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The Poison Ivy League Part 33-Kimel’s First Triumph

May 3, 2011

In the wake of his third place finish at Northams, Kimel began to devote greater thought to his style and to solidify the distinctiveness of his voice, although he never put as much deliberate practice into his oratory as Sulla A did. From the beginning, his eloquence was extemporaneous and lively. Perhaps the most well-spoken of his classmates, he had nonetheless originally delivered his speeches too rapidly and often robbed his points of effectiveness by running out of breath. But over time he learned to rein in his manic energy and harness it more effectively by following the examples of his talented predecessors. From Livia, he learned to bombard opponents with multiple responses to single arguments, hindering their ability to answer them all effectively, for which he punished them later. Following the example of Germanicus, he came to consider a room of judges as a theatrical audience, paying attention to individual reactions to figure out what ideas to especially accentuate in his speeches. Finally, from MIT A, he learned the power of speaking contemptuously about opposing points when he secretly had no answer for them. At the same time, he was a unique debater. More than anything, he manipulated the PMR and LOR to win rounds. His strategy was to pick up on small elements that had fallen out of the round and then emphasize them in his final speech as if they were the primary themes of the debate; the other team’s negligence in fully addressing them was then declared a reason for decision. His casebook was also completely different from those of his peers, dominated by comparatively unusual cases about ancient and modern culture, aesthetics, and religion.

With Harvard B’s victory at Bates College and Sulla A’s top speaker award at that tournament, Kimel began to feel the weight of his comparative lack of competitive success, though he admittedly had a talent of losing in quarter-finals. Pairs on APDA often do well as juniors, but lone wolves, as Kimel was, are more rarely successful. Moreover, for all of his talent, he had yet to become completely confident in out-rounds. However, after nearly three years of practice, he was beginning to gain in power. Unexpectedly, it was ultimately with a novice partner that his promise was first fully actualized.

Although Kimel had vetoed the requirement that individuals be required to debate with novices, he nonetheless encouraged the practice, remembering his own origins as a debater. He consequently agreed to partner with Attila at the Providence College tournament. One of several Singaporeans on HSPDS, he was an affable young man with piercing, black eyes and musical laughter. Destined for the stern discipline of a career in the military, Attila was surprisingly extremely good-natured, always smiling, always laughing. This joviality was somewhat at odds with his stringent patriotism for all things Singaporean. He even defended the practice of caning as an effective judicial deterrent, assuring his critics that individuals usually fainted before much damage was done. He spoke with an accent somewhat intermediate between Cynthia’s British tones and Claudia’s heavier East Asian dialect, and was a strong enough speaker to make him an attractive partner for Kimel.

Attila and Kimel performed terribly during in-rounds, barely winning three out of five. Providence College was a small tournament, however, and they managed to tie with Sulla B and Arianna for the eighth seed; they broke to quarter-finals on a coin flip. The weakest performing team, they were up against Sempronia, soon to be crowned Speaker of the Year. She had won all of her first five rounds accompanied by a novice partner of her own. She ran the case against Kimel that anyone should be able to serve as a lawyer rather than individuals who had gone to law school and passed the bar exam. She performed her speech in her characteristic booming staccato, her loudness rendering many of her points more pleading than convincing. Kimel’s intuitions told him that her side of the debate was incorrect. He insisted that trials were expensive undertakings and it was within the full rights of individual states to insist that bare minimums be set for advocates in terms of their understanding of the law. After all, incompetent lawyers waste time and money at trials and provide uneven representation to the accused. Moreover, Kimel explained that knowledge of formalities were important in the courtroom, and different states had different standards, such as Louisiana which went by Napoleonic law. These arguments were enough to carry Kimel and Attila to semi-finals, stealing the top seed from Sempronia.

The pair was now against Brandeis, who ran the case, Opp choice, what was preferable as art—a popular tune or an esoteric one. Kimel was pleased to speak in favor of pop-culture and mentioned geniuses such as the John Lennon and Michael Jackson whose songs were both popular anthems and beautiful compositions. Attila then did a wonderful job mocking avant-garde music, imitating the screeching tones of Bjork. With the audience now favorably disposed toward Harvard as the funnier team, Kimel triumphantly insisted that there was artistry to popularity, a sort of intangible formula that made a song widely appealing across ages and cultures. This was enough to carry him to finals on a 2-1 decision.

Now he was against Sulla C and Petronius from his own team. With Kimel again on Opposition, the sophomore ran the case, Opp Choice, whether polytheism or monotheism should be preferred as a religion. Kimel was proud to defend polytheism, not even mentioning the argument that bickering gods could more easily explain why bad things happen to good people than a single benevolent Deity. Flatly denying Sulla C’s assertion that monotheism trumped polytheism in every society in which it was introduced with the obvious example of India, he brought up the argument that the two kinds of faith were not really mutually exclusive. One could believe in the god-hood of nature itself and understand and celebrate it in all its diversity. Venus could be seen as the embodiment of one’s first love, and Apollo the sense of inspiration that created a beautiful poem. Every individual’s past, concluded Kimel, was actually studded with traces of the divine. The round concluded with a 5-0 decision in Kimel’s favor, his first and only unanimous victory on APDA. With his success, he established himself as one of the circuit’s best up and coming Leaders of Opposition, and fired with confidence, would soon climb to even greater heights, with or without a consistent partner.

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