PSA on Erasure and Erasive Arguments in BP Debating
1) If an argument can be rebutted with the lines, ‘asexual people exist’, ‘bisexual people exist’, ‘intersex people exist’ or ‘trans people exist’, the argument is not just bad, it is offensive.
When such an argument is made, you are implicitly or explicitly saying that some of the most powerful emotions humans feel — love, body alienation, sexual — are either false or illegitimate. It is suggesting that either that a person is lying to others or themselves, or is experiencing something illegitimate. All of these are really very deeply hurtful to people.
These ideas are slurs commonly levelled against people, and are repeated ad infinitum in society. You are not the first person to suggest this, and you won’t be the last.
2) Existing equity policy already makes provision that these arguments are offensive, the aim of this post is to clarify that.
3) You should not make these arguments. If you realise you have made one mid-way through a debate, you should apologise forthwith.
4) If you are responding to one of these arguments, you should call it out; say not just that it is wrong, but that it is offensive.
Approach calling out the argument in the same way in the same way you would call out an argument that discriminates against any other group, for instance a sexist argument.
It is quite unlikely that an offensive party is aware of the seriousness of the comments they have made. For this reason, and for basic decency, give others the benefit of the doubt on malicious intent.
5) If you are on the same bench as a speaker making such arguments, you should distance yourself from the argument.
Approach this in much the same way that you would if an upbench speaker made an argument that discriminates against any other group.
6) If you are chairing an in-round, you should note the issues with these arguments in feedback, and explain why.
Feel free to crib my explanation from above.
If you are winging an in-round, and your chair does not indicate an inclination to make such a statement, you should flag the issue.