Critics say ‘woke’ agendas are now killing high school debate

A growing number of critics are warning that censorship, which is part and parcel of the “woke” political agenda, is now a danger to high school debate.

“Left-wing professors, institutions…

A growing number of critics are warning that censorship, which is part and parcel of the “woke” political agenda, is now a danger to high school debate.

“Left-wing professors, institutions can’t accept our arguments, can’t reject them on the facts – so they’re rejecting the presence of them entirely,” James Fishback, the founder of Incubate Debate, told Fox News.

Fishback and others, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, are calling out the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) for allowing the censorship to happen at all.

“Kids are stripped of the educational value that I knew from debate” because of the censorship, Fishback told Fox’s Trey Gowdy.

Briana Whatley, a high school sophomore who has participated in NSDA debates, said she was told by a judge that if she even mentioned former President Trump it would be deemed “inappropriate.”

“If a student like me, who is going to continue to debate, to have free and open conversations that are being censored in this way, that is no longer debate,” Whatley told Fox.

In an op-ed at The Free Press, Fishback gave numerous examples.

He charged that NSDA Judge Lila Lavender wrote on her profile, “Before anything else, including being a debate judge, I am a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist.  . . . I cannot check the revolutionary proletarian science at the door when I’m judging. . . . I will no longer evaluate and thus never vote for rightest capitalist-imperialist positions/arguments. . . . Examples of arguments of this nature are as follows: fascism good, capitalism good, imperialist war good, neoliberalism good, defenses of US or otherwise bourgeois nationalism, Zionism or normalizing Israel, colonialism good, US white fascist policing good, etc.” 

Fishback also said that judges are using the “woke” tactic of claiming certain words make “the debate space unsafe,” in order to impose their self-styled censorship.

“If you are discussing immigrants in a round and describe the person as ‘illegal,’ I will immediately stop the round, give you the loss with low speaks, give you a stern lecture, and then talk to your coach. . . . I will not have you making the debate space unsafe,” judge Shubham Gupta wrote, according to Fishback. 

For their part, the NSDA said that they require judges “to remove bias and unfair feedback” when they judge debates.  

But clearly that’s not happening, said Fishback and others.  

“The idea is that you conform to what the judges’ ideology is,” said Whatley.  

Next month at the NSDA tournament, Whatley said the goal is to have a minimum of two to three LGBT judges in the final round.  

“I couldn’t care less about what my judge identifies as, as long as they are impartial. That’s what matters,” the high schooler said. “Students should not conform in any way shape or form during debate.” 

Whatley said she will not compete in NSDA events again due to censorship.  

Critics say the losers are the high school students, many of whom historically have been highly impacted in a positive way by participation in debate tournaments.  

“Think back to that high school sophomore who’s nervously pacing before an NSDA debate,” said Fishback. “Before she enters her round, she reads her judge’s paradigm and says to herself, ‘I’m going to lose,’” simply because the judge’s ideology will force her to lose.