to weigh two comparatively unlike things. If you are weighing some economic impact against a non-economic impact like democracy how do I defer to one over the other? Scope, magnitude, probability etc. I strongly prefer impact debates on the probability/reasonability of impacts over their magnitude and scope. Obviously try to frame impacts using all available tools but it's less likely I will defer to nuclear war, try or die, etc on the risk of magnitude. Probability over magnitude debates unless I'm given well warranted, carded, and convincing framework analysis to prefer the latter.
- Weighing Like Things: Please have warrants and engage comparatively between yourself and your opponent. Obviously methodological and evidentiary comparison is nice too as I mentioned earlier. I love crossfires or speech time where we discuss the warrants behind our cards and why that's another reason to prefer your arg over your opponent.
- Don't be a DocBot: I love that you're prepared and have enumerated overviews, blocks, and frontlines. I love heavy evidence and dense debates with a lot of moving parts. But if it sounds like you're just reading a doc without specific or explicit implications to your opponent's contention you are not contributing anything meaningful to the round. Tell me why your responses interact. If they are reading an arg about the environment and just read an A2 Environment Non-Unique without explaining why your evidence or warranting is better then this debate will suffer.
- I'm comfortable if you want to take the debate down kritical, theoretical, and/or pre-fiat based roads. I think framework debates be them pre or post fiat are awesome. Voted on many K's before too. Here be dragons. I will say though, over time I've become increasingly tired of opportunistic, poor quality, and unfleshed out theory in PF. I used to have an essay about my doubts on three major theory arguments but moved it to the bottom of you want to read why. TL;DR: I would highly discourage running trigger warning theory in front of me. I am more skeptical of paraphrasing theory than disclosure theory. Lastly, if you look back at the last 31 rounds or so I've judged with theory as the primary voter I've probably only voted for the team who introduced theory in the round 6 of 31 rounds. Meaning I vote for theory 19% of the time when it's the voter. Take that as you will. All variables being equal I would prefer post-fiat stock topic specific rounds but in principle remain as tabula rasa as I can.
- What needs to be frontlined in second rebuttal? Turns. Not defense unless you have time. If you want offense in the final focus then extend it through the summary.
- Defense is not sticky between rebuttal and final focus. Aka if defense is not in summary you can't extend it in final focus. I've flipped on this recently. I've found the debate is hurt by the removal of the defense debate in summary and second final focus can extend whatever random defense it wants or whatever random frontlines to defense. This gives the second speaking teams a disproportionate advantage and makes the debate needlessly more messy.
- DA's in general or second rebuttal? You mean the borderline new contentions you are trying to introduce in the round that are tentatively linked at BEST to the existing arguments in the round order to time skew/spread your opponents thin? Don't push it too much.
- I will pull cards on two conditions. First, if it becomes a key card in the round and the other team questions the validity of the cut, paraphrasing, or explanation of the card in the round. Second, if the other team never discusses the merits of their opponents card the only time I will ever intervene and call for that evidence is if a reasonable person would know it's facially a lie.
- Calling for your opponent's cards. It should not take more than 1 minute to find case cards. Do preflows before the round. Smh y'all.
- If you spread that's fine. Just be prepared to adjust if I need to clear or provide speech docs to your opponents to allow for accessibility and accommodation.
- My favorite question in cx is: Why? For example, "No I get that's what your evidence says but why?"
- My favorite phrase in debate is: "Prefer our warrant or evidence" or "comparing our warrants you prefer ours because..."
- Germs are scary. I don't like to shake hands. It's not you! It's me! [Before covid times this was prophetic]
- If you need to email for a chain or questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debate Experience: TOC Champion PF 2010, 4th at British Parli University National Championships 2014, Oxford Debate Union competitive debater 2015-2016 (won best floor speech), LGBTQIA+ Officer at the Oxford Debate Union
Coaching Experience: 12 years of coaching, instructor at 14 debate camps, debate camp director, Senior Instructor and PF Curriculum Director at the Institute for Speech and Debate, Director of Debate at Fairmont 2018-Current, La Altamont Lane 2018 TOC, Capitol 2016-2018, GW 2010-2015. British Parli coach and lecturer for universities including DU, Oxford, and others.
Education: Masters from Oxford University '16 - Law & Religion - Dissertation on the history of the First Amendment - Majored in Religion and Philosophy at DU '14. Other research areas of familiarity include Buddhism, comparative religion, sociology of religion, First Amendment law, free speech, freedom of expression, art law, media law, & SCOTUS history.
Ramblings on Theory
Let me explain why I am writing this. This isn't because I'm right and you're wrong. I'm not trying to convince you. Nor should you cite this formally in round to win said round. Rather, a lot of you care so much about debate and theory in particular gets pretty personal fairly quickly that I want to explain why my hesitancy isn't personal to you either. I am not opposing theory as someone who is opposed to change in Public Forum.
- First, I would highly discourage running trigger warning theory in front of me. My grad school research and longstanding work outside of debate has tracked how queer, civil rights advocates, religious minorities, and political dissidents have been extensively censored over time through structural means. The suppression and elimination of critical race theory and BLM from schools and universities is an extension of this. I have found it very difficult to be tabula rasa on this issue. TW/anonymous opt outs are welcome if you so wish to include them, that is your prerogative, but like I said the lack of one is not a debate I can be fair on. Let me be clear. I do not dismiss that "triggers" are real. I do not deny your lived experience on face nor claim all of you are, or even a a significant number of you, are acting in bad faith. This is always about balancing tests. My entire academic research for over 8 years was about how structural oppressors abuse these frameworks of "sin," "harm," "other," to squash dissidents, silence suffragettes, hose civil rights marchers, and imprison queer people because of the "present danger they presented in their conduct or speech." I also understand that some folks in the literature circles claim there is a double bind. You are opting out of trigger warning debates but you aren't letting me opt out of debates I don't want to have either. First, I will never not listen to or engage in this debate. My discouragement above is rooted in my deep fear that I will let you down because I can't be as fair as I would be on another issue. I tell students all the time tabula rasa is a myth. I still think that. It's a goal we strive for to minimize intervention because we will never eliminate it. Second, I welcome teams to still offer tw and will not penalize you for doing so. Third, discussions on SV, intersectionality, and civil rights are always about trade offs. Maybe times will change but historically more oppression, suppression, and suffering has come from the abuse of the your "speech does me harm" principle than it benefits good faith social justice champions who want to create a safe space and a better place. If you want to discuss this empirical question (because dang there are so many sources and this is an appeal to my authority) I would love to chat about it.
Next, let me explain some specific reasons why I am resistant to TW theory in debate using terms we use in the literature. There is a longstanding historical, philosophical, and queer/critical theory concern on gatekeeper shift. If we begin drawing more and more abstract lines in terms of what content causes enough or certain "harm" that power can and will be co-opted and abused by the equally more powerful. Imagine if you had control over what speech was permitted versus your polar opposite actor in values. Now imagine they, via structural means, could begin to control that power for themselves only. In the last 250 years of the US alone I can prove more instances than not where this gatekeeping power was abused by government and powerful actors alike. I am told since this has changed in the last twenty years with societal movements so should we. I don't think we have changed that significantly. Just this year MAUS, a comic about the Holocaust, was banned in a municipality in Jan 22. Toni Morrison was banned from more than a dozen school districts in 2021 alone. PEN, which is a free press and speech org, tracked more than 125 bills, policies, or resolutions alone this year that banned queer, black, feminist, material be them books, films, or even topics in classrooms, libraries, and universities. Even in some of the bills passed and proposed the language being used is under the guise of causing "discomfort." "Sexuality" and discussions of certain civil rights topics is stricken from lesson plans all together under these frameworks. These trends now and then are alarming.
I also understand this could be minimizing the trauma you relive when a specific topic or graphic description is read in round. I again do not deny your experience on face ever. I just cannot comfortably see that framework co-opted and abused to suppress the mechanisms or values of equality and equity. So are you, Gabe, saying because the other actors steal a tool and abuse that tool it shouldn't be used for our shared common goals? Yes, if the powerful abuse that tool and it does more harm to the arc of history as it bends towards justice than I am going to oppose it. This can be a Heckler's Veto, Assassin's Veto, Poisoning The Well, whatever you want to call it. Even in debate I have seen screenshots of actual men discussing how they would always pick the opt out because they don't want to "debate girls on women issues in front of a girl judge." This is of course likely an incredibly small group but I am tired of seeing queer, feminist, or critical race theory based arguments being punted because of common terms or non-graphic descriptions. Those debates can be so enriching to the community and their absence means we are structurally disadvantaged with real world consequences that I think outweigh the impacts usually levied against this arg. I will defend this line for the powerless and will do so until I die.
All of these above claims are neither syllogisms or encyclopedias of events. I am fallible and so are those arguments. Hence let us debate this but just know my thoughts.
- I am more skeptical of paraphrasing theory than disclosure theory. On the former, I am sympathetic and have seen myself countless times how "full text" cases are equally capable of being miscut and clipped. Theoretically there is a possible debate on paraphrasing facilitating abuse easier and there could be a good trade off theory debate had but rarely do I see that done well. On the latter, I am more open to a disclosure theory debate but still remain more resistant than most flow judges to engaging this argument. I will be especially incredulous of your theory argument if I discover your application of theory is principally inconsistent. For example, you are running disclosure or paraphrasing theory against one team for violating but not another team who violated (assuming both judges would have equally been receptive.) There may be other extenuating circumstances that explain the discrepancy in application but they need to be addressed.
I am getting better on disclosure theory but let me explain some of my concerns based on anecdotal experiences being in PF for 15 years. For one I have probably judged more rounds than you if you're a competitor. 545 by January 2022. Not a flex but just a survey of what's going on in the circuit. There were actual tournaments last year where more than half of the rounds had cases or arguments exclusively from one or two teams. That's not bad on face. The problem was the vast majority of the debaters using them didn't even understand the cards in a nuanced way to even explain them. I am sorry but if you are one of the top teams in the country a novice or team who wants better arguments are likely to defer to you in trust. The issue was that some of the cards were miscut or extremely powertagged. I thought the wiki was supposed to solve power tagging and evidence ethics? I saw so few indicts or evidence comparison. For example, there was in infamous card from a January topic last year where it was from the copy of the bottom of a corporate blog with no date, warrant, author but I saw it in probably 66% of rounds on the topic. No one interrogated the source that well except for maybe two rounds and the stamp of approval from being on a prominent wiki let it just proliferate more. The wiki didn't solve this problem at all. I think we are getting better I hope. I don't think any serious disclosure team denies this could be a problem but they argue that as a whole putting more evidence on the wiki means more fairness and education for all. I wish someone could start doing analysis on how many more teams are on the wiki, number of cards, etc. I just would like to look at data because I think the competing warrants are strong and need something outside of my experiences to validate said warranting.
I am most suspicious of paraphrase theory because virtually every single round I judge with full text I would question if even the full text is cut appropriately. You selecting words while omitting others means you are actively deciding which ones not to read. Just because you are using some of the exact words in an excerpt but still deciding which ones to include to me is barely different than paraphrasing. I think it means it'ss relatively harder to abuse evidence but not by much. If anything I think full text cards are called for less and overtime have become "power cut."
Like in my disclaimer on the other theory shell none of these arguments are truisms just my inner and honest thoughts to help you make strategic decisions in the round.