The Debate Community Is an Insane Woke Cesspool of Madness and Vitriol

The Debate Community Is an Insane Woke Cesspool of Madness and Vitriol

Update: when I posted this to twitter, one of the two replies to it involved calling this article fascistic. So read this article at your own peril, knowing I might be a scary fascist. Here’s my reply to the critics.

The Debate Community Replied to Me

Who by insult Lots of debaters have gotten very mad at my most recent article. In it, they have, to a significant degree, proven the points that I made in the article. They’ve made unsubstantiated allegations, dismissed the criticisms and instead of arguing against my thesis have tried desperately to convince everyone I’m of a lower social class than …

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a month ago · 10 likes · 14 comments · Bentham’s bulldog

As many of you know, I did debate in high school. There are many delightful things about the debate community — many smart, interesting people. And yet, the orthodoxy in high school and college debate is often completely, utterly, off the walls, batshit insane. Immensely so.

Conservatives often complain about how far-left academia is. And this is certainly true — academia is pretty far left, at least, in most circles. But it is nothing compared to the debate community. Its insanity is a vanishing scintilla compared to the insanity of the debate community.

One rather annoying thing is that the insane people in the debate community are an extremely aggressive minority of people. Thus, the majority that agrees that these people are insane is largely afraid to speak out. When I’ve publicly criticized utter insanity, I’ve had about a dozen people privately reach out to me, saying they agree with me, but they’re scared to reach out for fear of backlash.

Exhibit one of insanity.

This was a tweet that got quite a few likes. When one person, almost the only out-and-out conservative in the entire debate community, objected to it, on the grounds of it being quite openly racist — saying that they have the right to not trust nor engage with people based on their race, other people in the debate community called them a snowflake, asking if their feelings were hurt. One person — this person is white as snow, for the record — later declared that the person who objected to this fairly open racism was proving the point of the original poster — proving that white people are bad and untrustworthy.

One pretty good indication that you’re in the wrong is if you’re making statements that Bull Conor would agree with, just as long as you replace white with black. And yet statements like this are commonplace in debate — no one seemed to bat an eye at statements like this. In debate, whenever people are talking about policies killing large numbers of people, they always have to specify that it affects minorities and trans people a lot — after all, the death of a generic person isn’t a tragedy; they have to be a minority for their death to be a tragedy at all. That’s certainly how it’s treated in debate.

Claims like this are just widespread. Not trusting people based on them being white is totally accepted and tolerated. If you criticize that, then you’re racist, in the eyes of many debaters.

I’m “this dipfuck.” Now, one might wonder what horrific wrong I did to this person. Did I bully them, or do something dreadful? No! The grave offense was that apparently, roughly a year before this blowup, I had asked them questions about their case.

In debate, there’s a topic, for example, one about water policy. But sometimes, people will, instead of arguing for the topic, just talk about their identity or stuff like that, arguing that they should win because what they’re saying is really important. The author read an affirmative case like that, talking about his queer identity. I asked him questions at some point about his case which made lots of implausible claims. He said my questions were outlandish and invoked thought experiments too much. This apparently made me a monster. For the record, I’m pretty sure I invoked no thought experiments and asked fairly banal questions like “you say X, how do you know X is true.” But apparently, this is horrible and makes me worthy of public shaming.

This story is pretty wild. Michael Moreno — a conservative debater — was debating a team on a topic that was about whether the US should allow in a lot more immigrants. You’d expect the other team, who was arguing for the resolution, would actually, ya know, provide reasons to allow in more immigrants. But no, they argued that they should win because they got up and read a slam poem about immigrants experiences — that they should win regardless of whether more immigration is good. Michael argued that he shouldn’t be tasked with arguing against a slam poem — it’s unfair to expect the other team to argue against your poetry project, rather than the topic that people came to debate.

In cross-examination — the time when teams ask questions — the other team asked how Michael and his partner could talk about fairness when they’re white. Michael in his next speech made arguments about why this type of identity politics is really bad — that the color of the skin of debaters shouldn’t matter for debate rounds. In doing so, he read some evidence from Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Sam Harris. The judge — who is supposed to be an impartial decider — stopped the round because he thought Ben Shapiro was so terrible that if anyone so much as reads evidence from Shapiro they deserve to lose. The insanity is just immense.

  1. The other team summarized Michael’s position as “racism good.” Ah yes, arguing against identity politics is the same as arguing in explicit support of racism.

  2. The judge stopped the round early — something unprecedented. Judges basically never stop the round early. Apparently reading mainstream conservatives is so beyond the pale that the round must end early to avoid violence, or whatever nonsense was claimed.

  3. The judge claimed that it is racist to say that identity isn’t important for assessing factual questions totally unrelated to identity. It is apparently racist to say that whether one is Latino has no bearing on whether immigration is good.

  4. The other team bizarrely claimed that Michael was making an argument that he should win based on his white identity, when the argument was literally that identity shouldn’t matter to who should win and identity politics is bad.

  5. Their charitable summary of Michael’s view was “your identity is bad and you don’t get to talk about it, but let me talk about my white identity because I don’t want to feel guilty for being white.”

  6. The other team said “caucasity is a voting issue” — ah yes, let’s vote against teams for being Caucasian.

  7. When Michael claimed that he was not trying to be racist or being racist the judge said incredulously “you’re reading Ben Shapiro.” Apparently reading Ben Shapiro is enough to make it self-evident that a person is deeply racist — no further explanation is needed.

  8. “I don’t know anything racist he’s said,” said Michael talking about Ben Shapiro. “Then don’t read it,” said the other team. Apparently, you should not read evidence unless you’ve read every single utterance the author has ever made to make sure that they’re not racist.

  9. “You don’t think that’s racist, but you’re white, so how can you tell me something that’s racist.” Apparently, white people have no say in whether their utterances are racist. When Michael pointed out that it is, in fact, racist to tell people they don’t get an opinion on an issue because of their skin color, the other team claimed this was analogous to just saying “you’re latino” — as if pointing out someone’s race is identical to saying they can’t have an opinion because they’re white.

  10. “You should be apologizing — take responsibility.”

  11. “Judge this is getting really close to it being racist” — the other team on why, even after the round is over, Michael and his partner should shut up.

  12. The judge characterized Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson as white supremacists. He said this very confidently, providing no evidence — apparently this is just a self-evident truth that requires no further support.

  13. The judge claimed reading arguments like this “does actual violence to people. Actual psychic violence.” For those who don’t know, psychic violence is not “actual violence.” Psychic violence is a way woke people describe things that upset them while making it sound impressive. If you say a conservative hurt your feelings, you seem not adequately aggrieved — but if they do psychic violence, it must be serious because it has violence in the name.

  14. “I’m not having this discussion right now,” said the judge.

  15. “I don’t need to tell no white man why my identity matters.”

  16. “Shut the fuck up, I don’t want to hear you.”

Michael got more heat than I did, because he’s a straight-up conservative, while I’m a bit left of center. But this does show a small part of the insanity of the debate community.

Background — the debate topic was about space policy. There are just oodles of things that are crazy about this.

  1. The debate professor argued that a compelling argument is that space doesn’t exist because there are some people that won’t experience space — especially black people in the inner cities. Then, you can say it’s racist to say space exists.

  2. It’s also apparently racist to demand verification and falsification.

  3. When Michael points out that black people can see space through telescopes and that black astronauts went to space, the professor initially was skeptical that black astronauts had gone to space. Michael explained that 14 of them had, and he cited wikipedia. The professor chided Michael for citing wikipedia. The professor demanded they find the 14 black astronauts. Michael gave one example. The professor asked if that guy had said space was real. Michael pointed out that he’d gone to space. The professor dismissed this — going to space isn’t enough apparently unless he said explicitly that space was real. Michael pointed out that he could find an interview where he said that space is real almost certainly. The professor said this means there are competing perspectives on truth which means you should vote negative apparently because it means you can’t verify anything.

  4. Michael pointed out that people can verify that space exists, having been there. The professor denied this because he hadn’t personally been there. Michael pointed out that it makes sense to believe things exist if other reliable people tell you about that. The professor argued for a crazy form of solipsism according to which black people shouldn’t trust reports by other people.

  5. The professor noted importantly that we shouldn’t trust those black astronauts because they could still be complicit in whiteness. You can’t make this stuff up!

  6. Michael noted that the claim that space doesn’t exist because you haven’t seen it is like the claim that Paris doesn’t exist because you haven’t been there. The professor agreed with this and accepted the Paris claim too!

  7. “So I can’t use other people’s experiences as proof that it probably does exist?” “That’s called colonialism,” replied the professor. The professor also claimed not to know what the verbage means — apparently using people’s experiences is not only colonialism, it’s also gibberish.

  8. Michael asks “How do I know that slavery happened if I didn’t see it?” The professor replies “It’s called posttraumatic slave disorder.” He then said, “You can say it didn’t happen — a lot of your people say it didn’t happen.”

  9. “Everybody’s brainwashed by whiteness” — the professor explaining why black astronauts falsely think space exists.

  10. When Michael was confused as to how black astronauts falsely believe they’re in space, the professor dismissed him based on him having “not done much reading on whiteness.”

  11. The professor suggested a good strategy for arguing for space policy was saying that you shouldn’t actually have to argue for the topic because space isn’t just in the stratosphere — it’s also the space between people. Thus, regulating space is regulating interpersonal space which is “rapey.” Apparently this is the best way to argue for space policy. Thus “it could be argued that the topic is really rapey” according to the professor.

  12. Michael points out that the topic is obviously talking about outer space — but the professor argues that it’s not. Michael points out that the topic uses the term deep space exploration — the professor says in response “pardon my french, but now we’re talking about like gangbangs.”

  13. The professor says that pointing out that definitions make it clear that the topic is talking about outer space not gangbangs won’t work, because the other team will argue that we should decide definitions through lived experience.

  14. The other team says disagreeing with women about what space means, when talking about national space policy, is “a form of linguistic violence.”

  15. One of the other teams proposed that the national space policy would be sending all white people into space. The other teams had objections to it alright — what if white people colonize the aliens. I’m not joking, that was seriously the objection to genociding white people by sending them in spaceships, where most would die. This is the way that objections work in debate — you have to outleft people when they propose unbelievably idiotic ideas. The only criticism of Stalin can be that there aren’t enough Stalins.

  16. “There’s this project of whiteness that is against me.”

  17. The other team argued that all white people are racist. It was also suggested that white people that don’t think they’re better than white people don’t exist.

  18. The professor thinks that the biggest problem with sending white people to space is that it would be practically difficult, describing the affirmative case as “lit.” He also suggested that the other team not answer questions from white people. He then suggested that the case advocates sending black people to space to avoid white people colonizing aliens.

  19. Everyone else seemed baffled by the idea that sending all white people to space is racist.

  20. The professor argued that stoicism is racist also.

  21. When Michael pointed out that the founder of stoicism was a slave and was not privileged, the professor characterized this as saying “we should aspire to have the mental capacity of our white counterpartts.” This was after he had grilled Michael for about a minute, claiming that stoicism is privileged.

  22. The professor thus prohibited Michael from arguing for stoicism in his debate rounds — saying that, if he did, he wouldn’t let him go to tournaments.

You’ll just have to watch the video here. It’s too crazy to even describe.

(For the record, I’m the stunningly handsome guy with the bookshelf behind me — though I do look more like a vampire in that picture than I normally do).

Background: I’m an atheist. Thus, when a person says “God loves this class of people” I think that’s false. Thus, I said I’d disagree with all three claims for comedic effect — I would in a technical sense, but I clearly agree with the spirit. I thought it was funny. But after that, things went off the deep end. It was claimed that I was a fascist that was scared of queer people. Unsurprisingly, no evidence was provided for either claim, despite repeated prodding.

This is pretty typical in the debate community. Bad things and people are called fascist, racist, queerphobic, transphobic, etc. Evidence is rarely provided for such absurd claims.

But it’s not just the specific outlandish incidents that make the debate community crazy — it’s the mundane events that are particularly wild. When, for example, people argue that they should win because of the color of their skin, that’s seen as a reasonable argument. The phrase psychic violence is treated as legitimate.

One particularly amusing example of the insanity of debate occurred in a round I was in. The topic was about criminal justice reform. The other team argued against broken windows policing — they didn’t, however, propose a policy. They argued that they should win just for talking about broken-windows policing. Naturally, we in response argued that broken windows policing was good — and they had no response. It had apparently never occurred to them that anyone would adopt the fairly moderate position that broken windows policing is good — vaguely right-of-center positions are almost never read.

There are virtually no conservative debaters I know of. A significant portion of debaters think communism isn’t far left enough. Most seem opposed to capitalism.

Debate is lovely in many ways — there are lots of great people. But the insanity and wokeness infused into every aspect of it is infuriating. Far-left claims about race and gender are unchallenged and unchallengeable. Debate is a community where being moderately right of center makes someone a violent fascist that must be purged at all costs.

I have a friend who is a socialist — he never did debate. And yet he’s said to me that debaters just seem crazy; every interaction he’s had with them on twitter involves them trying to accuse him or other people of racism or transphobia based on terrible evidence. Debaters are too crazy and woke for socialists.

Debaters tend to be pretty smart. And most are reasonable. But even the reasonable ones are willing to tolerate insanity generally — not to push back on obvious falsehoods. I worry that academia generally will drift over time to resemble the debate community more.

One person called me a fascist before blocking me.

Another person said, in response to the article, “hey man you’re a huge dipshit.” When I asked if they had any specific disagreements, they replied “shut up dumbass.” So that’s something.

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