"He Dropped It, so He Agrees!"

The affirmative drops a key point in the 1AR. You jump on it right away, saying:

“I argued X, and my opponent dropped it in the last speech. So we can only assume that he agrees with me that X.”

Let’s unpack this logic.

1. Lack of a position does not indicate a position.

Suppose I sent an email to everyone on my contact list that read as follows: “You hereby agree to pay me $1000 for being such a handsome fella. If you do not consent to these terms, simply reply to this email. If you do not reply, I will assume that you agree and you will be obligated to follow through on this contract within the week. Happy Thanksgiving!”

This wouldn’t be legal, ethical, or reasonable. I could only claim that you agreed to pay me for being handsome if you somehow indicated that you agreed to that. But the victory claim at the start of this post uses the same logic. “My opponent didn’t reply to this, which is proof that he agrees with me.” Or to put it even more simply: “The absence of any evidence to go on proves that my speculation is correct!” That’s laughably illogical.

Silence is not consent. It is silence. Nothing more, nothing less.

2. The only reasonable assumption is disagreement.

You were assigned a certain position on the resolution; your opponent was assigned the opposite position. That’s something we actually know, and that we can prove with evidence (the judge’s ballot, postings, etc). The only reasonable assumption based on available evidence is that your opponent does not agree with you. If you want to put words in his mouth, you’ll have to come up with some incredible evidence to the contrary – or better yet, just don’t speculate and focus on what you do know.

3. Cutesy rhymes prove nothing.

Enter the fun phrase: “Omission is admission.”

Watch this:

The stance of the affirmative is just a poor alternative.
If you vote neg, you’ll lose your leg.
National security is proof of immaturity.
Support free press and bring distress.
Resource extraction would be an infraction.
Marine resources cause divorces.
The devastation of conflict mitigation is the causation of nation damnation, and the agitation of the local population’s cogitation. Let’s escape that altercation by taking a vacation in the Appalachians.

I could do this all day. My point: rhymes don’t make you any more logical than speaking in pig latin. Using a rhyme as the sole justification for your argument is an attack on the nature of academic debate. Serious judges are insulted by such pettiness.

4. Stick to the truth.

Telling the judge that you automatically win an argument based on a technicality is whiny at best. If you say that your opponent agrees with you – which he obviously does not – you’re tossing your precious credibility into the blender. The good news is that you don’t have to depend on shenanigans to win.

Instead, focus on how great your original argument was. Tell the judge the facts about the debate and let him decide what to do with them. You want the judge to feel like you could win a debate even if your opponent argued against you. Contrast these two responses.

Weak: “In the last speech, my partner argued that the affirmative plan would disenfranchise the lower class. The affirmative dropped this argument, which according to the rules of debate means we win it. As the old saying goes: ‘Omission is admission.'”

Strong: “In the last speech, my partner argued that the affirmative plan would disenfranchise the lower class, and this was dropped in the last speech. The affirmative had nothing to say on this, and that’s enormous. They’re asking you to vote for a plan when all the evidence suggests that it would shift power away from the people who most need their voices protected. Disadvantage 3 is a fatal flaw in the affirmative position and it’s a big reason to vote negative.”

If the judge cares about dropped arguments – and almost all judges do – all he needs to hear is that it was dropped. He knows what to do from there. If you try to pressure him or take his authority away, he won’t respond well. You shouldn’t feel entitled to win an argument based on anything other than the fact that you did your job and proved it.

Here’s the bottom line: Tell your judge the truth, prove your points with logic and evidence, and steer clear of technical chicanery. You’ll win respect – and ballots – left and right.