In a wonderfully emblematic story encompassing most of this country's issues that matter - race, class, privilege, justice, education, incarceration and the often elusive possibility of grace against the odds - a budding debate team of convicted felons went up against a champion debate team of Harvard students, and won. Behind the inmates' success is an inspired Bard College prison program; says one, “They make us believe in ourselves.”
What an inspirational story! I can't even imagine the obstacles these young men overcame. I salute them, and Bard College for its Bard Prison Initiative. Working to "redefine the relationship between educational opportunity and criminal justice," it is an example of how much better this country can do than the ill-conceived "war on drugs" and similar anti-working class policies.
On the one hand, I really gotta salute these guys, and the program.
On the other hand, it seems kinda fucked that they were lauded for crafting an argument contrary to what they actually believed. (Imagine what they could have done if they were arguing for what they actually believed!) And maybe the Harvard team was also arguing against what they truly believed.
On the one foot, not knowing which side of a topic they'll be supporting makes the debaters study and understand both sides of the issue better.
And on the only extremity left, it seems from this account that the cons were able to get a deeper point across while appearing to argue against it.
That's the way these debates work. It's a way of inculcating you into a system whose ideology is that, it's the process that counts. Engage with it and the right outcome will necessarily evolve out of the interaction. That's what they teach lawyers - who really come to believe it! That's why a lawyer can be a "Labor Lawyer" and break unions or an "Environmental Lawyer" and and defend oil companies, while still believing that they are working in the cause of Labor or the environment.
You may think I'm exaggerating, but it's absolutely true. School really f-s these people in the head. Of course, for the whole thing to work they gotta kind of want to take it, which almost all of them seem to ...
or a constitutional lawyer who works against the US Constitution...