Saw the LD and Public Forum finals at the Expo Center today. They were decent rounds, for different reasons.
I thought the LD round was full of missed opportunities. The Aff misconstrued the Neg's anti-discrimination argument, while the Neg missed the chance to point out that the Aff had by definition narrowed the debate to criminal justice concerns, forgetting the breadth of the "any" in the resolution. (What if government has a compelling medical interest in, say, mandating DNA be kept in a database for vaccination purposes?)
The debate showed several interesting contrasts. The Aff was deliberate and generally focused, while the Neg was speedy and line-by-line. The Aff was as moderate and reasonable in tone as the Neg was impassioned. The Aff offered a deontological argument to counter the Neg's utilitarian approach--and the two hinged on a disagreement over the definition of respecting "rights for all individuals," which the Aff viewed aggregately (each individual as an individual) and the Neg viewed conglomerately (each individual as a part of the group).
All in all, an interesting debate, and, in my view, a narrow win for the Aff.
Public Forum was a little chippy at times--artful interruption wasn't either team's strong suit--but at least it wasn't dull. The Pro's case boiled down to partisanship, lobbying, and media bias; nothing terribly original, but well-evidenced. The Con went with the fairly common "technology makes us smarter and more likely to participate," as well as an argument I hadn't heard in elimination rounds: that increasing use of initiatives has given the people more direct control of their lives, through a Brandeis-ian "laboratories of democracy" approach.
In the end, the Con dropped the polarization argument, which was probably enough for many to vote Pro, especially with the strongest Con offense--the initiative contention--only halfheartedly defended in the Final Focus.
Which brings me to my next point: fixing Public Forum. One minute wasn't enough, so the NFL provided two, which is too much. My perfect solution: make it a minute point five, and take the extra minute saved (both FF discounts combined) and add it on to the Grand Crossfire, which always seems too short.
Let's do this, NFL.
If you saw either round, feel free to comment and disagree. I have to be brief because I'm poaching airport wireless, and my battery is about to die. An outlet, an outlet, my kingdom for an outlet.