Topicality - Answering T in the MG
Mostly from Dave W's Lectures on T.
"Topicality is a game of competing interpretations"
Here we're putting together answers to the LO T block from the last post.
1. We meet their interpretation. You should always try to present ways that your case is topical even under their interpretation of the resolution. If you're running a case that is an easy target on topicality, you should prep out some ways that you meet Opp interpretations you can anticipate.
We meet their interpretation because:
1- By making Chinese immigrants happy we make the country of China happy.
2- China would prefer there to be more Chinese culture in the world and we increase the spread of Chinese culture, making China happy.
(notice that both these answers are effects topical. That's because it's hard to find real we meets for this example. An Opp team should call them out on their FX T answers in the MO.)
Counter-Interpretation. This is kind of the central idea of your T response. Very rarely can you win a serious T violation on just a we meet (although you sometimes can if the opp just ran T as a throw-away time-suck). A counter-Interpretation looks just like an Opp interpretation in format, but hopefully you meet your own interpretation of the resolution. Your counter-interpretation does have to compete with the Opp interpretation- in this case the Opp defined "China"- You have to define "China" in some competing way. It would probably compete to define the entire phrase "China happy," but you could not just define "happy": the Opp complaint isn't that you don't make anything happy, it's that you don't make China happy.
Our counter-interpretation is that the phrase "China happy" in the resolution is the name of a thing to be made, and that a topical case is a case that specifies who will make China happy, and what China happy will be.
Counter-Standards. If topicality is a game of competing interpretations, standards are how we judge which interpretation is better. You can't really argue an interpretation itself (only if it's good or bad), and no-voters are generally lies [Shanti's oppinion]. The only ways to win T on Gov are to win that you meet their interpretation- which they picked because you don't meet it, or win that your interpretation is better: the standards debate.
You can use all of the same standards and same type of explanation that the Opp can (see the previous post) to prove your interpretation is good. You should also make specific analysis as to why their interpretation is bad, and (best of all) why your interpretation is better. They're predictable? We're more predictable. They set good limits? Well we divide ground fairly, which is more important because as long as both sides have even pools of arguments to draw from, the limits of the pools won't make the round more or less even. You can compare most standards against each other, and make either more important.
-Our first standard is predictability. They claimed to have a predictable interpretation, but looking at this resolution immediately makes you think, "how can we do something fun with this?" They should have expected that the only reason we would interperate "China" as the country was if we couldn't think of anything remotely interesting.
-That's why our second standard is fun. Resolutions phrased to allow cases like ours aren't common, and we are obligated by this one to have some fun with it. This round is more fun because of our interpretation.
-Our third standard is tradition- that a tradition has been established of giving Chinese things in America grammatically incorrect names. We advocate that this isn't out of ignorance of grammer, but to establish an atmosphere.
-Finally, our interpretation does not explode ground. Any topical case must specify what thing named "China happy" (small h) will be made. This leaves the opposition the "counterplan: capitalize the H" counter plan, as well as any other rename counterplans. While making anything called "China happy" is a topical case, only things that should be named "China happy" have a chance to win- this sets perfectly fair ground.
See the Extended Entry for no-voters and reverse voting issues.
no voters These aren't essential. It might be more effective to spend more time on the standards debate or on your actual case. These flow against the Opp voters. "No voters" are reasons why the judge shouldn't have to vote on topicality, even if you lose it. Generally, a no voter is something like "there's no specific abuse in the round; don't vote on potential abuse," ideally with specific analysis as to why you haven't harmed the Opp's ability to debate at all.
If you are (or if the judge might decide you are) effectually topical or extra topical, you should consider putting no voters on these particular issues. If you are effectually topical, you can argue that effects topicality is "infinitely regressive": that it is impossible to draw a line between an action of the plan and an effect of the plan. For example, many plans are really in the form of laws that congress passes. On face, one could argue that these only only be topical under a resolution like "this house would make a law," because that's all the plan really does- enforcement is an effect of the plan. This seems like too narrow an interpretation of "effects," and it's impossible to draw clear lines between the effect of enforcing a law and the effects of that.
If you are extra-topical, you might consider claiming that topicality only warrants ignoring your non-topical plan planks- not voting against the resolution all together. You might further claim that the non-topical planks are an integral part of the topical planks, making your whole plan legitimate. There is some warrent to this claim, since it is difficult to meet any resolution without doing something not explicitly in the resolution.
RVI's.: Reverse voting issues (RVI's) are reasons why the judge should vote against the opposition if you win topicality (prove case is topical). The basic idea is that if one team can lose the whole round on one issue, the other team should be able to also. Be aware that in some rounds, teams will try to make many different issues voting issues, if the other tries to make them all RVI's as well, then the judge may be stuck with multiple reasons to vote for each team. Many judges hate this sort of mess. However, the scenario where an Opp team creates multiple issues that only the gov can lose on is exactly the scenario that legitimizes RVI's. Often these Opp voting issues take very little time to make, and lots of time to answer. This is a time suck that makes the Gov lose not because they are wrong, but because they don't have enough time, and is pretty legitimately abusive. An RVI is like a counter attack to this.
You can make an RVI on topicality by explaining how topicality has hurt your ability to debate fairly in the round, and telling the judge why he or she should vote because of it. The most common RVI on T is that topicality skews the government's time allocation, preventing them from effectively argueing the rest of the case. Because the Opp can win on only T while losing everything else makes the gov spend significant time on the issue; becuase the Opp can drop T (or extend it weakly) without any ramifications gives them a huge time-advantage. The government can't argue the rest of the round because the opp brought up T, therefore the gov should be able to win on just T.
A variation is that the opposition should be required to spend significant time on T in each speech- this reduces the time-skew. If the opp doesn't spend at least a minute (2, 3, whatever you choose) on T in each speech, they are skewing your time and should lose.