Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Being Sneaky In Cross-Ex

There is a reason that Cross-Ex was my favorite part of debate rounds back when I was a mere observer. Records indicate that I used to think "Cross-Examination" sounded like a surgical term, but that Cross-Ex was fun to say. Try it? Cross-Ex, Cross-Ex, Cross-Ex. See? It's fun. Anyway, since I didn't know how to flow, or how to speak "debate" in general, I had a difficult time following/paying any attention to rounds, and Cross-Ex was the only time I felt any real clash and excitement.

The foresight of debaters to ask sneaky questions that would come up in a later speech impressed me most. At the risk of giving away a secret of my debate team, there is this one question we sometimes ask. You start out... no, never mind. I won't tell you. Otherwise you'll be prepared next time one of my people debates you. Let's just say, it's clever, sneaky, and silly enough to impress me when I was a non-debater, and I still consider it quite brilliant.

One sneaky tactic that I noticed was using the phrase "Are you aware..." to make arguments in Cross-Ex. But then, I'm always irked when people try to make arguments in Cross-Ex and justify it by ending the responses with question marks. I don't know why that bothers me so much, it just does. But I'm not throwing out this particular phrase entirely. I wouldn't say using this phrase is always mean. Sometimes, debaters use it to be cocky about their arguments, but others genuinely want to know if the person is aware of whatever. Sometimes, it's a helpful question, because you discover that they are perfectly aware, and sometimes you get to clear stuff up. I was once debating a girl who was novicer than myself, and one of her arguments against the 1AC showed she was really confused about our case and misunderstood the meaning of one term. I asked, "Are you aware that ____ refers to ____?" The poor girl just stuttered and probably blinked several times (I couldn't really see her) and replied, "Uh, no." I smiled and told her it was okay and that I had no further questions. Was I being sneaky? Yep. But the judge probably thought, "Oh. Ok. That's why she made that argument. She misunderstood." Suddenly, the judge gets what the girl was going for, and perhaps sympathizes, but all credibility whooshes over to the aff and we win. I like that kind of sneakiness. I like being nice and then winning.

The best kind of sneakiness may be getting them to admit to something that they don't realize they're admitting. That is talent, folks. It's also a lot of fun:

"So, how does your Counter-Plan affect tax loopholes?" (your plan does)
"It... doesn't." (here he's confused)
"Ok. How does it affect taxes?"
"It doesn't affect taxes." ("was she even listening?" he thinks)
"Does it affect revenue generation?"
"No." (now he's a little annoyed)
"So what you're saying is, it has nothing to do with our plan?"
"Sure!" (he says in exasperation)
"Then, that means that we could do both plans at the same time?"

And then your partner gets up there and runs Perm like crazy. That sort of thing works splendidly against novice teams, and I seem to hit novice teams frequently, but that doesn't mean you can't be sneaky against big, scary teams too. If they don't notice, it's even more fun. Lots of opportunity for Cross-Ex sneakiness. Cross-Ex can be terrifying. It can also be a blast. It depends on how you look at it, and how sneaky you are.

You're homeschooled. You can't be trusted.

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