PLUM 16.4, Bronze Round and a side note on community

Bronze Round, This House prefers a Lombardi trophy over an Oscar

Kevin and I broke, with Robbie and Nathaniel being next in. PLUM tournaments typically have a policy of advancing all people with winning records. Nathaniel and Robbie had the winning record, but with only five people with a 2-1 BLC decided to advance only four, leaving the gentlemen to unfortunately get the ax based on speaker points.

This round was kind of a nightmare for me and Kevin. We decided there was no way we were going to have a clean round debating football versus movies, so we went for a metaphorical interpretation. We said that the Lombardi trophy was a metaphor for “the objective”, as it’s really clear who wins the Superbowl, while the Oscar was “the subjective” because what makes Best Picture is much more ambiguous. Accordingly, the USFG was going to legalize marijuana so as to end any subjectivity in the enforcement of that branch of drug laws.

Our opponents from Carleton ran topicality. So. Much. Topicality. They said we should have interpreted the resolution literally rather than metaphorically, and we should have had the football versus movies debate. After our Prime Minister speech, about six minutes of every constructive was devoted to topicality. They said not having a literal resolution was really bad for debate because no prep means less clash means less education. Our response was that their expectation of what we were supposed to debate, movies versus football, was also a metaphor meaning we met their interpretation, and to debate the resolution literally would have meant to debate the merits of the physical trophies. We also added that its the Gov’s prerogative to interpret the resolution metaphorically, they could have had a good debate by just going on case in what is a very standard debate topic, and predictability just isn’t something Parli values due to the inherently vague nature of resolutions. We even tacked on a reverse voting issue, saying that since they denied us the education of a good debate by making us debate topicality for the entire round, they should lose on that.I don’t think that the judges were really happy about the round at all, but we managed to win on a 3-0 decision.

On Community

As a side note, one of the BLC-affiliated judges took personal offense to some of the comments we made when discussing the nature of Parli resolutions. At some point Kevin and I mentioned an earlier BLC tournament resolution, “This House would unleash… the MONSTER!”, and said that clearly Minnesota Parli doesn’t value predictability. It seems those comments were interpreted to be an attack on the tournament director’s resolution writing abilities; the judge wrote something to the effect of that as coachless teams we couldn’t understand the stresses involved in hosting a tournament and that things would run smoother if tournament directors didn’t have to spend time funding judges for St. Olaf and Carleton. We’d like to clarify two things.

First, we have nothing but the utmost respect for Jon Logging, Bethany Lutheran College, and the Minnesota debate community as a whole. We have always felt welcomed by the Parliamentary League of the Upper Midwest (the series makes up about half the tournaments we attend) and the Minnesota College Forensics Association, well understanding that as a team we would not be able to do what it is we do without the support of these individuals and organizations. These people have provided us with material resources, such as easily accessible judges or reduced entry costs when our funding wasn’t secure, as well as logistical help and even strategic advice from time to time. We cannot emphasize how much it means to us when judges or coaches, aware of our situation, come up and talk to us after rounds, putting competition aside in favor of an inclusive debate community.

That being said, as a team we do question some of the cultural practices that occur in Minnesota Parli debate and, for the sake of frankness, at some of Mr. Logging’s tournaments specifically. We’ve had long, intensive talks about the educational value of debate and what skills or knowledge bases are prioritized in choosing resolutions like “This House would unleash… the MONSTER!” versus things like “The United States federal government should substantially change its foreign policy with Venezuela.” Both of these resolutions offer unique educational opportunities and challenges. To put it in debate jargon, we understand that both styles of resolutions have distinct positive impacts, but we as a team seem to weigh those impacts differently than other schools within the debate community.

Obviously, as a team who does this purely of our own volition, we value debate very highly and firmly believe in the wonderful things it does for young adults. We would hope that in the future we can have a dialogue about the priorities we set in formulating resolutions or other cultural practices and that our contribution to this dialogue can be interpreted as coming from people with a vested interest in debate rather than ignorant critics.

– Alex


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