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March 2011

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From:
Stephen Boyle <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
USA Debating in the WUDC Format <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Tue, 29 Mar 2011 11:38:55 -0400
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John, Steve et al

There seem to be a few specific issues at play here

1. Is this something that judges and debaters are expected to follow. I'm
sorry if there was any lack of clarity, but I would refer you back to the
beginning of the briefing.


Good debating is persuasive speech of the sort that would persuade a normal,
well-informed citizen of the merits of a particular position. It arises out
of a synthesis of reasoned argumentation, sound structure, and appealing
style. *There is no single way to debate well, nor can any briefing offer
exhaustive instructions as to how to debate well in every conceivable
circumstance.* The guidelines below are an attempt to sketch, broadly, a
number of important principles that should help you deliver the best
possible speeches.

As such, the briefing should be taken as guidelines, particularly for people
starting out. John is right that it will mainly provide help to novices. I
disagree that it would be ''cold comfort'' for novices to have a frame of
reference that reflects normal practice on the debating circuit. In terms of
freeing people to think and create arguments for themselves, I think it
would be giving a great deal more weight to how people view the briefing to
argue that it will radically alter their approach to debating having read
it. Instead I think for people looking for extra guidance it will prove a
useful tool, while it acknowledges, as noted above, that it is not a guide
to every circumstance, nor could it ever conceivably be so.

2. On the specific issue of counter-plans. John is correct that there can be
effective counter-plans. For the specific reasons mentioned in the briefing
(that you can gain the benefit of the argumentation of a counter-plan by
introducing it as an 'even-if' argument rather than having to nail your
colours to a plan) it's normally not the most effective way of arguing. For
circumstances where it is, I would suggest that 'nearly always bad' also
carries the clear implication of 'in rare circumstances good'.

3. Counter-props in speech one. A counter-prop is different to an
explanation that an alternative might solve better, it is the commitment of
a team to that position above all possible alternatives. Therefore it falls
under the pre-existing obligations to consistency established under the
worlds rules. It is unjust for a first proposition to not have the
possibility of refuting an entirely new and exclusive way of viewing the
debate.

4. Judging: As noted in the judge briefing itself, the judging test, and as
will be emphasised at the tournament itself,* judging should be holistic. *I
would imagine that on this point, John, that we will be in total agreement.
I think it is useful for speakers to have a frame of reference that they can
choose to apply as they learn, should they wish to do so. That should not
for a moment be seen as saying that no other strategies are valid. Again, it
was my feeling that the beginning of the document established that very
clearly, but I will re-iterate is so that there is no ambiguity.

Regards,

Stephen Boyle

CA USU 2011


On 29 March 2011 10:39, Stephen Llano <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Finally John has written an email that I could not agree with more.
>
> Let's stop worrying about silly "rules" and teach our students what really
> matters - persuasion and argumentation that is in resonance with the current
> scholarship on these ideas. Persuasion and argumentation are always
> situational, audience-adapted, and of the moment (Gr: Kairos).
>
> Llano
> _____
> Stephen Llano, Ph.D.
> Director of Debate
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Rhetoric, Communication & Theater
> St. John’s University
> Queens, NY
> 718-990-5606
> 718-990-2435 (fax)
> callto://stevellano -- Skype Me!
>
> "Knit the brows, and a strategem comes to mind." - Lo Kuan-chung, Romance
> of the Three Kingdoms.
>
> "Poetry is a rival government always in opposition to its cruder replicas."
> - William Carlos Williams
>
> "Chaos is the score upon which reality is written." - Henry Miller
> ________________________________________
> From: USA Debating in the WUDC Format [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
> Meany, John [[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 2:34 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: USU Nationals 2011 in Brief
>
> Are debaters and judges expected to follow this briefing? The WUDC rules
> are fairly open-ended, allowing debaters to select best practices and
> innovate strategies and tactics. In this way, debaters may develop diverse
> and exceptional presentation and argumentation skills. But this briefing
> often instructs debaters on what they can say and how they can say it. It
> seems to add a whole set of ‘rules’ that do not appear in the WUDC rules.
> Here is just one example, regarding argumentation from the opposition – the
> counterproposal (just about all of it seems so wrong). The briefing seems to
> indulge in a certain wistfulness regarding counterplan concepts, circa 1955.
> But what is the point of repeating those ideas unless one is planning to
> expose, discredit, and update them?
>
> How can one understand the claim that “It is nearly always a bad tactical
> decision for opp to offer a counter-prop?” This question from the briefing
> is accurate, to a point. Yes, of course, it is a bad tactical decision to
> use a bad version of a counterproposal. [Ed. note: Duh.] But what if one did
> not follow the briefing’s guide to bad counterplanning? What if one had a
> more modern or effective version of counterplanning? What about a version
> developed and used in serious personal and policy argumentation for
> millennia? How about a version applied to formal debating in the 19th and
> early 20th centuries and re-invented for academic debating some 40 years
> ago? How about a version used by all debate’s participants in
> decision-making each day? How about the version inevitably used by the
> author(s) of the briefing, a version about which they are, quite obviously,
> unaware? How about a version routinely used in public policy debates and
> current events discussions on the very motions selected for tournament
> competition? What if a sound version of counterplanning had, as its
> foundation, the identical logic used in the construction of a proposition
> policy model? If it is fine for the prop, would it then be fine for the opp?
> What if it served the acceptable ends identified for the opposition teams?
> What if it met the purpose of engaging in rebuttal of the proposition’s
> arguments in precisely the terms established by the proposition? What if it
> served the purpose of positive matter and proved that the proposition model
> was counterproductive? What if it could be successfully implemented by
> talented debaters in academic contests?  (For example, I regularly observe
> good public policy counterplans on diverse motions at middle school
> tournaments in debate outreach leagues sponsored by the Claremont Colleges
> Debate Union). Still a bad tactical decision?
>
> To add insult, the briefing also demands that the counterprop argument be
> presented in the opening speech for opposition side. [Ed. note: Huh?] No
> need for a history lesson here. The non sequitur is alive and well. In fact,
> recently saw a clever presentation by Richard Haass, CFR, on Libya
> intervention. He waited until colleagues agreeing with his non-intervention
> position had their say before introducing his counterplan. It came late in
> the televised discussion, which added to its authority – it carefully
> considered all previous argument positions from those favoring and opposing
> intervention. A relevant and powerful policy argument, focused precisely to
> the question, expressed in less than 30 seconds. And this is the sort of
> thing that should be out-of-bounds for intercollegiate debaters?
>
> There is a more of this sort of grey goo in the briefing – manufactured
> rules, objective tests, empty opines, and other claims that suggest, if
> anything, limited meaningful debate experience and/or imagination – and
> debaters must struggle through it all to get to substantive matter. Some
> info in the briefing may be helpful for the novice debater (formalism and
> rule-bound approaches often provide comfort, too often cold comfort, for the
> inexperienced) but so much of it seems to suggest that there is ‘one right
> way’ to debate, rather than the many available elegant and effective ways.
>
> Can’t we just follow the WUDC rules and liberate debaters to make their own
> choices about argumentative and stylistic strategies and tactics? Why must
> judge and debater briefings so frequently tell debaters what to say?
> Shouldn’t debaters have the opportunity to investigate and analyze issues
> and attempt persuasive approaches independently of previous debate practice,
> judge preferences, and applied conventions? Some of the choices they make
> may not be as good as those listed in the briefing but other decisions, and
> certainly those regarding counterplanning, may be MUCH BETTER. That is how
> debaters develop and apply CT and debate practice improves.
>
> Although this note addresses the briefing document, it is also relevant to
> the general imposition of judge preferences and conventional practices that
> may interfere with the development of genuinely exceptional public speaking,
> argumentation, and refutation skills. It is time to put a stake in the heart
> of so many zombie debate practices, the manner/matter/structure undead – the
> revolving techniques that have been buried, again and again, only later to
> escape to haunt and torment the perplexed villagers (they’re back! – the
> judge demand for an explicitly expressed split at the beginning of a speech,
> the ‘3 questions’ tactic of the whip speaker, etc. – popular high school
> extemporaneous speaking practices, circa 1955, now available in 2 forms –
> sources of cable television and online parody and, without a trace of irony,
> recommendations for BP debaters).
>
> Best regards,
>
> John
>
> John Meany
> Director of Forensics
> Claremont Colleges Debate Union
> Claremont McKenna College
> 500 East Ninth Street
> Claremont, CA 91711-6400
> 909.607.2667 TEL
> 909.621.8249 FAX
> [log in to unmask]
>


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