Brent Musburger Does NOT Deserve the Julia Gillard Reproach!
This debate is a result of this forum topic:
So, there is uproar over 15 seconds worth of comments that sportscaster Brent Musburger directed at Katherine Webb, girlfriend of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.
Here are his comments, in full:
"...you see that lovely lady there? She does go to Auburn, I'll admit that, but she's also Miss Alabama, and that's A.J. McCarron's girlfriend. Wow, I'm telling ya, you quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman! Whoa! So if you're a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with pops."
Here's the reaction:
And boom! Cue the controversy. People attacked Musburger as "creepy," for ogling her too much, for being a "dirty old man," for being sexist, inappropriate, and more. One publication even went so far as to claim that Musburger's comments are "evidence" of "a culture of domestic violence and sexual assault in football."
Webb herself came to Musburger's defense:
"I think the media has been really unfair to [Musburger] ... If he would've said something along the line that we were hot or sexy or made any derogatory statements like that, I think that would've been a little bit different, but the fact that he said that we were beautiful and gorgeous, I don't see why any woman wouldn't be flattered by that."
As did Webb's parents:
"...he was trying to be complimentary, and I think they need to give Brent a break."
So, the obvious question, were Musburger's comments appropriate?
A secondary question - Webb said that "hot or sexy" equates to "derogatory comments". Is this appropriate?
Yes. Of course it's offensive. And it doesn't make any difference at all that Webb said otherwise. Women always have to say otherwise. They're never allowed to take offense. That's why Julia Gillard is the greatest!! She made it possible for us all to start sentences with "I am offended by...". I am offended by Musburger's comments! I am offended that Webb had to come on and say she wasn't offended! I am offended by her parents! and I'm offended that you would drag it to our attention in these forums, Wrichcirw.
Does Brent Musburger Deserve the Julia Gillard Reproach?
We know who Brent Musburger is from the thread, (video #1) but who is Julia Gillard (video #2)?
The unenviable man opposite of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in her thunderous speech is Tony Abbott, the opposition leader in Australian politics. They are debating about whether or not to remove Speaker Peter Slipper (not in video) for sending inappropriate text messages that denigrated women, and Abbott initially accused Gillard of sexism and misogyny for defending Slipper. Enter reproach.
As PRO, I will be arguing that Brent Musburger is NOT deserving of the Julia Gillard reproach because of how he addressed Katherine Webb.
My esteemed opponent will be arguing CON, that Brent Musburger deserves the Julia Gillard reproach.
The "Julia Gillard reproach" does not mean that Musburger deserves the attention of the Australian Prime Minister or the Australian House of Representatives, obviously. It just means that his comments were offensive and that he deserves to be yelled at in a similar fashion.
Some simple rules:
Round #1 - acceptance
Rounds #2,3 - arguments, rebuttals
Round #4 - closing, no new arguments, no new sources
5,000 character rounds.
Burden of Proof is on PRO.
I also have an issue with the concept of "framework". I highly encourage both myself and CON to provide a cohesive framework for our own presentations, but I find the practice of defining an opponent's framework to be highly distasteful, and will ask audiences to totally ignore any such attempts by either party.
I accept this debate and all the terms and conditions presented above.
I thank my opponent for accepting this debate - I am very curious to see where she takes this.
I've given CON some leeway in definitions, as I realize this is a difficult case for her to argue. (definitions from dictionary.com)
Beauty - the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind,
whether arising from sensory manifestations...a meaningful design or pattern, or something else...
Sexism - discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex, as in restricted job opportunities; especially,
such discrimination directed against women.
Misogyny - hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.
Here I want to establish that the word "Beautiful" MAY connote sexual attractiveness, but the offensive words "hot and sexy", as explicitly defined by Webb herself, are much more commonly accepted to connote such objectification. Beauty has a much more aesthetic value to it, and is appropriate to describe your daughter, your sister, your mother, your grandmother, as well as your sexy next door neighbor. (thanks to Oryus in the original forum thread).
My case (and my meeting BoP) is clear.
Analyzing these two videos, we see they share some key concepts - both spurred outrage over sexism and misogyny, i.e. ""evidence" of "a culture of domestic violence and sexual assault in football."". Musburger's brief comments are easy to digest...Gillard's 15 minute speech on the other hand requires some summary:
video #2, 00:15 - I will not be lectured on sexism and misogyny by this man...[Abbott] says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office...well I hope [Abbott]...is writing out his resignation, because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia...he needs a mirror. (echoed by many in the chamber)
Although I recommend the full video, the first 5 minutes of this video especially are simply mesmerizing. Gillard completely obliterates Abbott's personal integrity on issues relating to gender bias, sexism, and misogyny, and she does it on live television. It is the source of my opponent's inspiration in her own personal vindictive (joking) against my thread.
Gillard had some rather strong justification for such language. In the speech, she referenced Abbott lending his persona to pickets that had epithets aimed at Gillard like "Ditch the Witch", and "Man's Bitch". She also referenced Abbott in prior speeches utilizing the word "shame" repeatedly in describing Gillard's political views, Gillard's father, and Gillard specifically, the latter especially reminiscent of the Scarlet Letter, a novel well known for its sexist and misogynistic backdrop. Abbott on the same day as this speech accused Gillard of sexism and misogyny in defending Speaker Slipper, who had sent inappropriate text messages describing female genitalia. Gillard used this venue and this speech/rebuttal to call Abbott out on such hypocrisy, especially since he had been a close friend of Slipper throughout his political career, and thus labeled him as an opportunist and a hypocrite.
Cut to Musburger. Did he do any of this in his comments to Katherine Webb? I would hope not. I would hope that describing a female's outer appearance in a NON-SEXUAL MANNER is NOT sexist and NOT misogynistic. I would hope that utilizing a word such as "Beautiful" connotes an entirely different meaning than "shameful". I would hope that people considered Musburger's comments to be honest and sincere - after all, Webb had been crowned Miss Alabama.
My advocacy is supported by Webb herself, as well as her parents. Webb also made it clear she is speaking FOR a group of people, as she states that (emphasis mine) "we were beautiful and gorgeous", and thus that "I don't see why any woman wouldn't be flattered by that".
Brent Musburger is NOT deserving of the Julia Gillard Reproach.
1) Musburger is objectifying women!
I agree he is. Webb is an object of desire, this is clear in Musburger's statement. So is George Clooney. We typically don't use the word "beautiful" to describe Clooney, but we certainly use the word "handsome":
Handsome - having an attractive, well-proportioned, and imposing appearance suggestive of health and strength;
There is no sexism/misogyny in objectifying people. We do it to men, too. It is the manner of such objectification that is offensive, and Musburger simply is not guilty here.
2) Football discriminates against women!
No it does not. Football discriminates against physical fitness standards. If one day, a woman as fit as someone like Barry Sanders, or who can throw a football like Joe Montana, decides to give college football and the NFL a shot, I'm sure she would spur as much enthusiasm, if not more so, as the quintessential, Harvard-educated, nerd-turned-athlete Jeremy Lin.
3) Katherine Webb fits the cheerleader stereotype!
No she does not. In the context of Musburger's comments, she is a significant other of a player on the field, and not a cheerleader.
I give the debate to CON.
Musburger has offended many people (uncontested by Pro) and should listen to the equivalent of a 15 minute explanation by a respresentative of the aggrieved (the "Julia Gillard reproach").
To win this debate, Pro needs to show that Musburger does not deserve to sit quietly for 15 minutes while someone explains why his comments were offensive to so many people.
Pro has chosen a difficult position to defend. As a general rule, when offense is given - intentionally or otherwise - the culprit, at the very least, should listen to the point of view of the offended party. In Musburger's case, this is even more true than normal because he is a sportscaster. His words have far greater reach and influence than those of a normal person. Also, he is representative of ESPN and of the sport in general.
Whether or not Pro or I personally find Musburger's comments offensive is irrelevant to this debate. The fact that many listeners were offended is enough reason for Musburger to deserve to listen to what they have to say. I will elaborate on this argument below.
So far, Pro has not defended the resolution. He has spent his time discussing Musburger's comments, describing them, and saying that he, Pro, is not offended by them. This is all interesting, but irrelevant. He has also mentioned cheerleaders and the sexism of football culture. Irrelevant. I will not pursue these arguments, not because I concede them or agree in any way, but because they are strawmen.
Musburger's comments offended people
Here are the facts of the Musburger case:
1.ESPN sportscaster, Brent Musburger, made comments during coverage of the BCS National Championships game about a member of the audience, Katherine Webb.
2. Many of the listeners were offended by the comments.
3. The next day, the comments were picked up by mainstream newspapers and news broadcasters. They were repeated to a much larger audience (probably tens of millions).
4. Many more people heard the comments in the news and were offended.
For example, Sue Carter, a professor of journalism at Michigan State said:
“It’s extraordinarily inappropriate to focus on an individual’s looks. In this instance, the appearance of the quarterback’s girlfriend had no bearing on the outcome of the game. It’s a major personal violation, and it’s so retrograde that it’s embarrassing. I think there’s a generational issue, but it’s incumbent on people practicing in these eras to keep up and this is not a norm.” 
And in forums around America, people were posting comments of complaint. Here's an example:
"The inappropriateness started long before it was a blowout, though. Earlier in the game (well before halftime) he was exhorting young athletes to go throw a football in the backyard and become a quarterback so they could go to college and get a hot girlfriend like her. Way over the line. I don't dislike Brent Musberger at all, but I have no idea what was going on there." 
Clearly Musburger's comments were "offensive" to the extent that they offended people.
The Julia Gillard reproach
To prove the resolution, Pro needs to show that Musburger doesn't deserve to "be yelled at in a similar fashion". Julia Gillard was not yelling in her speech, of course. She had a firm but calm tone throughout. The key elements of "the Julia Gillard reproach" are therefore:
1. Gillard spoke about Abbott's behavior, condemning it, to a third party (the acting speaker).
2. She spoke for no more than 15 minutes.
3. Protocol required Abbott to sit for the duration of the speech without interrupting.
Brent Musburger deserves the Julia Gillard reproach
Either Musburger meant to be offensive, or he didn't.
If the offense was unintentional, then 15 minutes of listening while the offense is explained to him will be a useful education. Possibly, his bosses have already arranged for a Gillard-style reproach to be delivered behind closed doors. After all, they were obliged to apologize publicly for his comments. They said, "the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that." 
On the other hand, Musburger - with over 40 years of experience as a sportscaster - might have made the comments to be deliberately provocative. Out of sheer misogyny perhaps, or in order to generate controversy and media coverage. In that case, sitting quietly while being lectured on sexism for 15 minutes does not seem excessive punishment for his behavior.
My curiosity has been satisfied. My opponent has proffered a spirited attack against the resolution. The spirit is embodied by the picture of Julia Gillard herself, flipping the bird at whomever crossed her, probably Tony Abbott. However, just like how it is inexplicable as to how or why this picture (with no caption, no explanation) has any relevance to the resolution, so I find my opponent's arguments equally lacking.
CON has staked her attack on the notion that people are offended, and therefore Musburger DESERVES the Julia Gillard reproach. This seems to be logical, but unfortunately is not. Although CON points out that "clearly Musburger's comments were "offensive" to the extent that they offended people," CON also stipulates that "whether or not Pro or I personally find Musburger's comments offensive is irrelevant to this debate." So which one is it? Why is my opinion, or CON's opinion on this matter irrelevant, whereas the opinions of others ARE relevant? Why isn't Webb's opinion relevant? What about YOUR opinion? Whose opinion exactly IS relevant? The logic here escapes me. CON does not explain any of this in any detail.
Thankfully, the point is unimportant. What the resolution asks is not whether or not people were offended - of course some people were offended, and of course no one contests this, including PRO. However, the resolution asks "Does Brent Musburger DESERVE the Julia Gillard Reproach?" Everything in my round #2 statements adamantly argues that Musburger does NOT deserve the Julia Gillard reproach. He does NOT deserve to have someone condemn his behavior for 15 minutes while observing parliamentary protocol by not interrupting the speaker, because he did not do anything worthy of condemnation in the first place. His statements were neither sexist nor misogynistic. His statements were honest, and not hypocritical. CON has dropped all of these arguments and has left them uncontested.
Is this my opinion? Yes, but it is more than that now - it is also now established fact. I set forth numerous definitions in round #2, all of which CON chose not to contest. I demonstrated how Musburger's comments were neither sexist nor misogynistic - "beautiful" is a word one can use to describe family members. CON left this uncontested.
What CON has done here is precisely what I prohibited in round #1. She has attempted to frame my argument for me, while attempting to dismiss my own framework as "irrelevant". Unfortunately for CON, my framework is imminently relevant, as it delves into the heart of the resolution by focusing on whether or not Musburger DESERVES such condemnation, not whether or not such condemnation is occurring.
I will now address CON's various sources:
1) Sue Carter argues that "the appearance of the quarterback’s girlfriend had no bearing on the outcome of the game."
I will argue that it does. Was Katherine Webb's appearance offensive? Did she jump up and down and scream at at the field, the camera, and the audience, while throwing rotten tomatoes or cabbage at the opposing team? No, she didn't. Throughout the 30 seconds of face-time afforded to her, her appearance was indeed appropriate, and beautiful. Her appearance, both in physically being there and in its appropriateness and its beauty, lent moral support to the quarterback of the winning team, and contributed to the team's victory.
2) The second unnamed source: "Way over the line. I don't dislike Brent Musberger at all, but I have no idea what was going on there." Let me flesh this out with the original CNN article linked in round #1:
"The only criticism that's arguably fair is Musburger's implication that if you are [a] great quarterback, you will have earned a beautiful woman -- a reward, more than a human being. If that had been Musburger's intention, that, of course, would have been wrong.
"However, if you listen to the actual broadcast, you can clearly tell from Musburger's tone that that was not his point. C'mon, we all know the difference between when people are being playful and when they are being hateful. "
I will add some simple reasoning to this. The camera panned to Webb, appropriate since she is the significant other of the quarterback of the winning team (see point #1). The announcers had 30 seconds to say something. They knew she was Miss Alabama, and probably not much else. WOW, SHE'S BEAUTIFUL. I LIKE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. End of story. Back to the game now...
Finally, I will give a comparative on beauty (videos):
There is something striking about Webb's appearance - her intelligence, her demeanor, her frankness, her APPROPRIATENESS - that all lends to beauty.
There is also something striking about Miss South Carolina's appearance - her inability to answer a simple question coherently - that does NOT lend to beauty.
To express heartfelt admiration of such beauty is totally appropriate, and not deserving of the Julia Gillard reproach.
You see that gorgeous man there? He is the POTUS, I'll admit that, but he has also been on People Magazine’s 100 most beautiful people list, and that's who Prime Minister Gillard is trying to grope! Wow, I'm telling ya, you prime ministers, you get all the good-looking men. What a beautiful man! Whoa! So if you're a young girl in Australia, start climbing up on your dining room chairs and practice those political speeches with pops!
Appropriate? Of course not. And frankly, Pro has a nerve to mention the beauty of appropriateness in a debate where he is defending Musburger's public ogling of a woman young enough to be his granddaughter.
And now back to the debate...
deserve (verb): do something worthy of (a reaction which rewards or punishes as appropriate) 
Pro does not think Musburger's comments were sexist or inappropriate. He claims that this is fact, but the only fact we have is that some people found his comments offensive and some people didn't. On Pro's side are himself, Webb, and his friend Oryus who is another user on this site. On the offended side are a nameless mass of people. In Pro's own words: 'People attacked Musburger as "creepy," for ogling her too much, for being a "dirty old man," for being sexist, inappropriate, and more. One publication even went so far as to claim that Musburger's comments are "evidence" of "a culture of domestic violence and sexual assault in football."' Clearly, there are countless people who disagree with Pro.
offensive (adjective): causing someone to feel resentful, upset, or annoyed 
Yes, as Pro conceded in round 1, plenty of people feel resentful, upset or annoyed by Musburger's comments. Therefore, his comments are offensive.
Moreover, his comments are offensive whether or not Pro, I or other debate.org users are offended. This is not because our opinions are worth less than other people's, but just because enough people are already offended to define his comments as offensive. Our opinions won't change that definition one way or the other.
The Gillard Reproach
Pro provided an excellent rundown of the speech. However, he didn't mention that it was a loser's speech. Gillard is presiding over a hung parliament. The independents who make up government with her had too much to gain from Slipper's dismissal. Also, Slipper's flirtatious and unwelcome texts to his aide, James Ashby, disparaging female genitalia, had been published widely. Gillard knew she had lost and her speech, replying to Abbott's motion to dismiss Slipper, barely even mentions the speaker. In fact, he resigned a day or so later.
The reaction of Australian political commentators to the speech was universally scornful (e.g. ). It was only overseas, when the speech was taken out of context, that people found it impressive.
Therefore, the Gillard reproach has the following qualities:
1. It does not extract any concessions
2. There is no question of apology or retraction
3. It is a speech of self-expression with no negative consequences for the listener.
Thus, when the resolution states that Musburger deserves the Gillard reproach, it does NOT mean that he was in the wrong. It does NOT mean that he should apologize or retract his comments. It does NOT even require him to promise not to do it again. It requires nothing from Musburger except to sit for fifteen minutes. And a single representative of all those countless people offended by his comments has opportunity to express his or her resentment, upset and annoyance. That's all.
Has Musburger done something worthy of sitting quietly for fifteen minutes? Yes. And afterwards he is free to walk away, unrepentant, to continue his own controversial style of sportscasting.
Pro is trying to turn Musburger into a hero. He uses words like "honest" and "heartfelt" to describe him. It's nice that Pro is feeling a certain amount of sympathy with this public figure. But if Musburger really were honest and heartfelt, he would volunteer for the Gillard reproach. He would say something like, "really? My words were offensive? Please, please take 15 minutes of your time to explain to me how they were. You see, the last thing I want to do is say things that demean women. Thank you."
Pro doesn't see anything offensive in Musburger's comments, therefore all those offended people must be wrong.
Or. Maybe Pro is wrong.
Or. Maybe it's not that simple. Maybe people just see things in different ways.
Sometimes this happens when people object to sexism in language: certain men get angry. They say the objections are ridiculous overreactions, nit-picking and stupid. I honestly don't understand where this anger is coming from. People were offended. Listen to what they have to say. Simple.
Clarifications and Closing Comments
Miss South Carolina Lauren Caitlin Upton
Host Mario Lopez “Thank you very much South Carolina.”
Thank you Pro for this debate.
on being offended
Pro said “… Gillard groping the POTUS and clearly wanting some "sexy time" with our man in office. I'm left wondering if they got a hotel room. What about Michelle?”
My opponent thinks that crassness will help him win this debate. I can think of two reasons why he might be trying this:
1. By dragging the tone of the debate down to such a vulgar level, Pro hopes to make Musburger’s comments seem mild in comparison.
2. By bombarding voters’ sensibilities, Pro hopes that, exhausted, they will say, “oh who cares? Can’t we just move on?” from which point he hopes to lead them to his “let it be” point of view.
Of course, if Musburger had made his comments in a social situation, they would go unremarked. A slight pause in the conversation, a covert exchange of glances, perhaps, would have been the only response.
But he wasn’t talking privately. He was broadcasting to an audience of several million people . Not only that, but as a sportscaster, he was interpreting the game for the audience. He was, as sports and society expert Ragnar Rahl puts it, letting “people…know when they should be excited.”  By people, read minors. Musburger actually calls on minors specifically during his comments, and lets them know that they can “get” a beautiful woman if they’re good enough at football.
What terrible advice. Meanwhile, those boys’ teachers and parents are trying to explain that, actually, it’s best to treat girls as human beings, with respect. “Why not listen to them, and try and be friends with them?” these legitimate caregivers are probably saying. In vain. Because on TV, a man with experience, a man they look up to, is saying the opposite. Women – particularly beautiful women – are the spoils of sporting success, is the Musburger message.
Yes, I am offended by Musburger’s comments.
I had hoped that by using Musburger's words in a different context (applied to the POTUS) Pro might be able appreciate how inappropriate they are. After all, objectifying women is so common in our society that people don't always even notice it. However, unfortunately, Pro seemed to respond more to the (very mild) raunchiness of the pictures than the impropriety of the text.
Pro said "one can appropriately use the word "beautiful" to describe family members INCLUDING YOUR OWN GRANDDAUGHTER."
This is disingenuous. You may be able to say "beautiful" about your own granddaughter, but it is not appropriate to say "What a beautiful woman! Whoa!" with such grunt.
on the wording of the resolution
Pro is quite correct in saying that there was a negotiation process relating to the wording of his introduction. It was up to him whether or not he included any of my suggestions and indeed he rejected most of them. Frankly, I am astonished that he is not accepting responsibility for his own introduction. I do not find sexist or crude comments from Pro surprising, because they are consistent with what I know of him. I do not find a certain lack of sympathy and sensitivity for feminist ideals surprising. However, he has always seemed like someone who would stand by his own words and decisions, so this really does astonish me.
on the Gillard speech
The Peter Slipper affair was a bad loss for Gillard. The independants may have voted for her in a face-saving deal, but behind the scenes they were arranging for Slipper's resignation. Gillard lost a voting member in a hung parliament. The "Gillard Reproach" was really an empty speech where she got to express her indignation on the opposition leader's behavior. She gained no concessions, no apologies, and no material benefit.
Listening to a woman speak her mind is not equivalent to being tortured
How offensive Pro's comparison would be if it weren't utterly ludicrous. Listening to a woman speak is not punishment or torture. Pro is contradicting himself. In round 2, he recommends the Gillard speech, and describe it as "mesmerizing". Now, all of a sudden, on the back foot, he starts comparing it to the rack and the Spanish Inquisition. A weak and desperate argument.
Musburger deserves to listen for 15 minutes while someone explains to him how his comments were offensive. As a sportscaster, he regularly speaks to millions of listeners, including children. It won't hurt him to understand the widespread, angry reaction his comments caused.
This debate is not about punishing Musburger, labelling him, getting him to apologize, or even to change his ways. This debate is about whether or not he should briefly listen to the people he offended. Pro's only defense has been that Musburger is not in the wrong. That's Pro's opinion. Either way, Musburger should listen. He should take responsibility for his words.
Musburger deserves the Gillard reproach.
 college football game TV audiences range from 4-10 million http://www.sportsmediawatch.com...
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