Topics! – PF Nov ’17, LD Nov-Dec ’17

Public Forum Debate – 2017 November Topic Area: Gun Rights

Resolved: The United States should require universal background checks for all gun sales and transfer of ownership.

With the mass shooting in Las Vegas just as the topic was being announced, it’s either very timely or very awkward – every indication is that the shooter passed all the necessary background checks. To that extent, other examples will need to be used to justify the Pro side of the resolution. I do have a Gun Issues folder that goes back years that should have articles relevant to this topic.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 November/December Topic

Resolved: Wealthy nations have an obligation to provide development assistance to other nations.

An extension of the question of whether we as individuals have an obligation to help others in need – aid writ large rather than individually. With our obligations towards our own people in three different locations post-hurricanes, the question of who we should help first becomes relevant in a way it usually isn’t for variants of this topic. (Mexico was going to aid Houston until their earthquake.) For those into Political Science, this is a classic core-periphery question/situation. Remember that the LD-Values folder has a Philosophy subfolder, and that there’s a PSci (Political Science) folder (because that’s my major) as well. Do note that the resolution isn’t U.S.-specific; what obligations do the EU, Russia, and China have as leading economies? Examining Chinese projects in Africa and Latin America could prove interesting. Still, this is fundamentally a value question, not one of policy.

Topic recap/repost:

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2017 September/October Topic

Resolved: In the United States, national service ought to be compulsory.

Compulsory National Service was the 1968-69 CX topic – I remember it as the worst CX topic I had as a competitor. At the time the Selective Service System was in full swing, and many felt that everyone should have to serve their country.

Note that this wording has nothing to do with military service – civilian service is definitely an option. Since the resolution comes under LD (proposition of value), the policy issues that made the question miserable (to me) as a CX topic can be avoided. More on this one later.

Public Forum Debate – 2017 September/October Topic Area: Korean Peninsula

Resolved: Deployment of anti-missile systems is in South Korea’s best interest.

I’ve just updated the Extemp Files so there are a ton of articles available on this one.

In terms of the larger question (what to do about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs) think of a Venn diagram made up of circles representing the countries involved – North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Japan, and even Russia. The resolution is a very specific subset of the larger question – what defensive actions should South Korea take. After South Korea’s recent government change, there was an initial rejection of the THAAD anti-missile system deployment. Events are overtaking that position – the files contain articles that now involve South Korea wanting not only its own missiles, but also its own nukes as well. It’ll be interesting to see where the real world stands when we actually start debating this resolution (October for my state).

Policy Debate – 2017-2018 Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its funding and/or regulation of elementary and/or secondary education in the United States.

Repost from this past spring, when the topic was announced:

This will be the third time I’ve coached/judged on this topic. When education reform came around during the 1972-73 season, the first ‘computers in education’ cases (when computers still involved mainframes and punch-card programming) appeared – so, how has that turned out?

One thing that was clear the last time we did this was that the only real way to improve educational outcomes was by what happens in the classroom – something that isn’t specific to school type (public/private/charter/whatever). The double ‘and/or’ construction of the resolution leads to a number of possible combinations. Identifying a specific problem will be important on this one – too nebulous, and solvency evaporates. Note also that funding-only cases usually lack inherency – you’re just expanding existing programs – though arguing that everything is fine except for funding might work. The Extemp Files and Extemp Backfiles have Education subfolders worth mining. Few education problems are new, so older issues/articles are likely to still be valid (since we haven’t really done anything particularly successful to solve the problems).

A comment I made to an area CXer at Nationals, before she headed off to camp on this topic: What about an infrastructure case? With many schools in bad physical shape (poor facilities, and outdated materials), would improving facilities work as an Aff case?

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