Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Surrounded by Chilluns

Friday evening and Saturday morning, I did a good deed, and I got paid for it.

I judged a National Forensic League Debate Tournament for high school students. I originally did it because I was promised $20 per round, which would have worked out to be about $160 for 10 hours of work if the rounds had stuck to schedule.

That's a big "IF."

I ended up only judging 5 rounds - I'd judged too many of the teams in the finals to be able to continue - and ended up earning only about $8 per hour - 12 hours for $100.

The reason for the enormous delays was that some of the judges (most of them about 19 years old) did not show up for their rounds in a timely manner, then proceeded to keep their rounds running later, took forever to turn in their judgments, etc...

So the tournament, on Friday evening, ended 2 hours late. I got home at midnight, and then could not fall asleep. I managed to scrounge 30 minutes of sleep before I got up, got dressed, and headed back to Plano East Senior High School to finish judging the two-day tournament.

Friday evening, I had the great fortune to meet another young woman - a year older than myself - who was judging the tournament. She was supposed to judge on Saturday, too, for which I was grateful, because I was the oldest judge under the age of 45.

She didn't show up on Saturday. I was left, all alone, in a sea of 19 year olds who mistook my youthful appearance as an indicator that I was their age.

I have never been hit on by so many 19 year olds in my life. Not even when I was 19.

Typical snippet of conversation:

Boy 1: "So, are y'all in school?"
Boy 2: "Yup. I'm at TCC."
Me: "No, I graduated a while back."
Boy 1: "Oh? When did you graduate?"
Me: "2006."
Boy 2: (doing math in his head) "When was the last time you debated, then?"
Me: "About 14 years ago."
Boy 1: (doing math in his head... this means I'm somewhere between 28 and 32 years old) "Huh. Wow. What are you doing after this?"
Me: (LYING) "Going to a bar. I need a drink after all this." (I went home and went to sleep, with migraine medicine instead of booze.)

End of discussion, as neither of the conversants were old enough to legally buy alcohol in the State of Texas.

I hadn't judged a debate tournament in several years, and it was kind of fun to do so again. It was, however, also slightly overwhelming, as I listened to 5 debates, all on the same subject, and all performed at a rapid-fire pace. By the end of each debate, I found that my heart was pounding, as if I was the one debating, and not the students.

The subject of the debate was, "North Korea poses a more serious threat to U.S. National Security than Iran." It was a doozy.

Most of the arguments for or against were the same: North Korea is desperate and has nothing to lose in attacking the U.S. and its allies; Iran is supplying weapons to terrorist organizations; Iran will attack Israel, and we'll have to step in to defend Israel, etc...

There was one argument for Iran being the more serious threat that stood out above all others, however.

Bear in mind, the debates are supposed to be founded on inarguable fact: Iran is supplying weapons to terrorists; North Korea has conducted two underground tests of nuclear weapons, etc. That's why the argument I'm about to share caught me off guard (as it did the other team).

This team of boys argued that, because Iran was once part of ancient Persia, and the Bible says that the apocalypse will begin in Persia, Iran is the more serious threat when compared to North Korea.

Not at all what I expected.

They lost the debate, of course, because they could not prove the four things required to justify their argument, nor did they even try. They were somewhat miffed when I gave my judgment and explained to them why they lost:

Within the course of the debate, they must:
1) Prove that God exists.
2) Prove that the correct deist text to follow, in light of the fact that God exists, is the Bible, as opposed to the Talmud, or the Koran, or the Baghavad Ghita, etc.
3) Prove that the entirety of the Bible is literal, and not metaphorical.
4) Prove that Iran is the most serious threat out of the other nations that were once part of Persia (Syria, Lebanon, etc.).

I pointed out to them that they had no way of knowing what kind of judge they would have, and if they were faced with a Muslim judge, or a Buddhist judge, or an atheist judge, or a devoutly Christian judge who holds parts of the Bible as metaphors, then their presented arguments were for nil because they had failed to prove all these things.

I pointed out to them that they could spend the rest of their lives debating the above-listed 4 points, and that they had only 36 minutes in which to prove their argument, so their approach was not particularly practical.

Needless to say, the opposing team spent the critique period trying desperately to stifle giggles. I'm lucky I had years of acting experience, myself, as it was difficult in the extreme to keep a straight face.

But I had to give them credit for gutsiness.

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