[eDebate] Falwell and social norms

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Thu May 17 11:38:34 CDT 2007

I'm not going to get into the substance of the discussion at all, except:
1.  JT's memory of Falwell is somewhat incorrect.  Jim Bakker had nothing to do with the Moral Majority.  Falwell took over Bakker's failing PTI ministry (a huge televangelist enterprise) after Bakker's sex scandal.  Falwell was unable to rescue the finances of PTI and resigned a short while later.  The Moral Majority, however, was a Falwell creation, long before the takeover of PTI.  This was an explicitly political enterprise.  Falwell disbanded it in 1989, claiming that it had accomplished its goals.  Some said it was because donations were down sharply.  Many attributed that to the right-wing success of the Reagan years.

2.  I'm someone who has often been critical of the Liberty debate program, but I've noted in the past (and it's worthy of note again) that Liberty has generally done a much better job with respect to gender equity than many "more liberal" debate programs.  Not perfect, but none of us are.

--Neil Berch
West Virginia University
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: J T<mailto:jtedebate at yahoo.com> 
  To: edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com> 
  Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 12:27 PM
  Subject: [eDebate] Falwell and social norms

  Frankly I'm a little tired of Jerry Falwell discussions in my inbox.  Not because Jerry was a devil or a saint (devil), but because people who were offended by negative comments directed at someone just passed.  Frankly, I just don't care about Jerry Falwell.  I'll remember him fondly as the person in charge of the Moral Majority after Jim Bakker...Jerry's ineptitude drove this right-wing oppressive organization in to bankrupcy. Sweet.

  Fetishizing the dead:  what does it mean to "show respect" for someone who has just passed?  does it mean those who vehemently hated Falwell should be silent? how about those of us who just generally had a critical view of him?  or is it anything negative?  when can we openly express perspectives on his hypocrisy (like rumors of him and Bill O'Reilly sharing a prostitute last September at a Religious convention)... Or how about criticizing how he blamed gay people for AIDS?  Some gay activist groups in San Francisco held an "anti-memorial" where they spoke out against his homophobia. Can they post on edebate?What about his denial of a woman's right to choose? What about watching Teletubbies?  He was a public figure--not unlike Bush.  How many people have bashed our Commander in Chief on edebate? There are die-hard bush supporters that must have been offended...so is someone passing away the difference...?  (for the record, Bush is an evil SOB that deserves to be subject to a very public hanging!)

  Falwell was an influential person in America and his views have helped shape the social and political landscape of the country over the last few decades (but let's not give him too much credit).  But the man preached hate and intolerance.  Why does he deserve an ounce of respect? Because some people respected him and they look at edebate?  In thinking about what type of "community" we want to be (what an illusion), do we want to call out evil people for being evil the same way we praise "saints" for their good work in our community?  If people don't feel comfortable expressing negative the ideas people throw around on edebate about "community" are a farce!  Yes we should probably all try to be enlightened and altruistic--seriously, the world would be a better place.  I'm not sure "community" policing what people say about a public figure, in a public forum, is productive toward that end or an open society.

  Look, I don't think people should (but their deceision) just say whatever gross or repugnant thing they want on the list.  I think people should generally be respectful at all times. However, for me, talking trash about Falwell doesn't compare to things like racist or sexist language and what they say about our so-called "community".  Try expressing an honest opinion on edebate without offending at least someone--GOOD LUCK!  


  Asst. Debate Coach
  Emporia State University 

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