Copley Formal Lounge
April 21, 2016
The Philodemic Society gathered for its last official debate of the semester for the 21st Annual Dean Gordon Debate, intended to address a subject with the wit of the Society’s former faculty advisor, Dean Gordon. We discussed Resolved: In Soviet Russia, debate have you. On the affirmation, Mr. Taylor Willis (SFS ’16) of Texas keynoted with Ms. Sarah Fisher (COL ’18) of New York, making her induction. On the negation, Mr. Jonathan Marrow (COL ’18) of New Jersey keynoted with Mr. Micah Musser (COL ’19) of Pennsylvania, making his induction.
Many in this debate made references to a certain activity done by Mr. Marrow which is not appropriate to recount here, although this Amanuensis applauds his use of contraception.
Ms. Fisher chose to focus the debate on the banning on free speech in the USSR during the Soviet era, arguing that it was necessary to protect the glorious Soviet Union from being slandered by capitalists. Evoking ‘Comrade Stalin’ she agreed with his claims of total harmony in the USSR and political freedoms. Without free speech, we would have to make choices she warned.
Mr. Musser, after warning of the folly of giving him a witty speech, argued that the restriction of free speech was unnecessary because the USSR was a utopia. “Television watches you, Party finds you,” all means that you are the center of attention. Given the fact that the Party won elections with 99% of the vote, communism was loved unconditionally.
Mr. Willis evoked the pledge to Allegiance in leading the Society in an oath to the Soviet Union. He brought up George Orwell’s 1984 as an example of unclean literature to be banned. Equating dissent with oppression by the capitalist class, Mr. Willis claimed that “speech must oppress when it is not the correct opinion.”
Mr. Marrow, after throwing his hands in the air at the resolution, focused on free speech on campus, denouncing the speech of organizations like the Hoya, GUSA, and the Philodemic. “Hail Chairman DeGioia,” he exclaimed, asking the university president to send Hoyas for Choice to the gulags. Asking if he was himself crazy, Mr. Marrow argued it did not matter as the NSA was already listening to him.
Opening up the floor, Ms. Hu denied the need for speech in a one party state that makes all the decisions for its people while Ms. Logan charged that the animals of Animal Farm have us in this debate. Mr. Zawora argued that free speech did not matter in an era of voter apathy and corporate speech. Mr. Hinck replied that choice overwhelms us today, with no ways to say no, and nothing left to do. Mr. Ma rose his ‘Little Red Book’ to remind us that in Red China, every day is Grand Semi. Mr. Fernandez replied that now, “the debate have you,” and made a personal remark about Mr. Graff. Mr. Ernst cited the need to censor the “unoriginal workings of Mr. Marrow.” As Mr. Pullin posed the example of the Philodemic in Moscow, Vice President Little exclaimed that money is what talks, so we should limit free speech. Yet Mr. Laposata maintained that removing freedom would have no adverse effects. Mr. Rinaudo, after a long absence from the floor, praised Ms. Burke, and posited, “Philodemic matters to us, even if it’s stupid.” Ms. Hernick brought up her own impending journey to the former Soviet bloc.
In non-member speaking time, Mr. Bret Reinking (SFS ’19) deployed the saying, “There’s no news in Truth and no truth in News,” to support the affirmation. Ms. Young used her best Russian accent to list a series of arguments for the negation. Mr. Leonardo Martinez (SFS’ 19) demanded that we crush the factionalists with an iron fist. Ms. Madison Pravecek (SFS ’19) argued we need speech to see Castro as not only a one-dimensional villain. Returning to member speaking time, Mr. Boling praised Mr. Dineen and then made a personal statement about Mr. Marrow. Mr. Perez-Reyes denounced the debate for making light of the suffering of millions under the USSR, which is no laughing matter. However Ms. Kurek sought to redirect the debate, arguing that Russians don’t really care about free speech, only cultural consumption.
Chancellor Whelan denounced the “enemy within,” not the Russians but the French, historical enemies of England, and bourgeois influence within the society in Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Willis. Mr. Graff argued that if money is speech, then speed is speech, as on the Autobahn, then made a series of jokes about Latvia. Ms. Burke, rising to the occasion as no other could, pointed out that Philodemic restricts speech, then proceeded to use several words I cannot recount here, over lapse her time, and be chased out of the room by Ms. Kurek. Mr. Fletcher, somewhat astounded, responded that “the meme is coming alive.” President Thanki took a moment to thank the members of the Officer Corps this semester and the seniors. Mr. Shaughnessy, speaking to hear his lovely baritone voice, brought up the historical zombie of President Reagan. Ms. Oster, speaking against her mentee, cited Mr. Gorbachev while Mr. Ellis, also speaking against his mentee, argued that we are not so much better, as we only get two people on the ballot instead of one.
Mr. Marrow dared to make a substantive point, arguing that we view humor as instrumental and that we should instead treat it as having an intrinsic value, just like free speech. He also highlighted the contributions of Dean Gordon to the Society. Mr. Willis responded that the US just can’t stop talking about the USSR, as an era when we knew who was good and who was bad. Laughter sapped the strength of the USSR so that once debate began, it vanished.
Mr. Musser thanked the members of his family and friends who attended, asking what the debate actually covered. After overviewing the dozen different interpretations offered, he concluded that we are all communists but none of us know how to be politically correct. Ms. Fisher thanked her family and friends, arguing that in true Soviet fashion, the opposition should name themselves so they can be imprisoned.
After our keynoters deliberated, they awarded the 21st Dean Gordon Cup to Michael Whelan! Congratulations!
And, with a vote of 16 negating, 7 abstaining, and 17 affirming, this resolution is affirmed! Huzzah for a great series of debates this semester, and it has been a pleasure to record all of them for you. This amanuensis is signing off,