Monday, October 11, 2010

TFVT launches War on Drugs

So the Four Corners of the Debate Earth tackled the Nov-Dec resolution last night, with decidedly mixed results. Find out which word in the resolution ultimately drove us into the wall. Episode 30

During the discussion I mentioned some material I had picked up from Filip Spagnoli's blog (which you may not be aware of, if you don't follow the Coachean Feed, which you also may not be aware of, which is a tragedy of epic proportions).

Oh, yeah. The feed. I've plugged it in there over on the right. The best thing to do is follow it through RSS.


  1. A few comments:

    Comment 1:
    I think that legalization is a topical AC, and in fact affs will have a hard time being topical without it, for the reasons the panel indicates.

    The term "illegal drugs" is a classification in the status quo. That the drugs will no longer be illegal post fiat doesn't make the resolution non-sensical when we debate it (pre-fiat). The resolution "Illegal drugs ought to be legalized," would still make sense even though there wouldn't be "illegal drugs" post-fiat. At least assuming a "plan focus," the resolution poses a question of how we ought to change the status quo. This might be more of a problem with paradigmatic presumptions that resolutions are sort of value judgments that are supposed to be true for all time, where there are no "worlds," pre or post fiat.

    This is a problem of the resolution being framed poorly. The issue in the real world is whether our response should emphasize punitive policy interests (usually focused on the individual) or public health interests (usually focused on the needs of society). But the resolution requires that the abuse of illegal drugs be treated "NOT as a matter of criminal justice." Affs will have a hard time claiming they are textual if they maintain any kind of criminal sanction or even force rehabilitation through the CJS. Under those circumstances, abuse of illegal drugs IS being treated as a matter of criminal justice.

    Comment 2:
    It seems to me there are two separate issues in relation to withdrawing the November PF topic. First, was the first topic a good topic? Second, assuming the first topic was bad in some way, should it be withdrawn.

    As to the first issue, I'm compelled by what Jon says. I certainly wouldn't want to debate the topic, and I would find obvious difficulty in defending the topic to angry parents and administrators. Also, it made no sense for the pro to say it SHOULD be built rather than that it may be built. But I remain on the fence for this reason. I understand public forum's primary aspiration to be training students to move in the public discourse as it now exists. People have rightly said this is a false issue born of racist paranoia, but that makes it no less an issue on the public stage that we apparently want PF students to be able to handle. That topics are controversial or offensive is perhaps all the more reason for students to debate them; to practice what it is to engage in public discourse in a world where such issues are inescapably part of our national dialogue. To quote Justice Brandeis (admittedly out of context) the solution is more speech, not enforced silence.

    Comment 3:
    I am far more concerned about the second issue - withdrawing a topic from debate after it has been released because it is considered too controversial or because someone might be offended. Remember the other side of this - a few years ago ND elected not to debate the Intelligent Design topic for fears that people would be too offended or would feel singled-out for their beliefs. "And when the devil turns round to meet you, what will you do then, all the laws of England having been cut down?" :) (Cruz - you luv how dramatic that is).

    I think the community selection process will hopefully fix this problem.

    Apologies if this rehashes issues on the PF thread, which I confess to not having followed closely.

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  3. Apologies for listening to the podcast much later than most. After listening to the discussion I have two comments:

    It seems to me that wording problem with "illegal" would be better construed if the topic was a discussion of policy priorities. For example if "interdiction" was used, instead of "criminal justice" - then I think we have a debatable topic about how best to combat the addiction problem. This conflict (about where our priorities should lie with regards to drug policy) has been in the news recently.

    Assuming my above comment is correct; the wording committee was probably consider news stories such as this:

    If that's the basis of the topic, then I think that makes the Aff ground clearer. It's a combination of prevention, public health, and decriminalization versus increased interdiction/law enforcement efforts. However, that's not quite the wording we have.

    My second comment: Child Protective Services is neither exclusively Public Health, nor Criminal Justice. Abusing kids is certainly a crime, but ensuring for the health of abused kids is not a matter of the criminal justice system. Wikipedia's article on CPS is some what helpful.