The most interesting debate topics are relevant ones. The more relevant a topic is, the more controversial it is. This creates fun, exciting, and challenging debates, as there are interesting and abundant arguments for either side. Usually debate topics, though controversial, remain somewhat abstract and separate from the debaters' lives. After all, few of us have personal connections and experiences with foreign aid or criminal trials. However, this year's Lincoln Douglas topic is a little different.
The debate about assimilation vs. multiculturalism has deep historical roots but is also a hot topic in today's political climate. This subject area touches the lives of our families, neighbors, and fellow church members. But this is not the first time we've debated a topic like this. Years ago, homeschool debaters talked about immigration policy. Many students were themselves immigrants or had family members who would have been negatively impacted by some of the proposed plans and policies. We were impressed by the ability of the debaters to debate the topic in a mature, respectful way. It was academically rigorous, like most debate topics, but debaters also learned how to discuss sensitive issues with poise and grace.
We know this year's Lincoln Douglas topic has the potential to touch on sensitive issues—likely more so than most other resolutions. But the debate committee also believes that Lincoln Douglas offers an excellent opportunity for students to learn to discuss these concepts in a productive way.
Debaters: You can debate passionately, but respectfully. Firmly, but compassionately. Know that your opponents or judges may have personal connections to the points you are making.
Judges: We know that it's hard to lay aside bias when arguments hit close to home. Remember that this is an academic activity, and many students are advocating for a position they may not personally hold. We want to encourage and support respectful debates and not enter our own opinions or experiences to the ballot.
Ultimately, our goal is to honor and glorify God in all that we do. Study hard, debate with passion and integrity, and have another great year of competition.