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Those with heightened racial/gender/etc. sensitivity are dangerous to society. (2)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/18/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 14 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,724 times Debate No: 2740
Debate Rounds (3)
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Those with heightened racial/gender/etc. sensitivity are dangerous to society.

1. Such individuals are oppressive and oppress the general populace.
To Oppress is "to keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority". This accurately expresses the behavior those with heightened racial sensitivity. Through hate mongering, stirring fear and hatred, they attempt to impose their views of what is right/wrong, and what they believe to be racially appropriate, on the general population.

2. Such individuals are dangerous to the expression of free speech.
In today's society, it is not only the federal government that suppresses the expression of speech. Private enterprise and public institutions suppress free speech as well, at the "outcry" of the vocal minority of those with heightened racial/gender/etc. sensitivity. The President of Harvard was dismissed for making statements about women, a baseball analyst for Fox was fired for making a joke. Although most people in society hold sacred the freedom to express oneself, to express oneself in public, because of those with heightened sensitivity, it has become impossible for public figures to make just about any remark on race.

3. Such individuals are a stumbling block to the resolution of racial tensions.
Why is freedom of speech so important for society? Well for one, it allows us to discover, accept, and respond to, for example, the truth. But those with heightened race/gender/etc. sensitivity are resistant to accepting any differences between race. They are steadfast in their assumption of equality between people of different ethnicities when we have no reason to expect such. Hispanics and Asians are shorter than Caucasians. Indians and Caucasians have more body hair than Native Americans. Racist stereotypes are popular in our culture because all too often they hold truth. The inability of such individuals to accept innate differences between people inhibits mutual understanding, the first step towards solving racial tensions.

4. Such individuals jeopardize the spirit of humor.
When it comes down to it, all funny jokes make fun of someone. Some funny jokes make fun of Clinton's sexual transgressions, some funny jokes make fun of Bush's Bushness. Perhaps the funniest of these are race/gender jokes. Straight men everywhere love to complain about the irrational nature of women with their colleagues while women everywhere (straight or otherwise) love to make fun of men who think with the wrong head. Stereotyping if FUNNY. Racist jokes are just that, jokes. They are not personal attacks. They do not destroy the credibility of a group of people. They do not put people's lives or jobs in danger. In fact, they do just the opposite. What better way to diffuse a tense scenario between a husband and wife than to reassure each other that the faults are just the natural foibles of the opposite sex? Humor is important to the health and vitality of society. In fact, at times, humor is what makes life to precious. Those with heightened racial/gender/etc. sensitivity through hate mongering, threaten to take this away from us.

For all these reasons, I am proud to oppose the hate mongering of those with heightened racial/gender/etc. sensitivity and for these reasons I believe them to be a danger to society.


I disagree with your premise that individuals with "heightened racial/gender/etc." are dangerous to society. Conversely, I would argue that a complete lack of sensitivity to the myriad inequities in our society that bear out by race and gender is dangerous as it undermines and even reverses the progress we've made as a nation toward erasing those inequities.

1) Based on your definition of oppression ("to keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority"), the argument you're trying to make is essentially impossible. Being sensitive to issues of race and gender does not automatically prescribe action. Furthermore, while there have been isolated examples of people overreaching with respect to policy decisions (all of which end up being overturned or criticized) the vast majority of people who have heightened sensitivity to issues of race/gender do not engage in anything even remotely approaching "[keeping] down by severe and unjust use of force or authority."

With respect to your claims about "hate mongering" and "stirring fear and hatred" – you'll need to document some examples to not only validate the claims you're making, but also to define what you consider those sorts of activities to be.

2) With respect to your claims that free speech is censored, your examples do not validate your claims. Further, I find it curious that you would argue that private institutions do not have the right to run themselves as they see fit given your positions on other issues.

Lawrence H. Summers, former president of Harvard resigned. He was not dismissed – so your claim is utterly false. Furthermore, his resignation was not based solely on the comments he made about sex and innate scholastic abilities in January 2005 – he had a long track record of poor relations with the faculty of Harvard (which included a spat with high-profile professor Cornel West who subsequently left Harvard to teach at Princeton) and that incident was the straw that broke the camel's back. Had he been dismissed, however, as a private institution – my position would be that Harvard is a private institution and is free to govern however it sees fit; it relies on donors for a large portion of its operating budget, and if respecting their wishes meant dismissing an unpopular figure like Summers – I don't see it as legitimate to hold that against them.

I'm not sure who you're referring to with the Fox analyst, but I suspect it is Steve Lyons. If that's the case – your claim about minorities and women raising a fuss and getting him fired (a position that hypocritically removes their free speech right to object) doesn't work because Lyons was fired immediately following the game before any outcry could happen. Furthermore, Lyons was fired not because it was an isolated incident but because Lyons had a long track record of making insensitive racial and religious remarks. Once again, Fox is a private institution dependant on ad sales revenues for its operating budget: I fail to see why it's unfair that they cater to their customers in the product they provide given that it will affect their bottom line if they don't.

Your claim about public figures making comments on race (or gender) are false. Public figures are free to make any comment they like without prior restraint. What you seem to have a problem with is people reacting to their comments accordingly. You seem to be arguing that, for example, a legislator should be able to make racially or sexually offensive comments and not have voters figure that into consideration at the ballot or that a radio host like Rush Limbaugh should be able to make racist remarks and people should have to leave their radios on and continue listening even if it offends them.

3) The premise of your argument seems to be that women and minorities should just remain quiet and allow our predominantly white, male-dominated society to come around and correct inequities in its own sweet time. Apart from my ideological disagreement to the idea that minorities and women shouldn't be allowed to advocate on their own behalf – the practical fact is that pursuing that course of action is what has kept women and minorities as second-class citizens for over two and a half centuries. It's only been since the civil rights movement and the women's liberation movement that the pendulum has begun to significantly move toward equity – so as a practical matter the results dictate that those who are sensitive to racial and sex issues should continue to be vocal advocates because their advocacy is working.

Your examples of acknowledging truths are poor examples that do not accurately reflect the sorts of characterizations that are controversial. Height and body hair are not what people are debating. The sorts of "truths" that the "sensitive" crowd objects to are those more along the lines of the claims that minorities are inherently predisposed to being criminals or poor parents or poor students, or that women are inherently incapable of holding high-profile/high-pressure positions in society or that women are inherently less intelligent than men.

While there are some innate differences between races/sexes – many of the things considered to be innate are not; and that is the sticking point. As the saying goes; correlation does not equal causation. It's not racist to observe that blacks comprise a higher percentage of the incarcerated population per capita. What is racist is making the leap from that observable fact that blacks are inherently predisposed to crime, OR that blacks should be targeted for surveillance disproportionately by police based purely on their race and no other factors.

4) You seem to be downplaying the power of humor – but as the Daily Show and Colbert Report (not to mention the millions of dollars of negative campaign ads) illustrate, humor can be an utterly devastating and powerful tool to convey a particular viewpoint and to undermine other viewpoints.

Stereotypical humor can be funny. When it ceases to be funny is when it's in a context where it reinforces or exacerbates inequity. The problem is that not everyone has the same approach when hearing such humor; some people do not believe in treating others fairly and to them, humor reinforces and validates their bigoted positions which can manifest in discrimination or even violence. Given the very real consequences of violence against various minority groups – it cannot be understated how important it is to be careful in how humor is used. From my own personal experience, I can remember people who were physically attacked purely because humor about their assumed sexual orientation encouraged some of my classmates to take action against them.

I'm not saying that humor always leads to discrimination – but it can reinforce a dangerous mob mentality with real consequences.

Furthermore, there has been a ton of academic research done on the disempowering effects of humor – ESPECIALLY sex-based humor like the type you're praising. The empirical evidence shows that sex-based humor reinforces gender roles that put women in a subordinate position and do literally undermine people's perceptions of women (which is one of the causes of wage inequity among the sexes and the lack of women in leadership roles in spite of the fact that they make up over half the population). I can cite some of these studies if you like.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for taking this debate. Inundating the opposition with volume instead of arguments might be an effective tactic, after all, if you have a lot to say you must know what you're saying right? However in this case you will find length will prevail you not. And you will also find that length is never a substitute for substance.

1) To start, you have made no independent points of your own. You have made no discrete claims as to why those with heightened racial/gender/etc. sensitivity are good for society.
The statement "Conversely, I would argue that a complete lack of sensitivity to the myriad inequities in our society that bear out by race and gender is dangerous" is completely IRRELEVANT. The topic of debate does not relate to the converse. If I were arguing fanatical religious fundamentalist conservatives are bad, stating that fanatical tree loving people haters are bad does not either have any impact on my argument.

Of course there is no requirement for you to deliver your own independent points, but without any independent points, you are obligated to successfully rebut each and every one of my points in order to declare that those with heightened racial/gender/etc." are not dangerous to society.

Pro Arguments:
1) "being sensitive to issues of race and gender does not automatically prescribe action" -- here I would like to reference Con's earlier remark: "a complete lack of sensitivity ... is dangerous". In essence they are two sides of the same coin. Just as the lack of sensitivity promotes extreme inactivity, too high a level of sensitivity promotes excessive activity. To say heightened sensitivity does not necessarily dictate action is to say heightened hate of African Americans, or intense dislike of Asian Americans, or fierce loathing towards Jewish Americans does not necessarily dictate action.

I would like to point out the UNCONTESTED point that those of heightened r/g/etc. sensitivity attempt to IMPOSE THEIR VIEWS of what is "racially appropriate" on the general population.

My opponent seems only concerned with the style in which they impose their viewpoints. Which he claims are not oppressive. Which he claims because I did not provide any specific examples of oppression and that if I did they would be isolated examples. So here's one example:
Recently there was a debate on It was a faux-racist debate where another individual and I were debating the merits of "killing all Chinese Commies". We were both poking fun of traditional stereotypes and common misunderstandings. Then came Mangani with her accusations of racism. Although there was plenty of commentary (not just on my part), criticizing her accusations, nevertheless the moderators canceled the debate, as is their right of course. Wouldn't you say she was being oppressive in her actions?

2) My opponent claims my accusations of censoring free speech is not validated. If my previous examples did not suffice, well, this one should.
Of course private enterprise should have the right to censor what they publish, and what their representatives say. And most will in a heartbeat censor or fire whoever or whatever to absolve themselves of liability. That's the nature of companies, organizations that often put their interests ahead of everything else, including the public good. And when you make them think they are both serving the public good and their private interests, well, that's just plum on the pudding.

"Lawrence H. Summers, former president of Harvard resigned" is an absurd response. And it's good you didn't hinge yourself on that. By all means Harvard had a right to dismiss him, or force him to resign. But what's at issue here is not the university's action, but the action of those who put pressure on Harvard to force him to resign. I have nothing against the cowardly actions of private enterprise to safeguard themselves.

I am however against those of heightened r/g/etc. sensitivity who put pressure on private institutions so thus causing both Summers and Lyons to be fired. The fact that Fox fired him even before a large outcry could happen is downright frightening. It's frightening because it means the fear of public outcry has already caused companies to clamp down on what their employees are allowed to express in public. A legislator, or a News anchor should be able to speak the TRUTH, even if it's distasteful. The majority of crimes in America are committed by African-Americans. Lot's of gay people tend to be effeminate and/or flamboyant, and share more in common with females than males. But to state statistical generalities about different people? Nope, no public figure dares to do that. And what is that except censorship? The inability to express your beliefs, or the Truth for that matter, in public?

3. You wish my premise was based on that. Read my argument carefully. I said shutting down truthful observations about the differences between race and stirring racial tensions obstructs the progress towards the resolution of racial tensions. Of course they should be vocal. ABOUT INJUSTICE. Vocalize about the pay difference between men and women. Vocalize about the disproportionate funding between inner city schools and schools in suburbia. These are the real issues, and granted they are also issues hard to address. On these issues politicians and private enterprise are reluctant to expend effort, but these are the issues that need the voice of objection. When protests and rallies are instead expended to an innocent slip of tongue caused by a careless moment, they create enemies not allies and the social injustices remain not addressed.

Now addressing the correlation/causation point. Your absolutely right. Blacks make a higher percentage of the incarcerated population per capita. It's a social phenomenon with a wide range of causes such as perhaps the rate of poverty, the rate of education, the disproportionate targeting, or maybe blacks are inherently predisposed to crime. Let's figure it out. Let's speak about this fact in public and discuss it openly on a public forum. Except we can't. Because it's insensitive to discuss this issue in public.

4. I do not downplay the power of humor. In fact, that is of all things the greatest misrepresentation of my position. Humor has the power to bridge hatred, bring people together, build friendships, and bolster relationships. Watch Carlos Mencias. Does he spare anyone with his mockery?
As to the disempowering effects of humor, do you know why the humor, as it is, is so disempowering? It's because of its taboo status in society. Because it's not widespread in public, it gains power in private, and the power it gains in private makes it not only powerful but also poisonous. Only when exposed to the air of public understanding does it gain the ability to help people laugh instead of cry. Suppressing these jokes, for that matter suppressing any word, only gives it the power to hurt.

For these reasons I am proud to support.


If you think that any of what I said is insubstantial – by all means feel free to point out examples.

1) I made no stand-alone arguments as to why heightened sensitivity is good for society because I was not asked to provide any. I'm happy to oblige, however, and I will catalog some of the benefits of a heightened sensitivity below.

My counter-argument is perfectly relevant because your position is that we shouldn't be sensitive to issues of race/sex; the entire thrust of your argument was a complete dismissal of paying attention to those issues as hysterical overreaction.

Once again: HOW do people sensitive to gender/sex issues "impose" their views? You've provided no context or explanation for what you mean outside of a couple of factually-incorrect isolated examples.

Would you post a link to the "Killing all Chinese Commies" debate so I can read it?

2) Your previous examples do not suffice. Larry Summers' resignation from Harvard was, AS I SAID, predicated on FAR MORE than his comments. A lot of academics came out in support of him (like Steven Pinker). Read up on Summers:

Steve Lyons was not an anchor. He's not vital to our democracy. Do you know what he's said? He made fun of a blind guy during a game for wearing a visor that helps him see the field. The joke wasn't even funny. More to the point – the entire premise of your argument is flawed. Nobody has stopped Steve Lyons from making his comments. All that changed was the people paying to provide his platform decided they didn't want to keep doing so because it would cost them money. That's it.

Nobody is stopping you from expressing "the truth" in public. What happens is that for-profit entities are unwilling to subsidize any controversial speech that threatens their audience. It wouldn't matter if you were telling bad jokes about white people or midgets or space aliens; if they turned off the audience – you'd be out of a job. What you have an issue with is the for-profit media system.

I'm curious: are you opposed to obscenity advocates boycotting media outlets that show content they deem to be objectionable? Are you opposed to political activist groups boycotting media outlets that engage in business practices they find to be objectionable?

Acknowledging truths (like statistical facts about the minority prison population) is one thing – stereotyping all people accordingly and discriminating against them based on those statistical facts is entirely another.

3) Reinforcing stereotypes through racist/sexist portrayals or humor LEADS to actual injustice. That's the problem. Humor doesn't exist in a vaccum; if you tell enough sexist jokes – it modifies our perceptions of women and reinforces discrimination against them. That's why people are sensitive. Furthermore – here's a major fault with your argument:

"When protests and rallies are instead expended to an innocent slip of tongue caused by a careless moment, they create enemies not allies and the social injustices remain not addressed."

None of the examples you've provided were a careless slip of the tongue. They were deliberate comments made on purpose; and that's the point of your argument – you're claiming that people should have the right to say things that are considered by some to be racist or sexist. Do you even have any examples of people who have accidentally said things they don't mean and been subject to this "oppression" you're talking about?

Your claim that we can't discuss social injustice in public is total bunk. Those discussions go on every single day; listen to NPR for an hour. Moreover, though, you're not advocating for the right of people to have honest, open discussions about why inequity exists – you want the right to tell racist/sexist jokes (which do nothing to address the root causes of inequity) without reprisal.

4) Carlos Mencia's show is still on TV – in fact Comedy Central just ordered another season of it for 2008. Nobody is censoring or oppressing him. You have absolutely zero point; he's being allowed to say the controversial things he wants to say. (As was Dave Chappelle, who voluntarily decided to end his show).

The point you're trying to make with Mencia doesn't work because his humor is intended to illustrate how stupid and invalid stereotypes are (like Chappelle's; which were so spot-on that I've frequently used them with classes I teach). You're talking about people being allowed to perpetuate empty stereotypes.

Heightened sensitivity to sex/race issues has been the impetus for the equalizing of the inequitable situation; so my argument is predicated on the idea that equality between the sexes/races is a good thing. If you disagree with that premise, we can pursue that line of discussion (as I'm prepared to make that case as well, especially in the context of the increasingly global economy):

1) With respect to gender/sex, the United States has a long history of inequality for the sexes. Women have long been treated as second-class citizens, only earning the right to vote in 1920. This election year is a perfect example of how pervasive sex inequity is; it's 2008 and we finally have the first viable female candidate for president. Here's a great link that catalogs the history of sex inequity in the workplace ( that still exists today. It is only because of a heightened awareness of sex biases that women have been able to start making progress toward normalizing the wage gap (women still earn 76.5% of what men earn for the same work: In addition, the feminist movement has enabled women to begin to ascend past the glass ceiling that used to keep them out of leadership roles. This sensitivity has prompted a holistic approach that has examined a variety of ways in which gender stereotypes are reinforced; one powerful mechanism is advertising. Through Standpoint Theory, feminist theorists in the 70s prompted advertisers to re-examine the content of advertisements and as a result our attitudes toward gender roles has changed accordingly (for the better). It is now considered acceptable to see women in positions of power and authority because attention has been paid to the visual portrayal of women and the language used to talk about women.

2) With respect to race/ethnicity, the United States has a long history of inequitable treatment of various racial or ethnic minority groups that persist to this day. Without people speaking out against negative portrayals of black people in the media, we would never have had shows like the Cosby Show (which had a profound effect on changing stereotypes about blacks). This election year is also a perfect example of how pervasive racism still is; it's 2008 and we finally have the first viable black candidate for president.
Debate Round No. 2


In the future keep in mind to always bring up your independent points in the First round of debate. It's how debates function, makes for a nicer debate, and allows for exchange of ideas as pertaining to your independent points.

And now to address them.
1) Now your first argument is that there is a) inequality in America and b) that "only because of a heightened awareness of sex biases that women have been able to start making progress".
I do not contest a) because it's true. In fact, I made use of it in my own independent points. I do however contest b). You stated that it took heightened gender sensitivity to close the wage gap. Okay. Now show me the evidence.
Statement: "This sensitivity has promoted a holistic approach"
Support: Zilch
Statement: "Feminist theorists in the 70s promoted advertisers to re-examine, etc. etc."
Support: Zilch
How did the Feminist theorists "promote"? Were these Feminist theorists even have a heightened sense of gender sensitivity or were they just more aware of gender differences in society? And even if they got advertisers to re-examine the content of advertisements, what was changed? And if you knew the changes, how did those changes in what ways and when impacted how people saw women of power?
You made some general statements, cited some statistics on the wage gap, and then expected these statements to prove you need heightened gender sensitivity to solve these problems. Broad generic statements are just those. Statements. Not Evidence. You cannot state your way into your conclusion.

2) The US has a long history of inequitable treatment.
Of course it did. So did England. For that matter the only land mass that has had a history of equal treatment of humans is Antarctica. I like how you bring up how pervasive racism still is. Because racism is pervasive, those with heightened sensitivity to race must be good for society. Even though I brought up the point that those with heightened sensitivity are impeding the resolutions of racial tensions. That the United States is still racist means we should find new solutions to resolve racial tensions, ESPECIALLY since the traditional methods, according to your own statements, do not seem to be very effective in your complaints about the continued persisting prevalence of gender and race inequities.

Now The Closing
1. The Oppression and Censorship
Again it seems your arguments depend heavily on what you wish my arguments to be, as opposed to what they actually are. YOU WISH my position is that we shouldn't be sensitive to the issues of race/sex, when the debate title clearly says HEIGHTENED sensitivity. Thus your counter-argument is clearly irrelevant since You were just way off the mark in your wild fantasies.

I would love to post the debate, but it was canceled by Service. Ask SexyLatina. He started the debate.

One key battleground seems to be the issue of censorship. And the Con makes the simple, and rather naive statement "nobody is stopping you from expressing "the truth" in public".
Con was dismissive of Larry Summers' "resignation". He stated he "resigned" and was not actually dismissed. He stated there were other disputes. He even gave a Wikipedia link. And he hoped that by blaming Harvard, it would detract attention from the simple truth.
Larry Summers' was dismissed (or forced into resignation if you insist and somehow imagine that there exists a distinction) for suggesting that differences in innate abilities between Men and Women. Unlike Dr. Watson, who was a buffoon, Summers was making statements that originated from research and studies. These statements were not made at Harvard, or in his capacity as president of Harvard. They were made by Summers, at a conference, as an economist, and for that he lost his position at Harvard. And he lost it because of the outcry of women with a heightened gender sensitivity who took offense at his remarks, without regard as to either the intent of those remarks or to the possibility of truth behind those remarks.

Con thinks that because Summers "resigned", it doesn't matter. Perhaps he wanted to spend more time with the family. Con thinks because Harvard placed pressure on him, it is Harvard that deserves the blame. Nothing at all to do with the numerous fanatics that exerted media scrutiny and pressure on Harvard to take action it would otherwise not have taken. Again, Con seems to derive the strength of arguments primarily from wishes and fantasies instead of reality. The REALITY is, Summers was fired for daring to suggest there were innate differences between men and women. And now, NO PROMINENT RESEARCHER will EVER, dare to EVER, either explore the subject or speak about it in a conference because they have Summers as an example. And what is that but censorship?
If the Government threatens to take away the job of any researcher who studies and examines innate differences between men and women in the predisposition towards logical reasoning, there would be a vociferous outcry. That no vociferous outcry could be raised easily against the mass of those with heightened gender sensitivity makes them even more dangerous because they could censor, and get away with it.

(fyi, this tells you what I'm against and answers the "acknowledging truth")

2. Humor and the power of words
This is the other rather heated battleground. Con fails to rebut the most crucial point discussed: my arguments concerning the disempowering effects of humor.
Racist humor is only disempowering "because of its taboo status in society." The jokes not taboo do not have the same disempowering effect. Con claims I have no point in bringing up Carlos Mencia. As I said before Comedy Central is one of the few safe havens where race and stereotypes can still be openly discussed. And they are openly discussed. Carlos Mencia makes as much fun of hispanics as he does Asians or African Americans, or, of course, Caucasians. Does anyone think Comedy Central is propagating racism? No, and in fact, just the opposite. People do not leave his show hating other races. People leave his show with less racial tension then entering. And so indeed that does support my point. Racist Jokes and help soothe Racial Tensions. If only they weren't limited to the small audience of cable watchers with free time when Carlos Mencias is on television. And that too is why those with heightened sensitivity are dangerous. Because they hunt down all racist humor that takes place outside of Comedy Central, REGARDLESS OF INTENT. Even here on, we see plenty of Mencias or Dave Chappelle attempts at humor which faces the outrage of those with heightened sensitivity. Once again I reference "Kill the Chinese Commies". Look around and you will find it, just follow a few members here who do have a heightened sensitivity. They do not tolerate anyone expressing humor in regards to race.

And for these reasons, it is clear that Pro has won the debate and thanks for reading.


Thanks for the lecture on how to debate, but given the framing of the debate I'm under no obligation to prove the benevolence of heightened sensitivity; that is going the extra mile and is technically a whole separate debate (which is why I didn't focus on it). All I have to do is prove that it's not "dangerous" which is your position; which is what I focused on.

1) Heightened sensitivity helped close the wage gap (as well as put more women in positions of leadership and authority). The evidence for this is that this heightened sensitivity began in the 1960s with the first wave of the Feminist movement and wages began to normalize accordingly (followed by an even bigger echo-boom in the 1980s when the next generation entered the workforce). The same is true for the employment gap, college education gap, and a variety of other indicators:

Political involvement is another measure; and illustrates the impact of the echo from the feminist movement of the 1960s – it correlates very closely with the required minimum ages to hold political office in the us:

With respect to talking about the holistic approach – there isn't space within this limited forum to post all of the reading you would need to do because there are reams and reams of not only expert opinion pieces on the topic, but loads of studies and experiments that have been done on the subject. Here's a decent overview:

One of the major theoretical frameworks for understanding linguistic determinism (the idea that our language shapes our culture) is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which you can read more about here:

Institutions like the APA and UNESCO have studied this topic closely:

Here's just a tiny sampling of studies that have been done topic of language (specifically sexist language) shaping culture (there are literally tens of thousands of others – many of which are validated by observable changes in behavior and changes in brain activity as documented by fMRI scans):

As for addressing sexism in advertising, wikipedia has a well-cited and well-written explanation of the impact of feminist theory on advertising (hopefully I don't have to explain you the persuasive power that advertising has over the US population):

The problem you've created is that you've never defined what a "Heightened Sensitivity" means. You haven't even quantified the "dangers" it purportedly holds for this country. For their time, Feminists then (and even now) would have been considered to have had a "heightened sensitivity" to issues of gender because there was very little thought given to the subject. Even today, conservatives still rail against the feminist movement.

Feminist Theorists "promoted" their ideas by publishing them (which shocked and alarmed the male-dominated world of academia, causing a great deal of public attention being directed at their ideas). There were also public activist measures – like bra-burning – which helped direct attention to the cause. Here's one discussion of sexism in advertising:

Unfortunately it's not available online, but if you get a chance, read Erving Goffman's "Gender Advertisements" (1976) (which not only discusses the ads, but shows them as well). Here's another excellent analysis:

2) It's hypocritical to chide me for sourcing my claims when your claim that heightened sensitivity is "impeding" the "resolutions of racial tensions" is bereft of evidence.


1) You've never proven any of your claims. You cited two anecdotal examples (Larry Summers and Steve Lyons) and absolutely nothing else to bolster your claim that "heightened sensitivity" is damaging to free speech. EVEN IF both examples were completely legitimate examples of open debate being silenced by unfair sensitivity to race/gender issues – two pithy examples can't possibly suffice to support your claim that this is a nationwide phenomena that permeates our entire society. Not only that, but NEITHER of them even begins to approach to the definition you provided of "oppression." You've failed by the standards you set forth for yourself.

Larry Summers resigned. Fact. Had the comments about sex and intelligence been the only controversial thing he'd done while President of Harvard, however, he would almost certainly still be President (students supported him by a 3-1 margin in a poll). Fact. Summers was defended by many, including the Harvard Law/Business faculty and donors who withdrew contributions. Fact. You are oversimplifying a complex situation that you have only a tenuous grasp of (when we began this debate, you didn't even know Summers' name). Fact.

BOTTOM LINE: If the damage wrought by "heightened sensitivity" to issues of race and gender, it should be easy for my opponent to point out DOZENS if not HUNDREDS of other examples, and yet he's refused to budge from the two examples he selected (in spite of the fact that he was largely ignorant about the actual circumstances of the two incidents; so ignorant in fact that he didn't even know the names of the people he was resting his case on).

2) Humor is one of the most powerful forms of enforcing ideologies (and in the case of this discussion, reinforcing subordinate statuses for women and minorities) precisely because it seems so innocuous. Numerous studies have attested to the power of humor to express very profound sentiments in a roundabout way which gives it a lasting sting:

"The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" are good examples of the power of humor to inform and direct political opinion (in spite of the fact that the two programs are comedic) is a good example of this, and has been studied academically:

"Media can fill those voids with second-hand information that is central to constructions of social reality. Such media effects on knowledge and beliefs, as well as behaviors, are more likely when media serve a central information function. "If, out of habit or necessity, we incorporate the media system as a major vehicle for understanding, then the media system takes on a certain power to influence how we think, feel, and act" (DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1989, p. 316)."

Fox, Julia R.; Koloen, Glory; Sahin, Volkan (2007). No Joke: A Comparison of Substance in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Broadcast Network Television Coverage of the 2004 Presidential Election Campaign. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 51, no. 2: 213-227

Racist humor is disempowering because it maintains and reinforces stereotypes (which lead to discrimination). It is taboo in many contexts because of this reality. You have provided zero evidence that racist/sexist humor helps "soothe" racial/sexual tensions.

Your principle contention is that indelicate comments about race/sex are suppressed in this country. Comedy Central (a channel rich with racist/sexist humor) is just one outlet that disproves his claim of suppression. There are myriad other TV venues as well; HBO, Cartoon Network, FX, MTV, VH1, Spike, etc. as well as movies and in radio.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by sethgecko13 14 years ago
ericjpomeroy -

Suggested reading:
Posted by ericjpomeroy 14 years ago
You know what is kind of funny/scary? I have been in debates about race with white people, Black people, Hispanics, and even Asians. I have been called racist like 12 times, but only by white people. Is it just me or do white liberals assume that they should treat all races like helpless children?

MLK was republican!
Posted by wingnut2280 14 years ago
Agreed. Character Limit!!
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