Archive for calum

Critical Issues in Debate: a Conversation with Calum Matheson

Posted in Critical Issues in Debate, Know Your History, Podcasts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2010 by Scott Odekirk

listen here or download below…

In our first ever podcast we are pleased to present one of the most respected and iconic intellects in both the high school and college debate communities, Calum Matheson. Download Critical Issues in Debate: an Conversation with Calum Matheson below  for mobile devices, itunes, and all media players:

critical issues in debate 7-4-10 calum matheson

You can Watch Calum Competing in the finals of CEDA Nationals here.

here are also some interesting clips that can be found online featuring Calum…

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A Classic Debate: The 2002 CEDA Nationals Championship Round

Posted in A Classic Debate, Battles, elimination round, Final Round, Know Your History, Ks on the Aff, tactics, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2010 by Scott Odekirk

Thanks to professor snider (tuna) for producing this video in 2002 and posting it in such an easy and accessible way on his site. 

This debate features Michigan State CM (Austin Carson and Calum Matheson) on the negative vs. Fort Hays RR (Jason Regnier and Joe Ramsey) on the affirmative… 

Constructives

Rebuttals

 This debate was enormous for me. I was a sophomore and my two favorite teams to watch in outrounds were facing each other in the final debate of the season (CEDA came after the NDT that year).

On display were two very different teams with different styles, but I was drawn to both because of the qualities they shared. Both teams, Fort Hays Regnier/Ramsey and Michigan State Matheson/Carson, were fiercely competitive and that inspired me. Both were innovative and creative. The fort has been rightfully recognized and respected for the mind-blowing challenges they have made to conventional debate ways of thinking, but Calum also was a uniquely creative, prolific speaker, who was comfortable in any situation. Calum’s rhetorical skills alone pushed the envelope of what could be achieved in debates by wordsmithery alone. That year, on the “increase federal control throughout indian country” topic, MSU CM and FHSU RR had taken interesting approaches. At the Northwestern Tournament Calum made a run through the outrounds with a fascinating, almost genealogical, criticism about colonization and the pine ridge reservation that to this day I still think about (because it soundly beat me in a prelim that weekend). Calum was flexible enough to win every kind of debate and he initiated all kinds of strategies. The fort had really come into their own by the 2002 CEDA National Tournament as one of the most thought-provoking teams on the national circuit. Their whole way of being was different, it swerved. They ran their team by consensus (inspired by bill, the coach) and they debated differently, without the usual regard for the flow. On this night each team would display rhetorical grace and power, both would fight passionately for the win and in the end the fort would win the 2002 CEDA National Championship on a 5-4 decision. But there was something more than a debate present for many of us watching in the room. This was a major cultural experience (like many outrounds are in this little community) that challenged many of us to perceive debates differently. Though debates like this had been happening, even between these two teams before, this was an opportunity to really see it on stage and as the culmination of an entire season. The room was packed and the debate amazed the audience. None of us really knew who would win, we all had our opinions of course, and some were even angry, but none of us could predict what the outcome would be. This must undoubtedly be called A Classic Debate…

there is a lot to be learned from the affirmative in this debate…

Fort Hays is doing a lot of sound fundamental work on the question of what impacts matter the most in the 1ac. The whole “what we do here matters” set of arguments presented in the 1ac are a great example of how to make all K style impacts come 1st. A lot of what one sees here in the first speech are some of the best basic “critiquing assumptions is good” args I have seen in a debate in a long time. The description of debate becoming an apology for a bad joke is also a great example of how to use logic and linguistic characterization to provide evidence for an argument (ie. what we do here matters) without cards. The aff can be divided into 4 main parts: 1) what we do here matters, 2) regimented western assumptions in debate participate in real colonizing violence, 3) this can be countered by taking our assumptions into account and challenging them as a way to be more inclusive of other cultures, 4) the affirmative accomplishes this by challenging the very notion of what it means to affirm the topic.

The 2ac is a very good speech. It is important to recognize that though some teams might abandon the flow this does not mean they give up on techne. The tech for an “off-the-flow” team just shifts to different concerns. Time prioritization is still a major technical issue and in the case of Regnier’s 2ac here, the time management is impeccable. Regnier knows that the question of whether or not there is a compelling reason to affirm this resolution is the center of the debate so he spends 80% of his time there. I think the 2ac does a good job of establishing that their relationship to the resolution that deals with our whole manner of percieving who we are in relation to it as western/rational percieving and political beings locked in a system of colonization.

The 1ar is actually a quite effective speech after a very moving and rhetorically big block. I actually thing this is the most technical of all the speeches even though it drops a lot of stuff. Here Joe is doing a lot of work comparing different pieces of evidence and drawing out particular lines. This is actually one of the few times either side focuses on evidence comparison in the debate. I think this speech is good mix of reinforcing meta concepts from the 2ac and handling particular details brought up by the block. I think the 2ar is strong but it is largely positioned for success by the previous 3 aff speeches.

There is much to be learned from the negative in this debate…

When I talked to Calum on a recent podcast he told me that the strategy they went with was constructed during the middle of the 1ac, which they had never before encountered. Right away in this debate MSU CM demonstrates their flexibility and creativity. I didn’t really think there were many winners on the case debate in the 1nc but the discussion is successfully shifted by the negative to the question of federal control by the end of the debate. One of the strengths of the 1nc that gets carried into the 2nc but not into the 2nr is the emphasis on the failure of multicultural inclusion. I liked the negative interpretation of spanos throughout the debate and I think it should have gone further to indict the instances in which the affirmative, particularly in the 2ac and the 2ar, asserts the value synthesizing and including other cultures without really defending it. Instead the negative emphasizes the question of the acceptability of the resolution far more greatly than the problems with a benevolent inclusion move as a western way of relating to others. “Deloria says synthesis is good,” to me is not a warrant for a multicultural ethic. It makes sense to me that the negative, in the 1nc and the 2nc, used the spanos evidence, some characterizations of all of us as colonizer agents, and Deloria’s own arguments about the ” dangers of western ways of knowing” push against the forts claims to reckon with and include “all other cultures.” The negative strategy comes to full fruition in the 2nc in two main thrusts: 1) the acceptability of federal control, and 2) the risks associated with coming to know the oppressed other from this round’s privileged position. The question raised by the negative is: will the affirmative project, through its association with federal control and the west’s academic impulse to know the other, be rearticulated to serve the interests of colonization?

The 2nc was one of the best speeches I have ever seen…

This was an amazing display of what can be done with words. Just go back and watch it again. The final 15 seconds of the speech are the best close to a debate speech I have ever seen. Here Calum certainly focuses on the evils of federal control but he also pays attention to the inclusion/visibility problem. Our very perception of the oppressed other is the problem since we see with the eyes of the colonizer. This is great and I especially like how he ties together these two themes by describing the BIA officer with good intentions. By the end of the 2nc cx I think the panel has to be with Michigan State like 8-1 or 7-2. That. Speech. Was. Awesome.

So what happened?

By the end of the debate the 1ar successfully complicates the spanos issues and Calum gives a much more technical 2nr almost entirely on the need to totally refuse federal control. Michigan State frames the judge’s decision as a choice about desirability of federal control, good or bad, up or down. FHSU, now with an untested value multiculturalism, argues that a prior question to our own decision-making about the resolution is deciding whether or not our choice about the meaning of the resolution matters at all. The aff wins by the end of the debate that to truly relate well to other cultures we must drop our ethico-political view-point in favor of cultural perspectives in resistance to the west. This they say applies too to the question of federal control. The affirmative even begins to identify some positive uses of federal control (which seems a little strange) by the end of the debate. I think the negative focuses the debate too acutely on what fort hays affirms (federal control) and less on how they affirm it. A vote for FHSU by the end of the debate means simply to be open to the resolution, their reason for this becomes quite simply that what we think about it is secondary to what those of the indigenous oppressed might decide. They win offense against the negative because Michigan State’s insistence that we all decide on federal control as a definitive statement reconstitutes the western rational decision maker once again.  In the end, it is more important to fundamentally alter our ways of being and perceiving by challenging our own habituated notions of things like “affirm” “what the resolution is” than to decide on the meaning federal control, because those prior questions determine how we relate to the other (according to deloria). I do think that the negative should have made a PIC move more explicit. In other words, they should have said very clearly that “we endorse all of the affirmative except for the part about federal control,” they try to say this but I don’t think it is drawn out as a voting option at the end of the debate. I also think that if the negative had dug in on the dangers of multicultural inclusion more in the 2nr, as in the 2nc, then i also think a lot of this offense goes away. I don’t think that the fort is right, per se, but that they got on top of the issues more at the end of the debate.

Though I would have voted Neg then, Now I Vote Aff… 

It is important to close study debates. It is necessary for preparing complex strategic instincts in rounds. Watching great debaters, over and over, helps us habituate good patterns, but it is also important to be inspired by watching debates. The viewer ought to be inspired to create something that can also be viewed in such a way. All great and classic debates (and debaters) should humble us to pay attention to repeatable patterns and forms but they should also inspire innovation and creativity. I hope this debate resonates with you, in any way.

If you are in the mood for another debate, watch this one, hung up on this my sophomore year too…