A rant about Lincoln-Douglas Debate
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Feb. 19th, 2011 | 01:42 pm
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Resolved: The United States is justified in using private military firms abroad to pursue its military objectives.
Seriously, NFLfolk? Seriously, seriously?
I realize that it's hard to come up with different and interesting resolutions centering around ethical questions month after every other month. But this really reads just like someone stuck the word "justified" into a policy debate resolution and shipped it off. I mean, this is ridiculously specific. One particular country! Just talking about private military firms! Grrr! How do you begin disputing this in ethical terms? I'm coming up mostly blank for the aff (Value premise? V.c? I've got nothing, though I haven't really been thinking much about it), and for the neg I guess there's some sort of argument you could maybe make from contractarian premises that you aren't allowed to delegate when it comes to promoting a world stable for U.S. interests (I can't even say "defense," accursed resolution). I've no doubt this resolution, more often than not in classrooms, will degenerate into "Private military forces, useful or ineffective?"
I think, when you have the luck to have a good teacher, Lincoln-Douglas debates offer an excellent first (or at least very early) opportunity to develop analytical thinking and some familiarity with a particular series of Great Books. Provided, you know, you're still in some sort of values debate rather than one of practical use or policy (not that there's anything wrong with policy debate). With resolutions like this one, though it's hard to see how you learn to do that. (I've no doubt an experienced LDer could develop a case if they really sat down to it, but I'm worried about people learning.)