| Nov 28 2014 7:49 AM
One black team in the USA decided to use the word "nigger" in their case because they knew their largely white opponents would feel uncomfortable responding with that word. Is this just a cheap underhand trick to win the debate, or was that actually in and of itself a brilliant point in demonstrating the nature of the power dynamic of race that their case rested upon? And if the latter, was it even that effective given that it's a reversal of the underprivileged position blacks usually occupy?
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Tough one. Generally, I feel people use a lot of arguments that try to throw their opponents off, and certain styles of debate do it in innovative, somewhat disturbing ways. You really can't just say there's something wrong with this and mean it only for the usage of racial epithets, especially as there are many other terms and styles of argumentation that follow similar lines. That's an issue of course, because there are a lot of styles of argumentation, and I really don't want to stymie creativity in style.
On the other hand, this does, in some ways, detract from argumentation. No longer is the discussion about the topic at hand, but rather, people are focused on a single word. As a result, we lose something in terms of the education that that round could have provided. Perhaps something is garnered in terms of a broader, more unexpected education, but I'm not sure I could support an instance where opening teams are allowed to commandeer the debate to be what they want as opposed to what's expected on a very basic level.
Nonetheless, I'd probably support their decision here. Mix it up in debate, I always say. Keep people on their toes. It's not my strategy, but it keeps things interesting, and I think shifting the discussion here isn't necessarily so harmful.