Our elite Mastership Sourcebooks for NCFCA and Stoa will release soon! Check them out here!

Here are some good ways to shock me when I am your judge (and lose speakerpoints, and probably get a paragraph of berating, and maybe even end up losing the round):

– Use no prep time before your aff speech because you have all your stuff, but then your speech starts “In this 2ac I’m going to go down the flow… starting with their first negative argument ____ ”

– Use all the prep time before your speech finding cards (yes, I’m watching you) and flurrying papers around on the table

– 2AC drops all of 1AC’s points except those challenged by the negative team

– 2AC didn’t even flow the 1AC (O_o ??????!!!??!?!?!???!?!?????)

– 1AC didn’t even flow the 1AC and it’s obvious in CX (even more ??!?!!??!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!!?!????!?!!!!!!??!?!?!?)

– 1AR starts with something like “since I only have 5 minutes to address 13, I’ll be speaking pretty fast to not drop anything”

– Aff pretends there is nothing disadvantageous about the plan (at all) and doesn’t weigh for me the advantages against neg’s disadvantages, but only relies on de-linking them

Most of these problems have a root solution: MASTER YOUR FLOW.

Whoever flows the best and can explain to the judge where they are on paper, how the judge maybe should be re-writing his own flow, and which arguments affect OTHER arguments will 9 times out of 10 win the round. The flowpad is the battle field because it really is the brain-map of the round. If you aren’t following or the judge isn’t following, then the battlefield has not been set by you but will be set by someone else.

2ACs that do not flow their 1AC cannot make arguments like:

– But that ignores this point, which is an alternate cause

– These facts we presented clearly contradict

– My opponents failed to recognize the underlying framework of our case [insert goal or criteria], but focused instead on externalities

– My opponents’ arguments are completely outweighed by the points they did not touch

– This card [name of author, date, maybe source] already proved what the negative is asking for/challenging

2ACs MUST flow the 1AC. What I have seen in some recent practice debates is the 2AC has no flow of the 1AC, and then makes little boxes of the 1NC’s arguments in the order they present them (which is often not the initial order of the 1AC). That’s called letting your arguments shift to neg ground (neg battlefield), because they are now determining the course of the conversation. You want to determine this. You can’t do that without good flowing.

1ACs need to flow their own case (before they start), so that they can flow the 1NC and on a line of stickynotes right beside write their CX questions in order. What should this CX be about? Mostly about the 1AC, not the 1NC. ” Here are some of the types of questions you want to have:

– “Is it true that you didn’t accept our goal?” types of questions, demonstrating they left your point standing. This is the weakest type of these Q’s.

– Walk them through the logic of your case and make them agree to it. Example: our D.C. guns case was always challenged with these two arguments (with corresponding CX, the answers to which are IRRELEVANT–you will have made your point, so don’t make a scene with “I don’t answer hypotheticals,” “I don’t see how that is relevant,” or patently unreasonable responses, all of which help you):

1. D.C. isn’t protected by the Constitution/the Constitutional right is collective.

“Isn’t it true that the Constitution lays down principles of governance?” Sure.

“To SOME degree the Constitution recognized a principle of self defense?” Yes

“Isn’t it true that your argument was the Constitution doesn’t apply to D.C.?” Yes

“Did you anywhere make the argument that the PRINCIPLE of self-defense SHOULDN’T apply to D.C.?” uhhhh [insert whatever response you want, it works for us b/c I was flowing and know they didn’t make the crucial argument]

Setup for partner’s 2AC: My opponents stressed that the Constitution doesn’t apply to D.C. We don’t care and while we could argue it, there is something more important at stake and our opponents ignored that. The resolution asks us to argue about what “should” be and we have given solid arguments that self-defense SHOULD be available to D.C. citizens through ability to use a firearm. The principle of the Constitution applies here, whether the Constitution does or not–we argue that D.C. citizens should be able to defend themselves and that point still stands, as my opponents were forced to admit in CX.

2. More guns = more crime.

“What’s the purpose of a study?” What do you mean?

“Doesn’t a study ‘study’ something?” Well yeah

“To make conclusions about life, observing what happens is a study then, right?” I don’t see where you’re going with this

“What was the name of the study you used to say more guns = more crime?” [insert name(s)]

“Isn’t it true that studies often disagree?” They shouldn’t

“But experts do disagree on the same subject, from environment to politics to gun control, right?” Yes

“Isn’t the best way to test two competing studies to compare what they observed?” [don’t care what they answer… of course it is]

“What did they study?” huh?

“If your study made a conclusion like you claim, you just agreed they must have observed its truth–where did the conclusion of the study actually occur in real life?” [didn’t know b/c it was Brady Campaign, or in some cases said “well they have credentials, so we know they studied something,” and once “Maryland”–which we had countermanding evidence on that was really good]

What this sets up: My partner will argue that real life proves who is right on contentious issues. So we won’t be quoting conclusions about crime, we’ll be looking at the raw data. Then we’d go city by city, state by state comparing before and after gun bans and crime rates.

I’m not mentioning my favorite, which is the challenge that guns aren’t necessary for self defense. These CX’s were fun but always varied (from study karate to use tazers to it’s ok to die to a gun makes the situation even more dangerous), so putting this forward as an example would require too many vignettes.

Obviously people could argue alternate causes and other arguments against this case. Equally obviously we had responses. That’s not the point. The point is what the 1A should be doing in CX: getting neg to agree to the underlying LOGIC of the case. One CANNOT do this without flowing well!!

Finally… style. When you are aff, almost nothing should surprise you, and if it does you have several minutes of the 1NC and all 3 minutes of CX to prep for the occasional surprise. What’s prep time for? To “look good” by not using it? Almost nobody actually thinks that not using it looks good — I’ll judge you on the results of your preparation, not whether you use the time or not.

“Going down the flow” is not an acceptable beginning to a speech. Of COURSE you will unless you specify that you WON’T. In any case, this isn’t a hook or even an intro. Use prep time to STYLIZE your speech!

– Prepare moments of humor, clever turns of phrase

– Organize your speech and run through it in your head so it makes sense

– Prepare a great intro and conclusion. I always write my last sentence of the speech down word-for-word (though I won’t be “reading” it). Intros should show you are still super-confident in your case, despite all other arguments, so they need to demonstrate the truth of your thesis. They should NOT be penguin analogies, Confucius quotes, or song and dance routines…this is an academic discussion. They should be quotes that support your case, a rehash of the basic logic of your case, etc.

I know I didn’t cover everything my pet peeves may have indicated I would… feel free to followup with questions here or via ethosdebate@gmail.com

%d bloggers like this: