Whitney Hart Philosophy


I added a few things since NPTE last year, and even since Pacific’s fall tournament.

Experience: I have been around some form of debate since 2003. I debated policy in high school for two years; in college, I debated LD four years and parli for a semester at Missouri Southern State University. And I’ve been coaching/judging in some capacity since 2009.

In general, run whatever you want. As long you as explain how the position accesses my ballot, I will vote on it. Debate is a game. Be strategic to win. The round is yours and you should make it your own. I am at my best as a critic when you are at your best as a debater. The following information is about my general judging philosophy, but I am willing to suspend my own preconceived notions to vote where the debaters tell me to vote. I do, however, tend to enjoy straight up debates about the topic, disadvantages and procedurals. These are my defaults, but have fun in front of me, more than anything else.

I will take the easy out in the round. I have found that I tend to overthink my decision making, which is probably because I overthink everything in my life and because I care about debate that and try to preserve the importance of the arguments by voting based on who makes the best of them. Don’t make me spend time overanalyzing the round. Make it simple. That’s what rebuttals are for. Close the door on your opponents. Make lots of “even if they win this argument, we still win because…” arguments. Isolate the key issues and tell me why yours matter more. Debate is really that simple. Don’t do the line-by-line work and then expect me to weigh things out for you or decide what’s important. You won’t like my decision if you force me to do that, and neither will I. There really is nothing more fun and impressive to watch than a good LOR/PMR collapse. Don’t be afraid to concede arguments that won’t cost you the round, but you must be very aggressive in extending, defending and blowing up the arguments that will win you the round. Tell me that I should vote on something and how and I will (or at least strongly consider it).

Impact calculus is extremely important. I have found myself having to weigh issues in such a way that it gives me a headache (like the collapse of debate versus extinction), so do it for me to make my decision easy. Write my ballot for me. Do sophisticated comparative analysis of the impacts with explicit references to the links you are winning and why and you will come out ahead. Impact calculus does not necessarily mean that your argument “outweighs” in a traditional sense of the word (probability, magnitude, reversibility, etc.). But each argument you make in the debate round should serve a strategic purpose and you should make that purpose explicit to me.
On a related note, I am really tired of hearing ridiculous impact scenarios without internal links. If your impact is global nuclear war, tell me how you get there in a way that actually makes sense. Too often, positions are much like fat bottom girls (bottom/impact heavy and not link heavy) … and while they do make the rockin’ debate world go ‘round, they give me a headache. I am almost always more inclined to prioritize probability over magnitude. I evaluate the link debate thoroughly before making a decision. I love lots of specific links. I think it takes a lot of talent to have a deep link debate, and sadly, this is one area most debaters neglect most. And do not tell me something is dehumanization without explaining HOW it is dehumanizing. And I tend to think that calling something dehumanization to win a debate round is probably trivializing real suffering. But I digress.

Speaker points: I know this is probably odd to hear, but I do care about etiquette. That does not mean I prefer IE-style delivery. I prefer listening to a fast debate, but you can be engaging and fast. I award these based on a combination of how well you present yourself and the quality of your arguments. If you are excessively rude, your speaker points will reflect that. If you argue with me about a decision I have made, you will not be happy with your speaker points. If you are unclear about how I evaluated a particular argument, please ask. I will tell you. But let’s practice mutual respect for one another. I respect your skill. I appreciate the activity. You should appreciate your judge, too. Also—do not prompt your partner. This annoys me beyond all else. They are your partner. You should trust them. If you must help them, pass them a note. If you have to tell them what they should say every time they start a sentence, you need a new partner or you need to stop being such a control freak. I will tank your speaker points for this. Also, if the person who is giving the speech doesn’t say it, I don’t flow it.

Speed: I do not care how quickly you speak. I will keep up. I have never seen a round that was too fast for me. I really love listening to someone who is fast and articulate. As long as you do not sacrifice clarity to speed, we will be fine. If you are gasping for air and incomprehensible, your speaker points will suffer. I want a good, substantive debate. Speed should not be used to exclude others from the round, but should be used to enhance the quality of the debate by allowing debaters to make a greater number of warranted arguments.

Procedurals: I love debates about debate. Specification arguments regarding funding, enforcement, agent, etc. are great, but I prefer they be resolution-specific and the negative must explain how that particular specification is important. It’s difficult to convince me that the resolution sets a precedent for what the plan text should include since everyone has only known about it for about 20 minutes, so be prepared for me to be empathetic to a “normal means” response. I default to competing interpretations, but part of the standards debate should probably be ground arguments.
Topicality: I love topicality debates and I view topicality as an issue of competing interpretations. Don’t blip out voters. I don’t know why I would vote on “fairness and education.” I have never heard a compelling RVI. I do not really know what it means to be “reasonably topical” because I have only heard it articulated in a way that wasn’t totally asinine once. The opposition can just as easily come up with an arbitrary interpretation of the resolution and use topicality to exclude the government as the government can arbitrarily demonstrate the resolution with their case to exclude the opposition.

Criticisms: I have a love-hate relationship with the K. I love them because I think that the representations we embody in debate rounds are important and that we should be held responsible for our worldview. I love when people challenge the way I perceive the world; however, I genuinely think that these discussions cannot be resolved in a little over an hour. This is why I find it particularly difficult for debaters to articulate the role of the ballot. I also like a framework that provides specific warrants about why this round is the proper place to have these types of discussions. I love topic-specific criticisms. I would love a deep discussion about the role my ballot serves in helping people re-conceptualize their surroundings. I just don’t hear these arguments often. I was not a K debater, but that does not mean I have not voted for them.
Also, please don’t bastardize a movement in order to win a debate round. This genuinely makes me sad. I think the K should be used to genuinely interrogate our assumptions, Do not assume that I know the same things you do about what your specific author says. Explain the thesis of their argument to me and make references to the examples they provide. Help me understand what they have to say. I want to learn, too.
Critical affirmatives: I will listen to them, but I will also listen to arguments about why your critical affirmative isn’t topical.

Counterplans: are conditional unless otherwise specified. Counterplans should be held to the same standards of solvency as the affirmative. I will be the first to admit that debating NFA LD limited my exposure to counterplan theory, so keep this under consideration if you read CP theory arguments in front of me and we will all be much happier.

General information: When the PMR or LOR makes a new argument, I cross through it on my flow, whether you call the point of order or not. Call points of order if you’d like; they are a useful check against your opponent and a tool only available to parli debaters. But if you’re going to call a point of order, explain why your opponent’s argument is new. Also, if you’re going to respond to points of order, explain why it’s not new with direct reference to the previous argument (speech where the argument was originally made, how it was phrased, etc.) so I know what you are talking about and can rule accordingly. But I don’t evaluate new arguments.
An important note about econ debates: They confuse me. Ask any of the debaters I have coached. Econ was a gen ed at my alma mater, Missouri Southern, and I failed and had to re-take it. Barely passed the second time, too. Explain these types of debates to me thoroughly and simply. You will get glowing speaker points and probably a high five.

I don’t believe in shadow extensions. If you are the LO and you make an argument in the LOC and your MO does not extend it, an LOR extension is a new argument to me. Same thing goes for PMs and MGs.


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