Tuesday, August 25, 2009

belief and debate

"There's a difference between what you say in the round and what you believe outside of the round." ~Vance Trafethen

I died a little on the inside when I heard that. I hope never to live that. I hope never to be a team policy debater, if being a team policy debater means saying things you don't believe. This is why I hated the Golden Rule case, I was seriously limited in the arguments that I would allow myself to make, basically, all I could run was a kritik. (except, Hayley, you kind of opened it up so that I didn't have to argue against morality and could still run stuff.)

I have to admit, Vance said something that did make this kind of attitude appealing. He compared debate to football. In football, you knock people down. You wouldn't do that in real life, but you do it because it's football. So it's okay.

But I don't think it works like that. If I play football, I play with the understanding that people are going to knock me down and that I'm supposed to knock people down. I volunteer, they volunteer. It's not like we're gladiators, we allow our rights to be "violated", meaning that they're not being violated.

But debate seems different. In football, I maintain my beliefs, in this case, personal liberty, consistently. There's no discrepancy in my beliefs between the game and real life. I don't knock people down in real life because I believe in personal liberty. I knock people down in the game because I believe that those liberties can be voluntarily relinquished. But the same is not true for debate. My beliefs do not allow themselves to be ignored just because I'm in a debate round. Just because I am "expected" to behave as if I believe something else doesn't mean that I should. In football, your beliefs stay consistent. In debate, they do not. I guess I'll never be a good competitive debater then. Of course, in real life debate, your beliefs are the ones that you have to uphold, and acting like you hold other beliefs is completely counterproductive to the goal of debate. I can't pretend that I believe something. I can't pretend that I don't believe that my beliefs should not be compromised.

1 comment:

  1. You don't know me, but I sorta/kinda know you. Hi Micah, I'm Mary Claire, or MC. I know you -> Michael & Hayley.

    Anyways, saying what you actually believe inside a debate round is critical. Forget Vance's and the entire Training Minds excuse, it can't be justified. "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no." It doesn't matter what the reason, we aren't to vouch for something we disagree with. And look beyond your own personal disagreement - you're persuading someone ELSE to agree with something you know/believe to be wrong, whether it be moral or not!