[eDebate] Recent 'pie' controversy

David Glass gacggc
Wed Mar 19 18:41:20 CDT 2008


Hi Gordon,

With respect, it seems this forum is a unique tool that allows the entire
community to reach out to Megan and Diante and let them know what happened
is not acceptable.

The specifics as reported further emphasize the need for the line that Tuna
& I have been discussing - and they do so in a particularly dramatic way,
since of course the history of racism is that its critics, and most
particularly its targets, have been silenced by violence and intimidation.

The pie and the laughter is an example of that.

So even if one takes an extreme position and says the details as reported
never happened, or did not happen as reported, the narative is still useful
in that it illustrates the way such physical acts cause chilling and
silencing.

Therefore...  yes...   it does seem important to reach out publicly to Megan
and Diante and let them know such actions can't be tolerated; these types of
actions in debate rounds  should not be viewed as tolerable or legitimate
approaches, and rules should be adopted to ban such actions and guarantee
that debate rounds are safe for freedom of  VERBAL expression; while there
are laws to prevent assault and battery, an explicit stand should be taken
by debate's governing bodies on this point.

In light of Megan's email, it seems that community silence at this point
might imply indifference; that would be bad.

David

On 3/19/08, Gordon Stables <stables at usc.edu> wrote:
>
>  I will apologize for the brevity of these comments, but I scheduled to
> leave for CEDA shortly.
>
>
>
> From the accounts so far made available, it does appear as though an
> incident last weekend has created hard feelings and left many of us looking
> for more information. Justin has provided some information and I echo Tuna's
> call for additional details before folks provide public judgments on the
> individuals and the specific activity.
>
>
>
> The numerous sarcastic postings of the last few days do little to help
> this situation and ignore the human beings involved. Megan's email should
> remind everyone that careless comments or actions can be very hurtful. I
> commend those who have taken the higher road in discussing the matter with a
> needed respect for all involved.
>
>
>
> I would caution those involved in a more extensive discussion of this, or
> any serious matter, to minimize using this forum, especially as the primary
> means of consideration. The nature of this space tends to generally
> encourage those who are least familiar with the details and most interested
> in inflammatory commentary.
>
>
>
> Justin provided an important frame for the event when he first posted. He
> asked questions about the nature and acceptability of such satirical
> practices. David engaged in a line of conversation that I believe Tuna and
> others reinforced ? satire is an element of political commentary that has
> plenty of value  in specific settings, but physical conduct in a debate
> setting appears unnecessary and harmful.
>
>
>
> The question that Justin opened with, and seems relevant today, is the
> nature of satire that crosses into the physical and demeaning conduct of an
> opponent. The references to the CEDA constitution speak to the importance of
> providing an environment where competitors respect each other.
>
>
>
> It is undeniable that when debaters engage questions of class and
> privilege that debaters will feel a great deal of personal accountability in
> those debates. Indeed I would imagine that coaches supporting these
> arguments seek to have a conversation about these issues. We should all be
> aware of the significance and complexity of these matters as we discuss this
> issue. It is not easy to confront an opponent that contends you are in some
> way involved in class or structural bias, especially if you also feel
> aggrieved.
>
>
>
> This should not, however,  encourage students to cross the line into
> physical conduct against other students. I have tried to learn more about
> this incident, but I also acknowledge my very limited grasp of the details.
>
>
>
> At this point I would just encourage students and coaches alike to
> seriously consider the problems of such approaches. A variety of personal
> and professional ethical norms should cause great caution when encouraging a
> student to physically confront another in any form.
>
>
>
> I know some have already made claims that this line between speech and
> conduct isn't very meaningful. It is hard to dispute that some forms of
> language can, and does, create such harm to others. None of this, however,
> should be read as a rationale to simply ignore the question of dissuading
> individuals from engaging in physical forms of conduct.
>
>
>
> The basic unit of our activity is the ability to provide a political space
> for students to engage each other. We are passionate in the ways that we
> feel that space should be evaluated. We must remember, however, that without
> a common willingness to share that space we don't have much of community.
>
>
>
> Many of our community understand this fragile trust and work to protect
> it. This conversation stems from a single, yet important, debate and ideally
> the reflection posed by this conversation allows folks to look at it as a
> means of appreciating the boundaries of our activity.
>
>
>
> It is not to dismiss or belittle to issue to say that the individual
> incident should be further discussed and also that coaches and students
> consider these boundaries in their arguments and performances.  I am very
> eager to continue this discussion both with folks at CEDA and those who are
> not attending. Just please heed the call of the many voices in this
> conversation who encourage everyone to see the real people involved in this
> matter.
>
>
>
> Travel safely to Wichita.
>
> Gordon
>
>
>
> Gordon Stables, Ph.D.
> Director of Debate and Forensics
> Annenberg School for Communication
> University of Southern California
> Office: 213 740 2759               Fax: 213 740 3913
> http://usctrojandebate.com
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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> eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
> http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate
>
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