No, Affirmatives Can NOT Make New Responses to a Dropped NEG Shell in Their 1AR
Short Link: http://www.jsmtech.org/dropped-shell-response
Read Time: 7 min
Ever felt that annoying butterfly feeling when an affirmative team in a team policy debate round makes a new response to an argument they dropped more than one consecutive speech ago?
Don’t worry. I have too. I decided I had enough of this, and took an oath to re-educate my debate league into what constitutes as a new response in the rebuttal and why that’s not okay.
So with that, the goal of this post is twofold. First, clarify to debates what new responses are. And second, give debaters some arguments and rhetoric they can use to combat this type of abuse. To do this, we’ll be looking at examples from T or DA shells.
1) No One Knows 👀
I’ll be writing articles on proper T and DA shells pretty soon, but I just want to say that from my experience in NCFCA, no one knows how to run them. Even if they know the theory of them, they never run it and thus have no experience. It’s quite a shame because arguments without a proper NEG shell are not as persuasive as arguments with a NEG shell. This is a probable reason why so many judges hate topicality – teams just don’t run it properly and so it wastes their time, their opponent's time, and most importantly the judge's time. Because of this, many teams don’t know that they can’t make new arguments against the shell (me included).
2) Example T Shell Argument
Alright, for the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to give an example of a T shell argument. I’ve previously blogged about how if you’re running topicality, you’re probably running it wrong, feel free to check that out first. Here’s a proper example T shell for the NCFCA 2021 team policy resolution (Resolved: The EU should substantially reform its immigration policies).
For this post, let’s say that this T argument was brought up in the 1NC and the affirmative dropped every single subpoint – except for the interpretation subpoint. The affirmative in the 2AC brought up their definition of “immigration policy” again – from some random policy researcher published on ResearchGate.net – which was read in their 1AC, and they argued that we should use their definition because it’s just better and that under the definition, they are topical. (If I was negative on this team, I would be interally grinning and making a big loud “get ready to crush” comment to my partner XD)
Reasons Why AFF Can’t Respond
1) AFF Conceded Argument
This is quite simple. Many debate theorists believe that if you drop an argument, you have conceded it – some even use the term “agree.” After all, if in real life, you claimed that cookies n’ cream ice cream was the best to your friend in a conversation, and your friend never responds or tries to refute it, they concede that cookies n’ cream is the best – for at least the purposes of the conversation.
Imagine, if, after 10 minutes of talking, your friend suddenly interrupted you and blurted out that vanilla icecream is better. It would be weird, and you would be wondering why he didn’t say that when you talked about cookies n’ cream being the best 10 minutes before. You would be kinda hurt that your friend didn’t tell you and indirectly lied to you as he heard you say what the “best” ice cream is but only nodded a long and didn’t counter. This is the reason the affirmative can’t respond to a new argument in the rebuttals. They had their chance to respond to it 10 minutes ago when the conversation was brought up, but they didn’t.
As one of my debate coaches (Jadon Buzzard over at Ethos) put it, “If the aff has a chance to run an argument against a position in the 1NC, and they don't run it, they concede it.”
And that actually brings me to my next reason….
2) AFF Had Their Chance to Respond
The easiest and best way to remember and successfully argue this theory in a debate round, is using a simple idea that my debate coach taught me. They had their chance. It’s all about the idea of first response. Whenever a new argument is brought up, the other team has a right to make a new response to it – regardless of whether it is brought up.
Think about it. It makes sense. And let’s go through speech by speech to illustrate that. The 1AC/1NC/2AC/2NC are all constructives, so new arguments are allowed to be brought up at any time, that is the exception. But let’s look at when the 2NC brings up new solvency and DA arguments, as many teams do with a traditional NEG split. In this case, the 1AR is allowed to make as many new responses as he or she would like since that is the affirmative’s first time to respond to those new arguments. The same thing with new arguments brought up in 2AC – the 1NR is entitled to respond with new responses since that is their first time to respond to the arguments (the 2NC and 1NR are in a block and would technically count as one speech). This theory also applies to new arguments (not responses) brought up in any of the rebuttals. While the other team will point out that it is a new argument and should thus be disregarded, they will also make a response to it since that is the first time they heard the argument and could make a response to it.
Rhetoric: My Response
Here’s how I would respond to the affirmative dropping my entire topicality argument. I would for sure make sure to pre-empt their inevitable making new responses to the T-shell in their rebuttals. Make sure to point out clearly to the judge how abusive and unfair that would be to you as the negative. Furthermore, I might choose to collapse to T eventually looking at how things. I would for sure spend a good 4 to 5 minutes on it in my 2NC, and spend the next three minutes either making new arguments (if this was a traditional NEG split) or helping my partner our and extending DAs (if this was shell and extend). If they drop your standards and violation, you DEFINITELY need to poke them hard.
What Do You Think?
If you were in the same position, where the affirmative was trying to argue they have the right to respond to dropped arguments, what would you respond with? I’d love to hear your thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below!