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Does Traditional (College) Debate Reinforce White Privilege?

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90% of people involved in debate (high school students, college students, and coaches) probably don't grasp every nuance, every bit of Oklahoma's CEDA-winning argument (nor, for that matter, those of Harvard BS). To expect that the average journalist for a mainstream publication, with maybe Philosophy 101 under their belt, should be able to both understand such a difficult argument and distill it in a way that their editor would approve and that the general public could probably understand is a bit too much.

 

This is a long-winded way of saying that more debaters should get involved in writing these types of articles.

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That's why traditional policy judges inflated the speaks of policy teams at Harvard, right? Because they treat the ballot as neutral? 

 

#voicefromnowhere

 

That was a small group of judges from what I understand, and a one time incident. I think that behavior was not indicative of the norm but was a radical exception from it. I also think it was retaliatory in nature rather than an independently motivated aggression. I think that speaker point inflation at Harvard was in response to perceived speaker point inflation for other sorts of teams earlier in the year. I don't agree with such a response, but I do think that the context is important.

 

Your point is unclear because you use rhetorical questions instead of arguments. Do you think that on the average traditional judges are more political than nontraditional judges? What on earth leads you to that conclusion? Many traditional judges dislike the idea of using the ballot politically and want to focus on the resolution alone. That's what makes them traditional. Conversely, some nontraditionally inclined judges believe that the ballot has real effects and that personal beliefs shouldn't be ignored in debates. Judge activism naturally follows from such ideas. I really don't think it's unreasonable to assume people's beliefs are informing their behavior. I'm not sure how you managed to come to the opposite conclusion.

Edited by Potatoes
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That was a small group of judges from what I understand, and a one time incident. I think that behavior was not indicative of the norm but was a radical exception from it. I also think it was retaliatory in nature rather than an independently motivated aggression. I think that speaker point inflation at Harvard was in response to perceived speaker point inflation for other sorts of teams earlier in the year. I don't agree with such a response, but I do think that the context is important.

If you think that was reactionary, then explain the formation of the PRL? Or Hardy's tournament?

 

My point was only to critique the (facially insipid) claim that "policy judges" (whatever that means) treat ballots neutrally instead of using them to advance a politics. Such judges advance a politics, they're just quiet about it. 

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I didn't use the phrase "policy judges". I talked about traditional judges, a phrase you've used previously. Actually, you're the one who used the phrase "traditional policy judges". Do you just not even listen to yourself anymore? I also didn't claim that those judges don't advance politics. I said that they usually don't see the ballot as politically significant as other judges do. Don't put words into my mouth for me, I don't know where your hands have been but I can't imagine the place was pleasant.

I see the PRL and Hardy's tournament as reactionary. They want traditional policy debate but can't get it so they're trying to change that. There are now policy teams responding to the increase in success of nontopical teams by leaving, exactly as conservative framework arguments would predict. What do you see the tournament as if not reactionary? Are you now trying to argue that these changes weren't motivated by the increase in nontraditional teams? Earlier you claimed the opposite. Can you at least be consistent when you're making bad arguments?

Edited by Potatoes
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I didn't use the phrase "policy judges". I talked about traditional judges, a phrase you've used previously. Actually, you're the one who used the phrase "traditional policy judges". 

are....are you saying "policy judges" and "traditional judges" are different things? 

 

if so...lol.

 

if not...you're quibbling about terminology rather than responding to the substantive critique of neutrality. 

 

either way - I'm not about getting into a grammar argument with some scrubby former LDer who (only) talks a big game. I dunno if talking trash online makes you feel good, and if it does power to you. But let's not do that in this thread, since the topic of race and policy debate is more important than an ego contest. 

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I think you both have good points. I think that traditional judges are more likely to say they concluded that their ballot has no political significance at the end of a round. But I also think snarf is right that they're still smart enough to understand their ballot has political significance.

 

Hardy's efforts made so many arguments more convincing than they were on the aff's side of framework. His grand defense of "pure" debate actually motivated a lot of movements against him.

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fwiw it would seem that nobody aside from hardy was actually interested in the PRL. a couple coaches, like, heard it out, but then all their students backlashed. nobody wants to quit because of "nontopical teams." well, except for hardy.

 

The tournament generated more interest than that though, didn't it?

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I personally would normally have no issue with policy debating. However, those with the money can travel to the best tournaments and go to camps/institutes. On the other hand, how much of debate is the actual debater's responsibility. I'd say most of it. I think my partner and I went toe-to-toe with two of the best in Chicago (Northside), and screwed ourselves over. That's our fault.

 

On the other hand, those who were at institutes reign supreme in college. Rather, that's the stereotype. I personally think the sudden rage at performance isn't necessary. (I think it's overblown. I guarantee that a policy team will win next year, as teams come to expect seeing this kind of argument.) Regardless, I am worried about the actual application of the arguments. I suspect that few people actually believe in their argument, and are using performance simply because it wins. (I do not doubt the sincerity of Oklahoma or Emporia, though. I was kinda shocked at how that debate played out, given the participants.)

 

Regardless, I like performance-type affs, so long as there is SOME policy involved.

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I suspect that few people actually believe in their argument, and are using performance simply because it wins. (I do not doubt the sincerity of Oklahoma or Emporia, though. I was kinda shocked at how that debate played out, given the participants.)

 

I understand your desire to only see people that believe in such a radical argument to receive ballots for it, but I want to point out something about this mindset.

 

This leads to people having to become static. It leads to debaters being pigeonholed in to one argument. Because if they want to adopt a radical stance, all of a sudden they have to "believe it". One does not have to "believe" that global warming is fake to make such an argument.... One does not need to "believe" that a US-China war is good to make such an argument... But for some reason one must "believe" their K or critical aff.

 

Well not all that terrible yet right? Just a double standard. But lets impact it out.

 

Stacy runs Wilderson on the aff and neg. Stacy joins the appropriate facebook groups. Others with the same ideological affinity are drawn to Stacy. So Stacy becomes associated with other like minded individuals on the debate circuit.

Great! right? Learning webs like Illich and shit! Great horizontal power critical pedagogy!

 

But halfway in to the season. Stacy happens upon some Enloe and Tickner. OMG Stacy is digging it! WTF?? gender has such explanatory potential! Stacy wants to put it in his/her speeches. Stacy wants to utilize the ideas in a round to learn them better and teach them to others. Unfortunately when Stacy does that. All of a sudden some code is broken. The judges and other debaters talk behind Stacy's back about how he/she is not genuine! The facebook group casts aspersions on the "ideology of white western women". Stacy starts losing more rounds. Around the community former friends with similar ideological affinities, perform those ideological affinities through ostracism of Stacy.

 

This whole "you must 100% believe whatever you argue(if its radical)" causes a lack in educational growth. Because debaters are taught not to grow or change.

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I understand your desire to only see people that believe in such a radical argument to receive ballots for it, but I want to point out something about this mindset.

 

This leads to people having to become static. It leads to debaters being pigeonholed in to one argument. Because if they want to adopt a radical stance, all of a sudden they have to "believe it". One does not have to "believe" that global warming is fake to make such an argument.... One does not need to "believe" that a US-China war is good to make such an argument... But for some reason one must "believe" their K or critical aff.

 

Well not all that terrible yet right? Just a double standard. But lets impact it out.

 

Stacy runs Wilderson on the aff and neg. Stacy joins the appropriate facebook groups. Others with the same ideological affinity are drawn to Stacy. So Stacy becomes associated with other like minded individuals on the debate circuit.

Great! right? Learning webs like Illich and shit! Great horizontal power critical pedagogy!

 

But halfway in to the season. Stacy happens upon some Enloe and Tickner. OMG Stacy is digging it! WTF?? gender has such explanatory potential! Stacy wants to put it in his/her speeches. Stacy wants to utilize the ideas in a round to learn them better and teach them to others. Unfortunately when Stacy does that. All of a sudden some code is broken. The judges and other debaters talk behind Stacy's back about how he/she is not genuine! The facebook group casts aspersions on the "ideology of white western women". Stacy starts losing more rounds. Around the community former friends with similar ideological affinities, perform those ideological affinities through ostracism of Stacy.

 

This whole "you must 100% believe whatever you argue(if its radical)" causes a lack in educational growth. Because debaters are taught not to grow or change.

 

I don't disagree with the problem you point out - people should be allowed to change their mind.  They should also be allowed to consider multiple things important.

 

But isn't one of the arguments made here frequently 'switch side is bad because it makes us argue for things we don't agree with'?  And isn't that one of the justifications given for Wilderson-type Affirmatives for not following the resolution, because defending the State is supposed to be unimaginable?

 

One doesn't have to believe in traditional policy arguments because traditional policy accepts switch-side and the need to argue on the side you don't personally believe.  But many of these 'alternate' debate approaches reject that pedagogy on-face, which suggests they should be held accountable for that pedagogy.  If they can't defend the resolution because they can't believe in it (defending the state is abhorrent, or any other reason), then they better be defending something they do believe in.  (At least at the moment!)

 

Edit: Typo

Edited by Squirrelloid
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this whole "do some policy teams still win" discussion entirely misses the boat.

 

the argument is that backlash is coming from the increased success of Black teams and Black arguments; like Ryan and Eli's double victory at the NDT/CEDA (first ever), first black female top speaker at CEDA, Black winners at CEDA this year in an all-Black final round - the list goes on.

 

Saying "some policy teams still win" is entirely unresponsive, because the argument is that policy teams are fighting not to cede any ground to arguments they perceive as illegitimate. See: squirrelroid's need to insert his opinion on capitalism and racism everywhere these arguments are discussed.

 

can we go back to discussing the Atlantic article now?

 

Mmmmm I think it's still an important point to be made. The argument isn't "some policy teams still win," it's "traditional powerhouses are still powerhouses." Emporia's crowns, the OU/Towson round...these are more noise than signal. 

 

I mean, look at the regular season (since that was when the majority of the "backlash" activity took place):

 

GSU finals = Harvard d. Northwestern

Kentucky = Northwestern d. Michigan

Harvard = Northwestern d. Georgetown

USC = Harvard d. Cal

CSUF = Northwestern d. Towson

Texas = Gtown d. Wake Forest

 

Now, granted, Harvard BoSu and Cal MS were dirty K debaters, but you'd be hard pressed to defend that Harvard and Cal don't count as part of the old guard. There are probably also pretty good args that the kind of academic criticism they engage in are typical of and reify White scholarship. I would consider Wake as a school to be part of it too, but Wake LW is an exception to that rule.

 

So, out of 7 majors, that's what? 4 won by Northwestern, 1 by Gtown, and 1 by Harvard. 2 Black/non-traditional teams in finals (not totally sure how best to describe Wake LW) out of a possible 14. 

 

If we expand it to semis, then out of 28 possible slots available, Black teams accounted for only 5 (Towson, Wake, Rutgers, OU, and West Georgia each reached semis or better exactly once) of those. ~18%.

 

Factor in CEDA (all Black everything) and the NDT (Gtown d. Michigan) and you have Black teams this year winning 1 out of 9 majors, claiming 4 out of the possible 18 spots (~22%) in the finals, and claiming 9 out of 36 (~25%) of semis spots.

 

Now, you can look at these results, and draw many different conclusions. Maybe this reflects a bias in the judging pool against Black teams. Maybe this shows a fundamental flaw with MPJ. Maybe this shows that if the traditional schools had turned up in force at CEDA, the outrounds would have been shaken up from the influx of policy judges they brought with them.

 

But you know what it doesn't show? That Black teams have been successful to the point that traditional powerhouses are feeling threatened. Yeah, Hardy tried to start his own tournament, but that's one dude. If Northwestern, Harvard, Gtown, Michigan, MSU, Kansas, Emory, Wake, Mary Wash, Dartmouth, Kentucky, Cal, and Iowa all really were unwilling to cede literally any ground to Towson, OU, Rutgers, West Georgia, Vermont, and Fresno St, then every tournament would either be like the NOPD (policy-only) or CEDA ("we won't dignify the tournament by coming").

 

For gods sakes, the PRL was floated, and nobody wanted to do it.

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I understand your desire to only see people that believe in such a radical argument to receive ballots for it, but I want to point out something about this mindset.

 

This leads to people having to become static. It leads to debaters being pigeonholed in to one argument. Because if they want to adopt a radical stance, all of a sudden they have to "believe it". One does not have to "believe" that global warming is fake to make such an argument.... One does not need to "believe" that a US-China war is good to make such an argument... But for some reason one must "believe" their K or critical aff.

 

Well not all that terrible yet right? Just a double standard. But lets impact it out.

 

Stacy runs Wilderson on the aff and neg. Stacy joins the appropriate facebook groups. Others with the same ideological affinity are drawn to Stacy. So Stacy becomes associated with other like minded individuals on the debate circuit.

Great! right? Learning webs like Illich and shit! Great horizontal power critical pedagogy!

 

But halfway in to the season. Stacy happens upon some Enloe and Tickner. OMG Stacy is digging it! WTF?? gender has such explanatory potential! Stacy wants to put it in his/her speeches. Stacy wants to utilize the ideas in a round to learn them better and teach them to others. Unfortunately when Stacy does that. All of a sudden some code is broken. The judges and other debaters talk behind Stacy's back about how he/she is not genuine! The facebook group casts aspersions on the "ideology of white western women". Stacy starts losing more rounds. Around the community former friends with similar ideological affinities, perform those ideological affinities through ostracism of Stacy.

 

This whole "you must 100% believe whatever you argue(if its radical)" causes a lack in educational growth. Because debaters are taught not to grow or change.

On the other and, how much does one learn when they blindly read something they think will win, rather than researching something they agree with? I don't think anyone learns anything at all.

 

Maybe this is unfeasible in college, but I keep a list of issues I might want to research, because I believe in a particular position. This goes for both aff and neg. You can have multiple advocacies and agree with them all. You can have a few for aff, and separate ones for neg. I just find it troubling when people simply run what's winning, rather than what's important or something they came up with.

 

As for the question, I do believe that debate as a community has a LONG way to go to be truly diverse. I also feel that the lack of accessibility from the best resources definitely contributes to the issue. Does traditional debate reinforce white privilege? No. Does the tradition of debate itself as a community reinforce privilege? Probably.

Edited by Temporal

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On the other and, how much does one learn when they blindly read something they think will win, rather than researching something they agree with? I don't think anyone learns anything at all.

 

Maybe this is unfeasible in college, but I keep a list of issues I might want to research, because I believe in a particular position. This goes for both aff and neg. You can have multiple advocacies and agree with them all. You can have a few for aff, and separate ones for neg. I just find it troubling when people simply run what's winning, rather than what's important or something they came up with.

 

As for the question, I do believe that debate as a community has a LONG way to go to be truly diverse. I also feel that the lack of accessibility from the best resources definitely contributes to the issue. Does traditional debate reinforce white privilege? No. Does the tradition of debate itself as a community reinforce privilege? Probably.

Actually, people would learn a lot from researching the other side. That is the point of switch side debate and why people, especially those of us on this website think its good that policy debate exists, even if there are problems that need to be fixed. The reason why people should have to discuss other issues, even if they disagree is because of the experience and how it helps an indiivudal learn or change themselves. It also helps them become better advocates for change because when you have to research the other side, it not only helps you frame your own argument for people who may be against you, it also helps you find the best, or better arguments that the other side would have to make to effectively respond to you.

Also, yes, mimicry is bad if you're bad at it or don't care- but the best debaters usually will find a way to make what they wish to talk about win, or be involved in the topic. To this same point most people do find ways to get what they want to talk about to be somehow related to the topic.

 

But on the same concerns, in a hypothetical, what do you think people who can't find a way to tie what they want to discuss into a debate topic do instead?

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