Sunday, October 2, 2016

What Debate?

I don't know a lot about debating. One of my daughters was on a debate team so I had a bit of an idea. But watching the presidential debate the other night didn't seem much like anything the debate team did. So I thought I'd look it up.

The Oxford Dictionary online read like this:

  1. a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.
    synonyms: discussion · discourse · parley · dialogue · argument ·

  1. argue about (a subject), especially in a formal manner: "the board debated his proposal" ·

    "the date when people first entered America is hotly debated"
    synonyms: discuss · talk over/through · talk about · thrash out ·
According to San Francisco University "A debate is a structured argument. Two sides speak alternately for and against a particular contention usually based on a topical issue. Unlike the arguments you might have with your family or friends however, each person is allocated a time they are allowed to speak for and any interjections are carefully controlled. The subject of the dispute is often prearranged so you may find yourself having to support opinions with which you do not normally agree. You also have to argue as part of a team, being careful not to contradict what others on your side have said."

O. K., that sounds more like what I am familiar with, school debate teams. But what I saw on television the other night was more like the argument you might have with family or friends. Debates have structure and interjections are controlled. There was little control evidenced by one of the opponents who interrupted frequently and spoke over the other person's allotted time. Yeah, it was more like a debater trying to debate with an arguer.

So will the other two debates end up the same, arguing without structure or control? Guess we will just have to watch and see.

Did you watch the presidential debate last week? What did you think?

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