One thing that has annoyed me a lot recently is the proliferation of a million rapid fire permutations in the 2AC. These things work because oftentimes the other team won’t here them all, or the judge will allow the affirmative to clarify later in the 1AR/2AR what the 3 words said in the 2AC meant and how that avoids the net benefit. So I’ve put together some thoughts on how judges should evaluate permutations and how debaters should respond to them.
An increasingly popular negative strategy in high school debate over the past two seasons has centered around the multi-plank counterplan. Most often associated with Michigan State University at the college level, the multi-plank counterplan is presented as a single off-case position that includes two or more “planks” in its text. Instead of presenting multiple counterplans as separate off-case positions, in other words, the multi-plank counterplan presents them as a single argument.
Typically composed of multiple policy options aimed at solving all or part of the affirmative case while avoiding a disadvantage that links only to the plan but not the counterplan, the multi-plank counterplan is now commonplace in high-level debates and has become a potent weapon in the negative’s strategic arsenal.
Affirmative teams that fail to adapt and keep up with this negative innovation are putting themselves behind the proverbial eight ball. This article is an attempt to help affirmative debaters effectively respond to the multi-plank counterplan and construct a winning strategy to defeat it.
This post will be in more 1AR form than nuanced explanation.
Extend our offense- pics artificially inflate bad disads by creating any risk of a link analysis which skews research and pre round prep focus. We’ll defend the whole plan, but forcing us to defend isolated parts in a vacuum is unpredictable and doesn’t reflect real world literature. There is no logical limit to pics- they can change the scope or implementation of the plan in unpredictable ways.
AT: Fix your plan
-no plan is immune to pics, you can’t just “fix” it. Fixing involves making the plan as vague as possible like “provide water africa” a la the hooch 2 years ago that are bad for education.
AT: You were just defending consult
-This is a blog about switch side debate.
AT: Who runs these 1 penny counterplans
-Lots of people run CP’s like grandfather 10% of the permits that the aff is never prepared for, they have solvency advocates and people win on them.
AT: Solvency Advocates check
-Empirically denied- judges are unwilling to firmly hold the neg to this standard- just having a link card is usually good enough. Proliferation of internet blogs (and law review footnotes) allow cards to be found for anything
AT:If solvency advocates exist and net benefits exist, then maybe it’s a real question in the literature.
-“real question” does not equal- far and good for debate. There are lots of “real questions” like how are we going to pay for this that in debate we chose to ignore
AT:The counterplan tests whether the Aff would be a better idea if done slightly differently
-If your disad is not enough to outweigh the case, it sucks. Why should we give the neg a mechanism to make crappy arguments round winners? Sounds a lot like you are defending a K JC…
AT:The damage to the 2AC strategy is done? What strategy are you talking about?
-a good 2ac will not read offense solved by the pic because that would be a waste of time, if the negative then has the CP go away due to theory the aff is left without some of their best arguments
AT:Reciprocal – they inflate the solvency deficit to the same degree. If you can’t win that this outweighs the disad it means either the CP isn’t competitive or you deserve to lose.
-This is false- its easier to construe a net benefit with an impact “including roy in the HC provided by the plan is unpopular” then it is to win a solvency deficit “providing for roy is key to solve”.
AT:A strong 1NC barrage of defensive case arguments and DAs that turn the case accomplishes the same effect
-Yes it does, it takes 10X as much time as reading a 1 sentence cp text which makes it different
AT:This argument also justifies banning all CPs because they force you to make certain solvency deficit arguments and not others
-False, you can use your whole plan as offense against non plan inclusive cps
AT: This neg ability to focus on a specific part of the plan is justified by the aff ability to set the focus of the entire debate
-It does not logically follow that because the aff picked X the neg gets to pick a subset of X-this is a claim without a warrant
AT: See above – aff gets to choose their side in almost every PIC debate. “penny saved” counterplans aren’t viable because the neg can’t win that the DA outweighs the solvency deficit
-This is empirically denied- gfather example above, font pics, word pics, exclude a state, exclude a sub group like natives the list goes on an on
AT: Roy’s counterplans are stupid for reasons other than that they’re PICs, they’re either only textually or not competitive. This logic is the equivalent of banning DAs because you think politics is stupid
– you are hinting at some standard for competition that “only allows the good ones” but you conveniently leave it out because it doesn’t exist. This is the classic problem with PICS, one out of 100 is good/fair/the center of the debate about that aff- the rest are nonsense.
AT: “Using a different mechanism” is the same as a PIC+an additional plank
-No- USFG do cap and trade vs Japan inject iron oxide into oceans. I think you are trying to say “including the agent makes it a pic” which I think is arguable- it includes none of the plan ACTION. I don’t think if a cp that has a different agent doing a different action includes 1 word or 1 letter or is in the same font as the plan that makes it a pic.
AT: the alternative energy PIC is an example of a “different mechanism” CP.
-Its the exact same mechanism, it just uses a different name
Running the net-benefit without the CP is overly constraining – proving that the plan is sub-optimal and that a viable, competitive alternative exists negates the aff. To answer this statement you’d have to argue neg fiat bad, and that (or even just no PICs) would regress us to 1960s, Greg Varley era debate where the aff always wins.
-It “overly constrains” bad arguments with low probabilities, true. PICS bad does not logically rely on no neg fiat, you have no warrant for that claim.
(to use a real world analogy, the argument that the fact that the plan is an improvement over the SQ is a sufficient reason to merit adoption would hold no water. see the health care debate – rational policymakers don’t adopt policies if better alternatives that are smaller than the plan exist. If the public option PIC succeeds, Obama loses.)
-Yes look at the real world- these kind of minor counter proposals suck and guarantee nothing ever gets done. But more importantly there are constraints in debate like the topic and time which make this model a bad one to import.
As is becoming an annoying trend, Stefan has beaten me to the punch on a how to debate the states CP post- you can read it here http://www.planetdebate.com/blogs/view/357
For an aff perspective here are some posts I made last year
And stupid people who ask them.
1. What does dispositionality mean? If you are asking this question, or are answering with anything other than “if you make a permutation or a theory argument other than dispositionality bad we can kick the cp” you are stupid. I don’t know when or where someone had the idea that it was ok to just make this mean whatever you want it to mean like “if you read only offense” or “if you straight turn the net benefit” but I would bet it happened in stupidville. The meaning if dispo is logical- it stems from the idea of opportunity cost. Since competition is the link to the cp, if you challenge the link we can kick it just like if u challenge the link to a disad and then impact turn it. So from now on, if someone asks “what is the status of the CP” instead of saying “its dispo” say “its stupid and arbitrary nonsense-acality”.
2. “What is the status of (any part) of the K”. Once someone reads a K it should be obvious that they are a sneaky trickster and you should be making theory arguments anyway. Even if the alternative is “unconditional” that doesn’t mean anything because even though they are stuck going for “it”, the “it” they go for in the 2NR will bear little/no resemblance to the “it” of the 1NC cx. Please stop wasting all of our lives. I did some math:
I judge around 130 debates a year (excluding camp which would make this ridiculous).
50% involve a K= 65.
I would say at least 1 minute is spent in those debates cxing or asking during prep time about the alternative, so say 65 minutes (this is conservative).
Things I would rather do with that hour
-watch an episode of Golden Girls and Keeping up with the Kardashians back to back
-Have my tonsils removed sans anesthesia
-be hunted by another human a la the most dangerous game
-be warmed by the innards of a tonton while Han set up the shelter, and I thought they smelled bad on the outside…
That means every year I am wasting an hour of my life listening to inane cross x questions that are totally unnecessary. So for everyone out there, I will answer them all now
“Does the alternative solve the case?” -Obviously not chuckles, but we will make a string of stupid arguments about why it does and you will drop them
“who is the agent of the alternative”- I can’t tell you till the 2NR because I don’t know what the alternative will be untill then- but probably everyone on earth holding hands, so I would say all hands.
“what is the status of the alternative” -Its “dropisitional”- if at any point you drop a 2 word argument about the alternative we will then claim u dropped our floating pic/fiat world peace/make war impossible alternative”
3. Does your link assume….- no , it obviously doesn’t assume anything let alone your plan. This applies to all disads/anything with a link. If links assumed things we could just insta sign all ballots neg and dispense with the silly debates. Obviously no cards talk about anything becasue debate is contrived and stupid.
4. “what does your 1NC have to say about this 2AC argument”- no explanation needed.
5. Silly rhetorical questions used to begin a K- again, no explanation needed.