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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Samantha Tonn (Binghamton University) vs. Opposition: Jenny Han (NEI Education)

Judge: A. Marie Houser (Unaffiliated)

Resolution: Choice of Three

  • Samantha Tonn
    Samantha Tonn

    Jenny Han
    Jenny Han
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    Speech Details

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    Posted at October 15, 2013 12:08:07AM EST by Samantha Tonn



    "Florida Stand Your Ground"
    "10 States Copied Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' Law"
    "Beyond Stand Your Ground"
    "Study: FL Justifiable Homicide Rates Tripled"
    "Trayvon Martin's Shooter is Free"

    Posted at October 21, 2013 01:33:51AM EST by Jenny Han



    More Guns, Less Crime by John Lott

    Posted at October 29, 2013 12:45:58AM EST by Samantha Tonn



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at November 5, 2013 01:20:51AM EST by Jenny Han



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at November 11, 2013 02:05:12PM EST by Samantha Tonn



    None available for this speech.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at November 12, 2013 05:58:07PM EST by A. Marie Houser

    Category Samantha Tonn Jenny Han
    Use of evidence: 4 3
    Delivery skill: 3 3.5
    Coherence of arguments: 4 3
    Responsiveness to opponent: 4 3
    Identification of key points: 4 4
    Comments: First, I do not think that you irreparably violated the rules by going over your time by fourteen seconds. But I do think that your argument would have been stronger had it been more focused and succinct, and that it is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the rules.

    I also do not think you "completely changed" the scope of the debate since you did address value as well as policy, but again, your argument would have been stronger if you'd focused all of your time on the value proposition. Your argument strengthened when you began to look at the reasons Stand Your Ground Laws are flawed; comparatively, your argument that repealing the Florida law will necessarily lead to a widespread repeal was fallacious.

    However, you did make several effective points when you shifted to harms. I am persuaded that the laws trigger institutional and interpersonal racism (which is different than causing racism, mind you); I am also inclined to be persuaded by your evidence of an increase in the rate of homicide, though I'd like to know if other factors were accounted for when this statistic was calculated. I am also inclined to believe that a shift has occurred in categorizing some murders as justifiable because of stand your ground, but in general, your points could have used more evidence. Next time, do try to give each point more room; you can eek out more time by limiting your proposition. Also, try to slow down your tempo and breathe more through each sentence.

    Finally, I want to say that you handled yourself well in the rebuttal and closing. Points for not getting too flummoxed by your opponents' focus on the rules, and especially for pointing out that her argument failed to differentiate between Stand Your Ground and other self-defense laws. Do try to remain even-handed at all times (at one point, you said that your opponent or her point was "ridiculous," an attack which momentarily reduced your credibility).

    Overall, a good job. Thank you for an enlightening debate!
    What I'm looking for as a judge is how the debaters establish and maintain credibility, logic, and emotional appeals. I think that arguing for a win based on debate rules can be tricky; it's a strategy that isn't so much about establishing one's own position as undermining the credibility of the opponent. It also invites the judge to think that much more carefully about both debaters' use of time, which can backfire on you.

    And so what I found myself doing is noticing that a quarter of your time was spent on the rules -- a minute on the time challenge and a half a minute on whether your opponent "completely changed" the debate. Because I did not find that the time violation was flagrant -- and neither did I find that the scope had changed drastically (the proposition constructive argued both value and policy, but especially value, and did so using several key points) -- I found that the move to argue for a win based on your opponent's error very much diminished your credibility. I give you credit for trying the maneuver, however.

    To me, that time could have been better spent on differentiating between Stand Your Ground and other self-defense rules, such as so-called Castle Laws. From time to time, as you say, escape is impossible. But that's why there are case laws and state laws that address justifiable defense outside of Stand Your Ground. Yes, sometimes there is a duty to retreat, but not always.

    Now, addressing all the variations of these laws would have been cumbersome, but since your opponent did somewhat argue from a case (Florida), I think it would have been fine for you to do the same: you could have addressed what Florida laws were already on the books, and why they didn't work.

    Without that differentiation and context, your argument that Stand Your Ground could be reformed did not make as much sense as it could, and left me to conclude that a reformed Stand Your Ground law is simply be justifiable defense. If that's the case, you have conceded to your opponent, who is essentially arguing that justifiable self-defense already exists.

    Your strengths here were in your calm and measured delivery. Your self-confidence served well. I would suggest, however, that you rethink asking the judge a question and assuming the answer, since my answer to your question was quite different than you thought it would be -- and that's always a risk when asking a question in persuasive texts or in debates. But again, your delivery and calm self-assurance served you well, and will serve you well in the future. In some ways, that's harder to master than constructing an argument.

    Thank you for an enlightening debate!

    The decision is for the Proposition: Samantha Tonn

    Reason for Decision:

    More persuasive evidence and greater focus on substantive points.

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