Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Clash of the Debate Titans

"No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his heart." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

I spent last week feverishly preparing for a massive two-day debate tournament at a nearby university (which totally looks like Hogwarts), so my mind has kind of been too consumed with birthright citizenship to blog. I had switched into a new current events-based event because my friend's debate partner couldn't make it, so I was filling in. Partner debate is fun (and I had a great partner), but I'll be happy to go back to my one-on-one philosophy/morality topics for Districts and States later this spring.

I've been too exhausted to think about much of anything else since the tournament (which was insanely fun but I probably got 10 hours of sleep all weekend), so this post is going to be about debate.

I've had arguments with at least two of you about the merits of our style of debating, and I heard an interesting justification for it over the weekend, and thought I'd share it with you.

The idea is that when the two debaters are forced into either pro or con regardless of their personal views on the matter, you're also forced to find, confront, and present all of the positive aspects of that particular side, and so is your opponent. Over the course of the debate (if it's a good one, anyway) you clash the merits of each side together, and see which one comes out on top.

Now, what the judge decides isn't necessarily always the "better" side, of course, since you have to factor in the skills of the debaters, and there could very well be key points that neither side had the time/evidence to present, but as a debater(s) who has to prep cases for both sides, you're forced to weigh them within your own mind.

A few weeks ago I asked my dad if I should play in the pit orchestra for the spring musical or debate at Districts, which is on the same weekend. He immediately said "musical," and I launched into reasons why debate is better. My sister told me it sounded like I had my mind made up already, and I said "But I need someone to argue for the musical so I can decide better!"

She rolled her eyes and told me I definitely needed to do debate.

I know this applies to things like Ethics Bowl as well, and I'll be the first to express my appreciation for it, but that really is how my mind works--I need you to argue against me in order for me to make sure that I'm right, and that's one of the many reasons I enjoy debate so much.

The other main reason is that I love the rest of my team to pieces. (We established that I have psychologically added them to my "tribe," meaning I'll willingly share my food with them without bitterness.)

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