Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nationals 2009

I report with deep regret and a bit of shame, that Nationals will be held at Bob Jones University. For those who may be unaware, why would BJU be a bad idea? Well for a few reasons,

1. Up until the 70s, BJU banned black students, and then for sometime banned unmarried black students (for fear of "race-mixing"). Furthermore they continued to ban "interracial" dating. This had been rescinded in later years, but this is far too recent of a past and the atmosphere remains a bit unapologetic about this. Hardly the "Biblical worldview" the NCFCA is rightfully trying to uphold.

2. Division in the Body. NCFCA is a Christian organization and thus should embrace a Christian spirit, that is the spirit of Christ Himself. But BJU has constantly made a habit of attacking Christians with uncalled for and divisive rhetoric such as "heretical". Such persons and organizations like Rev. Billy Graham and Catholic Christians come to mind. This attitude, for which there has been no rescinding, is frankly appalling and no organization should condone it.

3. Legalism. A quick read through the bylaws of the college show a legalistic, stern, and shallow interpretation of Christian morality. Why endorse this kind of "morality"? Isn't this the sort of system that Christ condemned?

4. Honorary Degrees. Some of the people that this university chose to associate with (and has yet to rescind) is frankly scary. "Rev" Ian Paisley, the hardliner Protestant demogogue, who once argued for the burning of Catholic churches and homes in Northern Ireland whose qualification for an honorary degree seemed to be a condemnation of Catholicism via violence. The second major offense against common decency, was their bestowment of a degree upon Gov. George Wallace. A greater disgrace, I cannot imagine. The company one keeps speaks a lot about a college.

Now you may be thinking,

Why does all of this matter? I believe that as the main Christian, home-educated, forensics league, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. Not only should we hold ourselves to a higher standard for Biblical reasons, but the eyes of the forensics community is upon us, to some extent. Not only for our interesting position as the main homeschooling league, but also for the fact that many NCFCAers go on to college and do well. It would do a great disservice to all the work the league has done, and to the alumni on the college circuit. It ought to embarrass the board.

This is not to say that Nationals should be boycotted. This would do nothing positive. But we, as the stockholds of this league so to speak, ought to express the dismay that many of us hold over this. Our board should have known better.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How to Beat Slavery

As was the style during the Democracy year (2006-2007: "Resolved, Democracy is over valued by the United States Government.") it is becoming common to label anything you don't like as "the other side". For example,

"Hitler was a ________________."

"Stalin was a ________________."

"Communism was ______________."

"The Founding Father's were ________."

The most common one is slavery. It is common tactic to label slavery (in particular the American kind) and argue it belongs to the other "ism" (most commonly pragmatism). Here is a free brief against that.

Slavery Brief: Why Slavery is Neither Idealistic, Nor Pragmatic
By Joe Laughon, Channel Islands Debate

Slavery is not idealistic.

1. Merely because slavery was upheld by some people’s convictions does not make the system idealistic. An ideal is defined as something that is an honorable or worthy principle or aim. (American Heritage Dictionary). Clearly holding other human beings in bondage is not an honorable or worthy principle, regardless of whether or not that some felt that way.
2. An Idealist is easily capable of opposing slavery. In fact most abolitionists, such as William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, the Beechers and Rev. Elijah Stone were labeled, correctly, as idealists. In his newspaper, The Liberator, Garrison was quoted as such, “I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD.” (caps original). That hardly sounds like a pragmatist.

Slavery is not pragmatic.
The slave trade was incredibly inefficient. “Historians agree that hundreds of thousands, and probably millions of slaves perished over the course of 300 years during the rigors of the “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic Ocean. Estimates remain inevitably imprecise, but range as high as one third of the slave “cargo” who perished from disease or overcrowding during transport from Africa.”—Michael Medved. Most historians agree this contributed to the incredibly high price of slaves and a very inefficient pricing system due to a flaw ridden transportation phase.

Slavery held back the American economy. Slavery results in a lack of industrialization, lack of diversification (which according to all economists is crucial to a healthy economy), and growth. Look to the American experience, “These states [the free states] (with dynamic banking centers in Philadelphia and Manhattan) quickly emerged as robust centers of commerce and manufacturing, greatly enriching themselves while the slave-based economies in the South languished by comparison. All analyses of Northern victory in the great sectional struggle highlights the vast advantages in terms of wealth and productivity in New England, the Mid-Atlantic States and the Midwest, compared to the relatively backward and impoverished states of the Confederacy. The notion that America based its wealth on slave labor hardly comports with the reality that for two hundred years since the founding of the Republic, by far the poorest and least developed section of the nation was precisely that region where slavery once prevailed.”

Slavery discourages a strong work ethic (and thus further harms not only an economy but a civil society). In the book Democracy in America, a French commentator notes the negative effects of slavery on a society and the observably positive consequences of a free labor society. “These contrasting effects of slavery and of freedom are easy to understand; they are enough to explain the differences between ancient civilization and modern. On the left bank of the Ohio work is connected with the idea of slavery, but on the right with well-being and progress; on the one side it is degrading, but on the other honorable; on the left bank no white laborers are to be found, for they would be afraid of being like the slaves; for work people must rely on the Negroes; but one will never see a man of leisure on the right bank: the white man’s intelligent activity is used for work of every sort.”
Slavery led to instability. A society that allows slavery is rarely prosperous and stable. Commonly these societies are plagued by division, disunity and slave revolts. Compare the North with its industrial strength versus the fear of slave revolts that gripped the South, not to mention the actual revolts in Virginia, Alabama and Louisiana. In addition societies such as Sparta, Rome and Saxon England realized that if they had abolished slavery they would either, a) not be busy putting down slave revolts (Spartacus, helots, Welsh serfs) and, b) their society would be better equipped to deal with threats (Spartans couldn’t go on lengthy military campaigns for fear of slave revolts, Saxons had to deal with Danish invasions and Welsh serf revolts. Also one can compare the West today, to the fringes of civilized society where slavery is tolerated. The West is clearly more prosperous and more stable than regions that tolerate slavery (ex. Eastern Europe, Africa, East Asia and parts of Latin America).

How to Beat Metaphysics

For those who attended the 2009 San Diego Classic (much love to Sharon Nagatani and Scott York), you'd know that some of us do not believe that metaphysics is a legitimate interpretation of this year's resolution. Measures to defeat it went from discussing it, debating it parli-style, or handing out briefs against it. Here is one such brief, for free, to take and to give to anyone. Use it.

Problems with the Metaphysical Interpretation.

It allows for no clash.

While there is a metaphysical definition of idealism, as my opponent defined it, it does not and cannot clash with pragmatism. Why? Because pragmatism deals with different philosophical subjects, specifically ethics. Pragmatism, according to Dr. Victor Fontaine, Professor of Philosophy, argued that pragmatism is about ethics or epistemology, the study of knowledge, not metaphysics which is the study of reality. Pragmatism, dealing with that is or is not ethical, does not clash with metaphysical idealism, dealing with what is or what is not real

It does not allow for a value debate.

In debate, there are 3 kinds of resolutions. Policy resolutions, in which there is a debate about whether or not to take an action. There are fact resolutions, where one debates about the truth or falsity of a question. And then there are value resolutions, where one debates about the value or worth of something. When my opponent tries to narrow the debate down to metaphysics, the study of reality, and argues that idealism is the right way to look at reality, this is turning it from a debate of value, into a debate of fact. Even if my opponent proves that his version of reality, idealism, is correct, it does not prove if it is more valuable than pragmatism. The way my opponent defines it, we cannot have a debate about worth or value, which is what we are supposed to have.

Metaphysical idealism is not valuable.

I would argue that the idea that reality is based upon or evolved by the mind is morally reprehensible. This leads to the idea of moral relativism, the belief that one’s individual perceptions determine moral reality, which leads to excusing of any and all crimes against humanity, as long as it was justified in that individual’s or group of individual’s perception of reality.

Ethics is more valuable than metaphysics.

I would argue that a debate about the ethics, as my case lines out, is most valuable because it allows us to apply the lessons in our everyday life, indeed as soon as we leave this debate round, we are capable of taking it’s lessons to heart and practicing them as we go about our day. Even if a debate about metaphysics provided clash, was valuable or even about values, it would not allow us to apply it’s lessons to our lives and therefore is not as valuable as the debate that I laid out in my case, a debate about ethical idealism v. ethical pragmatism.

Metaphysical idealism is wrong.

Not only does it provide no clash, has no place in this resolution, is morally bankrupt and isn’t valuable, but idealism, on a metaphysical scale, is simply wrong. Reality is not based upon the mind in any way shape or form. Our minds can perceive reality, but these perceptions, in themselves, do not compose reality. If no one existed and no mind was here to perceive reality, still reality would continue to exist. Philosophers G.E Moore, in his Refutation of Idealism, and David Stowe explain how reality exists completely outside of our ability to perceive. We may perceive something inaccurately, for instance someone in a hypnotic state perceives he is flying. But that is not reality. Clearly the mind is not the ultimate basis of reality. This is not only morally bankrupt, but simply not true.

Reality is based on, or evolved by, the mind; this is metaphysical idealism which claims that no material things exist independently of the mind.