The second year students here at Legacy Institute are following the Spokesman’s Club speech manual (with humorous drawings, which the students enjoy, from Basil Wolverton), and tonight they gave their attack speeches. Despite giving them plenty of practice in seeing attack speeches (which only seemed to amuse the students), the trainees here seemed unable to break beyond the cultural norms and actually attack themselves–even subjects such as theft, lying, bragging, disloyalty, and mosquitoes, things which just about everyone hates.
It may not speak very highly of my own personality, but attack speeches are not difficult for me. Though I do not think I am a particularly ferocious person by nature, I am certainly a ferocious person by nurture (or lack thereof) in my life. By training, if not by native inclination I’m pretty good at attacking what I find offensive. My students find my ability to attack immensely amusing, in large part because my students are aware that I’m not a mean person and that I’m usually rather dry and witty, so for them to see me in attack mode amuses them, especially because they have never been unfortunate enough to be the target of the attack. I suppose my attack speeches are amusing if you’re not a target.
Anyway, I do not have much time to make this post long, but I found it amusing what the trainees here chose to attack. One student talked about theft, and gave a story of his own past while a student where he and some friends of his participated fairly frequently in it. I thought the confessional was a good story–a young man (he is 23) struggling to overcome bad habits and become a better man and a good leader. He’s one of my best students, and even if he didn’t storm and attack, I could see his seriousness. Another person chose mosquitoes to hate, an easy target, and used very strong attacking language, just lacking the attacking tone. Again, a strong effort.
The other students didn’t seem to quite understand how to go about attacking–they talked about things like boasting, lying, and disloyalty, all things that one could easily attack (I attack disloyalty pretty fiercely on this blog, for example, in blogs that could easily be seen as attack pieces). But rather than fail them as would have been done in the old Spokesman’s club (those were pretty rough evaluations–I remember seeing some of those in the “old days” when I was a kid when I could go with my Grampa, who was already a member of Graduate Club then).
Why is it that the students in my class have trouble with attack speeches? A lot of it, as I have mentioned, is cultural. When someone is raised from childhood to focus on saving face (this often means making embarrassed laughs when they do something wrong, which bothers me greatly), then it is hard to change that sort of wiring. Once our truck driver showed up 45 minutes late to pick up students while I was the Duty Achan on campus waiting for him. He gave an embarassed laugh when he saw me, and I gave him a Darcyesque withering glare. Embarrassed laughter and silly giggling and lying through your teeth to save face is how Thais roll. Grim honesty and withering glares at incompetence is the way I roll. Clearly we do not see eye to eye.