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Robert Bork

ResNull.org Up and Running: A Hub for Nullification and Change

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A lot of you are unhappy about the resolution and want to do something. A few of us have started a site where we offer our interpretation of the situation. We have also started a webforum where you can discuss the issues and ideas freely without moderatorial censorship. If you are at least passingly interested in taking direct action to change the topic and the way debate works, please give us a visit:

 

http://resnull.org

 

I know that Travis doesn't want to hear a lot of griping about the topic, so I would ask that he allow this thread to stay here. The more people know about another forum, the less they will complain here (or anywhere).

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Funny you should say that:

 

We can be certain to encounter one final, pernicious response: ridicule. Many will call us whiners, lazy debaters, or worse, and they will claim that our ideas for change are stupid or not worthy of consideration. Rationally, we know that this isn’t the way to have a discussion, and debate teaches us that lesson: there is no argument that can be safely ignored (dropped), and insulting the opposition is not the same as making a meaningful argument. Ridicule is uncivil and nakedly designed to disempower: while insults may not count in a debate round, they certainly do in the real world. The sharp and derisive words of others are the most potent weapon, because there is no way to talk back: we can prove that our argument is not nihilistic, but there is no reasonable way to respond to accusations of inferiority. Hate in its very irrationality has a powerful ability to prevent action, to perpetuate subservience, and to breed fear. We must steel ourselves against it: no matter how alone we feel, or how hateful others become, we must be prepared to press on. Other debaters will be with us.

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while i've been defending the topic choice (i have my gripes, but i think it can be fun) i think nullification (and your purchasing a domain and hosting and such) is both righteous and admirable. i hope i can make some contribution to the site and wish everyone involved good luck.

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I've no problem with this thread because it offers a constructive approach, as opposed to the predominant theme of useless complaining. I don't have a problem with a critical discussion of the topic. I am more concerned with seeing it take place in a productive or organized manner, hence my policy to prevent the horizontal proliferation of useless threads that have the potential to crowd-out or discourage better avenues of thought.

 

I don't care for the content of the topic either. It's an issue I don't find particularly interesting. But that doesn't mean I get to elect out of instructing students at camp, researching handbooks or coaching my team, just as I do any year, regardless of what topic is selected.

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But that doesn't mean I get to elect out of instructing students at camp, researching handbooks or coaching my team, just as I do any year, regardless of what topic is selected.

 

As a camp instructor and coach, you have a special ability to set the agenda for the coming year. You can help shape the course of the topic from its very outset by deciding what campers research and concentrate upon. If you think the topic sucks, maybe you can have your lab put together a nullification file.

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your response to ridicule is starkly reminiscent of that of the current administration. questioning your actions and condemning them as gripes and childish in nature is perfectly legitimate, and tarring such action as hateful is ridiculous.

 

brennan

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Quit being bitches and debate the resolution you are given.

 

What an amazing topic, I would love to be able to debate a topic this interesting.

 

So many beautiful segways.

 

Even more from the perspective of one who has served.

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your response to ridicule is starkly reminiscent of that of the current administration. questioning your actions and condemning them as gripes and childish in nature is perfectly legitimate, and tarring such action as hateful is ridiculous.

 

brennan

 

I think calling people bitches is hateful. Asking for civility isn't the same as saying that all criticism is invalid. If you're prepared to defend that "quit being bitches" is a valid and rational argument, feel free.

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You are squandering an amazing opportunity with this resolution.

 

I agree. It seems to me that the things you can do with this topic are bound to be pretty fun and memorable.

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there are a bunch of things i disagree with.

 

"The informal conversations of debaters make it very clear that we wanted to debate Africa this year"

1. prove it. Cross-x.com does not represent the majority of debators.

 

"We are politically aware and eager to make a “real” difference, yet the recent topics in high school debate seem specially designed to bore or to make us feel irrelevant."

2. Most debators only want to win, not to promote change.

 

"If adults have faith in their own ability to instruct and coach, then they should trust their pupils to craft meaningful and well-balanced topics, and to select them wisely."

cross-apply #2

 

On your alternative

3. who votes? all debators; hopefully not. Not all debators are informed or even care. cross-apply #2. As a rule, those who vote for the topic are more informed than those who would be voting.

 

4. if only a portion of the debate community votes, you are being elitist, becoming the exclusionary authority which you hate so much.

 

5. Many of the authorities who vote on the topics get input from the debators around/under them, as in the electoral college.

 

AT: Ridicule

6. unfortunately, tons of lazy debators will join this cause, hoping for an easy win. The ridicule comes from debators who are frustrated with those lazy debators... we apoligize.

 

"It is clear that the arguments against our position are based on fear. "

 

7. No. arguments against your position are not based on fear of reform or even staunch conservativism, but on the logical flaws of your movement and the potential destruction of debate. Both sides want what is best for debate, but you aren't ironing out any of the proposed flaws in your proposal by calling them "ridicule."

 

"If a debater argues nullification and loses, it hurts officials far more than the debater: coaches need success to stay in a job, activities associations survive only because competitors grant them legitimacy, and school administrators need debate as a proof of academic excellence."

 

8.no. it hurts the debators more. Coach gets fired; debate gets cut... debators have nowhere to go but Extemp.... ewww. But, seriously, the consequences of repeated nullification aff losses hurt both debator and administration.

 

"We are debate, it is up to us decide its future form. Please join us, it is a stand that you make..."

9. Punctuation: We are debate[;] it is up to us decide its future form. Please join us[;] it is a stand that you make...

 

Overall however, you make a good point. Read some CrimetInc. books for ideas.

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I really like the idea of putting out a null file, and the idea of creating a movement, but the topic really isn't that bad, and whatever inherent crappiness it does have should be fixed at the topic meeting etc.

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I still think this entire movement is built on the fixation of turning debate from a pragmatic means of educating ourselves on the current events around us into some circlejerk where we say "we should be learning about this - not this" instead of learning about anything.

 

It's infinitely regressive, and if I ever get hit with this nullfication crap, this is exactly what I'm going to say. Instead of debating about a topic that many high schoolers will find real-world implications to, they'd rather find stories about how bad the lives are for people in Africa, and exploit this harms into trophies in medals in debate rounds. Fiat/activism in debate rounds never leads to anything, and I find it almost morally repugnant that many would attempt to nullify a perfectly good topic just because they want to exploit the bad stuff happening to Africans more.

 

In short, neural link's right on. Quit being bitches and debate the topic. If you don't like the topic, create a movement, or w/e, but don't nullify the very facet of activism by turning debate into a circlejerk of exploiting Africans more than we currently exploit ourselves.

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As a camp instructor and coach, you have a special ability to set the agenda for the coming year. You can help shape the course of the topic from its very outset by deciding what campers research and concentrate upon. If you think the topic sucks, maybe you can have your lab put together a nullification file.

 

You are correct. I do have some ability to influence what arguments are run and which are not. This is largely irrelevent, however. I have never been involved in debate because I have had a burning, personal interest in the content of the topic. The point of debate is not to learn about privacy, civil liberties, WMD, energy, China, or National service. If I chose to participate or not depending on the topic, I wouldn't have debated my novice year at all (privacy is an incredibly drab subject to me).

 

The point of debate, rather, is to find creative ways to pedagogically challenge students to give them the tools they need to process and generate knowledge throughout their own sphere of social or academic interaction. A great way to do that is through the rigors of switch-side policy debate, where one is forced to research and defend an idea they may not like, find interesting, or even agree with. It's utterly ridiculous to simply turn away from something simply because you didn't get your way.

 

I think it is fairly silly to throw around self-congradulatory rhetoric about how nullifying this topic is some grandiose political project. If you were interested in effective praxis or education about the subject of Africa, don't fool yourself into thinking that would ever occur in policy debate. It would be your usual run-of-the-mill geopolitics debates or essentialized, poorly articulated pomo goo, not an eye-opening experience. It's very important not to fetishize the actual debating process. Your life will not change if the topic is Africa or national service. The real benefit is not always the substance, but the conceptual processes that debate teaches you and how you apply that to a life outside of debate.

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Echoing & amplifying what Travis said:

 

Debaters tend to look at a topic...ANY topic...and look not for opportunities for political &/or social education but for opportunities to win. Classic case in point: the WMD topic of 5 years ago. After literally decades in which debaters linked every possible policy change (education, Social Security, homelessness, space exploration, health care, juvenile crime, agriculture, jobs for the poor, etc) to "nuclear war," once WMD was selected as a topic so they could debate ONLY "nuclear war," fully a third of the debaters immediately began contextually defining the following as WMDs: lack of education, poverty, sexism, racism, handgun possession, unemployment, land mines, soil erosion, ageism, etc. The desire to win and catch their opponent with no specific evidence was stronger than the desire to trot out their favorite nuke war cards.

 

Now, I do not doubt that Robert Bork was looking forward to the Africa topic. I suggest that he can still "get into" the Africa topic by entering International Extemp (many IX topics center on Africa), writing an OO on US policy toward Africa, or even doing a DI or Duet Acting scene on a play that examines our society's neglect toward the African continent (wow.....performance too!). Do Congress and introduce bills/resolutions on Africa policy. Start a club at your school with just such a purpose; challenge similar clubs in other schools to debates of whatever format you can devise. Good luck with that!

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I appreciate many of the arguments presented here, but I hope you will all understand that I can't take the time to offer responses to all of them. The fact that debate is not the BEST activity for "getting involved" isn't proof that it can't be made more suitable for activist involvement, or at the very least made into a better-balanced activity. There is also no reason why debate's venality can't be a unique vehicle for making things happen.

 

We don't live in a world of ideals, so we have to make the best of what we've got. From the looks of it, I started a club yesterday, and I hope that it will prosper and create some useful discussion. It may not be the club you would have started, or be dedicated to the ends that you would pursue, but I hope that you can at least respect the desire for engagement and activity. I also hope that the tentative conversations we are having now will take on a more robust, personal, and traditionally competitive form as we move into the new season.

 

EDIT: typos

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In response to whomever left this piece of reputation:

Substance promotes education - learning a shitload about ribbons is less helpful than learning a little about WMD. Try getting some warrants for your argument beyond type legibly, dumbass.

 

First, leaving negative reputation isn't (if it ever is) very effective when you don't possess enough rep to be more than neutral and have any influence on my count.

 

Second, you're obviously not a very intelligent person. I would assume anyone who is reasonable would be able to distinguish between a universalizing claim (your assertion that I think substance is totally irrelevent) and a comparative one (my actual claim that the rigors of policy debate and the preservation of switch-side and the topic are more important than what you learn about). I do not believe that there is no educational value to debating timely, relevent issues relating to international relations/security, etc. Instead my argument is that debate is a process that enables higher levels of cognition and knowledge synthesis (i.e. you take the critical skills that you learn debating something banal like privacy and apply it to whatever your personal academic interest might be on your own time). In other words, you have no account for why it is necessary to debate about a particular content that you deem to be interesting. Your needs could just as easily be fulfilled by going to the library once a week and researching any given subject. But hey, feel free to leave some more anonymous reputation if these distinctions are too difficult for you.

 

Third, 'Try getting some warrants for your argument beyond type legibly'? What does this even mean? Perhaps if the topic is 'resolved: The USFG should conjugate its verbs and/or use the correct gerund', you'd know enough to at least communicate your argument. Also, your example of 'wmds and ribbons' is laughable; attempting to extrapolate an argument from such a far-fetched example doesn't really prove anything.

 

Fourth, dumbass.

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Inside of discussions of framework/Topicality it is possible to interrogate why the topic at hand is being discussed. In the nullification example, it becomes a defense of the discussion and, indeed, of the topic itself. This is particularly relevent to a discussion of Africa which is largely ignored. Why isn't Africa a big part of what we see on CNN or primetime news? Why does the topic of African aid always sit in the corner of domestic discussions of Foreign Policy? The answers may very well be more revealing than even the discussion of the topic we were trying to discuss itself.

 

In short: Many times it's equally (if not more) important to ask why we aren't discussing something as it is to engage in a discussion of the thing itself.

 

on "the circle jerk on otherizing Africans": I agree that many of the debates could devolve to this level (especially those with lay or traditional judges) but a discussion of Africa also allows for a lot of enlightening (ironic term?) discussion on Eurocentrism and Colonization that contributed to the devastated Africa that exists today. In essence, sure the debates could be governed by a lot of idiots waving around a sympathy card, but that doesn't mean that the topic shouldn't exist. Dumb debaters will make a lot of dumb claims regardless of the topic.

 

On Rejoinder: The prevalence of this argument will determine whether or not a team should/will be prepared for it. Aside from all of the things we may say in round, it's not a matter of what we should be prepared for but rather what we think we need to be prepared for and you’re looking at someone who will definitely be carrying answers to this argument. If camps and coaches discuss and produce files about this, it will be much more commonplace. And, as far as I can tell from preliminary interest in the argument, it seems that to ignore it completely might prove to be a very bad idea.

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look, i'm going to be serious, this topic can actually be very educational and very good if u look at it in other ways other than military. True, in the beginning of the year many people will only be doing military, but as the year goes on the affs will become more creative and better. If u want to talk about africa, under this topic u can, u just have to find creative ways of doing, ie send in a rotational basis the population to help africa in this area. This is a basic outline of what u could do, this is a full integration of the africa topic intoi this topic, this resolution is so loose it almost allows for anything that can be considered a public good? I applaud ur revolutionary aspirations, but eventually we as debaters must stop the whining and debate.

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The topic is what it is. It's not going to suddenly change to Africa because people on one debate website are unhappy with National Service (N.S.). If instead of spending time saying we shouldn't have N.S. as the topic, you spent time researching it, you might find you actually like it. It starts out this way every year when the topic is announced. Everybody says they hate it and wish it were something else. However, by the time the season starts, people actually enjoy it. Now, I will end with an oft-used cliche:

 

Cry me a river, build a bridge, and GET OVER IT!

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Alright i'll just get my 2 cents in since everyone else is, i have been up for nullifying this resolution since its been announced. Everyone who says "stop whiningand research it", why exactly should we do that, because we are fixated on the notion that once the topic is picked that this is always final. Has anyone stopped to think what if the topic thats picked is something literally racist, which not picking africa kind of was, i mean would we just stop whining and research it. The problem with this approach is all of us who are calling to nullify the rez think that the researching will be bs in the first place. There is very few people in the past 10 years who have advocated national service, and yes timely literature is a good thing. People say that this happens every year, people are whining. Yes peopel whine every year, but when was the last time there was this much outrage in the community and when was the last time you remember a call for nullification of the topic. This is not the same whining that occurs every year, we are not screaming out because its something we don't believe will have good impacts or because we think topicality is going to suck or some reason like that, we are "whining" because this topic provides little education and chance to broaden our knowledge of things that are happening around us. Our other option instead provides, as has been stated, has education on colonialization and problems that have occured in Africa due to those people who, ironically, would say "Stop whining and deal with it." To all of those who also say there will be innovation, i am wondering what innovation are you talking about exactly. With the civil liberties you could definitely see people finding trickier aff's as the year went on and that wasn't because they would find some random law review from 20 years ago, it was because this resolution is so timely and you knew current events would effect this topic all the time. Yes innovation may happen next year but that doesn't mean its good education or makes it a better topic at all.

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Has anyone stopped to think what if the topic thats picked is something literally racist, which not picking africa kind of was, i mean would we just stop whining and research it. .

 

Excuse me? NOT picking Africa was racist? So every extemp speaker who draws an Africa topic and does not speak on it is racist? Had the vote come down to Africa versus Latin America, then either choice would be "racist"?

 

You throw around a fairly serious charge very loosely.......

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I don't think that not picking Africa was nessicarily racist but I think it offers an interesting beginning for a discussion of why X and Y topics are public, front and center, while issue Z isn't. Sometimes discussing why we are discussing a topic can be as enlightening as any discussion of the topic itself.

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I'm not speaking in the realm of latin america to africa or an extemp speaker not choosing africa, i am talking about, however, ignorance to the problems in africa and the ineptitude of our ability to vote for a resolution which would help to educate everyone on the mere fact we do ignore africa, we do cause a lot of the problems that occur there, i will say it wasn't deliberately racist yes, but it does have that kind of tone too it. Should we debate about how sweet we as US citizens can be or about African problems and crisis, a topic that has been lightly discussed in high school for awhile, and yes there is PKO's in africa, but seriously how many people really ran those aff's let alone how many people learned of more than just genocide, famine and imperialism in relation to those. When compared side to side, i'm not talking about whining to nullify anymore, i am just asking what does national service have that africa doesn't, or vis versa? What key knowledge or education are we going to learn from national service that caused us to strike down an eye opening resolution?

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