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Impact Hyperbole: A Dilemma of Contemporary Debate Practice

Posted in Answers To with tags on August 26, 2010 by Toni N.

It seems as though debate is stuck in a loop of nuclear wars and no value to life. We have a difficult time of conceiving of a terminal impact that doesn’t end in some ultimate destruction. Without terminal impacts such as nuclear war or the root of all claims, we have a tough time comparing and weighing impacts.

Our arguments for spill over connect even the most improbable of scenario’s. Take for example our Africa war arguments. Given that Africa, as a continent, largely lack nuclear capabilities the chances of a conflict escalating in this area of the world are slim at best, but still debate returns to evidence written by The Rabid Tiger Project. In fact if you google
http://www.rabidtigers.com/rtn/newsletterv2n9.html”, you will find the great majority of the hits are debate links. This particular scenario is largely a debate creation and the scholarly world around it seems to have largely dismissed this single article as lacking credibility. Even in a debate context, this particular evidence is difficult to take seriously with a big debate on the line.

Beyond the most terrible of impact evidence though, a world of equally terrifying scenario’s exist. According to the debate community, we face nuclear war because of any of the following: economic collapse in any number of countries across the globe, a lack of US leadership, use of US hard power (pre-emption, imperialist expansion, etc), India-Pakistan conflict, Middle East escalation, Iran nuclearization, capitalism, the lack of capitalism, patriarchy, racism, nuclear terrorism, US response to a terrorist attack, Taiwan independence, Chinese collapse, Russian aggression, Russian collapse, or accidental launch of nuclear weapons. That’s a short list and I am certain it doesn’t contain all the ways a nuclear war could break out as described in debate scenarios. If one listened closely to the debate community, a sense of inevitable doom would most certainly replace any belief in a long life.

As much as it would seem I am poking fun at the policy debate community, kritik debaters caught in the same loop. External impacts to our criticisms are often extinction claims. A great number of K’s end in root of all claims or no value to life claims. In a very similar pattern, our kritiky impacts reflect the same sense of terminal destruction we find in the policy community we often subject to kritik.

Possibly living under the sword of Damocles has had more impact on our psyche than Americans give it credit. Possibly living in the information age has resulted in the ability to read any old nut as great impact evidence without the effective critical thinking skills to discern who or what qualifies as credible. Possibly debate as a community lacks a language by which to communicate the dangers of racism, sexism, homophobia, economic justice, poor foreign relations, or terrorism.

Is this tumble into impact hyperbole a problem? Well, it definitely does not reflect the sort of care a scholar takes in his/her work. It lacks the humility of limited claims backed only with probable warrants. Although there are some scenarios which could escalate into extinction or which do explain important pre-conditions for violence or meaningful living, these scenarios are much more limited than the debate community gives credence. In theory, the repetition of these hyperboles naturalize them or, at least, make them appear natural/normal. Our community convinces itself the impacts we discuss are credible threats. We are a population believing in an exaggerated reality – a hyper real if you will. Before we give ourselves the credit of knowing that our impacts are exaggerated, let us consider those of us who move on to work in think tanks or write law reviews who assess the threats of nuclear wars to the United States. In fact, this honor, think tank writer, is given out at the NDT every year.

Perhaps a better question is, what is the value of our current impact debate? We don’t really help avoid nuclear wars or prevent violence by making every possible interaction into a discussion of the potential for either. If all of these scenarios result in gruesome ending for life on Earth, then the issues become very muddled. The result may be a sort of nihilism which in its conclusion is more Darwinian than Nietzsche.

If we decide there is a impact hyperbole problem, what then is the alternative? Of course, the literature is our guide to a sensible form of impact debate, but we wouldn’t be in this predicament without literature. No debater asserts these impacts; they read cards. Cards = Truth Currency. A solution is a better internal link debate. How do the scenarios unfold? To examine the internals means examining all the many different ways the world would intervene in order to prevent the terminal impact from occurring. Debate judges can only work with what debaters give them, but we too must be willing to tell a team their impacts are overblown when this argument is part of the debate. Giving a debate ballot to the team who finds a 1% risk of extinction is a silly judging paradigm at best. At worst, it reflects a lack of critical thinking on the part of a debate critic. I am most definitely not saying critics should intervene and make impact arguments that are not in the debate, but giving more weight to impact defense is an important start to reign in our impact hyperbole.

What do you think K audience? Is contemporary impact debate a problem? If so, how should we resolve the race to the bottom of the impact barrel?

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Let Me Borrow that File – I wanna Borrow that File.

Posted in Random with tags on August 4, 2010 by Toni N.

My team used to fight over files all the time. In fact, I totally believed in the tub gremlin that would crawl in our tub at night and eat our files. As a result, I was always trying to borrow evidence from one particular teammate of mine. She was so stingey – like I was headed to Mexico with her answers to Marxism. It’s not even like she was reading them. So I reworked this song as a tribute to my file woes.

Let me borrow that file
Let me borrow that file
Let me borrow that file
I want to borrow that file

That’s such a sweet file
That’s a sweet file
I wanna borrow it
Let me borrow the file

Aren’t we friends?
Aren’t we friends?
So what’s the problem?
Let me borrow the file

Let me borrow that file
Let me borrow that file
Let me borrow that file
Let me Borrow that F*cking File

Don’t be a betch
Don’t be a betch
Don’t be a betch
Gimmie that file

What are you saving it for?
You’re not even reading it
You’re not going to read it
So let me borrow it

I’ve already been to squad room
I’ve already been to squad room
I’ve already been to squad room
And it SUCKED

I’ve already been to institute
I’ve already been to institute
I’ve already been to institute
And after 5 minutes I was like Let’s Go

F*ck It

Gimmie that f*cking file betch
Come On Betch

Where you going?
Where you going?
Where you going?

Gimme that File
Gimme that f*cking file
Betch!
Gimme that f*cking file
Betch!

F*ck you
F*ck you
Slow Betch

Oh Yea I said
You’re slow
Yea I said you’re slow

You’re a slow unclear betch
because you won’t let me borrow that f*cking file

F*ck you
F*ck you

F*ck you with something hard and sand papery

Betch!
BETCH!
Betch!

You’re Not My Friend

So this is the file you wanted to borrow?

Yeah, cause it’s a good file. I just wanted to borrow it.

Um, Toni. You’re grounded. Ahhhh!

Community of Difference

Posted in Random with tags , on July 25, 2010 by Toni N.

The debate community is a special place because it is such a wide open environment drawing together a crazy amalgam of people. As long as I have been doing this, every year I meet someone new. Every year I am surprised to find a new person enter my life who I would never have believed would be part of my life. Often debate arguments are not what links me to these people, rather the community itself provides the initial link. Some of my close friends and I have a very difficult time discussing debate arguments because our opinions are so strong and divergent. This is something I can accept. I feel one way about debate practice(d) and they feel another. Friendship doesn’t mean the brainless acceptance of another’s opinion. It often seems my debate friendships mean accepting our radical difference. We have spaces of commonality and debate argument doesn’t have to be one of them. I don’t want to debate everyone about everything; sometimes I just like being with people.

Let Them Eat Cake

Posted in Random with tags , , , on July 17, 2010 by Toni N.

When reflecting on concept of substantive debate, I could not help consider the way a personal politics changes the substance of the debate. If you will follow me on my analogy for but a moment, I think I can make myself clear(er). A human being is like this delicious cake. People see the icing of our cake first. Some cakes don’t have any icing, but most of them do. The icing is often what attracts us to the cake. We are also often attracted to a cake by the type of cake we think we will be getting. If the icing is all terrible looking, then rarely are people excited to try the cake. If the icing is delicious, but the cake is all terrible then we are also unlikely to return for the cake. When the cake is all holey and tore up, we can try to fill in the wholes with icing, but icing isn’t cake and it doesn’t seem to have the same effect as full delicious cake.

What does cake have to do with anything?

The substance of our personhood is like the cake. It’s what makes up most of the delicious treat. The substance (your cake) is what makes you a unique special snowflake (if there is such a thing). Most of us are constantly worried about our cake. Am I a good person? Do I know enough for this debate? Am I making the right decisions in life? What should I do with my life? Am I compassionate? Am I intelligent? Can I love and am I loved? These are cake questions. No one can make you given them your cake. That’s powerful. Cake is totally up to you to distribute to the world. We only trust people with our cake when we think they will treat our cake well.

The icing is what we show people. It’s very much our outside layer. We shape and attempt to manage the appearance/image of the cake without showing our cake by covering it in icing. Some people consider icing a show, a fabrication, but icing isn’t fake. Some people think the version we show people, if it’s difference from the substance, is false. Icing comes from the same place that cake does – it’s a collection of social interactions, disciplines of our community, language, etc. Icing might be our outer most layer, but it’s not insignificant. The icing is us; it’s just the us we are willing to share with the public.

Hopefully, you are now on the same analogy page with me. Back to personal politics, when a debater offers up part of their personhood in a debate they are offering their cake. Everybody in debate shows their icing. Every time we talk, we offer the world some icing. Icing is a normal debate. The substance of a debate changes when you give out your cake. You may not really know anyone in the round so handing someone you don’t really know access to your cake is a profoundly dangerous exercise. They may not be kind to your cake and well in the end there’s nothing more core to us than our cake. Debaters have a hard time reacting to being offered cake in round because it is so rare. Judges in a round about personal politics might like your cake and might hate your cake. To be a successful debater, we must attend to both our icing and our cake. We cannot make up for a lack of substance in our person with more appearance of substance. The only way to fix a hole in your cake is to work on it. Don’t freak out though – EVERYONE HAS HOLES IN THEIR CAKE.

In this particular debate junkies opinion, attend to your cake and be careful with the cake of others. Once you harm someone’s cake, they won’t be likely to offer it again. It is a risky and dangerous move to offer others your cake so when someone does it’s not an attack on you, but rather a hope that you will appreciate the slice.