Dan Cobos Reviews GW 2013 Finals

Dan Cobos


Link to this round: http://videos.apdaweb.org/?p=798

Case: Should the film makers of Zero Dark Thirty have exaggerated the role torture played in the finding and killing of Osama Bin Laden?

In the round between Harvard Chief Mangoes & Yale BB, I would have voted for Harvard. At the end of the round, I evaluated the a combination of:

  • A focus on the clash through the round. Meaning, while both teams dropped certain arguments, I believe that this type of round was likely to be won with frameworks and burdens rather than a singular dropped argument (or, as some Dinos refer it to, a silver bullet RFD).
  • Secondly, the way I pick frameworks or weighing mechanisms to use for an RFD is to allow the teams to tell me how I should evaluate the round.
  • Finally, even though I believe that this round was won on a technical error made by Opp, I strongly favor rebuttals as my primary source of how I make my decisions.
    • This is not to say that the constructive do not matter. Often, I will look for warrants/impacts on the flow if it is not self-evident when it is brought up by the rebuttal. That is to say, when the rebuttals have not painted a clear picture for me, I will return to the flow to make my decision.

In making my decision, these are the areas that I believed to be most important:

  1. Is the exaggeration of torture in the movie acceptable?

From the very beginning of this round, case construct asked not if torture should be shown in the movie at all, but rather if the exaggerated use in capturing Bin Laden. The MG made the distinction between the two clear during his overview.

The government team was clever in understanding the burden they carried in this round. In this round, Government could not deviate from what the established as the “accurate” description of torture

However, LOC and most of the offense of the opp relied on this specific piece of offense:

It is necessary for people who see the movie to internalize:

  • S should own up to what it did
  • That in spite of torture working on some level, it was a ruined enterprise because it led to a moral failure for the U.S
  • Show the humanity of the victims, in order for people to empathize.

The main problem with these impacts is that while they all rely on torture being shown, it is never clearly explained by Opp why the ROLE of torture must be exaggerated. Both the MG and the PMR highlight this flaw and it never gets a proper response from the Opp. The closest we get to a response is an attempt by the MO to create a turn

At best, the relevant response we get is that Gov concedes that dramatization is important to draw in viewers and therefore Opp attempts to state  that Gov is having it both ways. However, PMR clears this up by explaining that lies or “dramatization” is only acceptable when it doesn’t bend the facts of the movie.

When Gov wins the core of this argument, to me it becomes the main reason to pick them up since every other question in the debate roots out from this one. Opp needed to have a:

  • Better understanding of what they were defending. Opp asked a handful of questions (by my count, 3) in a case that probably required a bit more of burden understanding.
    • This I believe is a common problem on APDA. In higher rounds, there is a perception that asking many POC’s is problematic because it makes you look unknowledgeable. It is my suggestion that judges will rarely decide a round based on a person asking too many POC’s however they are likely to punish an Opp team that misunderstands the question of the debate.
  • Better warrants to how people react to films, more specifically this one.
    • This was a pretty big problem until MO. Opp’s warrant on how people react to this movie was a repetition of “No one goes to watch the movie and then thinks torture is ok”
      • Notice through the LOC there isn’t much further warranting. This to me as a judge feels like begging the question, or, they are asking me to fill in the blanks about why this reaction they claim is legitimate. When the MG clarifies the simplicity of this statement, Opp is at major disadvantage.
    • Even though MO is able to reshift the argument(and impact) by identifying the ”undecided viewer”, either time management or poor flowing led to much of PMC to be left untouched.
      • Additionally, having the MO as the main point of offense allowed the PMR to respond without Opp ever having a chance to defend the MO ground.

However, to understand further tiebreakers, these are the rest of the questions in the round if you were not sold yet.

  1. Which interpretation is better for society?

Both teams make claims about artistic importance. I believe that gov wins both.

Opposition’s stance on the artistic merit of this movie is that you should care about the message that you are sending, and that is the only obligation you have. Government again asks Opp why the dramatization is necessary for the message.

  • This especially becomes a problem for Opp when through the round they paint torture as objectively bad and ineffective yet they create a blurred picture on the subject.
    • If this movie was truly about sending a message, Opp does not send a clear one as an artist.

Goverment takes a stance that goes largely, if not entirely, dropped by side opposition.

  • Obligation to other artists who are trying to make films like this one but they depend on your legitimacy to make this type of movie correctly.

Both teams then made claims about empathy. This also flows to government.

Opposition states that when people are able to see the enemies of the U.S endure torture, then the viewers (including the undecided) would then start to feel empathy since these people would be humanized.

Government both takes away this offence and absorbs it. Government explains that both teams are defending showing torture, and therefore, both would be able to gain that moment of empathy from the viewers.

  • However, in Oppositions world, torture would be seen as more successful and efficacious, it would be difficult for people to empathize with the people being tortured if they were, in fact, hiding secrets that put millions of American lives at risk. This means that people not only do not empathize, but they get their views reconfirmed (the intuitive belief that torture works)

Lastly, a major drop that likely would have worked as the tipping point for me as a judge if I was undecided about the rest of the round, is that people will consider this as propaganda if not accurate and therefore will not even watch the movie.  This point is read in PMC and extended in every Gov speech.

If this happened during inrounds, these are the speaks and ranks I would have assigned.

I would have given the 1/26.5 to the MG. I believe the overview at the top explaining the big technical mistake by opposition was made very clear. But, he continued the round assuming this point would not be enough. In doing so, he forced himself to engage at the highest level of the opposition. Other than one drop that did not end up as very relevant in the big picture (talking about Jessica Chastains character), the flow was clearly covered and a good chunk of offense was added in the speech. In order for the speech to have a higher score, I would have liked to see a further explanation on what people do when they react a certain way. That is, Gov claims that people who see this will like torture and support it. Either empirical examples or logical pathways of actions of what it means to “affect policy today”

I would have given the 2/26.5 to the PM. I was very impressed by the handling of  a big MO dump mixed with a new explanation of Opp’s stance when it regards their burden. I believe that not only did the PM combat and overtake the LOR structure and what he believed to be the most important, but the PM also brought up clear lines of offense from PMC that were dropped. I would also accept a 26.25 as a score, given that while the MO did refocus the round, the Gov advantage still existed strongly after the MG.

I would have given the 3/26.25 to the MO. The overview where he attempts to turn the MG’s point about dramatization was clever and the further clarification of undecided viewers was a good base for the rest of the refocused Opp. However, because there were still multiple drops and because some of the new offense (Torture has worked and it should not be denied) were dropped in the LOR, I would also be ok with a 26 for this speech.

I would have given the 4/25.75 to the LO. Aside from the technical error that entirely mishandled Opposition’s burden, the warranting on how people react to the this movie made the Opposition’s stance simplistic and vulnerable. Both of these facts combined with many drops from PMC made the MO’s job very difficult and therefore it set up an Opp block that necessitated a lot of defense to be built it. LOR also utilized what he claimed to be dropped points(empathy, bright line of truth), when in reality they were answered by the MG and sub sequentially brought up again by PMR.