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Non-Topical & Performance Ks

Another group of Ks to be aware of are Non-Topical Ks and Performance Ks. A non-topical K is a criticism that does not affirm the resolution. To be non-topical, they have to be K affirmatives. The scholarship above can be used to justify why they decide to disregard the topic. For example, a debater might argue that a topic that forces debaters to defend the United States Federal Government (which all policy topics do) is a violent act for indigenous people. The government cannot and never has worked in their favor and pretending that it can only creates a false narrative of hope. 

A performance K, on the other hand, is a criticism that uses a performative element in the debate round. Sometimes this looks like singing, dancing, drawing, reading poetry, or anything else the debate feels embodies their criticism. Similar to what I mentioned about non-topical Ks, any K can be turned into a performance K. Additionally, a performance K is not always a non-topical K. Sometimes people defend the topic but want to add a performative element to their cases. Why would people perform? Well, sometimes they feel like a performance helps them embody their method well. For example, let’s say someone is reading a Feminism K. They include poems from women who were affected by violence and colonialism. They could argue that the poems add empathy and care to debate, something that typical debate norms discourage us from doing. These empathetic moments and direct inclusion of these women’s voices allows them to challenge how patriarchy within debate tells us some forms of evidence and styles of speaking are more legitimate than others. 

Creating these cases will be outside of the scope of this course—as these are more advanced K positions. However, many of the responses below (especially things like Topicality, which we will discuss in Chapter 4, Lesson 2) will help you deal with these positions well.