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A rant about Lincoln-Douglas Debate

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Feb. 19th, 2011 | 01:42 pm
mood: grumpygrumpy
music: Marina & the Diamonds - Girls | Powered by Last.fm

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.)

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Comments {2}

A burning tyger (is on fire)

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from: hungrytiger11
date: Feb. 19th, 2011 12:48 pm (UTC)

Oh, the irony of reading this just before I'm about to go take my team to debate this for the first time. It is, admittedly, a lame resolution, though its more value-ish than the last resolution. Not that that's saying much..... I feel badly for our one girl who is learning LD this year, but honestly, I can also say that no matter what the topics are, this year would always have been a learning year. I think my little freshmen needed a year. She just doesn't quite get debate yet, but loves it to death. :D

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from: troldtog
date: Feb. 20th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)

This was actually going to be a much longer rant that mentioned the last resolution. But then I looked at the clock and realized I'd stayed up long past my bedtime. I actually didn't think the last one was less-valuesish at all, though I found topic briefing the NFL posted to be awful, though, at highlighting how you could start going about supporting a position from a value standpoint. (I don't think they even used the word "justice" until two paragraphs into their single-page exposition).

I really wish they'd tried that resolution back when I was still doing debate since there's a really obvious neg case to be made by saying possible aff: "Justice is a kind of fitted-ness where bad deeds, because they're bad, get bad consequences, efforts to educate should be secondary to that fitting-ness question, and in the case of violent felonies it's difficult to see how you can simply argue the child was being completely irrational and unaware of the immorality of their actions." It offers a super opportunity to practice arguing from, I think, a very different (much older) mindset.

Your freshman sounds a lot like me (and a lot of my debate friends) my first year, and I hope she continues to have as wonderful a time in the rest of the year. :)

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