Public Forum debates are often decided by who can tell the best story. No, I am not advocating for you to break into a Dramatic Interpretation or read from a book. What I mean is that persuasive debaters are able to paint a picture of what their impacts mean for the life of the judge. Effective debaters will knit together all of their evidence, arguments, and impacts to illustrate some broader value or idea in the round.
For the November 2013 Public Forum topic, Resolved: The benefits of domestic surveillance by the NSA outweigh the harms, there is one big issue every round will have to discuss – privacy.
If you had to explain why privacy is important in a few sentences, could you?
If not, you’re going to run into some problems convincing a judge that NSA surveillance is helpful or harmful. You need to not only be able to explain the legal basis of privacy (hint: there is no “right of privacy” in the constitution or Bill of Rights – it is an implied right) but also how privacy or lack thereof affects our society and our lives. Part of your research and preparation must be dedicated to crafting your story of privacy if you want to win debates in November.
I will point you to the article Why does privacy matter? from The Atlantic which also provides links to a few other useful articles. For example, the author explains privacy in light of self-development:
“If how we do that becomes subject to ever-present monitoring it can, if even unconsciously, change our behaviors and self-perception.
In this sense, we will be developing an identity that is absent of privacy and subject to surveillance; we must decide if we really want to live in a society that treats every action as a data point to be analyzed and traded like currency. The more we allow for constant tracking, the more difficult it becomes to change the way that technologies are used to encroach on our lives.”
The NSA Video from Demand Progress and Fight for the Future also does a great job explaining the basics of NSA surveillance as well as outlines how privacy is important to our Constitution and our daily lives. Remember, both Demand Progress and Fight for the Future are campaigns clearly fighting against NSA surveillance – but both have the American people in mind.
NPR has also started a questions series about NSA surveillance from listeners and readers. While this is not privacy specific, it may help answer some of your common questions.
In the second half of the debate when you pull away from line-by-line argumentation, you must discuss the broader themes of the round. This may include the premises, or assumptions, you make in your arguments or the larger goal of your side of the debate. Privacy is important to both in the November Topic – make sure you understand privacy, can explain privacy, and most importantly, impact privacy for your judge.
Want more help doing topic analysis? Beyond Resolved dedicates time to topic analysis underneath the chapters of Research, Case Writing, Framework, and Impact Analysis. Check out the manual by clicking “By the Manual” on the right hand column of this site.