On the Frontier of American Debate

English: Look at Downtown Billings, Montana, USA
A Look at Downtown Billings, Montana, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last weekend, I was at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana to conduct a debate workshop and scrimmage for three schools there interested in moving from NPDA to BP debating.

I say interested - but in my opinion they were well on their way.

Director of Debate at RMC Shelby Jo Long-Hammond and I met at the International Debate Academy Slovenia two years ago and taught together this past summer at the IDEA Youth Forum in Leon, Mexico. She hosted the event, inviting me out to give a bit of instruction to her students and students from other colleges. She has transitioned her students over to BP expertly from what I saw.

Likewise for Carroll University, which is located about three hours from Billings. The students there are speaking very well and very persuasively. I think both teams are going to be quite a force in WUDC and BP to watch out for. It was great fun teaching BP in the west, a fantasy I have had for a long time. Great Falls University was there as well, and the two students representing that institution were new to debate and I think really enjoyed the tournament.

I think I overestimated the difficulty of transitioning to BP from NPDA. NPDA used to be a lot more like BP in speaking style and in types of acceptable arguments. To throttle back from the rapid and highly technical style of argument that NPDA has become might not be as hard as I thought it would be since NPDA's roots of where arguments come from are nearly the same.

The transition from policy debate is more difficult due to the very different conceptions of refutation, rebuttal, evidence, and extension in the two formats.

These students might not be representative because they have had such good instruction before I got there. I would like to teach more of these sorts of weekend workshops in the future.

See for yourself the quality of the debaters - many of whom in this video are first year students. You will be very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the argumentation.

Debate: Images of Mohammad should be considered hate speech or incitement from Steve Llano on Vimeo.


1. THB that the only people in society who should be allowed to possess firearms are active duty military personnel.

2. THW facilitate access for school administrators to the social media pages of their students in order to actively police bullying.

3. TH supports a unilateral strike by Israel on Iran's nuclear facilities.

4. THB that austerity measures have failed to solve the problems of the Eurozone.

5. THB that professional athletes should not be permitted to compete in the Olympic Games.

F: THB that any contemporary depictions of the prophet Mohammad should be considered as hate speech or incitement.
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