What’s your point?

By Ruth Davenport

I hate people who can’t argue.

As far as I’m concerned, arguing is a healthy pastime everyone should indulge in. Having said that, I also believe there are a few prerequisites to be met if one wishes to air one’s views in intelligent company, the first and foremost that one knows what they are talking about.

I was bitterly disappointed, therefore, by the performance of a small and very select group of students who took Speaker’s Corner by storm on Thurs., Oct. 19 to rant about the shady dealings and general incompetence of our beloved Students’ Union. The members of the Speech and Debate Society, no less, abandoned integrity and logic to engage in an hour and a half long grating tirade punctuated with profanity, shouting and personal attacks on SU President Toby White.

I think most people who attended the whole debacle will remember Shouting Little Men dancing around waving their arms more than the issues the S&D raised. However, I’m not here to write an attack on the comparative merits (or lack thereof) of the society. The members in question just happened to volunteer, however inadvertently, as prime examples of a little issue that’s been a thorn in my side for quite some time.

Regardless of who was right and who was wrong in Thursday’s, ahem, debate, the fact is the speakers didn’t do a lot to ensure they wouldn’t end up looking dumb. To hear them talk, you’d think the SU is some amorphous dark entity with James Earl Jones’ voice that subscribes to an agenda of spending students’ money in many frivolous ways without telling them about it. The boring truth–which seemed to be completely beyond the truth of Shouting Little Man #2–is that all SU "dealings" are a matter of public record. Every concern raised so enthusiastically by the Shouting Little Men could have been addressed or alleviated with a quick trip down to said offices for a chat with a commissioner, vice-president or the great White himself.

"But we don’t have time," whined the Shouting Little Men.

Oh, please. Does anyone honestly believe the SU has time to distribute all the information that every student may need every day? Can they really walk around shaking hands with all 25,000 students to ensure everything is going to their liking? Making time to understand a situation and its realities adds the magic ingredient called "validity" to an argument. People tend to take a valid argument much more seriously than a Shouting Little Man at Speaker’s Corner. In my experience, being informed isn’t difficult but it does require a certain amount of effort–and if you’re going to stand up and demand change, you need to know exactly what you’re asking for. Awareness, enlightenment, information: they’re all out there, but unfortunately no one’s around to spoon-feed them to you.

So let’s perhaps think about "responsibility" in the future. Know that the words coming out of your mouth, at whatever volume, are educated, defensible and valid. It really, really sucks to have the psycho babble you spew one day come back to bite you in the ass the next.

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