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The Devil’s Advocate

Letters to the Editor

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Greetings, and welcome to the online edition of The Oracle!

We’re glad you’re here, and we look forward to hearing from you.

We recently published a staff editorial written by our Voices Section Editor that seems to have raised a bit of a ruckus.  (If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you may do so by picking up the latest edition)

The author’s intent was to spark a conversation about the issues that were discussed in the editorial, and the views presented were not meant to represent the views of the Oracle staff (hence the name: The Devil’s Advocate). Our goal was to prompt our readers to respond to the controversial opinions presented, viewpoints which are most certainly present in our world today and which tend to illicit a negative reaction.  The hope was that we could create a dialogue about the nature of those views without resorting to name calling and shaming. How could/should we respond to these views in a way that promotes understanding and growth?

So if you’re here to respond to The Devil’s Advocate, you’ve come to the right place! Please submit your comments here and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re heard.

Thanks!

 

(The Oracle reserves the right to edit comments for length and content)

10 Comments

10 Responses to “The Devil’s Advocate”

  1. Alix Cui on March 8th, 2018 6:32 pm

    What dialogue is there to be had? Nice try, ya’ll. Falling back on this excuse doesn’t cut it. Tell me, what are the two sides of this so-called “dialogue” or “debate” you wanted to start. Here are the two major viewpoints I see: racism/sexism/anti-LGBTQ/bigotry good and racism/sexism/anti-LGBTQ/bigotry bad. How is that even a debate? It shouldn’t even be a matter that is called into question. You’re seriously telling me we should take the Devil’s advocate and say “racism is good”? You want to promote understanding and growth? Why didn’t you write an article about racism/sexism being bad? At least include another point of view in your original article.

    I like how ya’ll don’t even own up to your mistakes. Your response was a justification? Honestly, ya’ll should be fired. Everyone on the oracle staff. Ya’ll are complicit in this – no question.

    And, you don’t have the right to edit my comments in content. Don’t try and spread fake news: this is a direct message to all of you. Don’t even use my message. What are you going to do with it? Publish another article showing how your social experiment went? No, I will never support or allow the Oracle to thrive on my voice.

    [Reply]

  2. Aaditya Rau on March 8th, 2018 10:18 pm

    Frankly, I’m not sure on how to start this comment other than by saying that I’m shocked. I’m shocked that saying that certain races are untrustworthy by nature and that LGBTQ people shouldn’t be open about their sexuality are statements that the Oracle is willing to publish under the guise of supporting a “devil’s advocate.” I’m shocked that the Oracle would publish an article that egregiously misrepresents Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ individuals, and the feminist movement; page 23 of this latest edition states that the Oracle will edit letters “factual accuracy,” but obviously this is a standard they refuse to apply to their own publications. And if the mission of East High School is to “foster the development of our … [s]elves by establishing a respectful, empathetic environment that values diversity, global citizenship, and civic responsibility,” then this article itself is antithetical to the values of East High – comparing people who fight for women’s rights to the people that perpetrated the Holocaust does not lead to “a respectful, empathetic environment.”

    I understand the value of debate – as a member of the debate team for all four years of high school, I believe, as I’m sure the author does, that debate allows us to test ideas and expose the underlying assumptions that gird our beliefs. However, one of the keys to argument that I have learned from debate, as well as through seven-and-a-half semesters of English classes, is that all claims must be supported by evidence, a mark that this article completely missed. Almost all of the claims within are unsubstantiated, and are scarcely supported by even anecdotal evidence, much less statistics or literary evidence. Rather, the article relies on straw men such as the “feminazi” to further its argument – a logical fallacy that intentionally misrepresents an opponent in order to rebut them more easily – extremism is much easier to argue against than equal pay for women or equal access to health care. Furthermore, the debate that is being generated by this article is regressive rather than progressive – the question is: “should school publications allow messages with overt racist, homophobic, or sexist messages?” Not only has this already been ruled on – see Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier – but any answer to this question that is not a resounding negation opens the door to exclusion of students based on race, sexuality, expression, politics, etc.

    As an Indian, I have had the experience of being profiled based on my skin color – it is an awful experience that made me feel as if I was reduced to nothing but a pigment within my cells, and a person’s preconceived notions about where I come from and what I look like. According to the FBI, hate crimes against people perceived to be Muslim have “made up about 13 to 14 percent of all hate crimes … with a religious bias.” Ever since I was in kindergarten at Maxey Elementary, I have enjoyed coming to school. However, when the official school paper publishes a line saying that people of certain races cannot be trusted, I cannot pretend that I am not a member of those races to certain people, and so I cannot pretend that my sense of security and safety in school can be maintained.

    [Reply]

  3. Sasha Belashchenko on March 9th, 2018 10:37 am

    [part 2]
    Despite the common cliche that discursive dialogue is necessary, there are certainly places where that doesn’t belong and the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier court case explicitly ruled that school newspapers can be restricted if they are inappropriate. Lincoln East’s mission statement brings up the importance of fostering equality, however, the conversation being brought up doesn’t do anything to promote it. Instead, a school-sponsored paper published a story targeting a significant portion of our students for their ethnicities, sexuality, gender, and self-expression. If any conversation is being brought up, it is regressive and of zero importance because we’re essentially debating the inferiority of the people around us without even giving them an opportunity to join the debate. This is NOT a conversation for an educational space and, instead, it is begging to incite racial tensions within our school which is harmful to many people’s ability to learn. This is not promoting a differing opinion, this is attacking a large portion of our students and this is bigotry.

    [Reply]

  4. Sasha Belashchenko on March 9th, 2018 10:38 am

    [Part 3]
    Although the essay claims to be against stereotypes that portray minorities as violent groups, the essay opens with, “there are certain races I wouldn’t want to be trapped in a dark alley with.” The author is essentially advocating for a racial hierarchy deeming certain races as more threatening than others which is yet another thing that should not be included in a school newspaper. And putting aside that most of BLM do not promote violence and the whole purpose is to protest police brutality because they aren’t any more violent than the rest of the population, the author is essentially buying into the stereotype and uses this to discredit the movement.

    [Reply]

  5. Madeline Schmit on March 9th, 2018 12:05 pm

    There were a few ways this article could have been interpreted.

    1.) Satire – by publishing a self-righteous diatribe of sorts, filled with contradictions and over-the-top generalizations, the Oracle staff hoped to expose flaws in a certain mindset. The problem is, if this were the case, it was not clear because these are actual beliefs that bigoted people have, and the tone of the article seemed dead serious, self-assured, defensive, and almost sympathetic to these viewpoints. This created a confusing cognitive dissonance if it was intended to be satirical. It’s also a good example of the Satire Paradox; the idea that nobody is changed by satire because those who disagree with the satirist will not see the piece as absurd satire, but simply as affirmation of their own beliefs, and those who agree will not be changed because they already see the opposing viewpoint as absurd and ridiculous.

    2.) A Genuine Viewpoint – an actual person who believes all these things wrote this piece in their own defense. This is what I originally thought it was, and I was horrified that a school newspaper could have published something so overtly racist and homophobic. It was confusing, upsetting, lacking substantial logic and evidence, and filled with contradictions to the point where I wasn’t even sure of exactly what this person was saying. Upon realizing that this was not the opinion of anybody on the Oracle Staff, I only found myself more confused about the point of this article.

    3.) Empathy – the Oracle staff was genuinely attempting to play devil’s advocate, and understand a view with which they did not agree. I believe there is a lot of value in playing devil’s advocate well, because questioning your own viewpoint and considering the ideas of others is a great way to get closer to truth. I get this impulse, I really do – however, this was not the way to do it at all, especially since the opposing viewpoint in this debate is simply wrong. I try to be an open-minded person, but when it comes to questions of respect and human dignity, we can’t ignore the fact that all opinions are not created equal. Bigotry is not based in logic. Bigotry is based upon feelings, shown by the poorly constructed arguments and confused defenses made by the person in this article. It also didn’t help that the article was presented in such a provocative way, with the pentagram and scary red text. It almost seemed to have the sole intention of causing an uproar.

    I personality believe that we do need to try and understand the roots of racism and bigoted viewpoints, because only through that can we attempt to put a stop to it and change people’s hearts and minds. Perhaps that does involve playing devil’s advocate, but not in a way that presents the arguments as valid critiques on today’s society. We need to acknowledge the fact that bigotry is illogical, and it comes from a perspective that lacks thought and relies on how people feel.

    I do agree that a conversation does need to happen because a disturbing number of people do believe these things. While it seems obvious to so many of us that a “dialogue” should not need to happen because we as a society collectively believe that these things are wrong, the sad fact of the matter is that bigotry and hate are constantly being rationalized by faulty logic and ordinary people every day. It is my belief that a conversation should be had, but one that is civil and respectful, not just another flame war in another comments section under another infuriating, supposedly shocking piece of evidence that people are bigoted.

    To play devil’s advocate (haha), I understand that the Oracle had good intentions. I think this article has the potential to spark a different debate than was originally intended. It asks the question, “what is the best way for us to spark discussions of real problems?”

    We should debate the manner in which we try and make change. We should question the organization and rhetoric being used to make change. We should ask questions about the effectiveness of faulty logic and why so many people believe things that are not true. But when it comes to something as basic as human dignity and respect, it should not be a question at all.

    Framing is everything. Intentions are not results. Anger is not debate. People deserve respect. Be careful what you publish.

    [Reply]

  6. Lauren Porter on March 9th, 2018 1:35 pm

    We all have the right to speak our mind. We all have a right to agree and disagree with others. The thing is, we need to do so in a respectful manner. We need to promote unity not this. I read this and I could not help but feel sad because this article is mean. Hate to break it to you but it was mean. We can not write articles that target people. It is rude and it hurts people and make people feel unsafe. I agree we need to speak our mind but we need to do so in a respectful manner. This was not. This is mean and honestly really not okay.

    [Reply]

  7. Quinton Thomas on March 9th, 2018 2:02 pm

    I personally have a lot of problems with this article, but mostly I am incredibly upset about the response. Your response to this is to say “How could/should we respond to these views in a way that promotes UNDERSTANDING and growth” and italicize “Without resorting to name calling and shaming” the reason many of us are upset is because that’s exactly what this article does, this article builds more walls while the author states they don’t like gay men. It shames the LGBT community and people of color. The author has no right to say that it is to spark a conversation and yet the entire argument is that the author doesn’t like feminine men. The author actually states that “They turned into the very stereotypes they were trying to combat.” The stereotype given is “the black man will always be a thuggish, uncivil being.” in red bold lettering. I want to know how it is okay to put in a high school magazine that people of color are turning into thuggish uncivil beings. That is extremely offensive especially when on the back of the magazine it states from the Lincoln Board of Education “The LPS district does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities, and employment.” LPS doesn’t discriminate but it is okay to call a black man thuggish and uncivil? The other big point in the article is how they don’t like the LGBT community. If you don’t like something then don’t pay attention to it, it is truly not difficult. Also a large majority of people don’t always rub being gay in your face… because you don’t know they are. PLEASE PLEASE do some research before publishing hateful opinions. This article had a lot of potential to spark conversation but instead was incredibly offensive to many many students and built more walls between people.

    [Reply]

  8. Danny F. on March 12th, 2018 1:35 am

    Before I say anything, I want to express that I have read your “Why I Wrote the Devil’s Advocate” thing. I can understand your intention, but the use of phrases to the effect of “some of these views aren’t mine” doesn’t excuse the fact that this article was in poor taste and not well constructed for the healthy consumption of an already controversial topic- whether it was intended to be true or as a satire. It goes too far, and I think its

    [Reply]

  9. Danny F. on March 12th, 2018 1:54 am

    Before I begin to express my opinion, I would like to tell you that I have read both the explanation on this article and the standalone “Why I Wrote the Devil’s Advocate” and I still have to say: whether intended as satire or as a legitimate opinion, this article is poorly constructed and distasteful. It delegitamizes any solid argument it could have established for a contradictory viewpoint with numerous self-contradictions and offensive wording and visuals throughout the text. This article had the potential to be great, to spark conversations about uncomfortable topics and further strengthen our understanding of not only our own viewpoints, but those of our peers. Instead of creating a legitimate, approachable viewpoint, readers were greeted with illegitimate assumptions about movements and the people in them, as well as goaded and insulted. To create a nontoxic environment for individuals to discuss their opinions and not “raise a bit of a ruckus”, things need to be written deliberately and with consideration.

    [Reply]

  10. Danny F. on March 12th, 2018 2:03 am

    To expand on my point that the article makes it’s argument based on broad assumptions and directly insults the people within the movements, I will provide an example.
    When referring to feminists in the article, the term “feminazis” is tossed in their like it means the same thing, as well as stating that feminism has become the superiority of women over men. Basing an opinion on a movement on a small margin of it’s participants is illegitimate, and will of course spark anger to the many people who know that information is incorrect.
    To say that the people who hide behind the guise of feminism to spread hate are the face of a movement disrespects all of the women and men who have been doing great things toward gender equality. It’s the equivalent to using Alex Jones as a reference for Republican views.

    [Reply]

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