The good people of the Philodemic Society gathered this St. Patrick’s Day to discuss Irish history, terrorism, and ethics. The resolution at hand: “Resolved: The IRA was justified.”
Chancellor Wagner (SFS ’11) defended the affirmation alongside Mr. Robert Silverstein (SFS ’14), who Amtraked down from New York City, where he has been bedridden with mono, to make his induction. On the negation were Ms. Rebecca English (SFS ’11) and Ms. Katie Murphy (COL ’13), also making her induction. The keynotes skillfully laid out a brief history of the IRA in its many incarnations. The affirmation stressed the violent political oppression that Irish Catholics faced under British rule; while the negation emphasized the IRA’s targeting of civilians.
The floor debate was a mixed bag. On the one hand, we enjoyed some of the most inspiring speeches of the semester concerning human suffering and justice. How far can you push people? Should our framework of justice be comparative or must we defend categorical truths regardless of context? Is there a difference between the death of a soldier and the death of a civilian beyond artificial social and political cleavages? What does justice mean in war? Of course these questions cannot be resolved in two hours, but the depth of their significance is a testament to the social and political consciousness of the Society.
On the other hand, there were moments of levity and theatrics. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Sassoon’s speech was about Israel. He argued that the IRA, like the Israeli Irgun terrorist organization, fought a legitimate war for liberation from British rule—though I’m not sure how the Irish or Israelis would feel about that comparison. Seemingly unaware of the irony, Vice President Dulik (affectionately known as Sr. Suramérica) cautioned the Society against talking about other regions of the world…And, for what may be the first and last time in his life, Mr. Dulik was dubbed by the following speaker, Mr. Medina, as a “true liberal.”
Then there was Mr. Meyers, who—further confirming my suspicion that he lives in the basement of the theatre department—entered comporting a top hat, tailcoat, and British Imperial flags. The Society was further mesmerized by how he managed to produce a cup and saucer from his breast pocket. No one really knows what his speech was about.
Yet again, the Society’s decision came down to just a handful of votes and it negated the resolution 18-21-2.
The following Merrick points were awarded to outstanding speakers:
- Mr. Walker—5
- Mr. Henderson—4
- Chancellor Wagner—3
- Mr. Cantirino—3
- Mr. Medina—1
This brings the Merrick totals to:
- Mr. Cantirino—23
- Mr. Henderson—21
- Mr. Walker—19
- Mr. Downes—12
- Ms. Green—9
- Chancellor Wagner—8
- Ms. Wood—4
- Mr. Sassoon—4
- Mr. Desnick—3
- Mr. Spagnuolo—1
- Mr. Medina—1
Please join us next Thursday, March 24, as we debate, “Resolved: Job should have cursed God.”
Also don’t forget about our special event with PETA on Tuesday, March 22, where we will debate “Resolved: The eating of meet is ethical.” The event is voluntary and no Merrick points will be awarded.