Quick Takes From The Road . . . Rudeness And Rape

I always appreciate hearing from Daniel Foucachon, a young man in Moscow who, with his family, is deeply involved in Christ Church, New Saint Andrews, etc.  Unlike virtually everyone else I hear from who’s connected to the Kirk, Daniel uses his name, proving that he has already surpassed many of his elders both in integrity and in courage.  Here, in a comment about my Wilson/Log Cabin Republican debate post, Daniel disagrees with my assessment of the attention I received from the bouncers flanking the dais from which Wilson rhetorically eviscerated R. Clarke Cooper, president of the national gay Republican political action group.  If you’ve not read that post, take a few minutes to look it over so Daniel’s comment will make sense.

“Keely, perhaps you should rewatch the video. I don’t think you’ll find that the hosts or Wilson were nearly as rude as you make them out to be in this post. And no…I don’t think the bouncers were eager to kick you out.”  (Daniel Foucachon, 9/18/12, comment from Prevailing Winds)

My response:

Daniel, I didn’t use the word “rude” in describing the bouncers or Wilson.  As I waited, first in line, for the microphone at the start of the Q and A, I saw a young man sitting next to the timekeeper get up, go over to one of the burly guys in front of the platform, and point me out.  I acknowledged them with a smile and a wave, whereupon, before I had asked my questions, the — what do we call him?  An “oppositional rhetoric security specialist”? — walked over and stood, then sat-crouched, next to the timekeeper just a few feet from me.

I frankly thought it was kind of funny, given that I’m so physically imposing, but I do believe that no bouncer anywhere in the room could protect Doug Wilson from the charges I made.  If my challenge caused damage to him and to his skewed version of the facts by making clear that he is at best inconsistent in his views regarding the marriage of sexual minorities and, at worst, reigns as the most serenely reckless and viscerally hateful public figure I have ever personally known, then my words did as I intended.

I would not consider Wilson’s disingenuous tete-a-tete with Cooper “rude” — although I would not have read my opening and supporting arguments from words I’d written earlier for public consumption — believing, as I do, that the best debaters grasp the subject at hand well enough to anticipate opposing arguments without relying on crib sheets.  He did the same thing during our July 2007 KRFP debate; I used a couple of file cards to keep my points together, but I respected Wilson enough to address the points he would actually make, not the points I simply felt like making myself, and to address them extemporaneously.  He stuck to a script during our debate, which, I think, did not serve him well, and he did so again Thursday.  Rude?  Nope.  But reading from a prepared statement certainly isn’t a valuable tool in the debater’s workshed.  And while I contend that Wilson won the debate, I’m afraid I cannot say that he is or was then a formidable debater.  He’s just slick.

Frankly, Daniel, I believe that any rudeness during the evening might well have been at its very start, when Wilson accolyte and debate moderator Aaron Rench not only read his introduction of Mr. Cooper straight from Wikipedia — without attribution — but couldn’t have been bothered to ask his guest before the debate how to pronounce some of the trickier words peppered through his biography.   Were I a RenchMom, I would have chided my son for holding his guest in such low regard.  Stammering from nerves is entirely understandable; stammering and stumbling because you couldn’t possibly have been bothered to acquaint yourself with Mr. Cooper or his biography isn’t.  And while I’m quite certain that most of the audience felt I was astonishingly rude for speaking as I did to their pastor, teacher, mentor, hero, and shaper of worldviews, I would just say that Mr. Rench’s job that night required him, not me, to be “nice.”

Mine only required that I make Wilson face two very uncomfortable truths.  Invitations to repentance usually don’t feel very warm and fuzzy — but continued sin eventually doesn’t, either.

As always, the beer is on me if you and your wife ever want to get together!

Now, on another note –

A prominent professor at Washington State University, just across the border from Moscow, has been arrested on charges that he raped a young student.  Predictably, and appropriately, the charges have been met with horror.

But comments that suggest things like “Well, I’m not surprised . . . ,” or “Sex offenders always seem so NORMAL!,” or “OMG, I got a ride from him once!,” are not appropriate — because no one but he and the woman knows yet if he’s guilty.  We grant the presumption of innocence to those charged with crimes because it’s a hallowed part of our judicial tradition, as well as how we ourselves would like to be treated if we were ever arrested.  It’s simply not OK — it’s truly lamentable — that some of Moscow’s most progressive voices seem, in this case, to not remember that.

Let’s be outraged about what we KNOW — and right now, we don’t know anything more than the fact that he was charged and the nature of what he’s charged with. He might be innocent, or he might be a perpetrator more foul than anyone could imagine, but for right now, he’s simply a man — a man with a family — who’s been accused of something awful.  I know firsthand the terror and evil of rape, but I also know that the horror of rape isn’t mitigated in the least by a measured and humble approach toward the man accused.  Get angry as hell if he’s convicted, although I hope we would all continue to pray for him, the victim, and his family, but for now, let’s be liberal in our humility and trust in the system that, however imperfectly, is the best one in place to protect us all.

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