University of Michigan HS Debate Tournament
2022 — Ann Arbor, MI/US
Round Robins Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
I'm a teacher and debate coach at Montgomery Bell Academy.
Put me on the email chain: email@example.com
Here is how you can make me want to give you a ballot + good speaks:
1. Make the debate comfortable and fun. I am not a good judge for you if you get super aggressive, snarky, or rude in round. I am a teacher - treat your partner and opponents the way you'd treat your classmates.
2. Please do not "cut corners" in your prep - I get very sad when I see incomplete DAs, incoherent T arguments, meaningless Adv CP texts, or evidence so un-highlighted it doesn't say anything, etc, deployed for the purpose of winning through out-spreading instead of out-debating. I generally don't think teams should be reading more than 6 off.
3. Do not forget you are in a public speaking activity. I am not evaluating the debate based off your speech doc. You should be clear, and you should flow. Please stop offering or asking for marked docs unless it is absolutely necessary.
4. Please do not abuse tag-team CX in either asking or answering questions.
Sorry if that all came across as grumpy. If you can do all of those things, then I'm happy and I look forward to judging you. I think that policy debate is good and that fairness/clash/etc. are all things which matter. I think debates should not exclude critical perspectives and we should seek to do what best improves the activity overall.
Don't read arguments advocating for death, human extinction, or nuclear war in front of me - I won't vote for them.
Montgomery Bell Academy
University of Michigan - Institute Instructor
Juan Diego Catholic
Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks
Jordan (UT) 96-98
College of Eastern Utah 99
Cal St Fullerton 01-04
Points will generally stay between 27.5 and 29.9. It generally takes between a 28.7 and 28.8 to clear. I assign points with that in mind. Teams that average 28.75 or higher in a debate means that I thought your points were elimination round-level debates. While it's not an exact science, 28.9-29 mean you had a good chance advancing the elimination rounds, 29+ indicates excellence reserved for quarters+. I'm not stingy with these kinds of points and they have nothing to do with past successes. It has everything to do with your performance in THIS debate.
1. Try to treat each other with mutual respect.
2. Cards and tags should have the same clarity
3. Cards MUST be marked during the speech. Please say, "Mark the card," and please have you OR your partner physically mark the cards in the speech. It is not possible to remember where you've marked your cards after the speech. Saying "mark the card" is the only way to let your judge and competitors know that you do not intend to represent that you've read the entirety of the card. Physically marking the card in the speech is necessary to maintain an accurate account of what you did or didn't read.
My 20 years in the community has led me to have formulated some opinions about how the activity should be run. I'm not sharing these with you because I think this is the way you have to debate, but because you may get some insight about how to win and earn better speaker points in front of me.
1) Conceded claims without warrants -
2) Voting issues are reasons to reject the argument. (Other than conditionality)
3) Debate stays in the round -- Debate is a game of testing ideas and their counterparts. Those ideas presented in the debate will be the sole factor used in determining the winning team. Things said or done outside of this debate round will not be considered when determining a winning team.
4) Your argument doesn't improve by calling it a "DA" -- I'm sure your analytical standard to your framework argument on the K is great, but overstating its importance by labeling it a "DA" isn't accurate. It's a reason to prefer your interpretation.
Topicality vs Conventional Affs: I default to competing interpretations on topicality but can be persuaded by reasonability. Topicality is a voting issue.
Topicality vs Critical Affs: I generally think that policy debate is a good thing and that a team should both have a plan and defend it. Given that, I have no problem voting for "no plan" advocacies or "fiat-less" plans. I will be looking for you to win that your impact turns to topicality/framework outweighs the loss of education/fairness that would be given in a "fiated" plan debate. Affirmative teams struggle with answering the argument that they could advocate most of their aff while defending a topical plan. I also think that teams who stress they are a pre-requisite to topical action have a more difficult time with topical version-type arguments than teams who impact turn standards. If you win that the state is irredeemable at every level, you are much more likely to get me to vote against FW. The K aff teams who have had success in front of me have been very good at generating a good list of arguments that opposing teams could run against them to mitigate the fairness impact of the T/FW argument. This makes the impact turns of a stricter limit much more persuasive to me.
I'm also in the fairness camp as a terminal impact, as opposed to an emphasis on portable skills. I think you can win that T comes before substantive issues.
One note to teams that are neg against an aff that lacks stable advocacy: Make sure you adapt your framework arguments to fit the aff. Don't read..." you must have a plan" if they have a plan. If a team has a plan but doesn't defend fiat, base your ground arguments on that violation.
Counterplans and Disads: The more specific to the aff, the better. There are few things better than a well-researched PIC that just blind sites a team. Objectively, I think counterplans that compete on certainty or immediacy are not legitimate. However, I still coach teams to run these arguments, and I can still evaluate a theory debate about these different counterplans as objectively as possible. Again, the more specific the evidence is to the aff, the more legitimate it will appear.
The K: I was a k debater and a philosophy major in college. I prefer criticisms that are specific to the resolution. If your K links don't discuss poverty and redistribution strategies this year, then it's unlikely to be very persuasive to me.
Impact comparisons usually become the most important part of a kritik, and the excessive link list becomes the least of a team’s problems heading into the 2nr. You need to win that either a) you turn the case and have an external impact or b) you solve the case and have an external impact. Root cause arguments are good but rarely address the timeframe issue of case impacts. If you are going to win your magnitude comparisons, then you better do a lot to mitigate the case impacts. I also find most framework arguments associated with a K nearly pointless. Most of them are impacted by the K proper and therefore depend on you winning the K to win the framework argument. Before devoting any more time to framework beyond getting your K evaluated, you should ask yourself and clearly state to me what happens if you win your theory argument. You should craft your "role of the ballot" argument based on the answer to that question. I am willing to listen to sequencing arguments that EXPLAIN why discourse, epistemology, ontology, etc., come first.
Conclusion: I love debate...good luck if I'm judging you, and please feel free to ask any clarifying questions.
In an effort to promote disclosure at the high school level, any team that practices near-universal "open source" will be awarded .2 extra per debater if you bring that to my attention prior to the RFD.
~Inspired~ by Vikas Burugu
Top Level Thoughts
-- The first 20 seconds of the 2NR and 2AR should be the words that you hope I repeat back to you at the beginning of my decision. Holding my hand will be rewarded with higher speaker points, a quicker decision time, and a more favorable RFD.
-- I will rarely instantly decide the debate on a single dropped argument alone and will only consider that dropped argument in the broader scheme of what occurred. I will follow something resembling the following structure to make my decision:
A. List the arguments extended into the 2NR and the 2AR
B. Ask myself what, as per the 2NR and 2AR, winning these arguments will get for either the affirmative or the negative. The answer to this question will sometimes be “absolutely nothing” at which point I will cross these arguments off my flow.
C. Trace whether these points of disagreement were present previously in the debate. This will only include substantive argumentation, but will not include framing devices introduced in the 2NR and the 2AR.
D. Compare the negative and affirmative’s central issues by asking myself if losing a certain argument for a certain team will still allow for that team to win the debate.
-- Tech > truth in most instances. Unless I’m offered an alternative framework to judge debates, I will default to assuming that dropped arguments are true arguments. That being said, technical debating does not warrant an auto-win and the assumption that certain arguments are auto round winners when dropped leads to disastrous decisions. For instance, judges seem to automatically assume that “realism good” is an impact turn to every IR critical argument come 2020. While it would certainly be nice if the negative explained which portions of realism they agree/disagree with (e.g. rational actor model, the model of the nation state, etc.), it is not the burden of the 2NR to answer “realism good” in this hypothetical situation if the 1AC, 2AC, and 1AR choose not to explain why winning realism is good/true implicates the negative’s arguments.
-- Numbering, labeling, and compartmentalization are very important for me. Whenever possible, each argument in the 2AC should be numbered / labeled and those numbers / labels should be referenced for the rest of the debate. The 2NC and the 2NR’s responses to affirmative arguments should always be numbered.
-- Sound like you want to be here.
-- Regardless of your strategy, go for presumption against planless affs. Please.
-- One of four things must be true if a 2NR on framework is extending only “fairness” as the terminal impact —
A) The affirmative has entirely dropped that debate is a game/competition with absolutely no implications beyond this debate.
B) The TVA and/or SSD unquestionably solve the content of the 1AC and 2AC offense against framework.
C) The negative is winning arguments on another page that impact turn the 1AC and/or are offense independent of the framework debate.
D) The affirmative does not have a coherent impact turn to the negative’s model left by the end of the debate.
If one of these four things does not hold true and the only impact in the 2NR to framework is procedural fairness, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to construct a negative ballot because the 2AR’s “Exclusion DA” will inevitably outweigh a procedural violation. Too often, one of the above statements does not hold true and the 2NR loses the impact debate. This is not to discourage you entirely from going for a “fairness only” 2NR when the time is right — in fact, it makes sense if the 1AR has dropped a key component of the debate (see subpoints above).
-- A 2NR that has arguments about research, testing, etc. that internal link turn the affirmative’s offense and explains procedural fairness as an external impact only accessed by the negative will do far better in front of me.
-- Switch side debate is an underutilized and underrated tool in negative arsenals. Affirmative teams are typically substantially more prepared against the topical version of the aff in comparison to switch side debate for some reason.
-- If the 2NC and 2NR simply assert “switch side debate solves” -- they can read it on the negative,” I will most likely consider the 2AR saying “the negative hasn’t explained what part of our argument we can read on the negative or what we would criticize” a sufficient response.
-- Everyone seems to increasingly agree that debaters should either pick the “impact turn” or “middle ground,” only to reveal ideological predispositions that strongly favor one of said routes. While I agree with the general advice that debaters should pick one of the two, I do have specific thoughts regarding the benefits / drawbacks of both strategies.
A) Finding a middle ground
While this approach will be significantly harder to assemble / formulate, it gives affirmative teams the ability to impact turn both the content of debate’s that would occur under the negative’s interpretation AND the reading of framework with significantly less drawbacks than the impact turn approach. It will, however, require affirmative’s to wade through the traditional components of a topicality debate and will be subject to good negative teams closely scrutinizing affirmative counterinterpretations. An important question that not enough negative teams ask is if affirmative interpretations would allow for affs with plan texts.
B) Impact turning topicality
I tend to agree that it is impossible and even unstrategic to have a counterinterpretation for certain affirmatives. This opinion seems to be increasingly rare. However, I do find there are some drawbacks that affirmative teams will have to deal with in exchange for not having to provide a counterinterpretation. I instinctively tend to find certain negative pushes against impact turns to the “form” of framework persuasive, including that the reading of topicality is not intrinsically distinct from alternative forms of disagreement. Furthermore, affirmative teams are typically locked out of impact turns to the content of debates that would occur under the negative’s vision of debate as a product of not having any limit on the topic under the impact turn approach.
-- Counterplans that are not both textually and functionally competitive are most likely theoretically illegitimate.
-- Presumption flips affirmative if the counterplan is a larger change from the status quo than the 1AC.
-- Tend to think textual competition is a nonsensical standard for counterplan competition.
-- “Turns the case” is probably more important to me than some. That being said, affirmative teams should point out that a risk of “turns the case” does not auto warrant a negative ballot because there are, most than likely, substantive portions of the DA that are being contested and similarly mitigate the turns case argument(s).
-- Uniqueness controls the direction of the link / the link controls the direction of uniqueness has never made sense to me. At best, both arguments seem to be a tautological way of proving that different parts of a disadvantage don’t exist in a vacuum. Feel free to convince me otherwise though?
Kritiks v Plan
-- It seems that framework means a lot more to me than it does to some judges. A vast majority of judges seem to arbitrarily intervene and decide to take a middle stance on the framework debate and generate their own justifications for why this “middle stance” is preferable. I will avoid doing this at all costs and only decide between the interpretations present in the 2NR and the 2AR.
-- I tend to think most negative answers to fairness/predictability as a justification for weighing the aff are woefully insufficient, but that affirmative development of this justification is equally as egregious. Affirmative’s should borrow more from their negative framework arsenal against planless affirmatives and explain why a model of debate where the affirmative gets to weigh the plan is most reflective of the resolution and why debate over that predictable stasis point is important and internal link turns the negative’s justifications for not letting the aff weigh the plan.
Kritiks v No Plan
-- The capitalism kritik is a good and real strategy against most planless affs that I genuinely believe could sustain a year’s worth of debates against kritikal affs with a relatively high success rate.
Bad Cap K: focus on identity bad, cap is the root cause of everything, etc.
Good Cap K: materiality good, engaging the political good, organizing good, etc.
-- Examples will be rewarded.
-- Go for presumption. For the love of god.
-- Not sure how I feel about “no perms in a method debate.” A majority of debates between kritiks and planless affs are undeniably won or lost on the permutation and I do tend to agree with the sentiment that permutations in k v k debates tend to get a bit out of control. I’m not sure if entirely abandoning any standard for competition in k v k debates would be desirable (as implied by “no perms in a method debate”) -- letting the negative get away with not having link arguments to the aff seems is a little ridiculous.
-- “Reasonability” does not refer to whether the plan text reasonably ‘meets’ the negative’s interpretation, but whether the affirmative’s interpretation is sufficiently reasonable in comparison to the negative’s interpretation.
-- Clearly parsing out what debates under each interpretation marks the difference between shallow and rigorous topicality debates.
-- If you feel unsatisfied with my RFD, I encourage you to post-round me. I will not take any offense or make a determination on your personality on the basis of your reaction to my decision. I was always quick to disagree with judges as a debater and have always considered disagreement the highest forms of respect.
-- While this is arguably contingent on the framework debate, I seem to be one of the few who believes that in “kritik v plan” debates, negative’s should be able to garner link arguments from unhighlighted portions of aff evidence. However, this rarely, if ever, seems to come up / become a site of disagreement.
-- In the scenario that the 2AR goes for condo and the 2NR is going for a K, if the 2AR goes for ‘education’ standards and concedes a strong framework push (from the 2NR) regarding the rhetorical form of debate (fiat, plan debate, etc.) or the speech act of the 1AC, then I will find it very difficult to throw out the 2NR’s framework debate absent some sort of comparison from the 2AR.
-- I have come to the conclusion that facial expressions from judges are better avoided and will do my best to steer myself away from being overly expressive. Thus, I would encourage you to avoid reading into my reactions and facial expressions.
-- In a majority of debates, with the exception of the 2AR extending conditionality, my mind seems to see theory as a “last resort” and unconsciously evaluate “substantive” portions of the debate before assessing any theory argument.
-- Arguments about acts committed by certain debaters outside the realm of a given debate round are unpersuasive. I don’t want to spend an hour and a half determining whether an individual I just met is a good person or not. I would gladly listen to and be open to having a discussion about grievances against a team after the debate.
-- Dropped arguments are rarely as detrimental as most would believe for 2 reasons:
A) “Risk” rarely exists as an on / off switch, but rather a sliding scale. It is up for debate, however, how the “risk” of a certain argument should be calculated.
B) Many debates have so many moving parts that effective cross applications and re-packaging can make up for the 1AR dropping 2NC #4 answering 2AC #11 on the DA.
These are most of the predispositions I have about arguments that I can think of, these are not ironclad as my views on debate are constantly in flux. However, without being instructed otherwise, the below points will likely influence how I evaluate the debate.
-Please add me to the email chain, firstname.lastname@example.org and please make the subject something that is easy to search like "NDT 4 - Michigan DM v UCO HS."
-I prefer to flow on paper, but if you would like me to flow on my computer so I can share the flow after the debate, just ask.
-I read along with speech docs and prefer clear, relatively slow, and organized debates. I am still trying to hone flowing in online debate.
-I cannot emphasize enough how important card quality and recency should be in debates, but it requires debaters to frame arguments about that importance.
-If you break a new aff and you don't want to share the docs, I will chalk it up to academic cowardice and presume that the aff is largely a pile of crap.
-Evidence can be inserted if the lines were read in CX, but otherwise this act is insufficient. I will only look at graphs and charts if they are analyzed in the debate.
-I generally think war good arguments are akin to genocide good. I also think dedev is absolute nonsense.
-The past year of my life has been filled with the death of loved ones, please don't remind me of it while I'm judging a debate. I categorically refuse to evaluate any argument that could have the thesis statement of death good or that life is not worth living.
-Affs should be willing to answer cross-x questions about what they'll defend.
2021-2022 Topic Thoughts:
-I am more involved in argument coaching than I have been in the past view years, but I am not an anti-trust lawyer so a lot of the terms and concepts that debaters distort are lost on me. I sense that I will give a series of RFDs this year that are premised around, "you might be upset with this decision, but this concept was not adequately explained to me."
-I hope the affirmative holds the negative accountable for the expansive interpretation of fiat. For the most part, I do not understand how the states CP legally functions. CPs that are premised on a distinction without a difference do not excite me.
-T arguments about terms that are not in the topic are interesting, but why?
How to sway me:
-More narrativization is better than less
-Ev quality - I think higher quality and recent ev is a necessity. Make arguments about the qualifications of authors, how to evaluate evidence, and describe what events have happened to complicate the reading of their evidence from 2012.
-The 2nr/2ar should spend the first 15-20 seconds explaining how I should vote with judge instruction. If you laid a trap, now is the time to tell me, because I’m probably not going to vote on something that wasn’t flagged as an argument.
-I can flow with the best of them, but I enjoy slower debates so much more.
-More case debate. The 2ac is often too dismissive of case args and the neg often under-utilizes them.
-If reading cards after the debate is required for me to have comprehension of your argument, I’m probably not your judge. I tend to vote on warranted arguments that I have flowed and read cards to evaluate particular warrants that have been called into question. That said, I intend on reading along with speech docs this year.
-I think internal links are the most important parts of an argument; I am more likely to vote for “Asian instability means international coop on warming is impossible” than “nuclear war kills billions” OR “our patriarchy better explains x,y,z” instead of “capitalism causes war.”
-I like when particular arguments are labeled eg) “the youth-voter link” or “the epistemology DA.”
-If you're breaking a new aff/cp, it's probably in your best interest to slow down when making highly nuanced args.
Things I don’t like:
-Generally I think word PICs are bad. Some language obviously needs to be challenged, but if your 1nc strategy involves cntl-f [insert ableist term], I am not the judge for you.
-Overusing offensive language, yelling, being loud during the other team’s speech/prep, and getting into my personal space or the personal space of others will result in fewer speaker points.
-If you think a permutation requires the affirmative to do something they haven’t, you and I have different interpretations of competition theory.
-Old evidence/ blocks that have been circulating in camp files for a decade.
-This topic is poorly written and lets the aff get away with murder. Given that, I want to see debates that have coherent stories for violations and interpretations. I voted neg frequently on the NHI topic on limits, which charts many of my views on this topic.
-I am probably a better judge for the K than most would suspect. While the sample size is small, I think I vote for critical args around 50% of the time they're the center of the debate.
-A debate has to occur and happen within the speech order/times of the invite; the arguments are made are up to the debaters and I generally enjoy a broad range of arguments, particularly on a topic as dull as this one.
-Too often I think critical affs describe a problem, but don’t explain what voting aff means in the context of that impact.
-Is there a role of the ballot?
-Often I find the “topical version” of the aff argument to be semi-persuasive by the negative, so explain to me the unique benefit of your aff in the form that it is and why switching-sides does not solve that.
-Framework: Explain the topical version of the aff; use your framework impacts to turn/answer the impacts of the 1ac; if you win framework you win the debate because…
-Links should be contextualized to the aff; saying the aff is capitalist because they use the state is not enough. I'm beginning to think that K's, when read against policy affs, should link to the plan and not just the advantages, I'm not as sold on this as I am my belief on floating pic/ks (95 percent of the time I think floating PIC/Ks aren't arguments worthy of being made, let alone voted on)
-Alternative- what is the framework for evaluating the debate? What does voting for the alternative signify? What should I think of the aff’s truth statements?
-I’m not a fan of high theory Ks, but statistically vote for them a decent percentage of the time.
-When reading the K against K affs, the link should problematize the aff's methodology.
Answering the K:
-Make smart permutation arguments that have explained the net benefits and deal with the negatives disads to the perm.
-You should have a framework for the debate and find ways to dismiss the negative’s alternative.
-Overviews that explain the story of the disad are helpful.
-Focus on internal links.
-Your CP should have a solvency advocate that is as descriptive of your mechanism as the affirmative’s solvency advocate is.
-Consult and conditions counterplans are probably illegitimate on most topics, on this one [shrug emoticon].
-Conditionality is cheating a lot like the Roth test: at some point it’s cheating, otherwise neg flex is good.
-Affs should explain why the negative should lose because of theory, otherwise I’ll just reject the arg.
-I'll likely be unsympathetic to args related to ADA rules, sans things that should actually be rules like clipping.
-I’m generally okay with kicking the CP/Alt for the neg if I’m told to.
LRC 2022 2N/1A (best position)
ye, email chain: email@example.com
I'm a tech K debater
I assume I will be in a lot of KvK rounds but to make this clear I am not biased for the K team in K-Aff v Policy or Policy v K debates. I will vote for the team that has won the round through the core issues collapsed down to by both teams and at worst my knowledge of the lit might make the explanation threshold lower but not the threshold for instruction.
Top Level (Descending order)
Judge Intervention/Help is the most frustrating thing as a debater so pls pls pls do good judge instruction so I don't have to do work that wasn't done by the 2NR/2AR
Tech >>>> Truth -> saying that a team "dropped X" does not prove the validity or truth of X if a warrant is not extended or explained so give me one or two lines of warrant and an additional two for what that means for the debate.
I feel slimy evaluating your embedded clash. Let me explain: I love K-Tricks and Overviews with offense but there needs to be some clarity to these arguments in the 2NR. If applied properly in the 2NR after being embedded in the 2NC on the line-by-line or at the top then I will gladly evaluate it but if still ambiguous I can't guarantee its importance in my decision.
*will judge death good and impact turn debates*
evidence quality has a high standard in my mind but I am only evaluating arguments extrapolated by the debaters from their cards and not the other way around.
re-highlightings have to be read to be evaluated and don't 'insert graph' me.
Speech, Prep, and Cross-X Time are non-negotiable. Who is speaking during that time is.
Clarity, Eye contact, and emphasis do wonders for speaks.
ins and outs are cool
Mark your own cards and time your own speeches and prep
All of my preferences aren't strict lines to adapt to -- pls debate how you always do. I try to limit my predispositions as each round is premised upon what the debaters want not me but in the end, tabula rasa just doesn't exist -- I am here to evaluate everything including Policy v Policy while I might not be better than the hacks and my partner Joe. Debate is a pedagogical space that can be a multiplicity of things based on the round and I am here to be stimulated by outlandish and interesting rounds that deviate from what is considered normal so do your best at catching my attention!
1 or 2 for you -- read a K-Aff all my career
Direction of the topic or impact-turn it idrc but a counter-interp on FW > no interp
Key to getting my ballot v FW is to have one well-explained piece of offense whether DA or impact turn that is resolved by the counter-interp that either a. outweighs the neg's offense or b. has defense against their offense while also having a robust answer to their defense like SSD & TVA
Aff solvency filters the weight of your offense on FW -- if the neg does good case analysis that limits aff solvency then the 2AR will have an uphill battle by nature on both the case and the FW flow (I look at case before FW)
Key to my ballot v Ks is to win either a. your theory of power and outweighs b. link-turn w alt solvency deck c. perm
ROB & ROJ are useful framing mechanisms for debates (having an understanding of what the ballot does for the aff is preferable) -- don't get me wrong they are self-serving and arbitrary but their concession/technical loss can be damning for the negatives overall strategy
Pls don't fiat the K-Aff (methodologically different from imagining decol and Afro-Futurism)
Don't try to solve an overarching structure but be realistic about the aff does
FW/T-USFG v K-Aff
2 or 3 here -- If you covered the 2AC & 1AR line-by-line accurately I'll give u +0.3
Procedural impacts like fairness and clash are much more convincing than skills and education -- whether or not fairness is impact is determined by the debate. "Intrinsic Good" is two words that aren't a substitute for warranted analysis on why fairness is good in debate.
Key to my ballot v C/I K-Affs is to go for at most two impacts with strong internal link that proves the pedagogical value and potential of debate is maximized under your model. Ideally having defense to the aff's model whether that's the TVA or SSD makes it significantly easier to pull the trigger for the negative in close rounds but you can also go the outweighs route. Any DA (small schools, dogmatism etc.) won on FW serves as a solvency deficit for the affirmative model that bolsters your interp -- severely underutilized in FW debates.
Key to my ballot v Impact Turn K-Affs is to go for at most two impacts with strong internal link that proves the pedagogical value and potential of debate is maximized under your model compared to blanket offense that can't be resolved at all. Winning the TVA or SSD is devastating in these debates as it nulls all the aff's offense.
Additionally, you should tell me what of the AFF's offenses you solve and why the risk of your impact outweighs the small part you might not solve.
Cap K v K-Aff
1 here -- love method v method and materiality
Framing is key in this debate whether impact, materiality, or root cause so both sides need to be both forwarding your own arg and negating the other teams
Can the alt solve the aff? Yes
Does it always? No
Link Specificity filters applicability of Aff Link-Turn so at least try to add link nuance to your generic links
Off v K-Aff
Love unique and specific responses to K-affs - by far my favorite form of debate to watch and judge
Establish the difference between the aff and the off case
More specific the link or solvency mechanism the more likely I am to vote neg
Aff needs to have one really strong reason or several less important args to have a substantive chance here
DAs & CPs
I have judged a lot of debates. I view myself as a reasonable judge. I have judged every type of debate and find myself capable in any instance. Preference towards policy aff v whatever on the neg, but have voted many times for planless aff v fw or a K.
Assistant Director of Speech and Debate at Presentation High School and Public Admin phd student. I debated policy, traditional ld and pfd in high school (4 years) and in college at KU (5 years). Since 2015 I've been assistant coaching debate at KU. Before and during that time I've also been coaching high school (policy primarily) at local and nationally competitive programs.
Familiar with wide variety of critical literature and philosophy and public policy and political theory. Coached a swath of debaters centering critical argumentation and policy research. Judge a reasonable amount of debates in college/hs and usually worked at some camp/begun research on both topics in the summer. That said please don't assume I know your specific thing. Explain acronyms, nuance and important distinctions for your AFF and NEG arguments.
The flow matters. Tech and Truth matter. I obvi will read cards but your spin is way more important.
I think that affs should be topical. What "TOPICAL" means is determined by the debate. I think it's important for people to innovate and find new and creative ways to interpret the topic. I think that the topic is an important stasis that aff's should engage. I default to competing interpretations - meaning that you are better off reading some kind of counter interpretation (of terms, debate, whatever) than not.
I think Aff's should advocate doing something - like a plan or advocacy text is nice but not necessary - but I am of the mind that affirmative's should depart from the status quo.
Framework is fine. Please impact out your links though and please don't leave me to wade through the offense both teams are winning in that world.
I will vote on theory. I think severance is prolly bad. I typically think conditionality is good for the negative. K's are not cheating (hope noone says that anymore). PICS are good but also maybe not all kinds of PICS so that could be a thing.
I think competition is good. Plan plus debate sucks. I default that comparing two things of which is better depends on an opportunity cost. I am open to teams forwarding an alternative model of competition.
Disads are dope. Link spin can often be more important than the link cards. But
you need a link. I feel like that's agreed upon but you know I'm gone say it anyway.
Just a Kansas girl who loves a good case debate. but seriously, offensive and defensive case args can go a long way with me and generally boosters other parts of the off case strategy.
When extending the K please apply the links to the aff. State links are basic but for some reason really poorly answered a lot of the time so I mean I get it. Links to the mechanism and advantages are spicier. I think that if you're reading a K with an alternative that it should be clear what that alternative does or does not do, solves or turns by the end of the block. I'm sympathetic to predictable 1ar cross applications in a world of a poorly explained alternatives. External offense is nice, please have some.
I acknowledge debate is a public event. I also acknowledge the concerns and material implications of some folks in some spaces as well. I will not be enforcing any recording standards or policing teams to debate "x" way. I want debaters at in all divisions, of all argument proclivities to debate to their best ability, forward their best strategy and answers and do what you do.
Card clipping and cheating is not okay so please don't do it.
NEW YEAR NEW POINT SYSTEM (college) - 28.6-28.9 good, 28.9-29.4 really good, 29.4+ bestest.
This trend of paraphrasing cards in PFD as if you read the whole card = not okay and educationally suspect imo.
Middle/High Schoolers: You smart. You loyal. I appreciate you. And I appreciate you being reasonable to one another in the debate.
I wanna be on the chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email: email@example.com --- of course I want to be on the chain
Program Manager and Debate Coach, University of Michigan
Debate Coach, Whitney Young High School (2010-20), Caddo Magnet (2020-21), Walter Payton (2018, 2021-)
Last updated: September, 2022 (topic specific thoughts on emerging tech/legal personhood are in topicality)
Philosophy: I attempt to judge rounds with the minimum amount of intervention required to answer the question, "Who has done the better debating?", using whatever rubrics for evaluating that question that debaters set up.
I work in debate full-time, so I attend a billion tournaments and judge a ton of debates, lead a seven week lab every summer, talk about debate virtually every day, and research fairly extensively. As a result, I'm familiar with the policy and critical literature bases on both the college antitrust topic and the HS water topic.
I’ve coached my teams to deploy a diverse array of argument types and styles. Currently, I coach teams that primarily read policy arguments. But I was also the primary argument coach for Michigan KM from 2014-16. I’ve coached many successful teams in both high school and college that primarily read arguments influenced by "high theory", postmodernist thought, and/or critical race literature. I'm always excited to see debaters deploy new or innovative strategies across the argumentative spectrum.
Impact turns have a special place in my heart. There are few venues in academia or life where you will be as encouraged to challenge conventional wisdom as you are in policy debate, so please take this rare opportunity to persuasively defend the most counter-intuitive positions conceivable. I enjoy judging debaters with a sense of humor, and I hope to reward teams who make their debates fun and exciting (through engaging personalities and argument selection).
My philosophy is very long. I make no apology for it. In fact, I wish most philosophies were longer and more substantive, and I still believe mine to be insufficiently comprehensive. Frequently, judges espouse a series of predictable platitudes, but I have no idea why they believe whatever it is they've said (which can frequently leave me confused, frustrated, and little closer to understanding how debaters could better persuade them). I attempt to counter this practice with detailed disclosure of the various predispositions, biases, and judgment canons that may be outcome-determinative for how I decide your debate. Maybe you don't want to know all of those, but nobody's making you read this paradigm. Having the option to know as many of those as possible for any given judge seems preferable to having only the options of surprise and speculation.
What follows is a series of thoughts that mediate my process for making decisions, both in general and in specific contexts likely to emerge in debates. I've tried to be as honest as possible, and I frequently update my philosophy to reflect perceived trends in my judging. That being said, self-disclosure is inevitably incomplete or misleading; if you're curious about whether or not I'd be good for you, feel free to look at my voting record or email me a specific question (reach me via email, although you may want to try in person because I'm not the greatest with quick responses).
0) Online debate
Online debate is a depressing travesty, although it's plainly much better than the alternative of no debate at all. I miss tournaments intensely and can't wait until this era is over and we can attend tournaments in-person once again. Do your best not to remind us constantly of what we're missing: please keep your camera on throughout the whole debate unless you have a pressing and genuine technical reason not to. I don't have meaningful preferences beyond that. Feel free to record me---IMO all debates should be public and free to record by all parties, especially in college.
1) Tech v. Truth
I attempt to be an extremely "technical" judge, although I am not sure that everyone means what everyone else means when they describe debating or judging as "technical." Here's what I mean by that: outside of card text, I attempt to flow every argument that every speaker expresses in a speech. Even in extremely quick debates, I generally achieve this goal or come close to it. In some cases, like when very fast debaters debate at max speed in a final rebuttal, it may be virtually impossible for me to to organize all of the words said by the rebuttalist into the argumentative structure they were intending. But overall I feel very confident in my flow: I will take Casey Harrigan up on his flowing gauntlet/challenge any day (he might be able to take me if we were both restricted to paper, but on our computers, it's a wrap).
In addition, being "technical" means that I line up arguments on my flow, and expect debaters to, in general, organize their speeches by answering the other team's arguments in the order they were presented. All other things being equal, I will prioritize an argument presented such that it maximizes clear and direct engagement with its counter-argument over an argument that floats in space unmoored to an adversarial argument structure.
I do have one caveat that pertains to what I'll term "standalone" voting issues. I'm not likely to decide an entire debate based on standalone issues explained or extended in five seconds or less. For example, If you have a standard on conditionality that asserts "also, men with curly unkempt hair are underrepresented in debate, vote neg to incentivize our participation," and the 1ar drops it, you're not going to win the debate on that argument (although you will win my sympathies, fellow comb dissident). I'm willing to vote on basically anything that's well-developed, but if your strategy relies on tricking the other team into dropping random nonsense unrelated to the rest of the debate entirely, I'm not really about that. This caveat only pertains to standalone arguments that are dropped once: if you've dropped a standalone voting issue presented as such in two speeches, you've lost all my sympathies to your claim to a ballot.
In most debates, so many arguments are made that obvious cross-applications ensure precious few allegedly "dropped" arguments really are accurately described as such. Dropped arguments most frequently win debates in the form of little subpoints making granular distinctions on important arguments that both final rebuttals exert time and energy trying to win. Further murkiness emerges when one realizes that all thresholds for what constitutes a "warrant" (and subsequently an "argument") are somewhat arbitrary and interventionist. Hence the mantra: Dropped arguments are true, but they're only as true as the dropped argument. "Argument" means claim, warrant, and implication. "Severance is a voting issue" lacks a warrant. "Severance is a voting issue - neg ground" also arguably lacks a warrant, since it hasn't been explained how or why severance destroys negative ground or why neg ground is worth caring about.
That might sound interventionist, but consider: we would clearly assess the statement "Severance is a voting issue -- purple sideways" as a claim lacking a warrant. So why does "severence is a voting issue - neg ground" constitute a warranted claim? Some people would say that the former is valid but not sound while the latter is neither valid nor sound, but both fail a formal test of validity. In my assessment, any distinction is somewhat interventionist. In the interest of minimizing intervention, here is what that means for your debating: If the 1ar drops a blippy theory argument and the 2nr explains it further, the 2nr is likely making new arguments... which then justifies 2ar answers to those arguments. In general, justify why you get to say what you're saying, and you'll probably be in good shape. By the 2nr or 2ar, I would much rather that you acknowledge previously dropped arguments and suggest reasonable workaround solutions than continue to pretend they don't exist or lie about previous answers.
Arguments aren't presumptively offensive or too stupid to require an answer. Genocide good, OSPEC, rocks are people, etc. are all terribly stupid, but if you can't explain why they're wrong, you don't deserve to win. If an argument is really stupid or really bad, don't complain about how wrong they are. After all, if the argument's as bad as you say it is, it should be easy. And if you can't deconstruct a stupid argument, either 1) the argument may not be as stupid as you say it is, or 2) it may be worthwhile for you to develop a more efficient and effective way of responding to that argument.
If both sides seem to assume that an impact is desirable/undesirable, and frame their rebuttals exclusively toward avoiding/causing that impact, I will work under that assumption. If a team read a 1AC saying that they had several ways their plan caused extinction, and the 1NC responded with solvency defense and alternative ways the plan prevented extincton, I would vote neg if I thought the plan was more likely to avoid extinction than cause it.
I'll read and evaluate Team A's rehighlightings of evidence "inserted" into the debate if Team B doesn't object to it, but when debated evenly this practice seems indefensible. An important part of debate is choosing how to use your valuable speech time, which entails selecting which pieces of your opponent's ev most clearly bolster your position(s).
2) General Philosophical Disposition
It is somewhat easy to persuade me that life is good, suffering is bad, and we should care about the consequences of our political strategies and advocacies. I would prefer that arguments to the contrary be grounded in specific articulations of alternative models of decision-making, not generalities, rhetoric, or metaphor. It's hard to convince me that extinction = nbd, and arguments like "the hypothetical consequences of your advocacy matter, and they would likely produce more suffering than our advocacy" are far more persuasive than "take a leap of faith" or "roll the dice" or "burn it down", because I can at least know what I'd be aligning myself with and why.
Important clarification: pragmatism is not synonymous with policymaking. On the contrary, one may argue that there is a more pragmatic way to frame judge decision-making in debates than traditional policymaking paradigms. Perhaps assessing debates about the outcome of hypothetical policies is useless, or worse, dangerous. Regardless of how you debate or what you debate about, you should be willing and able to mount a strong defense of why you're doing those things (which perhaps requires some thought about the overall purpose of this activity).
The brilliance and joy of policy debate is most found in its intellectual freedom. What makes it so unlike other venues in academia is that, in theory, debaters are free to argue for unpopular, overlooked, or scorned positions and ill-considered points of view. Conversely, they will be required to defend EVERY component of your argument, even ones that would be taken for granted in most other settings. Just so there's no confusion here: all arguments are on the table for me. Any line drawn on argumentative content is obviously arbitrary and is likely unpredictable, especially for judges whose philosophies aren't as long as mine! But more importantly, drawing that line does profound disservice to debaters by instructing them not to bother thinking about how to defend a position. If you can't defend the desirability of avoiding your advantage's extinction impact against a wipeout or "death good" position, why are you trying to persuade me to vote for a policy to save the human race? Groupthink and collective prejudices against creative ideas or disruptive thoughts are an ubiquitous feature of human societies, but that makes it all the more important to encourage free speech and free thought in one of the few institutions where overcoming those biases is possible.
3) Topicality and Specification
Overall, I'm a decent judge for the neg, provided that they have solid evidence supporting their interpretation.
Limits are probably desirable in the abstract, but if your interpretation is composed of contrived stupidity, it will be hard to convince me that affs should have predicted it. Conversely, affs that are debating solid topicality evidence without well-researched evidence of their own are gonna have a bad time. Naturally, of these issues are up for debate, but I think it's relatively easy to win that research/literature guides preparation, and the chips frequently fall into place for the team accessing that argument.
Competing interpretations is potentially less subjective and arbitrary than a reasonability standard, although reasonability isn't as meaningless as many believe. Reasonability seems to be modeled after the "reasonable doubt" burden required to prove guilt in a criminal case (as opposed to the "preponderence of evidence" standard used in civil cases, which seems similar to competing interps as a model). Reasonability basically is the same as saying "to win the debate, the neg needs to win an 80% risk of their DA instead of a 50% risk." The percentages are arbitrary, but what makes determining that a disad's risk is higher or lower than the risk of an aff advantage (i.e. the model used to decide the majority of debates) any less arbitrary or subjective? It's all ballpark estimation determined by how persuaded judges were by competing presentations of analysis and evidence. With reasonability-style arguments, aff teams can certainly win that they don't need to meet the best of all possible interpretations of the topic, and instead that they should win if their plan meets an interpretation capable of providing a sufficient baseline of neg ground/research parity/quality debate. Describing what threshold of desirability their interpretation should meet, and then describing why that threshold is a better model for deciding topicality debates, is typically necessary to make this argument persuasive.
Answering "plan text in a vacuum" requires presenting an alternative standard by which to interpret the meaning and scope of the words in the plan. Such seems so self-evident that it seems banal to include it in a paradigm, but I have seen many debates this year in which teams did not grasp this fact. If the neg doesn't establish some method for determining what the plan means, voting against "the plan text in a vacuum defines the words in the plan" is indistinguishable from voting for "the eighty-third unhighlighted word in the fifth 1ac preempt defines the words in the plan." I do think setting some limiting standard is potentially quite defensible, especially in debates where large swaths of the 1ac would be completely irrelevent if the aff's plan were to meet the neg's interp. For example: if an aff with a court advantage and a USFG agent says their plan meets "enact = Congress only", the neg could say "interpret the words USFG in the plan to include the Courts when context dictates it---even if 'USFG' doesn't always mean "Courts," you should assume it does for debates in which one or more contentions/advantages are both impertinent and insoluable absent a plan that advocates judicial action." But you will likely need to be both explicit and reasonable about the standard you use if you are to successfully counter charges of infinite regress/arbitrariness.
Topicality on NATO emerging tech: Security cooperation almost certainly involves the DOD. Even if new forms of security cooperation could theoretically exclude the DOD, there's not a lot of definitional support and minimal normative justification for that interpretation. Most of the important definition debates resolve substantive issues about what DA and impact turn links are granted and what counterplans are competitive rather than creating useful T definitions. Creative use of 'substantially = in the main' or 'increase = pre-existing' could elevate completely unworkable definitions into ones that are viable at the fringes.
Topicality on Legal Personhood: Conferring rights and/or duties doesn't presumptively confer legal personhood. Don't get me wrong: with evidence and normative definition debating, it very well may, but it doesn't seem like something to be taken for granted. There is a case for "US = federal only" but it's very weak. Overall this is a very weak topic for T args.
4) Risk Assessment
In front of me, teams would be well-served to explain their impact scenarios less in terms of brinks, and more in terms of probabilistic truth claims. When pressed with robust case defense, "Our aff is the only potential solution to a US-China war that's coming in a few months, which is the only scenario for a nuclear war that causes extinction" is far less winnable than "our aff meaningfully improves the East Asian security environment through building trust between the two great military powers in the region, which statistically decreases the propensity for inevitable miscalculations or standoffs to escalate to armed conflict." It may not be as fun, but that framing can allow you to generate persuasive solvency deficits that aren't grounded in empty rhetoric and cliche, or to persuasively defeat typical alt cause arguments, etc. Given that you decrease the initial "risk" (i.e. probability times magnitude) of your impact with this framing, this approach obviously requires winning substantial defense against whatever DA the neg goes for, but when most DA's have outlandishly silly brink arguments themselves, this shouldn't be too taxing.
There are times where investing lots of time in impact calculus is worthwhile (for example, if winning your impact means that none of the aff's impact claims reach extinction, or that any of the actors in the aff's miscalc/brinkmanship scenarios will be deterred from escalating a crisis to nuclear use). Most of the time, however, teams waste precious minutes of their final rebuttal on mediocre impact calculus. The cult of "turns case" has much to do with this. It's worth remembering that accessing an extinction impact is far more important than whether or not your extinction impact happens three months faster than theirs (particularly when both sides' warrant for their timeframe claim is baseless conjecture and ad hoc assertion), and that, in most cases, you need to win the substance of your DA/advantage to win that it turns the case.
Incidentally, phrasing arguments more moderately and conditionally is helpful for every argument genre: "all predictions fail" is not persuasive; "some specific type of prediction relying on their model of IR forecasting has little to no practical utility" can be. The only person who's VTL is killed when I hear someone say "there is no value to life in the world of the plan" is mine.
At least for me, try-or-die is often bizarrely intuitive based on argument selection (i.e. if the neg spots the aff that "extinction is inevitable if the judge votes neg, even if it's questionable whether or not the aff solves it", rationalizing an aff ballot becomes rather alluring and shockingly persuasive). You should combat this innate intuition by ensuring that you either have impact defense of some sort (anything from DA solves the case to a counterplan/alt solves the case argument to status quo checks resolve the terminal impact to actual impact defense can work) or by investing time in arguing against try-or-die decision-making.
Counterplan theory is a lost art. Affirmatives let negative teams get away with murder. And it's getting worse and worse every year. Investing time in theory is daunting... it requires answering lots of blippy arguments with substance and depth and speaking clearly, and probably more slowly than you're used to. But, if you invest time, effort, and thought in a well-grounded theoretical objection, I'll be a receptive critic.
The best theory interpretations are clear, elegant, and minimally arbitrary. Here are some examples of args that I would not anticipate many contemporary 2N's defeating:
--counterplans should be policies. Perhaps executive orders, perhaps guidence memos, perhaps lower court decisions, perhaps Congressional resolutions. But this would exclude such travesties as "The Executive Branch should always take international law into account when making their decisions. Such is closer to a counterplan that says "The Executive Branch should make good decisions forever" than it is to a useful policy recommendation.
--counterplans should not be able to fiat both the federal government and additional actors outside of the federal government. It's utopian enough to fiat that Courts, the President, and Congress all act in concert in perpetuity on a given subject. It's absurd to fiat additional actors as well.
There are other theoretical objections that I might take more seriously than other judges, although I recognize them as arguments on which reasonable minds may disagree. For example, I am somewhat partial to the argument that solvency advocates for counterplans should have a level of specificity that matches the aff. I feel like that standard would reward aff specificity and incentivize debates that reflect the literature base, while punishing affs that are contrived nonsense by making them debate contrived process nonsense. This certainly seems debateable, and in truth if I had to pick a side, I'd probably go neg, but it seems like a relatively even debate (and it's at minimum a better argument than many of the contrived and desperate solvency deficits that flailing affs teams extend against counterplans).
Competition debates are a particularly lost art. I'm not a great judge for counterplans that compete off of certainty or immediacy based on "should"/"resolved" definitions. I'm somewhat easily persuaded that these interpretations lower the bar for how difficult it is to win a negative ballot to an undesirable degree. That being said, affs lose these debates all the time by failing to counter-define words or dropping stupid tricks, so make sure you invest the time you need in these debates to win them.
"CPs should be textually and functionally competitive" seems to me like a logical and defensible standard. Some don't realize that if CPs must be both functionally and textually competitive, permutations may be either. I like the "textual/functional" model of competition BECAUSE it incentives creative counterplan and permutation construction, and because it requires careful text-writing.
Offense-defense is intuitive to me, and so teams should always be advised to have offense even if their defense is very strong. If the aff says that the counterplan links to the net benefit but doesn't advance a solvency deficit or disadvantage to the CP, and the neg argues that the counterplan at least links less, I am not very likely to vote affirmative absent strong affirmative framing on this question (often the judge is left to their own devices on this question, or only given instruction in the 2AR, which is admittedly better than never but still often too late). At the end of the day I must reconcile these opposing claims, and if it's closely contested and at least somewhat logical, it's very difficult to win 100% of an argument. Even if I think the aff is generally correct, in a world where I have literally any iota of doubt surrounding the aff position or am even remotely persuaded by the the negative's position, why would I remotely risk triggering the net benefit for the aff instead of just opting for the guaranteed safe choice of the counterplan?
Offense, in this context, can come in multiple flavors: you can argue that the affirmative or perm is less likely to link to the net benefit than the counterplan, for example. You can also argue that the risk of a net benefit below a certain threshold is indistinguishable from statistical noise, and that the judge should reject to affirm a difference between the two options because it would encourage undesirable research practices and general decision-making. Perhaps you can advance an analytic solvency deficit somewhat supported by one logical conjecture, and if you are generally winning the argument, have the risk of the impact to that outweigh the unique risk of aff triggering the DA relative to the counterplan. But absent any offensive argument of any sort, the aff is facing an uphill battle. I have voted on "CP links to politics before" but generally that only happens if there is a severe flaw in negative execution (i.e. the neg drops it), a significant skill discrepancy between teams, or a truly ill-conceived counterplan.
I'm a somewhat easy sell on conditionality good (at least 1 CP / 1 K is defensible), but I've probably voted aff slightly more frequently than not in conditionality debates. That's partly because of selection bias (affs go for it when they're winning it), but mainly because neg teams have gotten very sloppy in their defenses of conditionality, particularly in the 2NR. That being said, I've been growing more and more amenable to "conditionality bad" arguments over time.
However, large advantage counterplans with multiple planks, all of which can be kicked, are fairly difficult to defend. Negative teams can fiat as many policies as it takes to solve whatever problems the aff has sought to tackle. It is unreasonable to the point of stupidity to expect the aff to contrive solvency deficits: the plan would literally have to be the only idea in the history of thought capable of solving a given problem. Every additional proposal introduced in the 1nc (in order to increase the chance of solving) can only be discouraged through the potential cost of a disad being read against it. In the old days, this is why counterplan files were hundreds of pages long and had answers to a wide variety of disads. But if you can kick the plank, what incentive does the aff have to even bother researching if the CP is a good idea? If they read a 2AC add-on, the neg gets as many no-risk 2NC counterplans to add to the fray as well (of course, they can also add unrelated 2nc counterplans for fun and profit). If you think you can defend the merit of that strategy vs. a "1 condo cp / 1 condo k" interp, your creative acumen may be too advanced for interscholastic debate; consider more challenging puzzles in emerging fields, as they urgently need your input.
I don't think I'm "biased" against infinite conditionality; if you think you have the answers and technical acuity to defend infinite conditionality against the above argumentation, I'd happily vote for you.
I don't default to the status quo unless you explicitly flag it at some point during the debate (the cross-x or the 2nc is sufficient if the aff never contests it). I don't know why affs ask this question every cross-x and then never make a theory argument about it. It only hurts you, because it lets the neg get away with something they otherwise wouldn't have.
All that said, I don't have terribly strong convictions about any of these issues, and any theoretical predisposition is easily overcame by outdebating another team on the subject at hand.
Most theoretical objections to (and much sanctimonious indignation toward) the politics disadvantage have never made sense to me. Fiat is a convention about what it should be appropriate to assume for the sake of discussion, but there's no "logical" or "true" interpretation of what fiat descriptively means. It would be ludicrously unrealistic for basically any 1ac plan to pass immediately, with no prior discussion, in the contemporary political world. Any form of argument in which we imagine the consequences of passage is a fictive constraint on process argumentation. As a result, any normative justification for including the political process within the contours of permissible argument is a rational justification for a model of fiat that involves the politics DA (and a DA to a model of fiat that doesn't). Political salience is the reason most good ideas don't become policy, and it seems illogical for the negative to be robbed of this ground. The politics DA, then, represents the most pressing political cost caused by doing the plan in the contemporary political environment, which seems like a very reasonable for affs to have to defend against.
Obviously many politics DAs are contrived nonsense (especially during political periods during which there is no clear, top-level presidential priority). However, the reason that these DAs are bad isn't because they're theoretically illegitimate, and politics theory's blippiness and general underdevelopment further aggravate me (see the tech vs truth section).
Finally, re: intrinsicness, I don't understand why the judge should be the USFG. I typically assume the judge is just me, deciding which policy/proposal is the most desirable. I don't have control over the federal government, and no single entity does or ever will (barring that rights malthus transition). Maybe I'm missing something. If you think I am, feel free to try and be the first to show me the light...
7) Framework/Non-Traditional Affs
Despite some of the arguments I've read and coached, I'm sympathetic to the framework argument and fairness concerns. I don't think that topicality arguments are presumptively violent, and I think it's generally rather reasonable (and often strategic) to question the aff's relationship to the resolution. Although framework is often the best option, I would generally prefer to see a substantive strategy if one's available. This is simply because I have literally judged hundreds of framework debates and it has gotten mildly repetitive, to say the least (just scroll down if you think that I'm being remotely hyperbolic).
My voting record on framework is relatively even. In nearly every debate, I voted for the team I assessed as demonstrating superior technical debating in the final rebuttals, and that will continue in the future.
I typically think winning unique offense, in the rare scenario where a team invests substantial time in poking defensive holes in the other team's standards, is difficult for both sides in a framework debate. I think affs should think more about their answers to "switch side solves your offense" and "sufficient neg engagement key to meaningfully test the aff", while neg's should generally work harder to prepare persuasive and consistent impact explanations. The argument that "other policy debates solve your offense" can generally push back against skills claims, and the argument that "wiki/disclosure/contestable advocacy in the 1ac provides some degree of predictability/debateability" can often push back against "vote neg on presumption because truth-testing- we literally couldn't negate it" but for some reason in many debates neg's completely blow off these arguments.
I'm typically more persuaded by affirmative teams that answer framework by saying that the skills/methods inculcated by the 1ac produce more effective/ethical interactions with institutions than by teams that argue "all institutions are bad."
Fairness is not necessarily an impact; it certainly may implicate the education that the aff produces, but calling fairness "procedural" doesn't bestow upon it some mystical external impact without additional explanation (i.e. without an actual explanation attached to that). Fairness is an abstract value. Like most values, it is difficult to explain beyond a certain point, and it can't be proven or disproven. It's hard to answer the question "why is fairness good?" for the same reason it's hard to answer the question "why is justice good?" It is pretty easy to demonstate why you should presume in favor of fairness in a debate context, given that everyone relies on essential fairness expectations in order to participate in the activity (for example, teams expect that I flow and give their arguments a fair hearing rather than voting against them because I don't like their choice in clothes). But as soon as neg teams start introducing additional standards to their framework argument that raise education concerns, they have said that the choice of framework has both fairness and education implications, and if it could change our educational experience, could the choice of framework change our social or intellectual experience in debate in other ways as well? Maybe not (I certainly think it's easy to win that an individual round's decision certainly couldn't be expected to) but if you said your FW is key to education it's easy to see how those kinds of questions come into play and now can potentially militate against fairness concerns.
I think it's perfectly reasonable to question the desirability of the activity: we should all ideally be self-reflexive and be able to articulate why it is we participate in the activities on which we choose to dedicate our time. After all, I think nearly everybody in the world does utterly indefensible things from time to time, and many people (billions of them, probably) make completely indefensible decisions all the time. The reason why these arguments can be unpersuasive is typically because saying that debate is bad may just link to the team saying "debate bad" because they're, you know, debating, and no credible solvency mechanism for altering the activity has been presented.
I know I just explained a rationale for potentially restricting your framework impacts to fairness concerns. But still it's nice and often more fulfilling from a judge's perspective to hear a defense of debate rather than a droll recitation of "who knows why debate's good but we're both here... so like... it must be." If that means "procedural fairness" is de-emphasized in favor of an explanation for why the particular fairness norms established by your topicality interpretation are crucial to a particular vision of the activity and a defense of that vision's benefits, that would be a positive development.
If you're looking for an external impact, there are two impacts to framework that I have consistently found more persuasive than most attempts to articulate one for fairness/skills/deliberation, but they're not unassailable: "switch-side debate good" (forcing people to defend things they don't believe is the only vehicle for truly shattering dogmatic ideological predispositions and fostering a skeptical worldview capable of ensuring that its participants, over time, develop more ethical and effective ideas than they otherwise would) and "agonism" (making debaters defend stuff that the other side is prepared to attack rewards debaters for pursuing clash; running from engagement by lecturing the neg and judge on a random topic of your choosing is a cowardly flight from battle; instead, the affirmative team with a strong will to power should actively strive to beat the best, most well-prepared negative teams from the biggest schools on their terms, which in turn provides the ultimate triumph; the life-affirming worldview facilitated by this disposition is ultimately necessary for personal fulfillment, and also provides a more effective strategy with which to confront the inevitable hardships of life).
Many aff "impact turns" to topicality are often rendered incoherent when met with gentle pushback. It's difficult to say "predictability bad" if you have a model of debate that makes debate more predictable from the perspective of the affirmative team. Exclusion and judgment are inevitable structural components of any debate activity that I can conceive of: any DA excludes affs that link to it and don't have an advantage that outweighs it. The act of reading that DA can be understood as judging the debaters who proposed that aff as too dull to think of a better idea. Both teams are bound to say the other is wrong and only one can win. Many aff teams may protest that their impact turns are much more sophisticated than this, and are more specific to some element of the topicality/FW structure that wouldn't apply to other types of debate arguments. Whatever explanation you have for why that above sentence true should be emphasized throughout the debate if you want your impact turns or DA's to T to be persuasive. In other words, set up your explanation of impact turns/disads to T in a way that makes clear why they are specific to something about T and wouldn't apply to basic structural requirements of debate from the outset of the debate.
I'm a fairly good judge for the capitalism kritik against K affs. Among my most prized possessions are signed copies of Jodi Dean books that I received as a gift from my debaters. Capitalism is persuasive for two reasons, both of which can be defeated, and both of which can be applied to other kritiks. First, having solutions (even ones that seem impractical or radical) entails position-taking, with clear political objectives and blueprints, and I often find myself more persuaded by a presentation of macro-political problems when coupled with corresponding presentation of macro-political solutions. Communism, or another alternative to capitalism, frequently ends up being the only solution of that type in the room. Second, analytic salience: The materialist and class interest theories often relatively more explanatory power for oppression than any other individual factor because they entail a robust and logically consistent analysis of the incentives behind various actors committing various actions over time. I'm certainly not unwinnable for the aff in these debates, particularly if they strongly press the alt's feasibility and explain what they are able to solve in the context of the neg's turns case arguments, and I obviously will try my hardest to avoid letting any predisposition overwhelm my assessment of the debating.
8) Kritiks (vs policy affs)
I'm okay for 'old-school' kritik's (security/cap/etc), but I'm also okay for the aff. When I vote for kritiks, most of my RFD's look like one of the following:
1) The neg has won that the implementation of the plan is undesirable relative to the status quo;
2) The neg has explicitly argued (and won) that the framework of the debate should be something other than "weigh the plan vs squo/alt" and won within that framework.
If you don't do either of those things while going for a kritik, I am likely to be persuaded by traditional aff presses (case outweighs, try-or-die, perm double-bind, alt fails etc). Further, despite sympathies for and familiarity with much poststructural thought, I'm nevertheless quite easily persuaded to use utilitarian cost-benefit analysis to make difficult decisions, and I have usually found alternative methods of making decisions lacking and counter-intuitive by comparison.
Kritik alternatives typically make no sense. They often have no way to meaningfully compete with the plan, frequently because of a scale problem. Either they are comparing what one person/a small group should do to what the government should do, or what massive and sweeping international movements should do vs what a government should do. Both comparisons seem like futile exercises for reasons I hope are glaringly obvious.
There are theory arguments that affs could introduce against alternatives that exploit common design flaws in critical arguments. "Vague alts" is not really one of them (ironically because the argument itself is too vague). Some examples: "Alternatives should have texts; otherwise the alternative could shift into an unpredictable series of actions throughout the debate we can't develop reasonable responses against." "Alternatives should have actors; otherwise there is no difference between this and fiating 'everyone should be really nice to each other'." Permutations are easy to justify: the plan would have to be the best idea in the history of thought if all the neg had to do was think of something better.
Most kritik frameworks presented to respond to plan focus are not really even frameworks, but a series of vague assertions that the 2N is hoping that the judge will interpret in a way that's favorable for them (because they certainly don't know exactly what they're arguing for). Many judges continually interpret these confusing framework debates by settling on some middle-ground compromise that neither team actually presented. I prefer to choose between options that debaters actually present.
My ideal critical arguments would negate the aff. For example, against a heg aff, I could be persuaded by security K alts that advocate for a strategy of unilateral miltary withdrawal. Perhaps the permutation severs rhetoric and argumentation in the 1ac that, while not in the plan text, is both central enough to their advocacy and important enough (from a pedagogical perspective) that we should have the opportunity to focus the debate around the geopolitical position taken by the 1ac. The only implication to to a "framework" argument like this would be that, assuming the neg wins a link to something beyond the plan text, the judge should reject, on severence grounds, permutations against alts that actually make radical proposals. In the old days, this was called philosophical competition. How else could we have genuine debates about how to change society or grand strategy? There are good aff defenses of the plan focus model from a fairness and education perspective with which to respond to this, but this very much seems like a debate worth having.
All this might sound pretty harsh for neg's, but affs should be warned that I think I'm more willing than most judges to abandon policymaking paradigms based on technical debating. If the negative successfully presents and defends an alternative model of decisionmaking, I will decide the debate from within it. The ballot is clay; mold it for me and I'll do whatever you win I should.
9) Kritiks (vs K affs)
Seriously, I don't have strong presuppositions about what "new debate" is supposed to look like. For the most part, I'm happy to see any strategy that's well researched or well thought-out. Try something new! Even if it doesn't work out, it may lead to something that can radically innovate debate.
Most permutation/framework debates are really asking the question: "Is the part of the aff that the neg disagreed with important enough to decide an entire debate about?" (this is true in CP competition debates too, for what it's worth). Much of the substantive debating elsewhere subsequently determines the outcome of these sub-debates far more than debaters seem to assume.
Role of the ballot/judge claims are obviously somewhat self-serving, but in debates in which they're well-explained (or repeatedly dropped), they can be useful guidelines for crafting a reasonable decision (especially when the ballot theorizes a reasonable way for both teams to win if they successfully defend core thesis positions).
Yes, I am one of those people who reads critical theory for fun, although I also read about domestic politics, theoretical and applied IR, and economics for fun. Yes, I am a huge nerd, but who's the nerd that that just read the end of a far-too-long judge philosophy in preparation for a debate tournament? Thought so.
10) Addendum: Random Thoughts from Random Topics
In the spirit of Bill Batterman, I thought to myself: How could I make this philosophy even longer and less useable than it already was? So instead of deleting topic-relevent material from previous years that no longer really fit into the above sections, I decided to archive all of that at the bottom of the paradigm if I still agreed with what I said. Bad takes were thrown into the memory hole.
Topicality on water: There aren't very many good limiting devices on this topic. Obviously the states CP is an excellent functional limit; "protection requires regulation" is useful as well, at least insofar as it establishes competition for counterplans that avoid regulations (e.g. incentives). Beyond that, the neg is in a rough spot.
I am more open to "US water resources include oceans" than most judges; see the compiled evidence set I released in the Michigan camp file MPAs Aff 2 (should be available via openevidence). After you read that and the sum total of all neg cards released/read thus far, the reasoning for why I believe this should be self-evident. Ironically, I don't think there are very many good oceans affs (this isn't a development topic, it's a protection topic). This further hinders the neg from persuasively going for the this T argument, but if you want to really exploit this belief, you'll find writing a strategic aff is tougher than you may imagine.
Topicality on antitrust: Was adding 'core' to this topic a mistake? I can see either side of this playing out at Northwestern: while affs that haven't thought about the variants of the 'core' or 'antitrust' pics are setting themselves up for failure, I think the aff has such an expansive range of options that they should be fine. There aren't a ton of generic T threats on this topic. There are some iterations of subsets that seem viable, if not truly threatening, and there there is a meaningful debate on whether or not the aff can fiat court action. The latter is an important question that both evidence and normative desirability will play a role in determining. Beyond that, I don't think there's much of a limit on this topic.
ESR debates on the executive powers topic: I think the best theory arguments against ESR are probably just solvency advocate arguments. Seems like a tough sell to tell the neg there’s no executive CP at all. I've heard varied definitions of “object fiat” over the years: fiating an actor that's a direct object/recipient of the plan/resolution; fiating an enduring negative action (i.e. The President should not use designated trade authority, The US should not retaliate to terrorist attacks with nukes etc); fiating an actor whose behavior is affected by a 1ac internal link chain. But none of these definitions seem particularly clear nor any of these objections particularly persuasive.
States CP on the education and health insurance topics: States-and-politics debates are not the most meaningful reflection of the topic literature, especially given that the nature of 50 state fiat distorts the arguments of most state action advocates, and they can be stale (although honestly anything that isn't a K debate will not feel stale to me these days). But I'm sympathetic to the neg on these questions, especially if they have good solvency evidence. There are a slew of policy analysts that have recommended as-uniform-as-possible state action in the wake of federal dysfunction. With a Trump administration and a Republican Congress, is the prospect of uniform state action on an education or healthcare policy really that much more unrealistic than a massive liberal policy? There are literally dozens of uniform policies that have been independently adopted by all or nearly all states. I'm open to counter-arguments, but they should all be as contextualized to the specific evidence and counter-interpretation presented by the negative as they would be in a topicality debate (the same goes for the neg in terms of answering aff theory pushes). It's hard to defend a states CP without meaningful evidentiary support against general aff predictability pushes, but if the evidence is there, it doesn't seem to unreasonable to require affs to debate it. Additionally, there does seem to be a persuasive case for the limiting condition that a "federal-key warrant" places on affirmatives.
Topicality on executive power: This topic is so strangely worded and verbose that it is difficult to win almost any topicality argument against strong affirmative answers, as powerful as the limits case may be. ESR makes being aff hard enough that I’m not sure how necessary the negative needs assistance in limiting down the scope of viable affs, but I suppose we shall see as the year moves forward. I’m certainly open to voting on topicality violations that are supported by quality evidence. “Restrictions in the area of” = all of that area (despite the fact that two of the areas have “all or nearly all” in their wordings, which would seem to imply the other three are NOT “all or nearly all”) does not seem to meet that standard.
Topicality on immigration: This is one of the best topics for neg teams trying to go for topicality in a long time... maybe since alternative energy in 2008-9. “Legal immigration” clearly means LPR – affs will have a tough time winning otherwise against competent negative teams. I can’t get over my feeling that the “Passel and Fix” / “Murphy 91” “humanitarian” violations that exclude refugee, asylums, etc, are somewhat arbitrary, but the evidence is extremely good for the negative (probably slightly better than it is for the affirmative, but it’s close), and the limits case for excluding these affs is extremely persuasive. Affs debating this argument in front of me should make their case that legal immigration includes asylum, refugees, etc by reading similarly high-quality evidence that says as much.
Topicality on arms sales: T - subs is persuasive if your argument is that "substantially" has to mean something, and the most reasonable assessment of what it should mean is the lowest contextual bound that either team can discover and use as a bulwark for guiding their preparation. If the aff can't produce a reasonably well-sourced card that says substantially = X amount of arms sales that their plan can feasibly meet, I think neg teams can win that it's more arbitrary to assume that substantially is in the topic for literally no reason than it is to assume the lowest plausible reading of what substantially could mean (especially given that every definition of substantially as a higher quantity would lead one to agree that substantially is at least as large as that lowest reading). If the aff can, however, produce this card, it will take a 2N's most stalwart defense of any one particular interpretation to push back against the most basic and intuitive accusations of arbitrariness/goalpost-shifting.
T - reduce seems conceptually fraught in almost every iteration. Every Saudi aff conditions its cessation of arms sales on the continued existence of Saudi Arabia. If the Saudi military was so inept that the Houthis suddenly not only won the war against Saleh but actually captured Saudi Arabia and annexed it as part of a new Houthi Empire, the plan would not prevent the US from selling all sorts of exciting PGMs to Saudi Arabia's new Houthi overlords. Other than hard capping the overall quantity of arms sales and saying every aff that doesn't do that isn't topical, (which incidentally is not in any plausible reading a clearly forwarded interpretation of the topic in that poorly-written Pearson chapter), it's not clear to me what the distinction is between affs that condition and affs that don't are for the purposes of T - Reduce
Topicality on CJR: T - enact is persuasive. The ev is close, but in an evenly debated and closely contested round where both sides read all of the evidence I've seen this year, I'd be worried if I were aff. The debateability case is strong for the neg, given how unlimited the topic is, but there's a case to be made that courts affs aren't so bad and that ESR/politics is a strong enough generic to counter both agents.
Other T arguments are, generally speaking, uphill battles. Unless a plan text is extremely poorly written, most "T-Criminal" arguments are likely solvency takeouts, though depending on advantage construction they may be extremely strong and relevant solvency takeouts. Most (well, all) subsets arguments, regardless of which word they define, have no real answer to "we make some new rule apply throughout the entire area, e.g. all police are prohibitied from enforcing XYZ criminal law." Admittedly, there are better and worse variations for all of these violations. For example, Title 18 is a decent way to set up "T - criminal justice excludes civil / decrim" types of interpretations, despite the fact it's surprisingly easy for affs to win they meet it. And of course, aff teams often screw these up answering bad and mediocre T args in ways that make them completely viable. But none of these would be my preferred strategy, unless of course you're deploying new cards or improved arguments at the TOC. If that's the case, nicely done! If you think your evidence is objectively better than the aff cards, and that you can win the plan clearly violates a cogent interpretation, topicality is always a reasonable option in front of me.
Topicality on space cooperation: Topicality is making a big comeback in college policy debates this year. Kiinda overdue. But also kinda surprising because the T evidence isn't that high quality relative to its outsized presence in 2NRs, but hey, we all make choices.
STM T debates have been underwhelming in my assessment. T - No ADR... well at least is a valid argument consisting of a clear interp and a clear violation. It goes downhill from there. It's by no means unwinnable, but not a great bet in an evenly matched ebate. But you can't even say that for most of the other STM interps I've seen so far. Interps that are like "STM are these 9 things" are not only silly, they frequently have no clear way of clearly excluding their hypothesized limits explosion... or the plan. And I get it - STM affs are the worst (and we're only at the tip of the iceberg for zany STM aff prolif). Because STM proposals are confusing, different advocates use the terms in wildly different ways, the proposals are all in the direction of uniqueness and are difficult to distinguish from similar policy structures presently in place, and the area lacks comprehensive neg ground outside of "screw those satellites, let em crash," STM affs producing annoying debates (which is why so many teams read STM). But find better and clearer T interps if you want to turn those complaints about topical affs into topicality arguments that exclude those affs. And I encourage you to do so quickly, as I will be the first to shamelessly steal them for my teams.
Ironically, the area of the topic that produces what seem to me the best debates (in terms of varied, high-quality, and evenly-matched argumentation) probably has the single highest-quality T angle for the neg to deploy against it. And that T angle just so happens to exclude nearly every arms control aff actually being ran. In my assessment, both the interp that "arms control = quantitative limit" and the interp that "arms control = militaries just like chilling with each other, hanging out, doing some casual TCBMs" are plausible readings of the resolution. The best aff predictability argument is clearly that arms control definitions established before the space age have some obvious difficulties remaining relevant in space. But it seems plausible that that's a reason the resolution should have been written differently, not that it should be read in an alternate way. That being said, the limits case seems weaker than usual for the neg (though not terrible) and in terms of defending an interp likely to result in high-quality debates, the aff has a better set of ground arguments at their disposal than usual.
Trump-era politics DAs: Most political capital DAs are self-evidently nonsense in the Trump era. We no longer have a president that expends or exerts political capital as described by any of the canonical sources that theorized that term. Affs should be better at laundry listing thumpers and examples that empirically prove Trump's ability to shamelessly lie about whatever the aff does or why he supports the aff and have a conservative media environment that tirelessly promotes that lie as the new truth, but it's not hard to argue this point well. Sometimes, when there's an agenda (even if that agenda is just impeachment), focus links can be persuasive. I actually like the internal agency politics DA's more than others do, because they do seem to better analyze the present political situation. Our political agenda at the national level does seem driven at least as much by personality-driven palace intrigue as anything else; if we're going to assess the political consequences of our proposed policies, that seems as good a proxy for what's likely to happen as anything else.
It's been quite awhile since I judged debate consistently, and my beliefs on the pedagogical nature of the activity have shifted somewhat since working in two graduate programs for communication studies. As such, I'll speak a little to this shift, and end with a few thoughts on debate strategy.
First and foremost, I am a Christian person: God is real, good, and cares about you deeply - as illustrated and continually affirmed through the personhood of Jesus Christ and the historical and mystical tradition of the holy ancient Orthodox Church. I attend, volunteer through, and worship at an Antiochian Eastern Orthodox Christian mission parish. Joy is not the same as happiness; quiet is not the same as silence; instruction/criticism is not the same as cynicism; Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. The existential dimension of approaching life recognizes that inter-subjective prescriptions of meaning are, ultimately, meaningless - but affirming creation in its relationship with/to God is the only true way of knowing love, beauty, value, purpose, ethics, truth, and meaning. How one communicates reveals an act of becoming: your words and actions form you as much as they attempt to inform others; they can make you more Christ-like, or they cannot. Meeting Wisdom, in all Her glory, is the only true value of debate. Don't debate about things that can't make you more wise, loving, or good.
I'm an indigneous/latino person (Incan) from Long Island that has spent over a decade trying to get back to serving my people. We've all lost people along the way. The colonizer's entire system of power in the West has such a vicegrip on the hearts and minds of the masses that if your soul is not anchored in the ancient ways of adhering to the Holy Spirit - it's easy to slip and lose it. This fantasy of a utilitarian individualism sears itself into the flesh of the West and can only end in destruction. As an indigenous Orthodox Christian, I am interested in the true liberation of all people as expressed through spiritual/material action from the chains that have been cast over our hands, minds, and spirit. Truly integrated approaches to trauma incorporate one's physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual condition - they can never be separated and always affect one another.
I study psychodynamic approaches to communication in Christianity. The psychoanalytic approach to language (along with its underlying, and fairly undeniable, religious current) reveals how and why we've formed attachments in relation to different points of trauma. Any liberatory approach can be trauma-informed or trauma-inducing, relative to their ability to truly love their neighbor as their self. Can there be such a thing as a self when the continual love and service of your neighbors (and hopefully, 'they you') has you constantly place the 'other' as a spiritual site of affirmation? The refusal to cease suffering is an important conclusion of both psychoanalytic and Christian existentialist logic - the ego is a site of comfortability, earthly pleasure, and nihilistic self-destruction. What do you do for your neighbor?
Lastly, a prayer:
"Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, may a blessing rain down over the people seeking truth, justice, and ways to love. May you keep them safe in travel, mind, and spirit. May they seek good things through their work. May they have clarity of the mind, joy within their bones, and feel safe within this space. May your everlasting love comfort us. May we all have courage to pursue what is right, even when it is not easy. May it all be to your glory. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; amen."
Strategy, in no particular order:
Everything you say in a speech must contain a claim/warrant/impact. If you are finishing a thought and can ask yourself “Why is this true,” and/or “Why is this important, given what everyone else is talking about in this round,” then you should keep talking. Stumbling across a complete line of thinking is better then racing through your many, incomplete, opinions.
There was once a debater that began what would become a >4minute final rebuttal on a Sunday morning with the line: "I'm going to end this early so that you can get to church on time!" The floor for that debater's speech was a 29, and they would later win the debate as well. I believe our Sunday morning's are better served worshipping in a Church setting, so anything done to shorten the debate time (even noting this as an argument) is immensely persuasive with an eternally more significant impact. Additionally, debaters willing to roll the dice on an argument that they believe wins them the debate (conceded double-turn; logical truism; moral obligation; etc.) and ending their speech early are also significantly improving their chances.
I will have nothing of the witchcraft that is the ritual encantation of tabula rasa that judges have engaged in in order to appear value-neutral. It is a lie - finding ways to establish relationships with people whom are simply and truly different from one another is a truer means of persuasion. Pretending like judges aren't people is not a good way of cultivating persuasion, education, or really good practice in general.
Debate is a rhetorical practice of character formation: we repeat and instill the virtues that we want to see in the world over and against other visions. I will vote for whomever makes me feel and/or presents a more logically coherent vision of the good life. Yes, you still need a link.
The exception: I will not tolerate trauma-inducing behavior, language, willfull ignorance, etc. I just don't have the energy in my old age to pretend to care like all actions and reactions are morally equivalent. Channel your rage into beating your opponents - considering the lengths that debaters will go to worship the idol of winning in this activity, they are more likely to suffer more greatly from an L.
Most outlandish claims get checked at some level, but spiritual matters are often presumed to be true by the louder voice in the room. I've heard some fairly wild accusations about ancient Christianity in general, and not tailored criticisms to specific Christian groups/people. It's irresponsible, and I have no problem ending a debate over it. Full criticisms on any topic are interesting and good; moralizing cliffnote half-researched soundbyte citations are not good.
This is not to say that you might, as some say, "know more than you know." I once heard a debater start an argument with "is there a reason that when you say 'x' it makes me feel 'y' or remember 'z'?" and then proceed to turn that feeling into a critical question of the presentation of the argument. What you say and how you say it are equally important.
If your neighbor or content require a warning based on the graphic nature of your speech, give it. Be willing to adjust or defend why you chose to speak a gratuitous thing into existence. Many things need to be discussed, but not everything needs to be discussed in a trauma-inducing way.
This is something that generally insecure individuals like to attempt a refutation at, but while we're here: "The standard for pizza is cooked in New York; everything else is a simulacrum."
If I can't understand you, then you didn't make an argument. I will not yell clear.
Regarding speaker points; I am impressionable. I have been known to give high speaker points, but I'm blissfully unaware of speaker point trends over the past 5 years and cannot (and likely will not) account for inflation. A perfectly average team is likely within the range of 28.5-28.6. If you are unenthusiastic, antagonistic, and lack in tonal variation, you may find your speaking points to be as undesirable as the speech's execution. I like speed, but you can be fast and have tonal variation: it's a public speaking event, after all.
Slow down on Plan Texts/Advocacies/CP Texts/Alternative Texts/Permutation Texts. If I can’t flow it, and the other team points it out, that’s on you.
The stock issues are a bit underrated. They are an opportunity to discuss what services/disservices debate. Inherency and Solvency (along with inherent and solvent versions of the AFF) are something with quite a bit of traction to it.
On topicality, proper: fairness is an internal link to people quitting, or, "the death of debate" - but a better and qualitatively similar internal link are ground claims. A persuasive argument I routinely heard was a short pairing of ground w/the TVA: basically that the AFF presented a K the NEG was going to use to test the resolution (defense), which lowers/eliminates their ability to practice advocating said critical rhetoric + hurts in-round education. Debating about debate is a unique K-AFF advantage (communal subject formation impact). Education is a terminal impact - death of debate is probably the other. Lastly, you need to impact why your education is good though: doesn't help much if you win teaching people is good if what you teach them is not good.
Captain America was right in Civil War.
I assume that people are engaging k-aff's more and more due to the fact that books, yano, exist - but if my belief in the literacy of this community over-stated, here's a simple problem for the appeal to abstract notions of ground loss vs. particular ones: the ceda finals round has (since the early 00's popularization of the K) historically featured a KvK debate with a signifcant quantity of NEG wins. PIK's of various metaphors due to their tropological connection to various other signifiers and impacts are creatively interesting to me. Black Framework debates have been interesting. There's a thin line between criticism and whining, and there's way too many intellectual traditions with relations to the topic to presume there's "no debate" to be had.
Everything you say, you defend, unless if you win a specific reason why you don't have to. Don't be afraid to defend good things.
Debaters would be magnifably more successful if they read communication theory as part of their solvency. Media Studies, Performance Studies, Rhetoric Studies, Affect Studies, etc. - it's all there and gives a reason why the ballot matters. A common explanation for why engaging in the plan's role-playing simulation is that repeated education helps us make similar decisions in the future, maybe - sounds like it, yano, non-uniques the advantages and/or a reason to vote.
Bad history makes history. If someone says something about something that's categorically false, and if you read a card in the other direction and then a card about how historical erasure/denial legitimizes all sorts of heinous atrocities - that's an easy DA flow that would either A) be a good debate, or B) be an easy debate.
I once found quite a bit of joy in being a part of a competitive dance crew. I bring this up because I want debaters that make the argument "debate bad" to know they have options. I have just never heard it communicated persuasively within the context of a competitive activity. Opacity for similar reasons. Also, with few exceptions, a critique of wanting the ballot is non-unique. Don't waste everyone's time.
Judges whom have influenced my thoughts on debate, at some point or another: Calum, Hagwood, Shree. Any non-contradictory aspects of their paradigms can be cross-applied here.
Impact Calculus is under-rated. Don't bring (more) links to an impact fight.
Strong Defense can win Debates.
Uniqueness wins most, if not all, debates.
I have been thinking about the Louisville Project of the mid-early 00's and their thoughts on debate (in general, clearly), and flowing (in particular). I'm undecided on this and have talked to different experts about it, but I am unconvinced that one has to flow the majority of the debate to both understand and properly give a good decision. Focus on what's important and extend your arguements properly and all shall be fine. If I do choose to flow, know that I flow straight down, always.
Creativity, comedy, and an intentional desire to engage form the best debates.
Prep ends when the email is sent/flash-drive leaves the computer/cards are otherwise compiled. I will enforce this: if you are using scholarly citations/cards then that evidence needs to be made available to your opponent before your speech begins. Preparing for your speech includes organizing the information you're about to read; if it's organized then it should be readily accessible for your opponents - traditionally by holding a stack of physical "evidence" as you give an order, but in a more contemporary context the virtual transmission of said evidence to the other team. If you've withheld evidence and the opposing team asks for it post-speech, your prep will begin and end when the e-mail is sent. You are not expected to send analytics/blocks - only cards/scholarly evidence. Team rules that you "can't share cases" are either not about evidence or are arbitrary in a world where you can share them minutes after reading but not during. Everyone be fair, share and, when in doubt, feel free to see "Shree Awsare" and/or his paradigm.
I'll ask if I want to be on the e-mail chain, but generally I do not.
Keep your own time.
Theory is a question of good/bad debate practices, is fine, and requires an interpretation, a violation or link, and an impact or reason to reject that practice.
Also, I've been teased about voting repetitively on either "the floating pik" or "the internal link turn." But I'm right: answer the argument or get in the robot, Shinji.
I am most interested in debates about/that involve Christianity, religion/spirituality, psychoanalysis, existential thoughts on language and/or reality, high theory, subject formation in the context of communication theory, and nuanced approaches to the topic.
I'll change my mind eventually, or the world will light on fire due to man's selfish desire to set everything good on fire. One of the two.
Plano Senior '20
Indiana University '23
3X NDT Qualifier (21,22,23)
Add me on the email chain firstname.lastname@example.org
Please name the email chain: "Tournament - Round X - Team (AFF) vs Team (NEG)" - "Kentucky - Round 1 - Indiana JP (AFF) vs Indiana GJ (NEG)"
CONFLICTS: Plano Senior(TX), Clark High School(TX), Stanford Online(CA), Southlake Carroll(TX), Plano East(TX), Indiana University(IN),
TLDR: Flexible, but don't read anything that is offensive.
Largely agree with
Some Generic Stuff
1)I believe that debaters should have fun while debating. I realize that certain debates get heated, however do your best not to be mean to your partner, and to the other team. There are few things I hate more than judging a debate where the teams are jerks to each other
2)No judge will ever like all the arguments you make, but I will always attempt to evaluate every argument fairly. I will always listen to positions from every angle. Be clear both in delivery and argument function/interaction and WEIGH and DEVELOP a ballot story.
3) Don't cheat - miscutting, clipping, straw-manning etc. It's an auto-loss with 0 speaks if I catch you. Ev ethics claims aren't theory arguments - if you make an ev ethics challenge, you stake the round on it and the loser of the challenge gets an L-0. (this only applies if you directly accuse your opponent of cheating though - if you read brackets with an ev ethics standard that's different).
4)The quickest way to LOSE my ballot is to say something offensive (racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc.)
5) I will assume zero prior knowledge when going into a round on any subject, which means it's on you to make me understand your warrant purely from the speech itself.
6) Use all of your speech and cross-ex time. I will dock speaker points if you use cross-ex for prep, or if you end a speech early. I think that there's always more you can ask or say about an argument, even if you're decisively ahead.
7) I care a lot about evidence quality. Use your cards well and utilize them the best you can. Unpack your warrants and be comparative; use lines of your own and your opponents' evidence to flag important arguments that matter to my decision.
8) I can handle speed as long as you are CLEAR, BUT please accommodate for your opponents who have disabilities
10) NOTE FOR ONLINE: Record your speeches. If anyone's internet goes out you should immediately send the recording to everyone in the round. If you don't have a recording, you only get what I flowed. I would strongly prefer that we all keep our cameras on during the debate, but I obviously recognize the very real and valid reasons for not having your camera on. I will never penalize you for turning your camera off, but if you can turn it on, let's try. I will always keep my camera on while judging.
K Affs: I don’t care whether you read a plan or not, but affs should have a specific tie to the resolution and be a departure from the status quo that is external from the reading of the 1AC. Impact turning framework is more strategic than counter-defining words or reading clever counter-interps, but you should have a clear model of debate and what the role of the negative is.
Framework: Affirmatives should have some relationship to the topic, even if not traditional endorsement or hypothetical implementation of a policy. At the bare minimum, affirmatives should "affirm" something. I am much less sympathetic to affirmatives that are purely negative arguments or diagnoses. Teams should have a robust defense of what their model of debate/argument looks like and what specific benefits it would produce. Teams tend to do better in front of me if they control the framing of what I should do with my ballot or what my ballot is capable of solving. Whether it signals an endorsement of a particular advocacy, acts as a disincentive in a games-playing paradigm, or whatever else, my conclusion on what the ballot does often filters how I view every other argument. Teams tend to do better with me the more honest they are about what a given debate or ballot can accomplish."TVAs" can be helpful, but need to be specific. I expect the block to provide an example plan text. Solvency evidence is ideal, but a warranted explanation for how the plan text connects to the aff's broader advocacy/impact framing can be sufficient. If the 2NR is going to sit on a TVA, be explicit about what offense you think the TVA accesses or resolves.
Policy v K: Don't lose the specificity of the aff in favor of generic K answers. Reading long framing contentions that fail to make it past the 1AC and 2ACs that include every generic K answer won't get you as far as taking the time to engage the K and being intentional about your evidence. You should clearly articulate an external impact and the framing for the round. I'm more likely to buy framework arguments about how advocating for a policy action is good politically and pedagogically than fairness arguments.
K v Policy: Ask yourself if you can explain your position without the use of buzzwords, if the answer is no, you risk being in the latter category. Take time to clearly explain and implicate the links/impacts/framing arguments and contextualize them to the aff. Make sure to tell me why the impacts of the K come first and weigh the impacts of the K against that of the alt. Absent serious investment in the framework portion of the debate/massive concessions, the aff will most likely get to weigh the aff's impacts against the K so impact comparison and framing are vital. Framework arguments should not only establish why the aff's framework is bad but also establish what your framework is so that my ballot is more aligned more closely with your framework by the end of the debate. K's don't have to have an alt and you can kick out of the alt and go for the links as case turns.
K v K: Affs should have an advocacy statement and defend a departure from the status quo. Affs don't have to have a clear method coming out of the 1AC, although I am more likely to vote neg on presumption absent a method. I have a higher threshold for perms in debates where the aff doesn't defend a plan but just saying "K affs don't get perms" isn't sufficient for me to deny the perm.
Policy v Policy: Nothing much to say here, but please weigh!!
T: I enjoy a good T debate and think T is very underutilized against policy affs. Make sure you are substantively engaging with the interpretation and standards and aren’t just blitzing through your blocks. I default to competing interpretations unless told otherwise.
CP: Explanation is crucial. I need to be able to understand how the CP operates. 2NCs/2NRs should start with a quick overview of what the CP does. Blazing through this at top speed will not contribute to my understanding. Fine with you reading PICS
DA: Framing is everything: impact calculus, link driving uniqueness, or vice-versa, the works. Smart arguments and coherent narratives trump a slew of evidence.
Theory: I will default to competing interpretations unless told otherwise. Conditionality is fine within reason. When it seems absurd it probably is, and it's not impossible to persuade me to reject the team, but it is an uphill battle. It's hard to imagine voting aff unless there are 4 or more conditional advocacies introduced.
Theory: I believe that RVI is very illogical and non-sensical, thus I will not vote on RVIs. Everything else look at the policy paradigm.
Philosophy/FW: I really like a good framework debate. Please make all framework arguments comparative. I will default to truth testing unless told otherwise.
Tricks:After doing policy for a while, I just think tricks are silly and are usually very underdeveloped. If the strategic value of your argument hinges almost entirely on your opponent missing it, misunderstanding it, or misallocating time to it, I would rather not hear it. I won't vote on a trick that I don't understand or doesn't have a warrant. Please don't blitz through spikes. I am quite willing to give an RFD of "I didn't flow that," "I didn't understand that," or "I don't think these words in this order constitute a warranted argument.
Policy and Kritik: Look at the policy paradigm.
I prefer line-by-line debate to big picture in summary, rebuttal, and final focus. I am fine with Policy/LD arguments in PF.
1) The only thing that needs to be in summary and final focus besides offense is terminal defense. Mitigatory defense and non-uniques are sticky because they matter a lot less and 2 minutes is way too short for a summary. BUT, if you do not extend terminal defense, it doesn't just go away; it just becomes mitigatory rather than terminal ie I will still evaluate the risk of offense claims.
2)The First summary only needs to extend the defense with which 2nd rebuttal interacts. Turns and case offense need to be explicitly extended by author/source name. Extend both the link and the impact of the arguments you go for in every speech (and uniqueness if there is any).
3)2nd Rebuttal should frontline all turns. Any turn not frontlined in 2nd rebuttal is conceded and has 100% strength of link -- don't try to respond in a later speech.
4)Every argument must have a warrant -- I have a very low threshold to frontlining blip storm rebuttals.
5) If you want me to evaluate an arg, it must be in BOTH summary and Final Focus.
6)I'm fine with progressive PF- I don't have a problem w plans or CPs. PFers have a hard time understanding how to make a CP competitive- please make perms if they aren't. Theory, Kritiks, and DAs are fine too. If you wanna see how I evaluate these, see my Policy/LD paradigm above.
7)You get a 1:15 grace period to find your PDF, and for every thirty seconds you go over, you will lose .5 speaker points. If you go over two minutes and thirty seconds, the PDF will be dropped from the round.
8)Please have a cut version of your cards; I will be annoyed if they are paraphrased with no cut version available because this is how teams so often get away with the misrepresentation of evidence which skews the round.
9)If you clear your opponent when I don't think it's necessary, I'll deduct 0.2 speaks each time it happens. Especially if there's a speech doc, you don't need to slow down unless I'm the one clearing you.
10)Because evidence ethics have become super iffy in PF, I will give you a full extra speaker point if you have disclosed all tags, cites, and text 15 mins before the round on the NDCA PF Wiki under your proper team, name, and side and show it to me. I would love for an email chain to start during the round with all cards on it.
Speaker Points Scale
29.3 < (greater than 29.3) - Did almost everything I could ask for
29-29.3 – Very, very good
28.8 – 29 – Very good, still makes minor mistakes
28.5 – 28.7 – Pretty good speaker, very clear, probably needs some argument execution changes
28.3 – 28.5 – Good speaker, has some easily identifiable problems
28 – 28.3 – Average varsity debater
27-27.9 – Below average
27 > (less than 27) - You did something that was offensive / You didn’t make arguments.
**Just a brief update for the high school community on the Inequality topic:
T - Taxes and Transfers - Heavily lean Aff here, but the Neg can win it I guess.
Process CPs - Good luck with these in front of me.
If you feel the need to not take prep before the 2AC or 2NC, good luck with that as well in front of me.
**Updated Summer 2023**
Yes I would like to be on the email chain: email@example.com
I will listen to all arguments, but a couple of caveats:
-This doesn't mean I will understand every element of your argument.
-I have grown extremely irritated with clash debates…take that as you please.
-I am a firm believer that you must read some evidence in debate. If you differ, you might want to move me down the pref sheet.
I have been a long-term fan of the great Shannon Sharpe. Now that he is the co-host of Undisputed, he often serves up Hot Dubs and Hot Ls daily. Please see ways below in which you or your team might earn one of these Dubs or Ls:
To Earn a Hot L:
1. You stumble, fumble or go silent on a fundamental series of CX questions related to your Aff, primary Neg position or issues germane to the topic.
2. You are blatantly racist, homophobic, sexist or are in any other way discriminatory in the debate space.
3. You decide that theory, skepticism or RVIs are more important than substance (specifically for LD).
4. You clip or cross-read.
To Earn a Hot W:
1. Debate well!
2. Be nice!
3. Don’t do any of the things in the Hot L section!
Note to all: In high school debate, there is no world where the Negative needs to read more than 5 off case arguments. SO if you say 6+, I'm only flowing 5 and you get to choose which you want me to flow.
In college debate, I might allow 6 off case arguments :/
Good luck to all!
Lane Tech - 2012 - 2013
Iowa City High - 2013 - 2016
University of Northern Iowa - 2016 - 2017
Emporia State 2018 - 2021
Berkeley Prep - 2021 -
-email chain -
-Recently retired k-leaning flex debater/resident performative stunt queen for Berkeley Prep Debate
-would much rather judge a really good policy v policy round than a poorly executed k round - BUT - would ultimately prefer to judge a k v k round where both sides have competing and creative strategies that they are both a) deeply invested in and b) have interesting interpretations of. Those are the rounds I always had the most fun in, but to be clear, I have also realized over the years that a policy v policy round has the potential for just as much, if not more and have no problem judging these debates.
-the team executing whatever argument they are most comfortable with at the highest level they can, will always in my eyes have an easier time getting my ballot/receiving higher speaks which means that the the speeches I want to see are those that you are enthused about giving and ultimately, I want you to be excited to be able to do whatever it is that you are best at.
-went for everything from big stick warming affs to f*** debate performance 1AC's, to Black/Native Studies like Warren, Wilderson, Moten, King, Gumbs and Hartman to Queer theory like Butler, Edelman and Trans-Rage to High theory like Nietzsche, Baudy and OOO as well as Procedurals like T/FW/A- and I-Spec, Disads/Case turns like to deterrence, politics and SPARK and of course, multiple different flavors of counterplans. so regardless of what it is you go for I'm down - just don't take this as an excuse to not use judge instruction/concise explanations that makes sense - even if I was a Nietzsche one - trick in high school that doesn't mean I'm going to do the nihilism work for you. All this is to say is that whoever you may be, you should feel comfortable that I have in some way or another had a certain level of experience with your literature base.
Due to recent events its been suggested to me that I add a layer to my philosophy I wasn't sure was necessary, but in an effort to help protect future debaters/debate rounds, as well as myself/fellow judges, here is what I will say -
While I do empathize with the competitive nature of this activity, it should go without saying that if there is violence of any kind, whether that be intentional or not, my role as an educator in this community is to intervene if that situation deems my involvement to be necessary and I want to make it very clear that I have no qualms in doing so. Its important to recognize when we have to put the game aside and understand as a community that we have a responsibility to learn from situations like those and to be better as we move forward. SO just for the sake of clarity, I do not have a desire to stop rounds, in fact - quite the opposite. However, my role as a judge (one that I would hope others embody when judging my own students) is one that adjudicates the round in the most equitable means possible AS WELL AS one that ensures the safety of, to the best of my capacity, each debate round and all of its participants/observers.
Also - Sometimes, and not always, but in the same fashion as countless other judges, I can, at times, be a very reactive/nonverbal judge. Understanding that those kinds of things are a) an inevitable part of this activity b) not always caused by something you did and c) can be incredibly critical in your in round-decision making is crucial and is a fundamental skill that I believe to be vastly important in succeeding within this activity. HOWEVER, that means that whether or not you choose to modify what you are doing based off how I am reacting is, at the end of the day, your decision and your decision alone - recognizing when to do so/when not to is a core facet of competing.
Strike me if you don't like it.
specific feels about certain things:
- have aff specific link explanations regardless of offcase position - that doesnt mean that every card has to be specific to the aff but your explanation of the link should be as specific to the 1AC as you can make possible - extra speaker points to those who can successfully pull lines
- hot take: after all this time in online debate, I will in fact "verbally interject if unable to hear" regardless of whether you make that clear to me before you begin your speech - so as a personal preference don't feel obligated to say that anymore. Id rather you just give me an order and start after getting some signal (verbal or visual) that we're all ready. as an incentive to help try and stop this practice, expect a lil boost in points.
- that being said, "as specific to the 1AC" means you could have a really good link to aff's mechanism. or you could have a great state link. or a link to their impacts. etc. it doesnt matter to me what the link is as long as it is well developed and made specific to what the 1AC is. I dont want to hear the same generic state link as much as the next person but if you make it creative and you use the aff than I dont see a problem.
- affirmatives could be about the topic, or they could not be, its up to you as long as whatever you choose to do you can defend and explain. If you're not about the topic and its a framework debate, I need to know what your model of debate is or why you shouldnt need to defend one etc. if youre reading a performance aff, the performance is just as important if not more than the evidence you are reading - so dont forget to extend the performance throughout the debate and use it to answer the other teams arguments.
- whether its one off or 8 please be aware of the contradictions you will be making in the 1NC and be prepared to defend them or have some sort of plan if called out.
- on that note theory debates are fine and could be fun. im not that opposed to voting on theory arguments of all varieties as long as you spend a sufficient amount of time in the rebuttals to warrant me voting on them. most of the time thats a substantial amount if not the entirety of one or more of your rebuttals.
- perm debates are weird and i dont feel great voting for "do both" without at least an explanation of how that works. "you dont get a perm in method debates" feels wrong mostly because like these are all made up debate things anyways and permutations are good ways to test the competitiveness of ks/cps/cas. that being said, if you have a good justification for why the aff shouldnt get one and they do an insufficient job of answering it, i will obviously vote on "no perms in method debates"
- dropped arguments are probably true arguments, but there are always ways to recover, however, not every argument made in a debate is an actual argument and being able to identify what is and isn't will boost your speaker points
how these are determined is inherently arbitrary across the board and let's not pretend I have some kind of rubric for you that perfectly outlines the difference between a 28.5 and a 28.6, or a 29.3 and a 29.4, or that my 29.3 will be the same as some other judges.
I do however think about speaks in terms of a competitive ladder, with sections that require certain innate skills which ended up being fairly consistent with other judges, if not slightly on the higher side of things. Hopefully, this section will more so help give you an idea of how you can improve your speeches for the next time you have me in the back.
-26s: these are few and far between, but if are to get one of these, we've probably already talked about what happened after the round. The key here is probably don't do whatever is that you did, and is most likely related to the stuff I talked about at the top.
-27s: If you're getting something in this range from me, it means you should be focusing on speaking drills (with an emphasis on clarity, and efficiency), as well as developing a deeper/fuller analysis of your arguments that picks apart the detailed warrants within the evidence you are reading.
-28s: Still need to be doing drills, but this time with more of an emphasis on affective delivery, finding a comfortable speed, and endurance. At this point, what I probably need to see more from you is effective decision making as well as judge instruction - in order to move into the 29 range, you should be writing my ballot for me with your final rebuttals in so far as using those speeches to narrow the debate down and effectively execute whatever route that may be by painting a picture of what has happened leading up to this moment
-29s: at this point, you're probably fairly clear and can effectively distinguish between pitches and tones as you go in order to emphasize relevant points. The only drills you should be doing here should be concerned with efficiency and breathing control, and if you are in the low 29's this is most likely a clarity issue and you should probably slow down a bit in order to avoid stumbling and bump your speaks up to high 29's. Higher 29's are most likely those who are making the correct decisions at most if not all stages of the debate, and successfully execute the final speeches in ways that prioritize judge instruction, and clearly lay the ballot out for me throughout the speech.
-30s: I actually don't have a problem giving these out, because I think my bar for a "perfect" speech can be subjective in so far as 30's for me can definitely make mistakes, but in the end you had a spectacular debate where you gave it everything you could and then some. I try not to give these out often though because of the risk it could possibly mess with your seeding/breaking, so if you do get one of these, thanks - I had a wonderful experience judging you.
-0.0 - 0.9 - this section is similar for every category in that it is dependent on things like argument extension and packaging, handling flows/the line by line, cross ex, link debating, etc. however, a team that is in the 29 range will have a higher bar to meet for those sort of minutia parts of your speech than those in the 28 or 27. That's because as you improve in delivery you should also be improving in execution, which means that in my eyes, a debater who may be in the 27 range the first time I see them, but is now speaking in the 28 range will have a higher bar than they did before in order to get into the high 28s.
2nd year out and I cut cards about the topic for people.
I will vote for anything except bona fide right wing extremism and ad homs. I care about tech enough to vote for dropped aspec. I don't show up to debates trying to enforce any specific ideology or scold debaters for saying things I don't like, but if I was a judge who only voted for arguments I agreed with I would be an excellent judge for reasonability, extra topical plans, infinite condo, and the states counterplan not being an opportunity cost. I have a policy background. I don't like inserted evidence unless the nature of the evidence makes it unreadable.
Debate Coach - University of Michigan
Debate Coach - New Trier High School
Michigan State University '13
Brookfield Central High School '09
I would like to be on the email chain - my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few top level things:
- If you engage in offensive acts (think racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.), you will lose automatically and will be awarded whatever the minimum speaker points offered at that particular tournament is. This also includes forwarding the argument that death is good because suffering exists. I will not vote on it.
- If you make it so that the tags in your document maps are not navigable by taking the "tag" format off of them, I will actively dock your speaker points.
- Quality of argument means a lot to me. I am willing to hold my nose and vote for bad arguments if they're better debated but my threshold for answering those bad arguments is pretty low.
- I'm a very expressive judge. Look up at me every once in a while, you will probably be able to tell how I feel about your arguments.
- I don't think that arguments about things that have happened outside of a debate or in previous debates are at all relevant to my decision and I will not evaluate them. I can only be sure of what has happened in this particular debate and anything else is non-falsifiable.
- The 1AC not being sent out by the time the debate is supposed to start
- Asking if I am ready or saying you'll start if there are no objections, etc. in in-person debates - we're all in the same room, you can tell if we're ready!
- Email-sending related failures
- Dead time
- Stealing prep
- Answering arguments in an order other than the one presented by the other team
- Asserting things are dropped when they aren't
- Asking the other team to send you a marked doc when they marked 1-3 cards
- Asking me if I need a card doc - I will ask you if I want you to start putting a card doc together.
- Disappearing after the round
Online debate: My camera will always be on during the debate unless I have stepped away from my computer during prep or while deciding so you should always assume that if my camera is off, I am not there. I added this note because I've had people start speeches without me there.
Ethics: If you make an ethics challenge in a debate in front of me, you must stake the debate on it. If you make that challenge and are incorrect or cannot prove your claim, you will lose and be granted zero speaker points. If you are proven to have committed an ethics violation, you will lose and be granted zero speaker points.
*NOTE - if you use sexually explicit language or engage in sexually explicit performances in high school debates, you should strike me. If you think that what you're saying in the debate would not be acceptable to an administrator at a school to hear was said by a high school student to an adult, you should strike me.
Organization: I would strongly prefer that if you're reading a DA that isn't just a case turn that it go on its own page - its super annoying because people end up extending/answering arguments on flows in different orders. Ditto to reading advantage CPs on case - put it on its own sheet, please!
Cross-x: Questions like "what cards did you read?" are cross-x questions. If you don't start the timer before you start asking those questions, I will take whatever time I estimate you took to ask questions before the timer was started out of your prep. If the 1NC responds that "every DA is a NB to every CP" when asked about net benefits in the 1NC even if it makes no sense, I think the 1AR gets a lot of leeway to explain a 2AC "links to the net benefit argument" on any CP as it relates to the DAs.
Translated evidence: I am extremely skeptical of evidence translated by a debater or coach with a vested interest in that evidence being used in a debate. Lots of words or phrases have multiple meanings or potential translations and debaters/coaches have an incentive to choose the ones that make the most debate-friendly argument even if that's a stretch of what is in the original text. It is also completely impossible to verify if words or text was left out, if it is a strawperson, if it is cut out of context, etc. I won't immediately reject it on my own but I would say that I am very amenable to arguments that I should.
Inserting evidence or rehighlightings into the debate: I won't evaluate it unless you actually read the parts that you are inserting into the debate. If it's like a chart or a map or something like that, that's fine, I don't expect you to literally read that, but if you're rehighlighting some of the other team's evidence, you need to actually read the rehighlighting. This can also be accomplished by reading those lines in cross-x and then referencing them in a speech or just making analytics about their card(s) in your speech and then providing a rehighlighting to explain it.
Affirmatives should have a solvency advocate. What that looks like is up for debate. I think debates that stray too far from what a reasonable person would constitute an advocacy for a policy change distort the literature base in ways that make it impossible for the negative to respond to the aff. This is compounded by excruciatingly vague plan texts that enable the aff to "no link" out of what are obvious disads to the affirmative. If your style of debate is built around manipulating and bastardizing literature to create affs that say and defend nothing, I'm probably not the judge for you. I think this vision of debate disincentivizes in-depth negative research. If you refuse to specify what your aff does, I am probably not the judge for you. If you think that saying "a thing is bad" constitutes an aff without saying what your aff does about it, I am a bad judge for you.
Topicality: I enjoy judging topicality debates when they are in-depth and nuanced. Limits are an an important question but not the only important question - your limit should be tied to a particular piece of neg ground or a particular type of aff that would be excluded. I often find myself to be more aff leaning than neg leaning in T debates because I am often persuaded by the argument that negative interpretations are arbitrary or not based in predictable literature.
5 second ASPEC shells/the like that are not a complete argument are mostly nonstarters for me. If I reasonably think the other team could have missed the argument because I didn't think it was a clear argument, I think they probably get new answers. If you drop it twice, that's on you.
Counterplans: Counterplans are more about competition than theory. While I tend to lean more neg on questions of CP theory, I lean aff on a lot of questions of competition, especially in the cases of CPs that compete on the certainty of the plan, normal means cps, and agent cps.
I think that CPs should have to be policy actions. I think this is most fair and reciprocal with what the affirmative does. I think that fiating indefinite personal decisions or actions/non-actions by policymakers that are not enshrined in policy is an unfair abuse of fiat that I do not think the negative should get access to. For example: the CP to have Trump decide not to withdraw from NAFTA is not legitimate, while the CP to have Trump announce that a policy that he will not withdraw from NAFTA would be. The CP that has the US declare it will not go to war with China would be theoretically legitimate but the CP to have Trump personally decide not to go to war with China would not be.
Disads: I am not very sympathetic to politics theory arguments (except in the case of things like rider disads, which I might ban from debate if I got the choice to ban one argument and think are certainly illegitimate misinterpretations of fiat) and am unlikely to ever vote on them unless they're dropped and even then would be hard pressed. I'm incredibly knowledgeable about politics and enjoy it a lot when debated well but really dislike seeing it debated poorly.
Conditionality: Conditionality is often good. It can be not. I have found myself to be increasingly aff leaning on extreme conditionality (think many plank cps where all of the planks are conditional + 4-5 more conditional options). Conditionality is the ONLY argument I think is a reason to reject the team, every other argument I think is a reason to reject the argument alone. Tell me what my role is on the theory debate - am I determining in-round abuse or am I setting a precedent for the community?
Kritiks: I've gotten simultaneously more versed in critical literature and much worse for the kritik as a judge over the last few years. Take from that what you will.
Your K should ideally be a reason why the aff is bad, not just why the status quo is bad. If not, you're better off with it primarily being a framework argument.
Yes the aff gets a perm, no it doesn't need a net benefit.
Affs without a plan: I generally go into debates believing that the aff should defend a hypothetical policy enacted by the United States federal government. I think debate is a research game and I struggle with the idea that the ballot can do anything to remedy the impacts that many of these affs describe.
I certainly don't consider myself immovable on that question and my decision will be governed by what happens in any given debate; that being said, I don't like when judges pretend to be fully open to any argument in order to hide their true thoughts and feelings about them and so I would prefer to be honest that these are my predispositions about debate, which, while not determinate of how I judge debates, certainly informs and affects it.
I would describe myself as a good judge for T-USFG against affs that do not read a plan. I find impacts about debatability, clash, iterative testing and fairness to be very persuasive. I think fairness is an impact in and of itself. I am not very persuaded by impacts about skills/the ability for debate to change the world if we read plans - I think these are not very strategic and easily impact turned by the aff.
I generally am pretty sympathetic to negative presumption arguments because I often think the aff has not forwarded an explanation for what the aff does to resolve the impacts they've described.
I don't think debate is roleplaying.
I am uncomfortable making decisions in debates where people have posited that their survival hinges on my ballot.
Email chains are good. Include me email@example.com
Debate Coach @ Coppell (9th Grade Center and Coppell High School)
I will work hard to be the best judge possible for your debate. I will flow your speeches and cross-ex and base my decisions as much as possible on your words. I love debate and know how much work you put into it and the least I can do is be the best judge I can be for you. Tech over truth. I’m doubling down here this year because so few judges do this in practice. I would rather vote for high quality execution of untruthful argument that is won than interject myself into the debate.
Some thoughts you may care about when doing your pref sheet in no particular order:
1. I don't have any massive preferences in terms of argument content. Please forward a well-developed ballot story. Compare methods and offense. I don't care what you do as long as you do what you do best. Tell me what you want me to vote on. Judge instructions are good. I prefer lbl to long overviews.
2. Evidence quality matters a great deal to me. I enjoy debates where cross-ex is spent digging in on your opponents claims and referencing their ev. Re-highlighted evidence should be read.
3. T - I didn’t work at camp all summer on this topic so please don’t assume I know your security cooperation buzzwords for T arguments. I rarely see 2nr’s that go for T unless a massive mistake has been made by the aff. If you've done the I default to competing interpretations and honestly am finding it harder to know what reasonability even looks like.
4. FW - A lot of people say they end up in a lot of clash debates. I don't know if this is meant to be a flex, if they've collected data and done the math, if there are just more of those debates these days, or it's just a gut feeling.
If I'm being completely honest, I don't think I end up in a lot of debates because of the school I coach, which is understandable. I am much more likely to vote for T than you may think. I vote aff when the neg goes for too much (more than 1 impact) or is sloppy and disorganized. Doing prep against the tendencies of the team you are debating will serve you well in front of me. You should know what evidence they use from the 1ac or are likely to read in the 2ac to justify their counterinterp. What impact turns are they likely to read? The Neg teams that have specific prep tend to do much better in front of me. Fairness is the often the most persuasive impact to me. I tend to believe that unlimited models of debate have no meaningful role for the neg team and are undesirable. That usually means the aff should be related to the topic in some way. Aff team's lose when they make mistakes on the tvota and on switch-side, the limits debate (counterinterp explanation), or isn’t spending time making offensive arguments (or grappling with neg offense).
5. K - Like most judges, case-specifc links pulled from ev, tags/rhetoric, established in cx, etc. are what I'm looking for. Framing rarely informs my decisions and to much time is usually invested here by both teams. I am not usually persuaded by arguments that say that aff offense just poof goes away if the neg is ahead on framing. Please doof my of us a favor and stay organized. I do appreciate clear labels for the different portions of the debate on the k. Please stick to the line-by-line. Short overviews are ok.
6. CP - Case-specfic is best here again. There's almost nothing better than specific cp with high quality evidence. 2ac permutation explanations are your friend. Later in the debate, I tend to think your explanations are just flat out new and not spin. Just invest a bit more time to unpack yourinital permutations. I generally lean aff on consult (but am much more comfortable with them on the NATO topic) and neg on PIC’s
7. DA - I'm going to miss cutting bbb updates as much as the rest of you. Seriously though, da’s, including the not as bad politics da, can be great. Impact calc and scenario comparison is super important here. Creative spin is welcome. Zero risk is possible and extremely small risk of an extinction scenario can matter a great deal or not much at all depending on the evidence and analysis accompanying these arguments.
8. Theory - I started off my career focusing on ld. Trust me, I've evaluated a ton of these debates. Please don’t read this as an excuse to read frivolous theory. There is a reason I embraced policy debate in my heart and I've chosen to invest my time here.
Add me to the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
- These are my predispositions, but technical prowess can easily alter them.
- Tech > Truth. I will evaluate an argument to the extend that I understand it and could explain it to the losing team post-round. The flow and technical debating resolve most debates, but I appreciate quality evidence and if necessary will read it. Dropped arguments are true, but only insofar as I will only evaluate the words you said. Often teams will expand on dropped arguments, permitting new answers.
- I'm best for policy arguments, but K teams can still win my ballot through better technical debating.
Topicality vs. K Affs
- I probably lean neg in these debates, but better debating can change that. While I think T is often strategic and comfortable, I would prefer to see a substantive debate, but play to your strengths.
- Counter-interp > Impact Turning. If you read a plan-less aff, I am not a huge fan of the popular impact turning strategy because I evaluate clash debates like T vs. policy affs. I care a lot about the counter-interp. Both sides should clearly clearly define the words in the resolution and explain what their topic as well as their oponent's topic look like by establishing strong internal-links. There should be a clear role for the aff and the neg. It is rather difficult to convince me that debate is more than a game or that debate has some emancapatory potential.
- Fairness > Clash, but go for what you're best at.
Topicality vs. Policy Affs
- I will vote for any predictability, limits, or ground impact but typically care more about the internal links. I should have a clear vision of what the topic looks like for the aff and neg as well as what arguments will be read.
- I'm better for plan text in a vacuum than most judges.
K vs. Policy Affs
- Neg teams will struggle to persuade me to not weigh the plan unless the line-by-line flows neg.
- I like alts that do something beyond just rethinking or being critical, but understand the strategic appeal.
- I prefer links to be to the plan.
- Death and extinction are probably bad. The neg is more likely to convince me that the link outweighs, alt solves case, or link turns case than to adopt an alternative risk calculous.
- I'm good for competition. I think the aff frequently lets the neg get away with murder. Functional + textual competition makes intuitive sense to me, but I am down for functional vs. textual competition debates.
- I love PICs when they're aff specific.
- Condo is probably good; egregious, kickable 20 plank advantage counterplans are probably bad. If the neg wants me to judge kick the counterplan, they should tell me.
- You can insert re-highlightings if you explain what the re-highlighting says and why I should care. Teams should be punished for what their evidence says, but you need to explain it. I will be very grumpy if you just say "insert this rehighlighting" without explanation.
1. joe, not judge. yes, email chain: email@example.com
email format should include tournament, round, teams, codes. example: 2021 TOC - Round 4 - Mitty AP (Aff) vs Little Rock GR (Neg)
2. have seen a lot of unkind behavior while judging. i used to think being angry was cool, and it's fine to show emotion, but don't push it too far. not trying to police expression, but sometimes its either just cringy or directly making individuals uncomfortable.
3. speech times are non-negotiable. outside help is prohibited. each debater must give 1 constructive and 1 rebuttal, unless there's a maverick situation that has been pre-approved.
4. i check to see if you clip. it actually happens a lot, and i won't hesitate to vote you down.
5. if a rehighlighting is longer than 3 lines, read it.
6. if i'm judging you:
a. [online] would prefer camera on. won't ask though.
b. [in person] i will try to sit at least 10 feet away. don't move closer. don't shake my hand.
7. don't assume i know anything about "community consensus" or the topic.
1. little rock central '22, vanderbilt '26. hod major + data science minor. i read a lot of philosophy and IR journals for research. you can ask me questions about vandy if you want.
2. read basically everything in high school as a 2A and 2N. some of my favorite arguments included:
aff: code-switching poetry in korean, wynter, soft left refugees, soko arms sales.
neg: the security K, the allied prolif DA, the onticide K, T-subs, a conditions CP, spark.
3. very data oriented. i think of debate as a time game. my flow is not the number of words you said, but the number of words i could write down. assuming argument quality is the same (it usually isn't), the side with more time spent on the core issues of the debate will win.
4. biased against capitalism and the US. don't think many teams actually critique it well though. have voted for many pro-growthers and nationalists. wish more teams would say stuff about cards from brookings or cato or one of 10 gazillion other think tanks.
5. did the toc once. broke there. qualed twice. did about 10 tournaments a year all 4 years, mostly national circuit. aware of most trends in debate, and coach both policy and K teams, though I research more Ks and K answers than anything else.
1. i judge about 50% policy rounds, 40% policy v k rounds, and 10% k v k rounds. read what you're good at.
2. i will flow your speech. i will decide the debate based on said flow. even if you don't say words, i will flow what i think. if you dance for 8 minutes, i'll write what i thought of your dancing.
3. tech over truth, but arguments must have a claim, warrant, and implication. ok with trolly arguments. your fault if you lose the sky is green, but you do have to say why the sky being green matters. if an argument is bad, beat it.
this is the single most important part of my paradigm. way too often, debaters are dissatisfied with a decision, saying "they dropped this thing!" without ever explaining why it matters for the overall debate and instead leaving it to the judge's devices. implication debating of core concessions wins debates far more often than going for dozens of concessions and not explaining implications.
4. similarly, please do impact calculus. why does something matter more? old-school novice-style impact calculus debating is actually helpful for most debates.
5. i try to judge without bias (like most other judges), but i admittedly am not perfect, which is why i included my background since no judge is entirely insulated from their opinions. below, i've tried to relay my opinions on specific arguments just so you understand where my baseline is. this can certainly be overcome with good debating, warrants, spin, and evidence, but incorporating some of my preferences can help render a decision in your favor.
6. i obviously will really hate you if you read something racist, sexist, transphobic, or otherwise, but if the other team doesn't call you out, i may be almost just as mad. if you said something that harms others (i.e. calling someone a slur, misgendering, etc) i will intervene, but if you say something that could be interpreted as such (i.e. drone strikes good, malthus, etc), i won't intervene. the closer you toe the line, the more likely i am to intervene. i will try my absolute hardest to let the debaters debate this out, but participant safety vastly outweighs the educational benefit of just letting personal attacks continue.
7. given this, feel free to postround. i will most likely disagree with you, given that i rendered a decision the other way, but i feel like it's an important way for debaters to hold judges accountable for potentially questionable decisions and make them rethink certain parts of their decision. that being said, if you become hostile, i will similarly become hostile. there's a difference between respectfully questioning someone's evaluation or lack thereof of certain arguments, and simply being angry because a judge disagrees with you and making it everyone else's problem.
8. above all other biases, i'm slightly neg leaning in most debates. i think most aff teams just can't decide what they're going for until the 2AR, and then usually don't say a sufficient amount of words in the 1AR on the thing they eventually decide to go for. good aff teams will flag offense and have more consistent wording between the final rebuttals, and the 2AR will impact out why this outweighs the 2NR's offense.
obligatory K section
you can read whatever, with some caveats.
1. don't assume i know anything about your authors or what they are saying. explanation is imperative.
2. please be specific. reading a K is not an excuse for not having links. quotes are great, but need to actually prove the link.
3. Ks that are not "plan focus bad" are an uphill battle due to uniqueness issues. if you like to go for these, the perm double bind better have a good answer and either the alt or the status quo better generate uniqueness. if you go for a root cause link without an alt or uniqueness or framework, you will probably lose.
4. framework is not "usually a wash" and determines a lot of offense. i will not vote for a "middle ground" interp not introduced by either team. if it doesn't matter, tell me why. if you don't tell me why "fiat racist" outweighs "procedure", or vice versa, you will lose. defense helps as a tiebreaker, but usually impact comparison matters more.
5. aff teams should read less state inevitable cards and more impact turns. solidify strategy by the 2AR and don't shotgun. don't have a preference for extinction/framework strategy over the perm/link turn strategy, but it makes less sense to go for the perm with an aff that talks about heg.
6. i am much better for the "you link you lose" K with significant framework investment than the "we fiat international revolution" K with "try or die turns aff impacts". in both cases, i am perplexed if the 2AR does not say something about how this is an untenable aff burden unless they are winning a killer impact turn. this doesn't mean i'm not open to well thought out strategy, i just have more experience with the former than the latter.
7. K v K: the link matters most for the perm, but impact comparison or turns case matters most overall. framework helps. explaining what the role of debate is helps me evaluate the alt vs the aff a lot better. the more absolutist position you take the better, although PIKs are fine if there's an actual impact to the link.
1. T v K affs:
a. explaining what the ballot does for the scope of impacts is most important for both teams:
affs often have big impacts but don't do a lot to solve them. doing risk calculus like you're debating "x-ism outweighs procedure" and doing solvency debating to show you solve some of the impact is most important.
negs often have small impacts that they can solve but lack impact comparison. limiting the scope of what debate/the aff can solve is most beneficial. good 2Ns ask the question: how would either the counter interp or the aff solve this in any capacity?
b. strategy wise, consistency is important.
affs would be better served choosing just a counter interp strategy or just an impact turn strategy. defense helps.
negs would be better served going for a small impact, solvency takeouts to DAs, and switch side.
c. TVAs are meh. if the aff says "free palestine now!" the neg has no obligation to say how this might be solved by a job guarantee. if you can, more power to you.
d. more persuaded by limits than ground for the neg. preparing for tons of affs usually means in depth debates are much harder, even if the neg could pull a K out of their backfiles.
e. intuitively, fairness/clash are better impacts to me than education/lawyering. it's smaller, but affs are usually more ready to impact turn legalism/the topic.
f. fairness is not inherently "just an internal link" OR "an intrinsic good". teams must explain beyond two words why it is or isn't an impact. warrants please!
similarly, i'm not sure why aff teams are only answering fairness with either "just an internal link" or "structural unfairness". usually neg teams are good at just no linking both. aff DAs about how the neg has weaponized fairness are much more persuasive than answers 2Ns are all too ready for.
i prefer clash because i went for it more and it has some inroads to aff offense, but have voted on and coached teams to go for fairness many times. don't over-adapt.
2. T vs plan affs:
a. i enjoy T debates. i think some judges have an unreasonably high burden for T simply because it's a procedural. T is substance, and you should debate it as such. that being said, you have to not spread your T blocks at an incomprehensible pace.
b. i have not seen a good neg T card since CJR. please change that.
c. don't have a preference for limits or precision. just do comparison.
d. reasonability should be framed as offense. it doesn't make sense without a counter interp.
e. no idea why T has to be 5 minutes of the 2NR if substance is also bad for the aff (example: they dropped presumption).
not sure why a BI means the aff must increase taxes.
1. solvency deficits need impacts. if you don't have any, find a better aff.
2. textual competition alone seems pretty bad, but i also agree that there's not a great brightline for "functional competition".
3. a lot of theory arguments don't have great interps even when the counterplan's competition is not that great either. read definitions.
1. not many problems here. actually fine with rider DAs, but you have to have that debate.
2. make complete arguments. do turns case.
3. bad DAs can be reduced to zero risk. same with bad advantages.
4. affs don't straight turn enough.
1. case debating is a lost art.
the state of 2AC line by line is abysmal, resulting in incomprehensible sound bytes that do not resemble even half of an argument. conversely, neg teams usually just spam cards instead of actually reading the affs terrible cards and pointing out how terrible they are. if you don't do these things, you will impress me.
2. i love impact turns, even death good, although you shouldn't tell individuals they need to off themselves. would much rather judge a debate like this than a competition 2AR.
1. condo is the only (obvious) reason to reject the team. i could be convinced otherwise, but i haven't heard a warrant (yet) for why international fiat or the like made the entire 2AC undebatable.
2. much less biased for the neg than i used to be. i actually enjoy theory debates, but a lot of times, both sides just assert truisms about how debate works without explaining why or questioning the other sides warrants (example: why is aff or neg side bias actually true?)
3. voting record:
condo bad (2) - condo good (2)
word pics bad (0) - word pics good (1)
1. i've noticed everyone is going into the 29 range, so i've started to start at 28.5 instead. i'll adjust based on tournament pool.
2. your speaks will go down if you yell or insult each other. conversely, speaks will go up with jokes and humor.
3. 99.7% will be within the 27.3-29.7 range (3 standard deviations), with the median around 28.5. if you reach below 27.3, you almost assuredly made someone unsafe. if you reach above 29.7, you are the best speaker i have ever seen.
4. reading better ev, doing line by line with warrants, and actually comparing impacts will make me less grumpy and correlate with higher speaks.
1. if i look confused, this just means i don't get it. if i nod, it just means i get what you mean, not necessarily that i think it's the best/winning argument.
2. if you say your evidence is great and its not, i will be annoyed.
3. emailing is not prep, but if you take obnoxiously long, i will tell you to start prep.
4. deleting analytics is definitely prep.
5. "tag team" cx is fine, but if one debater is taking every question, speaks will suffer.
Northview IS, MS
**If I look confused, I am confused, please make me not confused.
**Yes you can read the K in front of me HOWEVER reading the K in front of me on either side IS NOT a guaranteed ballot. Quite frankly I've grown frustrated with the K especially when it's poorly debated.
**Most of this is stolen from Pranay because my paradigm deleted right before a tournament (Update: I did go back and add some stuff since then)
**LD folks scroll to the bottom for specific LD stuff
1—Please don't call me judge. Makes me feel hella old. Just call me Juliette.
2—Tech over truth to its logical extent. Debate is not about solely the truth level of your arguments but your ability to substantially defeat the other team’s claims with your technical ability.
3—When debating ask the question of Why? Technical debating is not just realizing WHAT was dropped but WHY what was dropped matters and how important it is in the context of the rest of the debate. “If you start thinking in these terms and can explain each level of this analysis to me, then you will get closer to winning the round. In general, the more often this happens and the earlier this happens it will be easier for me to understand where you are going with certain arguments. This type of analysis definitely warrants higher speaker points from me and it helps you as a debater eliminate my predispositions from the debate."- Matt Cekanor
4—For those curious, I mainly debated the K in high school (on both sides). I'm usually good with most Ks, even so, you still have the burden of explaining it to me well as I vote off the flow and won't do additional work for you even if I read the lit. (Excuse the rant but...) I think most POMO arguments in debate are stupid and for some reason every POMO debate I've judged the team has double turned themselves (lowk probably cuz most (if not all) POMO is ridiculous to read in this activity). Then again, debate it well and yes I will vote on whatever POMO stuff you throw my way.
This may be one of the rare sections that isn't stolen from Pranay (not my fault he didnt have one smh).
Yes, I read a K aff. Yes, I will vote on them. No, I don't think a majority of these affs solve any of the impacts they claim to solve. I think a key thing that most of these affs lack is proper solvency. If you're going to convince me that you solve things, I need a good reason to either why your method is good (i.e. give me concrete examples of what your aff looks like) and/or tell me why an aff ballot in this debate solves. That being said, for the negative, I often find a good presumption push to be a solid strat.
1. No preference on what impact you go for (but come on, clash is not an impact... alas, if you debate it well I will vote on it). Some impacts require more case debating than others. For example, if going for fairness, you need to spend more time winning the ballot portion of your offense and defense against the other team’s theory of how debate operates. If going for clash, you need to spend more time winning how your model over a year’s worth of debates can solve their offense and spend more time with defense to the affirmative.
2. I have spent a large part of my high school career thinking about arguments for the negative and the affirmative in these debates. To put it into perspective, almost 90% of my debates over a given season are framework debates, on the neg and the aff. For a large amount of framework debates, the better-practiced team always wins.
3. Use defense to your advantage. Nebulous claims of inserting the affirmative can be read on the negative with no specific internal link or impact debating will largely not factor in my decision. However, there are fantastic ways to use defense like switch side debate and the TVA.
4. Very specific TVA’s can work against very specific types of framework arguments. If the affirmative has forwarded a critique of debating the topic then TVA’s can mitigate the affirmative’s DAs. However, if the affirmative team has forwarded an impact turn to the imposition of framework in the round, they are less useful.
5. Impact turning topicality - Do it. Do it well and you'll be rewarded.
6. Often times when starting out, 2AR's go for too much in the 2AR. If you are impact turning T, go for one DA's and do sufficient impact comparison. Your 2AR should answer the questions of how T is particularly violent or links to your theory of power and most importantly HOW MY BALLOT CAN RESOLVE THOSE THINGS. Your impact only matters as much as its scope of solvency. You must also do risk comparison. Most neg framework teams are better at this. The way the aff loses these debates is when there's a DA with substantive impact turn and there's a negative impact that is explained less but is paired with substantively more internal link work and solvency comparison.
If going for a CI, focus on one impact turn and focus on how the CI solves it and how the DA links to their interp. Think of it like CP, your CI should include some aspects of their interpretation but avoids the risk of your DAs.
K v Policy AFF
Two types of 2NRs. Ones that go for in round implications and ones that go for out of round implications.
A)In Round—In round route requires a larger push on framework and a higher level of technical debating on the level of the standards but is usually much easier if you’re a practiced K 2NR. 2NC will usually have like 10 arguments on framework, 1AR extends their standards and answers like 2 arguments. 2NR just goes for the DA and all conceded defense, GGs. In addition, the best K 2NRs going for the in round version will have a link to the “plan or the effects of the plan”. What this means in this sense is that they will tie affirmative implementation to a link that proves their ethic mobilizes bad subjects IN DEBATE.
B)Out of Round—Out of round requires like close to 0 time on framework. Most policy 2As now just grant the K links but just say affirmative vs the alternative. Thus, if you are going for the alternative with links to the plan, just spend time winning the link debate, explaining why the affirmative doesn’t happen in the way they think. Most times these Ks will have a substantial impact turn debate so winning that is essential.
K v K Debates
1. Technical Debating is often lost in these debates but this necessarily happens due to the nature of K v K debates as theory of power debating is often the most important part. That being said, vague link debating will mitigate you winning your theory of power. 2. You need to pick something and defend it. The neg team will ask about the affirmative in 1AC CX, that explanation should stay consistent throughout the round. Lack of a consistent explanation will lower my threshold for buying a risk of a link and higher the burden for you to win the permutation.
3. Use links to implicate solvency. Often times its hard to make a K aff stick to in round or out of round solvency. Use links in the 2NC and 2NR to mitigate parts of both so even if the 2AR consolidates to one, you still have defensive arguments.
4. K affs have built in theory of power and solvency that's inherently offensive. I'll be grumpy if you jettison the aff but will not if you provide extrapolated offensive explanations in the 2AR using your affirmative and pieces of offense that they dropped. 2AR's that do this will be rewarded with higher speaks.
Topicality (Policy v Policy)
1. Fine judge for these debates. T can lower your burden of prepping out some affirmatives that are inherently untopical and it's a good strat to have in your back pocket. However, for this topic the caselists and violations are pretty overlimiting.
2. Caselists are always useful for understanding these arguments.
3. Impact debating doesn't matter much in these debates but internal link debating does. Make sure to indict and compare interps and both sides. Predictability is the IL to all impacts.
4. The best 2AR's in these debates are ones that pick through negative evidence and identify no intent to define, arbitrariness, and combine that with reasonability
1. Probably err negative on theory concerns but if there's a technical crush I will certainly vote affirmative.
2. My predisposition toward counterplans is that they must be both textually and functionally competitive but always up to interpretation by the theory debate in round.
3. The best counterplans are PICs and other counterplans that are cut to beat specific affs. That being said, I do find some PICs (especially on this topic) to be extremely abusive so I will be sympathetic towards the aff on a PICs bad theory debate.
4. Presumption flips aff when you read a CP.
5. Affirmatives always freak out when they hit a CP they don't have blocks to but your advantages are there for a reason, its not hard to write specific deficits during the 1NC.
I dislike generic theory debates. I do not think anything but condo/extremely abusive PICs is a reason to reject the team but I can be persuaded otherwise if there is extreme in-round abuse or the other team straight-up drops it.
It will take a lot to convice me to vote aff on condo in a one/two conditional off debate. Three conditional off can start getting more legit in novice. Four and plus and sure I'll listen.
1. Risk matters most when evaluating a DA. The affirmative arguments are made to give me skepticism in the internal links and the negatives job is to mitigate that by link work and turns case debating implicating affirmative solvency.
2. DA is not a full DA until a uniqueness, link, internal link, and impact arguments are presented. If not present in the block, the 1AR will get new answers. I also need a full scenario in the 2NR for me to vote on.
3. When the DA is the best utilized is the 1NR. Very hard for the 1AR when 1NR gets 5 minutes to read a slew of cards answering all 2AC claims.
1. Yes you can win on a straight-up presumption ballot. This type of ballot is not popular anymore but it should be. Too many teams get away with reading an affirmative with no specific evidence or internal links. This was especially prevalent on the criminal justice reform topic but it is still a problem on the water topic too. Teams will highlight evidence terribly and act like the solve it even though it makes no sense, especially against the K. K teams should take advantage of this. Ex. aff that talks about financing technologies- solvency advocates will mention one type of technology but the advantage area will be about a different kind. Neg teams call this out and go for presumption.
2. Affirmative teams must answer all case arguments not merely by extending their impact again but by answering the warrants in the card. Most policy teams just say "doesn't assume our x" without refuting the warrants in the card.
1. Don't really care what you read in front of me. Though I've spent the vast majority of my high school career in the K realm, and probably because of that, I've thought about most policy answers to the K so either side can make sense to me. However, it is your job as debaters to ensure a technical win, and ensure my job is to solely evaluate the flow.
2. If you are going to read the K in front of me, please do it well. Because I've seen the K debated at some of the highest levels, it's annoying to see it butchered.
3. I'm fine for policy v policy throw-downs. These debates are often much easier to resolve as one team almost always clearly wins on the flow and are much easier to understand.
(This is also not stolen from Pranay... but hey I needed some of my own takes on speaks)
I find myself giving speaks on the higher end. Ways to improve your speaks include:
Being funny, making smart arguments, having fun, being clear, not saying your opponent conceded/dropped something when they didn't, talking about penguins, make fun of anyone I know.
Cross-ex can be a great way to improve speaks, however, there's a thin line between being competetive and just being rude and I have no shame in docking speaks if you choose to be a jerk.
It irks me when debaters claim their opponents "dropped" something when I have it on my flow. I understand that sometimes mistakes happen and you don't flow an argument or something similar. However (comma) if it becomes a recurring problem in a speech I will dock speaks each time it happens.
Also, I will yell "clear" three times, if you choose not to slow down or be clear I will start docking speaks. If you are speaking faster than I can move my pen or type then don't complain when I didn't catch something on my flow. "I don’t care how fast or unclear you are on the body of cards b/c it is my belief that you will extend that body text in an intelligent manner later on. However, if you spread tags as if you are spreading the body of a card, I will not flow them. If you read analytics as if you are spreading the body of a card, I will not flow them. If I do not flow an argument, you’re not going to win on it." - Blake Deng
I’m not an LD person, so keep things as simple and direct as possible.
I sorta know what a value criterion is.
You gotta do more weighing in phil debates.
Now on a technicality I’m probably best for the K, however, because policy speech times are longer, I tend to look for more warranted comparisons by the end of the debate. Also, I just have high standards for explanations.
I refuse to vote on something I don’t comfortably understand.
Important thing to remember is I was a policy debater NOT and LD debater. Lucky for you, my face says it all, if I look confused, I am confused, please just make me not confused. Also, NO TRICKS.
I would like to be on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Debate for Southern Nazarene University since 2021 and former coach of Crossings Christian School from 2011 to 2023.
Things you need to know for prefs:
Kritiks: Very familiar with kritiks and non-topical affs. I like kritiks and K affs and can vote for them.
Policy: I am familiar with policy debates and can judge those. My squad is designed to be flex so I am good with either.
Speed: I can handle any kind of speed as long as you are clear.
Theory/FW/T: I am not a fan of FW-only debates so if you are neg and hit a non-topical aff I will entertain FW but that shouldn't be your only off-case. Contesting theory of power is a good strat for me.
Performance/non-traditional debate: Despite what some would think coming from a Christian school, I actually like these kinds of debates and have voted up many teams.
I try to be a tab judge but I know I tend to vote on more technical prowess. I believe debate should be a fun and respectful activity and I try to have a good time judging the round. I think debaters are among the smartest students in the nation and I always find it a privilege to judge a round and give feedback.
Hello! I am a second-year out from Marquette University High School currently studying real estate and business economics at Marquette University. I debated at the ToC my senior year with Bernard Medeiros and coached by Matt Cekanor, with assistance from the brilliant Josh Miller. I currently am a de facto assistant for Northview High School out of GA. Add me on the email chain at email@example.com.
To keep it short for if you're rushing for pref sheets:
T vs. K Aff - 9/10
T vs. Policy - 3/10
K - 9/10
CP - 9.5/10
DA - 10/10
Topic knowledge - did a lot of work on water, a lot less on NATO AI/CS/Biotech--other career pursuits have come calling!
Water Record: Aff 28 - 22 Neg (2-6 K Aff vs. T -- 0-1 K aff vs. K)
Zero risk exists and is a viable strategy in front of me. I have voted for terminal defense and will again.
Influences: Matt Cekanor, Joseph Tierney IV, Josh Miller, Will Deverey, Bernard Medeiros, Anders Sundheim, Harry Lucas, David Griffith
1. I was a 2A/1N in high school and primarily went for primarily policy arguments but overall was on a very flex team. I am a very flexible judge ideologically, you can run and say pretty much anything in front of me.
2. I think debate is a game but if there are structural problems they can be pointed out and discussed. I am best at evaluating policy debates but I'm also your judge for pretty much any critique you want to run.
3. If you have a framing page and don't read impact defense it's going to be difficult for you to win. I don't care about your theories on "cognitive bias" if there's no evidence my bias is wrong to begin with.
4. What is conceded is true but only has the implications you say it has. I evaluate what's on my flow and nothing more.
5. Conditionality is good but I've been changing my mind slowly. I find that teams use counterplans to replace substantive case debate. I've noticed that 2Ns blow off conditionality a lot. You'll lose if you do this.
6. I attempt to write the least interventionary ballot. This means you should be articulating your arguments. Leaving things up to my interpretation is risky - I am a dissident on many questions.
7. Assumption-centered debate is bad. Do not assume I know or understand your argument. Do not assume I know or understand how your argument interacts with other arguments in the debate. Explain, substantiate, defend. I hate hearing "This was answered in the overview." I flow well and it's extremely annoying.
8. Most people already don't think this but, just to be sure, these are not rules for debating with me in the back. I am very candid and open about how I think about debate because it may help you cohere your approach and make it convincing--this all exists to help you help me.
My philosophy on these isn't actually that complicated. My beef with K affs is that they either defend nothing, their offense isn't tied to debating, or both. I'd prefer if you defend spillover but if there's a disadvantage to policy debates on this topic that you think outweighs topicality, go for it. Generally though I lean toward T being good but I have no problem evaluating these debates.
1. I like well-developed, clear link stories that clash with the affirmative and turn the case. You won't have to explain your theory of power to me so much as you have to explain how it applies to the affirmative specifically. Thus, if I don't understand your theory of power at the end of the debate you've done something wrong.
2. I'm not a huge fan of critical debaters who attempt to garner non-unique links to the affirmative but I'm not gonna throw them out either. If that's your strat, go for it.
3. If you have a K you want to run, run it. I am well-versed in just about any critical literature. Most of my time has been spent in Settler Colonialism and Capitalism, while I've spent the least amount of time with Queer Theory.
4. Affs: Extinction first is easier to win than the perm but I'm good with either.
5. If you don't have an alt at the end of the debate and I don't have a reason the aff makes the world worse, you're probably going to lose.
Overall, I'm good for good K debaters, bad for anything less.
Addendum: I enjoy Security Ks but Fem IR is an offensively bad subgenre of critical security studies. Please avoid reading this argument when I'm in the back. You can ask me why I'm right if you want after the round. Pt 9 on the overview still applies, just be warned that you're barking up the wrong tree.
Update 9/13/21: I have voted for Ks 3 times this year where the negative goes for FW/epistemology first and no affirmative team has told me that the perm solves epistemic deficits and that epistemic links are still links to the epistemic status quo and the K's notion of changing debate subjectivity is just as illusory as fiat. Why. I know they're the big CRT K and it's scary to call it dumb but just say they're wrong lol, they absolutely are.
T and Theory
1. I think that winning complete or nearly complete defense on T is sufficient for the aff even in a world of competing interpretations. If the aff meets, they meet. I'm unlikely to give the following RFD: "I think the aff meets, but the negative interpretation is better, even if marginally, so any risk you don't meet, etc." These RFDs are bad and given by people who do not think about debate.
2. Your probably sub-par T cards are not predictive of the consequences of voting negative. Topicality cards (especially in the last 4 years) are bastardizations of the topic literature base designed to arbitrarily and artificially limit the topic. Basically, I don't care about camp, camp is wrong (thus, I am ambivalent about "precision" and "predictability". This will change when the community does). This all goes away if your evidence is good.
3. I think most policy affirmatives are topical. I used to love techy, small-word T arguments but now I find them absurd and pointless. Ironically, I think T-substantial actually has a place, but your evidence should actually be good.
4. I am predisposed to default to reasonability even in a world of competing interpretations. You think reasonability is "nebulous" because you can't gauge what is and isn't a common use of a term of art on a topic, because you haven't researched it.
5. You think "competing interpretations" means "small topics good" and assume that just "makes sense", usually failing to elaborate--I don't care what your coach thinks--if you can't tell me in detail why small topics are good, you will lose.
6. T isn't a debate about how words should limit the resolution but how they already do.
7. You should not go for "plan text in a vacuum" but "the plan text cannot be deconstructed word by word."
8. I vote on solvency advocate theory both as a theoretical argument and terminal case defense very hastily if you prove the abuse.
9. [Update 11/23/21] I'm very much open to hearing about plan flaws, and I vote for terminal solvency deficits, zero risk is real and you should go for it more against the aff. I'm not an offense-defense first guy (it's a useful heuristic sometimes but, if it's your only heuristic, it's bad. See: all of the above on T.
1. Condo is good (but, word to the wise, you're more likely to win spending 4 quality minutes on case). I think it's necessary to test affirmatives but I get a lot more sympathetic the more you abuse it.
2. All CP styles are theoretically legitimate.
3. You must have a 1NC solvency advocate for each plank of your counterplan. I am very kind to 2As and will grant the 1ARs new arguments at worst and at best I will reject the team (Cekanor got this from me, not the other way around).
4. Conditionality means I will judge kick the CP. Presumption doesn't flip any direction. If the CP solves nothing but there's still a disadvantage to the affirmative that outweighs and/or turns the case, there's no reason to do the aff just because the other proposed method was bad. I'm open to a debate about this but I've never seen it happen, probably because I'm right.
1. I'm a bit of an oldhead on DAs. I very much appreciate DAs with specific links to the case. If your 1NC is just DAs and case you will get +.5 speaks and +1 if you win.
2. Your 1NC DA should have uniqueness, link, internal link, and impact all in the 1NC. You have not made an argument if the 1NC lacks any of these components, and I will let the 2A do whatever he wants with it long as he says anything at all and the 1AR will get new answers.
3. My threshold for understanding how a DA functions is pretty low. It's not rocket science. But, you will have to explain the ways it turns the case, because I look at disads and see multiple case turns, so if you're super general I'm not going to do the work for you.
4. Don't be afraid to sit teams down on DA+Case in the 2NR. I love these strats and if you're losing the CP don't feel obligated to go for it.
5. I'm predisposed to extinction first and consequentialism but I've voted for soft left affs and will do so again.
6. Fiat absolutely solves all politics links--but do the debating.
1. I'm very kind to teams in this year (ok i guess 2 years hmm, this is fine, get in the pod, eat the bugs etc. etc.) of online debate. If you ask, I will 99.9999% of the time give you grace on tech issues. If you don't ask I will be suspicious.
2. Please tell me your preferred pronouns if tab doesn't do it for you. Help me help you.
3. Don't stick me up - you're not a G, you go to punk bars and listen to indie music, and you live in a gated community.
4. Instrinsicness on the DA - yes.
5. My role as a judge precedes anything else. I will err on the side of letting stuff play out. For example, if someone used gendered language and that gets brought up I will probably let the round happen and correct any ignorance after the fact. This ends when it begins to threaten the safety of round participants. Where that line is is entirely up to me. Any disagreement with way I handle things should be taken up with coaches who fail to develop a team culture that precludes nasty behavior.
6. Disclosure - yes, I always disclose my decision. No tournament rules will stop me from doing so. Ask me questions after the round. Don't post-round like a punk though. There are certain post-round behaviors I do not tolerate. You know who you are. Disclose your aff. I gladly vote on misdisclosure--it's a tough issue so be prepped with receipts. Always a good idea to get disclosure in writing.
7. Trash talk - fine by me, I don't care.
8. A sense of humor is refreshing. Make quips! I used to love cartoon Spiderman as a kid.
Debated at Wake Forest University (2016-21) and Little Rock Central High School (2012-16)
Currently coaching for Berkeley Prep
- Put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be as clear as possible. I'd rather you slow down than continue stumbling over words and making it painful for all involved.
Be relatively friendly to one another. It's annoying watching a team mock their opponents without reason.
I don't have an argument preference but I am more familiar with K/K affs. However, I was initially trained in "traditional" policy style arguments. So, say whatever just do it well and help me out with policy acronyms/jargon (especially topic specific stuff).
Lastly, it is imperative that you explain to me what voting or not voting aff/neg means. I find it frustrating when I have to construct the big picture at the end of the debate. I expect you to write my ballot for me by a) explaining what offense you are winning or going to win by the end of the speech and 2) contextualizing those arguments to the other team's.
If you have any questions about certain arguments or misc. preferences, please don't hesitate to ask!