[eDebate] Accusations of Illegal Debating

road runner db8coach
Sat Nov 3 12:09:11 CDT 2007


Shawn,

As most of us don't know the particulars of this incident it is hard for us to understand the complexity of what happened.

That being said, I do have a question.

You said:

>>>>>>>>>>
While I completely respect and promote the rights of each individual to assert and defend all of their rights under the law, I want to suggest that debate rounds might not be the most appropriate place to make those assertions.   
>>>>>>>>>>

Haven't we been using debate rounds for several years to assert our rights? We have used Hip-Hop, narratives, and even a petition to make accusations of racism and sexism. Debate teams make these accusations at just about every tournament I attend. Sometimes the accusations are veiled (very thinly) and sometimes they are just blatant. Teams accuse their opponents, their judges, and especially the system. But those accusations are there.

>>>>>>>>>>
Our students encourage and invite a discussion of style, taste, and aesthetics but ethical and legal accusations are designed to enjoin us from inviting that discussion.
>>>>>>>>>>

I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop for a while now. I have had this conversation with several other coaches about it, and we all agreed that it was coming. How long before the cavalier tossing of accusations took its toll in debates, at the tournaments, and in life? And make no mistake about it, many of the accusations that have become prevalent in debate rounds go way beyond "style, taste, and aesthetics" and move right into "ethical". 

I will not defend that these ethical accusations are any better or worse than your case of legal accusation because, again, I don't know enough about your case. 

>>>>>>>>>>
These accusations have forced us to seek the support of university administrators who do not fully appreciate the debate tournament context and who could act as censors.   
>>>>>>>>>>

This is another thing I have been fearing for many years. I understand that your situation may be worse, but I have been waiting for ethical accusations to get back to school administrators and administrations. You can only be accused of racism and sexism for so long before the wrong people hear about it. And like you said, it is difficult to convince someone who doesn't know the debate tournament context. 

I feel for you and for your situation Shawn. I am glad that your administration is supportive. I also hope that maybe this manifestation will demonstrate that we need to be more careful how we couch and deliver our arguments. Maybe we shouldn't throw accusations of racism, sexism, and sexual harrassment around quite so cavalierly. 

Bob Lechtreck
Saddened but not surprised
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