[eDebate] Knowing when NOT to debate

Duane Hyland privethedge
Tue Apr 8 18:02:21 CDT 2008


  Hi, Now that I'm home from work..hopefully I can construct something worthy of discussion.
   
  I think it help this discussion if I first shared my view on the words "racism" and "racist." To me, these are very powerful words - words which can cause lives to be lost, words which can ruin careers, ruin perceptions, ruin people. I don't think they should be used lightly at all. I will be the first to say that racism happens, and I will be the first to say that there have been times in my life where I have been guilty of racism - I will say however that not EVERYTHING is racist nor does my skin make me a racist. My skin makes me a human, and my brain embues that humanity with the ability to reason, to feel, and to screw-up. Nobody is anything because of their skin color - something we should all remember..it's the brain that gives us the thoughts which make us what we are.
   
  I've no doubt that as a young African American male Dayvon has experienced things beyond the pale. I've no doubt that he has enountered racist thinking and actions in his life. My point was that the examples he brought forward could be viewed as racism, or could be viewed as ignorant 16 year olds being ignorant 16 year olds. I know the man who runs the BCFL tourneys - I know him, he's someone who I wish I were - and I know that if he made a ruling to deprive kids of wins, I know he did not make it lightly and that he had good reason to make it. So, that is why I would ask Dayvon to consider the remote possibility that what he encountered wasn't racism...but rather something else. If we start calling everything racism - then where's the power in the word?
   
  I'm not depressed -well..OK..maybe I am..but it's nothing to do with debate - debate is a source of joy in my life, it keeps me going. I found his post depressing because it seems as if he has cut himself off from alternative views, from the consideration that things might not be X but rather Y. I feel sad to see a person so sure of the intentions of others that he would isolate himself from them before he even got to know them - by his own admission he's not socializing (that much) or reaching out, or using college debate to make life-long friends - he's judging people and their intentions, and reaction to phantom fears. In short - he's cutting himself from the remote possibility of being hurt, even while isolating himself from possibly making a friend for life - and that's what saddens me. In my own life, Dr. Warner, I used to be afraid of you - I thought you were a wild eyed radical who hated the activity I loved and was tryign to destroy it. I could have continued
 this line of thought - but I reached out to you, and we've talked - I wish we'd talk more because my old coach says that you're a very good person to talk to - and I now understand you, and appreciate your viewpoints (even if I don't agree with all of them, or even understand some of them) and that is the type of thing that Dayvon is cutting himself off from. He can have his views, and of course he should act as his mind dictates he should - but I think the world is poorer for it.
   
  I do not percieve that I'm taking away Dayvon's right to think as he wishes - to draw whatever conclusions he wants from his life..it's his life..and he should draw those conclusions. But, as a coach (and an educator) I think we should be more about talking, and coming together than judging (in the sense of pre-judging actions) and pulling apart. I grow concerned when I see kids isolating themselves from experience. If Towson's argument is true, that we should adopt their asthetic (sic) then I'm not sure why retreating from the world helps them prove that we should embrace their way of thinking. We are communicators, and we train communicators - shouldn't we be encouraging the young man to reach out, to form personal connections, rather than to withdraw into a world where he's afraid to reach out to form those connections?
   
  I don't think that Professor Tolson would have labeled everything in life racism - I may be wrong, but I doubt it. From watching the movie, I think he wanted the kids to realize that life is hard - but he also wanted them to realize that you can't get very far from blaming others and not engaging them. He was actively trying to get his kids to debate white schools at a time when that wasn't done - to show the world this his kids were just as smart, just as bright, and just as able to win - and, oddly enough, he did this by having the kids debate in the style of the day - in the style of what, at that time, constituted policy debate as it was normally done (Something to think about - they didn't waste time trying to show that Harvard (USC in history) was racist, or that the way Harvard wanted to debate was "white centered," They just debated, and they won. To me..that movie shows debaters don't need odd strategies, or need to spend time analyzing the activity - they need
 to go and debate and win! Winning is what gets you noticed - Dayvon proved that himself when he wrote about how the other team respected him more after he kicked their heads in. I'm not sure what Professor Tolston would have made of Towson's strategy (or yours, or Ft. Hays, or any other non-traditional team)..I'm not sure he would have approved of it - I'd like to think he'd of said that that's all well and good, but not necesary - you're good enough to win the way the game is traditionally played.
   
  In the end - I think the words racism and racist have power, and that we shouldn't dillute that power by branding every negative experience as "racism," or accusing every idiot we encounter in our lives as "racist." IT's cliche, but sometimes hoofbeats are zebra, sometimes they are horses - more often than not, they are horses. I think once we start looking at things through one mindset we do ourselves diservice. Perhaps, we'd be better off to analyze things through all angles of the spectrum before we reach a label for it. I hope that Davyon will reach out to his fellow debaters, get ot know them, socialize a bit with them - I think contacts like that work and go a long way to solving the overarching problem of race relations in America. Which, in my mind, have more to do with seperation and ignorance than pure hatred of skin color. Perhaps if Dayvon, or other African American debaters, got up in the face of white debaters and engaged in them - or the other way around -
 acceptance and communciation is a two way street - then perhaps myths would be disproved and some barriers would be lowered.......
   
  I look forward, as always, to your reply.
   
  Duane   YAHOO.Shortcuts.hasSensitiveText = true; YAHOO.Shortcuts.sensitivityType = ["sensitive_news_terms"]; YAHOO.Shortcuts.doUlt = false; YAHOO.Shortcuts.location = "us"; YAHOO.Shortcuts.lang = "us"; YAHOO.Shortcuts.document_id = 0; YAHOO.Shortcuts.document_type = ""; YAHOO.Shortcuts.document_title = ""; YAHOO.Shortcuts.document_publish_date = ""; YAHOO.Shortcuts.document_author = ""; YAHOO.Shortcuts.document_url = ""; YAHOO.Shortcuts.document_tags = ""; YAHOO.Shortcuts.annotationSet = { "lw_1207693936_0": { "text": "502-852-3522", "extended": 0, "startchar": 2400, "endchar": 2411, "start": 2400, "end": 2411, "extendedFrom": "", "predictedCategory": "", "predictionProbability": "0", "weight": 1, "type": ["shortcuts:/us/instance/identifier/phone_number/us"], "category": ["IDENTIFIER"], "context": "Society/Associate Professor of Communication University of Louisville 308E Strickler Hall 502-852-3522 ewarner at louisville.edu http://uofldebate.com/  \x3e\x3e\x3e         
 From:    Duane Hyland \x3cprivethedge at yahoo.com\x3e    To:   Dayvon Love \x3cdplove05 at yahoo.com" }, "lw_1207693936_1": { "text": "ewarner at louisville.edu", "extended": 0, "startchar": 2535, "endchar": 2556, "start": 2535, "end": 2556, "extendedFrom": "", "predictedCategory": "", "predictionProbability": "0", "weight": 1, "type": ["shortcuts:/us/instance/identifier/hyperlink/http"], "category": ["IDENTIFIER"], "context": "Professor of Communication University of Louisville 308E Strickler Hall 502-852-3522 ewarner at louisville.edu http://uofldebate.com/  \x3e\x3e\x3e          From:    Duane Hyland \x3cprivethedge at yahoo.com\x3e    To:   Dayvon Love \x3cdplove05 at yahoo.com\x3e, \x3cedebate at ndtceda.com", "metaData": { "linkHref": "/ym/Compose?To=ewarner at louisville.edu", "linkProtocol": "http", "linkRel": "nofollow", "linkTarget": "_blank", "linkYmailto": "mailto:ewarner at louisville.edu" }  }, "lw_1207693936_2": { "text": "http://uofldebate.com/", "extended": 0, "startchar": 2629,
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        Duane,
   
  1) He said that there were many other experiences that validate his feelings; he chose not to share them all.
  2) Don't you see that your attempts to debate/rationalize his feelings stem from your depression, not whether or not his feelings are valid;
  3) Your attempts to "debate" his logic, only creates more alienation from those with a different set of experiences, feeling that your concerns Duane have more to do with us making claims that reinforce white personal comfort.  Is it possible for you to accept/concede/acknowledge that Dayvon's experiences are sufficient for him to draw his conclusions in the same ways that you do?  And if not, do you not realize that his hesitancy to post/participate and engage the predominately white debate community is because of what you just did, minimize his experiences by imposing your attempts at proving his logic irrational?  
  4) Again, that is institutional racism at work Duane.  The collective experiences of the majority don't have to be right or correct, but will be popular because they are shared by the majority.  Could Dayvon's experiences, if accepted not be an important starting point for you to consider what needs to be done to create productive change, if you could suspend your desire to critique his experiences?  Can you not see why your rhetorical move is not productive?  Or is your only goal to prove to Dayvon that you are right and he is wrong, whether or not the sum total of experiences, yours and his, supports such a claim?
  5) What if everyone in the Great Debaters, had done what you just did?  Would the room full of whites have learned anything from the black experience of lynching as it relates to civil disobedience?  But it was only a few whites that created legal lynching, right?
   
  Feeling depressed that the same stuff just happens over and over again...
   
  With love and frustration, 
   
  Ede
   
  Ede Warner, Jr.
Director of Debate Society/Associate Professor of Communication
University of Louisville
308E Strickler Hall
502-852-3522
ewarner at louisville.edu
http://uofldebate.com/





        "You may be whatever you resolve to be." Thomas J. Jackson"
 "If all mankind minus one were of one opinion and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that person that he, if he had the power, would be in silencing mankind
 If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by  its collision with error." John S. Mill
  Who said Dr. Who isn't Funny: "Rose: You Didn't Have to Kill him! Dalek: "Neither did we need him to live."
Dalek to Cyberman: :"You are Superior to us in one respect." Cyberman: "What is that?" Dalek: "Dying!"

 








       
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