JMU Debate Team Opposes Debate

by Kerry Dougherty

It’s been decades since I was in college so help me out here. Wouldn’t you expect a university debate team to support free speech and the airing of diverse ideas?

Yep, that’s what I thought too.

But you haven’t met the easily triggered members of James Madison University’s debate team. They’re leading the opposition to a scheduled appearance next week by conservative author and podcaster Liz Wheeler. The topic of her speech: The Ideology of Transgenderism.


These pearl-clutching lefties are so devoted to the trans movement that they want to dismiss and silence anyone who dares to question the notion that boys can become girls and girls can become boys.

Apparently a gaggle of so-called debaters have anointed themselves the arbiters of what is and what isn’t worthwhile speech at a state-supported university.

These are supposed to be lovers of debate. I guess they prefer to stick to esoteric, yawn-inducing topics such as presidential powers and the ethics of animal testing rather than actual issues that resonate outside their little debate club echo chamber.

These “debaters” are so clueless they’re proudly Tweeting their anti-free speech position:

Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) read the debate team’s attempt to justify its anti-speech position and weighed in on the controversy yesterday:

It’s all very simple. If you’re saying something the debate team agrees with, that represents a flourishing of ideas and diverse perspectives. But if you’re saying something they do not agree with, that represents antagonizing marginalized groups. Wheeler is coming to campus as the guest of a national conservative student group called Young Americans for Freedom. She’s a dynamic 33-year-old who has been on the conservative scene for several years. Like many of us, she shares the radical belief that there are two genders.

It’s worth noting that JMU hosted Anthony Fauci and CNN’s Jim Acosta (a JMU alum) in a Town Hall setting earlier this month.

According to their Tweets in late March, the university’s YAF members planned to attend to hear what these two lefties had to say.

So who really believes in free speech? A debate team that wants to shut down debate or the conservatives who were willing to listen to liberal drivel?

If you know any students at JMU who haven’t been completely brainwashed by left-leaning faculty members, urge them to attend Liz Wheeler’s speech next Wednesday, April 26 at 6 p.m. in JMU’s Madison Union Ballroom.

Republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited.

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62 responses to “JMU Debate Team Opposes Debate”

  1. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    A 20% increase in their tuition works for me….

  2. M. Purdy Avatar

    Debate is core to the educational mission. However, at some point you have to draw the line and say that certain views are unacceptable in civilized society, and not worth publicizing or debating. It’s a subjective standard to be sure, and one that I tend to think only applies to the most vile ideologies (one such example would be that it’s not worth debating a person who espouses the idea that the other side is subhuman or should be killed), but I think it’s worth drawing lines of what sorts of ideologies are outside the bounds of civilized debate. I think Liz Wheeler is vile, but it’s probably worth having the debate. I draw the line at folks like Nick Fuentes. One thing to note is that Republicans in VA have wasted a lot of time and effort rooting out “inherently divisive concepts” in our schools, which cuts directly in the other direction of fostering healthy debate. It would be great if folks could stay somewhat consistent.

    1. VaPragamtist Avatar

      “One thing to note is that Republicans in VA have wasted a lot of time and effort rooting out “inherently divisive concepts” in our schools, which cuts directly in the other direction of fostering healthy debate”

      How so? By “rooting out” these ideas, as you say, it brings them to the forefront for debate, rather than allowing one mode of thinking to slip in, grow, and become the norm.

      1. VaNavVet Avatar

        “Rooting out” means that they have been removed from the realm of debate topics. Just part of the conservative cancel culture playbook.

        1. VaPragamtist Avatar

          Then I disagree with the commenter’s premise that they’ve been “rooted out.”

          1. Negative, good buddy.

            Your own link refutes your assertion. The topics in question have in no way been “removed from the realm of debate topics.” This is a common leftist lie. Debating or teaching about such issues is permissible, and it would be a violation of the First Amendment to try to enforce bans.

            As the document to which you link says:

            “Executive Employees shall be prohibited from directing or otherwise compelling
            students to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to inherently divisive concepts. “

          2. M. Purdy Avatar

            Selectively quoting the EO doesn’t help your case: “The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall review all changes made to the
            Commonwealth of Virginia’s public education curriculum within the last 48 months
            to identify inherently divisive concepts, including concepts or ideas related to Critical
            Race Theory, and initiate, through the regular curriculum re-evaluation process,
            changes that will replace them with concepts and lessons that ensure all Virginia
            students are taught to respect all individuals regardless of their race, sex, or faith.”

          3. Uh…that actually supports my case and undermines yours…so, although it *is* “selective quotation” in the sense that I selected some quotes rather than others…because it would be absurd to simply reproduce the entire thing…the quote I selected was crucial, refuted your assertion, and conveyed the general sense of the document and the policy. You then quote a passage that does not in any way support your false accusation that the policy “removes the topics from the realm of debate.” Removing something from a children’s curriculum *in no way* removes those topics from debate.

            People should be able to debate about Scientology, but there is no place for Scientology instruction in curriculum.

            And the problem with CRT is that it is an inherently political view, inherently slanted toward a racist version of radical leftism. There is no excuse for inflicting such lunacy on children.

          4. M. Purdy Avatar

            I’m sorry, it doesn’t support your view. The EO is for a full reboot of the curriculum, not simply that govt. officials can’t require pledges.

          5. 1. Incorrect. I suggest you read it again.

            2. It still does not support your original claim that the topics were somehow–though God knows how–being “removed from the realm of debate topics.”

          6. M. Purdy Avatar

            You’re attributing the quote the wrong person. I never said that.

      2. M. Purdy Avatar

        No, again, there’s a ban on the concepts, not a debate.

        1. “A ban on the concepts.”

          LOL no.

          1. M. Purdy Avatar

            They are being removed from the curriculum. Tell me how I’m wrong.

          2. You are wrong, my good man.

      3. DJRippert Avatar

        You have to distinguish between children and adults. Colleges are almost 100% over 18 and, therefore, adults. Public schools are almost 100% under 18 and, therefore, children.

        1. VaPragamtist Avatar

          I’d argue that college students are more likely to be influenced by the ideologies in the classroom than public school students. While the latter leave school, go back home, and are influenced by their families and communities, the former are in an academic bubble, experiencing total independence, and subconsciously relying on faculty as the authority figures in their lives.

          Interestingly (and somewhat annoyingly), many of the college students I encounter also refer to themselves as “kids” and faculty/staff as “adults” despite the reality of their age.

        2. M. Purdy Avatar

          Actually, many activists have tried to apply Youngkin’s EO No. 1 to higher educations as well. And these activists get free publicity on this website.

    2. “Rooting out” is far too vague.

      What VA and FL do is prohibit indoctrination (aka “training”) and other means of subjecting individuals to such ideas involuntarily. Neither state is prohibiting discussion of such ideas–they can’t, of course, as it’d be a violation of the First Amendment. But they’re right that students, faculty, employees, etc. cannot be subjected to political indoctrination on pain of firing, expulsion, etc.

      1. M. Purdy Avatar

        They’re removing it from the curriculum, which is typically how discussions of such ideas arise in K-12. And VA had a tipline for any parents who heard their teachers might be engaging in such topics. The bottom line is that if you support that sort of silliness, but bristle at JMU’s debate team arguing that certain speakers shouldn’t be allowed, those things are not consistent with one another.

        1. Completely wrong.

          *Indoctrination* has no place in any curriculum–especially a K-12 curriculum. Indoctrination is not teaching. Curriculums are for teaching.

          The JMU debate team is arguing–for absurd reasons, incidentally, that the issue should not be *debated openly*…*on a college campus.*

          So you’ve got this exactly backwards. There should be no state-sponsored indoctrination *anywhere.* But *debate* must be free and open–*particularly* on college campuses.

  3. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar

    One of my brothers wanted to become a dog when he was a very little boy. My mother told him that was impossible. He was a human being and would be so for the rest of his life. Was she wrong? Could he have elected to live his life as a dog? If so, would that make him a dog?

    I get that some people have gender-related issues. They should be treated with respect and compassion. And when they become adults, they can have whatever medical procedures they want. But biologically, males are males and females are female. Two X chromosomes versus one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. How they choose to live their lives is up to them.

    Doctors all over the world are raising concern about medical treatments for minors, especially as many, but certainly not all, change their minds. We don’t allow minors to make certain decisions or hold them to the same legal standards as adults. But lots of American hospitals and doctors are making big bucks removing and adding parts.

    It’s wrong to begin to undo the progress we’ve made in sports for females by forcing them to compete against biological males who are physically stronger.

    A couple years ago, I watched an indoor track meet held outdoors because of COVID. For the distance races, both boys and girls ran in the same heat but were timed separately. But for he slowest male, every boy ran far ahead of every single girl, including the fastest females by a long shot. And the slowest male was far ahead of all but the fastest females. Had there not been separate “scoring” for the boys and the girls, not a single girl would have scored for her school. And had all but the slowest boy been permitted to compete as a girl, none of the bona fide girls would have scored either. That’s wrong and unfair to females.

  4. There is always some reason for which criticism of the left should not be aired: it’s hate speech, it “erases” people, it provokes violence, it constitutes violence, it interferes with saving the planet…or impedes implementation of some other left-preferred response to some alleged crisis or other. Or, as in this case: the criticism is offered in bad faith. Because, of course, all criticisms of the left–except those from further left–are in bad faith!

    Always something. Always an excuse.

    I guess “We’re all for debate, but…” is the new “we’re all for free speech, but…”

    I almost don’t blame the debate team, though. JMU–and I speak from experience–bathes them in an atmosphere of smug, leftist groupthink.

    Now…I was a debater (not at JMU)…and I have to say, my fellow debaters and I would have absolutely shredded gender ideology and the rest of this politically correct nonsense. So I don’t completely excuse the debate team. To teach people to win arguments without teaching them to genuinely reason and seek the truth is an intellectual crime. It’s to unleash a destructive force onto society. Unfortunately, that’s what JMU debate seems to have done.

    1. To teach people to win arguments without teaching them to genuinely reason and seek the truth is an intellectual crime.

      Excellent! I agree 100%. May I use this quote myself? I promise not to claim credit for it…


      1. Glad you like it…

        [Raises hand in benediction]

        Go ye forth and freely quote this wisdom with my blessing

      2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        Lost essential skill: the ability to defend an argument. We once did that in public education. Sacrificed on some ideological alter. Such a shame.

  5. ‘. . . highly at risk like transgender students’? You mean like the ones committing mass shootings recently? Please define ‘highly at risk’?

    1. Transgender appears to be at the top of the left’s victim hierarchy. No contrary views allowed. Period.

      Notice that the families of the Nashville shooting victims aren’t invited to the Whitehouse. They don’t count, and are not to be heard from. Instead, Biden invites the opportunistic Tennessee lawmakers to the Whitehouse.

      Sure looks like the manifesto, suicide note, and journals of the shooter will never see the light of day. What are they hiding?

  6. So, the logic appears to be that debate on this topic is unthinkable because the transgender community is “at risk.”

    News Flash:

    There have been over 130 attacks on Catholic churches since the leak of the Dobbs decision, and six Christians were just killed in Nashville.

    Does that prohibit speech about Christians, or Christian beliefs?

  7. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    I see very little difference between the free speech the debate team exercised and the free speech Kerry has exercised herein. Does Kerry believe that she is anti-free speech because she wrote this article?

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