View Full Version : An amendment to eliminate PoOs and PoPPs
12-01-02, 06:28 PM
An amendment to Bylaw XIII: Tournament Rules. Rules of Debating and Judging, Section 4. During the Debate.
4F: Points of Order.
Points of order can be raised for no reason other than those specified in these Rules of Debating and Judging. If at any time during the debate, a debater believes that his or her opponent has violated one of these Rules of Debating and Judging, he or she may address the Speaker of the House with a point of order. Once recognized by the Speaker of the House, the debater must state, but may not argue for, the point of order. At the discretion of the Speaker of the House, the accused may briefly respond to the point of order. The Speaker of the House will then rule immediately on the point of order in one of three ways: point well taken, point not well taken, or point taken under consideration. The time used to state and address a point of order will not be deducted from the speaking time of the debater with the floor. A point of order is a serious charge and should not be raised for minor violations.
4G: Points of Personal Privilege
At any time during the debate, a debater may rise to a point of personal privilege when he or she believes that an opponent has personally insulted one of the debaters, has made an offensive or tasteless comment, or has grievously misconstrued another's words or arguments. The Speaker will then rule on whether or not the comments were acceptable. The time used to state and address a point of personal privilege will not be deducted from the speaking time of the debater with the floor. Like a point of order, a point of personal privilege is a serious charge and should not be raised for minor transgressions. Debaters may be penalized for raising spurious points of personal privilege.
Proposed change: Delete the language.
Justification: These points are almost always "taken under consideration." In other words, they are merely disruptive of the proceedings and are not subject to an immediate ruling from the chair. This is even more the case in elimination rounds, in which a speaker is unlikely to speak for the other judges on a panel. In addition, if the speaker of a multiparty panel does try to include other judges in the deliberation or commentary of a point, the inclusion of 3 or more voices during a debater's speech, particularly a rebuttal, is so extraordinarily disruptive of the flow of the speech that an opposing team tactically 'wins' many points, even when the ruling is not in their favor.
These points cause considerable confusion in the debate. A debater does not often know how to proceed on arguments that are "taken under consideration." Debaters do not know if they ought to counter _every_ instance of a potentially new argument in a rebuttal speech. If they do not counter an argument with a point of order, does this mean the judge should not recognize it as a new argument? If they counter two new arguments in a rebuttal with points of order, are they unable to make more points (and, perhaps, seem disruptive) or will the judge presume that the team is conceding that other issues are not new in the debate? And, in replying, for example, that a point is "well-taken," is a judge indicating that no other argumentation can be made on the point or only that the present articulation of the argument seems new? Points of privilege are even more infrequently used and almost exclusively disruptive, having little to do with the substance of the debate.
It seems that debaters ought to advance arguments in their speeches and judges can "take into consideration" anything that is relevant for decision-making at the conclusion of the debate without the intrusion of frequently unnecessary and often confusing points of order and privilege.
12-01-02, 07:28 PM
This is the one that struck me as INCREDIBLY regionalist in its "justification" section. The contention that "These points are almost always 'taken under consideration.'" is blatantly untrue. Further, many judges believe that excluding new arguments in the absence of a POO is an act of intervention and there is no reason to reward a team for the other team's "new argument" that they may not have been on the ball enough to notice.
Further, POOs are an important tool in regions where judges are often relatively inexperienced in debate. POOs allow debaters to call such judges' attention to things that they might easily miss otherwise. Further, POOs decrease the frustration level of debaters who, in other forms of debate, frequently tear their hair out wondering if the judge caught on to the blatant newness of arguments in the last rebuttal.
Additionally, even if true the justification that "These points cause considerable confusion in the debate. A debater does not often know how to proceed on arguments that are 'taken under consideration.'" is more of an indication of a need for better training of debaters than a need for structural reform.
"Points of privilege are even more infrequently used and almost exclusively disruptive, having little to do with the substance of the debate. "
The notion that just because something is used rarely that it should be abolished is ridiculous. Indeed, there seems to be contradictory advocacy in this justification section -- POOs are supposed to be abolished because they are used too frequently and POPPs should be abolished because they are not used frequently enough.
POPPs are an underutilized but potentially important way for debaters to begin addressing some of the LYING that takes place in debate. To wit, when the other team starts lying about what you said, CALL A POPP. That is one of the reasons that it is there. I saw the POPP used this way ONCE in my entire career. After the round and ballots were complete, I polled the rest of the panel about it. All 3 judges on the panel agreed that the POPP was appropriately used and was a factor in their decision.
It would be too bad to see POOs and PoPPs go away just because they are extraneous to the people in SOME regions of the country. I was quite disturbed to see that this motion only failed by 4 votes and I did not see any evidence that there had been any challenges made towards the assumptions of omniscience made in the "justification" section.
12-01-02, 10:41 PM
I agree; I like these. As a competitor in another form of debate (NFA-LD) which doesn't have any facility for the contention that an argument in a rebuttal is "new," I've often been frustrated when good judges and I simply had interpretational disagreements about what a new argument was and wasn't.
The POO eliminates this (or can). It is quite reasonable for a judge, if they wanted to, to put the onus of new-argument identification on the competitors and thus not risk potential frustration by anyone. (They could also identify new arguments themselves without having them pointed out -- but this is an option with or without POOs.)
The bottom line is that without the POO, competitors would feel far more free to say whatever they damned well pleased in rebuttals, especially in front of a relatively inexperienced judge. The result would be a likely shift away from the current "summation/weighing/whatever" format of parli's rebuttals, which would be bad because I like that format, so there's your impact story.
At least in the status quo, if you want to introduce a new argument, you have to preface it with "As my partner noted in her speech..." ;)
As for the PoPP -- I like its existence purely because, were it slightly more common in its usage, it would be a useful deterrant against rebuttalists misrepresenting or outright making up positions to oppose. Even if it stays rare it can be (and has been) an effective tool. It's not as if there's rampant PoPP abuse happening, so what's the real harm to keeping it?
Interesting thing about the POO: they have been banned de facto in NPDA finals for quite some time. Apparently the TD (or someone), when saying whatever they say to the two teams before the round goes off, generally includes something along the lines of "by the way, there has never been a point of order in a final round. Hint, hint." (This isn't intended to serve as an endorsement of anything; it's just interesting.)
12-01-02, 10:50 PM
In spite of the unwritten norm against it, I think it would have been really fun to have seen Utah PoPP Alaska last year when they claimed "they never touched our criteria" after Utah spent a combined 15 minutes or so on the subject....
12-01-02, 11:03 PM
That would have been fun.
Some day I know the temptation is going to be irresistible and a debater will just do it, thus ensuring a dubious but entertaining place in history. I'm amazed it hasn't happened already. The warning must be really stern.
"The cup is hewn of the bones of those who disobeyed this command: Thou Shalt Not POO. Wait, That Came Out Wrong."
12-01-02, 11:08 PM
Well, I think the norm against its use in the final round is an expression of John Meany's legitimate concern about the awkwardness of handling POO/PoPP in front of a panel.
Marty Birkholt had an interesting system at finals in the Creighton tournament in 2001 -- each judge would rule separately and without explanation and let the debaters adjust accordingly. I think its cool to force the little dears to (gasp!) think on their feet and take calculated risks....
12-01-02, 11:48 PM
There's certainly legitimate concern over what would happen in front of inexperienced judges. But John's analysis of what happens after a couple of points of order is very accurate, I think. After I've raised a POO (or, very occasionally, two), I'm very wary about calling another one. Ian seems to think that there's no problem with the judge disallowing it on their own, but I don't think that's the community norm. Not to say that it doesn't happen -- in fact, it's probably quite frequent -- but there are also a vast number of judges who will only rule if the point of order is raised.
Perhaps there is a rule modification that needs to be made stating that a point of order is not necessary for a judge to rule out a new argument. This will probably create social pressure not to insult the judge's intelligence by rising to obvious points of order, but it would take care of both the problem of frequent POOs and abuse of inexperienced judges.
12-02-02, 12:07 AM
I would disagree with a rule modifcation that attempted to make POOs unnecessary OR illegal. I won't exclude a "new" argument unless there is a POO raised (though I may weigh it very lightly). My reasoning is that to exclude a "new" argument in the absence of a POO is an act of intervention - I would be deciding on my own and without opportunity for context or clarification.
Basically, before a team should gain the advantage of an argument for the other side being excluded, they should at least have to demonstrate to me that they were "with it" enough to know it was new and that they had the capability to explain that to me as the judge.
Furthermore, why should I as judge assume that I am infallibly capable of identifying every new argument? What if I miss one? Should we abolish or limit the ONLY tool that the debaters have for notifying judges of new arguments?
Abuse of POOs is already explicitly sanctionable under the rules. There is no need for additional rules.
Eagle of Meaux
12-02-02, 12:15 AM
I think what is needed here is not elimination, but clarification. Judges need to inform their competitors of how they treat new arguments absent a point of order. I have been told by some judges that I insult their intelligence if I call them, and others have told me an argument will not be considered new absent a PoO. Ao long as judges let the competitors know I think most of the problems articulated above will be solved. I also like the idea of each judge on a panel ruling separately and then having the debate continue. I think it does a lot to force judge adaptation, and if nothing else gives the competitor more information than she or he would have otherwise about a judges stance on the argument.
As for PoPP, I find the application of them against misrepresentations of ones position interesting. I've never seen them used this way nor otherwise heard of it. I think the only problem with such a use is the way some people perceive PoPP. Many believe them to be designed to deal extraordinarily serious breaches of ethics, it seems difficult to see where the line between a "spin" and a misrepresentation exists. given the seriousness with which some judges take these things I think it's difficult at best to use them, even in extreme cases. I think I'd be more willing to support either a redefinition, or an elimination of them than Points of Order.
12-02-02, 04:51 AM
My reading of the rules only provides for sanctions against spurious points of personal privilege.
I agree that it's an act of intervention if debaters don't call it, but I'm still looking for resolution for the uncomfortable situation of having already called a couple, or having lost one already. Should one just keep raising them if new arguments come up? It's an uncomfortable situation. It also might only qualify as "intervention" if you're doing a debater's job for them; if it becomes the judge's job, rather than the debaters, then it's no longer intervention.
It seems to me that since the idea of a point of order is procedural, rather than substantive (it either is or isn't on the flow), there's less of a problem with the judge stepping in to make the call by themselves.
12-02-02, 08:09 AM
Discomfort on the part of debaters is something that debaters should develop the skills to assess and deal with on the spot. That is part of the "game" and the corresponding life-skills that debate develops.
Seriously, I'm not unaware of the discomfort of which you speak. Its not like I never did parli. :) But trying to address this particular form of "discomfort" by enacting a rule eliminating POOs and POPPs would not only fail to remove the discomfort (as Ian notes) but would also have the side effect of increasing judge intervention and randomness by removing determination of "new arguments" from the debaters and into the judge's hands.
12-02-02, 11:01 AM
I'm not sure how binary the "newness" of an argument is or not. I've had many debates with my own team members -- even my own partners -- about what constitutes a new argument and what doesn't.
Is a cross-application of an existing argument to a dropped argument a new argument?
If I make a claim and my partner drops it, can I ever talk about it again? (Obviously I can't respond to its criticisms. But am I allowed to fruitlessly reiterate my original logic?)
What if the argument being reiterated and crystallized is coming from the analysis of an argument and wasn't explicitly tagged?
Or a POI? Not many people flow POIs. But sometimes they will remember if you remind them.
Is it uncomfortable to be told, on a five-judge panel, "well taken" by two, "not well taken" by one, and "under consideration" by two others? Of course it is. It's also uncomfortable to listen to someone talk about how wrong you just were for 8 minutes... at least at first. But if it were easy, we'd call it [insert name of activity you wish to demean here.]
12-02-02, 12:40 PM
Ian, what you're saying brings up another issue associated with the rules. You're right in that there are nuanced understandings of what can constitute a new argument. But all a point of order allows you to do is state that you believe that the argument is new, and perhaps a response from the opponent if the judge wants it. The rules do not provide for a rejoinder or justification from the team raising the point of order; in fact, they order the judge to then "immediately" rule in one of the three ways. So I guess I don't see how, unless judges break the rules and allow a real discussion to take place (which of course happens, but if it does, and we like it, it ought to be properly codified), this more nuanced argumentation about what constitutes a new point can be raised in a round.
12-02-02, 11:53 PM
I dont' think this problem is so major as to warrant the same level of attention as many of the other amendments. Even the justification seems to concede this. I still have some quick thoguhts on it.
I simply don't think that the problem (and i admit it exists) with debates not knowing exactly how to react to a lack of ruling is enough reason to not allow a bit of rejoinder and the ability for debaters to show that they're paying attention and have caught a new argument. The fact that POO's are kind of embarassing to have called on you probably keeps more debaters in line. Furthermore, it keeps the opp in the debate, even during the PMR, when they're done speaking. Say what you will, but attention does wander at that time. I think it would be worse without the check.
The POPP I ever heard of being used by a teammate (i never saw one in a round) was when she was stung by a bee and wanted to shake the damn thing out of her dress. I have no particular opinion on their use, as I understand this to be a pretty rare occurence. But then, PoPP's are pretty rare themselves, arent' they?
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