Shattering The Lens

A Thoughtful Look Into Things

Archive for Public Forum

Resolved: In the United States, students should be guaranteed two years of free tuition to a community or technical college.

Resolved: In the United States, students should be guaranteed two years of free tuition to a community or technical college.

I get, OK? I get that these topics are enticing because college tuition is a hot political issue these days. But really, do people think before casting their votes? Or is it just some sort of weird gut reaction? This topic is awful. Who is going to provide the tuition? What if that entity doesn’t follow up? What is a community or technical college? If the tuition is guaranteed anyway, why can’t it be used toward an accredited four year college? How do you translate varying tuition rates into absolute dollar amounts? What if somebody goes to a more expensive college than somebody else? How do you resolve the unfairness in a private school market?

How do you answer all these questions in a 40 minute debate round? In short, I hate people. However, my hatred of people cannot prevent me providing a topic overview to help all you debaters out there, so let’s get to work.


Two Years of Free Tuition – This is tricky to define. What exactly does this mean? Two years of tuition isn’t the same everywhere. Does this mean you just go to a college and then send a bill to someone who then pays for it? It’s strange, but without any context, that’s the definition we have to go with.

Community or Technical College – These colleges provides associates or technical degrees like nursing training, tech certificates, and the like. The point to remember is that they are not four year accredited colleges, and that is the distinction the resolution is trying to make.

Case Positions


1. Debt Reduction – You help the country’s economy by reducing student debt. Students who should not attend four year colleges end up doing so and going into a great deal of debt which they can’t get out of because they can’t get a job. Paying for technical college motivates these students to go to those colleges. The effect is a great amount of debt reduction which improves the national economy.

2. Socioeconomic Class Sorting – In Plato’s Republic, Plato outlines his ideal structure for society. In this structure, everyone has their appropriate part to play. Frankly, there is a section of society which is meant for functional rather than creative careers. This section should be attending community or technical colleges and not four year institutions. It should also be easy for them to do so.

3. Reducing Government Spending – Providing this level of education for free will actually reduce government spending. More educated people are healthier, have higher incomes, and are more independent. This will reduce welfare costs, medicare expenses, and other expenses to maintain an impoverished population.


1. Reduced Free Market Competition – If tuition is provided, the different factor of cost is eliminated, allowing schools to become far more expensive. Since the government is paying anyway, why wouldn’t schools just charge more and provide lower quality? A tuition incentive falls outside of the free market, and therefore inappropriately disrupts that market.

2. There Shouldn’t be Community/Technical Colleges – College is the wrong place to gain vocational skills. The workplace and high school education need instead to be adjusted in order to have an ideal economic structure. Providing free college tuition removes the incentive for creating that ideal structure.

Enjoy debating this utterly terrible topic.

Resolved: On balance, economic globalization benefits worldwide poverty reduction.

Resolved: On balance, economic globalization benefits worldwide poverty reduction.

This topic is great! It’s deep and intricate, and it should provide for some very interesting debates. It offers debaters and opportunity to learn a lot and develop creative positions.


Economic Globalization – You can find a definition of economic with a quick Google search. Let’s talk about what globalization looks like. It involves countries opening their borders and their economies to each other. Open trade, digital commerce, linked currencies, and dependent markets are all hallmarks of a globalizing economy. Globalization is much more possible in the modern world because of digital commerce. Ali Baba is a great example of how the internet allows suppliers and distributors to connect on a global scale. The question the resolution asks is whether or not this globalization reduces poverty across the world.

Case Positions


1. Micro Lending and Currency Access – Globalization allows for global micro lending and impoverished individuals to have access to foreign currencies with much greater purchasing power. Platforms like Kiva are a direct product of economic globalization and directly demonstrate a tangible impact on poverty reduction. $25 USD goes much farther in Kenya than in does in the US, and a global economy allows that impact to be realized.

2. Education – With economic globalization comes global education. This includes business and economic education. Entrepreneurship is not only present in developed nations, but in impoverished parts of the world as well. Globalization allows the transfer of knowledge necessary to realize those entrepreneurial ambitions.

3. Awareness – Awareness is in itself a necessity to affect global poverty. If those with resources are not aware of what’s going on in other parts of the world, then those problems cannot be resolved. A global economy allows for that awareness.


1. Labor Rights –  Many countries around the world do not protect labor rights. These policies mean that economic globalization give companies access to what effectively amounts to slave labor. This continues the oppression of poor labor markets, and it also takes jobs away from countries which protect labor rights. In this way, economic globalization actually exacerbates worldwide poverty.

2. Dependent Economies – In a global economy, struggling economic states bring down everyone else, and poor economies become dependent upon strong economies. The US financial crisis crippled economies across the world. It can be argued that Greece would not be in such bad shape if there wasn’t a global economy. Since strong economies are bound to have crises, economic globalization can actually increase global poverty.

Hope that help gets you started. Good luck!

Resolved: United Nations peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations.

Don’t settle for being a good debater. You can be great. Click here to visit my Debate Academy to get personal coaching, purchase briefs, and more.

Resolved:United Nations peacekeepers should have the power to engage in offensive operations.

I don’t even know what to say anymore. This is a sorely misguided topic. The UN regularly conducts offensive operations. The “peacekeeping” forces also regularly conduct offensive activities to carry out their duties. The symbolic code of engagement which theoretically prevents them from doing so is just that, a symbolic code. While their express mission is to “keep the peace,” the reality on the ground is never that simple, as anyone who has served in the armed forces will attest. Not only that, this is such an absurdly broad topic that there’s no way to actually debate it. What sort of situation would merit an offensive operation? What restrictions would there be on that operation? Is the resolution saying that the U.N. should basically have an independent military force called the peacekeepers? I hate this topic. It sucks in every way.


U.N. Peacekeepers – The U.N. has a peacekeeping force that is sent into conflict areas. This force often delivers aid, oversees compliance with U.N. directives, and generally tries to maintain peace in the region

Power – I’m not sure what it means for a U.N. force to have the power to do something. Does this mean their rules of engagement should be changed? Does this mean they need security council approval to carry out the operation? Or does this mean they should be allowed to act independently as they see fit? I mean, technically, they have the power now since they have guns and such. This is one of the many reasons this topic is awful.

Offensive Operations – This is also unclear. An offensive operation is clearly one that is not carried out in self-defense, but there can be many different types of offensive operations. Would the invasion of a country be an offensive operation covered under the resolution? What about attacking encampments? In order for an operation to be defensive, technically there has to be an “enemy.” Who defines the enemy? Or should the peacekeepers be allowed to attack who they see fit? Is simply delivering aid to a region an offensive operation against the oppressive side?

Case Positions


1. Military peacekeeping requires offense – Defensive measures will never maintain peace. True peace requires the aggressor to be defeated. Therefore, in order to truly carry out their directive, U.N. peacekeepers should have the power to carry out offensive operations.

2. Preemptive attacks – In order to be most effective in protecting themselves, peacekeepers must be able to preemptively strike. Currently, they must wait until they are attacked (even though they really don’t have to) in order to defend themselves. If the attacks could be prevented in the first place, everyday


1. Abuse of Power – U.N. peacekeepers are not a military force and should not be allowed to be one. The U.N., effectively ruled by the five nations on the security council, should not have a military which carry out offensive operations. That opens the door to vast potential for abuses of power.

2. Peacekeeping Mission – Conducting offensive operations takes away resources and attention from other peacekeeping operations like providing aid. Even though the directive of the peacekeepers would change, the resources available to them would not. Sacrificing vital operations for the sake of offensive ones is not an appropriate direction to go.

Resolved: For-profit prisons in the United States should be banned.

Don’t settle for being a good debater. You can be great. Click here to visit my Debate Academy to get personal coaching, purchase briefs, and more.

Resolved:For-profit prisons in the United States should be banned.

I’m not sure how I feel about this topic. On the one hand, I think the “real world” debate surrounding for-profit prisons is quite boring. The theoretical debate about human rights and the principles of fair retribution is quite interesting, though. The debates on this topic may not necessarily have direct clash, so debaters should probably focus on having solid frameworks in place which explain the importance of the points they’re making. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the topic.


For profit prisons – A for-profit prison is a private prison that is contracted by the government for imprisoning people. Private prisons charge fees for the internment of prisoners, and so, are free to make profits and distribute those profits as they choose. Because they are private, these prisons are often better funded and of higher quality than government prisons. That being said, being private means they aren’t necessarily subject to the same rules as regulations as government prisons. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t be subject to those same rules. It’s important to note that it is not up to the debaters to defend the status quo of private prisons, which is why the theoretical points can be particularly effective for this topic.

Should – We all know what this word means, but it’s important to call it out because it will define the framework of the case for this topic. Debaters must first determine how a government/society decides what it should do. Is the economic impact the driving motivator? Or is it something else, like considerations of human rights?

Case Positions


1. Human Dignity – Even though these people are prisoners, they are still human beings who deserve to serve their sentences with dignity. Private prisons result in people being treated entirely as commodities. They are tools used by the prisons to make profits, and people shouldn’t be used strictly as tools for profit. It is akin to a slave trade in which human beings are simply commodities.

2. Inappropriate Lobby – Private prisons rely on incarceration to make their money. If people don’t go to jail, private prisons don’t make money. This opens up an entirely new avenue for corruption and lobbying. There now exists an entity which will profit from an increase in crime, and it is inevitable that some parts of that entity will not be averse to doing what it takes to maximize those profits. Not to mention, private prisons are free to charge “no crime” taxes to the government for unused cells or low occupancy rates, which also motivates the justice system to incarcerate more people.


1. Saving the Government Money – Private prisons often safe the government money. They are very low cost methods of incarcerating lower risk individuals that the government can ill afford to house like illegal immigrants and non-violent juvenile felons. Not only are the costs of running these prisons lower, but the government also doesn’t have to pay for their construction.

2. Higher Quality Prisons – Like with other things that aren’t run by the government, private prisons afford the opportunity for higher quality prisons. They allow for the implementation of techniques and facilities that the government cannot afford to implement on its own. Competition also spurs the development of higher quality. Private prisons must compete for government contracts, and whoever provides a better product is going to get the money.

That should help get you started. Good luck!

Resolved: On balance, the benefits of genetically modified foods outweigh the harms.

Don’t settle for being a good debater. You can be great. Click here to visit my Debate Academy to get personal coaching, purchase briefs, and more.

Resolved: On balance, the benefits of genetically modified foods outweigh the harms.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more boring debate topic. The racial quality of NFL uniforms comes close, but man, this one definitely takes the cake. I get it, genetically modified foods are a hot topic right now because a lot of butterflies died because of genetically modified corn. But really, we’ve been eating genetically modified everything for ages. Most Americans wouldn’t even recognize the taste of natural food anymore. Alas, we must conduct boring cost benefit analysis and debate this topic, so let’s do it!


On Balance – Same as the last resolution, this means “overall” or “all things considered.” Look at the whole picture. Anecdotal evidence won’t cut it here.

Genetically modified foods – This term is pretty self explanatory. Scientists, in labs, manipulate the genetics of food to get the type of food they want. For example, if there’s a gene in a plant that makes it resilient to droughts, that gene can be taken and put into another plant. These genetic modifications create genetically modified foods which are enhanced for the qualities that people want.

Case Positions


1. Benefits to Human Life – GM foods are resilient. Foods can be engineered to grow, and even thrive, in otherwise desolate climates and parts of the world. This is an invaluable benefit to third world nations, societies suffering from drought, and cold regions of the world where crops do not easily grow. The benefit of promoting human life by feeding people is basically outweighed by anything else.

2. Sustainability – Because genes are passed down as plants reproduce, GM foods are sustainable. You only need to create one generation of super-cucumber, and then it will continue to exist. Sustainable, reliable crops are necessary in a world in which agriculture is quickly dying. GM foods are a great replacement from processed pre-packaged food which is becoming increasingly popular in the modern world. What could be better than sustainable agriculture?


1. Gene Transfer Risks – We don’t know what the results of gene transfer could do. We could create new allergens, inadvertently kill someone, or many other things. The problem here isn’t that the risk is a harm, but that the potential for harm is the harm. It’s unnecessary. We need to know and understand what GM foods will actually do before they’re allowed in the public marketplace. What if a kid with a peanut allergy eats a carrot with peanut genes and suffers an allergic reaction?

2. Unintended Consequences to Nature – Nature, and agriculture, depend on sustained ecosystems. As the example of the monarch butterflies demonstrates, we don’t know what impact these genetic modifications will have on these ecosystems. Although unintentional, GM foods could very well end up destroying the ecosystems upon which farmers depend. What will we do without the butterflies?!

Resolved: On balance, public subsidies for professional athletic organizations in the United States benefit their local communities.

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Resolved: On balance, public subsidies for professional athletic organizations in the United States benefit their local communities.

Wow, two good topics, PF and LD. I don’t want to speak too soon, but it looks like the NFL is getting its act together. This is actually a pretty contentious topic with decent evidence on both sides. I only hope that it doesn’t turn into a fact vomiting contest like the national finals of 2010. Let’s start with the definitions.


1Public Subsidies for Professional Athletic Organizations – Simply stated, this is government money that goes to private athletic organizations. The government pays for, in whole or in part, for particular expenses for a sports organization. These expenses can include building stadiums, buying uniforms, training camps, among other things. Typically, the government gets some sort of return built into this investment, such as a percentage of ticket sales.

2. Local Communities – The local community is really what you would think it is. It’s the immediate locality associated with the sports organizations. So, the local community for the St. Louis Rams would be St. Louis.

3. Benefit – This will really be the crux of any case for this topic. You will need to define what it means for something to benefit a local community. The most successful debaters on this topic will have a very clear definition for this and will frame their arguments within that definition.

Case Positions 


1. The Economic Benefit Doesn’t Exist – Families typically spend a fixed budget on entertainment. The increase in sales to local sports teams doesn’t actually indicate an economic uptick. Instead, it just indicates a reallocation of spending that was already occurring in other entertainment venues. If anything, newly funded government sports ventures harm local businesses, often irreversibly.

2. Sports subsidies draw money away from important areas – There are much better things that government could be spending this money on. Education, infrastructure, sustainable energy, and many other things are proven economic stimulants which can benefit from public money. Sports spending creates artificial temporary booms that do not last and harm other important areas. Even if there is an economic benefit, it is outweighed by the harm that occurs as a result of money being diverted.


1.  Sports subsidies create immediate stimulus – Large sports projects create jobs and increase local spending. In areas where the economy has stagnated, this stimulant is a necessary boost to create economic activity. This economic benefit spreads to local businesses through increased traffic and capital movement. In short, sports subsidies provide overall economic benefit.

2. Sports subsidies provide emotional benefit – The benefit of community emotional health is a unique perk of sports subsidies. Sports are unlike any other entertainment industry in the scale of community activity and gathering they inspire. They provide for an emotional fervor which spreads into all other aspects of society. This emotional benefit translates into lower healthcare costs, less crime, and more vibrant local businesses.

I hope this helps you get started. Good luck!

Resolved: Single-gender classrooms would improve the quality of education in American public schools.

Resolved: Single-gender classrooms would improve the quality of education in American public schools.

This topic is stupid, offensive, and antiquated. Also, it’s empirically false. We know that it’s empirically false, and yet, here we are, debating nonsense. Let me start by getting the potential points of definition debate out in the open, and then, we can pretend like those points don’t exist, and try to come up with coherent case positions.

What is gender? Especially in the modern world, how would you define a single-gender classroom? Are homosexuals a different gender? What about transgender kids? Do we put all of them in a separate classroom?

What is a “single gender classroom” referring to? Does that mean the whole school is single-gender? Does that mean that boys and girls go to the same school but separate when they go to classes? I’m actually not quite sure.

How do you define the quality of education? Is it measured by standardized test scores? Is it measured by a population’s innovations? Is it measured by economic prosperity? Or is it something entirely different? Again, I’m not quite sure there’s a good answer to this.

Alright, with all that in mind, let’s assume we’re going to use generic emotional definitions for the above and come up with case positions.


1. It prevents distractions – Because students clearly have uncontrollable libidos, and that is the main thing preventing them from getting a good quality education, we need to separate males from females. It prevents distractions so that students can focus on their education. This, in turn, will lead to a better education because students will learn more.

2. Single-gender private schools perform better – Standardized test scores, college acceptance rates, etc… are all greater among single-gender private schools. CLEARLY, this is because these schools are single-gender, and not because they’re better funded, located in higher class socioeconomic areas, and run by people with great connections. Therefore, it only makes sense that single-gender classrooms will lead to higher quality education.


1. Gender isn’t even an issue – American public school education suffers from a variety of ailments, none of which are related to the proximity of boys to girls. Single-gender classrooms won’t do anything. The quality of education will actually stay exactly the same.

2. Separate isn’t equal – Equality is essential in our public school system, and separate schooling is inherently unequal. It will cause disparities in gender education and eventually lead to a socioeconomic divide, like it has everywhere else in the world where this is practiced.

Ok, real talk, con wins. Why? Because Pro is false. Sorry NFL, that’s just how the real world works.

I hope you can come up with some creative positions….or have super conservative judges, because otherwise, the Pro has a long uphill battle to win this topic.