Sunday, February 3, 2013

Having Strong Opinions on Topical Counterplans

I ran a counterplan once. I'm not really comfortable speaking about it. It didn't really end well. Let's just say I was forbidden from doing that ever again.

Now, I know what you're thinking:
Obviously, Chandler. You're in LD.

This is true. However: a) I wouldn't be the first LDer to run a CP and secondly, I was in TP once too. And I could justifiably put all of the blame for the way that round went on my partner anyway. So ha.

Counterplans are interesting. After I graduated from TP, I began to think more on them and soon developed strong opinions like the debate nerd I am, regarding subjects such as when counterplans should be run, under what circumstances, how destroyed the aff case has to be first, what the  plan can include, whether a blue or black pen should be used for the negative (the answer is blue), you know, that sort of thing. Also, I once told someone that I "passionately hated" a CP he was fond of running. Perhaps I exaggerated, but still. Oh, and it was the plan I strongly disliked, not him. That's a long story. Anyway, of course, there are aspects and types of counterplans that even I don't quite get. So I won't tell you about those. The fear is that one of us would have to be killed.

One area for discussion which, surprisingly, does make sense to me is the controvertible legitimacy of the topical counterplan. The question of such a plan has led to much dispute throughout the homeschool debate community. And sometimes the neg will run a plan that the aff technically could have run, so they get up and yell at them in the 2AC and everyone spends the rest of the round arguing about who can run what. It's a debate within a debate. Debateception.

Back when I stuck to strictly IEs, I developed a theory called the "It's The Negative's Job to Disagree With Everything the Affirmative Team Says" theory. Now I see that it's not always accurate, but it made it easy for me to decide which camp I fall into in this timeless dispute. And yet, there are naturally arguments to be made on both sides of the fence.

Some say the negative burden is to argue against the resolution, so topical CPs put two affirmative teams on the ballot and you may as well vote for the real one, while others proclaim that neg simply has to tell you why the aff's plan is bad, leaving room for all kinds of crazy arguments, topical CPs included. And everyone's passionate about stuff. Which makes sense if you've ever seen a final round of debate. Just think of the people who coach them, and imagine the same passion times at least 15-and-a-half. Got it? I've never actually heard anyone argue angrily in favor of or against topical counterplans, but can't you picture it happening? I mean, I've heard arguments for both sides from grown up people, but generally in inside voices. But that doesn't mean it hasn't happened. It probably has, and certainly could, and certainly does in actual rounds.

So you have to be careful should you wish to run a topical counterplan, because of people who don't like them. And it's hard to know for sure who thinks what. This is why I was once advised at a camp to ask judges about their opinions about such counterplans before the round should I ever run one. I never did, but you could. My fear was always hearing something like this:

Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely intentional.

At this point, don't run one. Just saying. It's not worth it. Unless it's finals and there are a bunch more judges who like them but I forgot to tell you. Then you probably should.

Fortunately, this never happened to me. Unfortunately, this probably has a lot to do with the fact that I never made it to TP outrounds. Thanks for bringing up that painful subject.

Well, that's basically all I have to say about that. Except that if you're ever Neg and I judge you in TP, please ask about my thoughts on counterplans in general. I'm cool with topicality (and also please no one get mad at me), but again, strong opinions and stuff. But of course, don't all debaters have strong opinions on everything?

You're homeschooled. Debaters gotta debate.

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