MIFA Pappas Invitational
2022 — NSDA Campus, MI/US
Policy Judges Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
*******Holt HS 10/22/22 - Public Forum ***************************************************************************************************************
Read below for background on me. I have never judged Public Forum. My background is in Policy Debate which probably means a few things for you:
1) In the absence of an alternative framework, I will default to judging the round in terms of a cost benefit analysis. On balance, weighing the plusses and minuses, does it makes sense to do what the resolution says or no?
2) I am a tabula rasa judge. Whatever framework is argued most compellingly and backed by well-reasoned and clearly articulated analysis will win my ballot. I prefer to let the debaters decide the framework for my decision through their own good argumentation.
3) I pay close attention to the line-by-line. Unanswered arguments are given full weight, BUT their implications still need to be explained by the team that wins them. So in other words, you still have to do the weighing. To me, a good debate is one with direct clash on line-by-line arguments in the early speeches and rebuttals/final focus speeches where two good teams tell me why given what they said versus what the other team said, this why their arguments are better. Don't be two ships passing in the night. Engage with one another's arguments.
4) Performance is for speaker points. You can have superior oratorical skills and and lose the round. This is Debate. Not Oratory in forensics where you just read your speech. Answer your opponents arguments on the flow and frame the round in rebuttals to win my ballot.
5) I do not mind a somewhat faster pace, and can handle flowing it, but I'd strongly prefer a more focused round with direct clash on the most salient arguments in the literature on the topic over anything that resembles a Policy Debate-style spread strategy in Public Forum. That is not what PF, in my mind, is supposed to be about. So you can probably go a little faster with me, but don't go nuts, ok?
*******PAPAS Invitational 10/8/22 - Policy *************************************************************************************************************
I was a Policy Debate coach and judge for almost a decade in the 1990’s. I haven’t judged a round in 20 years, so I’m a little rusty and more recent innovations or conventions in the activity may be new to me and require some extra explanation. As a debate judge, I was basically cryogenically frozen in the year 2000, was thawed out this weekend and handed a ballot. Your coach may have some idea what that means as far as how you should adapt to me and may have even known me back then.
If you tag your arguments with a brief tag (e.g. a sentence or two), and speak somewhat clearly, I should be able to follow you. If you don’t, and I get lost, that’s bad for you. I have zero familiarity with the policy topic this year or common affirmatives or disads or kritiks from camps etc.. Err on the side of over-explaining to me.
Philosophically, I am a Tabula Rasa, non-interventionist judge. To the extent that I can still flow well enough, I will judge based on the line by line. By default, I am a policymaker and will decide the round based on a cost benefit analysis of aff case/plan versus status quo or counterplan, but if I am given compelling arguments to vote on a pre-fiat kritik, an abuse argument (e.g. topicality) or whatever other decision criteria the debaters can construct and successfully defend, I will.
Any questions, ask. I’ll try to clarify as best as I can.
I started debate last year when I formed my schools first debate team. I am now the novice coach of that team after winning the National Urban Debate League National Championship last year. I am open to any agruments as long as they are understood and followed thorugh by the debaters. It is important to me that debaters point out flaws in agruments or inconsistances in the debate. If they don't notice or say something that the opposing team did incorrectly like dropping a argument, then I am less likely to vote on it. I almost always go easy on novice teams and hardly ever vote on if debate etiquette was poor. Clarity over speed makes for better debates. I think DAs and CPs are always great offcase, I find myself voting on them often. Kritiks and theory are also acceptable as long as they debaters understand and are very clear on what they are arguing. Email chains are always super helpful and unless not allowed I will always have my email in the chat. Lastly, be nice to each other and have fun!
Debate Philosophy Statement
I have been judging, teaching, and coaching policy debate for over 30 years at a variety of schools in Michigan and have always been open to a variety of arguments so as long as they are well-development and explained. Arguments need to be reasonably well understood by the debaters, more than just reading of tagline and evidence, debaters need to be able to explain the interconnectedness between arguments on and issues, the relationship between different issues, and the framing of the debate with a coherent narrative. Providing multiple avenues to show how you win and why relative to the opposing team, with the assumption that you may not win every argument, is critical to sound argumentation and my ballot.
I do like a well-developed and explained Kritik (AFF or NEG) debate. Don’t assume that I know what you are talking about or have read up on what is trending in the national circuit. I am familiar with popular Ks (Capitalism, Security, ect) and like creative thinking. But I don’t tend to fill in the holes with my own interpretation. So, a lackluster, undeveloped K does you more harm than good. That said, comparatively I do prefer policy-based debates that are strategic and thoughtful. I am not a fan of a negative team that runs eight off, with external contradictory positions. I am also not a fan of an Aff with a slew of undeveloped Advantages. Perhaps my least favorite group of arguments is theory debates. I often find them confusing and a regurgitation of taglines. Unless purposeful and strategic or completely dropped, I tend not to vote for a team to win the round on theory. Topicality, on the other hand, if thoroughly argued, I enjoy listening, however; it hard for me to vote Neg on T for a mainstream Aff that has been run all year.
Also, It is very important that debaters compare evidence and a weigh issues and arguments in rebuttals. I won't do it for you unless you leave me no choice. The line by line is important, but I am not going to vote on an undeveloped argument just because it is dropped on the flow. I need to be able to understand the arguments and evidence clearly in the context of the whole debater.
Finally, show respect, have fun, learn, and grow, and do your best. You can ask me any questions.
Debate Coach, Okemos High School
Quick version: If you want to run it, justify it and win it and I'll go for it. I tend to think the resolution is the focus (rather than the plan), but have yet to see a high school round where that was a point with which anybody took issue or advantage. I like succinct tags, but there should be an explanation/warrant or evidence after them. I do pine for the days when debaters would at least say something like "next" when moving from one argument to another. If you run a critical argument, explain it--don't assume I understand the nuances or jargon of your theory. Similarly, the few critical debaters who have delivered succinct tags on their evidence to me have been well-rewarded. Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but I can't flow your 55-70 word tag, and the parts I get might not be the parts you want. I think all four debaters are intelligent beings, so don't be rude to your opponent or your partner, and try not to make c-x a free-for-all, or an opportunity for you to mow over your partner. I like the final rebuttals to compare and evaluate, not just say "we beat on time-frame and magnitude"--give me some explanation, and don't assume you are winning everything on the flow. Anything else, just ask.
The longer version: I'm a dinosaur. I debated in college more than 30 years ago. I coached at Michigan State University for 5 years. I'm old enough I might have coached or debated your parents. I got back into debate because I wanted my children to learn debate.
That history is relevant because I am potentially neither as fast a flow as I used to be (rest assured, you needn't pretend the round is after-dinner speaking) and for years I did not kept pace with many of the argumentative developments that occurred. I know and understand a number of K's, but if you make the assumption I am intimately familiar with some aspect of Kato, Taoism, Heidegger, or whoever, you may not like the results you get. Half the time I still struggle to be conversant about what many of these arguments involve unless somebody prompts me (indigenous peoples and nuclear development, anthropocentrism, tech=evil, etc. is far more informative than simply saying Baudrillard or Zizek). Go for the idea/theme not the author. If you like to use the word "subjectivity" a lot on your K argumentation, you might explain what you mean. Same thing for policy and K debaters alike if they like to argue "violence".
Having discussed my inadequacies as a judge, here is my default position for judging rounds: Absent other argumentation, I view the focus of the round as the resolution. The resolution may implicitly shrink to the affirmative if that is the only representation discussed. If I sign the ballot affirmative, I am generally voting to implement the resolution, and if the affirmative is the only representation, then it is as embodied by the plan. However, I like the debaters to essentially have free rein--making me somewhat tabula rosa. So if you prefer a more resolution focus rather than plan focus, I'm there. I also like cases that have essential content and theory elements (stock issues), but if one is missing or bad, the negative needs to bring it up and win it to win. I do generally view my role as a policy maker, in that I am trying to evaluate the merits of a policy that will be applied to the real world--but that evaluation is being done in a format that has strong gamelike aspects and strong "cognitive laboratory" aspects. As such, I will accept counter-intuitive arguments (e.g. extinction is good), planless affs, etc. and vote on them--although you will have to justify/win such an approach if it is challenged and in many cases there is a bit of a natural bias against such arguments.
I say "absent other argumentation" because if you want me to use another process, I all ears. I'm pretty open-minded about arguments (even counter-intuitive ones), so if you want to run something, either theoretical or substantive, justify it, argue it, and if you win it, I'll vote for it.
The biggest problem I observed when I did judge college rounds, and at the high school level, is that debates about how I should evaluate the round are often incomplete and/or muddled, such as justifying the use of some deontological criteria on utilitarian grounds. While such consequentialism is certainly an option in evaluating deontological positions, I struggle to see how I'm not ultimately just deciding a round on some utilitarian risk-based decision calculus like I would ordinarily use. I've had this statement in my philosophy for years and no one seems to understand it: if I reject cap, or the state, or racism, or violations of human rights, or whatever because it leads to extinction/war/whatever, am I really being deontological--or just letting you access extinction via a perspective. That fine if that's why you want it, but I think it makes "reject every instance" quite difficult, since every instance probably has solvency issues and certainly creates some low internal link probabilities. If you do truly argue something deontologically, having some sort of hierarchy so I can see where the other team's impacts fit would be helpful--especially if they are arguing an deontological position as well. Applying your position might be helpful: think how you would reconcile the classic argument of "you can't have rights if you are dead, yet many have been willing to give their life for rights". Sorting out that statement does an awful lot for you in a deontology vs. utilitarianism round. Why is your argument the case for one or the other?
Given my hypothesis-testing tendencies, conditionality can be fine. However, as indicated above, by default I view the round as a policy-making choice. If you run three conditional counterplans, that's fine but I need to know what they are conditional upon or I don't know what policy I am voting for when I sign the ballot—or if I even need to evaluate them. I prefer, although almost never get it, that conditionality should be based on a substantive argument in the round, preferably a claim the other team made.
Theory and K's:
I can like both theory args, especially T, when the debate unfolds with real analysis, not a ton of 3-5 word tags that people rip through. Theory arguments (including T) can be very rewarding, and often are a place where the best debaters can show their skills. However, debaters often provide poorly developed arguments and the debate often lacks real analysis. I do not like theory arguments that eliminate ground for one side or the other, are patently abusive, or patently time sucks. I like theory arguments but want them treated well.
I'm not a fan of K's, but they definitely have a place in debate. I will vote on one (and have voted for them numerous times) if two things happen: 1) I understand it and 2) you win it. That's a relatively low threshold, but if you babble author names, jargon, or have tags longer than most plans, you make it much harder for me.
As for argument preferences, I'll vote on things that do not meet my criteria, although I dislike being put in the position of having to reconcile two incomprehensible positions. I'll vote on anything you can justify and win. If you want me in a specific paradigm, justify it and win that I should use it. I like a 2ar/2nr that ties up loose ends and evaluates--recognizing that they probably aren't winning everything on the flow.
I don't like to ask for cards after the round, or reviewing the evidence in pocketbox, etc. and will not ask for a card I couldn't understand because you were unintelligible. If there is a debate over what a card really says or signifies, or it seems to contain a nuance highlighted in the round that is worth checking, I may take a look at the evidence.
I traditionally rely on providing nonverbal feedback—if I'm not writing anything, or I'm looking at you with a confused expression, I'm probably not getting what you are saying for one reason or another.
Debate is still a communication activity, even if we rip along at several hundred words a minute. If I missed something in your speech, that is your fault--either because you did not emphasize it adequately in the round or you were unintelligible. If you are a gasper, you'll probably get better points if you slow down a bit. I tend to dislike prompting on content, but keeping your partner on pace is fine. I'd prefer you ask/answer your own c-x questions. I like numbering and organization, even though much has apparently died. At this point, even hearing "next" when going to the next tag would be a breath of fresh air (especially when it isn't being read off of a block). Similarly, I'll reward you if you have clear tags that would fit on a bumper sticker I could read without tailgating. Humor is a highly successful way to improve your speaker points. If you are organized, intelligible and funny, the much-sought-after 30 is something I have given. I haven't given many, but that reflects the debaters I've heard, not some unreasonable predisposition or threshold.
If you have questions about anything not on here, just ask.