Hays Watson -- Westminster Schools

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Judging philosophy:

Judge Philosophy for Hays Watson, Assistant Debate Coach and M.A. Candidate, University of Georgia.

Posted below is my college judge philosophy, but here are a few things about how my philosophy relates to this year's topic (alternative energy incentives). I know a lot about energy policy (debated my senior year in college, taught at 3 institutes this summer, I watch oil/gasoline prices daily, etc.). I have a "gut feeling" as to what the topic should look like...and it's probably more limited than what most HS Affs expect. I'm down with Luke, Heidegger or whatever (I've done a bit of research on them), but I'd much rather hear OPEC flood or elections :-). I've helped out Chattahoochee over the past few years and now I'm working with Westminster.

The specifics...

Topicality—I think it’s a voting issue. I think Affirmative’s should be topical. Having and defending a plan seems inextricably linked to being topical, in my mind. I would prefer that teams NOT just read the resolution, but rather defend a specific and particular topical action. Teams will be hard pressed to persuade me that topicality is “genocidal,” “violent,” etc. Whether topicality excludes particular perspectives or personal experiences is debatable in my mind, but I would err on the side of the resolution providing enough “space” for even alternative approaches of debate to exist and flourish. I wouldn’t mind hearing someone have a high-tech defense of why ASPEC is necessary on this topic in particular…

Disads—I like ‘em. Case-specific, area-specific, mechanism-specific are probably more persuasive to me than your standard “engagement is appeasement” disad. I treat the direction of the link equally, if not more, important that whoever controls uniqueness. This is especially the case for the politics disad. And I still like the politics disad (especially since I’ve done some of our politics work this year), despite its increasingly bad rap. I’m somewhat skeptical about the elections DA. If you’ve got good ev and can craft a good link/internal link story, then shoot. But I think it’s got some intuitive problems given there ain’t no Democratic nominee yet and we’ve got 5 months plus ‘til November…

Counterplans—I like ‘em too. I will tend to reward case-specific or area-specific counterplans over agent or consultation counterplans, but I wouldn’t mind hearing a little non-delegation or Lopez every now and then (seriously). I tend to err Negative on theory, but my level of tolerance obviously varies according to the theory arguments involved. For example, conditionally and PICS (especially high-tech, small yet effective net-benefit based) can easily be defended in front of me, while multi-actor, international fiat might be a little more difficult to defend. Here's an example from last year. I think that the amendment counterplan almost always solves the case. This *arguably* is a reason why the nature of the CP (multi-actor, etc) is illegitimate. An analogous situation this year could be Wake’s add-a-quo CP. Aside from textual/functional competition questions, the fact that it includes ALL of the Affirmative and thus really hard to craft offensive arguments against it MIGHT (yes, I said might) be a reason why the nature of the CP is illegitimate. I don’t necessarily think that Negative’s need “offensive” justifications for a theory argument to be legitimate in my mind, but it helps. Oh yeah, I don't think people counterplan out of/counterplan to solve case advantages enough anymore. New Affs generally warrant flexibility regarding conditional CPs, new add-ons or Aff clarifications generally warrant flexibility regarding 2NC CPs, blah blah.

Case debate—great, strategic...difficult to execute effectively. Turning advantages is good, but certain means of generating offense (heg bad, for example) is both harder to execute and harder to win (persuasively). I think the effectiveness of case defense has gotten lost in the debate community's obsession with "offense." People are getting away with ridiculous advantage and solvency claims...PLEASE, call people out.

Critical args—Not my cup ‘o tea. Mainly because it’s not my expertise, it’s not my preference in terms of research, and I’m honestly too stupid and impatient to read and re-read the literature to gain a grasp of Derrida, Zizek, Nietsche (hell, I can't even spell it correctly), etc. and how their philosophy relates to US foreign policy towards the Middle East. This confusion has been alleviated, MARGINALLY, by being in grad school. I haven’t done much K work on this topic, but if you do choose to run the K, debate it like a DA—link specificity, impact analysis (turns case, ontology/reps come first), etc. Theoretically, I am willing to listen to arguments by the Affirmative about the desirability of Aff choice regarding frameworks for debate. I am also willing to listen to arguments that such desirability is, well, undesirable. I will say, with confidence, that I don’t believe that links by omission are legitimate forms of critical argumentation. I also feel very uncomfortable in debates where I’m “forced” to uphold or reject frameworks based on personal politics—I simply don’t feel that people should win or lose debates due to their lived experiences, race/ethnicity, gender, etc. This feeling also is applicable to the above topicality comments.

I like humor. I like smart and aggressive cross examinations. I prefer slower, persuasive readings of 1ac’s than 1ac’s that attempt to read 57 cards. I think you should slow down when reading topicality and theory blocks. I think a comprehensive analytical argument can be equally, if not more, effective than a piece of evidence. These “little” preferences will help your speaker points.

P.S. If you haven't thought about applying to UGA for college, you should--top 20 public university, beautiful campus (with beautiful people), arguably the best college town in America, and a great debate team with the best squad room in the country (I'd bet money). Any questions? Feel free to ask :-).

Seasonal voting record:

TourneyDivRdAFF    NEG    Decision

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