[eDebate] Later Jerry. . re:Papon

Alyse Kraus alyse.kraus
Thu May 17 10:15:59 CDT 2007


I just wanted to add my last thoughts to this discussion because I think
this post poses a number of interesting questions and reveals a lot of
misconceptions about the discussion that has been taking place on edebate.

I think this post shows a huge misunderstanding of what people like
Danielle, myself, and others who wrote in to criticize the Falwell-bashing
were attempting to say.  I re-read the posts and I don't see anyone that is
saying "You who disagree with Falwell should suddenly ignore those things
you disagreed with just because he did good things for debate."  The reason
I personally pointed out the good things he did for debate was two-fold.
First, to add my personal memories of my experience with him to an
overwhelmingly negative perception of the man in the debate community.
There may have been people who never knew the many different ways he
supported debate.  I think it's at least important for people to have all of
the facts.  Secondly, I think it's important for people to realize that
there are those in the debate community who Dr. Falwell personally affected
in a positive way.  Knowing that, it might be a good idea not to call him a
bigoted, despotic fascist who rejoices in the death of homosexuals and
feminists.  For one thing, that's not really true, and for another, it's
only hurtful to the Liberty students, alums, and friends of the program who
happen to receive these messages in their inboxes at an already difficult
time.

He may never have done a damn thing for you.  But he did a great many things
for me, Melissa Hurter, Heather Hall, and a number of other women associated
with Liberty Debate.  There isn't one homogeneous group of "women debaters"
who all have the same experience.  During my time at Liberty we had more
women than men on the team every year except for one.  The top four novice
debaters my sophomore year were women.  Those four women closed out novice
finals of ADA Nats (a tournament they would not have been able to attend if
Dr. Falwell hadn't donated his own money to supplement the squad's budget).
My junior year, of the four varsity teams we traveled nationally, each team
had at least one woman on it and one of those four teams was composed of two
women.  Countless women debaters got to learn debate, travel to a lot of
tournaments, compete nationally, and attend the NDT because of the team at
Liberty which was only possible because of the extremely dedicated support
of Dr. Falwell.

He also made sure that Liberty was able to host the LU tournament and most
recently ADA Nationals, two tournaments that were an important part of
regional ADA debate which is perhaps one of the best areas in the country
for women to debate (not to knock any other district but I have always
noticed that the representation of women in debate and elims and speaker
awards in the ADA is pretty amazing).

As for the bad manners thing: yes, I think it's bad manners to say horrible
things about him only a few hours after his passing on a public listserv
which Liberty students subscribe to and, no, I don't think it's equally bad
manners to attempt to defend him by saying "Well, he affected my life in
some positive ways."  Usually after a death positive reflection is common.

Finally, to the people who say "As an advocate of debate Dr. Falwell would
appreciate this 'debate'," I think that maybe you're missing the point.  I
don't think he would appreciate the insinuation that he rejoiced at the
death of homosexuals or feminists or others he disagreed with.  Dr. Falwell
was friends with a number of people whose lifestyles he disagreed with (i.e.
Larry Flynt whom he became friends with after the Supreme Court trial
http://cbs5.com/topstories/local_story_135185122.html).  He could often
times look past his disagreement with someone and see the good in them.  He
still disagreed with them, but he could recognize the positive.  But most
importantly, whether or not Dr. Falwell would have appreciated it, I think
it's obvious that many left behind who read this list do not appreciate it.
And respect for those people should have been enough to prevent some of the
things that were said so soon after his death.

Hopefully, this discussion can be something that everyone can take something
from and learn from.  If not, well, in the words of Ron Burgundy, "Agree to
disagree."

Alyse Kraus
Catholic University
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