18 November, 2007

First Opposition

First Opposition

  1. What is the purpose of first opposition?
    1. The primary purpose of first opposition is to undermine what first proposition have said.
    2. First prop will have suggested a problem, a solution and an outcome (for what to do if they haven’t, see below). The job of first op is to attack one or more of these elements (problem, solution, outcome) or the links that they have made between them.
    3. Try not to nitpick at a proposal. Look at th big issue reasons why the proposition will fail. That “it costs money” is less convincing than an argument that money isn’t an incentive in the case they are talking about F
    4. For example: THW offer financial incentives to career women for having children. The strong opposition to make is to undermine the link made between paying women to have children and those women actually wanting and having more children. A weak point to make is that this costs money and so is bad.
  2. What do judges look for when assessing first op?
    1. Structure, teamwork, analysis, style etc
    2. Teamwork is especially impressive in this position
    3. Don’t do a whole speech of rebuttal. Some constructive argumentation is needed too.
    4. Judges want constructive points on why there isn’t a problem. Why, if there is a problem, the solution won’t solve it. Or why, if there is a problem and the solution would solve it, it would cause more problems than the initial status quo. Or why the links between these are wrong and don’t work
    5. This position sets up the clash in the debate. A good first op team will see their points used throughout the rest of the debate.
  3. Common problems in first opposition
    1. What the proposition has proposed is different from the motion (a.k.a Squirrel[*])

i. If it is a squirrel, complain but still run with what first prop has said

ii. If there is a difference between the motion and what first prop proposes, you must run with what first prop proposes not what you think they should have said. Even if the new proposition is nothing like the original motion. If this means your original prep has been wasted and is no longer relevant, you still have five and fifteen minutes (depending where you are sitting) to write a new speech. A lot of your old material may still be useful, but just in a different way.

    1. First proposition hasn’t defined/explained a problem/offered a solution

i. Find something very reasonable that they could have propped. Tell the judge they failed to say anything so you are assuming they would have said [insert reasonable thing here]. Run from there. What is crucial in this situation is to be reasonable. If you are not, then it will ruin the rest of the debate and whilst first prop might come last, you will almost certainly not get first or second.

ii. Ideally, complain that first prop didn’t do their job and then spend the constructive part of your speech saying why they are wrong in principle.

    1. Counter-propping

i. Don’t do it.

ii. If you have conceded that the problem identified by the proposition exists and is a problem, it can be tempting to provide an alternative solution. You don’t have to and should not do so. Your job is to defend the status quo and simply explain that whilst there are problems in it, the proposition will either not solve them or, in solving them, will cause many more problems.

iii. If challenged by proposition to give a different solution, remind them that your role on the table is not to explain an alternative but simply to explain why their proposition is wrong and makes the world a worse place.

iv. If you saw the Israel debate at the beginning of the year, opposition conceded the area was a mess. They conceded life in Palestine wasn’t nice. They conceded that life in Israel for Arab-Israelis was imperfect. They did not offer any solution to these problems, they merely pointed out that the two state solution would not solve many of the problems and even if it solved some, it would exacerbate others.

  1. In short
    1. Deny any or all of the propositions problems, solutions or outcomes
    2. Deny the links between the three
    3. Don’t solely rebutt, add constructive material as well
    4. Counter propping is a bed idea
    5. Attack the strongest parts of the proposition, not just the weakest
    6. Argue the motion as defined by proposition, no matter what it is, not the motion you thought they should have run based on what you were given twenty minutes before.

[*] A squirrel is where a first prop team have gone significantly beyond what the motion could mean in defining their proposition. In a closed motion, the link between the motion and what proposition says should be very, very clear. A squirrel is so called because it’s hairy and runs away fast.

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