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Round one of the debating tournament dealt with the ethics behind a ‘gaydar’ technology which can instantly identify someone’s sexual orientation. York B and Lancaster C were instructed to argue in favour of the ‘app’, stating that the technology was a good way of avoiding awkward situations across sexualities and makes homosexuality more socially acceptable by putting it on the same level as heterosexuality. Lancaster A and York A were against, arguing that putting a label on people is very restrictive, and would encourage prejudices even more by making sexuality one of our defining features.
Round two proposed that party drugs be legalised to aggressively discourage alcohol consumption. Lancaster B and D were put in favour of the motion, while York C and D opposed. The debate centred on how changing the law would impact the public’s opinion of what is acceptable, and whether the NHS would be put under more strain from trying to treat effects of obscure drugs as opposed to a greater number of people suffering from alcohol poisoning.
Lancaster A and B, and York A and D were chosen as having the best arguments from the previous two rounds and entered into the final debate, which dealt with a hypothetical situation in which Hilary Clinton became President of the United States in 2016 and was shown the post-autopsy remains of two aliens in Area 51. The proposal was that Clinton continued to keep the information a secret to the public, which Lancaster A and York A were to argue in favour of.
The adjudicator decided that Lancaster A gave the strongest debate in the final, so they brought in the four Roses points – the first Lancaster debating win in four years. Luke Parchment and Matt Oldham who made up the team argued that if Clinton were to make the aliens public knowledge, the uproar of the cover-up and the ensuing militarism would distract from her other policies being implemented successfully and maybe antagonise any aliens out there. The opposition argued that people had a ‘right’ to know and that if the information was leaked at a later date it would have disastrous effects, but the adjudicator noted afterwards that they did not sufficiently explain why the information being leaked would be any worse than Clinton just telling the public outright.
The winning Lancaster team felt that the final was good fun. ‘Debating such a hypothetical situation means that we didn’t just rehash old arguments,’ said Luke. His partner Matt agreed, explaining ‘it forced us to think about things in a way we’ve never thought about them before.’ However a reporter for York vision watching the debate did not agree that the proposals were appropriate. She said that the ‘gaydar technology’ motion made her “feel sick” and was concerned they were not approved by a sufficient amount of people.
David Bender, adjudicator, said that “in order to get people interested you’ve got to come up with controversial ideas,” and as a spectator I would agree that they made for much more interesting debate than standard politics. It is worth pointing out than none of the proposals are serious and that the debaters are told whether they are to argue in favour or opposition of them.