Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 6, No. 4 April 14, 1943
Hobby Horse House
Hobby Horse House
The state into which Victorian debating has lapsed is amply demonstrated by the last debate, and others. Never has the standard fallen so low.
Admitted that formal debate is unsatisfactory as a means of arriving at truth. In debate an opinion is black and white, right or wrong. No compromise is the anvil clanged by all speakers, positive and negative. Emotional thinking, crooked arguments, are the passwords to success. Hence, it would appear that the value of debating practice is not in correct information or valid opinion, but in the exercise it affords to students who intend entering the so-called learned professions. The past success of our Society in this aim is made clear by the number of stalwarts who have risen to the bench and made names for themselves amongst that parasite class whose business it is to give a happy colouring to opinions not their own.
Even in this somewhat paltry object modern debating at V.U.C. is showing itself a failure. The aim of past speakers, to disguise a bad case in reasonable clothing, is now defunct. Instead, we find speakers consistently haranguing on that side of the subject which most nearly approximates to their own religious or political creed. The committee may be at fault—or it may be due to individual speakers: the fact remains that speakers from the floor (and they are most to blame) seem to regard the Gym, platform as a small corner of Hyde Park and thump their box accordingly. In the "Election" debate examples of this were glaring.
Bands of Yahoos
Another undesirable phenomenon is the division of the audience into well-defined, rowdy "blocs" which conduct themselves in the manner of a third-class electioneering rabble. Apart from the puerility of most interjections, the presence of organised bands of Yahoos—they are nothing else—gives the speakers little incentive, to persuade and leaves a bad taste in the mouth for any visitors.
It would be salutary if judges could forego the practice of fashionable compliments and deliver the goods— as Mr. Scotney did at the conclusion of the first debate, making it obvious that members of the Society today are completely unworthy of the traditions established in the past.