RIPON, Wisconsin. The National Forensic League, the organization that regulates high school debate in the U.S., has selected a musical topic for this year’s tournaments, catching coaches and participants by surprise.
Ready to rumble!
“Generally, the subject is either international affairs or U.S. social policy,” said Dan Curtin, speech and debate coach at Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia, Missouri. “The kids will have to do a lot of original research on this one.”
The NFL’s chosen topic is “Yoko Ono vs. Linda Eastman: Who was more destructive of her former Beatle boyfriend’s musical career?” Teams will alternate arguing the two sides during the course of a tournament, so that no school is disadvantaged by the relative merits of the question.
. . . or Yoko?
Lennon has been dead for over 30 years but still outsells his former Beatles bandmate, who must continue to play one-night gigs at low-paying venues such as the White House in order to make ends meet following a record-setting divorce from his third wife, Heather Mills. “He’d do even better if he’d get out and play state fairs during the summer,” according to Armand Schuster, a pop music reporter for Billboard Magazine. “So many of these guys get a big head once they become a star and just want to blow coke and noodle around in their basement studios.”
“You say you want a revolution, well . . .”
High school debate topics are carefully chosen so that teams can make arguments in support of either side of the question and thus be judged solely on their rhetorical skills. “We try to strike a balance,” said Lyman Goodridge, executive director of the NFL. “‘Power to the People!’ by The Plastic Ono Band is certainly inspiring but it’s awful. ‘Band on the Run,’ on the other hand, is even worse.”
I have to go fwow up now.
Last year’s topic, “Resolved: That the United States Congress is a bunch of stupid doody-heads,” was criticized by debate coaches as being too one-sided. “Our kids tried,” says Lowell Cain, coach of the Grain Valley, Nebraska, high school squad, “but they could never refute that proposition.”