At national tournaments, judges are making their stances clear: students who argue ‘capitalism can reduce poverty’ or ‘Israel has a right to defend itself’ will lose—no questions asked.
Oh my God, all of the old institutions must be swept aside. This is appalling! Thank you for bringing this rot to light. Bret Weinstein says that it only takes one institution to prize excellence to break the chains of group think, but I think you need more than that. It needs to be a tsunami. May your institution be the forerunner in the debate sphere. May University of Austin, Hillsdale, and Jordan's endeavor break the line in higher ed. The new Twitter crush it in social media. FIRE overcome the ACLU.
How can one be a judge of anything with biases so strong? They simply must not be allowed to judge - period.
"We’ve come a long way from the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when an obscure state senator from Illinois named Barack Obama said, “If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read . . ." - Because we now know 19 YEARS LATER that his speech was campaign rhetoric used to emotionally move his audience and get him ELECTED and not to move anyone to action to actually help the communities he identified. Is Chicago better as a place to work or live? Has reading comprehension for children in public school improved since 2004? Are fewer children hungry since his political trajectory? He is rich, privileged, and has moved on to continue to further enrich himself in the world of media and endorsements. In other words, he is like everyone else that he disparages.
As appalling as this account is, just replace "debate judge" with "university professor" to really appreciate the scope and impact of illiberal institutional rot. The problem is much broader than the impact on a niche competitive activity.
My D debated all 4 years of HS (2017-2021) and to watch the change during that time was remarkable. What we now know as “woke” infected debate quickly. I sent her this article in the hopes she will realize what changed and why they had to police their speech so much. Sad. Our country needs educated debate now more than ever.
This is appalling. I’m so so angry on behalf of the students, and that there is apparently no intellectual honesty in the organization that will enforce its own rules for fair, rigorous debate.
I hope Incubate Debate crushes NSDA in popularity over the next decade. There seems to not be much more you can do that vote with your feet and have your students withdraw from participation.
This is so depressing to read, but frankly I am not surprised. It is a terrible shame how, in the name of tolerance, we have become so intolerant. An ideology built on resentment and envy and fed by identity-based, and often manufactured, antagonism is bound to arrive at this point eventually. George Orwell tipped us off to that.
Amazing that you started a new debate league!! Way to go!
The answer to this nonsense, in all arenas, is to make an alternative and just wash our hands of the woke garbage. It's not even woke anymore, it's sociopathic.
Terrifying article, but so necessary.
Great job 👍
This is absolutely chilling. Further evidence that the left is, and I am loathe to say it, absolutely evil. They love to accuse people on the right of being fascists -- but shutting down free speech and alternate world views is a central tenet of fascism. Lastly, the fact that there are no penalties (across society, not just in debate) for being rabidly anti-white scares the heck out of me. Where does this end???
Besides the ominous implications for our public discourse - think about more “downstream” impacts: Imagine serving on a jury with people who embrace this kind of mental rigidity? I have served on 3 criminal trial juries- it is the real life application of debate, evidence, arguments with a person’s future in the balance. Mr. Fishback - I was thoroughly enthralled, and horrified, by your essay. Thank you.
Everyday I am disheartened by how rapidly our civilization is being swept away. God held us.
" (The NSDA did not respond to emails and phone calls asking for comment.)"
So the Debating Society does not want to debate . That explains everything.
Since the 1990s, I have been producing supplemental history materials for secondary students. A line called MindSparks. Perhaps 90% of those materials are based on a debate model. That is, a history problem is defined (say the differences between Willliam Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass about the Constitution and slavery). Students get the background account of the issue, a set of primary sources on it, and an activity that asks THEM to formulate a point of view and debate it with others in their class. The formats change, but this underlying structure is common.
This report tells me I am now utterly obsolete. We have turned a corner and are headed down a very dark alley. It does not matter that good judges still judge the NSDA contests. The small group of Maoist fanatics put all students on guard to be dishonest and betray their own best impulses. James Fishback has adopted what I fear will in the end be the ONLY effective alternative to these totalitarians - to create entirely new parallel institutions. Good Luck, James. May Incubate Debate thrive!
Wow. Reading some of the paradigms linked in this piece is quite possibly the most apocalyptic experience I’ve had in awhile. First of all, these people can’t even speak English or spell (which, I know, is an awfully elitist thing for me to say). But also, they’re literally saying, “If you say anything that makes your opponent uncomfortable, you lose.”
I just don’t even know how to respond to this. It’s horrifying. How are such brazenly biased people allowed to judge debate??? And when thousands of kids are conforming their arguments—their THINKING—to these random tyrants’ views, what does that mean for the future of ideas and public discourse and policy? God save us.
It’s worth reading the selected judges’ pages just to see how insane they are - and how riddled with awful spelling and grammar. Why are these people being selected to judge anything at all??
It seems more and more the leftest activists are determined to destroy every single thing.