Hahn, Colin
No Affiliation

Debate Experience: I debated for Appleton West HS 1997–2001 and Gonzaga University 2001–2005, competing on the national circuit at both schools. I’ve been in elimination rounds at NFLs, CFLs, and CEDA Nats, as well as major national circuit and regional tournaments, and I was a four-time qualifier for the NDT. My generic 1NC has ranged from court and politics to a 9 minute critique. I’ve run big nuke war affs and activism/movement-based affs. I’ve voted for and against almost every type of argument on this list. I've also coached at the high school level (Mead HS, 2002–2005).

However, since graduating from college, I have been less involved in the activity. I still judge occasionally, but I don't keep up with the latest developments in the community. I am very interested in seeing how debate evolves, and I'd love to hear your new arguments, but I won't be familiar with the details of them. You should also assume that I have close to zero topic knowledge. I'm a smart guy, but I spend my free time reading books for my dissertation and not for debate. So, don't throw around acronyms or hyper-technical terms without some explanation, or I won't be able to do much with your arguments.

General Thoughts: I will vote on almost any argument with a claim and a warrant (exceptions noted below). My goal is to see a good debate – you should run whatever arguments will allow you to show me your best debating. The last two rebuttals in particular need to be comparative, assessing what you are winning, why that means you should win the round, and why those two things are true in light of your opponents’ arguments. Failure to do any one of those three things is a failure to make and win an argument. If by the end I don’t know how to evaluate the round, you have failed to present a coherent reason to vote for you and I will construct whatever paradigm I think bests allows me to decide the debate (often policymaking). Leaving the debate up to me is a bad idea, regardless of how good of a judge you think I am. The more you can direct me in how to compare arguments, what warrants to privilege, how to read evidence, etc., the more likely you are to be happy with my decision. I will only read evidence if I cannot resolve the issue based on the speeches, and I will only give credit for warrants in that evidence that were extended in your speeches.

Please ask me questions about how I judge. There's lots of issues I don't talk about in here, there's lots of things I say very briefly, and there's probably a bunch of issues that have become important while I haven't been as active in the community and so I haven't even thought to address in my philosophy. These things are important to you—you are debating in front of me, right?—so the least I can do for you is let you know what my initial thoughts are.

NOVICES: Here are a couple of simplified pointers for you. 1) Flow, and debate the line-by-line as best you can. You should make it clear which of your opponent’s arguments you are answering, what your response is, and why your argument is better. 2) Compare. Assume that your opponent will win some of their offense and say why your argument is still superior. 3) Even-if. Explain why you should win even if I don’t buy your top-level argument.


Specific Types of Arguments: All of these are default preferences and are open to debate.

Topicality/theory: T is a game of competing interpretations. If the aff’s interpretation is bad, the reasons the interp is bad are the abuse. You don’t have to run a disad to prove it doesn’t link – just say what the arg is you couldn’t make. Generally, “T bad” arguments (Bleiker, Kulynych, etc.) are reasons why to allow leniency in the interpretation rather than a reason to reject T itself. I have yet to hear a warrant that makes sense for an RVI.

Theory debates are ok, but remember that they too must have warrants and impact analysis. Bad theory debates will make me destroy your points. You can’t read sentence-fragment theory blocks at full speed. Performative contradiction: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” A performative contradiction is not a problem; a double-turn is. Bush good and Bush bad is a double-turn; a K that is not a net benefit to the CP is just that – not a net benefit.

Disads: Love ‘em. Most teams will win risk of [link/internal/UQ/whatever] rather than the full quantity. Adjust your impact analysis accordingly. I refuse, however, to automatically conclude that there is risk of a [x]. Affs can win that there is zero risk. Negs need to win a [x], not just assert one. Having said that, most of the time affs don't get close to zero risk with their defensive answers and need offense. Critiquing the disad framework/impact qualifies as offense.

Counterplans: By default, I think counterplans are tests of the affirmative much like opportunity costs. That means, if the counterplan is not competitive it is no longer a reason to reject the aff and the CP goes away. That means that the aff can't rely on a perm to link out of a disad. If the aff wins the perm avoids the disad, the counterplan isn't competitive because there isn't a net benefit. Therefore, the CP goes away and the neg can still win that the disad alone outweighs the case. 2NRs need to incorporate this into their impact analysis. This is neither conditional nor dispositional, and if you don’t understand why then you need to ask. I think conditionality is cool, PICs are sweet, contingency CPs are sketch, and object fiat is the 5th horseperson of the apocalypse. Disads to the perm are an easy extra half point. Presumption shifts aff, legitimate perms include all of the plan and all or part of the CP. Affs must ask the status of the CP in CX.

Critiques/Ks: Good Ks have an external impact and solve/turn the case. If you can’t explain how the aff causes your terminal impact (not just how the system the aff participates in does), you probably can’t beat the perm. Alternatives don’t need a text, but they do need to be clear and stable. Most K teams spend lots of time winning a link and very little time impacting it. “Rethink” is not an alternative. Pre-/post-fiat is an arbitrary and false distinction; either the aff did something that links or they didn’t. Moral vs. utilitarian impacts is a comparison that makes sense; pre/post fiat does not. The one exception is “you said/did something bad and should lose” (such as gendered language). To win, you need to explain why that action is more important than the rest of the debate.

Performance/Non-trad: There are non-traditional ways of affirming the resolution and those are sweet. There are non-topical ways of providing an aff. Those suck. Topic bad is negative ground, it is not a reason you get to do whatever you want. It is important that your interpretation provide predictable and qualitative ground for the neg. “Difference exists” is not an argument; it is a truism. There are a lot of variations within this category. Please ask questions if you are uncertain.

Case debate: Sweet and a totally lost art. But, solvency takeouts are not a winning strategy. Go for offense (either turns, a disad, or a K) and use case defense to augment your arguments. Does anyone remember when people made analytics against sketchy internal links?

Other Comments: Tag team CX is fine, provided that it’s not excessive. If it’s obvious that your partner has no clue what’s going on, or if you just won’t let him/her talk, you will be docked points. As for speak, I used to be able to handle it quite well. I'm currently out of practice, which means I honestly don't know how much of that skill I still have. Feel free to try going fast, and if I can't handle it I'll let you know. The caveat is that "try going fast" does not mean "clarity is optional." At any speed, I need to be able to understand everything you say. I listen to the text of cards – don’t think that after the tag you can start slurring.

NEW POLICY ON TIMING: I am very frustrated with debaters that don’t bring timers to the tournament – it’s a basic expectation just like bringing a textbook to class. If you do not a) have a timer AND b) bring it up with you to time your speech, I will not give you time signals. I will provide them if you are using a timer and something goes wrong. I wish I didn’t have to be so harsh, but nothing else seems to work.

FINALLY – if anything is unclear or you have questions that are not answered on these pages, feel free to ask me, even during the round (though you shouldn’t expect Dallas Perkins).