[eDebate] Purpose of my humor

Ede Warner ewarner
Sun Jul 22 20:56:27 CDT 2007


"Jimbo",
 
I don't know you very well so I can't speak to your character or acknowledge any personal connection to you.  I don't know if your post is a roast, a mockery, or something in between.  Since you implied that the metaphors were assinine, and used many of my one-liners in your humor, I assume your satire is met to mock my choices, but it is very possible that I lack the intellectual firepower or the context to truly understand.  So I will ask.
 
I don't know you position on the state of CEDA/NDT.  I don't know if you like broad topics or narrow ones.  I don't know your position on contemporary debate policy practices versus more non-contemporary ones.  I don't know if you care about anything.  What I do know is this.
 
My favorite contemporary comedians are Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock.  When they tell jokes, not only do I understand them, but usually I get a small education from his choices.  I've recognized that as it relates to the debate community, 1) I am old; 2) I have cultural differences from most of the folks in this community; and 3) most of the things my teams have done in debate for the last seven years have been extremely unpopular with most.  So please excuse me if I am overly sensitive to your humor.  I readily concede that many in this community are smarter than I am, including perhaps you, and many have a different sense of humor than I do.  So if I don't understand, please forgive me.
 
What else do I know?  I know that the purpose of my humor was to try and make a engage in a deep, deep division in this community of which I am a part.  There are folks in this community who I broke bread with, hung out with, got drunk with, that today are just as likely cut their eyes rather than speak to me.  Not because of the color of my skin, or my wealth, or my age, but because of differences over how my teams debate.  There are folks in this community that I have disrespected in the heat of emotional dialogue, in conversations that usually began again things as seemingly small as whether one should flow or not.  But let's be honest, it's not just me.  I've seen some of the nicest people in the community tell me that they have no care or compassion simply because someone is perceived to be from the "left" or the "right" in this activity.  Nothing more.  When I make comparisons of the segregated cafeteria, I find nothing problematic in use of that metaphor to describe the state of our activity, whether or not the participation numbers are "healthy" and some wish to stick their heads in the sand.  And I know that I'm not the most popular person in this community, and it's only been recently that I've decided to "care" again about that and make sure that my compassionate went beyond just folks that agreed with my personal debate perspectives.
 
I know why I used my humor.  My goal was to break the ice on a conversation that I wanted to have with the entire community in a respectful way.  I wanted to have the chance to re-engage the debate community to try and re-build some relationships that I have lost.  Cheesy, perhaps.  Real, very much so.  So I spent quite a bit of time trying to find a theme that would allow for folks to feel more comfortable engaging both me and the topic. So I chose something I found popular to many of my friends, past and present in this activity, I chose food.
 
Perhaps I failed.  Perhaps my humor was offensive because it was "assinine".  Dunno.  But it didn't fail because I didn't care and it didn't fail because I didn't try to respect those I was speaking to.  And if it was offensive, I truly, truly apologize.  But I am committed to follow through on the issues until we as a community reach some kind of closure if I can.  And that means I must engage:  those who agree, those who disagree.  I can't really engage you because I don't think that I understand, and even if I do, then I wonder what was my crime to you, other than poor humor.  
 
So that said, I can't help but ask?  What was the purpose of your humor? 
 
Sincerely trying to understand,
 
Ede
 
 
Ede Warner, Jr.
Director of Debate Society/Associate Professor of Communication
University of Louisville
308E Strickler Hall
502-852-3522
e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu 
http://comm.louisville.edu/~debate
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