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So I'm just learning more about performance debates and I'm still not sure on what they are all about and everything. I'm a policy debater by the way, if that helps you answer this quetion more efficiently, then yeah, take that piece of info. Anyway, can you tell me how to run them, what are the types of performance debates, and how to defend against them? Thanks! <3

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There's not going to be a good answer to the first few parts of your questions because there is no set definition to what a performance debate is. At its heart, a performance debate involves a performance of some sort, and that could take the form of a "regular" speech act. Why is it that 9 minutes of spreading a policy aff in the 1AC isn't a performance? For the purposes of debate, though, most people don't think of them in this way. People usually classify things as policy debate, kritikal debate, and then performance debate. A lot of people would object to this oversimplification, but it's possible to think of performance debate as "more kritikal" debate. It takes things a step further.

 

As to the types, that's as open as performance debate itself is. The majority of classificatory schemes I've seen deal with the subject matter of the speech act. This, however, ignores how some performance debates may involve dance, singing, or something else that can't be classified as just the speech. These acts often play a very important role in how arguments are developed.

 

As to running them, it all involves finding something you're passionate about (or not) and delving into the literature. The best performance debates, in my opinion, are true to the material. If you're talking about Wilderson, and Wilderson says that you should always be clucking like a chicken, then you do that in yor performance. You live the material. Of course, you could branch out and make your own creative performance. The most important part of this is that you're using the performance as a reason the judge should vote for you. It'd be a waste if you got up and sang in the 1AC and then never mentioned it again.

 

Answering it has a more definite strategy. There are four main methods to attacking a performative team. The first is the theoretical side. This is where the standard framework arguments come into play, with fairness and education and the like. I should note that this is the kind of argument that the aff will be most prepared against because it is the most common. The second part is the substantive part of framework. Here you can argue that the state is the best way to get rid of the harms of the affirmative. For instance, the aff may claim that society is racist and that they need to do their performance to educate people. That's when the neg can get up and talk about how the state isn't inherently racist and how we can engage in the state (even as individual debaters in the real world) and try to fix things. The third method is a counter-methodology. Think of the classic cap k. The aff may talk about racism as the root cause of suffering, and the neg can retort that class divisions are the true root cause. A really good strategy is a PIC out of something they do, such as their some aspect of their discourse or their performance. Fourth is the impact turn, where you argue their harms are actually goods. This can work for a number of different affs, such as anti-neoliberal affs, but for some, it is highly discouraged (anti-racism affs, for instance).

 

All of this is meant to be a very broad outline of the subject, and if you'd like more specific help, I'd be more than happy to offer assistance.

" A really good strategy is a PIC out of something they do, such as their some aspect of their discourse or their performance"

<_<

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" A really good strategy is a PIC out of something they do, such as their some aspect of their discourse or their performance"

<_<

But it really is one of the easiest ways to beat K affs, to find some aspect of their method and prove that it's bad; this is especially true of affirmatives that emphasize their performative qualities. You don't have to say the aff as a whole was bad, but that the bad thing is bad enough to lose on. It's literally all that happens in this debate, starting from the 1NC and on, and it's effective as hell.

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PICs are definitely a solid strategy, especially word PICs. Block out one and be prepared for the "But you don't actually perform our performance" debate and they are a tough answer for them. I suggest some Latin America specific PIC or a Ableism or Gender one.

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But it really is one of the easiest ways to beat K affs, to find some aspect of their method and prove that it's bad; this is especially true of affirmatives that emphasize their performative qualities. You don't have to say the aff as a whole was bad, but that the bad thing is bad enough to lose on. It's literally all that happens in this debate, starting from the 1NC and on, and it's effective as hell.

 

I get how that performance K's debate as an activity and its inclusiveness, but this kind of thing makes me uncomfortable as an educator and as a sportsman.  Especially because its personal and racial.  Yeah, you can PIC it, but only if you're also black, otherwise you're just going to be racist and offensive.  You can counter-K it, but not if you're white and male.  You'll either come across as racist or condescending.  It isn't hard to figure out why framework is so popular, its almost the only thing you can go for if you have the misfortune to be white and male and facing one of these teams.  (Even white and female is going to be an uncomfortable match to try a feminism counter-K).  Basically any attack you make on the case is going to also be an attack on the people on the other team, and that really doesn't play well at all.

 

I suppose the only thing I can think of is a counter performance like... sorry, not performance, performance makes it sound like you are't being sincere.  Anyway, a 1NC speech: "The affirmative has me intrigued and has my attention. I'd like to hear more about how blackness is excluded from debate."  Then sit down. 

 

2NC is going to be active listening good, and impact that on how you opened the debate space.  Performance through yielding the floor - it doesn't feel like debate.  It feels like some strange new interp event.  But its the only thing I can think of that lets me coopt the Aff.  And it would probably still end up with me being accused of racism. 

 

2NR: "A vote for the aff is a vote to just hear framework against these cases in the future, forever." ? (In addition to your listening position).

 

Ultimately, performance Affs like this make me uncomfortable, because it makes debate ad hominem rather than at the arguments, and many negatives are put in an awkward position where its socially unacceptable to garner any offense.  Discussing 'opening the debate space' outside of rounds? A worthy goal.  But in round it uses the very liberal social expectations of the community to create an unfair atmosphere where anything the opponents say creates hostility.  (And pointing out they're effectively poisoning the well only feeds into it).

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I get how that performance K's debate as an activity and its inclusiveness, but this kind of thing makes me uncomfortable as an educator and as a sportsman. Especially because its personal and racial. Yeah, you can PIC it, but only if you're also black, otherwise you're just going to be racist and offensive. You can counter-K it, but not if you're white and male. You'll either come across as racist or condescending. It isn't hard to figure out why framework is so popular, its almost the only thing you can go for if you have the misfortune to be white and male and facing one of these teams. (Even white and female is going to be an uncomfortable match to try a feminism counter-K). Basically any attack you make on the case is going to also be an attack on the people on the other team, and that really doesn't play well at all.

 

I suppose the only thing I can think of is a counter performance like... sorry, not performance, performance makes it sound like you are't being sincere. Anyway, a 1NC speech: "The affirmative has me intrigued and has my attention. I'd like to hear more about how blackness is excluded from debate." Then sit down.

 

2NC is going to be active listening good, and impact that on how you opened the debate space. Performance through yielding the floor - it doesn't feel like debate. It feels like some strange new interp event. But its the only thing I can think of that lets me coopt the Aff. And it would probably still end up with me being accused of racism.

 

2NR: "A vote for the aff is a vote to just hear framework against these cases in the future, forever." ? (In addition to your listening position).

 

Ultimately, performance Affs like this make me uncomfortable, because it makes debate ad hominem rather than at the arguments, and many negatives are put in an awkward position where its socially unacceptable to garner any offense. Discussing 'opening the debate space' outside of rounds? A worthy goal. But in round it uses the very liberal social expectations of the community to create an unfair atmosphere where anything the opponents say creates hostility. (And pointing out they're effectively poisoning the well only feeds into it).

Thanks but can you tell me how to beat them when I'm on the aff side and they're the neg though? That's what I meant. Edited by DebaterGirl15

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Thanks but can you tell me how to beat them when I'm on the aff side and they're the neg though? That's what I meant.

Can you give a specific example? It's kind of hard to offer advice on a generic performance Neg, since they can be all over the place and there's a lot of variety.

 

I guess the generic advice I'd give is what I'd offer any debater: question everything. Why is their performance a reason to reject your plan? If they're just using a different style to make policy arguments, answer it like a policy argument and out-explain them. If they're raising some other issue, perm it like you would a K (OK, America is racist and hip hop is the answer, so let's end the Cuba Tourism ban and share our rappers with the world?)

 

There are generic framework blocks out there, of course, but there's no magic universal argument that beats understanding and directly refuting the opponent's argument.

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I get how that performance K's debate as an activity and its inclusiveness, but this kind of thing makes me uncomfortable as an educator and as a sportsman.  Especially because its personal and racial.  Yeah, you can PIC it, but only if you're also black, otherwise you're just going to be racist and offensive.  You can counter-K it, but not if you're white and male.  You'll either come across as racist or condescending.  It isn't hard to figure out why framework is so popular, its almost the only thing you can go for if you have the misfortune to be white and male and facing one of these teams.  (Even white and female is going to be an uncomfortable match to try a feminism counter-K).  Basically any attack you make on the case is going to also be an attack on the people on the other team, and that really doesn't play well at all.

 

I suppose the only thing I can think of is a counter performance like... sorry, not performance, performance makes it sound like you are't being sincere.  Anyway, a 1NC speech: "The affirmative has me intrigued and has my attention. I'd like to hear more about how blackness is excluded from debate."  Then sit down. 

 

2NC is going to be active listening good, and impact that on how you opened the debate space.  Performance through yielding the floor - it doesn't feel like debate.  It feels like some strange new interp event.  But its the only thing I can think of that lets me coopt the Aff.  And it would probably still end up with me being accused of racism. 

 

2NR: "A vote for the aff is a vote to just hear framework against these cases in the future, forever." ? (In addition to your listening position).

 

Ultimately, performance Affs like this make me uncomfortable, because it makes debate ad hominem rather than at the arguments, and many negatives are put in an awkward position where its socially unacceptable to garner any offense.  Discussing 'opening the debate space' outside of rounds? A worthy goal.  But in round it uses the very liberal social expectations of the community to create an unfair atmosphere where anything the opponents say creates hostility.  (And pointing out they're effectively poisoning the well only feeds into it).

what? what is offensive about PICing out of an affs method? and you can't read a K against a performance aff if you're white and male? Maybe i'm just interpreting what you said incorrectly, but there are very few arguments that exclude poeple based on social location that people read along with their performance. i've never herd of a team (at least on the highschool circuit) that has made the argument that you don't get to read a K because you're white. obviously speaking for others is an argument made against some K's, but that isn't an unbeatable argument that prevents you form reading a K. and you don't have to attack the people on the other team to attack their argument. that's just messed up. if someone reads a narrative you don't respond with an attack on their personal experience, but rather how effective it is in what they are trying to achieve. it's not an attack on someone to say that their method might not lead to a particular outcome. 

 

I think to answer these kind of arguments you just need to get as creative as most people do with policy args. don't JUST read framework and say they shouldn't be allowed to say what they're saying, but if they don't provide an endpoint for their method, maybe read parametrics. instead of saying you don't use the state and that's bad for 8 minutes of the 2NC, i can guarantee you that there is a marx link out there for almost every aff that you don't have a neg strat against. and even if you get called racist it doesn't mean you ARE racist. obviously you don't want to be offensive and there are legitimate criticisms of arguments like marx, but there are answers to those arguments. 

 

i haven't debated against performance teams often, only once in fact and it was probably the most embracing round i've ever been in just because i was so bad that round, but i learned a lot about how the arguments work and what your answers should look like. you don't have to spew out a bunch of cards to say the aff/neg was wrong, but rather engage on the level that they are engaging you.

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 but if they don't provide an endpoint for their method, maybe read parametrics. instead of saying you don't use the state and that's bad for 8 minutes of the 2NC, i can guarantee you that there is a marx link out there for almost every aff that you don't have a neg strat against.

I've never understood why there is such a general hate of Cede The Politcal arguments. This is especially true since there are some very, very significant parallels that can be drawn between CTP and a marxist K of postmodernism/identity politics.  I realize that CTP is hella non-unique, but running it as a K of sorts provides for a very good and interesting clash of civs arguements.

 

@op, I wouldn't read framework just because its almost certain they will have better, more case specific blocks and will trounce you with it.  Unless the aff is completely unrelated to the rez, its a tough sell.

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@Schopenhauer: that wasn't an indict of performance debates in general - not every performance debate bothers me - but of the specific one linked in the comment I was responding to and performance debates like it.  (Emporia's "home" aff also bothers me for similar reasons).

 

1. When your warrants are personal experience, or representations of personal experience, attacks on your warrants are personal attacks on you.  And when it becomes that personal, it becomes hard to separate the warrant from the argument and attack just the argument.  That these arguments are impacted on the effect on people in the round only makes this worse, because it makes the impacts personal too.

 

2. When the Aff is attempting to 'make a space for blackness in debate' (or similar), you're seriously telling me that a white man running a PIK of that isn't going to sound condescending and possibly racist?  'Lets have the white debater tell the black debater how he could advocate for blackness better'.  I'm sure that's going to play well.  If I were still debating, I'd offend myself if I tried that.

 

3. None of which means these aren't conversations worth having.  But they're conversations, not competitive debates. And saying that opening a space for blackness or making debate a home (or etc...) can only be accomplished by picking up ballots is a really unfortunate advocacy.  That means that, for example, opening a space for blackness must necessarily close spaces for others, or that making debate a home for some must exclude others from that home.  None of which is to say that debate as an activity treats racial minorities, women, or queer students equally, which is why its important to have these conversations.  But tying it to ballots is ultimately counterproductive and hurts the advocacy. 

 

4. And when things get that personal, the social location of the speakers is *hugely important* to how their advocacy is perceived.  Perception becomes at least as important as actual message, if not more important.  Is the white team K'ing the 'open a space for blackness' aff going to be perceived as having a legitimate kritikal message?  Or are any such Ks necessarily going to be viewed through the lens of social location, and seen as asking the aff to be 'less black' so their message is more acceptable to the privileged location?  What would authors like Wilderson say to such a K?

 

5. Ultimately, this is a competitive activity.  Institutional discrimination is definitely a problem, but a judge's concern should be rendering a fair ballot for the individual students before him, not a group to which they claim membership in.  Now, does this mean that the Judge's personal biases need to be confronted, and possibly actively corrected for by the judge?  Sure.  The degree to which institutional discrimination is manifested through judges' decisions is the fault of those judges contributing to it, and the reason we need to have these conversations. But we can't make institutional discrimination a reason to decide a particular way in a round - its unfair to the individual debaters, it creates rather than diminishes hostility, and it fuels the controversy over things like MPJ and causes things like Bill Shanahan's unfortunate outburst.

 

I didn't do policy in college.  I did NPDA parli.  Performance debating wasn't the reason, I just didn't have time, and parli was far more accomodating to that.  But the amount of hostility between *judges and coaches* dripping from the CEDA forum is a clear enough indication to me that the activity is not healthy, and it makes me glad I didn't do it.  The divide between policy and performance teams seems to be a primary cause, and I would suggest that personalizing the round is a significant part of that.

 

(FWIW, to a large degree I agree with sentiments expressed in Scott Harris's This Ballot from Emporia's NDT win.  Derive from that what you will).

 

I'm willing to be wrong about how these affirmatives function and are perceived to function.  I have little connection to college policy besides watching the occasional round on the internet and knowing how to find the CEDA forums.  But the above is my current beliefs based on how they play out to me (admittedly: small sample size - i am no expert on performance affs), and how the arguments used seem to be structured.

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The divide between policy and performance teams seems to be a primary cause, and I would suggest that personalizing the round is a significant part of that.

Most Black debaters argue that the round is always-already personal for them because they can't check their identity at the door, like white people can. Being "impersonal" is a privilege white people have because their identity doesn't create oppression in their life.

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Most Black debaters argue that the round is always-already personal for them because they can't check their identity at the door, like white people can. Being "impersonal" is a privilege white people have because their identity doesn't create oppression in their life.

 

How does their advocacy solve for that?  It only seems to make things worse.

 

Actually, I'd like to see a response which engaged my analysis rather than just the conclusion.  Because I don't see how hyper-personalizing the round helps at all.  If the goal is *more hostility* between debate teams, then its working admirably.  But the only thing that's liable to accomplish is destroying the activity so no one can benefit.

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How does their advocacy solve for that?  It only seems to make things worse.

 

Actually, I'd like to see a response which engaged my analysis rather than just the conclusion.  Because I don't see how hyper-personalizing the round helps at all.  If the goal is *more hostility* between debate teams, then its working admirably.  But the only thing that's liable to accomplish is destroying the activity so no one can benefit.

what's the difference between personalizing the round and "hyper-personalizing" it? 

 

The question isn't whether their (diverse, heterogeneous, variant) advocac(ies) "solve" for personalized debates - in part because that question is incoherent, in part because it's an inevitability argument. the debate is always-already personal for nonwhite and nonmale debaters. they can either suppress their identities (which should obviously be unacceptable) or acknowledge them.

 

you wrote an essay; i'll be happy to engage with more time. just swooped in to note an incorrect assumption that - if corrected - might enable you to better reflect on the point, rather than trying to debate past it. 

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what's the difference between personalizing the round and "hyper-personalizing" it? 

The question isn't whether their (diverse, heterogeneous, variant) advocac(ies) "solve" for personalized debates - in part because that question is incoherent, in part because it's an inevitability argument. the debate is always-already personal for nonwhite and nonmale debaters. they can either suppress their identities (which should obviously be unacceptable) or acknowledge them.

 

you wrote an essay; i'll be happy to engage with more time. just swooped in to note an incorrect assumption that - if corrected - might enable you to better reflect on the point, rather than trying to debate past it.

 

So, Snarf, two questions (coming from someone who is quite skeptical of race/gender privilege as used in academia and social justice movements, but open to discussion):

 

1. What does it mean that a black/woman debater would be forced to suppress their identity by debating conventionally? Did great black orators in history suppress their identities?

 

2. OK, so by being a minority (leaving aside the quibble that women aren't a minority in academia anymore), you are necessarily conscious of that in a way that I, as a white man, can't. So what? Now what do I, as either the opponent or the judge, do? Assuming I'm not allowed to reject the premise, since college debate-land is a bizarre world where questioning the concept of privilege is verboten, my choices are to evade (framework/theory), raise my own grievance (in my case probably something about fat acceptance or anti-semitism), or quit. The first is boring, the second turns into screaming matches, and the third just loses.

 

At the HS level, I'd encourage my students to get creative and contest the premise of the performance, but obviously college debaters, facing communications prof judges who are slightly left of Stalin, can't do that. I don't see how this style of debate doesn't inevitably lead to coaches yelling at each other and then mooning each other about racism.

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what's the difference between personalizing the round and "hyper-personalizing" it? 

 

The question isn't whether their (diverse, heterogeneous, variant) advocac(ies) "solve" for personalized debates - in part because that question is incoherent, in part because it's an inevitability argument. the debate is always-already personal for nonwhite and nonmale debaters. they can either suppress their identities (which should obviously be unacceptable) or acknowledge them.

 

you wrote an essay; i'll be happy to engage with more time. just swooped in to note an incorrect assumption that - if corrected - might enable you to better reflect on the point, rather than trying to debate past it. 

 

Just to clarify: i used 'hyper-personalized', because if the round is already personal for them, then focusing strictly on the personal elevates the attention given to that fact in the round.  Hence hyper-personalized. 

 

Its certainly possible for a minority debater to run a regular policy or kritikal case (I would know, I coach an inner city high school, and they're most comfortable with straight-up policy affs, despite attempts to get them to try other things!).  Given that's still personalized because they can't check their identity at the door, but it doesn't focus the round on the personal. 

 

Ie, there's something uniquely different about focusing the round on the personal.  So if all debates are personal, we need a new word for it.

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This is a card i cut from Scott harris's ballot that is relevant to the discussion.  The tag is somewhat contrived, so just read the warrant

 

By Constructing the ballot as an affirmation of their identity they blur the lines between someone’s argument and their identity, forcing us to argue rejecting them as a person, which ruins many of the benefits of debate.  The impact is social violence

Harris 13 (. Scott Harris, Director of Debate, Director of Debate has been the debate coach at KU since 1991.  He won the Northwestern Debate Society Award for excellent in coaching in 2010; the Ovid Davis Award for winning a national championship in 2009; the National Debate Coach of the Year Award in 2006, and the George Ziegelmueller Career Debate Coaching Award in 2006.  He is the Vice President of the American Forensic Association and was awarded the Gene A. Budig Teaching Professorship for the Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2010.  As a head coach his teams have qualified for the National Debate Tournament every year since 1987.  As a debater he was the 2nd speaker at the National Debate Tournament in 1981. “The Ballot†pg 6-7  4-4-13)

 

This ballot has concerns about the messages this debate sends about what it means to be welcomed into the home of debate. Northwestern made an argument that spoke to this concern that could have been more developed in the debate itself. This debate seemed to suggest that the sign that debate can be your home is entirely wrapped up in winning debates. The message seems to be that the winner is accepted and the loser is rejected. I believe that the arguments Northwestern advanced in the debate that being voted against is not a sign of personal rejection and that voting against an argument should not be perceived as an act of psychic violence are important arguments to reflect on. To me one of the most important lessons that debate teaches is that there is a difference between our arguments and our personhood. One of the problems in out contemporary society is that people have trouble differentiating between arguments and the identity of the person making the argument. If you hate the argument you must hate the person making the argument because we have trouble differentiating people from their arguments. The reason many arguments end up in violent fights in society is the inability to separate people from their arguments. People outside of debate (or the law) are often confused by how debaters (or lawyers) can argue passionately with one another and then be friends after the argument. It is because we generally separate our disagreements over arguments from our opinions about each other as people. There are two concerns this ballot has about the implications of where this debate has positioned us as a community. First, the explosion of arguments centered in identity makes it difficult to separate arguments from people. If I argue that a vote for me is a vote for my ability to express my Quare identity it by definition constructs a reality that a vote against me is a rejection of my identity. The nature of arguments centered in identity puts the other team in a fairly precarious position in debates and places the judges in uncomfortable positions as well. While discomfort may not necessarily be a bad thing it has significant implications for what debating and deciding debates means or is perceived to mean in socially constructed realities. I hope we can get beyond a point where the only perceived route to victory for some minority debaters is to rail against exclusion in debate. 

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So, Snarf, two questions (coming from someone who is quite skeptical of race/gender privilege as used in academia and social justice movements, but open to discussion):

 

1. What does it mean that a black/woman debater would be forced to suppress their identity by debating conventionally? Did great black orators in history suppress their identities?

 

2. OK, so by being a minority (leaving aside the quibble that women aren't a minority in academia anymore), you are necessarily conscious of that in a way that I, as a white man, can't. So what? Now what do I, as either the opponent or the judge, do? Assuming I'm not allowed to reject the premise, since college debate-land is a bizarre world where questioning the concept of privilege is verboten, my choices are to evade (framework/theory), raise my own grievance (in my case probably something about fat acceptance or anti-semitism), or quit. The first is boring, the second turns into screaming matches, and the third just loses.

 

At the HS level, I'd encourage my students to get creative and contest the premise of the performance, but obviously college debaters, facing communications prof judges who are slightly left of Stalin, can't do that. I don't see how this style of debate doesn't inevitably lead to coaches yelling at each other and then mooning each other about racism.

I'm uncomfortable answering the first question with respect to race because it's not my identity to speak for. It sounds like you're vaguely involved in collegiate debate; I'd encourage you to speak with Lawrence Grandpre, Toya Green, or Shanara Reid-Brinkley. I could speculate what these people would say, but this question gets to the heart of the lived experience of nonwhites; not my place to represent.

 

The second question is simplistic in that it reduces a diverse set of arguments to the oft-repeated "I'm black vote for me". There isn't a single round in college (and likely in HS) that reduces to that. The answer is the same answer you'd give to a young debater asking how to debate a strong 1AC; read it's literature. critical race theory is replete with theorizing that criticizes itself and each other. Frank Wilderson's work is popular among many critical race teams; and there are dozens of authors that criticize him, his deployment in debate, and his positions generally. Simply saying "there's nothing to run" when you haven't read the literature is like a novice saying "there are no answers to heg" without ever opening an IR textbook. 

 

Just to clarify: i used 'hyper-personalized', because if the round is already personal for them, then focusing strictly on the personal elevates the attention given to that fact in the round.  Hence hyper-personalized. 

 

Its certainly possible for a minority debater to run a regular policy or kritikal case (I would know, I coach an inner city high school, and they're most comfortable with straight-up policy affs, despite attempts to get them to try other things!).  Given that's still personalized because they can't check their identity at the door, but it doesn't focus the round on the personal. 

 

Ie, there's something uniquely different about focusing the round on the personal.  So if all debates are personal, we need a new word for it.

This seems like a false distinction to me; I agree we need a new word. 

 

This is a card i cut from Scott harris's ballot that is relevant to the discussion.  The tag is somewhat contrived, so just read the warrant

 

By Constructing the ballot as an affirmation of their identity they blur the lines between someone’s argument and their identity, forcing us to argue rejecting them as a person, which ruins many of the benefits of debate.  The impact is social violence

Harris 13 (. Scott Harris, Director of Debate, Director of Debate has been the debate coach at KU since 1991.  He won the Northwestern Debate Society Award for excellent in coaching in 2010; the Ovid Davis Award for winning a national championship in 2009; the National Debate Coach of the Year Award in 2006, and the George Ziegelmueller Career Debate Coaching Award in 2006.  He is the Vice President of the American Forensic Association and was awarded the Gene A. Budig Teaching Professorship for the Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2010.  As a head coach his teams have qualified for the National Debate Tournament every year since 1987.  As a debater he was the 2nd speaker at the National Debate Tournament in 1981. “The Ballot†pg 6-7  4-4-13)

 

This ballot has concerns about the messages this debate sends about what it means to be welcomed into the home of debate. Northwestern made an argument that spoke to this concern that could have been more developed in the debate itself. This debate seemed to suggest that the sign that debate can be your home is entirely wrapped up in winning debates. The message seems to be that the winner is accepted and the loser is rejected. I believe that the arguments Northwestern advanced in the debate that being voted against is not a sign of personal rejection and that voting against an argument should not be perceived as an act of psychic violence are important arguments to reflect on. To me one of the most important lessons that debate teaches is that there is a difference between our arguments and our personhood. One of the problems in out contemporary society is that people have trouble differentiating between arguments and the identity of the person making the argument. If you hate the argument you must hate the person making the argument because we have trouble differentiating people from their arguments. The reason many arguments end up in violent fights in society is the inability to separate people from their arguments. People outside of debate (or the law) are often confused by how debaters (or lawyers) can argue passionately with one another and then be friends after the argument. It is because we generally separate our disagreements over arguments from our opinions about each other as people. There are two concerns this ballot has about the implications of where this debate has positioned us as a community. First, the explosion of arguments centered in identity makes it difficult to separate arguments from people. If I argue that a vote for me is a vote for my ability to express my Quare identity it by definition constructs a reality that a vote against me is a rejection of my identity. The nature of arguments centered in identity puts the other team in a fairly precarious position in debates and places the judges in uncomfortable positions as well. While discomfort may not necessarily be a bad thing it has significant implications for what debating and deciding debates means or is perceived to mean in socially constructed realities. I hope we can get beyond a point where the only perceived route to victory for some minority debaters is to rail against exclusion in debate. 

if the argument is about your survival, how could you seperate it from your personal identity? 

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I'm uncomfortable answering the first question with respect to race because it's not my identity to speak for. It sounds like you're vaguely involved in collegiate debate; I'd encourage you to speak with Lawrence Grandpre, Toya Green, or Shanara Reid-Brinkley. I could speculate what these people would say, but this question gets to the heart of the lived experience of nonwhites; not my place to represent.

 

Nope, practicing patent litigator, former HS CX debater and current HS CX coach (Squirreloid's co-coach, as a matter of fact).  My college only did parli and avoided the fever swamps of college CX.  But I did follow the Shanahan/Reid-Brinkley incident.  What bothered me about it wasn't just Shanahan's bad behavior, but that it was a natural and expected outgrowth of the personalized and racialized nature of modern CX debate--and because of that, no one in the CX community seemed to think it was abnormal at all.

 

That being said, the mere fact that you feel you can't answer the question because you're not black points to the epistemological problem with these arguments--if you have to be black to explain these narrative theoretical positions, then that means that I as a white person can't understand them.  I'm forced to either accept the arguments or reject your identity--as per the Harris ballot, I apparently am not allowed to reject your arguments and accept your identity.

 

The second question is simplistic in that it reduces a diverse set of arguments to the oft-repeated "I'm black vote for me". There isn't a single round in college (and likely in HS) that reduces to that. The answer is the same answer you'd give to a young debater asking how to debate a strong 1AC; read it's literature. critical race theory is replete with theorizing that criticizes itself and each other. Frank Wilderson's work is popular among many critical race teams; and there are dozens of authors that criticize him, his deployment in debate, and his positions generally. Simply saying "there's nothing to run" when you haven't read the literature is like a novice saying "there are no answers to heg" without ever opening an IR textbook. 

 

 

Not quite.  The performance argument, as I understand it, is "You can't understand what I say because you're not black, so your arguments are invalid."  These Affs are generally anti-topical; they make no attempt to engage with the resolution at all (ex: the Essentiality of Suffering Nietzche Aff being run in CDL this year, or the Emporia "Wiz" Aff that as far as I can tell had no relation to energy policy whatsoever).  It's one thing to run a performance Aff that uses alternative styles to promote a topical policy option, but these Affs reject the entire premise that we're there to argue about a particular resolution.  OK, fine, so what are we debating?  If I'm judging, do I give Aff the ballot for being deep and persuasive, even though no one's bothered to agree about what we're trying to discuss?  If I'm debating Neg, do I have to be prepared to argue every philosophical premise hypothesized in 6000 years of human history?

 

I guess that got off-track a bit into framework arguments--but now let's talk about what I can argue on Neg.  There's stuff within CRT that criticizes different approaches within CRT without challenging the basic premise of CRT.  OK, fine.  But why can't I challenge the premise of CRT?  There's plenty of legitimate conservative legal theory out there explaining the problems--hell, I can go to Wikipedia and find a great line from Judge Kozinski right away:

 

"The radical multiculturalists' views raise insuperable barriers to mutual understanding. Consider the Space Traders story. How does one have a meaningful dialogue with Derrick Bell? Because his thesis is utterly untestable, one quickly reaches a dead end after either accepting or rejecting his assertion that white Americans would cheerfully sell all blacks to the aliens."

 

Which I can do in CDL, but probably not if I'm sending varsity teams to TOC and definitely not in college, because the higher you go in debate, the more insular and divorced from the real world it becomes.  Raise the typical arguments from a performance debate in a court of law and you'll be lucky to just be laughed out of court and not cited for contempt.  Race theory debaters would probably argue that such punishment oppresses them for expressing their identities.  Oddly enough, all lawyers, white, black, gay, straight, whatever, have to at least somewhat restrain their identities.  My caustic, misanthropic boss can't just go into court and call the judge, opposing lawyers, and opposing experts idiots (though he might freely do so back at the bar when the case is over).

 

This has all been kind of rambling, because this stuff is difficult.  But I guess my point boils down to that whether this stuff is persuasive depends on the nature of your arbitrators.  Tabula rasa judging is a fiction (I think the race theorists would especially agree with that!)  We like to think there's some sort of platonic ideal of tab judging to aspire to, where all biases are gone and somehow the debate will be judged purely on the in-round arguments with no referent to outside premises or ideals.  In fact, what we find persuasive is in significant part dependent on our background and beliefs.  And preference-based judging has reinforced the insular nature of debate, with the highest echelons of high school debate preferring college judges who are open to the word salads of academic theory over experienced high school coaches and external experts who see academic theory as the jargon-heavy nonsense most of the world thinks it is.

 

I'm reminded of the one summer of debate camp I went to in HS, when I suggested an Objectivism K to a lab leader on the privacy topic.  I was scoffed at--"Objectivism is easy to beat, no one thinks it's valid, etc."  This came from the same lab leader who had us writing a CLS K.  Looking back on it, that says less about the respective philosophies than it does about the world of debate--in the real world right now, Objectivism is getting a lot more adherents than CLS.  Perhaps in the college debate world, debaters want to practice making ungrounded castles of pretty arguments that bear little relation to the outside world.  In HS, where most of the kids do not want to be college professors but want to do real work, I'm not going to encourage that, and as a judge I'm not going to take this stuff at face value.

ETA: Two things to add--I remember reading articles about the current state of college performative debate, and it started sounding like it had turned into a debate version of Mike Tyson's Punch Out, with every team applying common stereotypes about their own identities.  Black students running hip-hop Affs, women debating nude, Indian students devoting the round to meditation, etc.  How on Earth does this do anything positive either for the debate community or for tolerance in society at large?  Especially compared to the value of old-fashioned policy debate, where I work to teach disadvantaged minorities how to structure logical, well-reasoned arguments and express themselves in a universal fashion that can be understood by anyone.  We talk about the educational value of debate--which is more valuable, the ability to read back the ramblings of obscure academic theorists or the ability to present a cogent and well reasoned policy argument?

 

And second, dovetailing with Squirreloid's comment about teaching our kids regular policy Affs--this style of debate is just as oppressive to disadvantaged debaters as anything, at least on the HS circuit.  Poor minorities in UDL schools have been so badly served by their own schools that they're barely able to comprehend simpler policy level stuff.  Teaching such students to use performance debate is an anti-debate tool for students who don't want to wade into real policy literature, and whose understanding of the critical literature can't go beyond "I'm black, so vote for me" (because any more sophisticated understanding uses language far beyond these students' vocabulary).  In practice, that means it just gives the powerful schools, the Walter Paytons and the Glenbrooks, another way to crush the disadvantaged schools they beat.  When I see a wacky performance Aff crush our varsity debater at Glenbrooks (unfortunately he had to go maverick due to a flaky partner), I'm not seeing much promotion of poor and disadvantaged minorities.

Edited by Edgehopper
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WHY IS HIS NAME SQUIRRELOID?

 

He certainly doesn't know the answer to that.  Ancient in-joke, and its never taken.

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Not quite.  The performance argument, as I understand it, is "You can't understand what I say because you're not black, so your arguments are invalid."  

I stopped reading here because 1- there isn't "the" performance argument in a singular, homogeneous sense and 2- I've seen a lot of performance rounds, and none of them make an argument even similar to what you said. I understand the disconnect if that's your understanding of their claims. 

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Which I can do in CDL, but probably not if I'm sending varsity teams to TOC and definitely not in college, because the higher you go in debate, the more insular and divorced from the real world it becomes.  Raise the typical arguments from a performance debate in a court of law and you'll be lucky to just be laughed out of court and not cited for contempt.  Race theory debaters would probably argue that such punishment oppresses them for expressing their identities.  Oddly enough, all lawyers, white, black, gay, straight, whatever, have to at least somewhat restrain their identities.  My caustic, misanthropic boss can't just go into court and call the judge, opposing lawyers, and opposing experts idiots (though he might freely do so back at the bar when the case is over).

Why is the fact that performance arguments are not accepted in legal cases a reason why they should not be accepted in debate? Spreading and reading nuclear war scenarios would not be accepted in congress or a court of law would also get you laughed out, and yet those are accepted and condoned in debate. The point is that debate should be a home and a site of resistance for those who are oppressed based on identity and excluded from normal politics, and your argument that that the rest of the world is oppressive is only a reason why debate is needed more. 

And second, dovetailing with Squirreloid's comment about teaching our kids regular policy Affs--this style of debate is just as oppressive to disadvantaged debaters as anything, at least on the HS circuit.  Poor minorities in UDL schools have been so badly served by their own schools that they're barely able to comprehend simpler policy level stuff.  Teaching such students to use performance debate is an anti-debate tool for students who don't want to wade into real policy literature, and whose understanding of the critical literature can't go beyond "I'm black, so vote for me" (because any more sophisticated understanding uses language far beyond these students' vocabulary).  In practice, that means it just gives the powerful schools, the Walter Paytons and the Glenbrooks, another way to crush the disadvantaged schools they beat.  When I see a wacky performance Aff crush our varsity debater at Glenbrooks (unfortunately he had to go maverick due to a flaky partner), I'm not seeing much promotion of poor and disadvantaged minorities.

As snarf said: I can certainly understand the disapproval if your understanding of these teams arguments is "we're black so vote for us." Most UDL debaters who run performance affs are very capable of comprehending the literature and run complex arguments that engage with and probe deeper questions about the topic. 

 

Pretty much nobody says "i'm black so vote for me." Go look at some performance affs read by very good teams (most from small schools!), and perhaps you will realize that these arguments have an extremely high level of diversity and depth.

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