Responding to a Counter-Case

By: Adele Zhang, Barnard College 2015

Counter-cased rounds can sometimes get a bit messy and confusing. The main thing to do is to think hard about the counter-case and ask any questions that you may have. It is important that you understand the counter-case fully, what exactly it does and how it differs from your case. Do not be afraid to ask questions, especially if it seems like the counter-case isn’t fully fleshed out. Clearing up the round will make it better and if you can catch the other side off-guard you can get them to admit something in counter-case POC’s that knifes their own case.

When another team counter-cases, the first thing to look for is always whether the counter-case is mutually exclusive or not. If it is your case but with an added on extension (eg. You’re case is have US permanent residents vote in the state elections and the counter-case is have permanent residents vote in all elections), then opp bites your advocacy and the counter-case is deemed inappropriate. That situation is called Gov plus a cookie.

In some situations gov minus a cookie is also not acceptable. If they are just nit picking at your case, mention that, and the judge may decide to buy it. An example of this is if your case is ‘make the HPV vaccine mandatory in all state colleges’ and their counter-case is ‘make the HPV vaccine mandatory in all state colleges except for students with immunodeficiency’, call them out on not being completely mutually exclusive because vaccines are obviously not for those who can’t have it. It can be called squirrelly and dumb and maybe not mutually exclusive because vaccines simply don’t work like that.

If the counter-case is mutually exclusive, then the MG has 3 things to do: first, they have to rebut the counter-case, then, they have to rebuild their PM’s points on case and third, they have to show why their case is better than the counter-case. Every case starts off with a problem that needs to be solved, you need to show why your case is better than the counter-case when it comes to solving that problem. This can be done in a number of ways such as explaining why the counter-case doesn’t have a wide enough scope to solve the problem, or why it is simply less efficient than your way. You can also point out all the problems of the counter-case and explain why your case doesn’t have any of those problems. At the end of the day, rebutting a counter-case isn’t all that different from rebutting a regular LO only that the off case is now the counter-case and the focus of the argumentation is on rebuilding your on-case with a focus on how you’re case solves the problem better.

This isn’t required, but it is helpful if you explain to the judge where the counter-case is mutually exclusive in your overview so that he knows where the clash actually takes place. Make sure however to frame it in such as way that it makes your side look stronger. Pick out where the counter-case lacks and make that the focus of the clash in the round. It gives your side much more weight if you are the one to dictate where the clash resides in the round.

As a PM, your PMR should be focused on 3 things; the problem that you’re trying to solve, the way that your case comes to a solution and how the counter-case fails in comparison. Those 3 things should be present in all three points in your PMR. You always want to seem offensive in your speeches so it’s probably better if the focus of the PMR is why your case is better than the counter-case and not why the counter-case is worse. You always want to be on the positive side, so bringing up the instances in which the counter-case lacks solvency should be supplemental to why your case is absolutely excellent at tackling with the problem at hand.

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