Some have brought up the need for formalized rules or regulations guiding the use and administration of emails, blog evidence etc. Unfortunately the notion of debate community rules seems much like the NPT, a good idea in general but a failure as a whole. I don’t think that most people disagree that use of most blog evidence and email is bad (lets call these signatories of the NPT) but there do exist some who disagree (lets call those the rogue states) who either do not care or who do not find it a bad idea. So where do we go from here?
There seem to be some serious problems to trying to have an organization (be it NFL, NDCA, etc) regulating the use of this stuff / creating rules for it
1.) Jurisdiction- Not all tournaments are NFL tournaments, or NDCA tournaments, or CFL sanctioned tournaments. What happens if someone reads this evidence at NFLs how should it affect them at the NDCA, TOC or regular tournaments? It also presumes that most of the debate that happens is national circuit when in reality local and regional debate is much bigger then this. Some places prevent use of technology like laptops in debate, hell the state of Georgia’s state championship is 4 person debate (your team is 4 people 2 aff and 2 neg and they never switch). The lack of standardization of debate across the country makes it impossible to have a single jurisdictional body
2.) Enforcement- its kind of bad when the IAEA would be a better enforcement mechanism then the debate community would be. Who would enforce any type of rule? This is obviously related to the jurisdiction issue above but in addition to that do we elect people as card enforcers? I’d obviously nominate Dheidt to the role but some people probably wouldn’t like Dhizzle laying down the law (I would obviously accept the role of debate tsar if requested, but only if someone sent me a really nice email requesting my expertise). It would be incredibly difficult to rule on all of these evidence issues considering the number of “violations” that would be raised, a daunting task for most.
3.) Issuing a protest of evidence etc- lets say someone reads this bad ev or violates the rule does the debate stop immediately? It would bring tournaments to a grinding hault if this happened. If the debate continues then what incentive does the team have to not read the evidence and say well if we get caught we’ll deal with it later? If it’s the finals of the TOC and NDCA and they do chose to read a card from a blog and it helps them win that tournament then why would they care? The ADA has rules against reading Kritiks in college yet more people have read and gone for them. Citing ADA rules as a reason the K should go away does not work with 95 percent of the judging pool.
4.) Punishment- Lets say we are somehow able to create a panel that could monitor and regulate this issue would they be allowed to punish teams? Debate probation NCAA style? Can’t go to the next tournament? It seems like the tournament director ultimately gets to decide who can or cannot attend their tournament not some rules board. Would punishments be consistent? What if I know some people on the panel well and they like me (ok lets assume its not me since we know that probably wouldn’t be the case) are there less strict and more strict punishments? Does this become too politicized?
Is there a problem with evidence being read in debates today. YES. Should we consider outlining some standards for what is acceptable and what isn’t? Probably.
But the reason the NPT has failed is a reason debate related rules would fail. The rogue country that wants to develop weapons or subvert the system will do that either because their interest overwhelms that of the community consensus against them. So making the “cost” of cheating or breaking our norms needs to be enough to overwhelm the benefits of some actions
Inside the round- Losing sucks. Make args about why their evidence is bad and unqualified. Kids are like judges won’t vote on ev indicts. Its because your indicts suck. Debates now about evidence are limited to ours is a prof theirs isn’t prefer ours. That is not enough, you should be making args about why qualifications on the issue are important, how being an expert phd in the field makes you more credible and knowledgeable about the issue and how absent existence of quals from a blog or staff writer that evidence is no more then vague assertion. I’m pretty sure if I had judged the “Skarburry” (dheidt 09) evidence had teams made args about this being assertion without facts and how there is no real qualifications listed for the author, that would have been enough to make me either disregard the evidence or prefer more qualified evidence from the aff. Taking ev indicts to the next level is key to getting judges to vote on these indicts.
Outside the round- These discussions of the SPS article and people’s reactions should be a warning to others that if you chose to do something questionable with regards to evidence production or posting you will get called out, your name will be smeared, your schools will be too (fairly or unfairly) and kids on your team will be judged for the behavior of one. Hopefully that deterrent will be enough to overwhelm people from doing stuff that could harm them, their school, and their program.
Rules are only as good as the teeth behind them, I think the discussion here, on cross-x and on edebate are a larger disincentive to engage in questionable activity then some rules that would be difficult to enforce.
A larger discussion on agreeing to community norms would be helpful though for making clear what a large chunk of the community thinks is acceptable