Natalie's Diatribe, debate, and Advocacy

Anthony Jones pccdebate
Tue Jan 11 23:13:46 CST 2000

lvbishop wrote:

>Money is what makes the world go round and anyone who doesn't
>so has never been poor.  Monetary contributions to social causes >make it
>possible for talented people who aren't extraordinarily rich to >devote
>their time to hands-on work without starving their families.  Money >is
>what will buy medicine for Iraqi hospitals, or pay the airfare for
>lobbyists to visit Congress.

Without making too much reference to the discussion that has been carried on
thus far. I think a point needs to be made. It is awesome to see that so
many find the potential within academic debate to be agents for social
change and find the round as a site for spawning social action. I really do
find this most impressive. However, it would be too bad if the conclusion of
this became a re-hashing of pragmatics theories. While the action is
beneficial, it is only temporarily so. As students of discourse and argument
we are interested in the larger task of understanding the role of our
rhetoric in relation to how we treat each other as humans. If we can gain a
larger understanding that challenges the way decision makers think then we
may have givem alot more than 5,000 to a world continuously in crisis. We
may have saved a lot of conflicts. I think the money masks that
undertsanding. The debater replicated a very common rhetorical practice.
"Fine. Consider it taken care of-" The money is an easy way out.It's like a
discussion stopper. While the debater says "I really care about it too" (and
there is no reason to believe otherwise), the rhetorical act of answering
the argument with money sends a different message:"We don't need to look
into the issue any further, we don't need to further evaluate why we as
human beings treat each other the way we do, we just write it off as a
check. We've taken care of it." I think that social action is good, but I
don't think that 5,000 dollars is a progressive action that outweighs much
at all. It co-opts the advocay and, as many theorists have said, it
patronizes the K. Was there a letter with the check? Any request for
updates? Let me know if there's something more I can do? Letter to your
senator? You're in my thoughts and prayers? Just the check?

There are many activities available that allow students to investigate
issues, volunteer, and become socially active and donate their money. The
action that spawns from an advanced understanding of argumentation and the
rhetorical practices that reproduce the current cycles of oppression are
what we are concerned with. Volunteer, be active, join Amnesty: these are
great things. However, what we are hoping for is a paradigm shift. One that
shifts our focus to human answers to human problems. We need skilled
thinkers for that, not checkbooks.

Remember: As long as we do what we've always done, we'll continue to get
what we;ve already got.


CSULA Debate

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