response to Trummel

Subject: response to Trummel
From: Dale Sullivan <sullivan -at- PLATTE -dot- UNK -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 4 Mar 1994 09:38:16 -0600

From: Dale Sullivan

I understand that Paul Trummel has posted his diatribe
about my message to him on this list. I didn't get
the post over techwr-l; I haven't been getting any
techwr-l posts. It may be that I have been off the list
or I may have accidently set it to nomail. I have read
Paul's analysis of my letter, and I will respond as briefly
as I can.

1. The post he analyzes was a private post to him directly.
As such it was not epideictic rhetoric; it was a rebuke. He
made it into epideictic by publishing it.

2. He has several factual errors (small errors, but still
errors) in his post. (a) Paul is wrong when he says I am a
minister. I have long been active in churches but I am
not a pastor and have never been ordained. (b) Paul is
wrong when he says I had an office for two years. I had
a desk for one semester. I did my work at home. (c) Paul
is wrong about the name of the college where I now work. I
teach at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Three years
ago it was called Kearney State College. He insists that
everything he says is documented; if he is wrong on the basic
facts, he is probably wrong on other things.

3. Paul is also wrong in his evaluation on professors at
RPI. S. Michael Halloran is a respected scholar in rhetorical
theory, who has published widely in both speech-communication
and English Journals. Merril Whitburn is an extremely kind-hearted,
deeply read, and thoughtful scholar. Dave Carson has worked
in the field of technical writing for several decades and has
been the Editor of JTWC for longer than I have been involved
in teaching.

4. Paul suggests that I'm a member of the orthodox, politically
correct, crowd at RPI. Actually, one of their great strengths is
their willingness to tolerate opinions that differ from their own.
I don't think there is a professor at RPI who shares my basic
philosophical or political perspective. We were able to talk
about our differences and agree to disagree. Even about disciplinary
questions they allow students to disagree profoundly as long as
they can produce an argument. In my orals I argued with Whitburn
about basic conceptual schemas, and though I didn't convince him,
he acknowledged that I had a basis for my perspective.

I believe Paul has had a very difficult time over the past few
years, and I can see that he has arrived at the state of profound
bitterness. I have been on the edge of being sucked into such
vortexes myself and count myself fortunate to have escaped. I realize
that responding to Paul openly will probably result in
another very strongly worded rebuttal. Many in the RPI community
advise that the best thing to do is to remain silent. I had
no intentions of responding to him openly until he made
my private post public. Now that I have responded once, I
wish to make clear that I will not respond again because I have
no desire to be drawn in. Nevertheless, someone has needed to
say something so that Paul's readers realize that many RPI graduates
disagree with him profoundly. I'm happy to have responded once; I will
not do so again.

Dale Sullivan

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