Friday, July 8, 2011

And The Verdict Is In...

...By a vote of 2-1, the judges vote in favor of Stewart. Its not a great feeling to lose. Now that I know that my team lost the debate, its time to reflect and see what went wrong.

Looking back, I don't believe we lost because of lack of evidence, but because our delivery of the evidence was poor. I think my team had a strong start right out of the gate. Christina's opening statement was strong and set the foundation for our case. No problems there. When the defense followed with their opening statement, I also felt as if it was strong, and began to explain that the defendant, Lisa Stewart, was innocent because of the rights guaranteed by the first amendment. What made their opening statement unique from any of the other opening statements of the day was that they took the chance to try and discredit some of our claims, which they just heard. After the first round, I thought both teams were tied.

Next came the question and answer session where the objective is to reinforce one's argument and yet poke holes in the opponents reasoning. When Ethan and I stepped up to field the defense's questions, I admit I was nervous. Ethan and I had tried to predict some questions we might be asked and I thought we had it in the bag. However, the arguments from the defense was something we hadn't expected. We had assumed that the defense would argue that Stewart was protected by free speech, but instead the defense claimed that Stewart intended for no violence to happen based on the fact that she called for a "trial for crimes against humanity". When we were asked what the intent of the pamphlet was, I calmly stated that Stewart was calling for action as evidenced by "We need to starve Satan and stop abortion...Here is a directory of the baby butchers." When the defense tried to make a statement instead of asking a question, Ethan blew up and yelled, "Ask the question already!" which lead a tense moment. While Ethan and the defense could only communicate by yelling, I tried my best to keep calm and answer the questions. I believe that Ethan and I discredited most of their claim but what really made or break the debate was when my team got to ask the questions.

Irene Gonzalez, not to be confused with Irene Tait who is in the Columbia cohort, picked up right where Ethan left off and began screaming her questions. When the opposition attempted to answer before Irene finished her question, Irene raised her voice, which led the defense to raising theirs. This resulted in a Q&A session where no one knew what the questions or answers were because it became a contest to see who could drown the other side out. This really decreased our chances to win because we were relying on the questioning to make our case. Advantage defense.
Finally came the closing statements. Like the opening statements, I thought the closing statements for both sides were pretty equal. I don't think that either closing statement was particularly strong because Ethan started mentioning arguments that we never talked about in our trial, and the defense kept on trying to justify their argument that we discredited. Ethan's closing may have been just slightly better, but I knew it wasn't going to be enough to make our group victorious.

While I wanted to win, losing isn't so bad because I can take the mistakes from this trial and learn from them. This will only make me better for our debate next week on the last day of class.

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