Over the last number of years, the Debate Committee has seen a problematic trend in Parliamentary debate where cited information is becoming the focal point of the debate round. We often hear debaters ask their opponents "Do you have evidence for that?" Or, they give their primary refutation to an argument as "We cited evidence and our opponents did not."
Additionally, some judges are citing “lack of evidence” as the reason for their decision. However, Parli is not Team Policy or Lincoln Douglas debate in another setting. It is a unique form of debate in its own right with its own format, rules, style, and methods.
In the spirit of giving some clarification of the Parli rule changes to the league, the Stoa Debate Committee offers the following guidance for the upcoming season which will also be reflected during Judge Orientation:
Parli Debaters use a wide variety of support to defend and clarify arguments. All types of support are treated equally in the round. There is no “trump card” of support in Parli.
Parli does not allow printed information, other than a copy of the Parli rules and resolution strip (if provided by the tournament), to be brought into the round. Therefore, unlike Team Policy and Lincoln Douglas rounds, no venue is provided for evidence review during or after a Parli round.
Debaters may challenge any information presented by the other team. (This is true in any form of debate.) They can give specific warrants (e.g., "This does not ring true because of what we know about x, y, and z."), or debaters can argue the information is overly specific and that there is no reasonable way to confirm or debate it within the round. The information then becomes a part of the debate, and it does not “trump” the reasoning, logic and other forms of support in the debate.
Source citations should not be common in Parli debate since the primary reason to cite a source is to increase the weight of your claim. Parli should be approached using logic, knowledge, reasoning, and analysis and not from the standpoint of, “because my source says so.”
Stoa Parliamentary debate was always meant to be a common knowledge extemporaneous form of debate. These changes and clarifications only serve to guide us to that original intent. We strongly encourage you all to read or reread the Parli rules and the Executive Summary of the changes before competing. These can be found on the stoausa.org website.