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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Guide to APDA Debate!

Welcome to debate! This exciting activity can be a fun and amazing experience that enhances your collegiate stay; or it can be a sinkhole of disappointment and bitterness that will lead you to a life of substance abuse and possibly law school. Some depraved characters have actually been known to go to the ivy leagues. This guide is written mostly for the journeyman debater, though there might just be a tip or two in here for the grizzled veteran! You’ll find these latter types sprinkled about as “Pro Tip”s, so if you have spent years on ‘the circuit’, feel free to skip ahead to these nuggets of truth.

How do I debate?
In the league this guide is written for, the American Parliamentary Debate Association (herein APDA), one side will present a case. This case can be anything from “We believe that the US should abolish cotton subsidies” to “We believe that the US should abolish corn subsidies.” We’ll get to cases later, but the important thing is: the case can be anything. The individual who lays out the case is called the ‘Prime Minister’ or ‘PM’, and the side that proposes the case is called “The Government” or, if you want to seem hard core you should call it “Gov.” If you really want to be awesome, you need to get this tattooed on the knuckles of your left hand. You will see many debaters wearing “bling” or “ice” with words such as ‘Gov’. This tradition was started by Tupac “mad skrillin’ P Mizzle” Shakur, when he was a parliamentary debater for Yale, in 1993. Ever since, in order to be considered a true Prime Minister, at the very least, you need to have a gold tooth or two.

After the Prime Minister (herein PM) proposes the case and outlines the terms of the debate, he will give arguments for why his case is correct. Then the Leader of the Opposition, who is the captain of team opposition (“Opp”) will get up and deconstruct the case. This is followed shortly by the Member of Government (“MG”) who reconstructs the government’s case, then the Member of Opposition (“MO”) and then rebuttals, first by the LO then by the PM. It should be noted that rebuttals are not new speeches, but must be the original speeches made by the PM and LO in their original allotted time, however, they ought to be given new names. So if the PM makes the argument, “Markets give good fellatio,” his rebuttal point ought to be, “Markets give a reach around.” Despite merely being reiterations of earlier arguments, which were most likely ignored completely, each team ought to make noise during the other person’s speech, shaking their heads at the shame of the other team not completely conceding the round.

The reason rebuttals exist is to remind the judge what was said, the assumption being that a judge has contracted neurosyphilis or Hodgkin’s disease during the course of the round and is terminally unable to write or concentrate. Should this fail to be the case, the presumption exists that the judge is totally fucking retarded.

Pro Tip #1: Nobody ever lost a round by assuming the judge was totally, without question, dumber than a puddle of pureed hedgehog placenta. Many, many rounds have been lost by assuming the judge could, for example, read.

How long are debate rounds?
A standard debate round is approximately seven hours long. This includes the following:
- Seven minutes for the Prime Minister’s Constructive (first) speech (PMC)
• - Eight minutes for each of the LO, MG, and MO’s constructive speeches (LOC, MGC, MOC respectively)
• - Four minutes for the LO’s rebuttal (LOR)
• -Five minutes for the PM’s rebuttal (PMR)
• - Thirty six seconds per speech of senseless flattery, either of the judge or of the institution to which the judge is a party. This ought to also include faux superior thanking of the other team. For example, “Thank you to the other team for a flawed, horrifically bad case which we are going to beat easily before we rape their women and pillage their villages.”)
• - Thirty seconds of grace for each speech
• - Two minutes of arranging notes, timers, folders, and so on, per speech.
• - Sixteen minutes of questions during the PMC, called “points of clarification.” Think of these like a deposition – the point is to make the PM slip up. So, for example, if the case is “The US should invade China” a good clarification would be, “Do you mean… the country? Or do you mean the dish set?” and if the PM replies “the country” ask if he means “So just the rural areas of the dish set?” and so on. This tactic was invented by the Visigoths in 1142 during the siege of what would later become Kent. Except instead of “questions” they lobbed “flaming, corpse riddled human corpses.”
• - Three more hours for the PM to give an entirely new speech and invent the wheel during his rebuttal.

Pro Tip #2: When you are on opposition, go over time in all of your speeches by at least sixteen minutes. The judge needs for you to speak for that long, because, as mentioned in Pro Tip #1, most judges have neuromuscular disorders that preempt their writing anything down. Repeating yourself over and over will give the judge time to memorize your stirring words, lest they be lost unto obscurity. Then, when the PM gets to his rebuttal, stand up and declare that he is out of time the moment he starts speaking. This will make him yell angrily for half of his speech about how long you spoke, rather than simply allowing the judge to rule in his favor.

Okay, but how do I give a good Prime Minister Constructive speech?
The first step is to create a case. Keep in mind that you are allowed, over the four years of your career, to run a maximum of five cases. Writing new cases used to be allowed, but it was found that this led to, among other things, teenage pregnancy and child molestation, so the practice was abolished in 1996. The exciting thing about APDA is that you are allowed to run cases about the world today, philosophy, law, or even something called a time-space case. A time-space case is one where the PM places the judge in the position of a historical entity or individual. The advantage of the time-space case is that, instead of the round being decided on arguments; it’s decided on something much more realistic: awful lies. Since historical context is pretty much never taken into account, one takes a period in time (for example, the 1950) and states that they ought to act according to the norms of modern day liberal college ethics (ie: You’re China, don’t hurt people because you LUBS them!)

Other types of cases require a little more effort, but not much. This is because the side of Gov is actually like three-card Monte. The PM will lay out the “black queen,” or case, and then the MG will shuffle it around and dare the MO to pick a ‘card’. In the PMR, the first speaker will then, metaphorically, flip up the ‘lucky lady’ that is the version of the case that the opp failed to identify, and state emphatically that opposition is to blame for this egregious lack of etiquette.

Ultimately, this is accomplished by using only points that are essentially without meaning. Defend amorphous concepts without ever defining the central tenets of said concept. Good concepts include: Justice, Truth, Democracy and Rationality. If your case even tangentially mentions the criminal system (note: from now on, all cases will be presumed to be about the US. Even cases that are about other countries, since they are usually just thinly veiled attempts to be about the US while not being ‘status quo’.), your first argument will be that whatever it is you want to change is ‘unjust.’ State this in a determined manner, and never elucidate the basis you are using to make the claim. If you do this, then the other side can debate the point. Which is the last thing you want.

Pro Tip #3: Imagine the US has infinite resources. What would be different? Find these differences, and make them your cases. This allows you to claim the ‘moral high ground’ every time your opponent questions you. If all else fails, “The government should give X to poor people” is always good. This allows such rhetorically original and eloquent colloquies as, “At the end of the day, I’m okay with taxing the rich to give poor people lobster suits.” Another good one is, “Fine. It will cost $100 million to give each poor person a zombie rabbit. One less bomber/missile/piece of military equipment.” Remember: if you never specify where the money will come from, it will always come, like magic, from the worst parts of government spending. Never schools or entitlements. Seriously.

Coming next time I get bored at work: The rest of the speeches, Socializing on APDA, and others...

cranked out at 8:51 PM | |

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