Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Philosophy in Lincoln-Douglas Debate (cont.)

This is a continuation of a series aimed at familiarizing Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debaters and potential judges with the basic concepts of LD debate.  This discussion of the common philosophy used by debaters is part two of a two-part essay.

The Moral Philosophies (Ethics)

LD debaters are fond of using moral philosophies to justify human behavior or describe how humans ought to act under various conditions.  These kinds of philosophies describe how we may know that a course of action is a "moral" one, that is, an action which is considered "the right thing to do".  Usually, these philosophies will examine a basic question such as "do the ends justify the means?" and in some cases will look at intentions as a rationale for determining correct behavior.  Moral philosophy is the branch of philosophy which incorporates the study of ethics.  This is a fairly complex topic when examined in all of its historical context and various incarnations.  My intent is to keep the discussion about the topic, as simple as possible.  For that reason, I focus on the most common, modern theories of normative ethics.  I am not a student of philosophy as I am sure many reading this are not as well.  While I will no doubt miss many of the nuances and details of these theories, I hope to convey enough accurate information to be useful to competitors and judges.

Semantics of Morality

Very often debaters speak of morality and will espouse a value of morality as the most important value in a round. It all gets a little confusing and muddled together if we do not understand what is meant by "morality" as a value versus the philosophies of moral behavior versus a system of morals. It is further muddled when debaters suggest morality is a culturally relative construct. Additionally, we note distinctions between individual morality and social morality.  Descriptive morality constitutes a system of codes or rules established by a social group.  Normative morality is conduct that all persons would (or should) consider the right thing to do because it is rational.  Therefore, if no rules exist, the moral philosophies explain, how one may rationalize correct behavior by virtue of the fact we are humans and not by virtue of the fact we are members a particular group.


To begin the discussion let us look at consequentialism.  It is derived from the word "consequence" and so is a reference to moral philosophies which look at the outcome or consequence of actions.  It is very commonly summarized in the expression, "the ends justifies the means" and so, if the outcome is good, then the actions taken to achieve the outcome (or consequences) are moral in the normative sense.  How one determines "good" outcomes is an open question and so, specific criteria are required to make that decision and the chosen criteria will necessarily be very dependent upon the resolution being debated or value being defended.


Utilitarianism is a consequentialist philosophy which justifies actions as long as it maximizes benefit for the majority.  It is summarized in the expression, "the greatest good for the greatest number of people".  Jeremy Bentham, one of the principle philosophers that promoted utilitarianism, claimed the action should maximize "happiness". Another leading proponent of utilitarianism was John Stuart Mill.  In my opinion, it is important to note, that maximizing happiness or benefits usually means making the greatest number of people happy. For this reason, in my opinion, utilitarianism does not work well for outcomes which maximize benefits (e.g. happiness) for only one person but works very well when looking at the actions which are directed to the well-being of a population.  Another important consideration for utility is the idea that right actions are not connected with motivations.  An individual may have any number of different motivations for engaging in a set of actions, but as long as the consequences are good, the action is moral.  Mill makes a very strong distinction between motive and intentions and claims that intention is very much a determinate of whether on not an action is moral.  A moral act is one that was intended to maximize a good end and ultimately does so. I think a good way to understand the distinctions is as follows.  I may decide to do something either because I want to profit by the result or simply because I want to help others.  That is motive.  But my intention is decided by what I foresee as a consequences of my action for others. If I foresee a good outcome (or I hope to achieve a good outcome) and if I succeed then my action is moral, even if I did it with a purely selfish motivation.  On the other hand, if the consequence is good for me, but does not end well for others, the action was not moral.  I hope that trivial explanation is not too trivial and fails to capture the nuances of Mill's distinctions between motive and intent in case they become issues in a debate.


In contrast to consequentialist theories of morality is the idea we must consider the actions themselves and carry out our duty to do that which is good.  For the deontologist, the acts are examined in complete isolation of the motives which spawned them and are not judged by the outcomes they reveal.  They are acts which are inherently good and they are carried out from a sense of duty.  It is how one determines which acts are inherently good which differentiates the various schools of deontological thought.  For example, the maxim, "treat others the way I want to be treated" could be a criterion for deciding an action is inherently good.

The Categorical Imperative

One particularly well know philosopher cited by many LD debaters is Immanuel Kant, who was considered a deontologist and who developed a set of criteria for determining whether not an action is inherently good and thus an obligation to carry out.  The famous "categorical imperative" describes a duty that is universal and unconditional. For Kant, good actions are predicated by good will which is an innate quality of humans when they take actions out of a sense of duty and no other motivation other than respect for moral law. The CI specifies several "tests" for measuring what is "moral law".

The first formulation is to act according to the maxim that you would wish (will) the action to be a universal law.  This is generally interpreted by debaters and LD judges to mean, if it's good enough for one it should be good enough for all.  Therefore the first formulation requires one to consider the action is moral if it is something everyone ought do. This is generally accurate (although the maxims should be logically consistent) and is best personalized by considering, would I want to live in a world where everyone did this act out of a sense of duty with no conditions?

The second formulation is never treat people (including ourselves) as a mere means to an end but always as an end.  This is generally interpreted by LD debaters to mean that if one uses people to achieve some outcome that does not benefit them, it is immoral.  In reality, this formulation is much more complex than using people to achieve our ends is immoral.  It deals more with the idea of preserving the human dignity of persons or respecting individuals as fellow human beings since it is nearly impossible to go through life without taking advantage of the services, acts and availability of others in some capacity or another.  This formulation is kind of derived from the first in that the treatment of others is one we would desire for ourselves and so it consistent with the principle of universality.

There are two additional tests which are not usually cited in LD debates even if they are important in completing the formulation of moral acts.  For the most part, if debaters think they are important to making a point in the case, the debater has the responsibility to communicate the concept so the judge can properly evaluate the application to the debater's case.  Generally, Kant's moral philosophy was centered around the idea of moral duty arising from good will which is not motivated or driven by any intentions other than the intent to do what is right.

Virtue Ethics

The modern conception of virtue ethics expands upon classical Greek philosophies and provides an alternative to the deontological, rules-based imperatives and consequentialist ends-based evaluations. Modern virtue ethics recognizes that philosophers like Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill and others ultimately ground their idea in some kind of moral absolutism (as with deontology) or undefined objective standards (as with consequentialism).  Virtue ethics holds that a person's actions are a reflection of their innate virtue or character.  Therefore, the virtue ethicist does not look at rules or outcomes, but rather what the action indicates about a person's character.  As a result, virtue ethics does consider the intentions behind actions.  It is not always easy to objectify or identify what is virtuous and so it must be evaluated within the context of understanding the purpose of being human.  What does it mean to be a human being?  If we know that, then anything which promotes that purpose is virtuous.  In ancient Greece, Aristotle promoted that idea of "eudaimonia" as the objective state to which humans aspire.  Eudaimonia is associated with well-being or the idea of human flourishing and that has carried over into the modern conceptions of the theory of virtue ethics.  LD debaters will use virtue ethics in their debates but I have yet to see it applied well in a typical case.  Because it requires this concept of human purpose, it often comes across as vague and indeed, defining what is virtuous is the biggest difficulty of virtue ethics.  Nevertheless, some virtues do seem play well, such as moderation, reasonableness, courage, etc.

Doctrine of Double Effect

Famously known in the LD world as DDE, the doctrine (or principle) of double effect measures the morality of an act based on intention in situations where the final outcome was something that should have been avoided.  One particular example I can think of (though not a great example), is suppose someone collapses and you begin performing CPR in an effort to save their life but the compressions break the victims ribs and cause additional physical damage that was not intended.  Because the original action was good (for sure the victim would have died if you did nothing), you are blameless for what came about in the side effect. There are standards applied to justify an action under DDE.

  1. The initial act is morally good (or morally neutral).
  2. The intention of the act was to bring about a good end.
  3. The bad was not the means to bring about the good (it was an unintended side-effect)
  4. The good effects must not be outweighed by the bad effect

DDE is a formulation of the idea, the ends do NOT justify the means unless the doctrine of double effect is applicable.  DDE is widely used in LD debates to justify actions which are initially carried out with every intention of bringing about a good result but end up causing unintended harms.  Also, because of the standards used to measure DDE, it is possible the bad secondary effect will be previously known to the agent carrying out the act.  Knowledge that a bad result is possible or even likely is not a criterion for evaluation.  The common example I have heard, is physician who wishes to end the terrible pain and suffering experienced by a terminally ill patient, delivers a potentially fatal dose of pain-killer knowing the patient may die.  The doctor's knowledge of potential death does not make the act immoral if the intent was end suffering rather than cause death.


Thus I wish to conclude my basic introduction to the philosophy of Lincoln-Douglas debate.  The typical political philosophies discussed in part one of this series (seen here) along with this basic review of the most common moral theories covers the vast majority of philosophies used in LD debate.  There are times when other philosophies are discussed and there are other categories of philosophy and theories which define human behavior, individually or corporately.  In most cases, these will be explained in the debater's case.  Since they are not always that common, I have not taken the space the review them here.  By familiarizing yourself with these philosophies, either as a competitor or judge, you will be well-prepared to evaluate the kinds of cases typically presented.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Philosophy In Lincoln-Douglas Debate

This is a continuation of a series aimed at familiarizing Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debaters and potential judges with the basic concepts of LD debate.  This discussion of the common philosophy used by debaters is part one of a two-part essay.

The Philosophy of LD

In continuing my series on elementary Lincoln-Douglas debate which began with a two part discussion about values and their criteria I want to provide an introduction to philosophy commonly used in Lincoln Douglas debate.  The propensity for philosophical contentions in Lincoln-Douglas is both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing because philosophy introduces a way of examining and justifying ideas which are rooted in beliefs about human nature and why humans and their organizations do what they do.  It is a curse because, philosophy scares-off potential debaters and judges who believe the debates will be too 'heavy' or esoteric. Fortunately, the fears of Lincoln-Douglas philosophy being too esoteric are rarely realized because very few debaters truly understand deep philosophical concepts and those who may understand the random 'deep' philosophy realize they are limited to what can be conveyed to most ordinary judges before they throw down their pens and say "what in the world is this kid talking about?" In fact, even with more common theories such as "jus ad bellum" (just war theory), there is no need to recall the five basic justifications for war since most debaters will review them in their cases if they are trying to win a debate on that basis.  After judging LD for eight years, having started with essentially zero knowledge of philosophy (hey, I took an engineering track in college), I believe that once debaters and judges gain a working understanding of a few basic philosophical ideas, they will be able to understand or judge the majority of Lincoln-Douglas debates.

About LD Philosophy

Competitive, high-school level Lincoln-Douglas debate tends to focus on a relatively few, popular philosophical ideas which can be very roughly categorized into two principle classes; political and moral philosophies.  Political philosophy (not politics) focuses on the institutions of societies and governments while moral theories (not religion) focus on human behavior and determining what actions people should take under various circumstances. That's pretty much it.  Occasionally one hears other kinds of philosophies such as determinism (a theory of human behavior) or biopower (a political theory) which are considered a little on the fringes of mainstream ideas, but as I said before, usually debaters will explain these ideas in more detail when they use them.  It's not that the fringe philosophers are actually "fringe".  For many in the study of philosophy, they are very common, very well accepted philosophies.  They are fringe in the world of Lincoln-Douglas debate where the best cases tend to be those which are understandable to ordinary high-school or college educated, women and men who judge LD rounds across the country.

The Basic Political Theories

The State of Nature

The state of nature is an idea which imagines life prior to the creation of societies and government.  Basically it is a condition of "every person for themselves" in which all freedoms exists but they are not restrained by laws or authority.  Most political philosophers have expressed some opinion about the state of nature, often as an undesirable condition under which human beings eventually determine that forming societies for mutual protection was a more desirable state.  Thomas Hobbes, for example, viewed life in the state of nature as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" and a condition of every person at war with every person.  Such a portrayal gave rise to his ideas which justifies the supremacy of monarchies (kingdoms).  Other philosophers such as John Locke, did not necessarily visualize the state of nature as a nasty, dangerous place.  Instead, he saw it as place of absolute freedom where people were free to arrange their lives and dispose of their possessions in any way they saw fit within the constraints of the law of nature".  In Locke's view, this "law of nature" gives rises to the understanding that one should not inflict harms on another and violators need punished.  Therefore, people form governments to provide authorities to deal with the transgressors.  Another, well known political philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau and to some extent, Montesquieu (actually he was Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron of La Breda and Montesquieu) believed the state of nature was a more or less idyllic condition in which people were gentle and somewhat fearful of one another.  governments arose as certain individuals usurped possessions and power for themselves.  So, while there are various philosophical ideas about the state of nature, most LD debaters will argue that it is an undesirable condition which justifies the authority of governments.

The Social Contract

Building upon the theme of the state of nature, the so-called social contract is the idea that human beings will create a sort of contract, or agreement to give up certain freedoms to a central authority in order to enjoy the protective benefits of that authority.  For example, in the state of nature one may have the absolute right to do what is necessary to defend one's possessions but under the social contract, one relinquishes that right and gives it to the authority.  There are good reasons to do this, according to various ideas under social contract theory.  Most importantly, the authority, in exchange for individuals giving up certain rights, agrees to defend the individual's remaining rights both from threats within the society and from outside threats.  Additionally, there is implicit understanding that judgement and punishment for violations is carried out by an impartial party, not motivated by revenge or passion.  Again, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau are typically cited as social contract theorists.  In LD debate, the social contract is the philosophical basis for many arguments around governmental legitimacy as well as the responsibilities of government and duty of the people to submit to its authority.  It conveys the idea that governments receive their authority from the consent of the governed. It is not an actual contract, signed by individuals.  It merely conveys the idea behind why people choose to submit to authority in exchange for the benefits the authority can offer in exchange and under some theories, like that of John Locke, if the authority does not perform its duty, the people have a right to replace it.

Natural Rights and Natural Law

Quite often in LD debate words such as rights, natural rights, liberties and freedoms are used and often interchangeably and this is the source of debate among debaters and confusion with judges.  Most of the classic political philosophers will assert that people are born with certain "natural rights".  These may be thought of as those rights every human being possesses by virtue of the fact they are born human.  Philosophers speak of the right to life, liberty (freedom to move about and do things) and property as natural rights.  These rights are considered inalienable.  In other words, they cannot be infringed or taken away without some really, really good justification.  Governments may grant additional "rights" and these are typically "legal rights" such as the right to vote or drive.  Closely related to natural rights is the idea of "human rights" which tend to be a modern formulation of natural rights for political purposes.   LD debaters will commonly cite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (a United Nations product) when defending the primacy of human rights in cases.

As for freedom and liberty, the two terms are often used interchangeably not only in debate but in the popular lexicon.  However, in the past there were specific differences which could have significance in LD debate.   Freedom generally means a condition of acting without restraint.  Liberty, on the other hand, suggests a system of restrained and ordered freedom.  Thus we think of freedoms in the same context as the state of nature; the unrestrained capacity to act as one sees fit, whereas we think of liberties within the context of a political or societal structure; the freedom to act within limits which respect the rights of others members of the society.

Closely related to natural rights is the idea of natural law.  This the system of laws which are governed by nature.  This is not the law of gravity  or the laws of physics.  It attempts to explain the laws which govern human nature and since it is difficult for human beings to change their very nature, natural law provides a standard for judging man-made laws.  For example, it is considered within the realm of natural law, that a person has a right to self-defense and thus any law which would deny the right to self-defense could be criticized on the basis it violates natural law.

John Rawls

I want to isolate John Rawls in this discussion of philosophy because he was a prominent, modern philosopher who is often used by LD debaters when debating the principles of individual justice or justice and fairness in society.  In practically every resolution which lend themselves to discussion of such kinds of justice, there will be debaters citing Rawls.  In most cases, debaters will have enough of an understanding of Rawls' philosophy they will see it as helping their position and yet most of the time it is poorly understood and poorly debated.  Rawls is known for several principle ideas: the original position and the veil of ignorance, and justice as fairness; each of which interlock so it is difficult to understand, justice as fairness without understanding the original position.

The Original Position
Rawls' idea of the original position is a thought experiment in which one imagines a group of persons in a place where they must create a cooperative society.  But each person views himself from "behind a veil of ignorance" so they have no idea whether they are male of female, rich or poor, educated or not, or whether they are a member of a particular race, or possess particular abilities or skills.  Knowing nothing about the very kinds of things which typically classify individuals within a society, what kind of society would they create for themselves?  Rawls speculated that individuals in this "original position", functioning behind a "veil of ignorance" would make choices which gave them the best benefits and advantages.  No one for example, would say, in our society, certain kinds of people should not be allowed to vote, or certain people should not be allowed to marry because one would not know if they were one of those "certain kinds" of people.  This thought experiment establishes the idea that the choices which maximize benefit for the least advantaged become the basis for all that is rational, just and fair because they are the choices humans would make for themselves if they knew nothing about their personal social status.  Debaters will tend to use the veil of ignorance as a value criterion but it is often poorly explained how the judge should apply it when evaluating a round.  Nevertheless, the basic idea for evaluating a debater's position from behind the veil of ignorance is, would I as a judge, favor the Aff or Neg position if I were choosing from behind a veil of ignorance.  If the choice makes no sense to you, it is probably because the debater had no idea how to set up the criterion.

Justice as Fairness
Rawls' theory of justice if often cited in LD rounds so it is important to understand what it says. His idea of justice is based upon three principles which are also three priorities.  The liberty principle is the most important, followed by the fairness principle and finally the difference principle.  The liberty principle proclaims that all people have an equal right to a basic and inalienable set of freedoms or liberties and these can not be denied by any government or law (for example, life and property).  The fairness principle claims that all individuals should have equal opportunity.  This is rooted in the idea of the original position and thus affords opportunity which is blind to social differences.  Under this principle, everyone of equal skill has an equal chance as anyone else in obtaining a position, office or opportunity.  The difference principle then compensates for inequalities between individuals (some are weaker, some are less intelligent, etc) by favoring those who are least advantaged. This principle, dovetailing the fairness principle is rooted in the concept of the original position.

What we see in Rawls' philosophy of justice as fairness is the idea that a just society is one that provides opportunities by applying the principles of liberty, fairness and differences.  In my opinion, such a definition of justice does not lend itself to Lincoln-Douglas debate cases which defend the value of justice for individuals in isolation.  It does work for evaluating which social institutions, systems and laws are just.  To be sure, Rawls' theory of justice and social justice in particular goes much, much deeper but the deeper concepts are rarely debated in LD. Hopefully, this overview of the basic principle of original position and justice is sufficient for most purposes in debating or judging rounds.

In part two of this essay, I address the common moral philosophies.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

LD Cross-x for Better Rebuttals

Lincoln Douglas Cross X for Better Rebuttals

In Lincoln Douglas debate, the value framework is the most important part of any case.  It is a shame the values and criteria are often selected haphazardly by some debaters; pulled out of thin-air and loosely connected to the case.  One does well to remember, the framework is the structure which supports the case.  Having said that, it is also important to remember that since the value framework is critical to the case, it should be well defended and should be the target of your attacks. The defense of your value framework and the targeting of the opponent's framework begins in the cross-examination.  The guidelines I intend to enumerate in this article are not hard and fast rules.  They are suggestions, aimed specifically toward debaters who feel they need help deciding how to put together a cross-examination which exposes weaknesses or areas that can be exploited in the round while at the same time, gaining some concessions which can help one defend one's own case.

The Judge's Standards

Most traditional judges in LD will defer to the value frameworks when deciding who wins the debate and therefore debaters will see all kinds of statements in the ballots such as "..better upheld their value", "..did not defend their value", ".. no clash of values", etc.  If the judge finds no way to make a decision based on the value framework, which happens when neither side effectively debates about the values, then the judge will apply other voting criteria aimed at deciding which team won the debate at the contention level.  If there was no clash in the contentions, the judge may make a decision based on who delivered the best speeches or some other subjective criteria.  Obviously, the best thing that can happen is allow the judge to make a decision on more objective standards which is why you will want to spend more time making sure you effectively attack the opponent's value while defending your own.

Attacking the Value

There are four main ways to attack an opponent's value:

  1. Prove your value is greater than the opponent's value.  For example, if your opponent's value is life, and yours is liberty you may claim liberty is superior because a life without liberty is valueless. If the opponent's value is justice and yours is mercy, you may argue mercy is superior because it renders benefits on the least deserving.
  2. Prove your case subsumes the opponent's value.  When you subsume your opponent's value, you basically absorb it by showing the opponent's value is dependent upon yours.  For example, the value of justice may be subsumed by the value of fairness if you prove there can be no justice without fairness.
  3. Prove your case achieves the opponent's value as well as your own.  This tactic works best if you can demonstrate that you achieve the opponent's value better or maximize the value to a greater extent than the opponent.  Another way to win this clash is to show, you can achieve both values (the opponent's and yours) but the opponent cannot achieve your value.
  4. Prove the opponent cannot achieve her own value.  This is accomplished two ways.  Either the opponent's value criterion fails to achieve the value or the contentions fail to prove the value is attainable.

Attacking the Criterion

The criterion is supposed to be the method by which the value is achieved and it is usually the link between the case contentions and the value.  Often, debaters fail to understand the purpose of the value criterion and a little intense probing of the criterion will reveal that fact.

  1. Prove the criterion does not achieve the value.  For example, if the value is justice defined as giving each his due and the criterion is utilitarianism, you may point out the value is directed to individuals so how can a criterion of maximizing good for the greatest number achieve individual justice?
  2. Prove the criterion is not linked to the value.  The first clue the opponent may not have or understand the link is when the opponent's case fails to describe the link.
  3. Prove the criterion is not supported by the case contentions.  Assuming the contentions support the value in a way that is measured or determined by some means other than the criterion, the opponent's criterion is not linked and so, is unsuitable as a standard.

Attacking the Contentions

The contentions provide the justification for the case when examined under the lens of the criterion.  For example, the value of life is measured by the criterion of maximizing good health outcomes.  The link between life and health outcomes is good health outcomes arising from health checks and treatments result in lives being saved.  Contention one proves that mandatory immunization reduces the spread of disease which is a good health outcome.  Thus we see if good outcomes save lives, is reducing the spread of disease a good outcome? (Does the contention support the criterion?) If so, the contention works so you must directly attack the contention to disable it's application in the case.  This is done in several ways:

  1. Prove the contention is not linked.  Show it has nothing to do with the value criterion or the value or the resolution being debated. 
  2. Prove it is non-unique.  Show that the contention is not the only reason the claimed impact or effect occurs.  There are other reasons the same outcome occurs which has nothing to do with the contention.
  3. Prove the contention is factually untrue or contains flawed reasoning.  The claims of the contentions must be backed by good evidence or logic which directly supports the claims so expose unsupported claims.
  4. Prove it has no impact.  This is usually done with a standard impact calculus which questions the time frame (the impacts occur in the future - we could solve the problems before then), magnitude (the impact will only affect a small population of individuals or not be very severe), probability (there is very little chance the impact will occur).
  5. Turn the contentions.  This can be done by proving the contention will lead to some result other than the one claimed by the opponent or the impacts of the claim will have the opposite effect than the one being claimed.

An Attack Strategy

Having established the importance of attacking the value and elements of a case and enumerating ways in which that is done, we can describe an attack strategy as a top-down approach to undermining the opponent's case which works as follows:

  1. Attack the opponent's value using one or more of the methods described in the previous section on value attacks.  The aim is to devalue or subsume the opponent's value.
  2. Attack the opponent's value criterion using one or more of the methods described in the previous section of criterion attacks.  The aim is to show the unsuitability of the opponent's criterion to achieving the opponent's value.
  3. Attack the opponent's contentions using one the methods described in the section on contention attacks.

You may also see the top-down approach as a prioritization.  The attacks against the opponent's value will be of first importance, the criterion second importance and the contentions least important.  Quite often, debaters will place a high-premium on attacking the contentions while barely spending any time attacking the value framework even though the first thing the judge will do is look at the value framework when deciding who won the round.

Application to Cross-x

Having described all the ways a debater may attack the opponent's case we can now apply the attack strategy to cross examination with the aim of exposing the flaws in the opponent's case while trying to gain some concessions which support your case.  Two years ago, I wrote an article on cross examination (seen here) which discusses some general principles of cross examination such as the importance of engaging the judge, avoiding pitfalls, and preventing the opponent from dominating the time. There is no need to repeat myself here but I do want to emphasize the importance of asking questions that you are reasonably sure of the answer, or ask leading questions which state a conclusion, then ask if the opponent agrees.

Examine the Value

Make sure you know what the value is and how it is defined.  If you do not, ask but be careful the opponent does not take a long time to answer.  Perhaps ask the opponent to explain in her own words in one sentence.  Keeping in mind the various ways to attack the value as described above, and in light of your own value, begin to ask questions which will allow you to exploit the four kinds of attacks.  For example, your opponent's value is justice, defined as giving each his due and your value is morality defined as doing the right thing (perhaps measured by the categorical imperative).  Ask questions like, "should we value justice regardless of how it is achieved?", "can we harm others to give an individual his due?" "is it possible everyone can get what they are due but the outcome is not just?", "are other values greater than justice?", "can we kill to achieve justice?"  These questions are used to gain some concession that only moral outcomes are just but they are asked in such a way that you do not expose your value or criterion during the cross-x.  Depending on how these are answered it may be possible to later subsume the value of justice by claiming morality is needed to achieve justice or morality is a superior value since perhaps justice is ends based rather than means based.  If your value is already known -you are the Aff debater- you can be more direct, "can justice be achieved immorally?".

Examine the Criterion

As I have said, the criterion must achieve the value and if you expose a weakness it can be to your advantage.  Again, with the values stated in the previous example and assuming the opponent's criterion of maximizing societal welfare, first, make sure you know what "societal welfare" is and if it was not defined, ask for a definition.  Then, begin probing, "is maximizing societal welfare the only way to achieve justice?" "is justice achieved by maintaining societal welfare or must it be maximized?", "if people are used as a means to an end, does that maximize societal welfare?", "how does maximizing the welfare of a society achieve justice for individuals?", "must we maximize the welfare of every individual in society or just the majority in order to achieve justice?", "if the welfare of some is not maximized is justice achievable?"  In this series of questions, the aim is to expose possible flaws in the idea that something which benefits all of society provides individuals their just reward.  It also helps to understand the relationship between societal welfare and your own value of morality or criterion of upholding the categorical imperative. You may even try a more direct line of questions if you are Aff such as, "if we avoid using people as a means to an end, does that maximize societal welfare?" and "if people's actions are moral does that maximize the welfare of society?"

Examine the Contentions

The numbers and kinds of contentions can be endless, but they all should contain the basic elements of an argument; namely, claims, warrants and impacts.  Often it may be possible to show the claims do not link to the value criterion or lead to the value. Also, nearly every contention makes claims but the warrants and impacts often end up being weak or nonexistent and so you should exploit this fact.  One of the problems in dealing with contentions during cross-x is that often the opponent will cover the exposed weaknesses in later speeches.  Therefore, I think the best way to setup the contention debate is to expose the fact the opponent's case is missing important elements.  For example, instead of asking "what is the impact of contention one?" it is better to ask "So nowhere in your case do you mention the impacts of contention one, isn't that correct?"  Asking the leading question will allow you to inform the judge there are no impacts and at the same time allow you to deny the opponent the opportunity to provide impacts during the cross-x.  Questions like, "None of your evidence actually provides impacts, right?", "Nowhere do you explain how your contention one upholds your value criterion, is that right?" serve the purpose. For contentions which do include the basic elements of argumentation you should ask some questions which would allow you to leverage your attacks on the uniqueness, logic, or impacts.  For example, "could there be other causes for your impacts?", "what is the date and source of your evidence?" (in case you may be able to question its reliability, relevance or timeliness), "when will the impacts occur?", "how many people will be affected", "is it possible the impact can be avoided?" and so on.

One Caution About Values

There is one particular situation where you need to be cautious and that is when you and your opponent have the same value.  You do have to be mindful that your attacks on the opponent's value should not harm your position because you have the same value.  In these situations, you may need to shift your emphasis from the value to the criterion and focus on the opponent's inability to achieve the value or your ability to achieve it easier, cheaper, faster, more assuredly or to greater extent.


Remember, cross-x is purposeful questioning aimed at enhancing your position in the debate and while, yes, you do want to clarify things you don't understand or may have missed, the main thing you want to do is achieve some kind of concessions which will allow you to leverage their response in a rebuttal attack later in the round.  In my opinion, you must never lose sight of the fact, your ultimate goal is deprive the opponent of achieving their value and throughout the debate that should be the focus of your attacks even as you run down the flow from top to bottom. As much as possible, relate your rebuttals to the values and remind the judge of the concessions you gained, speech after speech.

These suggestions are merely guidelines.  Ultimately you need to work with your coach to develop cross-x skills because there are other techniques and styles which go well beyond your ability to ask good questions.  Your demeanor, conduct, appearance, and engagement with the judge also are very important elements which should not be overlooked.  Cross-x is an acquired skill.  The more you practice, the better you will be, but I hope that by applying some of the ideas expressed in this article, it helps you in a positive way.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Alternative PF - An NSA Topic Critique

The Kritik of Domestic Surveillance

My Public forum debaters are an interesting group.  They devise some clever ideas and each team has taken its own unique approach to the NSA domestic surveillance topic and over the last two weeks they have been refurbishing some contentions and expanding their coverage of the topic.  Over the weeks, some of the them have been expressing an interest in kritiks in Public Forum.  Now I am sure the interest does not arise from the need to deal with them in rounds, since kritiks do not exist in PF.  They are probably motivated by a desire to win more rounds and see kritiks as a possible avenue to chalk-up "W"s.  Still, I confess, the idea intrigues me and I find myself wondering what the PF debate community in our area could bear in a region that witnessed the near-death experience of Policy Debate. (Thankfully Policy is alive and well for the time being.)

Fair Ground

In PF it is an explicit violation of the rules to debate the resolution itself. In other words, one cannot fashion apriori arguments which declare the language of the resolution as being detrimental to the purposes of debate and before we can debate the issues, we must resolve the harms which are inherent in the language of the resolution. On the other hand, critiquing the language or mindset of the opponents and perhaps society in general is fair ground in Public Forum debate if it is properly setup and run.  Generally speaking, the NSA topic and the December immigration topic each seem open to certain kinds of critiques which attack the way we think about these topics and so the harms we see in the real-world find their origins in our discourse and attitudes.

An Exercise in Futility?

On a whim I decided to do some research and look at literature that could be used to frame-up a sort of critique of the NSA resolution. It should be no surprise the subject of national security which drives NSA domestic surveillance finds support in the post-9/11 hysteria which essentially separated the world into two classes; those that stand with the forces or democracy and freedom and those that seek to destroy it.  There was no middle ground.  It should also be no surprise there is a wealth of scholarship which has studied the impacts of the security dichotomy on all facets of human life in the 21st century.  So it is with great caution and trepidation I present my (pseudo) kritik of surveillance.

First, a few words about how this can be used.  The kritik would run on the Con and works best from the second speaker position.  It is not a true kritik as commonly used in Policy Debate.  It is not considered apriori but in a sense, the framework of the entire debate takes place within the context of the kritik and thus the Pro case serves to illustrate the basis of the kritik.  To work properly the kritik must explain the basis of the kritik, present harms and disadvantages and it should include an alternative or other form of solvency to escape from the attitudes or mindset which sustain the harms.  I am not going to write a case and I am not even sure it can be properly set up in a four minute constructive, but I will explain the idea and give you a bunch of cards which will need to be heavily cut.  Then I will await your feedback.

The Politics of Fear Framework

The NSA domestic surveillance program is predicated on the need for security and it is the duty of government to provide security in times of danger. If the threat, whether real or imagined, persists, the government maintains a position of power by enlisting everyone as soldiers.  This is explained by Lawson & Gehl (2011):
Security-as-biopower works at all levels of society and results in a state of conflict that suffuses all of society, that is “indeterminate, both spatially and temporally,” and which allows for the possibility that “all of humanity can in principle be united against an abstract concept or practice such as terrorism” (Hardt & Negri 2004, 14-15, 19). As war invades the normal functioning of everyday life, even mundane activities like washing one’s hands or having up-to-date antivirus on one’s computer become acts of “national security.” In short, when war permeates all of society, which must be secured in its entirely on every possible front, then everyone is a potential “warrior.”

The discourse of the media serves to define the language which will be used to erect a global dichotomy around fear which justifies new security measures.

Epkins (2011) states:
Terrorism is not new to journalism. Well, at least outside of America. American mass media followed the “war on terrorism” so closely that this group is itself credited (or blamed) for a “contribution to major changes in social definitions and meanings of….’9/11’ and ‘terrorism’” in America (Altheide, 2004, p. 304). Even with decades of experience covering terrorism, much of post-9/11 international literature faults even global journalists for conveying an “over-identification” with America -- writers who “merged with Americans in a cultural geography of attachment” using words such as “we” and “us” (Sreberny, 2002, p. 223). The attacks of 9/11 were defined by American news media as an attack not only on American culture, but on civilization itself (Altheide, 2004).

The hunger for information allows the government to set the media agenda and erect the "War ot Terror" frame.

Epkins continues:
Furthermore, while there is evidence that the government may initially set the media agenda, over time the public is also conditioned to understand the historic discourse of a topic, for example terrorism, within a certain framework that is reflected by public opinion (Sadaba & La Porte, 2006). Therefore, knowing this public opinion, both the government and the media appeal to the audience in these well-traveled frames. Scholarship also supports prevalence of this kind of rhetoric utilization in countries with long histories of terrorism (Sadaba & La Porte, 2006, p.86). The “War on Terror” frame, for example, has become the crux of both reporting and understanding homeland security issues in America (Norris et al., 2003, p. 4). 

The "us and them" mindset erects a politics of fear.

Crampton 2007:
The first step in activating a politics of fear is to create and constantly reproduce a whole array of divisions between "us" and "them"; for example, normals verses abnormals, insiders verses outsiders. Those who promote these divisions, whether governments or local actors, wish to establish certain kinds of power-knowledge relations with the "others" in question. Foucault called these "dividing practices": "The subject is either divided inside himself or divided from others. This process objectivizes him. Examples are the mad and the sane, the sick and the healthy, the criminals and the 'good boys' " (Foucault 1983, 208).

Through the politics of fear, the government justifies expansion of its security apparatus.

Cole 2008:
But no one really claims that emergency policies are the result of the kind of adrenaline-charged panic that seeing a tiger in the jungle induces. The concern is rather a more nuanced one about the dynamics and politics of collective fear over a much longer period of time—more often measured in years rather than in seconds. As history demonstrates, fear tends to lead the populace to seek reassurance from the authorities, and as a result there is always a risk that authorities will exploit fear to their advantage. One need only recall that President Bush’s approval rating, quite unimpressive on September 10, 2001, shot up to over 80 percent almost immediately thereafter. The majority is willing to tolerate much more concentrated executive power, for example, during wartime than during peacetime. Some of this toleration of concentrated power makes sense, to be sure, but if it is driven by irrational fears, there may be an inclination to vest too much power in the executive’s hands during emergencies—and a tendency on the executive’s part to stoke the fires of fear to keep his authority unquestioned. Fear often causes us to make demonstrably irrational decisions even when we have plenty of time to think. Social scientists have found that a variety of influences associated with fear undermine our ability to make rational judgments. One such effect, the “availability heuristic,” leads people to overestimate risks associated with vivid, immediate images and to discount more gradual, long-term, or abstract risks.

The common discourse creates an all-encompassing state of perpetual war.

Graham 2010:
Fundamental to the new military urbanism is the paradigmatic shift that renders cities' communal and private spaces, as well as their infrastructure - along with their civilian populations - a source of targets and threats. This is manifest in the widespread use of war as the dominant metaphor in describing the perpetual and boundless condition of urban societies - at war against drugs, against crime, against terror, against insecurity itself. This development incorporates the stealthy militarization of a wide range of policy debates, urban landscapes, and circuits of urban infrastructure, as well as whole realms of popular and urban culture. It leads to the creeping and insidious diffusion of militarized debates about 'security' in every walk of life. Together, once again, these work to bring essentially military ideas of the prosecution of, and preparation for, war into the heart of ordinary, day-to-day city life.

Harms emerge as people are digitally divided into groups of threat risks.

Crampton 2007:
Once data have been collected through surveillance, they have to be rationally assessed. Today this is carried out through the model of risk (Beck 1992). The model comprises several elements. First the divisions previously established are used to sort data into categories. Second, each category has an associated degree of risk. Third, all members of that group are assumed to pose the same degree of risk. If you belong to a high-risk group then you are also a high risk, whatever your individual qualities may be (Foucault [1978] 2000). This helps us understand why, for example, Yusuf Islam can be deported-the reason was not anything specific about him as an individual but his position in a profile deemed high risk. Using risk-or its cognates, threat and security-shifts the judicial process from one of prosecuting offenders after the crime (a question of individuals) to anticipating and preempting actions by those within high-risk groups (a question of populations). Shifting from individuals to populations, it is argued, makes it easier and more efficient for law enforcement to identify wrongdoers.

The integration of NSA, international and local police databases have created data "fusion centers" throughout the US which are often abused.

Monahan (2009) describes the harms:
Notwithstanding the obstacles to data access enumerated in this article’s section on ineffectiveness, much of the information fusion centers analyze has been publicly available in the past but has not been as readily accessible (Flynn, 2005). One police-department database trainer asserts about fusioncenter activities: ‘If people knew what we were looking at, they’d throw a fit’ (cited in Kaplan, 2006). Therefore, beyond the number of people with access to private information about individuals, the emphasis on access to sensitive information raises additional privacy concerns. Citizens supplying biometric information to federal authorities may not approve of its dissemination internationally, particularly if it limits travel or is provided to nations with less stringent security requirements or to entities whose actions they do not support (Bowcott, 2004). As agencies are demonstrating, having too much access to information can result in too much power. As civil liberties attorney Richard Gutman warns: ‘You’ve got all this money and all this equipment – you’re going to find someone to use it on’ (cited in Kaplan, 2006).

We must begin now to alter our mindset.  We begin by realizing we cannot debate in a security versus civil rights framework.

Crampton 2007:
Is there then any way forward from the negative consequences of division, surveillance, and risk? I would argue that there is. First, we need to stop seeing the issue as one of security and surveillance versus privacy or rights. Arguing about this or that surveillance technique misses the point that, both historically and today, surveillance is a core component of the modern state; that is, surveillance and geosurveillance are characteristic of certain types of political rule based on a politics of fear (Foucault [1975] 1977; Lyon 1994; Graham and Wood 2003). Until we recognize the deep-seated basis for surveillance in the politics of fear, our analyses risk being politically irrelevant. A counterargument based on the right of privacy has not prevailed, and perhaps cannot prevail, against a politics of fear. Surveys consistently show that, if the issue is framed as security versus privacy, people will sacrifice the latter. This is a false choice, however, because one buys security not at the cost of privacy but at the cost of a climate of fear.

We must recognize how the politics of fear have served to erect an enormous security apparatus to protect us not from actual threats but from fear of threats and the state of perpetual war which floods our media, water-cooler conversations and debates.  NSA surveillance is a manifestation of the massive harms that fear induces.  We urge the judge to reject this destructive mindset. Therefore we urge a Con ballot.

Value in Research

So there is a relatively simple example of how to incorporate the general idea of a kritik into a PF case.  Of course, the cards need heavily cut and still may not fit a four minute speech time.  But even if it did, such an argument is unlikely to ever fly in a PF debate round.  There will be a traditional group of coaches and judges that will forbid it because it violates the very intent of Public Forum debate as a citizen (parent) friendly format.  In any case, it was fun researching this case and putting it together.  I did learn a lot about the politics of fear, biopolitics and biopower.  I am also surprised at the enormous amount of scholastic literature that directly relates to this topic that most Public Forum debaters will likely never explore.

Your comments are welcome.

Below are additional cards and the list of sources used in this research.

Additional Undeveloped Cards

The language of fear represses dissent.
Jackson 2004:
The discourse of fear is one of the central constructions of the war on terrorism. Its main result is a society living in a state of ‘ontological hysteria’—a nation constantly anticipating the next attack, just ‘waiting for terror’. The suffocating power of the counter-terrorism project derives in large part from its ability to project a reality of ubiquitous and impending danger. And yet, as I have demonstrated, the discursive construction of the catastrophic terrorist threat is inherently unstable and susceptible to counter-hegemonic resistance. If the terrorist threat is a social construction, there is no reason why it cannot be deconstructed. From an ethical perspective, there are compelling reasons for actively resisting and working to dismantle the discourse of threat and danger. In the first place, as a great many studies have shown, the social construction of the global terrorist threat has functioned to provide a discursive smokescreen for the pursuit of expansionist imperial policies, such as opening up new regions to American markets and influence, the expansion of a global military presence, the disciplining of potential rivals, and the strategic control of future oil supplies—among others. In effect, the terrorist threat presently fulfils the same ideological and discursive functions that the communist threat played during the cold war. Second, the discourse of threat and danger is cynically employed to de-legitimise domestic dissent and expanding state power through the reassertion of the national security state. Successive reports by Amnesty International have noted that this is occurring all over the world: the war on terror is being used to repress opponents in dozens of countries. In this regard, the politics of fear are proving highly damaging to democratic politics and the functioning of civil society. The corrosive effects of the discourse are plainly obvious: antiglobalisation protesters, academics, postmodernists, liberals, pro-choice activists, environmentalists and gay liberationists in America have been accused of being aligned with the evil of terrorism and of undermining the nation’s struggle against terrorism;70 arms trade protesters are arrested under anti-terrorism legislation in Britain; blacklists of ‘disloyal’ professors, university departments, journalists, writers and commentators are posted on the internet and smear campaigns are launched against them; anti-administration voices are kept away from speaking at public events or in the media; and political opponents of government policy are accused of being traitors. The overall effect of this process is the narrowing of the discursive space for political debate and the suppression of civil society. However, the most compelling reason for opposing the discourse of threat

Security and liberty is not a zero-sum game. It is possible to have both.
Cole 2008:
I will argue that Posner and Vermeule’s argument for deference to the executive is misguided for three reasons. First, their assumption that there is a necessary and “straightforward tradeoff between liberty and security” (p 12) is far too simplistic. Executives often sacrifice liberty without achieving an increase in security. Security may be advanced in a variety of ways without infringing on liberty. And even where there are tradeoffs between liberty and security, there are many complicating factors in the “balance” that make it anything but “straightforward.” Thus, there is no reason to assume that sacrificing liberty is necessary to further security or that such sacrifices are warranted simply because the executive chooses to make them.

Once erected the security apparatus has endless life and is difficult to remove.
Cole 2008:
The point is not so much that there is no going back once extraordinary emergency powers are adopted but that the road back is very often a long, slow, and grueling one; and in the meantime, many people’s rights may be unnecessarily infringed by emergency authorities that, even assuming they were once warranted, are no longer justified once the emergency has passed. The reason this is a common pattern should be obvious. To alter the status quo in Congress, one generally needs a catalyzing event, a leader to take the initiative, and significant political demand. A national emergency, particularly when it comes in the form of an attack, is the most powerful catalyst a community ever experiences. The executive is inevitably treated as a leader during such moments,56 and the public demands increased security. Moreover, legislation adopted in such periods, such as the Patriot Act, often contains no explicit limitation to the emergency that prompted it. The new status quo—for ordinary as well as emergency times—will then include whatever changes were adopted in the course of the emergency and not expressly limited to a specified emergency period.

The politics of fears helps drive urban militarization.
Graham 2010:
The crossover between the military and the civilian applications of advanced technology - between the surveillance and control of everyday life in Western cities and the prosecution of aggressive colonial and resource wars - is at the heart of a much broader set of trends that characterize the new military urbanism. Of course, the effects observed in the urban Western setting differ wildly from those seen in the war-zone. But, crucially, whatever the environment, these hitech acts of violence are predicated on a set of shared ideas.

The state secures itself by seeing everything and everyone as a potential risk.
Crampton 2007:
The question is not one of identifying which areas are at risk but of seeing everything at risk, to different degrees, as measured against a background of what is normal. Geosurveillance must be coextensive with that risk; that is, everywhere. Blanket geosurveillance is therefore a logical outcome of the state's representation of its residents as risk factors who need to be controlled, modified, and logged. When we see an instance of surveillance, whether it be by the government or in consumption, such as biometric identification cards and the millions of CCTVS in the United Kingdom (Rosen 200l), cell-phone tracking, RFIDS, biological chipping, warrantless tapping of telephone calls, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's DNA database (FBI 2001), we should see it in the context of surveillance-risk normalization.

The creation of fusion centers weaves a net of surveillance across the country
Monahan 2009:
Drawing upon these insights, this article explores one dimension of the privatization of national security: the formation of DHS ‘fusion centers’, which coordinate data-sharing among state and local police, intelligence agencies, and private companies. The stated goal of fusion centers is to ‘blend relevant law enforcement and intelligence information analysis and coordinate security measures to reduce threats in their communities’ (US Department of Homeland Security, 2006). Although there is evidence that some fusion centers existed before the formation of the DHS, they became formalized under the aegis of state-level DHS offices in direct response to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Put simply, after the attacks of 9/11, there was widespread consensus within the intelligence community that various agencies had not been able to work in concert to ‘connect the dots’ and prevent the attacks. Fusion centers are one response to this identified problem. According to a congressional report on the subject: ‘the DHS State, Local, and Regional Fusion Center Initiative is key to Federal information sharing efforts and must succeed in order for the Department to remain relevant in the blossoming State and local intelligence community’. As of 2009, there were 58 such centers across the USA funded by the DHS at a cost of $380 million dollars (US Department of Homeland Security, 2009). Because they enroll local police in their activities, it is estimated that there are 800,000 operatives involved with fusion centers (German & Stanley, 2008). Far from being restricted to the sharing of data among government agencies, fusion centers also facilitate cooperative efforts among government agencies and private industries, although the details of these relationships are shrouded in secrecy (Monahan, 2009b).

Human beings are being deconstructed into "data doubles".
Monahan 2009:
Given that fusion centers are entities that coordinate the sharing of disparate data across multiple networks with the goal of enabling the pre-emptive identification of risky individuals for law enforcement intervention, they effectively actualize what Kevin Haggerty & Richard Ericson (2000) refer to as the surveillant assemblage. The characteristics of surveillant assemblages are that they abstract individuals and practices from social contexts, translating them into ‘data’ that can be analyzed in discrete form, exchanged freely, and recombined to provide a seemingly objective representation – or ‘data double’ – of individuals (Haggerty & Ericson, 2000; Monahan & Wall, 2007). At least in theory, fusion centers thrive upon the production and exchange of data and the sorting of individuals based on their assigned risk. As we will show, however, fusion centers engender a politics that has the potential to also do much more than this.

Fusion centers often divert their mission to secondary purposes which violate their intent.
Monahan: 2009:
Mission creep is common to most surveillance systems and practices, so it is not surprising that it is present at fusion centers too. Because the development of new technological systems simultaneously introduces valences for new social practices, organizational configurations, and cultural identities, it can be understood as partially determining social spheres and values (Winner, 1977, 1986; Bush, 1997). In the domain of surveillance, systems of monitoring, tracking, identification, and analysis lend themselves to a panoply of ‘secondary’ uses that often extend beyond their primary intended or legally sanctioned functions (Marx, 1988; Lyon, 2001; Monahan, 2007). Thus, with fusion centers, mission creep occurs mainly when these centers use federal funds for activities unrelated, or tenuously related, to counter-terrorism. This has not gone unnoticed by the US federal government: a 2007 congressional report found that fusion centers were more often being used for all crimes and all-hazards functions than for counter-terrorism investigations (Hall, 2007). This criticism is often at odds with how fusion centers operate, though, because most are centered in state or municipal police headquarters and therefore might be expected to prioritize this local orientation (Milloy, 2008). The DHS also envisions fusion centers as being all-encompassing. For instance, Charles E. Allen, chief intelligence officer for the Department of Homeland Security, identified the centers’ purpose as ‘“all hazards, all crime, all threats,” targeted not just at terrorism but also at transnational gangs, immigrant smuggling and other threats’ (cited in Sheridan & Hsu, 2006).

The mission of security is pre-emptive not through police-work, or courts, but software protocols.
Monahan 2009:
The tying together of databases has allowed officers to more easily compile case files on persons who heretofore had not been viewed as terrorist threats (Kaplan, 2006), what some have identified as ‘fishing expeditions’. Such datamining can lead to targeting civilians when they have indeed done nothing wrong (O’Harrow & Nakashima, 2008), which is a practice that appears more likely in the light of recent spying by the US National Security Agency (Pincus, 2006). For instance, the Matrix system (Multi-State Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange program), which was discontinued in 2005, instantly created files on 120,000 people with ‘high terrorist factor scores’ (Kaplan, 2006; Lipowicz, 2006a) by combining information, as suggested by DHS guidelines, from databases containing motor-vehicle registrations and drivers’ license information, housing records, criminal records, and other public sources as well as private ones (Lipowicz, 2005). Other software is being developed to hypothesize potential next steps for people suspected of criminal and/or terrorist behavior (O’Harrow & Nakashima, 2008). This potential on the part of fusion centers for anticipating crimes before they occur represents one more component of the larger movement toward pre-emptive policing and risk management, which tends to ignore root causes of crime (Haggerty & Ericson, 2006; Simon, 2006; Garland, 2001).

Media and press framing influences public opinions.
Epkins 2011:
Overall, framing describes the process of content selection and exclusion, highlighting certain aspects over others to communicate a particular point of view. In many ways, a frame facilitates the nature of an argument -- specifically, communicating a certain bent, context or angle of an issue that, in itself, lends an interpretive meaning of the communication. As Jamieson and Waldman (2003, p. 1) put it, “journalists deliver the world to citizens in a comprehensible form.” Some scholars argue that framing “tells us how to interpret communication” (Bowen, 2008 p. 339). Perhaps the most utilized definition in scholarship, Entman denotes framing as selecting “some aspects of a perceived reality to make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation” (1993, p. 52). However, Reese more broadly defines framing (used as this study’s operational definition) as “organizing principles that are socially shared and persistent over time, that work symbolically to meaningfully structure the social world” (2001, p. 11).
However, the oncept, scope and criteria of “framing” are inconclusive and still hotly debated in scholarship (Reese, 2007).

Media framing represses alternative views.
Epkins 2011:
Generally, literature on media framing of terrorism-related matters has centered on hindsight judgment, via case studies, and argues parochial framing of the lead up to the Iraq war after 9/11 that “complied fully with U.S. administration policy and never acknowledged the appropriateness of an entirely, alternative frame” (Boyd-Barrett, 2004, p. 29). Moreover, scholars posit that this was planned and induced by the Bush Administration (Moeller, 2004, Norris et al., 2003). As Boyd-Barrett (2004) further argued, this was specifically accomplished handily through the White House ‘messages of the day’ which allowed for intra-government agreement (framing) as well as controlling the day’s media agenda.

Sources used:

Cyber-Surveillance in Everyday Life: An International Workshop * May 12-15, 2011 * University of Toronto
Convergence Security: Cyber-Surveillance and the Biopolitical Production of Security
Sean Lawson & Robert W. Gehl, Department of Communication, University of Utah University of Utah

The Emerging Politics of DHS Fusion Centers
Department of Human & Organizational Development,
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA

Jeremy W Crampton, 2007
Geographical Review; Jul 2007; 97, 3; Research Library

Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism
Stephen Graham, 2010

Review of No Reason to Believe: Radical Skepticism, Emergency Power, and Constitutional Constraint
David Cole,2008

Heather Davis Epkins, Ph.D., 2011

The Politics of Threat and Danger: Writing the War on Terrorism
Richard Jackson
Paper Presented at the British International Studies Association (BISA) 29th Annual
Conference, University of Warwick, 20-22 December, 2004

Increasing Resilience in Surveillance Societies
Unversity of Edinburgh (UEdin), January 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

PF December 2013 - Path to Citizenship - Con Position

Resolved: Immigration reform should include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

This is part 5 of a multi-part series of essays on the above PF Debate resolution.
For part one of this series, click here

The Con Position

The Con side of the 'path to citizenship' debate will take one or more of the following positions: 1.) there are no harms in the status quo that will be solved by a 'path to citizenship' 2.) the path to citizenship will make things worse 3.) the path to citizenship is the wrong solution.  The reality is, for the majority of Americans, and this will vary by region, the fact there are people living in the U.S. who are not authorized to be here is a concern, but has zero, known impact on their personal lives.  It is very disconcerting and annoying when drivers are randomly stopped on highways by the Department of Homeland Security in a "border check point" hundreds of miles from the border so, some are experiencing inconveniences over this "hub-bub" about immigration.  But, it is viewed more as a humanitarian issue when people see images of families being split apart by armed federal agents, with lines of deportees being escorted to the border.  Most people are sympathetic to the plight of immigrants and believe, the majority are simply seeking a better life and as long as they are willing to work and assimilate, there is no real harm. Recognizing the fact that the security of the border is very important, it is understandable why a majority of Americans favor a path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized residents currently making a living in the U.S.

This is a general idea of the perception many Con debaters will face.

On the other hand, when the unauthorized are portrayed as criminals, narcotics traffickers or potential terrorists then perception is altered and inconveniences like inland border checkpoints are a little more tolerable. When people believe unauthorized people are taking jobs from unemployed citizens or they are benefiting from government assistance, receiving free medical care and education without paying taxes or contributing back to society, citizens rise up and call for their expulsion.

Perception is everything.

This is debate.  It is logical and evidence based, but it employs rhetoric which shapes perception and perception may make a difference between winning and losing to the 'citizen' judge. Enough said.

Undocumented Workers Pay Taxes

Despite a perception to the contrary, the evidence will show most undocumented workers are paying taxes.  There is almost no way to avoid paying taxes in the U.S. because even if one is paid in cash, under the table, as it were, consumers can not avoid paying taxes and even undocumented workers are consumers.  Of course this may sound like it favors the Pro and it kind of does but keep in mind, if taxes are important to local communities to pay for things like schools or services, the more taxes collected, the better.  Now, let's keep in mind there is nothing in the Con position that demands undocumented workers must be removed from the country.

ITEP 2013:
Undocumented immigrants currently contribute significantly to state and local taxes, collectively paying an estimated $10.6 billion in 2010 with contributions ranging from less than $2 million in Montana to more than $2.2 billion in California. This means these families are likely paying about 6.4 percent on average of their income in state and local taxes. Allowing undocumented immigrants to work in the United States legally would increase their state and local tax contributions by an estimated $2 billion a year. Their effective state and local tax rate would also increase to 7 percent on average, which would put their tax contributions more in line with documented taxpayers with similar incomes.

We could make the point that nothing in the ITEP evidence speaks of a 'path to citizenship'.  It simply says undocumented workers pay taxes and if the undocumented workers were allowed to work legally, they would pay even more and indeed, there are many foreign workers in the U.S. working legally, paying taxes and they are not U.S. citizens.

Economic Responsiveness

Dovetailing with the idea that undocumented workers pay taxes and contribute to the economic vitally of communities, consider that the ability of communities to attract workers is often vital to regional, fiscal well-being.  For example, migrant workers need to able to go where the work is and their contribution is not only important for the local economy, it could be argued it is good for the national economy.  Even in communities which do not typically employ migrant workers, the economy benefits from a responsive labor force that is able to increase quickly when needed.  It is generally understood that workers enter the U.S. when the U.S. economy is doing well and economy of the worker's home land is not doing well and the influx of labor supports the growing economy.  The legal path is not necessarily the best way to respond to economic expansion.

Hanson 2007:
The responsiveness of illegal immigration to economic conditions is to be expected. These individuals come to the United States seeking work and their incentive to do so is strongest when the difference in job prospects on the two sides of the border is greatest. The illegal immigrant population is also quite mobile geographically within the United States. During the 1990s, U.S. job growth was strongest in mountain states and the southeast. These states also registered the largest percentage increases in the number of illegal immigrants. Legal immigration, in contrast, responds to economic conditions more slowly. Annual quotas for green cards are fixed and clearing the queue for a green card requires several years or more, making legal permanent immigration insensitive to the U.S. business cycle. Quotas for temporary legal immigration do change over time but do not track the U.S. economy with much precision. Relative to illegal immigrants, temporary legal immigrants are far less mobile, as most work visas are tied to a particular employer. Visa holders cannot change jobs without employer approval.

So what is the impact of immigration reform and the path to citizenship on worker responsiveness?  Clearly there is some benefit to providing legal status for workers.  If nothing else, more taxes will be paid.  But the path to citizenship takes well over a decade and in the end, from an economical point of view, does not provide any additional economic benefits that legalization does not provide.  In addition, in the future, as labor demands increase the Hanson evidence shows that border control measures tend to be resilient and slow to react to changing market conditions.

Legalization is Better But...

While tolerating (perhaps even closing a blind eye to) illegal workers in the U.S. ensures a somewhat flexible and responsive pool of laborers, the terminology, 'illegal' clouds one's perception and gives the impression of lawlessness. Legalization is an alternative to a path to citizenship which provides economic benefits in the short-term and if the 'legalization' is managed in the proper way, the workers may still maintain ability to follow the regional labor demands.  Nevertheless, some would argue there are serious flaws with the legalization path and both legalization and the path to citizenship are the wrong answer.

Inserra 2013:
Some in Congress have suggested removing the path to citizenship as found in the Senate’s flawed bill and replacing it with a path to legal permanent residency (LPR). While this might sounds like a serious and legitimate compromise, there is in fact very little difference between LPR status and citizenship. The main difference between LPRs and citizens is that only citizens can vote, but in almost all other respects, LPRs are equal with citizens. They have access to almost every welfare and entitlement program, meaning that the long-term costs of such a proposal would still total in the trillions of dollars.

Indeed, it is the long-term costs which are the bone of contention for many.  Many of these immigrant laborers tend to be under-educated and low-skill laborers who work for very low-wages and the argument is made, they cost the government, more than they pay.  Even, legal residents making minimum wage are struggling to make ends meet and often rely on government assistance to raise families.  If the family is large, the cost to the government can be substantial with respect to taxes paid.

Gift Wrapping an Old Solution

I could subtitle this section, a skunk by any other name would still stink because, as I suggested in the introduction to this article, rhetoric alters perception and perception can win debates.  Back in the 1980's the U.S. Government developed an advanced nuclear missile system and called it the "Peace Maker".  A classic oxymoron dubbing an advanced weapon of war and destruction, the peace maker.  It may not be an oxymoron but some argue that the terminology "path to citizenship" is essentially a form of amnesty which thumbs its nose at the rule of law.  After all, let's not lose sight of the fact, the so-called "illegal immigrants" are, well, residing here illegally.  They are here in violation of U.S. immigration law and if laws are to have any value they must be enforced.  Amnesty is a pardon.  It basically says, you broke the law, you deserve punishment but we are not going to prosecute.  The online legal dictionary says amnesty means:
"The action of a government by which all persons or certain groups of persons who have committed a criminal offense—usually of a political nature that threatens the sovereignty of the government (such as Sedition or treason)—are granted Immunity from prosecution."

Thus, we identify one of the key contentions for the Con, today's path to citizenship is yesterday's amnesty in a nice new wrapper and past amnesty programs failed miserably.

Heritage 2013:
The existence of a large shadow population in America is injurious to the rule of law, an excessive burden on many local communities, and harmful to civil society. Addressing this issue is an important component of reform. But it is wrong to make it the linchpin of immigration and border security. As a first principle, reform efforts to address this issue should make the problem better not worse. For that reason, amnesty as a core requirement of immigration is a disastrous policy. Amnesty would undermine all other efforts to fix the system and could well leave future generations in the same predicament as millions find themselves in today. In addition, amnesty would incur trillions of dollars of federal outlays in the form of long-term benefits to low-skilled workers.

I am not endorsing the views of the Heritage foundation as a source of great Con evidence.  I am using the evidence to frame the issue since they are quite good at stating the positions for me and they have done some very comprehensive studies of the issue which are cited in other, more scholarly sources.  The argument is made that the current fiscal burdens of supporting the population of unauthorized residents will not change significantly once they are given legal status.

Kobach 2008:
Indeed, amnesty exacerbates the fiscal costs of illegal immigration. Making illegal aliens legal does not make them fiscally positive. On the contrary, it makes them eligible for more government benefits, especially at the federal level—where the newly-legalized aliens become eligible for a wide range of entitlements. One of the biggest is Social Security benefits. For example, the amnesty proposal that was debated and rejected in the United States Senate in 200740 would have cost approximately $2.6 trillion,41 resulting in the largest expansion of the welfare state in thirty years.42 It would also have hastened the bankruptcy of the Social Security system.43 Meanwhile, amnesty would have done nothing to reduce the fiscal burdens borne by American cities and states. In short, amnesty is expensive at every level of government. 

Expressing the view of some in the Senate, the issue of law as a core value is a defining issue.

Grassley 2010:
We live in a nation built on the rule of law.  Granting amnesty defies one of the core principles of our country and, in turn, only serves to encourage more illegality.  Amnesty is a short-term solution that rewards those who have broken immigration laws at the expense of those attempting to enter the United States through legal channels.  The American people deserve a government that enforces its laws and leadership that doesn’t attempt to go around the representative process of the legislative branch of government to advance a political agenda. 

While I think the issue of law needs to be argued on the Con side, one does well not to explode the issue into something more than it really is.  It is not like an "illegal" immigrate should be equated with the worse kind of felony offenders but it is worse than say, illegal parking and the national security concerns associated with individuals violating immigration laws need to be addressed.  It is, nevertheless, a fair question.  Should individuals who began their lives in the country, illegally, be given a free pass and put on the train to citizenship?  Well, for sure the train trip might be long and arduous and if the debate judge is thinking, the requirements of the journey are recompense enough, perhaps we should consider better solutions that gain the benefits without freely handing over the ultimate prize to those who violated the law, namely citizenship.  After all, what signals does that transmit to those waiting to gain legal entry?

What Do the Immigrants Want?

So once again, I find myself circling around the idea of alternative actions.  Is the path to citizenship really the right solution?  It is the grand prize; one that millions are willing to struggle for using the already established path and there is a certain overwhelming sense that providing am alternative for those who did not wait, is somehow extremely unfair.  And what of the individuals in question, the unauthorized residents - what do they want?

Khimm 2013:
If an immigration overhaul includes a path to citizenship, "it will almost certainly fail" because of Republican opposition, said Dan Garza, executive director of the LIBRE Initiative, a Hispanic conservative advocacy group. "Getting citizenship — that may not be politically viable, and I think we need to be politically astute about this," Garza said. And Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) made it clear that he opposed a path to citizenship on principle. "It would be a travesty in my opinion to treat those who violated our laws to get here much better than those who have patiently waited their turn to come to the United States," he concluded. Instead, panelists converged around a path to "earned legal status" for illegal immigrants that would legalize their standing without giving them the full rights of U.S. citizens. What illegal immigrants really want above all is "permanencia — the certainty that you won't be deported tomorrow," said Graza. "At least let's get legality, get the authority to work and to provide for our children. I think that's where the compromise is going to be." Others on the panel agreed: "The Hispanic community [is] pretty open to earned legal status," added Jenny Korn, executive director of the American Action Network, arguing that many didn't want the negotiations to "break apart" over the issue.

Conclusions For Now

I want to wrap this up for the time being.  The key arguments I see at this time for Con center around the fact the path to citizenship for "illegal immigrants" will do little to substantially change their economic status.  In fact, it enhances their ability to be more of a burden on government by enabling them draw upon more social welfare programs than they are currently eligible for. Even more importantly for the Con, it can be claimed that virtually all of the benefits of the path to citizenship can be achieved by other means, particularly by granting some form of legal status which permits them to remain in the country without fear of deportation, to seek better jobs, and to emerge from the shadow economy.  The advantage of this approach is the recognition that while rights and dignity for these individuals should not be restricted, the path to citizenship is unfair to those who are legally entering and rewards the illegal behavior which enabled them to be living in the U.S. in the first place.

A Closing Remark on "Otherization"

Even as I write this Con position, I am troubled by my own language as I speak of "them" as if the unauthorized people are some how - another group, apart as human beings.  Indeed, it is the language of otherization and in Lincoln-Douglas debate and Policy Debate Kritiks, otherization is the language of dehumanization. It may seem unnecessary for me to mention this.  After all, this is Public Forum debate and such issues are rarely debated.  Besides we need some kind of language in order to differentiate classes of people without necessarily relegating one or the other to secondary importance, or as being less deserving. So be aware that words have meaning and diverse perceptions are attached to the language. Good luck debaters.  I expect some lively debates.  Perhaps I will have more commentary on this topic in the near future.

The Bernard and Irene Schwartz Series on American Competitiveness
The Economic Logic of Illegal Immigration

Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions
Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), July 2013

Amnesty: A Path to Permanent Residency Is as Bad as a Path to Citizenship, Heritage Foundation
David Inserra, June 21, 2013

Advancing the Immigration Nation: Heritage’s Positive Path to Immigration and Border Security Reform
By The Heritage Foundation Immigration and Border Security Reform Task Force, June 2013

The Economic Consequences of Amnesty for Unauthorized Immigrants
Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny, 2012

Administrative Law: Immigration, Amnesty, and the Rule of Law, 2007 National Lawyers
Convention of the Federalist Society
Kris W. Kobach, 2008

Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants is a Non-starter
Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa, 2010

CPAC panel: No, illegal immigrants don’t need a path to citizenship, The Washington Post
By Suzy Khimm, Published: March 14, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Debate Evidence Rules Changes for 2014-15

Debate Evidence Rule Changes

The National Forensics League Board of Directors decided it was time to address grumblings in the various NFL districts with regard to the rules of evidence in Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum and Two-Person Policy Debate.  Personally, I was not aware of any major controversy.  For me debate requires evidence and if asked, the debater needs to show the evidence.  It is the way we debated in our district for years and has never been an issue.  I do know, that in other districts in our state, rules for evidence have been discussed and disputed.  Some districts, for example, require that if a team is asked for evidence, they must hand it over during their own preparation time, and not during the prep time of the team that asked.  Others, have claimed the evidence does not need to be produced, merely cited.

The NFL Board apparently, saw the issues as "diverse and complex" and set about charging the Competitions and Rules Committee with addressing the issues.  As a result of their efforts, the NFL has released new guidelines which are to take effect during the 2014-15 competitive season, although they encourage districts to implement the guidelines during the present (2013-14) competitive season. The official release of information from the NFL can be found here.  Nevertheless, in case the link dies or the information is moved, I will summarize the guidelines below.  My paraphrase of the guidelines will not, by the way, be sufficient for determining if rules violations have occurred.  For this, you will need a copy of the official NFL document, so get it while you can or get a copy of the Fall 2013 issue of Rostrum magazine.

Responsibilities of Debaters

A. Evidence is any facts attributable to a specific, identifiable source.  The committee states the source must be "authoritative".  If the information is not attributable to a specific, authoritative source, it is the opinion of the student competitor.

B. When giving evidence in a round, competitors are expected to orally give, at minimum, the author's last name, the source, and year of publication.  If the debater continues to give evidence from the same source, then it is only necessary to give the author's name.

C. In addition to the oral citation mentioned in item B (above), debaters also need to have the full MLA or APA citation of the evidence and if taken from a website, this should include the name of the "website, database or access point" as well as date accessed and the website address.  This attribution must appear on the evidence but need not be read.

D. Any evidence, whether directly quoted or paraphrased, must be cited in the above prescribed manner but if the debater is mentioning a general or theoretical concept then is it not considered evidence and as such does not have to be cited.  The example given by the committee states, "If a debater were to reference “social contract theory” in general, a source citation is not required. However, if s/he references John Locke’s social contract theory, evidence citation would need to be available."

E. The use of ellipsis (...) in evidence is prohibited unless they appear in the original source.  Nevertheless, there is no requirement to read every word of a source in the round.  Debaters may omit words in their speeches as long as the omitted words appear in the printed copy.  (See part G.2 below).

F. The original source (or a copy) must be available during the round for inspection by the opponents or judge during and after the round.  If an opponent asked for the evidence during a round it must be handed over during the round.

G. The portion of the evidence quoted in round must be denoted.

  1. Orally given evidence must be marked by a clear oral pause or by saying "quote, unquote".  What constitutes a "clear oral pause" is left to the discretion of the judge.
  2. The portions of the written evidence read, must be marked.  Typically this done, using underlines or highlights and the unread portions are minimized.  It is up to judge to decide what constitutes sufficient highlighting.

H. Use of private communication is prohibited as evidence.  Emails or other forms of communications between a debater and a source is forbidden as evidence.

Rules Governing Violations

A. The evidence should not be altered so as to change the meaning or intent of the original author.  This basically means, do not alter the wording of the original source.  It is considered a "serious distortion" of the original if added words are not [bracketed].

B. Non-existent evidence is defined as:

  1. Failure to produce the source (or copy) within 20 minutes of a request by the judge or a tournament official following the end of the round.
  2. The evidence cited is not found in the original (or copied) source.

C. Misrepresented evidence is defined as:

  1. Debaters claim a conclusion different than the original source.
  2. Claiming a "straw-man" argument is the conclusion of the original source.
  3. Exaggerating the impacts of the original source.
  4. The debater claims to have read the complete evidence when in fact, s/he did not.

D. Technical violations occur when the debater fails to meet any of the requirements mentioned in Responsibilities of Debaters section A-H above.

Claiming and Resolving Violations

The balance of the NFL article deals with claiming and resolving violations of the evidence rules.  It is notable that the judge is the first arbiter in deciding whether or not a violation has occurred in the round and the judge's decision cannot be appealed. Nevertheless, it seems there are procedures for over-ruling the judge if a rule has been ignored or misinterpreted by the judge, provided a coach or representative adult files a formal claim with the tournament officials within twenty minutes of the end of the round.  Some of the violations, if upheld, will result in loss of the round, some are more serious and result in disqualification of the debater.

Read the rules and begin to use them if you do not already.
Your comments are welcome.

Evidence in Debate: Rules Changes, National Forensics League. Rostrum, Fall 2013
(Introduction by Steve Schappaugh, Competition and Rules Committee Chair), Accessed 11/14/2013