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Up For Debate

November 1, 2012   

Who has ever really debated?  Who has ever striven to prove that their side is unequivocally the right choice?  It is impossibly hard to convince someone, to actually prove that one decision is wrong and the alternative is universally correct.  Despite all passion, a poor delivery will leave your side lacking.  This is the struggle of any debate.

But I am not talking about the recent presidential skirmishes—filled with rehearsed one liners, complex tax strategies, and more than a little truth-bending.  Nor am I considering the all-out chaos of a town meeting, when hometown tensions rise and neighbor screams at neighbor over noise ordinances.  No—I’m talking about an actual, timed, debate about…whatever subject passes my fancy.

Hamilton sports a fairly large and formidable parliamentary debate team.  For the parliamentary format, we have two-person teams take on the roles of side government and side opposition to argue a topic.  All debates are completely extemporaneous.  No one may bring specific research or figures to aid an argument.  Like most forms of public speaking, the goal of parliamentary debate is to prove your side of the argument to a third party – in this case, a judge affectionately referred to as “Mister/Madam Speaker.” 

Imagine public speaking on the fly.  Debaters are truly comfortable standing before a crowd and just talking. In just a handful of minutes, they must prepare a case for or against a hence unknown resolution, and fill at least one eight-minute speech.  Personal views have no bearing on the debate, which is pure, unadulterated arguing for arguing sake.  It’s one of the more fun things I do with my time on the Hill.

This very night, I argued that the world should inherit one universal language; I think I did a fairly good job.  I pointed out the benefits to tourism and global trade; the opposition attacked the obvious loss of cultural diversity and overall impracticality.  I closed with a speech about humanity’s horrible dysfunction and urgent need to unite under one language.  It’s always a fun debate whenever I get to argue against reality.