[eDebate] response to Berch
Fri Apr 27 18:15:55 CDT 2007
"Yes, I am (and was) aware that Mr. Jennings is a Mr.
In a group (national circuit debaters) that is about
20% male, there is less than a 3% chance (actually
2.72%) that having 3 women on a list of 4 people would
My remark was intended to be a mild tweak. My respect
for the accomplishments and general good sense of Mr.
Marks notwithstanding, the reaction to that tweak is
more telling than the survey result that prompted me
to post in the first place. Methinks some of you
gentlemen doth protest too much."
Wait a second.
I don't think it's in especially good faith to go
after an explicitly jokey informal institution, then
answer counter-objections with "just kidding, and
you're over-reacting for treating my jokes seriously."
Taking jokes earnestly is kind of the premise of the
discussion you've initiated.
Mr. Marks makes a good point and an important one -
one that I considered making before deciding that
someone smarter would probably say it for me.
Maybe Kathryn Clark is gullible, in addition to the
scintillating talent noted elsewhere in the DCA, and
in addition to a generally admirable personality that
seems universally noted in the debate community.
Maybe this characteristic really bears very little
relationship to her gender, but instead just means
that she often believes it when people tell her silly
Maybe it's dangerous and a little exasperating to
reduce *individuals*, who have personalities far more
complex than subgroup identifications, to ciphers in
questions of identity politics. This seems to mirror
a reaction to Emory's NDT win. At the/(an) apex of
wonderful debate careers, the debaters involved would
(I think) prefer to be celebrated as special and
complex individuals as opposed to "the females who won
the NDT" - an obtrusive and overshadowing
identification. I think this is the big part of the
"over-simplification" David mentions. It's not just
oversimplifying arguments. It's oversimplifying
people, and sometimes that's lame.
Of course, none of this precludes an analysis of the
various exclusions that permeate and perhaps even
structure policy debate. It may, however, demand that
we exercise a *truly exceptional* degree of care if we
undertake to filter a very personalized little
institution through the lens of broader questions of
Presuming that the best approach to a certain
statistical skew is "j'accuse!" often ends up hurting,
or, more likely, vaguely annoying precisely the
individuals whose voices you intend to appropriate. I
just don't think that this particular situation
benefits from the polemic, much as I love the polemical.
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