CoopDB8 at aol.com
Tue Feb 20 15:49:58 CST 2001
In a message dated 2/20/01 10:42:35 AM Eastern Standard Time,
parcherj at mindspring.com writes:
<< FYI - in answer to your question "how does one 'objectively' weigh racism
against nuclear war?" Nuclear war is always immeasuably worse. I can't
imagine anything more immoral than the consequences of nuclear war. ThHis
doesn't mean racism isn't bad. Just that nuclear war leaves one worse off
than racism. The person who suffers racism has hope that a charred body does
not. I think you really meant to ask a different question. Perhaps one
about language or probabilities - I can't imagine you really thought there
could be much debate about just weighing the two impacts. >>
I have too much to do to get involved in ALL the aspects of this debate, but
I did think I would try to expand the discussion a bit with a little petpeeve
of mine. I think, in the end, there is a synthesis of Parcher's and Evan's
positions that is the most useful for debates.
Funny...in this thread, the two perspectives have been labeled
"inside-the-box" and "outside-the-box" when in the actual debate rounds,
competitors have chosen to use the more confusing (if just as loaded) terms
"pre-fiat" and "post-fiat." But the implication is the same. When I ask
debaters and judges who USE these terms to define them for me, invariably
they collapse down to inanities like, "Pre-fiat is the discursive
implications...what 'actually' effects the 4 people in the room; Post-fiat is
the impacts of the policy if it were adopted...in 'debate world'".
But (as I often point out...and Evan's argues.....somewhat) the ENTIRE DEBATE
IS DISCURSIVE....including the plan, the advantages, the disadvantages, etc.
More often then not, the terms "pre"- and "post-fiat" are used by debaters
advancing arguments with RWC (whatever the hell THAT is) in order to highjack
altogether an evaluation of the implications of the plan if it WERE adopted
by those empowered to do so. THOSE implications are characterized as almost
irrelevent. They are only important in the context of playing a GAME. But
the RWC....those....well those....REALLY MATTER.
Parcher constructs an argument for why the "post-fiat" (God...I HATE using
those terms) has relevance...but what I find less-than-compelling about his
defense is that it is almost entirely couched in legalism: The post-fiat
matters because we have been called to answer the question posed by the
resolution. Well.....yeah.....but it lacks the passion of those who argue
"outside the box." An I don;t think it needs to.
The reality is that these terms -- besides being confusing through their
assumption that fiat is somehow TEMPORAL (geesh!) -- allow debaters and
judges to avoid the tough issues: the clash of theory and practice.
As Parcher's comments above (and the likely reaction to them by the rest of
us) demonstrate, we DO need to resolve whether we adopt a racist policy if
NOT doing so means everyone's destruction. (okay...okay...maybe that one is
too abstract to grasp). How about this classic: If honesty is always the
best policy, do you tell the Nazis that you are harboring Anne Frank when
they come knocking at your door?
What do you do faced with Sophie's Choice?
How about the whole lifeboat scenario? Do you roast the elderly couple to
save the pregant woman or distribute your rations equally knowing that you
will all starve to death?
THIS IS WHAT DEBATE IS ABOUT. And this clever ruse of creating an artificial
distinction between these two issues by saying one is "discourse" with "RWC"
and the other is "just a game" prevents us from ever having to resolve those
issues. Evans and his ilk can be fantastically moralistic. Parcher and his
folk can be emminantly (I know I spelled that wrong...Bear can sue me when he
is done playing 'did so!' 'did not!' with Massey) practical. And no one has
got us any closer to being able to answer those questions in the REAL real
More debaters should break down this artificial bearier between
inside-and-outside the box. We all should unmask the "pre-post" fiat
shenanigans. WHO TAUGHT DEBATERS THIS CRAP ANYWAY?? And be confident enough
that our activity is intellectually rigorous enough to take on these tough
That's all for now....
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