[eDebate] Knowing when NOT to debate

Duane Hyland privethedge
Wed Apr 9 20:40:07 CDT 2008

Dear Dr. Warner:
  As promised. Now that I'm home from work and practice, I will attempt to answer your questions. It's been a while since I've taken an essay test - so...
  1) I would call that racism. Any circumstance which impacts a person BECAUSE of their race is racism. If there's a sign on a water fountain that says "whites only." That's racism. If you go to the mortgage broker and he or she refuses you a mortgage because you don't "belong" in a certain part of town - racism. Where the line gets cloudy for me is if you are debating  white team and that team wins - is it racism? Is it that the other team was better? I don't know what to call that.
  2) The examples above could be called institutional racism - obviously in the Jim Crowe south the governments of the states mandated racism as a matter of course. And, restrictive covenants etc are examples of racism. So, there I would say there is no difference. I guess the big difference here is that I don't perceive the NDT or CEDA or the debate community to be racist. If any thing - I think on matters of race and acceptance they are some of the most forward thinking people I've ever known. I don't consider the way the debate world has evolved into speed and gamesmanship to be racist - I think African American debaters can and do adapt and suceed in the way the game is played today. I'll confess that where as I will never be able to change your view on some things, I can't change my view on this - I understand it's not attractive to some (the speed, the technical nature of the activity) but I don't view that as racist. Same way as if I went out to play football - I
 wouldn't consider the guy tackling me to be racist simply because he was knocking me on my ass every down - Id' say that's the way it is.
  3) Sure..giving a black team a loss and having to really think about ways to have them lose - that's covert racism in action - I can justify the decision anyway I want, I don't have to come out and say "you're black (again, confused on black or African American - nobody has given me guidance here) you lose." But I could justify it in other ways. BUT..what if I pick the black team up because I feel that blacks have been opprressed, etc and I want to "even" the score..am I then guilty of reverse racism?
  4) Of course scientists draw conclusions from the evidence. And Dayvon has done his research and reached his conclusions. NOW..let me ask you in 1981, in 6th grade, a black student beat the crap out of me in the classroom - he had been held back 3 times, was much larger and a lot more violent than me - the teacher didn't even intervene out of fear. I got a chipped tooth, a concussion, and some wounded pride. Now...should I conclude that all black males are violent? Out to beat down people? How many experiences do I get before I can make the similiar far reaching conclusions that Dayvon has? 
  5) I'm not sure that Dayvon is an expert on race anymore than I am. If he has 100 instances of racism to my one instance....I would say he's suffered more than I have, but I'm not sure that confers expert status. I will say that he is probably more able to judge his life choices, made from his experience, than I am able to judge his life choices.
  6) Yes..That I see. Thank you for pointing that out to me. It was wrong me to assume that he hadn't. But, Dr. Warner - what if, based on my experience in 1981 - I decided that all Blacks were to be avoided. Wouldn't you call out my assumptions? And offer reasons why I might be wrong to take that view? I would like to think that you would challenge my assumptions (if I had made that particular set of assumptions) and try to change my mind - rather than let me go on thinking that way. at least I hope you would.
  7) Again, thank you for reminding me that I'm not the sole arbiter. I sometimes tend to view the world in absolutes..it's a habit I'm working on breaking. 
  I meant no ill will in what I posted. I just hate to see students cut themselves off, for whatever reason, from the world - a bit part of debate is getting to know other people, to get to see other lifestyles (one of the reasons I'm passionate, for instance, about gay rights is because one of my debate partners was gay, and through him I learned about the issues that gay men and women face and it was  cause that interested me), etc....And, I just didn't want him to be cut off.
  I think you are very right to say that only discussion and confrontation of this subject is a way to provoke changed minds. I re-read my post and I can see that it was sanctimonious (sic) and your criticisms have made me think.  I think the college debate community has changed a lot since I was a part of it in the 80's and 90's. I think, perhaps, I should come to a couple of tourneys next year (if nobody will beat on me for walking the door) and really observe what goes on..I think it might be educational.
  1) What do you call situations that create disproportional consequences on a racial group?
  2) What, if any, difference do you see between your definitions of "racism" and "racist" versus definitions of institutional racism?  
  3) Can you name an example of covert racism that couldn't be also argued to be something other than racism?  Given that your definition requires expressed intent, is not everything that doesn't have that express overt intent?
  4) In debate Duane, we can factor in quantity of evidence.  What quantity of experiences can Dayvon look at for evidence before he can convince you that he has seen enough to draw conclusions.  Scientists certainly draw conclusions based on correlations, don't they?
  5) If Davyon has hundreds of experiences about race and you substantially less, does he get credit in your mind of being more qualified on the issue than you are?  Or do you think that both of your voices are equally credible?
  6)  Duane, can you not understand how your attempts to get Davyon to see other possibilities, assumes that he hasn't already considered them and rejected them?  And your choice to assume he hasn't forces him to constantly have to be interrogated by you.  Given that you and he might disagree about the first three questions, when does he have the right to stop considering your alternatives and conclude that he is right about what he believes?
  7) Finally, your definitions of "racism" are just that, your definitions.  They completely ignore his discussion of "institutional racism" so much so that you seem to treat them the same?  Does Dayvon have the right to define things differently then you do?  And if he does, why should we just accept your definitions as the "correct ones" and why should he be given the burden of proof to justifying using yours instead of his?
  Most importantly, none of this gets at the central question of whether your attempts at forcing him to think differently, functions to marginalize and minimize his feelings and his experiences.  You seem very dismissive of that reality.  Duane would you engage some of the examples I have used in previous posts, making analogies of the emotional toll of racism, whether real or perceived, and why critcism is a productive response to those feelings?
  You seem stuck in your box based on your experiences Duane and that justifies for you not listening to the full context of what is being said at so many levels, that even I'm not sure this is productive.

        "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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