Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 21, No. 6. May 28, 1958
Talk Shop — Debating — are Morons Really Necessary?—
Debating — are Morons Really Necessary?—
With the promptness expected of a meeting advertised for 8.15 p.m., the Debating Society's annual Staff-Student Debate got under way at 8.45 on Friday, the 22nd May. It was moved that the Society change its name, and, in spite of the "bush lawyer" in the audience the Society is now Known as The Victoria University of Wellington Debating Society.
Business transacted, the Student team leader Thomas rose to affirm the motion that Conformity Breeds Morons. He did this by adopting the non-conformist point of view, refusing to look at dictionaries, or even to follow the normal pattern of debate. This, while it almost lost him the right to speak, was a tactic which paid off. His speech was precise, sometimes relevant and always good to listen to—we even heard about the two rabbits who, pursued by hounds, hid in a hollow log for a few days till they outnumbered their pursuers. Dr. Currie must have had the agreement of all when he placed the experienced Mr. Thomas first.
Mr. Brooks, who opened for the Staff team, took the negative side and pointed out that Conformity didn't Breed Morons: look at 17th Century France and 19th Century Russia. Everyone looked.
Dent, second student speaker, made his speech more interesting by a sort of haka in waltz time which consisted of stamping his foot and throwing little bits of paper on to the floor. With quotations from "Time" magazine, and an extended syllogism, his speech advanced the affirmative case another stage.
Professor McKenzie, for the Staff, said that morons were those who didn't have the strength to conform, land that conformity enabled routine matters to be dealt with, thus allowing work on more important things.
Beeby, third student, took a similar line and wound up the affirmative case quite neatly by way of references to a certain American Senator and the Conformists of American politics whose anti-doc-trines made political morons.
Professor Palmier, for the Staff, took the line that we are all happy con formers and, anyway, who wants to be like those silly people who wear duffle coats and long hair. Surely those were the morons. The long-haired duffle-coated audience listened.
Speakers from the floor were many and competent. With two exceptions they all spoke on the Staff side. Some were honest, but some denied that they did this in order to get Terms.
Mr. Hogg said that Conformity and moronity could not be coupled, one being social, the other psychological. Miss Boyle said what the heck, being a moron would be fun, anyway. Mr. Whitta produced his well-thumbed dictionary and defined the subject again (a rough count makes this the 347th time Mr. Whitta has redefined the subject of a debate). Mr. Hendrickse said conformity was good for the little things but not for the big ones. Mr. Tamasne said that if conformity meant anything it meant wearing suits, ties, shirts, shoes and socks. He then turned to the affirmative team who were all wearing suits, ties, shirts, shoes and socks.
Mr. Brooks, summing up, tied as many of the loose ends as he could. In wrapping up his argument, however, a brush with the rule barring the introduction of new material into a summing up, probably jolted his line of argument.
Thomas gave the best summing up the Society has seen for a long time and really revealed himself as its "Old Master Debater."
Dr. Currie, in adjudicating, recited the poem which no one else had thought of:
Happy little Moron
Doesn't give a damn
I'm glad I'm not a Moron.
My God! Perhaps I am.
The motion was lost on both votes.
This is the Debating Society's timetable for the rest of the year.
6th June—Little Theatre. Debate on Education in N.Z.
20th June—Little Theatre. Debate on C. M. T. with guest speakers.
4th July — Little Theatre. New Speakers' Debate.
5th July—Concert Chamber. Plunket Medal Oratory Contest.
18th July, 1st August — Little Theatre. Normal fortnightly Debates, subjects yet to be determined.
8th August—Little Theatre. Visitors' Debate—Probably a V.U.W. team and a 22 Club team.
Winter Tournament—Little Theatre. Joynt Scroll — Inter-Universities Debate. Visit from Australian Universities team.
12th September — Little Theatre, Fortnightly Debate.
26th September — Little Theatre. Parliamentary Debate — with visiting M.P.s to lead the argument.