The last event I caught was totally epic. The prompt was something about in the case of something words should not speak. MJC's team (I think, but only based on skill level) ran with the negative effects of a genetically modified seed company in India called Monsanto that has a monopoly on the industry and apparently causes a 40% suicide rate among its competing farmers because they can't afford to feed their families. The opposing team argued that this violated the common knowledge clause, which states that only those facts which a liberally educated college student can reasonably be expected to know are permitted. They said that for all they knew they could be inventing facts, so they were going to do the same. They also said that the other team had an unfair advantage because they were Indian, and that for maximal educational value the topics should be confined to domestic issues. The girl from MJC walked out of the room crying, and the judges totally ripped on the opposing team for being offensive and uninformed and said that their only argument was that they shouldn't have to construct an argument. It lasted about 45 minutes, and it was super heated and incredibly informative. Anyway, I learned a LOT about how debates work and what the rules are, and also about Monsanto. The teams only have 20 minutes to prep their initial arguments after receiving their prompt, and they have to listen to the other team and construct their responses simultaneously. It was incredibly exciting to watch MJC in action.
That was parliamentary debate. I caught two other events that day, impromptu speaking and some other shorter form of debate. Our team is really, really good -- the awards ceremony is tonight, so I'll see how we did, but 4 out of the 6 team members "broke through" the first round. That's an extremely impressive percentage.
Despite the awkwardness of being a loner, I'm really glad I went. Not only did I have a lot of fun, but I now have a much better understanding of how immensely challenging the whole process is. I'd really like to go to more competitions in the future, but mostly I can't wait to be competing myself. The thrill of being declared as possessing superior argumentative skills must be insurmountable -- but maybe that's just me.
NOTE: Edited for flow; apologies for the informal tone. I'll be checking those Monsanto statistics.