Josh Dennis
Appleton East High School
Appleton, WI

Credentials:
I've judged about 70+ rounds a year since 2009. I haven't been around the block for too long; I've been judging debate for four years, and coaching at Appleton East for two. Our team has had success in past years, and we're starting to gain traction again on the national circuit now. It's totally understandable if lack of experience on the circuit is cause for you to strike me, but I stand by my intellectual capability and my ability to interpret and weigh arguments as well as any other big deal judge/coach.


General Philosophy:
The thing I appreciate the most in this activity, and the thing I see less and less of as years progress, is persuasiveness and rhetorical skill. I absolutely understand the importance of making strategic decisions such as reading twelve blip DA's against teams who you don't have prepped out, but also understand that it's the case (in front of me, at least), that your capacity to win an argument goes down in direct proportion with how few words substantiate it. I really love having to compare large amounts of arguments and weigh the risks of multiple geopolitical scenarios in the context of one another, but what I love even more is an intelligent team that can explain why one or two key pieces of literature are damning to an opponent's entire case. Approach me as though I was dumber than I actually am, and explain with really explicit detail how different arguments interact. I'd like to think I do a lot less inferring than most judges -you have to remember that this activity is about your speeches, not "what the arguments say."


Stylistic Preferences:
There are very few teams that have managed to speak more quickly than I can flow while simultaneously being understandable. I have fairly acute hearing and can think fairly quickly, but if you're not being clear, I will tell you so. If I have to tell you multiple times, don't expect an ounce of sympathy from me when I tell you that I didn't hear you talk about a really critical argument in the 2R, or that some key 1AR extensions weren't actually in the 2AC. Like I said, I have a soft spot in my heart for teams that can speak fast and be persuasive at the same time - and I will definitely prefer teams that can verbally show me that they're enjoying themselves and are trying to make me enjoy myself over teams that are just going through the motions.


Pet Peeves/Pet Interests:
1. Here is a list of things that bother me and will cause me to dock speaks, or at the very least glare at you:
- Slowing down the round because of your computer mishaps. I was always under the impression that computers were meant to make the activity more streamlined and allow it to proceed more quickly, but I've found that this could not be further from the case pragmatically. I've started timing computer time on a very low amount of time; the specific amount of time varies with how flippant or defensive you're acting about it. It's generally three minutes. Also, common excuses such as, "I can't find my 2AC Heidegger blocks. Don't take prep, I know they're in here somewhere!" don't fly in front of me. The more you prepare for situations like this, and the less of my time you waste, the less I'll penalize you.

- Not flowing in favor of just looking at the viewing computer. This makes my blood boil - You really have no idea how heavily you're impacting the intellectual substance of the community as a whole when you just blatantly ignore speeches in favor of reading a cheat sheet. I not only dock speaks for speeches that obviously don't use the flow as a framing device, but I dock speaks if I notice you're skipping ahead on the speech doc and am very prone to not flowing the speech that follows that sort of behavior.

- Trying to strategically hog CX time by constantly cutting your opponent off. I've become a touch interventionist in this regard, and if you do this I'm going to cut you off and dock speaks. I vastly prefer questions and answers that are in themselves intellectually weighty and leave the opponent with little to say in response.

-"Bad language". I have a pretty terrible mouth myself, and I'm not opposed to this on a moral level, but you have to understand how little rhetorical weight you're actually adding to your speech by saying, "This Khalizad/other generic Heg Good evidence is GOD DAMN FANTASTIC (pro-tip: It's not)," or "They dropped this argument harder than a hooker drops her dignity on a saturday night." Both of those things have been said in front of me, by the way, and I docked speaks hard in both instances.

2. Here are a list of things that I love seeing, for which I will grant you speaks and do a really cheesy grin and nod reassuringly:

- Cross-applications. Espousing these in general puts me at risk of sounding like a complete tool, but in general when you understand every possible implication of your 1C evidence, and opt for talking about previously read evidence in lieu of reading walls of new literature in the 2C that you'll never get around to explaining properly anyway, I get really excited and am much more prone to picking you up. This is not to say that I dock speaks or in any way discourage reading new evidence past the 1C, but in general I prefer in-depth discussions.

- Not needing to read evidence to answer arguments. Again, this is in no way me trying to discourage you from reading evidence past the 1C, but in general I have a lot more respect for teams who don't need a twenty point Heidegger block to tell me that the alt bites the link because telling the judge to shut out the affirmative mode of thinking is preferring one cherry blossom over another, etc.


Argument Preferences:

- I love T somethin' fierce, and it really bothers me that the topics have been becoming less and less conducive towards sweet T debates. I am more than able to vote on this, but note that you have to be supremely confident in your ability to debate it in order to run it as a strategy; I find that the community's ability to run T effectively wanes heavily by the year. If you want me to vote on T, then anything less than 5 minutes in the 1NR and 2NR is going to be tricky. Topicality, to me, really represents the discursive impacts that certain cases have on the community or in the round, and as such, I find that debaters that make me consider different impacts in a similar manner to how one would weigh policy impacts are some that I have the most respect towards (i.e. does the educational deficit presented by running some ultra generic plan have more or less magnitude than the competitive equity that it creates, etc.). Expecting me to pick you up because you read a lot of generic, unsubstantiated topicality tropes like, "BREADTH OVER DEPTH DAWG," or "HEY J DENNS VOTE T CUZ FAIRNESS AND EDUCATION," however, is a terrible idea.

- Theory: I'd like to think that I don't have many negative predispositions against certain theory arguments, but as any good judge could tell you this can't entirely be the case. In general, you need to provide some sort of framing device for how I'm supposed to consider the impacts of allowing a bad type of argument, i.e. in-round abuse or potential abuse (this should really be read as out-of-round spillover). I will say, however, that it's really difficult to get me to drop the team rather than the argument because of intrinsicness or conditionality, unless it's a really blatantly awful example that I probably already have cause to drop out of sheer principle (multiple conditional CP's with conflicting net benefits and a Nietzsche K, etc). I will totally grant you weight against PIC's and the like if you can do the proper work, but generally if I have to get bogged down in a line-by-line of some variety, I would rather it be policy oriented.

- Kritiques: The more specific the link, the better. As philosophy has been a pet interest of mine for a few years, there are some kritiques that create such an intense level of cognitive dissonance within me that I will probably not vote on them no matter what. These include Nietzsche, Heidegger, Schopenhauer, and any philosopher from before the 19th century. I will also drop you like it's hot if the alternative to your Cap. K is communism. Richard Rorty is my home boy, and non-policy oriented K's that are answered by "policy > philosophy" are gonna have some serious work to do. I come from the mostly dead and contentious school of thought that espouses the ability to run kritiques as DA's with no uniqueness, meaning I don't feel that they actually need alternatives. I've always felt that "K's need alts" args make about as much sense as "DA's need CP's." It isn't actually the case that every criticism the neg makes of the aff needs to be accompanied with a better idea. I have voted on Fem IR, nationalism, anthro, fear, and cap (begrudgingly) in the past, so don't be discouraged from running K's, just note that there's more of a hurdle to jump for me than there is every other "TABS I GOT NO BIAS BRO" college student judge.

- Politics: I've been warming up considerably to politics lately, and I've become an especially big fan of debates that interpret fiat in the context of politics DA's. However, as I feel is the general trend with every kind of argument, the more specific the link is and the deeper the inter-comparative evidence analysis is, the bigger my chance is of picking you up on politics. Saying "the plan costs capital" won't gain you much, but saying something along the lines of, "Recent geopolitical events X Y Z show that space policy is unpopular with specific constituency A B C, meaning that plan passage inhibits Obama's congressional support post-plan on other key issues T U V," can get me a ballot. I can give weight to intrinsicness arguments, but you need to do the proper work.

- Counterplans: I don't have much to say about these, I think it's generally accepted that negs really need to use these as their main big-stick. I won't vote on grammatical PIC's (Do the plan without "the"), but I can vote on other varieties of them if you do the proper amount of analysis on them.

- Performance: No.


Speaker Points:
I am not a point fairy. I haven't given a thirty to a single varsity debater in my judging career (this might speak more to Wisconsin's decaying quality than my harshness, but who knows). I am much more prone to giving a score of 24 - 26 on uninspiring performances than lots of judges are. I generally award higher speaks to debaters who exhibit large amounts of knowledge about the issues at hand in a concise manner that mirrors technical challenges presented by the policy debate language. I also enjoy giving speaker points to teams who properly allocate speech time and generally exhibit good strategic decisions. As I said in my general philosophy, the things I enjoy the most are persuasiveness and creativity, and if you exhibit these qualities while still paying careful attention to the technical limitations of the activity, it will be reflected in a higher score. Refer to my Pet Peeves/Interests section for any further clarification.



I would love to answer specific questions and clear up certain confusions before and after rounds in front of me, so please feel free to approach me about something.