Monday I wrote about Michael Moreno, a student at Weber State University in Utah who recorded his debate professor making all sorts of outlandish statements about science and outer space in the class. There’s been some pushback to Moreno by people who claim that his professor was just trying to get him to take a position and defend as a teaching tool. In an interview/podcast published Tuesday by Benjamin Boyce, he asked Moreno about this.
“One of the pushbacks is that maybe he’s just making these absurd claims—he could infinitely hide behind that—he’s trying to teach you to take another point of view and trying to force you to think in an unnatural way, let’s say,” Boyce said.
“Yeah, I get why people would think that because these are absurd claims,” Moreno replied. He continued, “But if you listen to the audio and I think even the audio that I show, these aren’t in the context of a debate round. He’s presenting these positions and we’re supposed to ask him questions if we’re confused, right. And so when I ask him questions, he’s dismissing them.
“If he were really just presenting these absurd arguments he’d be like ‘yeah, Michael, you could make those arguments, they might say this but yeah, you could make that argument.’ Instead, he’s like ‘No, you’re white you can’t speak’ or ‘No, space doesn’t exist, here’s why.’ We’re not sparring in the debate round, so he has no excuse to be presenting them this way. Nothing in any of the footage suggests that he is just playing the devil’s advocate.”
Moreno said there was another way it became clear that his professor wasn’t just teaching debate techniques. “Arguments that kind of go with this anti-white, postmodern, identitarian victim narrative he will give barely any criticism to. He’ll just let them flow by,” Moreno said. He cited a portion of the audio he posted this week in which two black students suggest sending all white people into outer space.
“His only criticisms were ‘How are we going to get white people to space,'” Moreno said. He added, “These are pathetic criticisms to make against their case. Obviously, in any real debate, the main criticism of this argument would be the racist assumptions underlying it against white people, but he does not bring this up at all.”
As for his motive in recording his professor and putting all of this on YouTube, Moreno said he believes debate as it now exists has become a waste of time and he hopes to reform it into something better by exposing what is going on.
“By you quitting, they won,” Boyce suggested. “They kicked you out. They proved that you’re logic is inferior to their power games,” he said.
Moreno’s answer is that he didn’t have a problem staying in the class so long as he was free to disagree, but once his professor indicated he would not be allowed to participate if he were using his own arguments, he felt there was nothing more to be gained.
“I do not think that it is a benefit to learn sophistry and rhetorical manipulation of words. I don’t think that’s what debate is about or should be about,” Moreno said.
Here’s the full interview: