Garrett Abelkop -- Chattahoochee

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Garrett Abelkop
Director of Debate
Chattahoochee High School

Updated January 30, 2011

Debaters seem to have lost sight of the fact that debate is a performance-based activity. Your ultimate job is to persuade me to vote for you. Sticking with the style and argumentation that you are best at undoubtedly offers the highest chances of you persuading me, and the following should be regarded as nothing more than a random collection of my thoughts on debate.

Meta-Judging Ideology
I do my best to resolve the central questions of the debate using the arguments that are supplied by both teams. I try not to intervene and will stick to my flow as much as possible.

Debating versus Evidence
I think that it is very important for debaters to be proficient in line-by-line debating while also being able to explain and develop the warrants for their arguments. With that said, I believe that debate is also somewhat of a referendum on the quality of evidence researched and the quality of argument constructed. To me, it is important both to have a good argument and to have the ability to debate that argument well.

It is difficult to develop a uniform standard for judging debates in which debaters do a great job on an argument that is not substantiated with great evidence. At the margins, however, my flow dictates the degree to which evidence matters.

None of this should give you the impression that I require every argument to be supported with evidence. On the contrary, analytic arguments are extremely useful and often under-utilized in debates.

Paperless Debate
First – Preparation time ends when the jump drive leaves the computer of the debater about to deliver his/her speech. It does not end immediately when the speech document is saved, nor does prep time extend through the process of saving the speech document onto opponents’ computers.

Second – The total disregard for flowing that has been brought about by the rise of paperless debate is tragic. Debaters continuously drop arguments that were not in the speech document or answer arguments that were included in the speech document but not made during the speech. In order to create an incentive for debaters to flow, I will punish debaters who evidently do not by giving them one less speaker point than I otherwise would have.

Topicality
It does not make much sense to me for topicality to be evaluated entirely via risk or offense/defense. If the affirmative meets a good interpretation of the topic, it is difficult to persuade me that they need to meet the best possible interpretation of the topic. Negatives can convince me otherwise by doing a good job impacting their limits / predictability / ground claims.

Counterplan Competition
A counterplan is competitive if there is a functional difference between what the counterplan mandates and what the plan mandates as determined by their texts. If a counterplan includes all of the mandates of the plan, it is not competitive.

Theory
The following is a list of counterplans that I have come to regard as probably illegitimate:
-Counterplans that are wholly plan inclusive
-Counterplans that are not functionally distinct from the plan
-Counterplans that compete off of the certainty or immediacy of the plan

The negative obviously has the right to conditionally test the affirmative from multiple angles. However, I am not sure if this gives the negative the right to introduce arguments that directly contradict with one another.

It is difficult to persuade me that theoretical objections are voting issues. It seems that there is always a more appropriate remedy. This is true even if a theory argument is dropped. For example, dropping “multiple perms are illegitimate – voting issue” in the 1AR does not mean that the negative automatically wins; these cheap shots are silly and I think it is pedagogically unsound for the debate to be decided on them.

The Kritik
It is important for the negative to contextualize their link and impact arguments to the specific affirmative at hand and to explain how their alternative is a sufficient remedy. Kritik debates annoy me when they become centered on non-falsifiable, vague assertions and buzzwords, which more often than not seems to be the case.

Performance
The affirmative team should defend a plan that affirms the resolution.

Warning
Cheating is bad. Arguments that could be used to justify the Holocaust are morally reprehensible.

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