Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Peculiar Arguments

Here's the scenario:

It's at night. It's kind of late. It's been a long day at a long tournament and I'd rather be in bed than be debating that case again. You know how every year there's a case that a ton of people run? Cases like JVA, Death Tax... that's all I can think of. (I haven't actually been in debate that long.) So yea, it was death tax. Excuse me, estate tax. We're debating an out-of-state team. The interesting thing about out-of-state teams is that Californians are convinced that all non-California debaters are weird. As a general rule. It's not true all of the time, but I guess there are enough abnormal stories for the stereotype to stick to some degree. And it's not even like there aren't weird debaters in CA (and this steoreotype probably isn't held in my home state exclusively either). There are. But there you go. Back to me: it's late and I'm tired and sick of going neg against the Estate tax case and the judge lost his glasses so he was wearing prescription sunglasses indoors and that was throwing me off. I'm thinking about how sick I was of death tax and how I was tired and sunglasses and blog post ideas probably because I usually do in debate rounds and meanwhile my partner is cross-exing an out-of-state twelve year old and I hear the other half of my team ask, "Are the stock issues important?"


My head jerks up.

"Not at all?"



Fun fact: Judge voted Aff because they upheld the stock issues. Ironic.

Regardless, you know those arguments you hear, or remarks in Cross-Examination that are just so peculiar, sometimes all you can think is, "Huh. That was odd." It was one of those times.

Maybe they just don't understand what they're saying. Maybe they didn't know that when running Topicality, you have to say why something isn't Topical, not just that it's not. Maybe they didn't understand you in Cross-Ex when you asked how their plan would solve for the harms and they said it wouldn't. Maybe they didn't really mean to turn the impact of your DA entitled "Death, Destruction and Dismemberment."

Then again, maybe they did. Maybe they knew exactly what they were getting into. Debaters are weird, you guys. We say weird things all the time. We even say things we flat-out disbelieve for the sake of the debate. And sometimes, the arguments we make sound plain peculiar to the outside world, no matter how much sense it makes to us. And I'm thinking the bizarre arguments that are made cognitively must make sense to someone. Right? Otherwise, why run them? One time I heard about an LDer whose value was math. Seriously. True story. Math. (This is the part where I say, "He was from a different state." and everyone nods and says, "Ohhh....") I can't tell you how long I giggled over that one (especially trying to picture the face of his opponent as he said, "The value I will be upholding in today's debate round is... math. Man, that was probably hysterical.) but I can tell you that I would have laughed a lot longer had everyone else in the room filled with people not been trying to pay attention to a debate lecture. A similar circumstance occurred during the talk where one young man reminisced about a counter-plan he once ran. Also in LD. And he won that round.

The fun thing about peculiar arguments is that they certainly keep us on our toes. I'm sure I've run one or two. None come to mind because I probably didn't realize they were peculiar at the time. Once I almost used an analogy that would have essentially said that the affirmative team's mindset supports keeping chains of assassins in business, but fortunately I said something else. That certainly would have been odd and probably bad also. For the time being, let's pretend I never say silly things in debate.


You're homeschooled, and the inevitable lack of socialization must account for any and all peculiarity.

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