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2009-10 Controversy Papers

We are very pleased to have five papers submitted to the CEDA Topic Selection Committee. These papers will be reviewed by the committee and then a ballot, of at least three controversies, will be distributed to the membership. There are open threads for each controversy at the forums section. Please feel free to review the papers and provide your feedback to the committee.

Thanks again to each of the authors for their hard work in the service of the entire community.

  1. Immigration - VIK Keenan, Baruch Debate, CUNY. VIK also provided a list of immigration resources.
  2. Reforming International Financial Instituitions - Ryan Galloway, Samford University.
  3. Nuclear Weapons Policy - Jessica Yeats and Chris Jones, CSIS.
  4. Russia Cooperation - Steve Mancuso.
  5. The Taboo Topic - Toni Nielson, Christen Trammell, Joel Salcedo, Bryce Bridge, Jeanette Rodriguez, & Marvin Carter California State University, Fullerton

Updates will be provided to this site.



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my (jim hanson's) thoughts: <p>

1. taboo topic. i'm worried about neg ground. while political backlash can certainly happen--conservative social backlash is majorily on the downturn (witness the near silence about the iowa supreme court decision on gay marriage). i also don't think siding with a backlash on this topic is all that palatable strategically nor all that fun. for all the "you are conservative sellouts" claims attached to traditional policy debate programs--a lot of us do NOT want to defend these kind of restrictive policies. i need more on how this topic can give the negative viable and i guess "morally acceptable (or even plausible) ground."<p>

2. imf topic--as long as the topic focuses on things that the imf really has control over (rather than having to ask for more donations/funding from countries throughout the world)--this might be a good topic including for looking at a non-us agent. on the other hand--the neg is going to get to run any other country will solve (so the aff will have to be ready for tons of counterplans). yea--good affs will have imf add-ons/net bens but . . . i'm not so sure about the quality of that stuff (not saying it doesn't exist--just am not familiar with it).<p>

3. nuclear policy--could be good. maybe it is time to cover our nuclear weapons policy indepth rather than cursorily as an impact card. i realize this isn't a favorite area for everyone but there is almost always good, specific ground on both sides of this issue and k teams can do a lot with nuclear policy discourse as well as reps that will be included in aff cases.<p>

4. immigration policy--which i take to be an increase immigrant rights topic. my response is pretty much the same thing as the taboo topic although denying some immigration rights are, depending on the topic, more plausible. but i really don't want to have a squo denying immigrant children health care/education. not good ground. i think more explication of neg ground would be good and the topic should be explicitly crafted to avoid putting the neg in a horrible position. i get that neg flexibility has made things hard for the aff (and i agree with that) but that is NOT solved by making them defend offensive policies. yea--some of us traditional policy types are _liberals_. :)<p>

5. russia cooperation--i worry aff's will be able to pick specific, obviously good affs on this topic and then non-unique out of disads like crazy because obama is going to cooperate with russia. that's my main worry about this topic. well, also if russia goes nuts like it did when it invaded georgia. otherwise, sounds interesting. <p>

this is what i'm thinking initially.


jim :)

Toni has picked up conversation on some of the good observation by Jim elsewhere (facebook until edebate is friendly again), but I think Jim's initial response to both Taboo and Immigration is interesting - not wanting to defend the "evil" side of policies on the neg.  First, I don't think that's necessarily a foregone conclusion even in a policy paradigm with either topic.  On immigration, I think that one can still be in favor of immigrant rights, and human rights to illegal immigrants, while talking about the very real social service trade offs that will occur in this economy.  I don't think prostitution in the taboo topic necessarily defaults to "sex workers are bad people" on the neg, and I think pornography is a great example of the idea that "liberals" disagree too - my Amy Adler endorsed courts counterplan that assumes free speech is going to be very different than my Andrea Dworkin "outlaw porn" arguments against the  pro-porn aff. 


But more importantly, how is this any different than the years of being forced into a similar position by resolutions, only on the AFFIRMATIVE side?  Many kritikal affirmative teams have evolved simply from rejecting the premise that they should be forced to advocate such politics every time they are affirmative.  This simply flips the predisposition of the politics of the debates, except that on the negative you aren't confined to the topic and the same position of advocacy in the same way, making it less onerous than the common practice if you are in fact a "liberal".


One of the common arguments against such kritikal affirmatives is that it puts neg's into such "untenable" positions such as "Racism Good".  If you've ever made this argument in front of me as a judge and didn't notice my obvious eye-roll and putting down the pen for your whining, let me explain why you lost the round:  Just because someone solves for racism doesn't me they solve for it in the best way.  In fact, it doesn't mean their way actually solves racism at all, or doesn't have it's own problems.  I also think world peace, ending famine, and not causing world war 3 are good things too, but I would never claim it was unfair for the affirmative to claim them as advantages in a policy debate because now my only choice is to run Wipe Out.  I would debate the policy.  Policy debates have evolved counterplans specifically because of this issues - no one wanted to say "feeding starving people in Africa is bad" either.  In the same way, just because an aff increases rights doesn't mean they have the best approach or that theren't are real trade-offs to others.


I actually agree with Jim on the nuclear policy paper, and would prefer it over Russia for the same concern he and others have expressed - what if the sqo is to increase cooperation?  I think the nuclear policy paper can access some of the more interesting cooperation advantages with Russia without necessarily sticking the neg in non-uniqe land.  The educator in me kind of likes the idea of getting depth with the traditional advantage areas (and if I have to relive the D* debate, let it be the focus, not the add-on).


I think everyone is in agreement that wording would be critical to the financial institution topic.  In premise, a good and timely topic.  In actuality,we're the people who also picked the EU wording and can't always match harms areas with solvency mechanisms. 


I will add that after a year of immigration debates (day job), I do think it has promise as a topic.  The resolution I had been using was essentially bidirectional and included border control policies.  I think there is substantial negative ground that interior policies absent border control won't solve, that there is a potential fiscal trade off between increasing domestic services and border control, and that specific pro-illegal immigrant policies would potentially increase illegal immigration in the short term at a time when market forces may have led to a natural decrease in population migration to the US.  One of the things about this topic that I and the students have enjoyed over the past year is that there really isn't a conclusive answer.  I really think immigration is a topic that comes down to research and debate skill, and not side biases or constructions of fairness.  Also, just to quiet some of Jim's fears, the sqo makes it generally illegal to deny immigrant children public education, so unless a neg chose to overrule Plyler v. Doe, 457 US 202 (1982), I think the bigger debate would be about what happens to those children when they graduate and whether public college education is also legitamately accessible.  The differing state laws on health care, AND especially the discrepancies in local law enforcement as immigration enforcement, make the debate much more nuanced on the "denying children health care" end as well.