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On Friday I went to Debating Society. The motion? This House would vote McCain/Palin.

So we went in knowing that we were going to have a blast.

Now, Exeter has a very Conservative student population (*weeps*), so we were expecting the majority of the audience to vote McC/P, so we were pleasantly surprised when the majority either voted Obama/Biden or abstained. It soon became clear that their reasoning was simple: McCain could be the most incredible candidate, but with Sarah Palin standing beside him nothing can make him vote-able. Which is, of course, fantastic (I only wish that reasoning was more prominent in America too).

So they had two speakers for the proposition, a lecturer and the head of the Exeter Young Conservatives (*shudder*), and two for the opposition, a history lecturer and a student member of the debating society. Sadly, none of the speakers were that brilliant – in fact, the best speaker was the most inexperienced, the student on the opposition. I was sitting there praying that the speakers would be good against McC, and then the first speaker (the lecturer) stood up and said this:

“Now, I would say that we have two incredible people running for the presidency. Indeed, were we talking McCain vs Bush, I think McCain was a very strong candidate, and I’d have voted for him. Obama is a man who can lead the people, but McCain is also great. He is a great MAN. However, Sarah Palin is not, and with McCain being unlikely to live for the full time as President, we would most likely end up with that woman in charge of America.”
I mean, where to begin? Clearly he didn’t really think that Obama was the way forward. He basically argued that McCain was better, more experienced, just old. Clearly he thought that being male was necessary for being a good President. Clearly he thought that older people are less capable of doing a good job. clearly he didn’t give a shit that he was meant to be on the opposition.

This, as you may have noticed, annoyed me somewhat.

So the proposition lays into Obama for the whole of their first speech. Not one mention of McCain’s policies. They declare Obama’s change to be ‘dangerous’, and complain about his refusal to use public money to fund his campaign. They even dare to suggest that Obama has been following a more aggressive and condemnatory campaign against them than they against him. Then the opposition basically says that McCain is dandy but Palin is the problem. In a very long winded, I’ve-written-87-books-in-my-time kind of way. Then the proposition pretty much repeated their first speech, throwing in a few points about how McCain was all for change (contradiction, much?) and that he’s not at all chummy with Bush. The opposition then made the only good speech, talking about Obama’s policies for the economy, for war etc etc. He made the mistake of using the phrase ‘whiter than white’ once or twice, which resulted in a sharp intake of breath from the audience each time until he finally corrected himself, but generally made some quite good points.

…THEN it got fun. They opened up questions to the floor. Some people picked at Obama’s lack of experience. Some picked at McCain’s age. Many picked at Sarah Palin. Matt asked why the proposition felt it necessary to follow in the American campaign’s footsteps and bash Obama without once mentioning their own policies, which they twisted into ‘you are mean about Obama, why?’ and ranted about how Obama is a bigger meanie, he is he is say he is or I’ll hit you.

Then, as questions began running out and fewer and fewer hands were raised, the Chair was forced to let me ask a question. It has been decided by my fellow debating friends that The Chair doesn’t like me much. She tends to ignore me, even if no one else seems to have a question. This time she had to let me ask.

So I ranted and raged in a suprisingly coherent manner. One debater said later that my method of questioning was remenicent of a warrior bearing down on the proposition with various sharp and deadly weapons. I like that 🙂

So here’s what I asked:

“This to the Proposition. Could you please explain to me how you believe any right-minded person could vote for a party which do belittles the rights of women, be it in denying their right to choose, in making them pay for rape kits, as Palin did, or in putting the words women’s health in inverted commas?”
There was a super long pause, and then everyone began clapping *beams* It makes me happy now, but at the time I couldn’t have sunk lower into my chair if I tried, I was so embarrassed. Anyway the proposition were lost for words for a bit. They had no answer, because there is no answer other than ‘I guess we can’t believe that. Damn’.

In the end their answer ended up being all about Palin. Isn’t it great that a woman would be powerful. I don’t know what you feminists have to complain about, she’s a brilliant role model who has children but works and she’s a mother with children. Look at Obama and Biden, they’re so male. We’re so great with our woman. She’s brilliant. And a mother. Did we mention she has children, too? (It was really like that)
Me shouting out ‘yeah, a woman who disregards women’s rights’ was shh-ed by the Chair, heh.

So the final vote was once again for Obama, which was pleasing, although two of our party voted McCain/Palin, so we’ll be having serious words. Claire’s reasoning? I don’t like the was Obama calls women ‘sweetie’. *Sigh* Honey, that is the LEAST of our problems.

The debate was fascinating, and some of the questions were so good. I only hope that our vote is a sign of things to come on the 4th…

I wrote a while ago about SPUC visiting my sister’s school. Well apparently they did (she thinks she missed the assembly – phew!)

Anyway, I recently received an email from a woman from Education For Choice, who had read my blog and who provided me with some info about the charity she works for. So I’ve written to the school to let them know that SPUC isn’t the only organisation that they can get in to talk to their students – here’s what I said:

To whom it may concern,
Recently, I was informed that SPUC came to Priory to give a talk to year 10s about abortion. SPUC is a biased, disgracefully untruthful organisation which denies women basic human rights, yet it was deemed suitable to talk to your students. I was horrified to hear of their coming, especially as no alternative was provided, no pro-choice organisation invited to speak to the students as well. At this age, these young women and men are extremely impressionable, so being told lies by an anti-choice organisation may well affect their beliefs for the rest of their lives.
While I accept the importance of freedom of speech, providing such people with a platform and a chance to influence young minds is reprehensible. Yet if you insist upon doing so, at least allow these young people the chance to make up their own minds by providing a balanced account. There is an abortion education charity in the UK called Education For Choice, who “work with professionals as well as young people and parents themselves to ensure that young people only receive accurate, evidence-based information about abortion and are able to consider all of the pregnancy choices in a way that respects choice“. I believe that they are willing to do talks at schools, and are certainly able to provide information and assistance in teaching students in a way that respects women’s rights. If you must invite organisations like SPUC to speak to your students, please invite other organisations who are able to provide an alternative way of thinking.
Here’s the link to their website: www.efc.org.uk, their number: 020 7249 3535, and their address: Education For Choice, The Print House, 18 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL. Also attached is their education pack.
I hope that this information is enough for you to be able to provide your students with a more balanced account of abortion, and that you think twice before you next invite a society which willingly tells lies to young people in order to get them to share their beliefs.
Here’s hoping that gets the message across!

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