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Salient: An organ of student opinion at Victoria University, Wellington. Vol. 23, No. 5. Wednesday, June 15, 1960

Students Vote For Conformity

Students Vote For Conformity

At the debate, "Does Conformity Breed Morons," nearly every Aunt Sally except the subject took a good lashing. McNeill was excellent on conformity, and Mrs Maxwell charming on morons. The adjudicator, Mr J. E. Traue, claimed that the university student was still arrogant and that logic suffered, next only to humility. Mr Traue awarded the debate to the negative by default.

The house voted as follow:

Whole house: 30 against, 16 for.

Student vote: 29 against, 10 for.

The teams were: For; Hector McNeill Ian Lawrence. Against; Walter Waddle and Dick Hall. Chairman was Frank Hamlin.

McNeill, whose style is clear, precise and dry, based the affirmative argument an the naturally great differences between individuals and the harm of fettering the human personality. Non-conformity was. he said, often a characteristic of genius. What's more, changes in the world were wrought by individuals. He instanced the suppression of sincere literature (Dr. Zhivago, Lolita) as stupid conformity; and the wide range of beliefs encompassed by present-day Christianity as evidence of basic non-conformist tendencies. He believed that religious conformity had led, in the past to intolerance and martyrs.

Waddle followed for the negative claiming that the "group" discarded the ideas of the hare brained individual and is responsible for our progress.

Lawrence continuing for the affirmative claimed that students, "the epitome of intelligence," were non-conformists. Hall in an effective rebuttal said that the existence of the non-conformist genius did not prove the conforming masses morons. Soviet Russia had achieved super-progress with super-conformity.

"See the happy moron,
He doesn't care a dam.
I wish I were a moron,
My God, perhaps I am."

Eugenics Review.

Adjudicator J. E. Traue quoted this when summing up his impressions of the debate.

From The Floor

The mixed bag of speakers from the floor contributed a confusion of ideas, concentrating first on moron. Peter Hogg contended that morons were produced biologically—not through development. O'Brien had something profound to say, "Some morons conform some don't."

Floor speakers were soon sailing happily away on quite another tack.

Butler: New Zealand has a conforming society … thought is becoming embarrassing.

Voice A: What is this debate on?

Voice B: The rocks, well and truly!

And so it was. —J.W.B.