Friday, December 18, 2020

The 2020 U.S. Collegiate Debate Quarterfinals


Spingold Theater, Brandeis University

Waltham Massachusetts

Moderator: “Welcome to the 2020 U.S. National College Debate Tournament Quarterfinals! Tonight’s match pits Cornell University against Brandeis University. Cornell is represented by the Cornell Speech and Debate Union, or CSDU, Brandeis by the Brandeis Academic Debate And Speech Society, or BADASS for short. There are just the two teams, each consisting of three speakers. Each team has three constructive speeches, and three rebuttal speeches. The affirmative gives the first constructive speech, and the rebuttals alternate: negative, affirmative, negative, affirmative. Each topic will be worded as a proposition of policy requiring the affirmative to support a specified action by some particular individual or group. The opposing team will then rebut. As you can see, everyone is wearing a facial mask and is spaced six feet from their nearest team member. Let’s get started, shall we?

The first round will have Brandeis, as the home squad, taking the affirmative position, while Cornell, the visitor, will rebut. Are you ready ladies and gentlemen?”

Both teams immediately look distressed and simultaneously blurt out, “You can’t assume we are all ‘ladies and gentlemen!’ Some of us may be non-binary, two-spirited or non cis-gender! And remember to ask us about our preferred pronouns!”

Cornell’s captain: “And what about safe spaces?”

Moderator (looking sheepish): “I’m sorry, people. (Looks around to see if anyone is offended by that description.) And yes, each team has its own safe space. The separate rooms are located just to each squad’s right, and are the regulation 10’ X 12’ and have been supplied with Play-Doh, warm cookies, and an adorable puppy. May we get started now?”

Both team captain’s nod.

Moderator: “Great. First topic. RESOLVED: That, in order to protect law-abiding citizens, law enforcement agencies in the United States should be given greater freedom in the investigation and prosecution of crime.”

All members of both teams scream, plug their ears with their fingers and run for their respective safe spaces.

Moderator (crestfallen and a little surprised): “CSDU, BADASS, was it something I said? Come back out here now, please.”

The team captains holler from within their safe rooms, “No! Law enforcement is a tool of the white patriarchy to suppress and brutalize peoples of color, members of the LGBTQIIA+ community, and other marginalized peoples! We must defund the police and demolish all the prisons!”


Moderator: “All right, we’ll throw that question out. Come back out for the next question, please.”


The teams return.


Moderator: “RESOLVED: The U.S. must take steps to make sure that no future Wuhan Virus can disrupt American’s lives, destroy America’s economy and lead to the elimination of our cherished freedoms.”

All members of both teams scream, plug their ears with their fingers and run for their respective safe spaces.

Moderator (resigned): “Yes?”


The team captains holler from within their safe rooms, “It is blatant xenophobia and bigotry to label the coronavirus the ‘Wuhan Virus!’ China is a respected member of the world community. It is the U.S. that has committed countless crimes against humanity!”


Moderator: “Take your time. Next question when you are ready.”


Brandeis captain (ten minutes later): “We’re coming out now. By-the-way, we’re out of cookies.” (Both teams slowly return.)


Moderator: “Okay, we’ll toss that one, too. Next topic. RESOLVED: The U.S. federal government should ban the manufacture, sale and use of plastic straws.”


Brandeis team member: “Yes, of course. The use of plastic straws poses a threat to wildlife around the planet, imperils the world’s oceans, and many of these straws end up stuck in the noses of turtles and other marine species. It’s heartbreaking.”


Moderator: “Cornell to rebut…”


Cornell team member: “We utterly disagree. It is not enough to ban plastic straws. All plastics should be outlawed, including straws, disposable silverware, bottles, bags, bobblehead dolls, and even the little pieces that go on the ends of your shoelaces, whatever they are called. Moreover, anyone caught with any of these items should be sent to prison for life!”


Moderator: “But I thought prisons should be demolished and outlawed?”


Cornell team member: “Um, I meant that anyone caught with a plastic item should be promptly sent to a re-education camp, not a prison.”


Moderator: “Okay. Next topic. RESOLVED: The federal government should make it illegal for the National Anthem to be played at any sporting event or governmental function.”


Brandeis team member: “Yes. The National Anthem is a symbol of xenophobia, racism, misogyny and abuse of indigenous peoples. It is a pathetic anachronism in the year 2020.”


Cornell team member: “We disagree. The National Anthem is a symbol of xenophobia, racism, misogyny, abuse of indigenous peoples and a slap in the face of the LGBTQIIA+ community. We should not only ban it…but replace it, with John Lennon’s magnificent ‘Imagine.’”

Moderator: “Well said. Final topic. RESOLVED: President Donald J. Trump is an existential threat to the world, as is man-caused climate change.”


Cornell team member: “Well, duh! Of course. I mean, no serious person can dispute that.”


Brandeis team member: “Well, duh! I mean, obviously! Like, hello?! Those are just, like, scientific facts.”




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