A Game of Words: Debatmasters 2013

doorBionda Merckens

A Game of Words: Debatmasters 2013

A song of fiery tea and icy coffee

The 13th-century castle of Nyenrode was an especially wonderful sight on the 26th of October, 2013, with the castle tower jutting out against the stormy skies of Dutch autumn, and the tall guarding oaks balancing out the greys with the red and yellow of their weary leaves. Which is why eight teams of top-ranking debaters and an excellent judging panel decided to spend the day in the coach house right next to it, doing what they do best: epic arguing, and in doing so, settling who could claim the title of Debate Masters 2013.

The adjudication panel consisted of proven and competent Maesters. Headed by Luciën de Bruin as the Grand Maester, Tomas Beerthuis, Senna Maatoug and Tjitske Zandstra set four excellent motions for the participants to battle over. The debaters were eager to do battle, but not before they poured some coffee and fresh tea down their thirsty gullets.

The first battle revolved around the question whether governments should have the right to make children’s vaccinations obligatory, even for religious minorities who oppose them. In one of the rooms, the Leideners of Casterly Rock, Wieger Kop and Bas Tönissen narrowly managed to decapitate Bonaparte’s Daniël Schut, and his teammate Marloes Boere, by arguing persuasively that the state has no right to override a religious minority’s metaphysical worldview.

The second battle took place in the former colonies, where debaters argued whether former colonizing countries should pay substantial reparations to the countries they colonized. Two wildlings from the North, Stijn de Jong and Joost Kooiman couldn’t manage to make a dent in the argumentative wall of Bonaparte in their attempt to argue that paying reparations would effectively destabilize the recipient country. Joost Kooiman however did manage to scale up the ladder of individual speaker points – eventually, he would gather enough points to vault to the top of the speakers’ ranking.

The third battle saw Bonaparte’s own version of the Red Wedding: Bonaparte’s Irene Graafsma and Jules Boog still had hopes of breaking into the finals, but unfortunately their dreams were brutally slayed in a debate on whether the state should financially incentivize higher-educated citizens to have children before their 25th birthday.

Only when finals were announced, did this reporter discover what had happened across the Narrow Sea in the other poule: Jesse Fest, the young dragon queen from Rotterdam and her faithful bearded companion, Jeroen Heun, had easily managed to defeat another two branches of the House of Bonaparte (Benjamon Mosk and Bobph Alberts, and Roel van Dongen and Josse van Proosdij) and two young ambitious little ones from Leiden, Gigi Gil and Devin van den Berg. They emerged victorious, unscathed and ready to take on their final battle.

The final battle metaphorically took place at the Dutch Parliament: the motion proposed that parliamentarians should be appointed by lottery, not by elections. In a massive clash of kings, debaters even drew their statistical swords to prove why appointments by lottery were either more or less likely to lead to better government. Eventually, after a long discussion and a split decision, the Maesters gave the win to the Jesse Fest and Jeroen Heun from House Erasmus, who can now call themselves, rightly, the Masters of Dutch Debating. At least until next year…


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Bionda Merckens contributor