Ten Arguments Your Judge Does *Not* Want To Hear - Part 2

Last week, I explored five arguments that most judges are resistant to listening to, and I will finish up that list here with five more arguments that judges hate to death. Please, whatever you do, don’t run them!

5. The K of T

The K of T, more formally known as the kritik of topicality, essentially tries to argue that certain topicality positions attempt to “exclude” certain groups from policies, and that such exclusion is bad. For example, consider a case which targets social services towards Native Americans living in poverty. A common (though less-than-stellar) topicality argument is that Native Americans do not politically reside within the United States, and therefore that the plan is nontopical. The affirmative then might run a K of T, saying that excluding Native Americans is racist and justifies dehumanization, genocide, or some other choice impact.

A lot of judges are not persuaded by this kritik, myself included. In fact, many go so far as to explicitly state in their judging paradigms that “topicality is not genocide” to demonstrate their level of apathy towards this argument. If they do not reject it outright, many will immediately buy the argument that the kritik is an offensive reason to prefer the affirmative’s counter-interpretation, not a reason to vote down the negative. Try to avoid running it.

4. Time Cube Spec/Gregorian Calendar K/The Matrix K/Other Fundamentally Incorrect Arguments

This classification of arguments is fairly general, but the basic premise is that they rely on warrants which either 1) stretch the human imagination to the point of incredulity, or 2) are simply patently false in every conceivable manner.

For example, the Time Cube Specification argument is drawn from the schizophrenic rantings of Gene Ray, self-described as “Cubic and Wisest Human.” Time is not cubic. Earth is not a cube with four sides. Educators are not, to the best of my knowledge, “evil.” If you want to learn more about this, refer to cross-x.com. Better yet, just Google Time Cube and witness firsthand how much of a garbage argument it is.

Likewise, our use of the Gregorian Calendar is not evil. We do not live in a Matrix world. These arguments are simply fundamentally incorrect.

There are too many debaters out there who think that just because certain college teams like the University of West Georgia (namely, the WGLF) run fanatically insane arguments means that they can do so, too. My response is please, don’t. These college teams know what they are talking about and frame these arguments in very specific ways in order to win rounds. The average high school debater might think such arguments are “cool,” but rarely do they have the capacity to correctly utilize them. As a result, those who do attempt to run them make themselves look like dolts and generally waste everybody’s time in the round. Don’t do it.

3. Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Yes, I realize that this refers to behavior and not an argument. However, it’s important to emphasize that judges universally expect courteous behavior from debate participants, regardless of experience level or geographic location. When I say unsportsmanlike conduct, I refer to verbal or physical arguments or gestures that are rude, uncivil, arrogant, insulting, and/or personally demeaning. They don’t even have to be debate arguments - cross-examination and pre/post-round behavior also demand professionalism at all times.

If you decide that you want to act like a jackass in your debate rounds, several things will happen. First, your judge will likely decide to launch a personal vendetta against you. Not only will they nuke your speaker points to kingdom come, they will also devise amazingly creative ways to give the other team the ballot, even if you’re ahead on the flow. Trust me, it is possible, and it does happen. Second, if it becomes a pattern, you will develop a bad reputation. If you become known as the resident jerk on your circuit, your ability to engage in the community and compete at tournaments will be compromised.

How do you avoid acting like this? The answer is control. Control your emotions. Control your passions. Think carefully about the words you use and the manner in which you present them. Remember, don’t attack the person, attack the arguments.

I will quote my own judging paradigm to wrap this section up: “Please compose yourself in a manner befitting your status as a representative of your school.” You should act the same way you act in the classroom among your peers and your teachers. Play nice!

2. Morally Abhorrent Arguments

Racism good. Homophobia good. Genocide good. These are arguments that are theoretically defensible, and perhaps might have a literature base, but yet are still morally and ethically bankrupt. There are some VERY narrow exceptions where such arguments might be permissible, but these instances are so rare that I cannot discuss them for want of first-hand experience.

Look. When it comes to certain realms of argumentation, you need to move away from the perspective that anything can and should be impact-turned. It’s okay to say that economic collapse is good (a la de-development). It’s not okay to say that the wholesale slaughter of an ethnic or religious group is not only acceptable, but beneficial.

Judges on the conservative end of the spectrum will almost automatically drop you. Even more progressive judges will be quick to reject these arguments when your opponent responds to them. Don’t run them.

What you can run are defensive or comparative arguments when answering these things. For example, “racism is declining,” “nuclear war outweighs genocide,” and similar arguments are all acceptable. Yes, these are obviously not offense. That means you just need to find some other strategic way to attack your opponent’s arguments.

1. “Topicality is a reverse voting issue.”

This is the single most idiotic argument that you can possibly make in front of any experienced critic, bar none. The argument that the affirmative team should win the round if they prove that they are topical under the negative’s violation is so incredibly outrageous that I have seen judges literally turn purple and then scream at people who run them in their post-round RFD’s. In fact, if someone runs this against you, your first, second, and third responses should be “HA HA HA - THAT’S FUNNY.”

Arguing that T is an RVI will not only completely strip you of your credibility in front of the critic, it will also probably lower your speaks for the round. Don’t do it.

That pretty much rounds up my top ten. Did I miss any arguments? Head to the comments section and blast away.

- Nick