By Staff Writer Seth Tamarkin.
Since civilization’s beginning, people have been debating the issues of their time. Back in Ancient Athens, Socrates debated philosophy and nowadays two random people on twitter can debate for hours over Ariana Grande’s new single. Last week, the organization House of Deliberations invited students for a casual debate over the topic of black-on-black crime.
The House of Deliberations (HoD) is a campus organization centered around having tough discussions on social issues.
HoD President Eric James and Vice President Shania Bronson say that the organization helps “guide people in the ways of having debate. The endgame isn’t promoting any idea, but to promote the ways of having discourse.”
They do this through a moderated debate system where they choose to only use blunt statements instead of loaded questions so as not to influence people’s opinions beforehand.
Unlike social media, they also stave off any chance at personal attacks or rants because they have a set order of when people can speak as well as a time limit.
James contends that going to these events also strengthen people’s discourse skills.
“We are eventually going to have these discussions at some point in the future anyways, so it’s nice to have this time in a controlled setting so when you run into this discussion again, say on Facebook, you can be prepared”, James said.
Furthermore, he compares it to a flu shot. “Like how flu shots expose you to a little bit of the disease, so your antibodies and immune system can build up, we expose you to just a little bit [of debate] in a controlled amount in a controlled setting, and in that setting you’re building up a resistance to it by taking in everything. If you hear something here and think ‘that’s a good argument,’ when you have this discussion again you’re going to end up using it.”
For last week, Secretary Elaine Sanchez hosted the event where the topic in question was black-on-black crime.
Specifically, Bronson says “the topic mostly centered around how crime comes to be and why crime is so focused in certain areas” as well as why black-on-black crime has its own title compared to things like white-on-white crime.
Bronson stressed that the ensuing conversation was great because several viewpoints were discussed that they didn’t think of before.
One of the participants, for example, said that the term “black-on-black crime” itself serves a certain purpose for politicians during election time.
“A lot of politics runs on fear,” James pointed out, “so the speaker was saying that black-on-black crime creates a whole new kind of crime to keep people safe from, solely so they can say they specialize on that kind of crime which is why they need to be elected.
The speaker looked at previous Presidents to solidify their point.
Back in the 90’s, Bill Clinton ran on mass incarceration as the only solution to stopping the “super predators” running the streets.
By using ‘black-on-black crime’ as a buzzword to describe a new type of crime that supersedes every other type of crime, Clinton was able to scare people into giving him votes while simultaneously enforcing counterintuitive measures.
The current President is another example of using black-on-black crime to instill fear.
Bronson talked about how Trump tweeted false stats that made black-on-black crime and black-on-white crime seem frighteningly pervasive.
Even after journalists discredited the stats, Trump kept them up because seeing those stats echoes the same fears that Clinton’s “super predator comments” did.
For anyone interested to join the conversation, either to sharpen their debates skills or just to learn new outlooks, the HoD has another event called the Blue Lives Matter Holiday Special.
“Blue Lives Matter has been brought up in other debates, but how can you have a full discussion without taking on every side of a statement?” James says, and Bronson adds that “we invited the Department of Public Safety to show there are multiple sides to this conversation.”
Make sure you add your own side to the debate by joining them for the Holiday Special in the Library room 206, Tuesday November 17th from 5-7pm.