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FHSU fires Shanahan, kills program

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By John Boyd (HAYS, Kan.)

Fort Hays State University has announced the termination of Debate Coach Bill Shanahan. The school also announced in a press release that they are suspending the debate program.

Read the entire press release from FHSU below:

FHSU, Shanahan sever relationship

President also suspends debate program because

current practices fall short of educational standards

 

HAYS, Kan. -- Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, announced today that the university had dismissed Dr. Bill Shanahan, assistant professor of communication studies and coach of the school's debate program, for violating the university's faculty code of ethics.

 

Shanahan became notorious over the past two weeks after a video was posted on the popular YouTube Internet site that showed him in a wild confrontation with the debate coach from the University of Pittsburgh during a Cross Examination Debate Association event that was held during the spring 2008 semester at Wichita State University.

 

FHSU just learned of Shanahan's actions when the video was posted the first week of August. "No one from the tournament staff notified us about the incident last spring, which is a surprise given the scope of what happened," President Hammond said. "Everyone has the right to freedom of speech, but these actions are not acceptable for someone who is representing our university."

 

The president continued: "Professor Shanahan's conduct falls below the standard established to protect our university, its faculty, students and alumni. As a representative of FHSU, he had a duty of care that was seriously breached by his behavior."

 

"If the coach of one of our athletic teams became angry and 'mooned' officials, student athletes and fans during a sports event, he or she would no longer be a coach at Fort Hays State University," President Hammond said. "Standards for our debate program are certainly just as high."

 

The YouTube video showed Shanahan in an angry, prolonged, obscenity-laced shouting match with University of Pittsburgh debate coach Shanara Reid-Brinkley following a debate between FHSU and Towson State of Maryland. The FHSU team had exercised its prerogative under the debate rules to dismiss Reid-Brinkley as a judge of the FHSU-Towson State debate. Both the Towson State debate team and Reid-Brinkley said the decision to remove a black female judge was an act of white hegemony, which is to say an exercise of the power whites enjoy over people of color. At one point early in the post-debate argument, Shanahan turned his back to Reid-Brinkley, pulled down his shorts and bent over to expose his underwear-clad backside.

 

The president also stated that the FHSU debate program was suspended, effective immediately, until problems were addressed at the national level. He said steps were being taken so as not to disadvantage the FHSU debate students in the coming year.

 

The president said it was equally important for FHSU to take a stand against the declining standards of college debate. "We are an institute of higher learning, and this incident provides a valuable 'teaching moment,' " he said. "Our society has become increasingly confrontational and uncivil. Our investigation revealed that those ills have also infected college debate. We have a responsibility not only to deal with the specific incident but to stand up against this decline in the standards of college debate."

 

"I was a college debater," Dr. Hammond said. "I place high value on college debate as an exceptional learning opportunity. However, I had no idea that college debate had degenerated into the kind of displays that we witnessed when we watched CEDA events on the Internet. College debate has changed greatly. The lack of decorum and the lack of civility are not compatible with the educational standards at FHSU, and I doubt they are compatible with the educational standards at most universities."

 

He added, "If anyone doubts my conclusion, that person should view the entire debate, which was laced with four-letter words, a lack of personal respect and a lack of civil discourse."

 

President Hammond said he knew college debate was an intense and grueling activity, but all participants must remain in control and should pursue their points through civil and respectful discourse. "Debaters and coaches often speak with great passion," he said, "but the kind of debate being used today in much of college debate falls short of our educational standards."

 

The president said it also was important to commend Shanahan for the good things he accomplished at FHSU. "He led our debate team of Joe Ramsey and Jason Regnier to the Cross Examination Debate Association National Championship in April 2002 in California. He also has been a provocative teacher who allowed, even encouraged, dissenting opinions from students in his classroom," Dr. Hammond said. "He was highly esteemed by his students and his debaters. Furthermore, while he and I do not share the same opinion about the standards that should guide college debate, there is no one who is more dedicated to college debate than Bill Shanahan. Also, while he clearly reacted in an inappropriate manner, I understand why Mr. Shanahan was outraged by the not-so-veiled accusations of racism. During his 10 years at FHSU, I have known Bill to be a fervent champion of the underdog and racial equality."

 

Finally, the president spoke to criticism that the university was not acting quickly enough. "Our provost, Dr. Larry Gould, launched an investigation of the incident just as soon as we heard about the video on the Internet. No matter how compelling the video was, we believed Bill Shanahan had a right to tell his side of the story. The public outcry was understandable and we took seriously those who spoke both for and against Dr. Shanahan, but ultimately we made our decision based on the full set of facts that we gathered in our investigation. I would also point out that some of the media reports contained glaring inaccuracies about facts such as where the debate had taken place and details about Professor Shanahan's employment at FHSU. We were not about to let a rush to judgment cause us to make decisions based on faulty information. I make no apology for the careful, deliberate manner in which we considered what should be done."

 

"I greatly appreciate the strong support I have received from FHSU over the last 10 years in the fullest tradition of academic freedom and the outpouring of support and concern expressed by countless colleagues, students and former students," Shanahan said. "I am terribly sorry that my actions reflected poorly on the University," he explained. "However, they must be judged in the unique context of college debate, marked by its passion and rigorous intellectual engagement." Shanahan concluded: "I hope this incident does not detract from the incredible work done by Fort Hays State debate over the last decade or my other contributions to FHSU, which are far greater than a 9-minute YouTube clip."

 

I know that there's a thread in the college board about this but this but I wanted to post this here... I feel terrible for the kids in the FHSU program past and present.

Edited by t-money

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This is not sad. Debate happens to be one of the small number of acitivities that don't, usually, involve spectators. It's ridiculous all of this morning and all of the blaming happening on edebate. Bill should not have engaged himself the way that he did and not expect punishment. Any other collegiate activity would have spectators and if a coach behaved in that fasion they would be punished. All of you who think that this is sad should consider whether a football, basketball, or baseball coach would have been punished for mooning another coach. Ozzie Guillen of the Chisox curses about umpires and gets fined. This is by far the most ridiculous thing that has ever happened in the debate community. I dont have an edebate account or I would post it there. Bill should be ashamed of himself for acting this way. People who think other wise need to learn some common sense. This can be equated to a witness of a murder testifying against person X. Subsequently the witness is blamed for the conviction.

 

Jamie

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It's ridiculous all of this morning and all of the blaming happening on edebate. Bill should not have engaged himself the way that he did and not expect punishment.

 

Is anyone supporting his behavior? From what I've seen, even Bill's biggest supporters have tried to contexualize his behavior, not defend it per se. Both participants clearly lost control, and it shouldn't have happened that way.

 

Any other collegiate activity would have spectators and if a coach behaved in that fasion they would be punished. All of you who think that this is sad should consider whether a football, basketball, or baseball coach would have been punished for mooning another coach. Ozzie Guillen of the Chisox curses about umpires and gets fined.

 

Yes, but would it be a career-ending move? Should an entire career hang in the balance because of an ill-considered rant?

 

Maybe you've never lost your cool before, but I have certainly behaved like a raving jackass a time or two. I'm just thankful it wasn't captured for the benefit of YouTube for all the world to see (and see and see and see).

 

Matt

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This is not sad.

 

 

maybe you missed the part about the whole debate program being suspended

 

now that is sad

 

especially because some of those guys need scholarships to stay in college

 

pre-empt: I don't really care whose fault it was, shanahan or the college or andy ellis or whatever.

It is still disappointing

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maybe you missed the part about the whole debate program being suspended

 

now that is sad

 

especially because some of those guys need scholarships to stay in college

 

pre-empt: I don't really care whose fault it was, shanahan or the college or andy ellis or whatever.

It is still disappointing

 

I know I am just a HS coach in Kansas but I was absolutely floored earlier this month when a member of our non-debate community, upon finding out I coached debate, asked rather "rudely" if that was all I did for the money...

 

I will grant that it says more about that person than it does all of us but it was a very embarrassing way to find out about this whole mess.

 

To all of you who are closer and directly affected by this I offer my heartfelt sympathy.

 

I find it perhaps worse that it truly seems (for a HS graduate of 1984) big brother is very close to arriving...ironically it is us (the average citizen) and not the government.

 

Peace.

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A damn shame. One assumes that FHSU will honor the scholarships and that the debaters will get offers from elsewhere.

 

According to the Wichita NBC news tonight they will honor the scholarships for next year.

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This is not sad.

 

It is VERY sad that the FHSU program is getting shut down. Ft Hays had huge success (even before Shanahan) despite being a tiny program in the middle of nowhere. President Hammond was among the most supportive administrators in the country, but his words are a scathing critique of the college circuit by an outsider.

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I know I am just a HS coach in Kansas but I was absolutely floored earlier this month when a member of our non-debate community, upon finding out I coached debate, asked rather "rudely" if that was all I did for the money...

 

I will grant that it says more about that person than it does all of us but it was a very embarrassing way to find out about this whole mess.

 

To all of you who are closer and directly affected by this I offer my heartfelt sympathy.

 

I find it perhaps worse that it truly seems (for a HS graduate of 1984) big brother is very close to arriving...ironically it is us (the average citizen) and not the government.

 

Peace.

 

Huh?

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For many, many years the coaching community has quietly said to itself that if the administration ever truly understood what policy debate had evolved into, they'd shut down our programs immediately. The evidence for this is abundant in the cx forum posts, primarily regarding the culture and style of champ debate.

 

Let me say for the record, before you throw rocks at me, that I like champ debate.

 

The issue is not champ debate, the issue is the casual and often inappropriate culture of champ debate that has grown out of isolationism and an ever-shrinking pool of people who understand it, debate it, and judge it. The smaller that pool grows, the more familiar with each other its participants become. The danger in this is that the style of debate moves further and further away from what people outside the activity would consider appropriate and worthy of public investment.

 

The president of the university was careful to deliniate between the firing of the coach (for his actions) and the suspension of the program (for the nature of the activity).

 

These are two seperate incidents. One was pointed at the coach's judgement. The other one - a much more relevant and telling choice - was a reaction to the culture and community of contemporary debate.

 

For those of you who love kritiks, you have to give a pat on the back to this university president - who, when confronted with the philosophical underpinnings of competitive debate, chose to reject the activity entirely - regardless of the outward merits of the program.

 

For those of us who would prefer to preserve this style of debate, the continued support of our administration may be directly related to our own ability to preserve the veneer of of professionalism (like wearing shoes and not using the "F" word during rounds).

 

This preservation needs to start immediately.

Like, before September 20th.

 

My principal has already politely and appropriately asked me to explain whether this is the style of debate that we've paid thousands of dollars to participate in. She is right for doing it. Luckily, I was wearing shoes and didn't cuss - and I relied on persuasion to make my point. We both walked away happy.

 

I suspect that this will not be an isolated incident. This is a perfect setup for that style of journalism that attempts to expose the breadth of the problem.

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For many, many years the coaching community has quietly said to itself that if the administration ever truly understood what policy debate had evolved into, they'd shut down our programs immediately. The evidence for this is abundant in the cx forum posts, primarily regarding the culture and style of champ debate.

 

Let me say for the record, before you throw rocks at me, that I like champ debate.

 

The issue is not champ debate, the issue is the casual and often inappropriate culture of champ debate that has grown out of isolationism and an ever-shrinking pool of people who understand it, debate it, and judge it. The smaller that pool grows, the more familiar with each other its participants become. The danger in this is that the style of debate moves further and further away from what people outside the activity would consider appropriate and worthy of public investment.

 

The president of the university was careful to deliniate between the firing of the coach (for his actions) and the suspension of the program (for the nature of the activity).

 

These are two seperate incidents. One was pointed at the coach's judgement. The other one - a much more relevant and telling choice - was a reaction to the culture and community of contemporary debate.

 

For those of you who love kritiks, you have to give a pat on the back to this university president - who, when confronted with the philosophical underpinnings of competitive debate, chose to reject the activity entirely - regardless of the outward merits of the program.

 

For those of us who would prefer to preserve this style of debate, the continued support of our administration may be directly related to our own ability to preserve the veneer of of professionalism (like wearing shoes and not using the "F" word during rounds).

 

This preservation needs to start immediately.

Like, before September 20th.

 

My principal has already politely and appropriately asked me to explain whether this is the style of debate that we've paid thousands of dollars to participate in. She is right for doing it. Luckily, I was wearing shoes and didn't cuss - and I relied on persuasion to make my point. We both walked away happy.

 

I suspect that this will not be an isolated incident. This is a perfect setup for that style of journalism that attempts to expose the breadth of the problem.

 

I think your logic relies on a scapegoating type of mindset, you can't place the overall blame for Mr. Shanahan's actions on the activity. You need to place it in his hands. He made a bad choice and has to live with that.

 

I understand where you are coming from but I don't think it's fair to generalize where the community is based on one particular outlandish event. I think it is perfectly fair for administrators to question what is going on in their program, but these sorts of events (where coaches go ballistic) are neither unique to debate nor unique to this generation. I can demonstrate many examples of coaches crossing the line, i.e. Bobby Knight, to examples within our own debate community that were non-champ related.

 

I agree with you that we should keep incidents like this in mind while starting our season because the YouTube generation makes all of this real-time. But, it's also naive to assume that coaches in debate didn't do outlandish things twenty years ago.

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I'm pretty much 100% behind RavenDB8n4N6's comments. I've been in this game for 44 years now (if you count my years as a HS debater); as the judge pool constricted, we got more & more informal with our procedures. It all occurred more or less behind closed doors so no one from the "outside world" saw what was gradually evolving. So when someone then takes an actual photographic record of a scene like this and posts it where everyone can see it, it comes as a real jolt to someone (like the FHSU President) who "thought" they knew what debate was like; and to those who are getting their first glimpse of debate via that record, their impression is based solely on it (remember the parable of the seven blind men who encounter an elephant). We may not like it, but that's reality. And lets face it...there are a lot more people in the outside world looking in at this movie than there were on the inside looking out.

 

KUZuck...I don't know the length of your involvement in debate, but I'm pretty safe when I say mine is longer than yours. And no...debate coaches twenty years ago did NOT do anything even approaching this. And if they had, the reaction of the debate community would have so ostracized them that it would never have been repeated. That is perhaps what troubles the FHSU administration the most...that this scene occurred and the debate community watched, collectively shrugged its shoulders and said "Wow, Bill is one wild and crazy guy, but at least he's passionate about his beliefs and he has done wonders for the activity"...and then went on with what it was doing. Why didn't anything happen? I don't know for sure as I'm not part of that organization, but maybe it was because what happened was not THAT far outside of what had already happened on other occasions with other people. Incrementalism...it can lead us down some treacherous paths.

 

I think that IF the debate community had reacted to the QF round at CEDA Nationals with a strong, public position of rejection and rebuke, and had it internally taken steps to make sure something like it never happened again, the FHSU administration would not have felt the need to take the step of withdrawing from the activity. I can't know that for certain, obviously, but I take President Hammond at his word that he is someone who loves and respects the debate activity and does not wish to see it harmed. But if we/(or "they", since I am not a member of the CEDA activity) do not police the house, others will eventually do it instead.

Edited by DeCoach

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For many, many years the coaching community has quietly said to itself that if the administration ever truly understood what policy debate had evolved into, they'd shut down our programs immediately. The evidence for this is abundant in the cx forum posts, primarily regarding the culture and style of champ debate.

 

I understand your point, and I sometimes wish debaters would be more attentive to the way their actions and/or words might be perceived by others, but I often find myself thinking the same thing about my non-debate students. I’m not convinced that the “coarsening” of debate has much to do with the evolution of the activity (except insofar as the advent of critical debate has tended to attract more iconoclastic individuals to the activity), but is more a reflection of an evolution in values and mores in the society around us. Those who decry the swearing and casual dress in the activity (to give the two examples you cite below) should be looking more to the media we consume than the insular culture of debate.

 

Which leads me to my real point in responding, namely that I think your complaints about the insular culture of debate are terminally non-unique. Every tight-knit organization develops customs and rituals that are bewildering to outsiders. Even after casual conversations with my student athletes, I understand enough about athletic programs to know that if I were to place a hidden camera in the school locker rooms and post the results on YouTube it would likely shut them down. If someone were to surreptitiously record our department meetings at work they would very quickly get the wrong impression about the level of dedication of the individual teachers.

 

The issue is not champ debate, the issue is the casual and often inappropriate culture of champ debate that has grown out of isolationism and an ever-shrinking pool of people who understand it, debate it, and judge it. The smaller that pool grows, the more familiar with each other its participants become. The danger in this is that the style of debate moves further and further away from what people outside the activity would consider appropriate and worthy of public investment.

 

The activity is what it is, and levels of participation have been shrinking for decades now. Even if we were to return to some mythic golden age of students in three-piece suits engaged in measured and reasoned discussion of the policy ramifications of the topic (which I will note, is not what you are arguing), debate would still be a hard sell to the populations who are currently not engaged in the activity (and here I would rather talk in terms of socio-economic exclusion rather than race, since I think it is only incidentally about color divides except in the fact that, as a nation, we seem comfortable with the idea of a permanent minority underclass). Even in the “good old days” (which, let’s be honest, never existed outside of nostalgia), the kind of work and dedication the activity demands of those who practice it at the highest level are a hard sell, demanding the kind of time commitment, academic skill set, and, increasingly, money that make it difficult for outsider populations to compete. This is one reason why I support approaches to debate that level this playing field somewhat. If the ideas are without merit, they will die out on their own, but there is no top-down way anyone can turn back the clock and “fix” the “problems” in academic debate. The pressures that are making the debate culture more insular, inward-looking, and exclusionary are the same pressures that are widening the gap in the haves and have-nots in our society. I do not see this trend reversing anytime soon.

 

For those of us who would prefer to preserve this style of debate, the continued support of our administration may be directly related to our own ability to preserve the veneer of of professionalism (like wearing shoes and not using the "F" word during rounds).

 

I’m not sure if this is a back-handed remark about Bill, or if you are truly directing this at the community at large.

 

I would be the last person to argue that one should not have to pay a price for unconventional modes of expression, i.e., if they did not challenge norms and provoke reactions the purpose would be defeated. However, I will note that Bill Shanahan has never asked for a pass for his own idiosyncratic lifestyle choices or confrontational style of expression. I have never, inside or outside of this activity, met anyone with more personal integrity than Bill. Say what you will about him, he doesn’t just “talk the talk,” but “walks the walk” every day of his life. If Bill determines something is wrong, he will follow it through to its logical conclusion regardless of the personal cost, and for this I have always admired him. Despite the fact that it has almost been a decade and a half since I debated for him, I think of him often, particularly when I find myself tempted to compromise my principles for the sake of expediency. As an educator myself, I can think of no higher compliment I could pay him.

 

I wish Bill had behaved differently in this situation, but it’s idle to pretend this is either typical of Bill (for one thing, in my experience he’s almost always on the right side of an argument) or typical of the activity as a whole.

 

Matt

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"If the coach of one of our athletic teams became angry and 'mooned' officials, student athletes and fans during a sports event, he or she would no longer be a coach at Fort Hays State University," President Hammond said. "Standards for our debate program are certainly just as high."

 

One might ask President Hammond whether the cursing he thought deprived debate of benefit also occurs among athletic teams. I read this particular quote the first time and laughed. When I came to debate, I quickly learned that racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise derogatory language was unacceptable. I learned no such lesson in my 9 years of competitive basketball. I'm not sure what sort of idealized image Hammond has of his athletic programs. I would be willing to bet that the things said in the locker rooms or on the sidelines of athletic events sponsored by the university are far worse than the things said in the debate that caused him to cancel the program.

 

Jamie, it is sad. It is sad that a man with a wonderful family has lost his job. It is sad that two seniors who have already made enormous sacrifices have to leave their school to continue pursuing the activity they love. Think back to how you and I behaved after Big Mike dropped us against Tom and Eric in the outrounds of JDI. Our behavior wasn't very different from bill's in the eyes of an administrator. If either of our schools funded us to attend and then witnessed on youtube how immaturely we behaved after that loss, they surely would have stopped paying thousands to send us to camp.

 

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Hartney are correct to point out that there is a need for greater civility. I also agree that the national-circuit style of debate, already under intense scrutiny from many coaches in this activity, may have special reason for pause.

 

However, I don't view the particular forum of national-circuit style debate as being more likely to produce jaded community reactions than others. For example, at SME we had a teacher named Mr. Nickels who never debated in HS but liked to watch rounds. One time he watched a round between KCC and Manhattan, where KCC criticized the foundations of debate as racist and Manhattan ran a complex strategy centered around language and the writings of Dada. He sat through the entirety of the round, and afterwards remarked "that was some crazy shit. I wish my students had the freedom or passion to express themselves that way in a classroom." It should be noted that the particular debate (AFF challenges institutional norms, NEG reads complex K centered around language and subjectivity) isn't all that different than the Towson v. Fort debate.

 

Anyone who followed the news reports leading up to the current state of events was sure to notice a gradual trend. At first, FHSU Provost Gould and others were quick to say that while they didn't defend bill's actions, they were proud to have him on the faculty. As the news coverage mounted, however, the statements became more pointed. What began as an informal investigation turned into a trial by fire. Statements like "bill is a maverick who reaches students" were quickly canned for ones that sounded better on CNN and Fox News like "the University is pursuing a full and thorough investigation on this matter."

 

People can differ over the administration's final decisions. However, it is clear that President Hammond was trying to save face, not save debate.

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I think your logic relies on a scapegoating type of mindset, you can't place the overall blame for Mr. Shanahan's actions on the activity. You need to place it in his hands. He made a bad choice and has to live with that.

 

 

The president of the university was careful to deliniate between the firing of the coach (for his actions) and the suspension of the program (for the nature of the activity).

 

These are two seperate incidents. One was pointed at the coach's judgement. The other one - a much more relevant and telling choice - was a reaction to the culture and community of contemporary debate.

 

Agreed.

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I've been away from varsity intercollegiate debate for about a dozen years now. I wasn't particularly surprised by what I saw.

 

I felt Shanahan had crossed a line with the hiney display. I felt he also crossed a line when he communicated to Reid-Binkley from about 2 inches away from her face. Other than that, it seemed like he was just a particularly intense leftist debate coach to me. Perfectly normal.

 

But for people who've been away from the activity longer or who have never actually seen a modern debate before, it was universally regarded as a shocking display. Absolutely shocking.

 

I suspect that almost all debate coaches and directors of forensics will be getting a note or a visit from their head administrator soon, if they haven't already.

 

They will hit you where it hurts. They control the money. There is no activity without them. And now you've gotten their attention.

 

I don't think most administrators are going to just turn around and call it a day after one little meeting with the debate coach. I think many of them are going to want to see videotapes of actual debate rounds to make SURE that the debaters representing THEIR university are doing so in a manner that they believe to be proper.

 

And golly gee is that ever a ton of loaded language.

 

I remember back when I was competing. We used to talk about how debate should be a spectator sport...how people should see the great ideas and arguments. I'm pretty sure lots of debaters through the years shared that sentiment at least once with each other. Well, debaters, you've got an audience now.

 

Be careful what you wish for.

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"If the coach of one of our athletic teams became angry and 'mooned' officials, student athletes and fans during a sports event, he or she would no longer be a coach at Fort Hays State University," President Hammond said. "Standards for our debate program are certainly just as high."

 

One might ask President Hammond whether the cursing he thought deprived debate of benefit also occurs among athletic teams. I read this particular quote the first time and laughed. When I came to debate, I quickly learned that racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise derogatory language was unacceptable. I learned no such lesson in my 9 years of competitive basketball. I'm not sure what sort of idealized image Hammond has of his athletic programs. I would be willing to bet that the things said in the locker rooms or on the sidelines of athletic events sponsored by the university are far worse than the things said in the debate that caused him to cancel the program.

 

.

 

The difference is that the public would not be SURPRISED by such language in the locker room...hence the term "locker-room language"...and the sideline language went through a MAJOR renovation/cleanup when TV stations developed microphones that could pick up what was being said from the far side of the field. Debate, on the other hand, is still perceived as being a public event, and thus the expectation for language and civility is much greater.

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The difference is that the public would not be SURPRISED by such language in the locker room...hence the term "locker-room language"...and the sideline language went through a MAJOR renovation/cleanup when TV stations developed microphones that could pick up what was being said from the far side of the field. Debate, on the other hand, is still perceived as being a public event, and thus the expectation for language and civility is much greater.

In Brians defense Hartney, if you watch MNF or even the NFL on sunday, they sometimes have a segment "one on one" or something like that - and over half of it is normally bleeped out because of language.

 

Personally - i think suspension for a semester without pay or something equal would have been sufficient to settle all this.

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In Brians defense Hartney, if you watch MNF or even the NFL on sunday, they sometimes have a segment "one on one" or something like that - and over half of it is normally bleeped out because of language.

 

Personally - i think suspension for a semester without pay or something equal would have been sufficient to settle all this.

 

Oh I know...even the staid Tom Landry was heard to let it slip...I'm mainly talking about college football.

 

And I agree on the suspension versus termination option, but then no one ever asked me to be president of a university.

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As we continue this discussion, bear in mind that there is a substantial difference between what debate actually is versus what debate is perceived to be by outsiders (many of whom control our desity through budgets and policies).

 

To a large extent, this means a lot of work on the surface (the way we act in rounds, the way we dress, the manner in which we conduct ourselves).

 

To those who are temporarily in the debate community as students, it might be easy to see this as a battle worth fighting (i.e. we are right to say and do as we please in tempo with other schools and with society). However, for those among us who have dedicated our lives and our careers to this activity, it is extremely reasonable that we ask our programs to exhibit a little professional respect to get a whole lot of professional support.

 

The success of policy debate rests largely upon the public perception that what we do somehow prepares students for a professional and civic role in society. This public perception and policy debate are inextricably linked, and the dismissal of one topples the other.

 

Finally, I disagree that our standards for debate can be aligned and adjusted with other standards for society, athletics, and other institutions. Doing so establishes a race to the bottom. We cannot exault debate as an elevated art without attaching to it equally elevated standards.

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Oh I know...even the staid Tom Landry was heard to let it slip...I'm mainly talking about college football.

 

And I agree on the suspension versus termination option, but then no one ever asked me to be president of a university.

 

How many times have we both seen Bob Stoops say "you fucked up" to a lineman or other personnel on the field? haha

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Huh?

 

To clarify? I was asked point blank if, as a debate coach, all I did was go around "mooning" people. Is that what you were asking? It was an intentional shot at our profession that indicates we have a PR problem.

 

The other point was that instead of the stereotypical "Big Brother", technology and social custom has "evolved" into a 24 hour a day public surveillance opportunity operating on an ad-hoc basis to unpredictable stimuli. It wasn't really a shot at anyone just a point about how easy it is to video and publicize anything anywhere.

 

Josh-I couldn't agree more. I have tremendous respect for the athletic coaches reference here. I could not do what they do. But I do think that our world should have a different decorum than the athletic field.

Edited by Dinosaurio

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