The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

You choose the topic

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 5/23/2016 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,292 times Debate No: 91687
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
Votes (1)




I want to have fun debate, let's not take things too seriously. Whoever accepts can offer three possible topics and I'll choose the one I like best.

No rules, just don't be a dick.


Note: the time limit is 24 hours, with a 3k character limit, so the arguments are going to be brief.

The topics I have to offer are:

1. Gay marriage should be banned in the United States [my side would be Con]
2. The United States should adopt a ban on abortion [I would be Con]
3. Justice requires the recognition of animal rights [I would be Pro]
Debate Round No. 1


All of these topics are pretty blatantly skewed. I feel like if I were to have a debate on any of them with Con the round would be both frustrating due to the polarizing nature of the topics, as well as lack any kind of entertainment value.

Con knew what kind of debate this was coming in. He notes the brevity of the debate at the top of his first round as well as in the comments section to me directly. Marriage equality is law in the US, the only ground for argument is an ethical one or an otherwise thinly veiled political one. Women deserve to have autonomy of their own bodies, the only ground for argument here would be a personal moral one to which anyone's opinion isn't going to be swayed through the course of a 3-round, 3,000 character debate. Legal scholars with far more understanding of these topics than either of us have hashed through these subjects in meticulous detail for centuries, there is no ground we are going to make in a debate this short that hasn't been made already.

Something like is to be expected from time-to-time whenever I give my opponent the opportunity to chose the debate topic while also having final say in the round. What Con does with the his final topic however is what makes me decide to reject a topical debate in favor of a broader framework discussion. You are going to end up voting Pro in this debate, and I will not have to say a single a word about any of the topics Con has presented in order for you to do so. When Con presents two skewed topics that have been beaten to death, I can overlook those and chose whatever third topic he has lined up. But on that third topic, Con suddenly decides that he wants to be pro rather than con. That isn't fair to me, the language of the topics make it so that Pro would have an inherent advantage on that kind of resolution which would be my only ground for an equitable discussion.

I say explicitly in the introductory round that I want to have a fun debate. What I do no want is to regurgitate the same talking points on a polarizing subject that we wouldn't even be able to make any progress on. I get that working through these discussion can be important for people still trying figure out where they stand on the matter, and debate should be a safe place to have those kinds of discussions for the sake of identity formation - but dear god there is a time and a place. Con has already had all of these debate several times. There is at least one instance of each of these topics on the first page of his most recent debates alone[1]. In giving me these topics, Con was neither trying to break new ground or have an identity forming discussion. I don't know what he was trying to do.

For the sake of shaping better debate in the future, it's important to use your vote to make a statement. If we want to have contentious debate, we need to give them the depth they deserve - if we want to have light debates, we need to chose light topics.



Pro's sole reasons for these topics being "skewed" is that legal scholars have decided them. But that's about *constitutionality* of those, not whether they "should" be legal. That's an is/ought fallacy. There are actual arguments against same-sex marriage and abortion; those two might be constitutional, but that's irrelevant. I was actually looking for a framework debate on that. There's no inherent advantage in either of the first two topics--I don't see why that's the case at all. Morality isn't the only ground to oppose abortion -- there's actually other ground [e.g. psychological damage from having abortions, reduced potentiality]. There have been multiple debates on abortion. Similarly, there are actually arguments against gay marriage. There's no "skew," because arguments on constitutionality are is/ought fallacies.

There's a reason I debate - it's fun. I can convince readers of positions. Animal rights, gay marriage and abortion are issues I'm passionate about, and I'm looking for persuasion. The fact that they've been done before changes absolutely nothing. What Pro is doing is essentially saying these are topics Pro doesn't want to talk about. In that case, Pro shouldn't have made this debate. There are topics that are truisms [e.g. "evolution is true" or "sea lions are seals"]. This isn't a truism because it's an opinion topic.

Debate is an exercise in persuasion. I'm able to achieve that. I'm also able to achieve a rigorous intellectual discussion. There are people who oppose gay marriage and abortion, and good debates on them. For example, the user Contradiction has produced multiple good debates on the subject of same-sex marriage; this is one[1]. Philocat has produced good debates on abortion[2].

As for animal rights, I didn't realize that the side allotted was the only side; I apologize for that. I offer the following topic in place: "United Nations peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations."

Role of the Ballot:

The role of the ballot isn't "better debate shaping." Vote Con on abuse, if anything, because Pro abuses the resolution completely to shift the focus of discussion from any topic to one on what debate is about. Instead of allowing one to choose a topic - especially when the topics aren't truisms - Pro is picking topics that *they* want to debate. That defeats the purpose of this debate. Pro is deliberately abusing this to gain a victory. Vote them down on that and teach them that that's not the correct thing to do--because if a person is just going to say "you've done that many times, nothing can be achieved and I don't like it, so vote for me," contenders will start running arguments against instigators like that and the purpose of debate is destroyed.


Debate Round No. 2


We won't break ground
The argument I make up top is that we're not going to break any kind of ground on subjects as polarizing as this one in a debate this short. Con responds by arguing that the opinion of legal scholars, and the constitutionality of a subject do not disqualify them for an equitable debate. The heart of the argument, which Con doesn't respond to, is that these are inherently polarizing issues. The Contradiction's debate is a turn because it actually prove my point pretty well when you read through the RFDs. With the sole exception of RoyLatham everyone votes in line with their prior opinion, no-one's opinion is changed over the course of the debate, and all but two RFDs are about two sentences long. Aside from that, the debate is five rounds at 8,000 characters. That debate and ours are not comparable. These topics are skewed because they're not ones we can have a meaningful debate on under this round's parameters, and even if we did break any ground on the topics voters are likely to just vote on their own biases anyway. Ignoring such a glaring lack of fairness reifies bad debate practices and reduces the standards of out activity.

Framework debates are valid
If we want to continue to have debates that make us excited about this activity, then it is important for us to occasionally interrogate the ways we debate. Whether this happens explicitly as a function of the resolution, or arises as a response to what is perceived as bad conduct in-round is irrelevant, one ought to have the right to have theory and meta-debates as is necessarily required by the content of specific debates.

I am all for having debates where the topic is explicitly geared towards unpacking framework issues, but if we only allow framework discussions to happen when the topic is meta then we do a disservice to the activity. I forego a topical debate in favor of a framework debate because of how Con presents his topics, not because of the topics themselves. The first two are just plain bad, but for the third he hijacks my position leaving me with nothing to do other than debate bad topics are accept abuse. Sure Con gives me a different topic in round two, but the entire point of that is to avoid the framework debate. Con even PMs me about wanting to delete the debate entirely because he doesn't want to debate framework.[1]

The topics are bad
But that isn't my reason for abandoning them in favor of a framework discussion. I do the work up top to explain why we're not going to break any ground on these subjects, and below that on why rejecting topical debate in favor of framework debates is valid.

Here I want to drive-home why these topics being bad is important. I would be willing to argue against a topic that I simply disagreed with, but these topics are polarizing and have been beaten to death. Even a well-written debate such as the one Con linked don't get voted on fairly - why should we replicte that?


1) Any topic can be argued in 3,000 characters in a quality way. Concision is critical to the act of persuasion. There have been multiple good debates that have been done that way. For instance, Envisage defeated lannan13 using 2000-character arguments on the issue of God’s existence- one that is a subject much more in-depth than gay marriage. It was a good debate anyway. []

2) The argument from voting standards fails for two reasons:

A: RFD standards currently prevent bias in voting. Contradiction’s debate came up before vote moderation became sufficiently strict to remove bias.

B1: Furthermore, Pro fails to explain the link between poor RFDs and these topics. If the reason is these topics are controversial, turn. The purpose of the round is to resolve controversial issues- if Pro’s world is one where controversial issues are not debated due to bad voting, then Pro’s world is one that negates the round itself. This is a debate site and controversial issues are going to be debated. If Pro has a problem with the round, then they are perpetuating the same harm by starting a debate.

B2: Pro doesn’t explain why bad RFDs are a detriment as long as there are good RFDs too. Bad RFDs just don’t offer good things and influence the win record- but Pro needs to explain how the win record is important, when biased RFDs can be rejected in the minds of the debaters anyway.\

3) Pro talks about how the topics are one-sided ones. Pro fails to prove that this is the case. They are controversial issues- there’s a reason they are on the DDO “big issues” list. The only reason they are bad topics that I am able to gauge is the voting, which severely lacks explanation and completely strips out the concept of debate, in which case you vote Pro down anyway for perpetuating the harm they are trying to solve. Pro also talks about me “hijacking” their position- but that was merely a harmless misinterpretation.

4) Theory debates aren’t fine when there are topics with ground on both sides- which I’ve proven with the example of Contradiction’s debate. After that, there’s no reason for theory because there’s no abuse- in which case all Pro is doing is securing the ability to not debate a topic they don’t want to debate.

5) Pro links an image to the PM between Pro and I. Two things. First, that’s irrelevant to the theory debate. Second, it’s a violation of basic conduct to publicly showcase PMs without obtaining consent- the definition of a PM is a “private message”. That’s why it isn’t on a comment on the wall. Vote them down on conduct. The violation is also sufficient for a vote on abuse since Pro is utilizing material from me which was intended to be private for their gain- clear showcase of abuse in round.

Debate Round No. 3


1) Brevity is the essence of wit, but showcasing other instances of short debates that hit a high mark don't answer the arguments I make up top about being unable to break ground on bad topics. Con drops the Contradiction debate to instead focus on a debate between Envisage and Lannan13. In that debate Lannan13 forfeits because he broke a rule, this is hardly an exemplar for good debate. Further, the argument is non-responsive to the issue of polarization. We could have had the best debate in the history of this website, but these are still bad topics because they're polarizing.

A) Bias, bad voting, and voting blocs will always exist. If they can exist on national collegiate circuits, they can exist on an anonymous website.

B1) The issue here isn't controversy, it's polarization. I use this word time and time again, but Con consistently recharacterizes it as an issue of conflict. Polarization is an issue of creating false dichotomies when there could really be some middle ground. The problem isn't in exploring controversy, it's in our failings to recognize the nuance of controversy.

B2) This is a pretty blatant moving target. The RFD argument was a response to Con's argument that good debates can still happen on polarizing topics. I note that even on what was a pretty decent debate, people still failed to check their own biases because the topic itself was already polarizing. Also I find Con's attempt to delegitimize the importance of voting and RFDs funny when he later tries to get me voted down for posting a PM we had.

3) Being on the big issue list means jack. That list is basically a snapshot of a 2003 Fox Newscast. It hasn't been updated in years, and it lacks any level of nuance. It's dichotomous, and incomplete. Extend the conflict v. polarization analysis here, it is never responded to. The topics are bad because they're polarizing, not because they're contentious.

4) Voting on theory is valid when topics are polarizing and lack depth. Con never responds to the answers I make towards Contradiction's debate being different from ours. I already call him out on his moving target up top, but I want to do it again here because it's unfair and further justifies voting Pro on theory. When topical debates are polarizing, we ought to call out the framing of the issues themselves for the health of the activity.

5) There is no rule being broken here. If Con didn't want me to post that message then he shouldn't have sent it to me. That kind of private politicking is bad for debate and reifies the notion that rhetoric outside the debate space is different from rhetoric inside of it.

1) Polarization is bad - when topics are polizing to the point that they make all ground false dichotomies, then they don't contribute to good debate. these topics lack nuance and ignore personal autonomy.

2) Framework is good - con even concedes that theory debate is good in the previous round, vote pro to protect critical theory debate.


Reason One to Negate: The topics aren’t bad, so theory debate is irrelevant

A) Pro says the Contradiction example was to show that polarizing topics can be debated. This is a straw-man, because it was to show that this isn’t a polarizing topic or one which favors either side- Pro’s sole warrant for that is constitutionality, which I rejected via is/ought fallacy. Extend the is/ought argument, which means the constitutionality of abortion and gay marriage are irrelevant.

B) Pro concedes that concision is important- Lannan’s concession is irrelevant because it was rejected, and voters still provided strong RFDs explaining how Envisage one on arguments. In fact, there are many more examples of this happening- for instance, FourTrouble’s debate with F-16 on the trolley problem. [4]

C) Voting: vote moderation removes all bad votes. The votes that remain are ones with reasonably fair RFDs.

D) The topics don’t divide solely into stark contrast (i.e. they are not polarizing)- because there’s nothing more in them. Nuances such as civil unions or time restrictions on abortions can still be presented by each side- which means there’s no nuance left to avoid. As such, there are only two positions to take on any of the topics, and there’s no harm to that explained. The topics are fair, have even ground [dropped] and are debatable. They can always be debated again, even if “beaten down.” Pro fails to explain how these topics aren’t debatable. Vote them down because their theory shell completely fails in interpretation/standard, so there’s no impact to violation- this completely acts as the antithesis to Pro’s original intent (to have a “choose the topic” debate) and infringes on my intent when I presented topics with even ground.


Reason Two to Negate: Private Messages

Societal values dictate that private messages are kept private. The DDO community at large agrees that posting private messages publicly is wrong. [5] Giving entire PMs publicly without consent is a bannable offense if done repeatedly. It is considered a community standard for conduct. Moderation policy backs this up.

Since there are no objective codes of conduct, the codes of conduct recognized by the community at large are enforced by moderation- and those codes of conducts must be upheld in-round. The impact of such a violation is setting a precedent, and allowing the infringing of privacy- which defines a “private” message- to continue. The role of the ballot is to enforce the values of debate- usually, that means voting for the side with more compelling arguments, but here, it is enforcing a basic code of conduct.

I object to them posting the message publicly lacking consent. Don’t jeopardize the ability to object to non-consensual posting of private information, and vote them down.


Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
>Reported vote: lord_megatron// Mod action: Removed<

7 points to Con. Reasons for voting decision: pro said he will chose ONE of the most liked topics out of the THREE POSSIBLE TOPICS given by con. But as his failure to select any of the topics by justifying it as "skewed", gives victory to con

[*Reason for removal*] The voter fails to assess any arguments made in the debate, instead focusing on their views of the overall tactics used by Pro. That may reasonably inform the voter's view of Pro's conduct, but cannot be the sole assessment given of the debate as a whole.
Posted by tejretics 2 years ago
lord.megatron's vote is horrible and I have reported it.
Posted by tejretics 2 years ago
Thanks for voting whiteflame
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
RFD (Pt. 1)

I don't love judging debates like this. Not because I'm not a fan of theory or framework debates, but because they usually don't go beyond "vote for me because this debate could have been better." That kind of argument has never spoken to me, particularly because the whole point is to pull away from any real debate of a given topic. If the goal is to re-focus the debate and deconstruct how and why we select certain topics, and you want to win based on that deconstruction, then the first thing you have to do is establish a clear form of abuse being perpetrated.

Pro cites several perceived violations, including the idea that a debate of this length isn't going to convince anyone and that these topics invite polarization, but neither of these were explicitly denied in the rules of the debate. Pro's essentially applying these as rules to the debate, claiming that a violation constitutes a loss on Con's part. The effects appear to be that these topics re-tread old ground, which makes them stale, and that voting is already skewed to the point that people have pretty much made their decisions before they read the debate. There's also a weak violation that Pro cites in R2 when he argues that none of these topics are conducive to "a fun debate", but I'm dismissing this one, as it seems entirely subjective. I'm also dismissing the whole "this is a short round debate" argument because even Pro seems to stop caring about it by the end, though it was never all that solid to begin with.

Con's responses get at the re-treading point, essentially stating that you can still have a good debates on these issues. There's some disagreement over whether or not there was good debate in the examples Con cites, but I think it's pretty clear that good debate can happen on these topics, even with the short length of the rounds.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
(Pt. 2)

So that leaves us with the focus on polarization. Pro probably could have done a better job establishing abuse, and the main reason why I'm questioning it is because of the way the debate itself was established. Pro pretty clearly allowed Con to establish the topic with little to no guidelines. I would likely have bought a Kritik that established why Pro's efforts to further define what he wanted out of the topics out of the first round is itself problematic and damages debate, but that would have required a good deal of space to explain. Nonetheless, the issue is whether or not Pro has established that Con is essentially skewing the debate towards polarized voting, and is essentially furthering a system where the debate itself has little meaning.

Honestly, I would have bought the perspective that polarizing issues actually require MORE debate for this very reason. If the problem is that the sides are already so set that there's no room for movement, then that just increases the need for discussion of the issue to try and break down that barrier. If anything, that seems to encourage more creative styles of debate and push the debaters to do something outside the norm in order to reach people they otherwise would ignore. That reaching doesn't just reduce conflict, it also reduces polarization by making people on both sides consider more pieces of the other side's argument. That diametric opposition that Pro talks about and the false dichotomy it creates breaks down when people actually seek to understand one another instead of defining themselves by their position and opposition.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
(Pt. 3)

But that argument doesn't come up. There's an abbreviated version of that argument in Con's argument that we should argue to resolve controversial topics, but it's unclear how arguing more resolves any controversy. So, I focus on the other points. I mainly get mitigation. The argument that bias in RFDs is denied by vote moderation is at least partially true, but it's certainly not absolute. I buy from Pro that bias will always exist, regardless of vote moderation. There's a turn on education as well that appears in the form of "we should have just debated this, since we both acknowledge that sides exist", but I don't get a whole lot of reasoning for why the framework debate denied education.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
(Pt. 4)

So what remains by the end of the debate is a statement Con makes in the final round. I'm loathe to accept it because it is new (Con had two opportunities to post this beforehand, and even had Pro clarify the difference between controversial and polarizing in the prior round), but I find it difficult to dismiss off hand. Con's right that having only two starkly divided positions isn't, in and of itself, harmful, and perhaps if he'd expanded more on this, getting to the root of why we debate topics instead of focused on the sides you could potentially take, there's a good chance this point could have made headway. The problem is that Pro does give me analysis as to why polarizing topics are harmful " these issues remain static to the point that voters who think a certain way will not even perceive the other side as worth reading, rendering such a discussion moot to the broader community. I don't particularly agree with this, especially because I don't feel debate should be based on how other people perceive a given topic and that biased voting is a problem with the voters and should not be blamed on the topic, but that's not a point I see in the debate. Pro also tells me why engaging in a framework debate can be just as meaningful (in this case, more meaningful) than any of the individual topics that Pro has brought up, and while I find that analysis wanting, it doesn't get effectively rebutted by Con. There's no reason why engaging in a framework debate necessarily harms education, fairness, or any other standard of which I'm aware.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
(Pt. 5)

As I was saying from the outset of this RFD, I really wasn't swayed by Pro's argument. Frankly, I think the argument that a polarized topic should essentially be spurned and that Con should essentially be shamed even for suggesting them as options stretches the limits of what I'm willing to accept. But he realizes where the key strength of his point is by the end, and focuses his entire final round on polarization, a point that Con effectively dropped up to that point by applying only minor mitigation to it. I don't like the way this was turned into a framework debate, and honestly, I was looking for easy ways to vote Con, but I'm just not finding them. In the meantime, I'm given enough of a story as to why we should avoid topics such as Con profferred based on polarization. That's not the greatest argument around, but I don't see much reason to support polarizing topics beyond "we can still have good debate," which ignores the central issue: it's not about the debaters, it's about the community and the voters. I suppose the easiest thing Con could have done is argue that it is about the debaters and explain why voting is always going to be a sh*t show no matter the topic, but he never quite gets there with his arguments. As such, I vote Pro.
Posted by AribtraryMoniker 2 years ago
Agreed, thanks for your thoughtful consideration.
Posted by tejretics 2 years ago
I appreciate that, Whiteflame.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments. If this were a 7 point debate, I would have awarded a point to Con based on conduct for the posting of that PM. That's something you should avoid doing in the future, Pro. On debates like these where it's winner takes all, a decision like that could cost you dearly.