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3 January 2010

Masters finalist in Equity violation

According to Twitter and Tuna on Globaldebate an independent judge has been dropped from the judges break at Worlds because of a comment he made during the masters final which people complained about.  The speaker in question was taking part in the Masters tournament and was an independent judge in the main event.

Update: The individual in question made an apology after the ESL final but apparenly the issue continued to pop up at Worlds.   It seems that the long discussion we have seen on this site is reflecting the attitude at the tournament itself.  Pity.  I hope this can get sorted out.

I have also had to delete some comments which named individuals.  Please do not use an individual's name.  Remember people have lives outside debating and a google search of their name will pick up these discussions.


  1. Anonymous7:50 pm

    What did he/she say?

  2. Anonymous8:13 pm

    Whatever it was, I'm sure nobody would have cared at any other tournament. The PC culture has gotten out of control.

  3. Tommy Tonner8:18 pm

    I cannot for the life of me think how a tournament built on the principles of extending free speech can ban someone for exercising that right during a debate.

  4. Anonymous8:28 pm

    The ESL/EFL political correct lobby group were gunning for an English speaker all week.

  5. Anonymous8:30 pm

    It's been obvious at major IV's for years that the PC culture has been spreading. Look at some of the panellists who have gradually been accepted for being from a minority, or "services to debating", or whatever. Even the decision to force everyone to watch ESL/EFL by announcing the decision for the main break after their debates is a little annoying.

  6. Anonymous8:33 pm

    Well accoring to people who were there (and is an ESL debater):

    "guy crazkd bad jokes about ESL
    really offensive ones"

    And there is some more on Alfred's blog.

    To be honest, I welcome this. It is far too obvious that certain judges and "masters" are biased towards ESL/EFL (non english speaking or prominent teams like Ateneo) which cuts down our chances for a fair break. I personally have had feedback such as "oh but we didnt mind giving you low points as you wont progress far anyway". This just brings it out in the open.
    I would still like to know what exactly was said though before I can make a judgement on whether the violation warranted such a measure

  7. Anonymous8:38 pm

    A fine day for free speech.

  8. Anonymous8:40 pm

    Replace "ESL students" with "D teams" and is the remark offensive? Seriously, preventing criticism of a group does nothing to assist their inclusion as an equal. It isn't as though they'd need to compel an apology if the remark was offensive anyway...

  9. Tommy Tonner8:50 pm

    Irrespective of whether this comment is funny or not, do we really think the guy meant it, do we really think he is influencing teh attitudes of the audience by saying it, do we really think that any harm has been done and , if so, do we really think that censuring a worlds speech is the right answer ? I take it this chap didnt win by the way ?

    Also worth saying that in the real world proposing child prostitution is far more offesive than the alleged remark, but thats what you get with open motions.

  10. Anonymous8:52 pm

    Oh, replace ESL students with D teams then.

    How about replacing ESL students with Australian or English students? Should you prevent criticism like that? Or would you rather us "ESL students" go to the next worlds and try antics like that for the sake of inclusion and equality so that everyone can be "equally" insulted?

    The vast majority of people equate ESL students with the non english speaking world away from the few wealthy english speaking countries. Notwithstanding the fact that it is still insulting on another level if it is "D teams", that made it specifically targetted towards those non english speaking people

  11. Anonymous8:56 pm

    No English or Australian debater would be so self pitying to take a throw away joke in a comedy debate seriously. This didn't even rise to the level of a bad family guy joke, it sounds completely non-serious.

    If this guy had gotten up and said "fuck you Sydney" nobody would have cared, it probably would have gotten a few laughs with good execution. so no, I wouldn't mind the reversal being used. At all.

  12. Anonymous8:57 pm

    There is a not so fine line between free speech and calling an entire group of people worthy of being sex slaves. It is not about censoring a worlds speech. It is about stopping speakers from insulting their opponents and the audience by calling them niggers and pakis. Or would you allow that as well?

  13. Anonymous9:02 pm

    I wouldnt mind a fuck you ESL either in a comedy debate, but if a premise had been everyone in sydney is a hooker and I tried to make an argument out of it, then unless you speak for the entirety of sydney, I think even they would be insulted

  14. Oh, and as a PS, let's not forget the hoo ha about the ESL Final last year - a perfectly debatable motion which led to a Facebook group and (from what I believe) some level of condemnation:

    Poor show if you ask me. But then again, off the point!

  15. What an incredibly childish and pathetic debate...

    ESL teams should learn to take a joke.

  16. Anonymous9:12 pm

    Who was the judge, jury and executioner in this equity "trial" that has now branded a good man as a racist? What rules were followed if any? Was he allowed representation or to defend himself? Was his guilt presumed or was it a fair trial? Were any other equity trials held and what were their outcome?

  17. Anonymous9:13 pm

    The day when Ian, Jo or Mikey is "investigated" for an equity violation is the day that the PC cops went too far.

  18. Harry McEvansoneya9:25 pm

    This is just silly. I don't remember Tel Aviv being reported for an equity violation for taking the mickey out of Oxford at the Euros final. People can laugh at themselves and you know what? That's a good thing.

    If people were offended, there is a point where you have to look at the context of what was said? Was it serious? No. Was it a joke? Yes. Was it ill-judged? Possibly. The point is it is not something worth having someone kicked out of Worlds for. That kind of reaction is just bitter, vindictive and insecure - and whoever complained should, quite simply, grow up.

  19. Anonymous9:30 pm

    Robb Mars, Nice that you ask people to grow a pair for making comments. How exactly does it detract from the legitimacy of the arguments? I believe a judge of your level should understand the difference between an argument and a straw man attack. I have my own reason for not showing my name, and I welcome your comments on how this makes my comments less worthwile.

    There is a growing level of touchiness in ESL, yes that I agree. But considering what we see so many times, it is well founded. And I would assume that perhaps it can better be solved by fixing those problems which cause it instead of asking them to shut up.

    "If you dont believe in free speech you do not believe in it at all"
    Lets all take these words and join a group commemorating the wonderful services to comedy provided by Michael Richards

  20. When I was a DCA at Worlds, we (including, of course, the Asian CA) were "investigated" for being racist because we didn't break certain Asian judges. No joke - the anonymous complainers had a list of judges we were "supposed" to have broken and hadn't; ergo, we were racists. We had to stop running the tournament and talk to the Equity Officer (who was obviously just doing her job) for several hours after we'd been working non-stop with basically no sleep for a week. We were "cleared" because the judging feedback for those judges was awful -- only one of them was even in the "eligible to break" bracket. Nonetheless, the fact that we had to be investigated and a "report" of the "incident" had to be produced solely because some random anonymous people claimed that other people should have broken as judges has left me ever-skeptical of the entire Worlds Equity machinery. This incident seems to reconfirm that. The idea that Ian & partner could be investigated for an equity violation for setting an un-PC topic is laughable. That Derek & Jason could be investigated for *responding* to such a topic is even more ridiculous. (And, if Jo & Mikey got in any way caught up in the investigators' tentacles, then I am even sure-r it was a farce.)

  21. Anonymous9:43 pm

    @beth, I was not the complainer who posted that list when you were the DCA, but I sincerely apologize for asking you to do your job. It makes it even worse that you were so tired. We should leave all such complaints so that the DCA's can get some sleep next time.

  22. Harry McEvansoneya9:46 pm

    Anon replying to Beth:

    Way to miss the point. She wasn't being asked to do her job. She was being subjected to a baseless witch-hunt by some individuals trying to abuse the equity system to further their own interests.

  23. NO "trolling" and definately no use of offensive abusive language on this site. I don't know who was the "judge, jury and executioner" at Worlds but here on this site I am. Use that sort of language and I'll delete the comment.

  24. A quick reminder of the rules:
    1. Don't get Colm sued.
    2. We dislike "Anonymous". Please use some form of identification
    3. Don't get Colm sued
    4. Don't abuse another poster or group.
    5. Don't get Colm sued
    6. Offensive language will probably get your comment deleted.
    7. Don't get Colm Sued.

  25. Anonymous9:53 pm

    @Harry McEvansoneya:

    Oh and what would you propose? That the next time someone accuses a well known person of being biased (I will not use the word racist), we should let it drop because we all know said person can never be biased? I have a lot of respect for Ian, Derek and the lot and have no qualms with Beth as a judge but come on, if I were to ever make a complaint against some judge and was told to drop it because the person is a sparkling piece of humanity and the DCA's were tired, should I be happy?

  26. Anonymous at 9.30

    Thanks for your comments.

    It detracts from the legitimacy, quite simply, when anonymous commentators accuse speakers, judges, organisers or wider groups of people when we don't know who is putting forward the accusation. You could be a troll making fun on a Saturday evening; you might, like me, be a crusty old hack having a laugh over a drink or you might be someone with a legitimate complaint. That doesn't mean what you have to say is legitimate but if everyone accusing people of various degrees of prejudice won't come out in the open nothing will get done. Should Worlds Council act on the complaints of anonymous blog commenters? I should hope not. I agree absolutely that we should fix these problems and that's why I'd rather the debate was had in the open.

    Furthermore, as any number of people are 'anonymous' it is difficult in a thread to follow who is saying what! I presume, as it happens, you aren't Anonymous at 9.36... but how am I to know?

    Indeed, I do recognise the difference between an argument and straw man attack - in this instance, I engaged with you on the argumental level and have now explained as to why it wasn't, in my eyes, a straw man attack.

    We agree that there is a level of touchiness in the ESL world. I wondered if you could give me any examples where you think there has been prejudice, racism or simply unfair treatment of ESL or EFL teams at a major international tournament? Can you name any chair judges or breaking judges who are not fit to judge an ESL or EFL tournament - and if so can you give your reasons for doing so? You are operating under a cloak of anonymity so this shouldn't be too hard for you.

    I think that if someone is offensive during a debate then they should take the fourth. If they are making ad hominem attacks or irrelevant arguments they aren't debating well - they aren't persuading the audience, they aren't articulating their case well. They should come last.

    As Beth and others have said, if Ian Lising is being investigated for a breach of equity then this is probably a step too far...


  27. Anonymous9:57 pm

    A few comments from someone who's just returned from the tournament:

    1) Equity was a big deal for the tournament. Equity officers regularly spoke at meetings and it was made clear to debaters and judges "not to cross the line".

    2) I know of a number of equity allegations made at the tournament. These were investigated, as far as I'm aware, quickly and without interrupting the tournament significantly.

    3) Beth, whilst I appreciate the equity complaint took up time, doesn't your example show that the Equity policy is not blindly assuming guilt but it seems to be working on an evidence-led basis - which is a good thing.

    4) Given discrimination at previous tournaments, surely it is better to have a formal, evidence-led system than some word-of-mouth procedure?

    5) Finally, r.e. "freedom of speech" - you can't say what you want, and people do get rightly offended when you cross the line. I don't know where "the line" is, but accusing an entire group of people, even in a "joke", of deserving to be sex slaves is crossing it.

    This tournament has been amazingly well run and I hope this doesn't leave a mark on it.

    Tim Saunders

  28. What I'm interested in knowing is who was so morbidly offended by this in the first place? I've heard of equity complaints against speakers in Euros where the teams in the room which was reported didn't even know why there had been an equity violation reported. Presumably *someone* found this so egregious, but I can't for the life of me imagine why... Debating always has the potential to insult - I've come out of some debates feeling horrible at the perceptions of society being tossed out in there, but I think that pursuit of free speech (particularly in a case such as this where it's a safe assumption to make that any arguments being made were more than partly in jest) is more important than this kind of witch hunt.

  29. Harry McEvansoneya9:57 pm


    Let's look at the facts here. The accusation was not one of "bias", it was one of racism, so stop trying to wriggle away from that. Making the default assumpton that the reason your mates didn't break is because the CA team are a bunch of racists, as opposed to you know, your mates not being all that much cop, is frankly pathetic.

    So yes, when the claim is frivolous and baseless, grounded only in your own paranoia and insecurity, and essentially holds up the whole competition to satisfy that frankly ludicrous accusation then yeah, you are abusing equity, you are being unreasonable.

  30. Anonymous10:04 pm

    I agree with Beth that there is a problem with a system that requires the complaint "all 5 members of the CA/DCA panel are racist because the following 3 judges that I think are good didn't break" to be investigated for several hours mid-tournament. What if Assumption hadn't used the Australs style feedback system (score-based) and the panel couldn't prove the judges in question had bad feedback? Then the equity officer could decide that she agreed the judges were good and so the panel was racist? Even under the status quo, there is a report out there with those 5 panel members' names on it that says they were investigated for racism and the "incident" was reported on. If I were those panel members, I'd be unhappy too.

  31. Anonymous10:09 pm

    I think if Tim is right that there were numerous equity complaints made at the tournament and only this one was even reported on, it is more evidence that there is a problem with the system.

  32. @Anony at 9:53

    What Harry was saying is that it should have been clear from the context that what was said was a joke, which was not meant with any vicious intent. Intelligent people should be able to tell the difference between harmless banter and actual racism.

  33. Tim - I am not denying people get offended during debating speeches. What I'm not sure I agree with you on is the idea that one doesn't have the right to offend.

    I haven't heard the exact joke but it seems needlessly offensive. That doesn't mean, in my eyes, that the gentleman in question should be kicked out of the tournament. If he took the fourth, has acknowledged his sins, issues a public apology and is willing to make personal apologies (all of which are true, I'm led to believe) then what good does kicking him out of the tournament do?

    As I say above, why not just give them the fourth? Is there any real benefit in cutting them from the rest of the tournament - something, as it happens, which is much more likely to blight, what from all accounts is a great tournament, than not cutting them?

    Your interpretation of freedom speech is different to mine - fine, but I'm not sure we'll resolve that difference here.

    Koen - I partly agree. I think I'd come down on the side of the speaker over the persecuted majority in this instance as I don't think a speech in a Masters Final is really representative of a wider policy.

    We've touched in this discussion on ESL and EFL touchiness. I can understand why this occurs. However, what I'm unsure of is any concrete evidence that such bias exists. Whenever I've spoken to anyone about it, we seem to all agree that such bias might exist (and indeed it probably does in a small minority of poor judges).

    However, no one ever seems to be able to name names or give examples where an ESL or EFL team was shafted in a round because of their ESL or EFL nature. Now, of course, this is difficult to prove but I find the murky allegations with no naming of names etc a little difficult to handle generally.

    That isn't to say that I don't think bias, prejudice or filthy racism in judging shouldn't be rooted out. In this case, I'd trust Can Okar's team implicitly to pick good judges at each stage of the tournament, to have run a thorough judging briefing (including information on how to judge EFL/ESL) and to take any allegations extremely seriously.

    I should note, as above, that I have a great deal of respect for the Org Comm and Adjudication Team. They have more information than me (obviously) and it was their decision to make - fair play to them on making what must have been a very tough call.


  34. Anonymous10:15 pm

    What about the "assassinate Putin" topic at Bangkok worlds? That was a serious topic in a real round that required some Russian debaters to argue on behalf of killing their head of government (I believe he'd already moved to PM at that point).

    I must admit some confusion, though, at describing "ESLs" as a single, monolithic category of people. In fact, some ESL schools seem generally more open to free expression than what I've experienced with English and Australian judges (and many are better, too, since they tend to focus more on arguments and less on rhetoric). I will admit, I have less experience with schools with a more significant language barrier, but for that reason, I think I'll decline to comment on them.


  35. Anonymous10:19 pm

    Had "ESL" been supplanted by "American" I feel no controversy would have resulted. Perhaps that is due to our cross-the-pond friends being less sensitive, but it seems that unkind words against certain countries (Israel, for example) are perfectly acceptable.

  36. I think, SBA, you've hit a nail on a head.

    I think that expression and delivery (or, for those of you who insist, style) really matters in debating. The worshipping at the god of analysis and argumentation is problematic for any number of reasons.

    However, as you allude to, it is much easier for a native speaker to excel in expression and delivery even if there general argumentation is worse. How do we weigh these up? Especially in close debates. It is very difficult... debating isn't just about argumentation, it must be about persuasion. If it is, let's just start swapping essays over the internet as it will be much, much cheaper for all involved.

    The weighing up of these various factors is difficult even for very experienced judging panels. I don't know the answer, I'm afraid.

  37. Anonymous10:24 pm

    @Harry McEvansoneya

    I again say it is not one of racism but one of bias because it has little to do with race but with what university you belong you. Ateneo frequently breaks and does well, something I am well aware of and that makes my perceptions a bit more nuanced than pure racism.

    That said, I like your lines:

    "So yes, when the claim is frivolous and baseless, grounded only in your own paranoia and insecurity, and essentially holds up the whole competition to satisfy that frankly ludicrous accusation then yeah, you are abusing equity, you are being unreasonable."

    Tell me exactly how you know the complaints are gounded in my paranoia and insecurity? Have you debated alongside my team or have you ever judged us? Have you even heard of what happened in the debates? Do you know of the critique or perhaps the reason behind the judgement?

    How can you, according to you, anyone who makes a complaint is paranoid by default. You are not even willing to listen to the story let alone investigate it. What next, we decide who wins a debate before anyone speaks

  38. Alex Worsnip10:29 pm

    What is it to be 'dismissed' from Worlds? Does this mean he has been told to leave the tournament entirely?

    I'm not convinced that the fact that ESL debating is a 'sensitive' topic vindicates forcing someone to leave entirely (having paid a reg fee and so forth and probably not flying back for a couple of days). That may be a reason to think the comment ill-judged, but I really don't think anything verbal short of direct, intense abuse or intimidation towards one person could justify that.

    I also agree that if the comment had been made towards many other groups no-one would have blinked. Over the years I debated for Oxford on numerous occasion I found myself having to sit through fairly unfunny jokes about what wankers everyone from Oxford is and pretend to find them funny because even not to laugh along would be considered haughty and superior. Yet often the people making such comments are the very same who cry equity when the same gets turned back on them.

    At the same time, I do find it a very unpalatable part of debating that this sort of thing is considered 'hilarious'. It's pretty pathetic, whoever it's targeted at.

  39. @ Alex

    From what I understand he was dismissed from judging - so he didn't judge any outrounds.

  40. Harry McEvansoneya10:33 pm

    Anon at 10.24:

    First off, it's an impersonal "you" - i.e. the "you" is anyone complaining along the lines Beth outlined, rather than you personally.

    But since you request clarification, yes, we trust the CA team to be competent and professional. If you feel they make an error, you should be damn sure before you go around making accusations given the negatives that come from them.

    And if there is a genuine concern with judge selection, it seems very odd to me that the first resort would be yelling "RACSIM" at the equity officer. Because that is what the team in this case did.

    And regardless of whether I know your team or not, I do know this: the judges in question turned out to be pony. Which kind of undermines your case a little, in terms of how good your judgement is vs. the rest of the judging pool (or were they all systematically racist too?)

  41. Soomro10:34 pm

    I dont get it, what was done exactly? Current ban, future ban?

    Giving him 4th seems like the logical thing to do but what else was done? Not judging anymore? I can swallow that perhaps but being told to go away seems a bit harsh

  42. Anonymous10:45 pm

    @Harry McEvansoneya

    I was trying to use "me" and "us" as a device wherein I would complain. I never have (although have come close many times) and apologies if that got people confused.

    I realize the judges who were not supposed to break didnt because they were not competent. That does not negate my argument that an investigation was needed because you knew this only ex post. That is what I want. Investigations into allegations because it means if I ever get screwed over because of something like this, at least my voice will be heard. If it is about bias, then I would appreciate it although I understand it is a sad part of international debating. If I believe it the judge is racist/chavnistic/homophobe, then I sure as hell want my complaint to be listened to and not thrown out ex ante.

  43. Harry McEvansoneya10:52 pm


    You misunderstand. Investigations are well and good as long as they are reasonably based. There should be more responsibiliy on debaters not to assume that everyone is out to get them (and in this case, not just them, but there mates) and should look into more reasonable conclusions. My point about now knowing that the other judges were rubbish (and not merely borderline, but way off breaking) is that that shows what an ill-considered decision it was by the speakers to make that complaint in the first place. The mentality itself is highly unfortunate.

    I mean, imagine if I were to complain every time I got a last, that it was due to discrimination and no fault of my own. Not only would that cause serious harm to the competition being run, it also undermines what equity is - and it becomes people airing insecure greivances rather than genuinely resolving issues of offence. People do need a forum for complaint, of course, but it should not be abused and should not be a first resort unless you are sure.

  44. Incidentally, and I support you in your arguments here, how would one go about proving that a judge (or, indeed, judging panel) was racist/homophobic/chauvinistic/sexist?

    I suppose one could ask the fellow judges on the panel about the decision. However, if the judge has been clever enough to say anything that gives away their prejudice (which they probably will have done) then this is unlikely to shed light on the issue. Indeed, a decent judge can create a logic for nearly any decision (I know that those words are never spoken but it is absolutely true).

    I'm not dismissing the idea that some judges are prejudiced in any number of ways and support that they should be weeded out. However, I am serious that I do not know how Org Comms should act here. If you genuinely believe that the decision was racist, should they strike the judge? And if they find no actual evidence, surely you will still be equally convinced?

    The problem is that we don't see evidence or, indeed, actual names and we just get a culture of suspicion. I don't think that helps ESL or EFL speakers as they may begin to believe that people are out to get them, it doesn't help the relationship between ESL, EFL and ENL debaters and it doesn't actually root out the prejudiced judges.

    I support your principle, I'm just keen to see how this works in actuality. I'm sure there are ways but I may be too dim to see them.


  45. Anonymous11:01 pm

    To Rob Marrs

    I understand it is confusing to use anon, but again I have my reasons. If you are interested I can tell you why but I doubt that matters. I will still use it. You have convinced me that naming people behind the veil is not justified. I still think that my arguments towards abuse and racist behaviour towards individuals in debates takes nothing away from my beliefs even if I say it under the cover of an anon post.

    It seems a bit too much to name judges or even streams of judges, but koenvanschie had it correct, there is a form of bias towards speaking ability as opposed to arguments. I agree, debating is persuasion not just arguments. But I would also like to think that a competitive debate tries to "persuade" more than the English/Australian (and so on) speaking world only. You might think my speaking ability is crap. Unfortunately, a hundred million indians would think it is as good as that of speaker from Sydney. The judges are dominated by the traditional english speaking world at the worlds. And thus with a 50-50 split, we will almost always lose. (There was a nice article about this in the Monash Debating Magazine covering body language and so on) and I tend to think that contributes most towards my and other ESL touchiness/bitterness

  46. As I've never heard you speak (and, indeed, don't know your name!), I wouldn't dare argue suggest that your speaking ability was crap. Furthermore, I'm not sure in the best part of 10 years of judging I have ever described any speaker's delivery as crap. I wholeheartedly agree with you that an Indian's delivery (or indeed anyone's delivery) can be as good (if not better) than someone from Sydney.

    I absolutely agree with you that there is a form of bias against ESL and EFL speakers. The problem, as I outlined above, is that style (or expression and delivery) does matter and it is difficult for all judges (regardless of background) to leave their prejudices as to what good style is at the door. Indeed, they should not always do so. I believe that how you say things, the speed, the tone, the volume, the use of pauses, the changes in pace, the emphasis on words, the words you use, the sentences you use, the rhetorical tricks you use... these all help make points better. These aren't the only thing that matters - organisation and prioritisation of arguments, reasoning and analysis, listening and response, strategy and teamwork all matter.

    A problem I see with modern debating (and as I've said elsewhere) is that we lay too much at the door of analysis and forget, too often, on how something is said. The problem, as you note, is that people from different cultural backgrounds speak differently... and that is before we factor in the fact that people are speaking in a second (or, indeed, third or fourth language). It is a very difficult balance to strike but it would be wrong to throw the style baby out with the equity bathwater.

    I firmly believe, and have always believed, that debating shouldn't disappear into it's own rectum and, if a reasonably intelligent person with no background on the topic, walked into a WUDC debate they should be able to understand what is going on.

    As an aside, if you'd like to cast off your cloak I'd be delighted to hear from you: robcmarrs at - I'd happily engage in an off-list (and totally confidential!) conversation.


  47. Anonymous11:18 pm

    What possible difference does it make whether 100 million Indians think that you can speak well? It makes no difference that my friend Bob thinks I'm brilliant. These people are not experienced judges and do not understand the technical aspects of debating. BP-style debates are not public speaking competitions. That's why we don't get random people off the street to judge them - we have a very rigorous process for selected those people who can best judge a DEBATE.

    Now, if judges cannot accurately judge a debate on it own terms because of prejudice, then we have a real problem, but if a judge would make a different call from an average Indian, that is no more "racism" than if he made a different call than an average Brit or American. The man on the street (in whatever country) will have a different opinion as to what constitutes a good speaker from an experienced judge and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, may well have different opinions from the man on the street in a different country. That is why his opinion is irrelivant.

    Cultural divides as to what constitutes a good public speaker (and therefore comments like "a hundred million indians would think it is as good as that of speaker from Sydney") are irrelivant in the context of WUDC. All we need to know about a judge is that he is as capable of judging ESL/EFL teams in a competition, according to the criteria established by that competition, and that he does not discriminate between teams based on their ESL/EFL-ness. We don't need to establish (indeed it is pointless at best and harmful at worst to even consider) whether he would make the same call as the average Indian, Brit, American etc.

  48. Anonymous11:29 pm

    @Harry McEvansoneya So I assume you agree investigations are good, even if it is against Ian (is there some way to get him to read this?). I would also agree that it is inefficient to go over every claim. Being a judge myself, I know that there is not a single debater in the world who has lost a debate in his own eyes so it is problematic.

    But sacrificing potential claims of abuse of power at the altar of efficiency or a form of responsibility of the victim (real or otherwise) should not be a part of this. I agree unless there is no doubt there was foul play the CA team shouldnt be punished, but if you take away the right to complain at a perceived greivance, you dont make it better. You just reinforce the idea that the CA team is dominated by people out to get them.

  49. tommy tonner11:33 pm

    This topic has moved on a bit over the past 50 or so comments, my question is should something that is said during a speech in a debating competition ever lead to a ban on the grounds of being offensiveness ?

    My answer is no - supposing big Ian had defined that ESL teams should be excluded from worlds, it sounds as if this would have caused uproar, particularly given the way the argumnets would have developed.

    Yet only in your tiny tiny little 400 team comp would that be more outlandish than the original definition.

    This is a debating competition, a game - whereby people try to persuade objective assessors that their arguments are the best, no-one thinks (or should think) that any remark uttered during a debate are representative of the speakers opinion. Therefore I see no grounds for banning someone for being offensive within the formal constraints of a competitive debate. If your man had said this to an asian girl in a bar or indeed got into a fight with a Russian on the same topic at lunch then that could be different.

    It sounds as if there are several agendas in play here and that someone has been unfairly victimised because of that.

  50. Victor Chernov11:44 pm

    @Tommy - may be these are my Jewish genes speaking, but yes, if a person gives a clearly antisemitic speech (for example), I would love to see him expelled. There are, of course other things. The point is that this measure should be of a very very limited use, since it's easy to cause more harm than good by using it too much.

  51. Anonymous11:51 pm

    Perhaps the issue isn't that it was found offensive, clearly there's a case for saying that the people involved have over-reacted, but instead the culture which led to the assumption that the topic and comment would be acceptable/amusing.

    1. Clearly this speaker considers ESL persons, as a generic whole, to be lesser than EFL speakers and further to that believes that everyone else does, and as such would find such a joke amusing.

    2. The fact that the initial response to an open motion such as this is to run such a repulsive and offensive topic is also, in my view, a serious problem within debating.

    The real sanction against people that make jokes and comments, or propose cases such as this should be to lose the debate. The team should have gotten a fourth, and everyone should have been told that that was they got a fourth.

    The problem, which I think is developed more on the IV circuit rather than just at worlds, is that we are encouraging debaters to argue increasingly bad, and often morally unacceptable cases - see the fight they had over Durham IV on the BD mailing list recently.

    If judges stop giving out firsts to people who prop genocide, or slavery, or child prostitution or w/e, then people will stop running them.

    If people stop laughing at nasty jokes about others, then people will stop making them.

    The solution is cultural, not enforceable, but takes a conscious effort by all debaters to achieve.

    There was an excellent point made after the Euros final that Debating is the art of persuasion, and that as fantastic as our intellectual fact offs really are they bear little resemblance to the actual arguments that would sway an audience.

    For example,

    1. Does anyone really believe that debaters who take first running props like this would really have persuaded a truly objective observer of their case?

    2. That they would have done so by mocking and insulting half of their audience?

    As for fairness in judging. ESL teams aren't and never have been judged on a fair playing field. So long as the majority of judges are EFL then they never will be. What we need is to have extensive training of judges from non-english speaking countries, which includes allowing as many as possible to wing in top rooms. Then we can increase the multi-national nature of the panels. EFL judges are more likely to be swayed in terms of manner by EFL teams and vice versa. This isn't for any intentional racist or biased reason. If we can get more mixed judging panels, then we can get better equity.

    If you really are the worlds best debaters, then you should be able to persuade people from all over the world of your case. If you're speaking to fast, or using too many complicated words for your judges to understand, that is your fault, not theirs. The job of a debater is to persuade his audience of the cause he is advocating. Maybe that's what we should be working towards.

  52. Anonymous11:52 pm

    @Anon at 11:18 (now I understand how confusing it is)

    I apologize if I get it wrong but I believe you misunderstood. The 100 million Indians was to point out cultural ideas about speaking ability (let me be clear it is purely "Manner" not "matter") and to rebutt Rob who said the aim is to persuade and not to just outlogic.

    The 100 million thing, you would think that from so many of them, there would be at least a dozen decent judges who are qualified to judge the worlds. Its not. It is heavily dominated with judges with one form of perception towards speaking ability. As to why Cultural context is so important, a judge will cut points from me if I do something concerning body language if he is from say Australia but the exact opposite if he is from India and sadly enough determine whether I am better than the opposing team which was as good in Matter. It has nothing to do with technicalities of the BP style or a bias towards ESL/EFLness (although that also comes in sometimes). Couple that with 9 out of every 10 panel members being of ENL origin, and that makes us wonder why we do so well at the Australs but never at the worlds!

  53. Anonymous11:57 pm

    To clarify, EFL normally means English as a Foregin Language. Not to be rude to them but it implies little experience at speaking in english. I believe the term used for the English Speaking nations is ENL (no idea what it means). Some people are using the EFL to refer to the english speaking nations though.

  54. tommy tonner12:58 am

    For all that there maybe 1 billion Indians on the planet they have never prodcuded a world darts champion. Am I to be accused of racism by saying that Indians are less good at hitting treble 20's than people from Stoke ?

    And Victor of course I accept your point that advocating genocide, mass murder, arbitrary taking of lives is at best inadvisable and at worst horrendous but its not a cause for expulsion from the entire tournament.

    One wonders if this had happened in the main comp rather than masters would this sanction have been taken ?

  55. Anonymous1:04 am

    Now you've done it... the Indian dart brigade will be coming down on you like a tonne of bricks. If ESL are so concerned about being offended, and being cheated (see comments on the discussion about increasing the break), maybe they should think long and hard about their preconceptions of this tournament, and any consequences that flow from the conclusions they reach.

  56. Anonymous1:13 am

    "The 100 million thing, you would think that from so many of them, there would be at least a dozen decent judges who are qualified to judge the worlds. Its not. It is heavily dominated with judges with one form of perception towards speaking ability."
    The current system is prejudiced towards people who have talent. Look over the credentials of the people doing the judging for the finals, it's mostly impeccable. And yes, I'll take those people's word over the word of some judges without credentials, whether they come from India or anywhere else. "All Indian judges agree" is not an argument.

  57. Anonymous1:15 am

    On the broader question of whether a bias exists against ESL/EFL teams at Worlds:

    Perhaps such a bias does exist. But it's not as cut and dried as every ENL judge classing ESL speakers as inferior; people don't have "English speakers" and "rest of the world" stereotypes in their head. Those biases work in different ways with different judges and in different debates. The idea from one poster that cockiness gives ENL speakers an advantage made me smile: Irish speakers are well aware that cockiness can be a disadvantage at Worlds, to the extent that the Galway IV a couple of years ago ran a motion on Ireland pulling out of Worlds due to a failure to credit arguments. What works brilliantly in an Irish context bombs miserably in an English, Canadian, Australian or American one; ask any English speaker who's spoken in an Irish IV final. There are other stereotypes and cultural attitudes at work, and not all of them work to the disadvantage of ESL teams.

    AS for the question of why Indian teams do well at Australs but not Worlds: it could be a number of factors other than ENL judges simply not taking Indian speakers seriously. It may be the difference in format, it may be the fact that Australs judges are more likely to be able to interpret local styles and behaviours than Worlds judges. It may even boil down to the fact that in a competition held in English, native speakers will unfortunately have an inbuilt advantage.

    There are a host of possible explanations for the relative performance of ESL speakers at Worlds; in the near-total absence of evidence, it's unfair to assume it's discrimination at work.

  58. Anonymous1:18 am

    Indian teams do well at Australs?

  59. Anonymous1:29 am


    In all humility, you make a really stupid point. You assume that the 1 billion Indians are not good enough at debating. It is not a sport where the aim is to hit a target. It is a competition about logic, argumentation and persuasion. The percetions of what consitutes the latter two differ based on locality.

    Unfortunaltey there is something called the "worlds" where the people who decide have the viewpoints that their (the ENL) style is superior to the ones practised by the ESL countries.

    It is akin to saying, we will devise the rules based on what we are good at damn the others in the world. I would love to see how many English champions come up when the entire judging pool is from Japan.

    and @anon at 1:13, it is quite an arrangement then for the ENL teams. They have people in the judging pool who we know like their style more than the ESL type, so they will win. Two years later, guess who the new DCA's and judges will be, the same "talented" people who won the past few ones. Keep the cycle going and you will never have a CA from the ESL since the teams never win. Why? Not because they are not talented, no among the ESL community they will always be held in high regard, but because the judges from yesteryear who decides who wins or loses never let them win

  60. Tommy said: "One wonders if this had happened in the main comp rather than masters would this sanction have been taken ?"

    Given the history of the Masters tournament (Sydney 2000, for example) I think most people would have expected that one would have to commit an equity violation in order to win.

    This thread is still light on facts. We're still waiting to hear how the process unfolded and who is taking responsibility for the decisions made.

  61. Anonymous1:35 am

    "Unfortunaltey there is something called the "worlds" where the people who decide have the viewpoints that their (the ENL) style is superior to the ones practised by the ESL countries."
    Yes. We have a uniform style. There was a vote on this some years ago I understand. Similarly, if you go onto a basketball court and try to play football, you will lose. Get over it.
    "I would love to see how many English champions come up when the entire judging pool is from Japan."
    It's hard to decide if this is more offensive to Westerners, or to Japanese speakers, so I'll leave it as is.

    You have called the previous speaker stupid, but it's clear you are. We have debaters from a number of countries and backgrounds who succeed at Worlds. They do so because of merit, not because of a conspiracy against ESL speakers, and if asked they would probably be insulted to hear suggestions of this sort. If English is your second language, you're more likely to struggle to win a debate in an English based competition. That is sad, but trying to compromise for that and factor in that it is their second language would cheapen the whole tournament. This is a competition where a decision is given based on what the teams actually said, not what they thought they said, or what they would have liked to say.

  62. Andy Hume1:39 am

    And, Anon, the CA at Worlds next year is Logan Balavijendran - hardly ESL, of course, but one presumes he's not going to perpetuate a clique of ENL cronies and shut everyone else out.

    Unless we pay him enough, of course.

  63. Anonymous1:50 am

    @Andy, do not take my comments verbatim please. I dont believe having a ESL CA will change anything. Because one CA does not mean anything. Its about where the vast majority of judges are going to be from:

    Look at the Koc Website, they give you the numbers. Total of 45 additional judges from North America and Oceania. A good 55 from EMEA, of whom a vast majority are IONA. How many allowed from Asia? 24. Keep in mind these are the respected and well known people from debating circles. They are the ones who usually break and judge the important debates where the DCA's feel the real contenders are present.

    I am not a mathematician, but even I can tell the chances that you meet an ENL judge is more than an ESL one esp if you end up debating against an ENL team (read contenders point). I am not saying they are bad. But they very rarely consider the ESL style of delivery to be even half as good as the ENL. And the cycle perpetuates

  64. Anonymous1:56 am

    Anon, what is the % of Asian/ESL teams who break at Worlds? I'm betting it's much lower than the % of adjudicators from those regions who break. People who debate at worlds want people who adjudicate them who could actually win the tournament, and have done so in the past. Not someone who is an unknown who has no credentials, except that they represent ESL countries. To make the argument you have been, you need to believe all of Worlds is a conspiracy against ESL countries, and that it's not merit that makes Oxford A beat Keio D, only Western Imperialist bias. If that's what you believe, then my advice is to leave Worlds and not come back. You won't be missed.

  65. Anonymous1:59 am

    Why are people persisting with the idea that there's a single ENL style?

    American speakers are highly formalised, Australian speakers are less used to POIs, Canadian speakers have a tendency towards dryness, English speakers sometimes come across as arrogant, and Irish speakers vary from dry and humourless to hilarious and unrelenting. Assuming that there's an ENL "style" which advantages native speakers is simply nonsense - ask any Irish speaker who's seen an American team win at Oxford or Cambridge whether they liked the winners' style.

    Cat-among-pigeons moment: Irish judges represent 9% of the judge break, but Irish teams represent only 3% of the break itself. If memory serves correctly, that's broadly similar to past results, so does that mean there's a case for Irish teams to argue that the current judging system biases against them? After all, the longstanding complaint has been about a failure to understand the difference in style, and when you take that out as a factor (by looking at adjudicators instead) the Irish participation in the break trebles. It's at least as valid a claim of bias as most of the others being brought up...

  66. tommy tonner1:59 am

    So, anon, if I say Indians are rubbish at darts then that's not racist becuase of the supreme objectivity of the law of the oche. If I say they are rubbish at debating that is racist and evidence of ENL supremacy ?

    Thats utter tosh. There are many reasons why an Indian team has never won worlds, though Delhi came very very close in 1993, but racism is not one of them.

    Short of having judges hear speeches from behind screens so they cant see speakers or perhaps filtering speeches though some apersonal translator to hide accents I cant think of how we can objectify worlds any more than we already have done.

  67. Anonymous2:07 am

    "Why are people persisting with the idea that there's a single ENL style?"
    None of those other countries are accusing Worlds of bias against them. They recognise there is a certain style for Worlds, and that it is different to the one they have at home, they then harden up, and come to Worlds and perform in that style. Maybe that's why they do well, because they adapt instead of engaging in self pity. Some of your generalisations of other countries are both wrong and hilarious (given that's what you've accused others of doing). Australians are bad at POIs!!! Canadians are dry. You are a terrible spokesman for ESL speakers.

  68. To the anonymous poster at 2.07: I think you've managed to misunderstand the nature of what I'm saying. I'm trying to point out that claiming a bias in favour of ENL style is incorrect, because there's no such thing as a single ENL style. I'm on your side - your side!

    And yes, I am a terrible spokesman for ESL speakers. That's probably a side effect of my being Irish - and to us, yes, Canadians are frequently rather dry, and Australians are less used to POIs (at least, I think they are - could someone confirm whether Australian-Asian format uses POIs?). You'll note, however, that I never said they were bad at them.

    In the interests of not letting this turn into a row between two people called Anon - the name's Luke.

  69. Anonymous2:18 am

    Anon at 1:56,

    Way to go with the consipiracy theory defence. I dont think there is a conspiracy, but a belief that one style is superior to the other. And you say people who debate at the worlds want people who have won them before. How the hell are any ESL teams supposed to win? Every single winner comes from a school of thought where their method of speaking is considered supreme. One of the comments above is right, the ENL styles are not the same. But they are still different from the ESL more so than each other.

    Taking aside Keio and Oxford, I have seen debates decided in favor of a team which under no circumstances won the Matter part of the debate. They still won, because their manner was considered superior. Change the judges, a different outcome. You make it sound like the ESL teams are unanimously worse off than the ENL ones.

  70. Anonymous2:19 am

    Sorry, I think I confused you with another anon, what with all the kool-aid being thrown about.

  71. Anonymous2:20 am

    @Luke, I understand that you are on my side. And I know the differences between the ENL speakers. And I understand Irish teams face challenges as well, but not nearly as much as ESL teams face.

    Furthermore apologies for making this an ENL bashing rant, I recognize ENL is huge. For example, Australians, mostly because of the Australs are much more generous with manner points because they are used to the Asian styles.

  72. Anonymous2:28 am

    @Tommy, seriously dude, understand the difference between a sport where the points can be clearly seen and recorded versus where the decisions are based on perceptions.

    I dont understand why you keep going back to racism. It has nothing to do with that, instead it is perception of what a good debater should be. The answer is plain and simple. Too much weight on style with judges preferring one style to others because of their origins. I would like to know how many would win if the judges would be forced to do a 90-10 split to matter-manner as opposed to a 50-50 one that is usually done.

    And finally, "Short of having judges hear speeches from behind screens so they cant see speakers or perhaps filtering speeches though some apersonal translator to hide accents I cant think of how we can objectify worlds any more than we already have done."

    So what are you advocating? We pay attention to accents and use that for our judgements? Would you be so willing if in the worlds a judge didnt give it to the irish because they couldnt understand their accent?

  73. Anonymous2:29 am

    People don't like to say this, because of the PC brigade right now, but I think the general idea of an ESL comp is that people don't expect an ESL team to win. That is not to say teams from ESL countries won't do well, many do as has been pointed out to you. But the judges who break need credentials, whatever country they're from, and should not be chosen because they are from an ESL country. Certainly, by the time the semi comes along, every adjudicator really should be someone who can or has won Worlds (though I think that standard isn't being consistently upheld at the moment).

    You keep talking about different styles, but worlds has one style. There was a vote on it years ago. You are confusing worlds with another competition. Teams from different schools of thought win by debating in Worlds style, and many from non-English backgrounds have had success doing so. Worlds won't change to adapt to the style of "minority" countries, they need to adapt to it if they want to succeed.

  74. Anonymous2:40 am

    @Anon at 2:39,

    Way to go.

    "people dont expect an ESL team to win" Can you tell me why? Is it because the ENL teams use logic which is so much better that our minds can not comprehend or answer it?

    "but worlds has one style. There was a vote on it years ago." And obviously it has to be your style. If you are talking about the BP vs the Australasians, then you have no idea what I am talking about. If you are talking about the perceptions and speaking styles, then way to go fixing the competition.

  75. Anonymous2:49 am

    I think people don't expect a true ESL team to win for the same reason they set up an ESL comp. Because the competition is in English, and their second language is English. I'm not talking about accent or tone or race, those things all vary from country to country, and a wide variety of manner styles have worked. But obviously if English is your second language (not merely EFL), you are going to find it more difficult to succeed in an english based competition. It's not PC to say so, but it's empirically true.

    You pose the question "how will an ESL team ever win?" I don't think one has to win to prove Worlds is based on merit. Most people, including successful debaters from ESL countries, know that now.

    While disputing that this is about style in the sense of "3 on 3 v.s BP" that's basically the suggestion you're making by suggestion there is currently bias that ranks manner 90% and ignores arguments from people who have an accent. The suggestion is just ignorant. Who on the list of breaking adjudicators this year is such an adjudicator?

  76. To repeat once more: differences in style don't boil down to ENL/everyone else. Sometimes ESL/EFL teams will be disadvantaged compared to ENL teams, sometimes not. It depends less on language status and accent than on the particular style for a region or country.

    A Canadian judge trying to decide between a Scottish team with thick Glasgow accents, a team from Ateneo, a Botswana team they've never encountered, and an Irish team trying to make their points as funny as possible may give the advantage to the Scots and Irish, or they may assume Ateneo are good given their Worlds history, or they may think the Irish made no actual arguments, or they may think the Botswanans made the best case.

    Further confusing the issue, the teams that do best are the teams that come from historically successful institutions, rather than countries. Take out Oxford and Cambridge and England's status changes hugely; take out Harvard, Yale and Stanford and the Americans look weaker; take out Monash and Sydney and the Australians suddenly appear vulnerable. The advantage is less to do with style and bias than with being in a competitive environment with a talented intake and a strong flow of excellent older speakers. Even ESL institutions have the same feature - the ESL break (and ESL representatives in the main break) are dominated by a relatively small number of institutions. It's not bias; it's simply that debating is a difficult form to breed success in from scratch. You need a talented intake, a well-organised society, experienced speakers with a high level of knowledge, funding for attending multiple strong events and a strong culture of passing knowledge down. Unfortunately, that does produce a high degree of inertia - the schools that do well at Worlds are the ones that have done well before, with few exceptions.

  77. Tommy Tonner3:04 am

    To my mind the delivery of the person uttering the argument plays a very large part in the how persuasive their case is. That is a pretty integral part of the equation and indeed the art of debating. Sure ENL teams have an advantage, big time, over those who have to learn and think in a second language. Tough tits tho guys. debating at worlds level will always happen through the medium of the English language and I have HUGE respect for anyone that can compete to a high level who were not brought up as english speakers. In the not too distant future an ESL team (prob from Asia) will win worlds. The team that does win worlds from Asia will understand that persuading an audience is different from winning an argument on email, something that a few posters on here might reflect upon.

    Incidentally I see there is an Aussie in the world darts final so anything is possible.

  78. Disgusted that so many have so much to say but don't have the courage to sign their names when we're discussing an activity which by its nature involves expression in public.

  79. Anonymous3:08 am

    @Anon, do you even know how good the english is of people from HK, India or any of the old English Colonies? Do you seriously think that ESL countries can not speak in english properly and that is what causes the problems?

    To your second point, about Worlds being on merit, I have no doubt that the winners are the best. But ESL teams dont have a level playing field. And not because we cant string words together in English in any coherent sense but because we are always put down because of our manner.

    I am sorry couldnt get what you meant by the last para. I assume you mean I said manner is given a 90% weightage. Not really, its 50% and adjudicators assign only half the points based on arguments. The 50% manner is a lot considering how flimsy manner can be to decide. This is why:

    1. What kind of humor do you use
    2. The speed at which you talk
    3. The level of agression/respect you show your opponents and the audience
    4. You body language, how much do you wave and move about
    5. The level of decorum that you observe
    6. Your tone variations
    7. Your cultural references

    I can go on and on. Those are the trump card of the ENL. Since the judges and debaters are on the same wave length. To give you an idea, look at the WODC. Who made it to the final. Estonia and England! That should give you an idea that argumentation wise, most countries can match up to the ENL nations

  80. Anonymous3:15 am

    @Mark Dowling,

    I have been through this before already. Courage to sign up your names. What does that prove? How does it detract from our arguments? How does it take credibility away from our arguments? Because it disgusts me that you would look at names as opposed to arguments and call yourself a debater.

    @Tommy, it is not just about fluency. It is about so much more. I can you tell you now that most Asian judges consider the hyper aggressive style of the Irish or the Aussies to be very rude and mark it down. So your ideas on what consitutes a good delivery differs from mine and that of so many Asian judges. It is not solely about the English language. Most singaporeans or HK residents speak english as their first languauge in every respect. They are still not as successful.

  81. Andy Hume3:19 am

    Manner is not 50%, by the way. That's an urban myth. The rules do not state what the split should be, and deliberately so.

    But manner should be important, because debate is the art of persuasion. The problem is that adjudicators nowadays tend to use matter and method as their only explicit criteria for fear of upsetting a team who has lost out through "inferior" manner. This masks the true reasons for decisions and encourages biases, whether deliberate or [much more usually] subconscious.

    "Anti-ESL bias" may well be an issue and I have argued for the expansion of the main break, elsewhere on this blog, partly because it would open up the break to more teams from outside the usual suspects from a handful of ENL nations. But ditching or downgrading manner as a criterion for judging debating would be a ghastly mistake. If that means that some teams have an inbuilt advantage then so be it.

  82. I'm stumped as to what exactly is the "trump card of the ENL". There are seven aspects to manner mentioned, and for the life of me I can't see how they bias in a general go-English-speakers direction.

    1. What kind of humor do you use - this varies massively within the ENL world, from bone dry to nineteen gags a minute. The latter usually backfires, anyway.
    2. The speed at which you talk - again, huge variation. Americans sometimes speak extremely fast, as can Indian speakers, but Scots don't necessarily speak at the same tempo at all, for example.
    3. The level of agression/respect you show your opponents and the audience - this varies perhaps more than anything. Irish speakers are happy to ridicule absolutely anyone if they think it'll be funny and make a point, while Canadians are less likely to do something like compare Sam Block to a reversing truck.
    4. You body language, how much do you wave and move about - again, this stuff varies massively. I'm getting repetitive.
    5. The level of decorum that you observe - this is really the same as number 3.
    6. Your tone variations - See all the above.
    7. Your cultural references - Ditto.

    None of these lend themselves to an easy bias in favour of ENL teams. Every one of them varies massively from country to country, institution to institution, speaker to speaker.

  83. Anonymous3:24 am

    Agree with anon 3:15

  84. Anonymous3:28 am

    @Luke, they do vary a lot within the ENL teams. And in my personal opinion, the Irish and the Americans get the worst of it from amongst the ENL teams. It is however, not even close to the differences between an ENL team and an ESL one. If you look at the differences between the ESL and ENL ones as opposed to pure intra ENL differences, you would understand what I mean.

    @Andy, manner is a myth? Have you ever listened to a critique where both ESL and ENL teams were involved? If I had a dime for ever time I heard "you were not forceful enough"...

    I am not saying ditch manner. It is important. But the way it currently treated is far too biased in favor of a certain few countries

  85. Anonymous3:33 am

    @Luke, to be honest, it is not about ESL vs ENL, it has a lot to do with Asian cultures as well. Asians consistently lose to Europeans in the ESL break as well even though the same universities in the Asians setting give a good run to worlds main break worthy teams like Ateneo or even at the Australs. Why? Look at my 7 points

  86. Andy Hume3:37 am

    Anon: I don't wish to get into an argument here, especially as I am not at Worlds, but you are twisting Mark's words by claiming that he "judges you on your name", not your argument.

    I think if you are an ENL judge at Worlds reading this, or the CA of WUDC 2011 or 2012, then having a load of anonymous commenters questioning your integrity is not particularly constructive or helpful. For all I know you're 35 and haven't been to Worlds in seven years. (Like me.)

    Nor do I accept this blanket assertion that because most additional judges at Koc are from Europe that somehow disadvantages Asian teams. Apart from anything else a significant proportion of those European judges are not from the UK or Ireland but continental Europe and, if anything, more disposed to "favour" ESL teams.

    Furthermore, some of the independents are people who devote a great deal of their time and money to travelling the world to help global debate - partly for their own enjoyment, of course, or to drink free booze - but also because they think's it's a Good Thing. And, as we've already seen, there are a plethora of different styles within the ENL world and everyone has their own favourite and least favourite. The idea that there's some monolithic bloc out there that's screwing over Asians is fantasy. That's just as sweeping a stereotype as you accuse the IONA judges of.

    (Speaking personally I'd be quite upset if people saw my name and my country of origin and assumed that I was going to favour British teams, given that I work coaching debate in Asia.)

    Also, all these anons make a sensible discussion difficult, because all the other anons take offence when you criticise the first anon.

  87. Anonymous3:39 am

    The only example of this supposed bias was Ateneo, which was then thoroughly debunked. Who are the other teams who are apparently being screwed over?

  88. Anonymous3:54 am

    @Andy, easy way out to differentiate the anons, mention the time!

    Mark told me in no uncertain terms that he is disgusted I am not revealing my name. I would like to know why then if that has nothing to do with my arguments?

    Also I dont understand, you admit that judges think that there are some good styles while others are not. Yet you believe that having judges from one side of the world over the other has no effect on decisions. You say more judges from continental europe? Look at the numbers please. ENL is always a vast majority and still is.

    And for the love of god stop playing the ENL is so different card. I know it is. It is nothing compared to how different every one of them is compared to the ESL or the Asian teams. ENL teams are much more similar to each other as opposed to the Asian ones. And more importantly, there is still adequate representation of ENL teams in the judging pool, something that is not there for the ESL teams.

    And finally, you mention it is discouraging that the judges are criticized. If there is a legit problem, then should we just shut up. If it is true that manner is over important in the eyes of the judges, then I would rather have my comments heard so that it accounted for the next time council meets and talks about this.

  89. Anonymous4:05 am

    As long as nobody is attacked personally, I don't have a problem with people posting anonymously. It's not like most people will know each other here anyway. It's the internet.

    - Jo

  90. @anon - because everyone has biases. Biases are not of themselves a negative but they are material. By revealing my identity, I identify myself to those who know me or can ask around.

    Debating is not an academic pursuit, despite the fact that some academics make a living from it (and good luck to them). It is a competitive activity which involves not a little courage of convictions and looking your opponent as closely in the eye as the room layout allows. If someone proposed holding a circuit "debate" in a format where I could not confront the person holding the other view, I would be appalled. This blog is, in the main, an extension of that activity rather than the private conversations held in the corners of bars after break announcements (whole different thing).

    Hiding your name seems to me an indication that you think your opinion would be thought of lesser note if you revealed it. Perhaps it's the institution you're from, or that you never broke at Worlds.

    Take heart - neither did I, and neither did the bloke whose blog you're so furiously posting to.

    If the bilge above had been posted 15 years ago I'd have believed most of it. But along came Stellenbosch and Ateneo and Erasmus to prove that debaters could not just come from E*L countries but could host damn good tournaments too. WUDC has adjudication tests and DCAs and goodness knows what else - and there's room for improvement, there always will be. So be a debater - PROPOSE a way forward, and have enough courage of your convictions to sign your name to it.

  91. tommy tonner4:39 am

    If judge A thinks manner is important does that make them a bad judge ? I sincerely hope not !

    If the same judge has a different view on manner than judge B does that make either of them a bad judge ? No.

    If judges a & b disagree on the quality of matter then who is right ?

    FFS folks judging debates its difficult enough without having to second guess what a particular lobby might make of your decision.

    I destroyed a good personal relationship with an Irish girl once by knocking her out of the mace, I came close to getting personally injured by a large Oxford debater by adjudicating that his team got knocked out of the quarters and I made myself physically ill by being the key judge in the room which awarded worlds to glasgow one year . I daresay we all have our prejudices - it would sadden me greatly if these individual foibles have become akin to institutional racism.

  92. @Luke - couldn't have said it more clearly.

    And in reaction to an earlier point (much earlier in this case since 50 comments have appeared since I last checked this evening), I recall watching Alaska (Michael Imeson and James Kilcup) win at the Cork IV earlier this year and it was almost unanimous from the adjudicators within minutes - something that the crowd was also agreeing with if the consensus I heard is anything to go by. An American team won an Irish IV because of the sheer quality of their argumentation... Funnily enough, their speaking style would have been quite stereotypically what was described here as being American - very fast, very matter-based, little in the way of flowery unessential rhetoric and not attempting to inject unnecessary humor into every third sentence (something which it's acknowledged is a stereotypically Irish idiosyncracy in debate).

    And yet they won, and deserved to. With an adjudication panel of Irish judges. Against 2 Irish teams and one team from England made up of 2 Irish speakers (who were both from Cork previously as speakers).

    I realise this is picking a very specific example and I'm not attempting to gloss over any issues people may have with perceptions of ESL or EFL teams within the Worlds environment or debates against ENL teams (by the way since someone asked earlier: I think this means English as a Natural Language?). However I wish it to be representative of a very public occasion where none of these proposed predjudices could even be applied due to sheer quality of debate brought to the table. And it's occasions like that which can indicate to us that maybe it just takes luck or sheer talent sometimes.

  93. And yes, I realise that Americans speak English perfectly well (or at least ok) and this isn't exactly the same as having English as a second language, but I think the more important element of the arguments going on here are regarding predjudice based on location or ethnicity than actual ability to speak English... If ESL bias exists and a judge has decided that they're not going to take an Asian team's points seriously because of that, then

    a) They're a bloody crap judge
    b) How much is the perfect English of this team going to influence them then?

  94. Anonymous5:02 am

    On that note, Sydney won Cork too a few years back...

  95. On a very basic level, it is obvious that a person's accent matters, simply because accents affect how well one person understands another. Accents in the English-speaking world vary widely, and there are varieties of accents in every region that are unintelligible to native speakers in other regions (and sometimes to other native speakers in that same region!). We should all have had personal experience with this, but I'll still throw out a few: some Southern American accents, American ebonics, some Cockney accents and rural Jamaican.

    A lot of this understanding has to do with familiarity. For example, I usually have absolutely no problem understanding the received British pronunciation, but there are many native English speakers who do have serious problems understanding it (ie, some Americans). On the other hand, I had to ask the first South African I met in person to repeat herself a bit more often than either of us would've liked, and she was speaking a standard variation of the South African accent. From experience I've come to think that most native English speakers aren't really fluent in English -- they're fluent in their English accent.

    Now this issue isn't a binary one; it isn't the case that a person either understands a given accent or she doesn't. It's on a scale: there are English accents that a native speaker may find completely unintelligible, there are accents that she may have to make great effort to understand, there are accents that she may need to listen a bit more carefully than usual to understand, and there are accents that she understands effortlessly.

    So the first problem faced by ESL speakers, EFL speakers, and ENL speakers with unfamiliar accents is the effort that judges have to put into understanding what they're saying. Simply, if an American doesn't understand what a Trinidadian (an unfamiliar ENL speaker) is saying, he can't give her the points she deserves. If he can understand but must listen carefully and so can't make as much notes as he'd like to, he'll remember more of the points of the Canadian team on the other side, or he'll miss crucial parts of the Trinidadian's argument and find it less persuasive as a result.

    Furthermore, the Trinidadian will be faced with other restrictions. He won't be able to speak as quickly (and therefore get in as many points, examples etc) as the Canadian, because the judges may find him completely unintelligible if he speaks as quickly as the Canadian. The judges may also be distracted by 'strange' pronunciations of common words, and even with their best efforts they may miss an entire point altogether because they didn't know that "bay" and "beer" are homophones in the standard Trinidadian accent.

    I suspect that, on some level, this is a problem for most if not all ESL, EFL and unfamiliar ENL speakers. I think this is not commonly faced by the "familiar" ENL speakers because the good judges are, at the very least, familiar with standard variations of the British, Australian/New Zealand, American/Canadian and Irish accents, and their debaters try to speak with such standard accents, so the judges have little problem understanding the debaters. I suspect that ESL, EFL and unfamiliar ENL speakers who can emulate British, American or Australian accents well will therefore have the least problems where this is concerned. I wish I could test this theory.

    This is perhaps the most straightforward and least significant of the problems. There are probably others. I'll try to write about them in a post another time.

  96. Before I go, though, I want to address a few of Luke's points. He did a good job of talking about the variations in humour, speed, aggression and such within the well-known ENL styles. I agree with him; there is quite a bit of variation in those things. But I don't think it completely disarms the argument for bias for those things for this reason: they're expected, they're allowed, they're canonical.

    That is, you can think of it as there being a set of recognised excellent styles (not just one recognised style), and that this set is comprised of the familiar ENL styles: the American, the Canadian, the British, the Irish, the Australian and the New Zealand. So while there are variations of those things among those accepted styles/accents, they're all still accepted, and others are penalised to the extent that judges have to do unacceptable levels of extra work to make up for their deviations from these styles.

    And oh, not all elements of this canonical set are considered equivalent.

  97. There's so much debate cack here. Isn't the question just:

    a) Is it important that second language debaters be able to attend the *world' debating championships without fear of being publicly mocked as a group for their language skills? (I would hope the answer is yes.)


    b) Does what Koc did help pursue this goal in a reasonable (proportionate) manner. (It seems to me the answer is again, yes).

  98. Anonymous11:59 am

    I'd rather the ESL debaters grew a thicker skin than scapegoating someone, and forever tarnishing their reputation. But that's just me.

  99. "Grow thicker skin"

    Said Anonymous...

  100. Anonymous1:41 pm

    Another example would be Vıc Wellıngton winning the Cambrıdge IV in 2007.

  101. Marguerite Carter1:53 pm

    A fairly clear question remains to me on the topic of "equity" in general at worlds: why do you have the right not to be offended at WUDC when you do not retain that right in normal civil society. Surely bad jokes show themselves up as such. If you've made a public jibe about a certain group of people, then you probably shouldn't go on to judge that group, and I think this could be a specific guideline for adjudicators - don't mock anyone you are planning to judge. That said, the broader general concept of equity and equity violations is mystifying to me.

  102. Anonymous2:30 pm

    If Twitter feeds are to be believed, the Grand Final motion is THW assassinate Berlusconi.

    Surely that's quite an equity violation too!!!!

  103. This comment has been removed by the author.

  104. Tuna's brought out some more facts:

    (Sorry Colm, but you were ahead in stats anyhow ;) )

  105. Anonymous3:16 pm

    Twitter feeds are not to be believed. Especially if Tim Mooney's tweeting.

  106. Andy Hume3:55 pm


    In the context of your comment on the update, "I hope this can all be sorted out": holding the next two WUDC in Botswana and the Philippines is perhaps not the worst of starts.

  107. Indeed. From everything I have heard Koc did a super job as hosts and now the tournament is crumbling around them.

  108. Is it? I find it hard to gauge how much on an impact this actually has on the tournament - although it obviously has had some impact.

    Really hope this doesnt affect it too much - Koc Euros was excellent, and this worlds sounds even better...

  109. Anonymous4:02 pm

    Japanese teams will not attend Worlds again until steps are taken to eliminate racism at the championships and to introduce a fair judging and points system to increase the number of ESL teams in the main break.

  110. Andy Hume4:07 pm

    ...and we kick the discussion off again. Anon 4.02pm, there is a fair judging and points system. (It may on occasion be applied unfairly, but that is another issue.) Adjudicator feedback, open adjudications, DCAs from round the world, equity officers... all of these innovations have been brought in specifically to address these sorts of issues.

    Again, I have argued elsewhere for the break to be expanded to 64, partly in order to increase the chances of ESL teams being there. But if you are suggesting - what? some kind of handicapping system? Removing manner as a criterion for judging debates? That's crazy talk, in my humble opinion.

  111. Anonymous4:08 pm

    Can anybody spell Ressentiment?

  112. Hmmm. Don't feed the trolls....

  113. Anonymous4:16 pm

    This thread has gotten so long, I needed to switch from Firefox to Internet Explorer to render it properly. Ironic!

    I encourage all the ESL and EFL teams not to boycot worlds in future years. The vast majority of English language debaters do not condone these attitudes.

    As to the creating some sort of handicap - that can only lead to more resentment between native english speakers and ESL speakers.

  114. Anonymous4:17 pm

    The offence seeking continues. I am sure this will be deleted, but as Hume points out above, the IV is meritocratic now, with many safeguards already in place. If Japan's views are reflected by some of the remarks made in this discussion (belief that the IV is rigged against them, etc), then I certainly won't miss them if they stay home. A line should be drawn, and this PC nonsense shut down as harshly as possible.

  115. Anonymous4:23 pm

    I mean seriously, debaters feel they've been hard done by all the time... that's the nature of debating. But if Monash/whoever threatened to Boycott after a rough Semi decision, there would be complete condemnation by all.

  116. I can't believe I'm posting here. But anyways, just to echo the point Luke made that the similarities between ENL teams are very overstated here. Someone (one of the anon's) claims that the differences are much less than the differences between ENL and ESL. I don't necessarily agree. I remember judging rooms at Assumption Worlds which included teams from the US, Malaysia and Philippines and Ireland and I would say there were more similarities in style between the Malaysian team and the US team than the Irish team and the US team. This is one example and I've no doubt that there are ENL speakers much closer to other ENL speakers in style than to ESL, but I think the blanket assumption that it is universally the case is just not true.

    Again, looking at Irish debating because it's the circuit I know best, Ireland has done relatively disappointingly at Worlds over the last five or so years. This is partly because the Irish 'style' doesn't fit as neatly with 'Worlds' style (and I'm not talking debate format btw). Irish speakers tend to favour a bit more rhetoric, sometimes at the expense of matter, sometimes not. Irish speakers tend to come from a place of debating from principles and knowledge of specifics, especially in economics is often identified on the circuit as why Ireland seems to underperform. The point I want to make is that Worlds doesn't owe anything to Ireland in terms of accommodating Ireland's style. The worlds style, the debating style that grows organically and comes to be seen as a winning formula, is what it is. I might prefer that it favours manner more and that specific knowledge is less important than ability to reason from first principles. Others (both ENL and ESL) will disagree.

    Likewise, if there are debating circuits, be they ENL or ESL, that have styles that don't fit with the 'worlds style' because they are less aggressive or less forceful, then much like Irish debaters, the answer is to man (or woman) up and adapt for the competition you are at. If I speak at the Galway IV I will use a different approach than at the Oxford IV.

    Is it ideal? No. But if debating is to be a pursuit which encompasses an international element and an international championships, then there will be aspects of debating that are prized within that sphere that will be alien to some debaters at a national level. I've found that many of the better ESL speakers share far more debating characteristics with US and Canadian teams than a lot of UK or Irish teams do.

    That's life and it's no more a bias to say you lost a debate in part because you weren't forceful enough than it is to say you lost a debate because you were too heavy on style. Knowing where a lack of force stops being a non-existent issue and starts to impede the team's ability to persuade and win the debate is part of what makes a good judge. Likewise, knowing when a very stylistic speech stops just being a stylistic speech and also comes at the expense of argument is also a part of that.

  117. Anonymous4:43 pm

    Racism by word substitution - is the hardest racism not to be.

  118. Anonymous5:02 pm

    this debate is way too serious. Get over yourselves.

  119. Reading the conspiracy theories both here and on Alfred Snider's rumour post of 9.11am 03 January, I am reminded about what Kissenger said about the viciousness of student politics. Plus ca change...

  120. Anonymous6:12 pm

    If you lose at the (association) football world cup, there's no point saying "yes, but I'm really good at aussie-rules football and the referee ought to have taken that into account." Similarly, a top-class Aussie-rules referee cannot expect to referee for the World Cup final just because he's really good at Aussie-rules. If you go to an (association) football tournament, play association football or expect to lose.

    Please also note that the "association" football code in the analogy is not analogous to any one country's style of debating. I am not saying everyone should debate like, say, the Americans, just that everyone should expect to be judged according to worlds-style criteria, as defined by the rules of the competition (this may or may not be similar to any particular country's rules or code)

  121. Miranda Anwar7:01 pm

    I used to debate as an ESL speaker and I personally don't think I ever had a biased judge. However, the issue on whether some judges are biased is not the only (perhaps not even the main) cause behind the tension betweeen ESL/EFL and ENL teams. I think everyone involved in WUDC should be more mindful of the fact that the tension exists and refrain from making comments/jokes that can worsen the problem.

    I have heard native speakers making ignorant comments along the lines of "This ESL final topic is so difficult. Even I don't know anything about this issue, let alone ESL speakers," as if language barrier had anything to do with someone's knowledge or intelligence. Or someone making a joke to an adjudicator who was about to judge a debate between Australian teams and ESL teams that his job would be quite easy.

    ESL/EFL speakers are disadvantaged and some of us probably had to train twice as hard as ENL speakers just to hold a speech for 7 minutes in a language and style that we're not accustomed to. It's unfortunate, but it's the consequence of participating at WUDC and most ESL/EFL speakers understand and accept that consequence. However, I think it's perfectly understandable that ESL/EFL speakers (or indeed any speaker) take offense when, having trained hard to debate at WUDC, some people don't seem to think twice before making belittling comments/jokes about them. Especially when such comments are blatantly made in a public forum like the Master's grand final.

    I'm not sure it was necessary to dismiss the LSE speaker. I'm more inclined to believe that despite the horrible sense of humor, he had no malicious intention. Hence, perhaps a public apology would have sufficed. However, it doesn't change the fact that it's a hugely offensive comment and the incident should not be brushed aside. Especially not by suggesting that ESL teams should just grow thicker skin or learn to laugh at themselves.

    How about pausing for a second and putting yourself in the other person's shoes before deciding whether to make that joke/comment about them?

  122. Anonymous7:04 pm

    The # of comments has been shrinking by the minute... what gives?

  123. Anonymous 7:04pm,
    Aren't you the observant person. Yes I had to delete a number of posts (around 10) which named individuals and I have received a request to delete these. Colm

  124. Anonymous10:36 pm

    Anyone can give me an update of how the debaters from the Jamaican universities are doing...

  125. Dominic6:11 am

    All these comments about had the jokes been on the australians or americans there would have been no controversies - Seriously? Just because you would not take offend at something doesnt mean others are not entitled to their own personal propensities, especially when there is a legitimate justification for doing so. So you have a great sense of humor? Good for you. But stop being a bigot and ask that everybody be like you.

  126. Anonymous6:38 am

    Yes... we are the bigots, for asking for the free speech we grant others about us. Oh yes, and we want it in the forum of a comedy debate, a traditional venue for mocking all and sundry. How dare we.

  127. Dominic6:45 am

    Come on, enough with the free speech willy nillies - the only reason why you think it should be free speech is because you think it is "harmless", or at least harmless enough, which is judged again by your own standand, which ultimately begs the question.

  128. Anonymous7:12 am

    No, free speech is a bit more nuanced than "will it cause harm?", which is why people trying to censor Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoons were wrong. If people seek offence, they will always find it. Any sort of reasonable person test clearly doesn't stand up on the grounds people have conceded already, particularly the refusal to apply the "change the target, and is it still harmful or offensive?" standard.

  129. Tommy Tonner7:28 am

    Are any of these things offensive ?

    On THB a woman's place is in the home

    Debater A: I have no time for men who think of women as merely a collection of orifices

    Debater B: POI Doll, if I thought of you as merely a collection of orifices I would have a much higher opinion of you than I currently do.

    On THB the gulf war is unwinnable

    Debater A: Longevity of war is inevitable unless you are from Israel - the country that fought the six day war as if they had the tanks on a week's approval

    On a general sexism debate

    Female debater: Oh James... when I think of you...

    James Hook (WC 1995): You touch yourself ?

    I would argue case 2 is not offensive merely a humourous take on a point of fact. Case 3 isnt as the argument has been personalised before the potentially offensive comment. Case 1 however is gratuitous but perhaps justified in the light of the motion (just).

  130. Dominic7:30 am

    I wonder what is the integrity of the "change the target, and is it still harmful or offensive?" standard? This standard basically says "if someone else doesnt think it is offensive, you shouldnt too." Which is precisely the kind of bigotry I am talking about.

  131. Kandahar7:34 am

    Shocking how statements are conveniently twisted in one's own favor.

    this hoo-haa is distracting us all from what really happend.

    Some guy got up and called all ESL speakers sex slaves.

    "Who needs child prostitutes when we have ESL speakers here as sex slaves." (i hope someone can put up the video for this btw)

    let's all take a step back and look at the situation:

    A) This man has made a sexist remark, i am surprised why the Women's officer didn't issue a statement.

    B) He has made an offensive remark about the character of a group (in this case English as Second Language speakers, predominantly Asian & Eastern European). This remark is on par with an offensive statement about one's race and religion, which is clearly banned under the WUDC rules.

    C) Regardless of you agreeing or disagreeing with the statement, he had no right to blatantly undermine another individual/group's character in such a derogatory manner. Just because there are others thinking like him doesn't make the thought/statement right in any way.

    I'm personally quite saddened by the ignorant statements made in defence of this individual. Anti-American & Anti-Semitic statements should also be treated in the same manner. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    Don't bring in your dislike of ESL/EFL teams into this discussion, don't let it cloud your judgment. An offence was made by an individual against a group, and the commitee responded to it accordingly. That's all to it.


  132. Anonymous7:39 am

    Dominic is confused. Speech that should be free may still offend people, and it's obvious some people were offended by what Woon had to say. Alot of people have been offended by topics in the past, and by comedy debates in the past. That doesn't really have any bearing on the issue of free speech which you (wanted to) challenge me on. The ESL teams have every right to be offended, and if they want they can leave and never come back (though we have the right to judge them on it), but the question here is why WUDC can take action against Woon, which is a different thing (as opposed to judging him on his comments, which likely would have lead to the same apology they extracted anyway).

  133. Anonymous7:53 am

    Kandahar, I don't think anyone here really cares or knows about whether under the WUDC constitution such action is technical allowed. I think they are more interested in whether it is appropriate to curtail speech in this way. After all, most goernments can pass almost any law from a technical point of view, that doesn't bring us any closer to deciding if they were correct to do so.

  134. tommy tonner8:25 am

    DOes anyone actually think Woon THOUGHT that ESL teams were willing sex slaves ? I would hope not. Incidentally do Smith still debate ?

    Billy Connolly does not advocate parking your bike is the crack of someones dead arse either, but that is the joke that made him famous.

    Get a grip FFS.

  135. On the contrary (anonymous 7.53am), it is imperative that the action is judged on the standards of the WUDC constitution. Participants agree to the standards of refraining for making remarks prohibited by the constitution in as much as they agree to debating using the BP format in Worlds. If your issue is whether those limitations are appropriate, then I suggest you take it up in Botswana Worlds Council.

    Free speech is never absolute not in any democracies and definitely not in WUDC. It is pointless to defend the action in question by resorting to free speech rhetorics. Democracies have clear laws on libel, slander..etc and WUDC have provisions on sexist, racist remarks...etc. The test is not whether someone is offended, but whether an average reasonable person would find the statement to be racist, sexist or in violation of equity principles. That is the role of the Equity Committee. Someone taking offence is only a prerequisite for any action that can be taken as there has to be a complainant.

    Bravo on your solution by the way, instead of providing due process to both the complainant and the alleged perpetrator, you recommend that..."The ESL teams have every right to be offended, and if they want they can leave and never come back".

    Tommy, I don't think most people think that Woon thought of ESL speakers as sex slaves...rather it is immaterial. A sexist, racist remark...etc just like sexual harassment laws is judged by the statement not the possible intention behind the statement.

  136. Anonymous9:24 am

    I think it is naive of you to believe most participants read the WUDC rules, or care for that matter. Likewise, since they are written in a way that leaves them open to interpretation anyway, it's not relevant, and certainly not something I'm going to bother with. People who have criticised the action have not once raised the question of WUDC regulations because they don't care. They are only annoyed at the decision that has been taken.

    I'm not going to waste time getting into a debate about the extent to which I feel free speech should exist in the wider world. I have however questioned what standard is being applied here, as previous bloggers like Dominic seem to think anything offensive is actionable.

    "Democracies have clear laws on libel, slander..etc and WUDC have provisions on sexist, racist remarks...etc"
    Sure do chief. And anyone from an ESL team who feels offended has my encouragement to sue. Don't think it'll work out though... even in Turkey.

    "The test is not whether someone is offended, but whether an average reasonable person would find the statement to be racist, sexist or in violation of equity principles."
    This is certainly better than the Dominic "will it offend someone" test. Whether the test you offer, which would impose a burden (almost) not found in first world democracies anywhere in the world, has been met is entirely context dependant, and much like most here, I'm relying on 3rd hand accounts (many of whom don't think it was actionable). Whether this is a good test is another matter.

    But leaving that aside, it is unclear why any action beyond losing the debate (something 3 teams all did) was necessary. A social response to his remarks would be more than enough, let some of those angry (and their cheerleaders) go and tell Woon what they think, and they can discuss the matter at length with all the vitriol they like. Doubtless, Woon would have been prevailed upon to offer an apology at least as meaningful as the one he did offer. The action of officially sanctioning him, smearing his good name, and throwing him out of the tournament is pretty much without precedent, and it doesn't seem any sort of fair process was followed. You can enlighten us further one way or the other, but I have heard few kind words for past equity complaints and processes.

    At any rate, it makes me wonder why this sort of action has been taken, when many instances from the past (featuring adjudicators from ESL countries) resulted in no action. There is no consistency, which is also a problem (not that I'd support throwing the person out of the IV in other cases either).

    A glib remark is not my solution, I think I've covered what should have happened several times previously, and again just now. However if ESL countries really feel the way some previous commentators have suggested, that the competition is rigged against them, then they are free to leave.

  137. Dominic10:03 am

    Anonymous - I'm not confused. Your logic is. My focus has never been about whether a speech that is free can be offensive; I dont even know what that means (what is an unfree speech?) My point has been to demolish the defence raised by many here that an offensive speech is condonable under the banner of freedom of speech. My point has been that freedom extends only to the extent that is begins to harm others, i.e. where the speech becomes offensive.

    And I did not say anything offensive is actionable. I said if a person felt offended based for a legitimate reason, then it should be.

  138. Anonymous10:21 am

    "My point has been that freedom extends only to the extent that is begins to harm others, i.e. where the speech becomes offensive"
    And that is a standard that by itself, renders most free speech void. The danish cartoons couldn't be published under that standard, nor Rushdies book. It's not clear what your comments mean if not taken at face value, as I have taken them.

    You claim your "point has been to demolish the defence raised by many here that an offensive speech is condonable under the banner of freedom of speech", but you don't think offensive speech is actionable, which suggests you oppose Woon being sanctioned at all (which doesn't seem what you're suggesting). Indeed, you said here "But stop being a bigot and ask that everybody be like you" when I asked for free speech to be applied to Woon, and then "the only reason why you think it should be free speech is because you think it is "harmless". If opposing free speech for Woon on the basis it was "harmful" wasn't your point, I don't know what was.

    Lastly, you suggest "if a person felt offended based [on] a legitimate reason, then it should be [actionable]". You haven't suggested what sort of standard provides this justification for voiding free speech, only that their offence is "legitimate". I'm sure people felt their offence was "legitimate" in the Rushdie and Danish cases I cite above too, but if we allow that then free speech doesn't mean much.

    Which makes me again ask, what is your standard for free speech here? It clearly isn't the remarks in and of themselves, because you aren't willing to judge them based on how another group would respond to them. The only test you've suggested is truistic... they felt offended, so it was offensive.

  139. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  140. Anonymous10:43 am

    I'm sure DCA's and CA's make determinations about suitability of judges all the time, and if they felt Woon had burnt some cred, they could have moved him to the regular break, or quietly put him on the tail end of a stacked panel somewhere, perhaps not with ESL teams, and that would be that. Woon wouldn't have been smeared in public, and the problem (if there was one) would be resolved in an organic way. As it is, the guy seems to have been burnt at the stake in many circles, under a dubious process, with the PC crowd egging on others to attack him. It's very disturbing.

  141. Sorry Daniel, I have had to delete your comment. It gave an individual's full name and a future employer could google it. I have had a request not to allow individuals be identified. If you want to repost the comment without names tha tis fine (I can't edit comments). Again sorry but I have to do it.

  142. Hi Colm, ofcourse and a good reason to delete it. I'll try and recap what I wrote:

    This discussion should not be about free speech but about if someone's credibility as a judge was compromised due to what he/she said.

    Take the following analogy: a referee in the English Premier League is interviewed by the Sun. In the interview, he tells us the Liverpool team should best be used as sex-slaves by Manchester United, in stead of play them as a real opponent. This comes right after he has refereed a match between Liverpool and Manchester and shortly before he'll referee a match between Liverpool and Arsenal.

    Should such a referee be barred from refereeing the Premier League? Ofcourse: this ref has stated publicly that he has a bias against a specific team.

    The same goes for WUDC: if a judge holds a bias against a certain category of debaters (whether they be women, from another race or ESL), than (s)he should not judge. Else, if (s)he would be allowed to judge, (s)he would dismiss out of hand certain teams and certain speakers - and THAT is a major violation of the freedom of speech.

    Ofcourse, we have to wonder whether the person discussed here actually did hold a bias against ESL and whether the ill-judged joke was substantive proof of that. I wasn't there and don't know the person, so I can't decide that - though, being an infamous maker of ill-judged jokes myself, I can very well imagine that the joke was not intended to be as offensive as it was taken to be. Nonetheless, as a judge, one does have an extra responsibility towards WUDC and all teams in it.

  143. Tim O'Connor12:40 pm

    God above, how certain classics such as "Mr. Speaker, I love landmines", "Mr. Speaker, this government case is as solid as the Queen Mother's colostomy bag" or "Mr. Speaker, simply because it's like a baby's arm holding an apple, we're proposing banning male circumcision" (all from the same person, btw) would go down now would be interesting.

    I did a bit of Worlds last year, and found that matter had triumphed over manner. Oddly, some of the better speakers for manner were ESL, because they weren't as prone to the tendency to gabble out facts for seven and a bit minutes, but actually worked on persuading people.

    The individual comment in question was crass and deserved a Golden Doughnut if anything did. It's a perfect example of how offensive isn't funny (if he'd said there was no need for child prostitutes because his (presumably male) partner would just undercut the market by doing anything for free, then it might have worked...). But a banning isn't needed. A last, and an almighty bollocking by the judges from the podium announcing it would have done. In fact, I would raise the question why the Speaker didn't intervene - it seems a perfect case where the Speaker should have.

    But, that said, the idea that there's a bias against ESL is farcical. Hell, go back ten years, one of the biggest problems was who was ESL or not, because the Afrikaans speakers such as various teams from Rhodes or Stellenbosch were so perfectly bilingual.

    Engagement; making contact with the person you're trying to persuade; getting them to listen to you and connect above and beyond the argument; there are lots of different ways of doing this, and, done well, all of them will work equally well on the same judge. Any judge who thinks there's only one way to debate is a bad judge; any judge who thinks all debaters should debate in the way they like is a bad judge. And any speaker who thinks all judges should judge to suit their speaking style is an arrogant dolt, and more than likely a bad debater to boot.

    In fact, the only declared bias this entire thread has turned up isn't one against ESL teams, but against EFL ones; the Aussies and Irish, for supposedly being "too aggressive". Given that a certain kilted Scouser decided not to give the NZ team I was poached for a first in Masters on the grounds we weren't aggressive enough (after a haka and me essentially calling the prop dolts for running status quo in Scotland in front of said Scots Scouse judge), I can only smile. Hell, if you think the smiling charming funny ones are aggressive, you should have seen the GUU in its pomp...

    Oh, and: Colm...?

    "Don't get Colm sued"

    You always were a spoilsport. ;)

  144. Tim O'Connor12:43 pm

    @ Daniel - as Rob and I will confirm, through the tears, that's about as accurate a summation of Liverpool's performance this season as could be wished...

  145. Anonymous7:33 pm

    To judge effectively at the highest level you need credibility.
    The point about being risqué is that it might go wrong; here it went wrong; public discredit and widespread offence were the results. That is the risk you take in making jokes of this kind.

    The consequences were therefore rightly twofold. Someone who lost credibility in the minds of part of his audience was removed from a position that required it.
    Someone who caused widespread offence was required to show he understood that.

    And he chose not to. That just seems silly to me, but oh well. Good luck living it down.

    The rest of the discussion just seems a little pointless, really.


  146. @Tim: and I don't even follow English Premier League! How did I do it?

  147. @Tim O'Connor: Just out of interest, how are Australian and Irish teams classified as EFL?!

  148. This comment has been removed by the author.

  149. Punitent

    Tim is using the old 'English as a First/Second Language' nomenclature.

    The whole ESL = 'English as a Foreign Language' thing is very confusing

  150. The question about whether the Speaker should have intervened is pertinent but there has been a strong bias against immediate interventions in competitive rounds on the basis that it should be left to the judges. Possibly an area for further study. Personally I always wished to keep my presence as Speaker as low key as possible and to make necessary interventions few in number and between rather than within speeches.

    In the vein of Tommy's historical notes, I wonder what the reaction these days would be to the following loud heckle of the Chairman of a Worlds Championship Committee whose name happened to coincide with a religious festival:
    "Christmas comes but once a year!"

    Not take it right on the chin and move on, as the said gentleman did, I'll bet. The CA's championship dinner speech at the same Worlds could have kept an equity panel in material for a week, notably in respect of a remark about a tapestry. Perhaps the impact of such a judgement would have spoiled his later rise to be a Member of Parliament.

  151. Anonymous12:19 am

    Someone posted Woon's speech here:

  152. Anonymous4:27 am

    Audio is very hard to hear... audience seems to be having a good time... he makes fun of cambridge too... seems to have been made in an innocent spirit. ESL people should whine less?

  153. So having read the above diatribes, I thought I would comment for two reasons:

    1) I attended the full Master's Final round
    2) I heard Woon apologize in person

    Here is my conclusion. The Master's round was hilarious. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. For those of you who have portrayed the entire event as ESL bashing, you are mistaken. During the course of the 8 speeches there were direct personal attacks on: Oxford, Cambridge, the English, the Irish, Australians, Canadians, Midgets, Americans, Dwarfs, and various other groupings of peoples. ESL teams were hardly singled out, and Woon's comments were far from the most offensive thing said.

    The motion was NOT 'THW enact/condone/support child prostitution' as was previously claimed.

    The motion WAS 'THW push the button.' This was turned into a debate on child prostitution by the PM, in the best speech of the round. He began (forgive me, as I am reconstructing this from memory) by saying "This House would push the button. Indeed, this House would push her button. This House would push her button whether she was 80 or 8. So, Mr. Speaker, this House supports child prostitution."

    Let's be clear, this was a debate where the government's position was IN FAVOR OF CHILD PROSTITUTION! You would have to be, simply put, the stupidest most inept and clueless participant at World's not to realize that the entire debate round was a joke.

    I am not going to get into the question of whether or not there is inherent bias in debate, but I will offer this. The Master's Final round aimed for humor, and it was brilliantly successful. Woon, and the other speakers, did fantastic jobs and they should be commended for their performance.


  154. Anonymous10:51 pm

    Hear Hear. Woon is a great man.


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