Satellite’s Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Blake Blanchard, Staff

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Last Thursday was the Speech and Debate Club’s annual Lincoln-Douglas debate. The main focus of the debate was whether the US should strengthen regulations on immigration into the nation. The format of this debate allowed for both sides to get an equal amount of time to present their arguments. Both sides are given the opportunity to present the facts behind their argument, counter their opponents’ arguments and offer a rebuttal to their opponents’ counterpoint. The outcome of the debate was decided by judges that evaluated each side, based on the content of their arguments, eloquence of speech, and how they presented themselves.


The major reason of having a debate in this format is that it is values-based and is arguing on what it ought to be and not what is. This means that each side has to connect their evidence to the values they presented in their opening statements. Another advantage to this rule set is that the debaters have to argue the points made, instead of wasting time attacking irrelevant points or using logical fallacies to make their argument seem stronger. This helps foster skills that hopefully lead to more civil discussions in the future, as opposed to arguments where both sides are so entrenched in their own ideology that no one is open to the other. This ability to convince people of a new idea was seen in the results of the debate, as most people prior to the debate agreed with the affirmative group’s point of increased immigration regulation. Afterwards, however, the majority of the audience found the negative group’s argument more convincing and agreed with them.


But, the attempts of fostering civil discourse can only be taken so far by the debaters. During the debate, there were several points at which one side made dramatic counterpoints and the audience would burst out laughing or have an audible gasp. While it is understandable—that as human beings enjoy entertainment—this kind of behavior only furthers the desire to make more scathing arguments that favor drama over well-mannered discussion. It is imperative that the audience plays their part in the debate by remaining quiet or these attempts of tactful debate will be rendered futile, which is what ensued.