Ben Hamburger -- CR Washington

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Judging philosophy:

Information about me:
*I have judged and coached in what would be considered "national-circuit" style midwestern high school debate since about 1998 as a card-cutting coach, as the primary policy coach, as a head coach, and now as an assistant coach and teacher in the Department of History and Social Sciences at Cedar Rapids Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, IA. I am now getting old in debate terms--30 at the time of writing--which means I have old ideas and am grumpy about certain things. New things I will be grumpy about are highlighted.

*A Debate History:
1993-1998 Policy debater at Hastings High School, Hastings, NE
1998-1999 Judge/minor card cutter, Hastings Senior High School
1999-2005 Assistant Coach for Policy Debate at Fremont High School, Fremont, NE
2005-2007 Director of Forensics, Iowa City High School, Iowa City, IA
2007-Present Assistant Varsity Coach, Cedar Rapids Washington High School, Cedar Rapids, IA

*Academic Info that Might Be Relevant:
B.A. in Political Science (emphases in international relations and political theory) and History, a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
M.A. in Secondary Social Studies Education and History from the University of Iowa.

Argument choice issues:
*Choose your arguments. I try to avoid evaluating rounds based on what I like to hear. Even if I don’t like your argument, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost it, etc. My self-estimation is that I am fairly even on the K vs. Policy question. I believe that both are very interesting and useful styles of debate. Most of the time framework debates aren’t particularly productive, the aff will win that they get to weigh the case, the neg will win that they get some form of an alternative, etc. (hint: if you are serious about winning framework, don’t waste your time on the rest of the debate—prove that you’re serious about it and go for it.)

*I have increasingly found myself somewhat lost in fast debates about security policy which include multiple interacting internal links--not because I am incapable of understanding them, but because I am not as familiar with these arguments as you all are. On occasion debaters need to slow down and explain some arguments.

*All that being said, I can observe some tendencies: I often find myself frustrated in rounds that involve a lot of psychoanalytic arguments (I get the cap bad part of Zizek. That may be about it). I dislike Nietzsche viscerally. In spite of my feminist leanings, Donna Haraway makes no sense to me. In each of these cases, if this is your only game, I am probably not a good judge for you.

*I will explicitly note some critical arguments with which I am well acquainted. I’m fairly well read in Foucault, Heidegger, lots of feminisms, critical international relations business, objectivism, cap bad, etc.

*I’m probably a decent judge for a T debate. Most of the theoretical issues are up in the air—competing interpretations vs. abuse as a standard. If you concede a competing interpretations arg, though, be aware that you’ll need offense on your interp.

*I am not aware of any major side biases that I have on theory issues--in both cases, potential versus real abuse and competing interps versus reasonability seems to be a valid debate about how to evaluate those debates. I will say that I don't *like* a theory debate, and there is a natural dislike towards theory debates that i see as unnecessary. I'm not the ideal judge if you *plan* on going for theory a lot, but again, i try to evaluate those debates fairly. I will note that I do not have a neg side bias when it comes to counterplan debates--be it issues of conditionality, fiat, or competition issues. Some people see that fact in and of itself as an aff side bias on those theoretical issues, but what it means is that i am more than willing to vote aff because a counterplan is cheating, if you win that debate.
*I have found that I am getting older and more dinosaur-like on counterplan theory: I think I have an aff bias on these issues: multiple counterplans, consult counterplans, and conditionality.

Decision-making Process:
*I believe my job as a critic is to evaluate a debate as it occurred, rather than retroactively applying my standards of what debate should look like to your round. I try as hard as I can to stay to this standard, but some intervention is inevitable. Read below in the “self-observed biases” section. I try to remain agnostic about the various frameworks for evaluating debates, so that means that if there is a difference in the round as to how I should evaluate it, you should propose your framework explicitly and defend it. My presumption is that debate should be an educational activity, and it would be hard to shake me of that idea, as I am an educator by trade. However, I am open to debates about what kinds of education debate should bring, and how it does so.

*My decisions are nearly always decided by a close review of the 1AR, 2NR, and 2AR, with references to the negative block as necessary. I am not, however, a perfect flow, and you should be aware of that and flag important arguments as such. I believe a part of persuasion is correct emphasis.

*It is very uncommon for me to read evidence after a debate--use the evidence yourself, refer to warrants, etc. If you think you have good evidence, you need to show it off. The "in" thing to say is that I reward a team for good research, but the most important part of good research is understanding why your evidence is good, and exercising your ability to explain and use the evidence. I do not plan to do evidence comparison for anyone.

*As regards "offense/defense" distinctions: I understand the importance of offense, but I do not discount the art of defensive argumentation. The fact that the other team does not have a turn does not mean you are winning. I have probably evaluated the risk of a disad or other impact as zero (or close enough to not matter) more than the average judge.

*I generally speaking will not seriously consider any independent issue that is not in your final rebuttal for at least 2 minutes--I do not reward a refusal to put all eggs in one basket. This is particularly true for theory arguments. If you feel that a theoretical issue is strong enough to justify a vote, plan to spend the better part of your final rebuttal on it, or don't expect my ballot on it.

In Round Decorum:
*Not much here--but I absolutely cannot stand when debaters talk loudly when their opponent is speaking. Increasingly it is hard for me to follow what a fast speaker is saying anyhow--when you're talking too, I am liable to get angry at you.
*I think most of the time you will tend to get better speaker points if you stand up when you speak. Also, pay attention to where your opponent is and where you are when you cross-ex--it is a speech. Cross-ex's where all the debaters are sitting across the room from one another and staring at their computers is not a good persuasive strategy.
*I will also likely get grumpy at you about your paperless crap, especially when it makes a debate round last 20 minutes longer than it should. Don't worry about that too much. Unless it gets out of hand. If you don't know the difference, watch me, and you'll be able to tell.

Seasonal voting record:

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