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Friday, July 29, 2005

Guide to Debate: Part II

The Leader of Opposition Constructive
The Leader of Opposition’s Constructive speech (“LOC”) is certainly the speech that is by far the easiest to give. Since any substantive reasons not to follow the government team’s proposal will arise in the Member of Opposition’s Constructive (MOC), the LOC is there for two reasons: to keep up appearances, and to utter key phrases that the MO will eventually make into real points. This allows opposition to shake their head and make exasperated gestures when the PMR refers over and over to the “new” points made by the MO. As the PMR will say that a lot of new points were brought up in the MO regardless, opposition may as well make them and get some mileage out of it.

That being said, the LO does have an important job in the LOC: nihilism. The LO’s primary task during this speech is to make the round about as little as is humanly possible. If possible, make it about literally nothing. A really advanced LOC will make the round about something else entirely. One of the great LO’s was James “Ichthyoidal” Jamison, Dartmouth ’95, whose parents worked for the circus. James would bring a large carnivore to his rounds – typically a lion or a bear - and after the PMC, would release it from its cage. At that point, after the “senseless flattery” portion of his speech (see Part I), he would scream “Oh sweet God, a bear!” and thereafter, everyone would completely forget about the round. While you may not have access to exotic florae or faunae, this basic tactic can still be applied by young and old alike. Here are some methods:

• All government cases can be presumed (by which I mean “mischaracterized”) as being of the form “For all X such that [case statement] is true, government must prove X.” Therefore, your opposition should find one such example where the case fails. If the case says, “Countries should respect the right to property,” don’t get bogged down in an ideological quagmire – just find some instance where property rights are harmful. In this instance, Plutonium is a good one. Roll your eyes and ask, “So you think we should let Osama Bin Ladin have Plutonium?” You might be tempted to go on from there to elucidate what harms a known terrorist might be able to rend with fissionable material: but don’t. This gets far too close to being a proposition that the other team can attack. Instead, lob an insult about the other team’s intelligence. Remember: even if something is generally a good idea, that doesn’t mean it’s ALWAYS a good idea in every whacked out circumstance. And if it’s not always perfect, then it’s not even worth considering.
• All cases must also be ‘presumed’ to be optimal. That is, there is no possible path of action that is even vaguely related to the case that can reap similar benefits while simultaneously improving on any given area (even if the improvement creates a marked decrease in some other aspect.) This form of ‘opposition’, when used in casual conversation, is known as ‘changing the subject’ and will, should you elect to use it in an argument with a significant other, provoke what is known in common parlance as ‘a giant bitchslap.’ However, in APDA debate, it is a valid and well known strategy. Some small-minded MGs will attempt to claim that the existence of alternative means of accomplishing certain objectives does not preclude their case. Don’t pay attention to this, just say something about resources something something.
• All cases can be ‘presumed’ to be flawless. Always list harms as if they are self-evidently defeating. Say for example that it’s discovered tomorrow that eating mushrooms cures all disease and overpopulation. Someone runs the case, “The US should grow mushrooms in order to save every life in the country.” This form of opposition involves droning on about how this will cost money, displace corn farmers, create political backlash, and harm the poor… somehow.
• If none of these will work, there’s only one option: bitch. Someone runs a case about a massive state sponsored program that will have marginal benefits for the poor? Complain about how it’s unfair to force you, the opposition, to support a classical liberal stance. After all, nothing bad ever came from extorting billions of dollars from the general population for an inefficient program! Someone runs a case about third world free trade? Whine about how of course it’s good for the Congo to permit lots and lots of foreign investment. As El Salvador can tell you: letting unaccountable foreign entities in never goes wrong, ever.

Pro Tip #4: Combine these for mix-and-matchalicious oppositions. For example, instead of just listing harms, come up with extensive lists of alternatives. Any time the Gov team mentions that your alternatives preclude one another, just say “we’re opp! We have no burdens!” and roll your eyes. Eye rolling is really important to a successful LO.

cranked out at 3:34 PM | |

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