Alexander James Judging Philosophy


I guess this goes here?

Section 1: General Information

Hey there, my name is Alexander. I debated at San Diego State for 4 years, just recently graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. In my senior year, Gio and I defended 3-4 methodologies as ways to critically engage in the resolution on both the Affirmative and Negative. Those methods included silent vigils, graffiti, renaming, and hood politics through the poetry of Tupac and Kendrick Lamar. If this doesn’t sound like the type of debate you do, that’s totally fine. You should debate using arguments that you feel most comfortable with. While I was a “critique debater” for most of my career, I’ve seen a lot of different arguments and I would rather see you use arguments that you know well and enjoy reading rather than just throwing together a critique because you think I’ll vote for it.

Since graduating I have largely moved from the world of debate into the world of music, but I’ve been spending my summer doing community activist work in San Diego. If you want to talk more in person about organizing or music or Xicanafuturism or trans politics or other rad stuff, feel free to start a conversation if you see me. Also my preferred pronouns are currently they/them, so if you could use those when referring to me that’d be great.

Section 2: Specific Inquiries
Please describe your approach to the following.

  1.   Speaker points (what is your typical speaker point range or average speaker points given)?

25-30. I decide speaker points based on how you debated rather than on how you spoke, so don’t worry about formalities like standing up or doing ‘thank you’s if you don’t want to.

  1.   How do you approach critically framed arguments? Can affirmatives run critical arguments?

    I love critical debate. I’m not super into strategies that use complex postmodern theory as a way of obfuscating the debate against a team that is unequipped to think in that way in order to beat them. I understand that debate is a game that people want to win, and I personally enjoy a lot of postmodern thought, but not everyone has full access to that specific knowledge base so please at least give the other team a clear explanation of the terms and theories that your argument is based on.
    Affirmatives can absolutely run critical arguments, just please explain to the other team whether or not you will be advocating for the resolution (and negative teams, that’s a really important question for you all, so you should definitely feel entitled to know that info).
    Last thing in regards to the beloved critique debate: PLEASE use examples. The things we discuss in critique debate are important to many people because they describe our lived realities as oppressed people, and these realities can be different depending on the place or time you’re talking about. That means it’s important to be specific when we’re talking about which violence(s) your critical argument is seeking to abolish. Word.

  2.   Performance based arguments…

    Performances are just like any other argument. If you explain them and they’re insightful, there’s a great chance I’m gonna be into it. I’m down to get all sorts of weird.

  3.   Topicality. What do you require to vote on topicality? Is in-round abuse necessary? Do you require competing interpretations?

    I view topicality as a debate over competing interpretations, which means the negative has to give and defend an interpretation of what it means to be topical and the affirmative has to give and defend a counter-interpretation of the words that the negative is indicting. I’ve found abuse to be a difficult debate to decide because debate’s competitive nature makes a lot of things abusive, so I would prefer you give examples of what specific arguments you no longer have access to, and why that’s important.

  4.   Counterplans -- PICs good or bad? Should opp identify the status of the counterplan? Perms -- textual competition ok? functional competition?

    PICs are cool. Please neg, let the aff know if your counterplan is conditional or not (and please aff, ask if they don’t say). I’ve honestly never heard an explanation of textual competition to me that makes sense beyond “they have some words, but we have other words! competition!” Idk, maybe that’s it and I’m just not smart enough to get it, but like topicality I’ll vote wherever you’d like me to vote as long as you can explain it with examples/warrants. I’m not into arguments like “no neg fiat”, “no topical CPs”, or “you must disclose your Affirmative” but I’ll never ignore what you have to say just because I personally dislike an argument. If you’re going to read “perm do both”, please explain how you are doing both methodologies (especially in a critique debate) instead of just saying “do both”. I don’t need a copy of the perm text but I would love for you to say it twice.

  5.   Is it acceptable for teams to share their flowed arguments with each other during the round (not just their plans)

    If everyone is down for it, I am too. If you didn’t get a chance to write down an argument or an example, don’t be afraid to just ask the other team to say it again. Clarity is important in debate, especially when you can make a Zedd joke out of it.

  6.   In the absence of debaters' clearly won arguments to the contrary, what is the order of evaluation that you will use in coming to a decision (e.g. do procedural issues like topicality precede kritiks which in turn precede cost-benefit analysis of advantages/disadvantages, or do you use some other ordering?)?

    Critical arguments call into question existing power structures that influence the methodology of a topical USFG policy action, which means a critical perspective can precede a policy-based perspective. Similarly, theory arguments call into question whether or not people can even use certain arguments in debate, which means a framework argument could be used to precede a critical perspective. I’ll let you decide what is most important, just give me a heads up so I can judge the debate through the lens that won on the flow.

  7.   How do you weight arguments when they are not explicitly weighed by the debaters or when weighting claims are diametrically opposed? How do you compare abstract impacts (i.e. "dehumanization") against concrete impacts (i.e. "one million deaths")?

    This question is difficult because I don’t think something like dehumanization is “abstract” while one million deaths is “concrete”. In fact, I think that dehumanization is incredibly concrete in the lived realities of oppressed people, while one million deaths can only be understood as abstract because it’s impossible to fully grasp that amount of violence. I also think that they’re not nearly as diametrically opposed as they may seem. Ultimately I compare impacts in the way you ask me to compare them. Just please use examples of the impacts that you’re talking about. Even when you’re talking about “large magnitude” impacts like nuclear, there are countless historical examples of them, they just mainly were committed against people whose names we don’t know because they were written out of our history books (does your impact of nuclear war take into account the nuclear testing committed against indigenous Pacific Islander people as a nuclear war in and of itself?). Also please use probability, timeframe, and magnitude to compare impacts (hint hint great way to get high speaks).

    Last thing: please be mindful that impacts that people talk about in debate aren’t just words to some people. You never know if someone might be going through something and an argument hits too close to home. As a judge, I will always prioritize the emotional/mental/spiritual/physical health of you debaters over whether or not the tournament runs exactly on time, so if something comes up that is really triggering and you need a moment or two to breathe, I understand and I’ll do everything I can to help you all out.

    That was a lot more than I was expecting to say, but hopefully you can get something out of reading this. Oh, and, if you make any in-round references to Steven Universe or Atlanta trap music, you will probably get a 30.

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