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First Amendment Debate -- Julia Holcomb ENG 112: Home

Created by Elizabeth Dellavedova

We debate because it builds the skills the 16th century essayist Francis Bacon describes in this famous quote (and yes, he said "man" because few women were formally educated in the 16th century: we know better than to waste their skills nowadays).

We "read," and study and assemble sources, so we can be "full" of information, of the ideas and thoughts of scholars who came before us.  
Then we "conference"--we debate--because in the process,we use these sources immediately.  We ask questions of the other team, and answer their questions,without a lot of time to prepare on the spot:  we are "ready" because of the preparations we have done before debate day, and we practice that skill called thinking on your feet. When we prepare the opening speeches--the only part of the debate which we "write" beforehand--we practice being "exact."  Our opening speeches don't just say something is right,or wrong:  they say why, and they are specific about their reasoning.

The First Amendment debate is about a unique idea:  the idea that speech should not be limited, not even--perhaps especially--speech we disagree with.  Our debate talks about the limitations we recognize to this sweeping ideal.  We can never reach an absolute conclusion, but as we discuss the subject, we increase our understanding of its value.

Elizabeth Dellavedova, Librarian

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Elizabeth Dellavedova
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