After having an absolute amazing time debating and speeching at the Massachusetts National Open, one of the things that my partner and I learned was to point out any possible contradictions in our opponents arguments, whether affirmative or negative. This may seem like something that is elementary, but we were surprised how many contradictions we let slide in our rounds.
- Inherency and Disadvantages
These arguments, when run in the same round, are prone to contradict, more than most others. The 6th preliminary round of the MA Open, we were affirmative and were power-matched against Bomgaurdener/Nelson. This was the first round of the entire season that a team had argued inherency against us, as well as the first time we had been spread so thin. We had prepared inherency responses, but because we were not necessarily expecting it, and because we were semi-exhausted, and because we had sooo many other arguments to address, we missed the contradiction (which wasn’t so obvious as you might expect) between one of their inherency points and several of their disadvantages.
By the end of the round, their inherency went from “Carbon Tax will be passed REALLY soon!” to “There is no attitudinal barrier to passing it,” but still there was a contradiction in the beginning that we should have pointed out—if a carbon tax is going to be passed really soon, then we will be experiencing the same disadvantages, just a week sooner with the affirmative plan. The Disadvantages, according to the negative, will come about with or without the affirmative plan.
- Other Contradictions
One other way that I learned to identify contradictions is by reviewing the entire flow of the round, up to my speech, and then repeating all the arguments to myself and testing them to see if they contradict.
I do not mean to pick on Shane and Katlin, because they are some of the nicest debaters I have ever met, but I want to use one other example from their round against us where some of their arguments were contradictory, and we were able to point it out, by reviewing the entire flow, and repeating all their arguments to ourselves.
In the 1NC, they argued that Waxman/Markley is going to be passed really soon, and this policy is, for all intensive purposes, a carbon tax. They proceeded to argue why redundant policies are bad and then moved on to other arguments. We responded that W/M is in fact, not a Carbon Tax, and certainly not what we as the affirmative are advocating. Their response is what was very interesting because they directly responded by saying that yes it is a Carbon Tax, and then their second response what that the gas tax we have in place is virtually a carbon tax. Right there they just said that congress is going to pass a carbon tax [W/M] and that in the current system we have a carbon tax [the gas tax], so aren’t those ‘redundant policies’ that the negative just stated were so awful in their 1NC? All of this didn’t happen until the 2NR and 2AR, so I was debating with myself whether to actually bring it up or not. I went ahead and mentioned it, although not making it into a voting issue.
In any case, by reviewing the entire flow of the round, and matching all of their arguments with each other, we succeeded in pointing out where their position contradicted.
As another qualifier comes up for Region 9 teams, and as the Colorado is coming up rather soon, be purposeful in identifying contradictory statements by your opponents because contradictions usually won’t just fall into your lap—you have to work to point them out.