I attended not just as a judge, but as a learner, having fallen behind LD's progressive evolution in the past couple years. It was simultaneously exhausting and energizing to watch the debates, and learn from pros like VBI's Becca Traber and Wesley Craven, whose enthusiasm for the activity is infectious. I felt like the dumbest person in the room, and it was--how do I say it?--awesome.
It's got me thinking: where does the event go from here? Policy-influenced speed and argumentation have fully arrived in Washington state, and are apparently here to stay. It's time we figured out how to handle the changes so that LD doesn't discourage involvement by newcomers, including parents and community members. (It's tough enough to get judges; do we really want to limit our options to former LDers and PhDs in rhetoric or political science?) I want LD to be challenging, not forbidding.
At the very least, the Washington State Debate Tournament rules would need to be updated. Right now, not only are plan-based arguments forbidden, but, arguably, so is card-heavy argumentation, and by implication, extreme speed:
In Lincoln-Douglas Debate, only two speakers are involved: One fulfilling the affirmative case responsibilities and the other, the negative case responsibilities. Lincoln-Douglas debating encourages the development of a direct and communicative delivery style. Emphasis is placed upon the issues involved rather than strategy in developing the case. The statement of the topic is a RESOLUTION OF VALUE rather than of policy. This results in emphasizing logic, theory, and philosophy while eliminating "plan" arguments. Because of the time limits, a wealth of evidence cannot be used, but research by good background reading is necessary.[emphasis added]
Second, we could create a stricter Novice / Open distinction as a way to ensure strong grounding in the foundations of the event. For instance, in Novice Policy debate in Washington, case areas are limited to an agreed-upon list, while counterplans and kritiks are disallowed.
In Novice LD, I'd suggest ruling out...
*Plans / Counterplans / Permutations
*Kritiks (this wouldn't preclude all critical arguments, provided they fit into a standard V/C framework)
* A priori arguments
* Straight Refutation Negs
* Cases without frameworks
* Theory shells
Abusive arguments could be handled as a "point of order" after the conclusion of the debate. (Hopefully the limitations, combined with effective judging, would limit abuse.)
These are half-baked ideas, and I'm curious what you think. LDers and fans of the event, especially among my Washington state readership, how would you go about changing the activity? Or what do you see as the future of LD debate?