David Airne – Montana
Debated NDT 3 years and 1 year LD in college
Coached NDT/CEDA, LD, and Parli for +10 years
The quick overview to my judging is really simple. I judge things on what happens in the context of the round and it is up to those in the round to write that ballot for me. If you do not write it for me then you leave it up to me and I do not really want to intervene in the round, so write the ballot for me. So use the rebuttals to write my ballot. Asking me what arguments I like is silly, run what you want and if you are winning it then I vote on it. If you run things I happen to not like that just means you might have a higher threshold needed to win it, but if you are winning it then I vote for it. I typically default into a policy maker, but I am happy to vote wherever the round takes me. Finally, I will openly admit I do not give the highest of speaker points (25-28 is pretty typical) but good debate warrants higher speaks when it occurs. Any specific issues you want to know about continue reading or just ask me since I am happy to tell you.
T: I have voted on it. I do see it as a voter, but explain why it is a voter.
SPECS: Never been a fan, but they can be useful in specific instances
Critical Stuff: Never have had any problem with it other than I do not like them run poorly and I am not a fan of running them in the 1NC with other contradictory positions so that you can pick which arguments are your winners. It does need to be well developed and explained, especially since there is no evidence that I get to read after the round. Otherwise, feel free to run whatever critical arguments you want but be sure you explain how it compares to the AFF or NEG so I see how it operates in the world then critical arguments are always great to hear.
CP: I have no issue with them at all. When it comes to PICs I tend to prefer agent CPs since there is usually a better solvency debate that can occur and it is much more interesting to me than other PICs. They should be either net ben or mutually exclusive but do not need to both.
Perms: I make this separate from the Critical and CPs since they impact both of them, but in different ways. On CPs I have no issue of perms and I see them as tests of competition not an actual advocacy. However, “Perm do both” is not really a perm since it is only 3 words with no explaination. Perms on Critical arguments are a different thing since I am not sure how they can really interact to the critical alternative. I only say this because when people make prefiat claims and are critical of the discourse used, then I am not sure how a Perm can actually function since the language has occurred in the round. If it is prefiat then I am not sure I understand how a policy action, which bound by fiat, can exist in the prefiat world. None of this means I would not listen to perms, but it just is something that has me thinking about the relationship with Critical arguments.
DA: Go for it but give me some way to evaluate the impact and show me how it relates to the case and the CP if you have one.
Case Arguments: Minimization is a fine way to go if you are running a CP and/or a DA. However, only telling me the harms of case are not as bad just tells me there is still a harm that the case solves which means they are still better than the status quo, not as good as they were in the first speech but still better. So do not expect to win on the so-called “terminal defense.”
Framework: If you have a framework be sure you explain how it functions for me in the round. Remember, I default to policy maker so without a clear explanation of it I will use that lens in the framework. So you have to tell me how the AFF/NEG views compete with each other.
Points of order: You can call them but I they are all under consideration.
Joe Allen – Oregon
Generic information: I do not wish to impose my views on the activity through my ballot. What I mean by this is that I think you certainly ought to debate in front of me in a fashion consistent with what you're best at--and allow me to adapt to you. I fundamentally believe that nearly all aspects of debate are negotiable, and certainly a multitude of different kinds of strategies can be fun to watch and fun to do. I believe those who insist on debate conforming to their view of the activity are narcissistic and don't get the point. I also think that the notion of the inevitability of intervention does not remove the responsibility to evaluate issues in a fair and honest fashion--in fact it strengthens this obligation. I will do my best to make decisions which are not informed by my predispositions but rather a serious evaluation of the issues as they were debated. My burden of striving for non-intervention will not prevent me from passing judgment. This ought not be confused. I will make a decision based on judgments I make (clearly) but I will not be dishonest about the objective flow of the debate in order to cater to my own debate ideals. I am a debate nihilist (you might say), I begin with the assumption that what you can do in debate is only limited by your imaginative capacity to justify your argumentative choices. There is no strategy that I didn't try as a debater--who would I be to tell you that you can't do the same? Specific information: Despite my strong belief that our predispositions should have no effect on the outcome of our judging, I must admit that I obviously do have predispositions about this activity. I've spent enough time doing it, and even more time thinking about it, that I am not a clean slate. I'll put my slate away for the sake of fair deliberation, but here's a glimpse of what my slate looks like. Topicality: Unless argued persuasively otherwise, I default to assuming that topicality is both a voting issue and an issue of competing interpretations. I went for topicality a fair amount in debate. I truly believe that affirmatives who make a good faith effort to support the topic (even if for a very abstract or nuanced reason) are the most strategic. Even some of the most strategic critical affirmatives I've ever seen affirmed the topic. I suppose a good general rule is that if you're not trying to be topical, you should have a good reason why. I have never heard a definition of reasonability in my entire life that made more sense to me than competing interpretations (doesn't mean I'm not open to the possibility). I believe that the specificity of the standards and how effectively they are compared (T debates are impact debates like everything else) is often the decider. Counterplans: I tend to assume that counterplans are a very useful strategy available to the negative. I am not predisposed against conditional counterplans, and frankly I'm also not predisposed against multiple conditional counterplans. Surprisingly perhaps, I also am not strongly against counterplans which don't compete textually (particularly if they are authentically within the scope of the topic). The reason I think textual competition is usually a good limit is precisely because most counterplans which textual competition limits out are those which detract from topic education. If yours doesn't and you can justify your counterplan you're fine. If you say there's a textually competitive version of the counterplan I will know if you're lying (just so you know). It's really all about what you can justify. The quality of your solvency evidence is generally a great indicator of how smart your counterplan is. The kritik: We shouldn't be afraid to have kritik debates because they serve as a way of making sure that our assumptions can be justified. That being said, our assumptions can be justified, and I appreciate people who do in fact engage critical teams and make an effort to defend the perspectives which inform their arguments. A few uphill battles critical debaters might find with me are that I often think critical framework arguments do not particularly limit the affirmative very much. For example, the reason it doesn't make sense to me to say that representational debating is object fiat or utopian fiat is that disads and cases are also representational. There is no part of debate that isn't already a performance, and there is no part of debate that isn't already representational. It's about the desirability of those representations. Another roadblock critical debaters might find with me is that I have no problem signing off on topicality or evaluating the framework debate against the kritik. I did this plenty against kritik teams, and I'm not opposed to framework if you cannot justify the way your kritik is framed. If they're responsible for their representations why aren't you? I don't like the fact that kritik debaters uniquely have to have a sheet of paper justifying the existence of their argument right out of the gates, but if you cannot win that your argument should exist I think you should find a different argument. I also am a sucker for sophisticated and clever permutation arguments. Perhaps this is why I think the best kritiks are topic specific and turn the case. Theory: I think theory serves a vital role in regulating debate trends, like a filter. Sometimes a strategy is a winning one precisely because it's not crafted in a fashion that is fair. Sometimes a strategy is antithetical to education to a degree that merits its total exclusion. Again, these questions are answered best through a framework of competing interpretations where sophisticated impact calculus happens at the level of the standards debate. If you can justify it, you can do it. Theory debates are one of the best tests of whether or not you can justify your given strategy. For this reason, I take it seriously and think it should be evaluated first. I will not evaluate it first only in the circumstance where you lose the priority debate (which sometimes happens). My default assumption is that fairness and education are both good, and keep the activity alive. This does not, however, remove the obligation to demonstrate why something is theoretically objectionable to a degree that merits the ballot. I also tend to fall further on the potential abuse side of the spectrum than the real abuse side. Just because you don't perform abuse (in the sense of how much of their strategy has in-round utility) does not automatically mean the way your strategy is positioned is suddenly educational or fair. Disads: A well argued disad can be a beautiful thing. If you can't outweigh the case, read a counterplan that pairs well with your disad. If you want, read two. You could also surprise me and debate the case effectively (I will appreciate this). I do not dislike politics disads, but those which do not have any real link specificity annoy me a bit. Sometimes the politics disad is the right choice, sometimes it's not. Depends on the topic. The greater the specificity and applicability the happier I'll be. I love a well crafted topic disad. If your disad authentically turns the case, then I'll probably be inclined to thinking it's a good disad. Be prepared to debate all levels of disad uniqueness (not just top level) including link uniqueness, internal link uniqueness, and impact uniqueness. Things that really annoy me: 1) Process disads. If your disad relies on the process of the plan passing, rather than the outcome of the plan, I will not like your disad. If you say things like "the plan will be horse-traded for x" or "the plan will move x off the docket" I will be utterly dissatisfied with your lazy and bankrupt disad. To be clear, it is the job of the aff to identify how absurd your disad is. I will not hesitate to vote for shitty process disads if the aff fails to correctly answer them, but it'll make me feel bad about myself and the state of debate. 2) Theory debates which begin in the PMR. Sometimes really egregious things happen in the block. In this case, I may very well vote for theory which begins in the PMR. Example: the negative splits the block. However, I am more often than not wildly uncomfortable with theory debates in which the negative has no opportunity to contest your argument. The best example I can think of here is that the MOC should take a question. My intuition is that you get the last word, and so you should have the upper hand in dealing with these situations without putting me in an awkward position. This is one of my least favorite debate arguments. 3) Spec arguments or T arguments which have no resolutional basis. If your spec argument has no basis in the topic, or requires the aff to be extra-topical in order to meet your interpretation, I will think it's a bad argument. E-spec is a good example of such an argument. This is especially egregious in instances in which T arguments have no basis in the topic since T is supposed to be explicitly premised on the language of the topic. 4) Floating pics. Alternatives should not include anything resembling the plan. They should especially not literally include the plan text. If they do, and you do not win the debate on perm: do the alternative with appropriate theory arguments about how nonsense it is for the alt to include the plan I will be pretty pissed. The negative should have to make alt solvency arguments in order to demonstrate why the alt solves the aff, and the aff should be entitled to argue that the aff is a disad to the alt. If the alternative does not enable this debate to occur, it's more than likely theoretically bankrupt. I would hope that the aff would identify this. 5) Incorrect permutation strategies. For every silly nonsense counterplan which shouldn't exist, there is a solid permutation text which makes such counterplan look pretty silly. I really appreciate it when the aff correctly identifies the appropriate permutation, and conversely, I really don't like it when the aff fails to problematize bad counterplans with the appropriate permutation. 6) Failure to offer impact comparison. Clearly I have no desire to intervene. It is up to you to ensure that the debate is resolvable in a way that doesn't require me to compare things myself. I will always decide debates based on what occurs in your own words. I will not put the pieces together for you. I will not assume your position to be a priority if you fail to demonstrate this for me. Impact calculus is the centerpiece of how you can accomplish this. 7) Failure to identify things which are theoretically bankrupt. What bothers me the most about asinine strategies is when I'm put in a position to have to endorse them with my ballot, and I absolutely will if you fail to allow me to do otherwise. It is your responsibility to filter out irresponsible debate trends with sound objections to them. Take your responsibility seriously so that I don't have to make decisions which I know endorse things which are not good for the activity. Summary observations: I suppose my views on the ideal strategy are almost always informed by the topic. The best K's turn the case and are topic specific, and the same can be said for the best disads. The best counterplans have very quality solvency evidence and a sensible net benefit.The best critical affs affirm the topic and discuss issues pertinent to the topic literature. There's always a good strategic option for a given topic, and it's up to you to find it. I will not be a hindrance to that process. Whatever you think is situationally best given the strengths of yourself and your opponent should be what you go with. I'll adapt to you. You'll probably debate better when you do what you're best at. Almost all debate is fun, it should be a question of what's the most situationally strategic option. One last thing: I am a very expressive judge. 9 times out of 10 you will know what I think of your argument. I will shake my head at you if you say something really absurd, and I will nod for arguments that I agree with. I can't really control this very well (I've tried). On very very rare occasions I will verbally declare an argument to be stupid during the debate. Do not take me too seriously. I vote for stupid arguments when I would be intervening otherwise, and not all smart arguments are round winners. If it's very difficult for you to deal with non-verbal reactions to your arguments or this is very distracting for you, don't pref me. I literally could not possibly be less interested where I end up on your pref sheet.
Nick Budak – Lewis & Clark
I competed in Parli for four years at Whitman (RIP). I currently work at L&C. My degree is in Asian Studies, with some Politics experience. I am receptive to and can be expected to know critiques like Orientalism and those that deal with IR theory, plus a grab bag of things that the average MG would have learned to answer. Be nice, especially to your partner. People who interrupt others are difficult for me to watch. Humor is a lost art and may yet be the salvation of our awful little community. Theory Theory serves an important role as in-round immune system of the community - it allows us to excise toxic elements (and playtest new and exciting ones). There are no theory arguments I will outright ignore, though I may visibly react if you unironically read spec (Carlton). Counterplans are important and useful, including conditional ones. However, I side with Zach “Harvard Law” Tschida: despite my opinion that condo is theoretically justified, one ought not deploy it so as to detract from thoughtful debate. If you keep a conditional advocacy in the block, I will evaluate it and not the status quo. I adhere to the community norm of looking down upon delay/consult CPs. If you’re reading one, it should be because it has special relevance to the topic and because you can answer theory on it. Textual/functional competition and the legitimacy of a given permutation are issues that should be decided in the round. If you can relate your competition theory back to the topic in a specific way, more speaks for you. All theory questions are weighed on competing interpretations; reasonability is a pipe dream. Kritiks As Zizek says, “Nowadays, you can do anything that you want—anal, oral, fisting—but you need to be wearing gloves, condoms, protection.” Words to live by.
Kyle Cheesewright – The College of Idaho
All that you touch You Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth Is Change. God Is Change.” –Octavia Butler, “Parable of the Sower.” Debate is a game. Debate is a strange, beautiful game that we play. Debate is a strange beautiful game that we play with each other. I love debate. It’s the only game that exists where the rules are up for contestation by each side. There are some rules that aren’t up for discussion, as far as I can tell, these are them: 1/ Each debate will have a team that wins, and a team that looses. Say whatever you want, I am structurally constrained at the end of debate to award one team a win, and the other team will receive a loss. That’s what I got. 2/ Time limits. I think that a discussion should have equal time allotment for each side, and those times should probably alternate. I have yet to see a fair way for this question to be resolved in a debate, other than through arbitrary enforcement. The only exception is that if both teams decide on something else, you have about 45 minutes from the start of the round, to when I have to render a decision. Pretty much everything else is open to contestation. At this point, I don’t really have any serious, uncontestable beliefs about debate. This means that the discussion is open to you. I do tend to find that I find debates to be more engaging when they are about substantive clash over a narrow set of established issues. This means, I tend to prefer debates that are specific and deep. Good examples, and comparative discussion of those examples is the easiest way to win my ballot. Generally speaking, I look for comparative impact work. I find that I tend to align more quickly with highly probable and proximate impacts, though magnitude is just so easy. I tend to prefer LOC strategies that are deep, well explained explorations of a coherent world. The strategy of firing off a bunch of underdeveloped arguments, and trying to develop the strategy that is mishandled by the MG is often successful in front of me, but I almost always think that the round would have been better with a more coherent LOC strategy—for both sides of the debate. At the end of the debate, when it is time for me to resolve the discussion, I start by identifying what I believe the weighing mechanism should be, based on the arguments made in the debate. Once I have determined the weighing mechanism, I start to wade through the arguments that prove the world will be better or worse, based on the decision mechanism. I always attempt to default to explicit arguments that debaters make about these issues. Examples are the evidence of Parliamentary debate. Control the examples, and you will control the debate. On specific issues: I don’t particularly care what you discuss, or how you discuss it. I prefer that you discuss it in a way that gives me access to the discussion. I try not to backfill lots of arguments based on buzzwords. For example, if you say “Topicality is a matter of competing interpretations,” I think I know what that means. But I am not going to default to evaluating every argument on Topicality through an offense/defense paradigm unless you explain to me that I should, and probably try to explicate what kinds of answers would be offensive, and what kinds of answers would be defensive. Similarly, if you say “Topicality should be evaluated through the lens of reasonability,” I think I know what that means. But if you want me to stop evaluating Topicality if you are winning that there is a legitimate counter-interpretation that is supported by a standard, then you should probably say that. I try to flow debates as specifically as possible. I feel like I have a pretty good written record of most debates. Rebuttals are times to focus a debate, and go comprehensively for a limited set of arguments. You should have a clear argument for why you are winning the debate as a whole, based on a series of specific extensions from the Member speech. The more time you dedicate to an issue in a debate, the more time I will dedicate to that issue when I am resolving the debate. Unless it just doesn’t matter. Watch out for arguments that don’t matter, they’re tricksy and almost everyone spends too much time on them. Before I make my decision, I try to force myself to explain what the strongest argument for each side would be if they were winning the debate. I then ask myself how the other team is dealing with those arguments. I try to make sure that each team gets equal time in my final evaluation of a debate. This is a radical departure from my traditional judging philosophy. I’ll see how it works out for me. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. For the record, I have strong opinions on just about everything that occurs in a debate round—but those strong opinions are for down time and odd rants during practice rounds. I work to keep them out of the debate, and at this point, I think I can say that I do a pretty good job on that account. I just thought of a third rule. Speaker points are mine. I use them to indicate how good I thought speeches are. If you tell me what speaker points I should give you, I will listen, and promptly discard what you say. Probably. For the sake of transparency: My personal gig is critical-cultural theory. It's where my heart is. This does not mean that you should use critical theory that you don't understand or feel comfortable with it. Make the choices in debate that are the best, most strategic, or most ethical for you. If your interested in my personal opinons about your choices, I'm more than happy to share. But I'll do that after the debate is over, the ballot submitted, and we're just two humans chatting. The debate will be decided based on the arguments made in the debate. “[Y]ou can’t escape language: language is everything and everywhere; it’s what lets us have anything to do with one another; it’s what separates us from animals; Genesis 11:7-10 and so on.” -David Foster Wallace, “Authority and American Usage.” Old Philosophy A Body's Judging Philosophy Debate has been my home since 1996— and when I started, I caressed Ayn Rand and spoke of the virtue of selfishness. I am much older than I was. These days, I am trying to figure out how subjectivity gets created from the raw material of words and research. I have no interest in how well you can recite the scripts you’ve memorized. Or at what speed. I will not be held responsible for adjudicating your bank balance. And I will not provide interest on your jargon. I will listen to your stories and I will decide which story is better, using the only currency I am comfortable with: the language of land, and the words that sprout from my body like hair. I remember the visceral intensity of the win and loss, and the way that worth was constructed from finishing points. I am far too familiar with the bitter sting of other names circled. I think that the systemic is far more important than the magnitude. Politics make me sick. And I know that most of the fun with words, has nothing to do with limits, because it’s all ambiguous. And nothing fair. These days, I read Deleuze and Guattari, and wonder what it means when classrooms are madhouses. And all that remains is the affect.
Alyson Escalante – Oregon
I competed in NPDA/NPTE parli debate for four years, two at El Camino College and two at the University of Oregon. As such, I've debate both on communication centric local circuits as well as national level competative circuit debate. The round is yours, and you are free to do what you wish with it. I will do my best to accomodate the type of round the teams involved decide to have. I do have some preferances but I will attempt to minimize the impact they have. This paradigm is meant to provide transparency for how I understand and aproach debate so that you can understand the biases and preferences which inform my evaluation of a round. Theory: I generally have a middle of the line threshold on most theory positions and I don't have particularly strong opinions on most of the debates about ideal pedagogy, except in relation to topicality. In general my threashold is lowest for questions of topicality and I tend to prefer that the affirmative team defend the resolution. I am willing to judge rounds where that is not the case, but the affirmative should have ample justifications for their decision and I tend to be sympathetic to topicality/framework. In terms of theoretical questions regarding counterplan status, I default towards understanding conditionality to be positive, but I am more than happy to vote on a condo bad shell which is not properly adressed. Critiques: I'm fairly comfortable with most literature bases for the main popular critiques on the national circuit. While I enjoy critique debate, I generally find that it massively simplifies incredibly complex literature. As such, I will reward debaters clearly well versed in, and understanding the nuance of their literature, with speaker points. In general I have a better understanding of more traditional political critiques of capitalism, the state, or other objective political institutions. I am also fairly comfortable with my understanding of criticisms grounded in broader continental philosophy. I am less well read in the fields of critical race theory and critical legal studies so if you want to read positions grounded in this literature please be sure to explain terminology and concepts so I can understand their function in the round. "Identity politics": I don't really like the term identity politics but it seems to be the term the circuit has settled on so here we are. Anyway, I generally find these rounds dificult to judge when not provided with a clear framework for how I am supposed to engage the round. If you want to read these kinds of arguments you should answer a few questions for me. What is my role in this round? Am I here as an objective observer flowing the round or should my social location and identity effect my interaction with the arguments being made? Should I stick to a logocentric understanding of the flow as an objective measure of the round, or should I evaluate without emphasizing the flow? If you address these sorts of questions you will have a significantly easier time winning my ballot. If you do not give me a paradigm to evaluate the round I will default to the flow, which I often find is insufficient for evaluating the affective and personal aspects of these rounds. Just tell me what you prefer. Disads: I probably prefer plan versus disad debate the most. I'm not particularly opposed to any particular disadvantages and I generally find that the more generic disads such as politics, hegemony, business confidence, or other generics are a really interesting debate when a team goes above and beyond in researching these positions and understanding the nuances of the story they are telling. If you have any questions not addressed here please feel free to ask me before round.
Mike Fitzgerald- Boise State
I spent one year debating at Spokane Falls Community College (2009-2010) before transferring to Boise State for three more years of NPDA debate experience (2010-2013). I’ve spent the last four years coaching debate in South Korea. Now I am entering my first year of grad school (political science) at Portland State University.
I think my fundamental approach to debate is best expressed in the words of another judge’s philosophy which I found too late in my career: “Debate eligibility is finite; you should…use it how you want. IT ENDS! When it ends you never get it back. Make sure that you do you.”
Other points that I consider most salient are bolded for those desiring a quick read.
1. Above all, I believe debate should be an activity characterized by inclusivity and educational opportunity. Identities, histories, and futures do not detach themselves from our bodies and wait in the hallway while you debate and I adjudicate. To the extent allowable by tournament rules, I will deduct speaker points and/or assign the loss for outwardly offensive, intimidating, dehumanizing, or marginalizing remarks or behaviors which are deleterious to these ends.
2. In order for me to consider an argument in my decision, it should meet the following criteria:
a. Have a claim;
b. Have a warrant;
c. Have an explanation about how this argument interacts with others in the debate and what that means for my decision. In other words, tell me why I care and what to do about it.
d. If you are reading something where the text is of critical importance (e.g. role of the ballot, plan text, topicality interpretation, alternative, etc) please slow down and read it twice. Copies for your opponents and for me are appreciated and can be substituted for the second reading.
3. I would advise debaters who I judge—and who care about persuading me—to approach the round with the understanding that:
a. You are likely more knowledgeable of the argument you’re making than I am;
b. You are likely to possess a capacity for speaking faster than I can flow;
c. You will probably earn higher speaker points and a better chance at my ballot if you take care to teach me. I will not vote for a position which I cannot understand.
4. However, I will do my best to comprehend your argument and flow it with the greatest accuracy and completeness I can achieve. I will strive to minimize my intervention into the debate, and to make my decision based on the arguments presented and extended in-round.
5. Please call points of order on what you believe to be new arguments in the rebuttals.
6. Please keep your own time.
I appreciate explicitly defined frameworks which present and defend a specific role for my ballot. In absence of this, I’ll default to net-benefits. I’ll vote on theory/procedurals which successfully defend an interpretation, violation, standard, and voting issue. I am predisposed to valuing education over fairness but can certainly be convinced otherwise.
Most of my experience is with plan vs counterplan, advantage vs disadvantage debates, but I welcome critical debate. I believe that all debate, regardless of style, is performance. Affirmative kritiks are fine with me. Regardless of your advocacy and how you choose to introduce and advance it, I need to know (and so do your opponents) how it functions in the debate. The take-away is this: strategically and stylistically you can do whatever you want, as long as you have some justification for it.
Impact comparison is good, and good impact calculus is better. I tend to prefer probability over magnitude, and like to see time-frame deployed in strategic and thoughtful ways. I give significant weight to structural impacts; one-off impacts will have a serious uphill battle against well-articulated structural consequences. Terminalization (of offense and defense) is good. Uniqueness and links are good and necessary. (I’ve occasionally encountered a ‘link of omission’ response to kritiks, and while you would do well to have framed your link story in terms of ‘commission’, I am unlikely to out-of-hand reject a kritik due to such an undeveloped answer.) Blippy args, planned back-filling of warrants to gain a strategic advantage, and excessive pen clicking annoy me; speaker points beware. (Also, I don’t expect it will be a problem at this tournament, but knocking or proclaiming ‘hear hear’, and other disruptive behaviors characteristic of “traditional” parliamentary debate will lead me to soothe my anger in a bath of your speaks).
Before the round begins, please feel free to ask any questions you have of me which this philosophy failed to answer with sufficient clarity and depth. However, my lack of explanation on some particular issue may or may not have been intended. In the intentional case, I will answer to the best of my ability but ultimately in deference to the principle of ‘this is your round, not mine.’
Korry Harvey – Western Washington
I debated a lot (CEDA, NDT), and have coached and judged even more (CEDA, NDT, NPDA, NPTE, Worlds). I teach courses in argument theory, diversity, and civil dialogue, and I am heavily involved in community activism. While my debate background comes primarily from a “policy” paradigm, I have no problem with either good “critical” debates or “persuasive communication”, and am willing to listen to any framework a team feels is justifiably appropriate for the debate so long as it is clearly explained.
I think that debate is simultaneously a challenging educational exercise, a competitive game of strategy, and a wonderfully odd and unique community – all of which work together to make it fun. I think debaters, judges, and coaches should actively try to actually enjoy the activity. Debate should be both fun and congenial. Yet if asked to prioritize, I would say that the educational aspect is the most important to me. Finally, while a written ballot is informative, I feel that post-round oral critiques are one of the most valuable educational tools we as coaches and judges have to offer, and I will always be willing to disclose and discuss my decisions, even if that may involve walking and talking in order to help the tournament staff expedite an efficient schedule for all of us.
I am hearing impaired. No joke – I wear hearing aids in both ears, and am largely deaf without them. I think most would agree that I keep a pretty good flow, but I can only write down what I understand. I work as hard as just about any of your critics to understand and assess your arguments, and I appreciate it when you help me out a little. Unfortunately, a good deal of my hearing loss is in the range of the human voice – go figure. As such, clarity and a somewhat orderly structure are particularly important for me—this means clearly identifying/articulating interpretations, plan texts, etc. If you are amongst the top 10-15 fastest speakers in the country you might want to consider slowing down for me-- at least on taglines. For some, a notch or two up on the volume scale doesn’t hurt, either. However, please note that vocal projection is not the same as shouting-- which often just causes an echo effect, making it even harder for me to hear. Also, excessive chatter and knocking for your partner can make it difficult for me to hear the speaker. I really want to hear you, and I can only assume that you want to be heard as well. Thanks for working with me a little on this one.
Approach of the critic to decision-making
Although I don't see absolute objectivity as easily attainable, I do try to let the debaters themselves determine what is and is not best for the debate process. I strive to make my decisions based on the actual arguments made in the round. Debaters should clarify what framework/criteria they are utilizing, and how things should be evaluated (a weighing mechanism or decision calculus). In the absence of such, I will default to a policy-making/net-benefits approach. I see my role as a theoretically “neutral observer” evaluating and comparing the validity of your arguments according to their probability, significance, magnitude, etc. I very much like to hear warrants behind your claims, as too many debates in parli are based on unsubstantiated assertions. As such, while a “dropped argument” certainly has weight, it will be evaluated within the context of the overall debate and is not necessarily an automatic “round-winner”. I have, and will, vote on arguments that I personally disagree with and even arguments that I think are factually inaccurate (I will identify either my personal opposition or what I believe to be the factually accurate reality after making my decision). In my opinion, it is the debaters’ jobs to do the debating.
Relative importance of presentation/communication skills to the critic in decision-making
As noted, clarity and structure are very important to me. It should be clear to me where you are and what argument you are answering or extending. Bear in mind that what you address as “their next argument” may not necessarily be the same thing I identify as “their next argument”. I see the flow as a “map” of the debate round, and you provide the content for that map. I like my maps to make sense.
That said, good content still weighs more heavily to me than slick presentation. Have something good to say, rather than simply being good at saying things.
Additionally, 1) although I think most people speak better when standing, that’s your choice; 2) I will not flow the things your partner says during your speech time; 3) Please time yourselves and keep track of protected time.
Relative importance of on-case argumentation to the critic in decision-making
I find that good case debate is often a very effective strategy. It usually provides the most direct and relevant clash. Unfortunately, it is rarely practiced (simply running your DisAds and a CP on-case instead of off-case isn’t really “case debate). I can understand that at times counterplans and kritiks make a case debate irrelevant or even problematic. Nevertheless, I can't tell you the number of times I have seen a Negative team get themselves in trouble because they failed to make some rather simple and intuitive arguments on the case (even just defensive ones).
Openness to critical/performative styles of debating
To me, no particular style of debating is inherently “bad”. I’d much rather hear “good” critical/performative debate than “bad” traditional/policy debate, and vice versa. I don’t mind either critical or performative debates (on the Aff or Neg) as long as they are well executed – which really makes them no different than traditional "net-benefits" or "stock issues" debates. That said, don’t automatically assume that I know as much about your critical frame as you do, and don’t become so over-reliant upon esoteric multisyllabic words that you forget to actually explain what you’re talking about. I often find that debaters assume I am far more intimately familiar with the critical literature base than I actually am. I am not a philosopher, nor have I ever taken a philosophy class. As with Politics or Relations DAs, I find that the more simplified and basic the argument is made, the more persuasive it becomes. I’m not likely to vote on things I don’t understand.
Also like Politics or Relations DAs, I appreciate a reasonable connection to the Plan or Topic being debated. As I said, this is an educational activity first and foremost, and one of the things I like most about parli is the changing resolutions. I like debates that are reasonably relevant to the topic.
Finally, I am a little unlikely to consider my ballot “a personal endorsement” of your critical project. My ballot indicates which team I thought debated better, not my personal views on the world. As with the Affirmative, I think a critical project bears a reasonable solvency burden (and if you can defend “reject” as a reasonable solvency mechanism, so be it).
Procedurals & Debate Theory
While I try to keep an open mind here, I must admit I’m not particularly fond of heavy theory debates. I think most debaters would be surprised by just how much less interesting they are as a judge than as a competitor. I realize they have their place and will vote on them if validated. However, simply screaming “abuse” or “unfair” is insufficient for me. I’m far more concerned about educational integrity, stable advocacy and an equitable division of ground. Just because a team doesn’t like their ground doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have any. Likewise, my threshold for “reverse voters” is also on the somewhat higher end – I may vote on them, but not without some serious consideration. Basically, I greatly prefer substantive debates over procedural ones. They seem to be both more educational and interesting. Also, as a debater, I very much liked running cases that some would consider on the “fringe” of the topic, so I may have a little bit of a built in sympathy for being reasonable on procedural issues.
Although I am open to hearing arguments on all sides of the condo debate, my gut reaction is to generally prefer a somewhat stable advocacy in the interests of education and competitive equity. Although it is not always the case, multiple conditional advocacies seem to make a debate messy and difficult to evaluate. That should not be taken to mean that you can’t or shouldn’t run conditional positions, just that doing so needs to be reasonably defended.
While I have no problem with them, I tend not to follow much of the traditional stylizations or formal elements of parliamentary practice: 1) I will likely just “take into consideration” points of order that identify “new” arguments in rebuttals, but you are more than welcome to make them if you feel they are warranted; 2) Just because I am not rapping on the table doesn’t mean I don’t like you or dig your arguments; 3) You don’t need to do the little tea pot dance to ask a question, just stand or raise your hand; 4) I don’t give the whole speaker of the house rap about recognizing speakers for a speech; you know the order, go ahead and speak; 5) I will include “thank yous” in speech time, but I do appreciate a clear, concise and non-timed roadmap beforehand.
I definitely lean toward thinking that “splitting the block”, while perhaps theoretically defensible, is rather problematic in an activity with only two rebuttals and often only makes a round more messy, not less so. If you plan on splitting the block you should offer a justification in the LOC, otherwise I’m likely to be much more sympathetic to new PMR offense than usual.
Alice Hoover – Lewis & Clark
TLDR; Be nice or your speaker points perish, a good pun gets you 30 speaks (no, puns do not counteract being mean). Do what you want; I’ll weigh the round how you tell me and all positions are pretty equal in my mind as long as they are probably. I’m more likely to vote on a probable conventional war scenario that kills 50 people than a nuke war scenario. Speed: I’m decent on speed, but don’t stress, I will clear or slow you if I can’t keep up. While I don’t mind if you go fast, don’t be a jerk to the other team, slow down at least a bit. Also, don’t abuse clears. Use them when needed and I’ll do my best to protect both teams. For example, if one team is all speed and the other is a fair bit slower, y’all should try and meet in the middle so we can have a good debate. DA’s/Plans/AD’s: Keep them organized and well explained and I’ll be happy. I don’t have a huge preference for the style; I’m just as likely to vote on a kritical advantage and I am to vote on a heg disad. My one qualm is, if you’re reading politics, make sure the link is clear and the specific scenario is explained well in your first speech. I dislike when I don’t know who the lynchpin of the politics scenario is until the member speech and dislike when the reason X politician will dislike something is â€śjust cuzâ€ . K’s: I like K’s but prefer them to be well explained. Don’t just throw out a name, explain the line of analysis. For K aff’s I prefer if you either are topical or just reject the topic; no point trying to shoehorn arguments about why you’re kinda upholding the res if you aren’t. For a neg K, make sure the links are solid and unique to whatever the aff team reads. Don’t just say, you use the USFG and so bleh!-give reasons that their plan is uniquely problematic. Theory/Fw: Condo is bad, that’s just the truth. I like theory and Framework, but I don’t like pointless theory. So if you read a theory on no neg fiat, it won’t have much weight for me. However, if the theory position seems like it does have some bearing in the debate, I’m willing to weigh it how y’all debate it. Framework can be a good way to answer the K and does not always have to be prison guarding. I prefer if the framework shell you read has some weighing comparison to the K framework. Speaker points: Simple rules, I will try to be very gracious in my speaker points, but if you are rude or mean to the other team or your partner, I won’t hesitate to give you 11 speaker points. A little bit of sas is fine and all, but the animosity in debate rounds usually gets out of hand and devolves into pettiness. Debate should be enjoyable, we’re all smart people and can win arguments without being buttheads about it. I also love puns, so if you make a pun, you almost guarantee yourself 30 speaker points (and no, being a jerk, then making puns does not make your speaker points better). If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Charles Kincy – Bellevue
~~(0) RESPECT THE INCREASED EQUITY CONSCIOUSNESS. Especially with your jokes and language. I don't want to ruin anyone's fun, but keep the humor harmless along lines of sexism, racism, and other frequent hotpoints of inclusivity. If you can't be "humorous" without trashing the feelings of others, then you suck at humor and should stick to business.
If you feel at any point your opponents or I have acted in a way that is inappropriate, you have two options. You can immediately call a point of privilege, stop the clock, and we'll get it out in the open. That's especially important if the transgression was minor and probably unintentional, because it encourages us to talk about these things more.
Or, if you don't feel comfortable with that, please explain the situation after the round to either the tournament director or the tournament equity officer/ombuds.
(1) GROUND-LOSS AND ABUSE COMPLAINTS REQUIRE PERSUASIVE WARRANTS.
You all know what's up in NPDA these days and you should expect anything. However, people get out of line, so you sometimes need some redress.
(1a) The easiest way to warrant loss-of-ground claims is to run a speculative argument that you would've been able to run but for the loss of ground or abuse. For instance, if you're asking for a ballot on T because of loss of ground, read me the DA you should've been able to run. This allows AFF to concede a link to the DA if they're treading the line and allows the debate to proceed. If they're smart.
(1b) If it's egregious abuse (eg. severe abuse of conditionality) calmly state your case and I'll evaluate it. The key thing to remember is you need to try to have a round anyway. If it's something involving social aggression (sexism, racism, harrassment, etc.), see point (0).
(1c) Similarly, the biggest. pet. peeve. I have in NPDA is complaining about loss of ground in a pro-forma T argument and then reading 4 DAs with clean links. I know the game was played this way for years but I'm sick of it, and it's the kind of crap that ruins this event. STOP DOING IT.
Penalty: If you do this, your opponents can simply say: "WE MEET and their DAs externally link" and I'll consider that adequate refutation of the T.
(2) FRAME CONTROL IS THE NAME OF THE GAME. You’re not reading cards, so you need to project rhetorical confidence and power. You must not only tell me what issues are more important in the round, but you should also do this at the end of every non-PMC speech.
(3) ESTABLISH THE FRAMEWORK BY STATING IT EXPLICITLY. This is easy--say “value is X, criteria is Y” or something similar. Opposition teams can either accept the framework and show why we should reject the topic OR provide a counter-framework and show why it is better.
(4) IN REBUTTALS, ALWAYS ANALYZE CLASH OF FRAMEWORK OR IMPACTS. The easiest way to do this in the rebuttal is to crystallize the framework or impacts and say “we said this, they said that, we win because such and so.” If you need an explanatory overview, go for it. All else being equal, this will win you the round if the other team flubs it.
(5) OFFENSE IS BETTER THAN DEFENSE. You can win on terminal D, but it shouldn't be your game plan. If you don’t go on offense, you won’t be able to weigh impacts. Further, you’re not reading cards, so standing for something is simply more persuasive than standing against your opponent. While I don't believe the policy debate notion of "presumption" applies to Parli, I will not vote Gov unless Gov has at least some surviving offense, which has the same effect as presumption.
(6a) PRE-PROCEDURALS REQUIRE WARRANTS FOR PRE-PROCEDURALITY. You must explicitly demonstrate how the theoretical, procedural, or kritikal implications of your argument block access to your opponents’ impacts.
(6b) USE WEIRD OR SILLY TACTICS AT YOUR PERIL... This includes things like performance, laughably silly stock politics DAs, RVIs, wacky existentialism Ks, K-Affs, plan-minus PICs, Ospecs, and other stuff like that. Sure I'll listen and flow it, but then I'll probably wrinkle my nose and drop you, because I'm old school like that.
(6c) ...BUT I'M FAR MORE LIKELY TO ENTERTAIN THE UNUSUAL IN ROUNDS WITH BAD TOPICS.... If I feel the standard approach to your side of a topic is likely to force you to argue something absurd or offensive, I will give you a larger amount of latitude for nonstandard approaches. (Even though I will always intervene like this if I am aware of the imbalance, it's safer to point out to me that this principle should be in play.) A recent example is "USFGS mandate that blood donors cannot be discriminated against based on sexual orientation." Opposition teams are in the uncomfortable position of either advocating for discrimination or bad science if they are forced into the policymaker framework. K's and politics DAs are really the only ground they have, so I'm giving them a lot more weight.
(6d) ...OR IF YOUR OPPONENTS ARE ABUSIVE. See point (0) on equity and point (1) on warrants.
(7) SPEED DOESN’T KILL, BUT IT PROBABLY DOESN’T HELP. I’m probably about twice your age and don’t follow things nearly as well as I used to. A well-developed single argument wins against eight blippy and hard-to-follow ones. I’ll do the best I can, but it works better for all of us if you save your breath and show some quality of thought.
(8) IF I SUSPECT YOU'RE MAKING CRAP UP, I WILL “GOOGLE IT”. I won’t entertain arguments that are patently absurd just because they are theoretically proper, and if the round comes down to a factual dispute, I will do as much research as I can in 5 minutes. If that doesn’t resolve it, I will consider the argument a wash.
(9) SPEAKS. Speaks. I use something close to the last NPTE rubric. PMs and LOs start with 27. Members start with 27.5. Then you depart from there in 0.5 increments. Your speaks will be between 26 and 29 unless something highly unusual has happened. In novice or junior, these numbers measure your progress against the progress I expect from developing debaters (that is, it's much harder to get a 28 in March than in October).
(10) YOU HAVE QUESTIONS?
Seriously, you worry way too much about these things. If you want to know the detailed crap like whether I prefer functional or textual competition or junk like that, just ask before the round.
Sean McKean – Oregon
Quick in prep version: I am a first year out (take that as you will) debating for Oregon for 4 years. In general I am down with just about anything, however I would much rather hear a good disad than some only tag lines and a bad alternative kritik. Theory was my jam when I was debating, so if you want to read it go ahead, however, I’m not going to vote for you just because you read it, while my threshold is probably lower than most judges I like to pretend I’m not a hack. Longer (probably unnecessary) version General Overveiw: My ideal debate is a strategic topical aff v some CPs and a DA or a topic K. That being said, I tend to be down with anything you want to read in front of me, I believe that it is my job to adapt to you and the arguments you want to read not your job to adapt to me. I am not going to tell you what to or not to read in front of me or reject your arguments on face. I tend to prefer more technical debates where you explain to me how all of the relevant arguments interact at the end of the round over just extending them and making me try to figure it out myself at the end. I want to be able to write my RFD at the end of the round by sticking as much as possible to the flow without having to insert my own analysis, this means I want you to write my RFD for me, tell me why I should vote a particular way at the end of the round. Impact framing is a lost art, it’s not helpful to just inform me that both teams do, in fact, have impacts. I want to hear how I should evaluate those impacts against each other, ie. Do I care more about fairness or education on the theory flow, is timeframe or magnitude more important, can I even evaluate arguments rooted in some kind of epistemology? More specific stuff: Theory/ T: I read a lot of theory when I was debating so I am pretty much able to follow what is going on in complex theory debates, although I would prefer that you slow down a bit when spreading theory since it is more condensed and harder to flow. I evaluate theory just like any other argument, which means I am probably more likley to vote on it than most judges if you go for it correctly. In order to win theory in front of me you are going to need to impact it out and explain what it means for the round. (IE just because they dropped your Consult CP's are illegit argument doesn't mean you insta-win if you don't give me some reason why that theory argument results in a ballot, not just me dropping the CP). Framework: Framework was my go-to when debating the K aff. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily shouldn’t or can’t read a K aff in front of me, just be aware than I’m not going to be one of those judges that just ignores the argument for some vague political reason. K affs: I would prefer that if you are going to read an aff that isn’t topical that you have some good justification for doing so, I am not really interested in your “I read a cool book and here is my book report” project. Ks: I am down with the K, however there are some recent trends in the kritik that I feel need some addressing here. First, Marx was my bread and butter and I am fairly deep in that literature, but outside of that and maybe Heidegger you should not assume that I am incredibly well read in your lit base. That doesn’t mean that you can’t read your K in front of me, it just means that you are going to need to do some more explaining. Second, there has been a tendency of K’s becoming just a list of tag lines, that then get extended as arguments later in the debate. If your K sounds like this I am probably going to give the other team a lot more leeway in reading new arguments when your K finally becomes something in the block.
Matt Mudd – College of Western Idaho
I did 3 years of Policy Debate in high school as well as 4 years of Parli in College, both for the College of Western Idaho and Boise State University. I think the purpose of debate comes down to three things. 1.) Education, 2.) Fun, 3.) Creating a safe space for students to have a voice and a platform to say what they feel is important. If those three things are being embraced in round you will have a happy judge.
That being said I am truly a tabs judge. I will listen to any argument. It is up to you to tell me why it matters to the debate.
Speed: Obviously its fine. But, I think it stands to reason that, if I can not understand what you’re saying it makes it hard for me to judge you. So you can be quick. But be articulate. Slow down on your tags if you need to. If you are not good at speed, don’t try, run less. Its ok.
Ks: I enjoy the K debate. I think it is an effective way to clash with the affirmative. I do not however enjoy Ks that are designed to confuse everyone. What I mean by this, is if you come into the round and read a K, that you can not explain to me effectively, my likelihood to vote for it is very low. I want your framework and thesis as well as your Role of the Ballot argument (where applicable) to be very clear I will listen to anything, but make sure it makes sense to you before you read the argument. I am also very particular about alternatives. I think 90% of them are absolutely useless. If you are going to read this type of argument in front of me, make sure you do adequate work on the alternative and make it something that is viable.
K-affs: I really like critical affirmatives as well as critical advantages and disads under a policy framework. But, do not reject the resolution just to reject the resolution. That is annoying. Though there are many resolutions that need to be rejected. If we come across one of those and you do not do that though, be prepared for me to ask you why.
Framework: I think framework is important on both sides of the debate. I think your framework needs to be carefully crafted. From what I have seen, as time goes on it is becoming a more important part of the debate. If I am voting on framework though, I will advise you to strengthen the framework. Framework isn't typically a major piece of offense, but it can be strategically used.
Counterplans: I love the CP debate. I am open to all types of CPs as long as you aren’t being abusive. I also want counterplans to be specific and detailed. You need to show me that you have a solid alternative to the Aff. If done right, CPs and DAs make the best clash for Affs in my opinion.
Theory/Topicality/Procedurals: Use them if necessary. That’s what they are there for. However, I am not the kind of judge you want to run these arguments as a waste of time in front of. I understand from a strategic standpoint winning some sort of time tradeoff can be effective. But, if you come in with a pre-prepped T-shell that you slightly taylor to the Aff in 2 minutes, the Aff will have a pretty easy time convincing me to disregard it. I think largely these types of arguments are misused and my likelihood to vote on them is pretty small. However, if you do run one. You must show me some sort of In Round Abuse that has taken place. I never vote on potential abuse.
Speaker Points: I think they are mostly arbitrary. But, they have their uses. I start every debater in the round at 30 speaker points. They are yours to lose from there. Mostly they will be lost if you are disrespectful to me or your opponent.
Be creative, have fun, I’m pretty laid back and very tabs oriented. I do my best to not intervene. This is about persuasion, not me coming in and shoving my agenda or opinions on anyone. So ultimately the round belongs to the debaters not to me. Just do your best to make sure everyone gets something out of it besides a W or an L next to their name, you only have so much time in this activity, make the most of it.
Margaret Rockey – Western Washington
Background: Parli coach at WWU for one year. Competed in parli at Whitman for three years and one year independently (sco Sweets!). I have no idea if I am or if people perceive me as a K- or policy-oriented judge. I guess I read a lot of disads, topical K affs, disads, and always read, but never went for politics, but I strongly preferred being a double member because I gave no shits about what our strategy was and would defend whatever. So I have no strong preferences regarding argumentative content.
I’ve tried writing a philosophy four or five times this year, and every attempt has ended with one sentence rejecting the proposition of writing in a philosophy in the first place. The short version, and what you probably want to know, is that you can read whatever you want, and should give me a reason why you win and a reason why the other team loses. In the event that the reason you win is also the reason they lose, you should explain how it is so. What follows is not a syncretic philosophy but a disorganized and unenclosed series of thoughts on debate, some arbitrary biases and thresholds, and judging tendencies I’ve noticed in myself. It may or may not be helpful.
I find I feel much less certain about my decisions as a judge than I did about my predictions as a competitor and observer. Actually doing the work of making and justifying a decision almost always necessitates getting my hands dirty in some form or other. Most of my decisions require intervention to vote for any one team, either because certain core questions have not been resolved, or some resolved questions have not been contextualized to one another, or some combination of the two. Recognizing the frequent inevitability of dirty hands in decision-making, I try to stick to both a general principle and practice when judging. In principle, I try to have a justification for every decision I make. In practice, I find I try to limit my intervention to extrapolating from arguments made to resolve unanswered issues; if a certain team is winning a certain part of the flow; what does that mean for this part where no one is clearly ahead but where someone must be to decide the round? This is also means that an easy way to get ahead is doing that work for me--provide the summary and application of an argument in addition to making it.
In general I think framework either tells me how to prioritize impacts or understand solvency, and in particular how to situate solvency in relation to debate as a practice. Most framework arguments I see in-round seem to be made out of a precautious fear of leaving the something crucial open on the line-by-line, but with little understanding of the argument’s application to interpreting the rest of the round. At least, that’s what I felt like when I extended framework arguments for awhile. I don’t understand the argument that fiat is illusory. The advocacy actually being implemented has never been a reason to vote aff, as far as I can tell. The purpose of fiat is to force a “should” and not “will” debate. Framework arguments that dictate and defend a certain standard for the negative’s burden to argue that the advocacy “should not” happen are ideal. I’m open to arguments proposing a different understanding of solvency than what a policymaking framework supplies.
My only other observation about framework debates is that every interpretation seems to get slotted into some “critical non fiat –ology” slot or “policy fiat roleplaying” slot. This is a false binary but its frequent assumption means many non-competitive framework (and advocacies!) are set against each other as if they’re competitive. Policymaking and roleplaying are not the same thing; epistemology and ontology being distinct doesn’t mean they’re inherently competitive, for a couple examples.
This is also the major flaw of most non-topical K v. K debates I see—the advocacies are not competitive. They feel like I.E. speeches forced into the debate format when the content and structure of that content just don’t clash—I mean, it’s like the aff showing up and saying dogs are cool and the neg firing back that cats are cool. It’s just not quite debate as we’re used to, and demands reconceptualizing competition. This is also why I don’t think “no perms in a method debate” makes any sense but I agree with the object of that argument. The topic creates sides—you’re either for or against it. In rounds where each team is just going to propose distinct ways of apprehending the world, whatever that looks like, I see no reason to award noncompetitiveness to either team. (Oh, this should not be used as a justification for negative counterperms. How counterperms being leveraged against perms represents anything less than the death of debate is a mystery to me) I’m not saying don’t have nontopical KvK rounds, please do, just please also read offense against each other’s arguments (cats are cool and dogs are bad). In those rounds, your reason to win is not the same reason the other team loses, which is the case for advocacies which are opportunity costs to each other. For the record, I think critical literature is arguably the most important education debate offers. I just think debate is structured for competition oriented around policy advocacies and the ways that kritikal arguments tend to engage each other challenge that structure in ways we have yet to explore in parli (at least, writ large).
Don’t have anything in particular to say about this other than that I have a high threshold for evaluating anything other than plan text in a vacuum in determining interp violations. Everything else seems a solvency question to me, but make the arguments you want to and can defend.
I’ve noticed that I have a pretty high threshold on independent voters. I voted for an independent voter once when the block went for it. Arguments about discursive issues serve an important purpose. But for arguments read flippantly or as a gotcha or, more often, that lack any substantive impact, I always feel a little guilty voting there and jettisoning the rest of the debate, like feeling bad for picking one spoon over another when you’re a kid. I think a lot of judges want the simple way to vote but I don’t, as far as I can tell. They don’t necessarily have to be complicated, but I like thorough ways to vote, which do often involve a lot of nuance or at least word dancing (I believe debate is fundamentally competitive bullshitting, which I do not mean derisively in the slightest).
Ben Soleim – Lewis & Clark
Did NPDA for two years at the collegiate level. Don’t mind speed, but it’s been a bit so if you don’t see me flowing then slow down. Good with both theory and policy debate. If you are running straight up, give me clear impacts and a clear frame in voters. Don’t trust me to make the decision you want, make it for me. If you win framework on the K, then I will hear it. Will vote on basically anything if you justify it. If you say something that is meant to denigrate another group of people, I will gladly drop you. So don’t do it.
Nadia Steck – Lewis & Clark
Nadia here, I am currently the Coach for Lewis and Clarkâ€™s debate team I just graduated from Concordia University Irvine where I debater for 2 years, before that I debated for Moorpark College for 3 years. Iâ€™m gonna give you a TL:DR for the sake of prep time/pre-round strategizing, I want my personal opinions to come into play as little as possible in the debate round. I want the debate to be about what the debaters tell me it should be about, be it the topic or something totally unrelated. I am fairly familiar with Kritiks and a decent amount of the literature behind them, but please do not take that as an excuse to be lazy and just expect me to backfill warrants or arguments for you. If you donâ€™t say it, it doesnâ€™t end up on my flow, and thus it doesnâ€™t get evaluated. There arenâ€™t really any arguments I wonâ€™t listen to, and I will give the best feedback I have the ability to give after each round. For out of round thinking or pre tournament pref sheets here are a few of the major things I think are important about my judging philosophy and history as a debater â€˘I hate lazy debate; I spent a lot of time doing research and learning specific contextualized warrants for most of the arguments I read. It will benefit you and your speaks to be as specific as possible when it comes to your warrants. â€˘I spent most of my last two years reading the K. I am most familiar with French Postmodernism and Queer theory, that being said I am willing and ready to listen to anything at least once. â€˘I did read arguments tethered to my identity occasionally; that being said, I never read my personal story in debate, nor did I leverage my particular experience as an argument. If you want to do that, go ahead, but as a warning I do not need a lot to be persuaded by framework. This doesnâ€™t mean I am discrediting your existence as a person, it means I believe debate is only a good space for advocacy if everyone has a form of access and not everyone is comfortable or ready to share their lived experiences in round and, as such, should not be punished for that. If you want to read your personal narrative anyway, I am more than happy to listen and give any feedback I am capable of giving. â€˘As far as framework and theory arguments go, I am open to listening to any theory argument in round with the exception of Spec args, I honestly feel like a POI is enough of a check back for a spec arg. I have yet to meet a spec arg that was justified much beyond a time suck. If youâ€™re In front of me, I give these arguments little credence so you should respond accordingly. â€˘As far as the actual voting issue of theory, I by default assume they are all Apriori, as theory is a meta discussion about debate and therefore comes as a prior question to whatever K/CP/DA is being read. When it comes to evaluating the impacts of theory, please please please do not be lazy and just say that fairness and/or education is the voter without justification. These are nebulous terms that could mean a thousand things, if you want to make me really happy as a judge please read more specific voters with a solid justification for them. This way I have a more concrete idea of what you mean instead of me having to insert my own ideas about fairness or education into the debate space. â€˘As far as policy debates go, I default net bens, and will tend to prefer probable impacts over big impacts. That being said, I am a sucker for a good nuke war or resource wars scenario. My favorite policy debates were always econ debates because of the technical nuance. â€˘Go as fast as you want, just make sure if your opponent calls clear or slow you listen because if they read theory or a K because you didnâ€™t slow down or speak more clearly I will most likely vote you down. â€˘I am not a point fairy, I tend to hover in the 26-28 range, if you want to get a 30, either deliver a great performance or be able to make me laugh in round, I will reward good humor highly.
Denise Vaughan – UW Bothell
I competed LD in High School, CEDA in College and now coach NPDA. I am
open to a variety of forms of debate. Each round should take on its own
form. Any form or strategy is fine as long as everyone is the room can
communicate. I attempt to bring as little to the debate as possible
although no judge can be totally tabula rasa.
Topicality: I appreciate strategic interpretations of resolutions and will give a fair amount of room for the government to interpret the resolution. They key is that everyone has some ground and some ability to debate. I will also give a fair amount of room for novices to work on format and learn the rules.
Counterplans: CPs are great. Condo is ok if well argued. Disclose condo or no condo in the first speech. My strong feeling is that it should not be about tricking the other team but going after a higher level of argumentation.
The kritik: Kritiks are great--aff or neg. Make a good, well-reasoned argument and have a reason for the K. Then make sure to engage. Debate has room for all types of argumentation. Kritical Theory is one of the mechanisms for deeper discussion and that is the ultimate goal of debate.
Theory: Great. Go nuts. I am a huge fan of theory if it is well argued. I have a background in theory and enjoy a well-reasoned, logical argument about theory in general (political theory, philosophy etc.) or debate theory in particular. You should know what you are talking about. Go back to the basics if that helps to unseat the other team. Jargon without analysis is ineffectual. Jargon that clarifies an argument is outstanding.
Disads: Cool. Link them.
Impact calculus is a neglected art. A strong impact calculus in the last speech can win or lose a round. Make it easy on me to vote. Low probability will be treated as low probability in an impact calculus, assuming, of course, that was argued.
Steve Woods – Western Washington
29 years judging (Kansas State, Florida State, Vermont, William Jewell affiliations)
Overview: In general, I am most comfortable in a policy making paradigm. A specific plan tends to offer the best focus for debate. I understand that critical arguments can be offered both inside and outside that frame as well, and in those cases clearly the framework is important but ALSO the subject of the resolution and/or subject of the PMC. If you choose to reject the resolution I will expect that rejection links to issues embodied in the resolution as a basis for that rejection. I expect the affirmative to do some work that contextualizes their project into the assigned subject content for the scheduled debate. One of my favorite aspects of this activity is that it should in fact require you to learn about a variety of ideas, and to take up differing advocacies to learn perspective and empathy. I am not easily convinced that the abrogation of the resolution to fix problems in the activity and society are persuasive in the unique context of resolutional based (content guidelines) switch side (role assigning) debate. You should debate about the topic based on the role assigned. I am not an absolutist on this, but it is where I start from. Many issues related to inclusion and equity should not be part of “contested” argument or an artificial binary which sets up other persons to be automatically non-allies. I think it is potentially harmful to promote the idea that such issues could even have two sides when it is self-evident that everyone should be respected and everyone have a chance to participate. If you want to change the activity, I would suggest out of round behaviors and social action to address those issues.
Resolutionality/Topicality should be impacted by the opposition team with something other than “we couldn’t predict the aff”. There should be a good reason based in decision making integrity and advocacy that drives this argument rather than the opposition didn’t think of it or doesn’t want to talk about It, or it is simply a tool to win the ballot rather than advance meaning or understanding of the issue in question. Generally, cases that are hiding from the subject matter of the resolution are weak logically, and/or subject to critique for refusing to address important issues contained within the resolution. Have substantive reason for voting on Res/T arguments and in round vs. potential abuse. NOTE: I tend to NOT vote on T
Procedure: Please note that I likely will just “take into consideration” Points of Order that identify “new” arguments in rebuttals. I may penalize speaker points if the point of order is made and I feel it is inaccurate, or just a tactic to disrupt the speaker. Points of Information are obviously strategic both as interruption devices and as a means to elicit information. Debaters should make sure they are judicious in their use of them simply to interrupt. There is such a thing as a stupid question.
Style: I tend not to follow much of the traditional or formal elements of the activity that are stylizations of parliamentary practice: 1.) Please time yourselves and keep track of protected time; 2.) Just because I am not rapping on the table doesn’t mean I don’t like you; 3.) Don’t do the little tea pot dance to ask a question, just stand; 4.) I won’t give the whole speaker of the house rap about recognizing speakers for a speech of no more than whatever, you know the order, speak.
Delivery: Structure is important and should be verbally identified as you speak, if you want high speaker points then signpost where you are and number your arguments. It should be clear where you are refuting and extending arguments. Simply going down the flow is not good enough, you should still be identifying the argument you are addressing by something other than “next.” I will reward humor, a positive attitude, and respect toward your opponents. Speed? I debated and judged policy for 20 years at the collegiate level. I can handle it but am not impressed by it. Speed often covers up a lack of good ideas with technique and strategy. I would rather hear a few good arguments (even if rapidly delivered) than a ton of mediocre ones.
Argumentative Preferences: I try not to eliminate any arguments simply because of their “title,” i.e. like “kritik” or Counterplan. However, any argument, even disadvantages, can be run poorly and weakly applied. I try to focus on the content of the argument and its application instead of its title. Please weigh arguments against each other and be aware of the others teams arguments as well when weighing.
Speaker points in general: I understand I have become less preferred because I am not afraid to hand out a 26 or 27. But, from my perspective 30-28 is an A, 27-25 is a B, and 24-22 would be a “C”. So, in actuality I should start by assuming everyone is “average” and move up or down from there. However, I give people the benefit of the doubt and start at the “B” range and go up or down from there. Quite frankly, judges that think that the scale is 28.1 to 30.0 and make micro differentiations in that scale are skewing the pool more than I am. They are more concerned with being liked by debaters instead of really sorting out the best speakers. Want a “30”?: be perfect. Want a 29? Have excellent arguments, excellent structure, and a good attitude toward the debate. A 28 is earned by presenting winning arguments structured clearly. A 27 is earned by having winning or non-winning arguments presented in a manner I can follow easily. A 26 is earned by good winning or non-winning arguments presented in a manner I have to work to follow. I usually will not go below a 26 unless you are uncivil, or simply show little concern for doing a good job and are wasting mine, your opponent’s, and you’re your partner’s time.