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The Poison Ivy League Part 45-Hannibal’s First Stand

May 3, 2011

Kimel and Jason were pleased to break among the top teams at the all Opp-choice Brandeis tournament in November. Disappointingly, however their winning streak was broken when they lost a close quarter-final to a pair of eloquent nobodies from Yale. It was a 2-1 decision and Kimel was rather annoyed at the result, though he could console himself with a second place speaker award and the continued position of first place TOTY. He was also comforted when he heard that the winning team was to hit Arianna and Attila in semi-finals, since it would have been expected of him to throw the round even if he had progressed.

Yale presently ran the case whether it would be right for a hypothetical person to allow his or her decision to be swayed when, despite the obvious guilt of the accused, race was the only reason that fellow jury-members were voting the way they did—or it was at least some variant on this idea. Kimel greatly enjoyed the spectacle of Arianna slaughtering her opponents. He had never seen her so confident or so happy in a round and was duly impressed with the way that she avenged his loss. Without resorting to ad hominem attacks or even overt sarcasm, she made the other team look like a pair of fools.

Arianna and Attila ultimately won the tournament, but Kimel was disappointed for her when her victory was tarnished by an attention-stealing performance by a Yale novice in the final round. Yale had greatly decayed since the days of Livia, Tiberius, and Germanicus, but its members maintained a high opinion of themselves and what they believed good debate to be. Questions of policy, law, and world politics were worthy topics, but time-space historical cases or, worse yet, comedic ones were greatly frowned upon. Their ideology was based in longstanding “Northern” practice, but it was perhaps influenced at least in part by the team’s increasing interest in British Parliamentary and World debate, which adhere mostly to these sorts of topics; for Livia was now a graduate student in England and her presence helped to bridge the oceans between the leagues. (Gossip promptly affirmed that she began to debate in an affected accent). In the final round, Cato had the misfortune to run an off-the-wall case about whether a hypothetical Japan should declare war on a ghostly army of aborted fetuses who were out for revenge; in contrast to rounds which encourage raw analysis, this made finals a game of wit and rhetoric. Yale disapproved, though, and several of its members began to groan and mutter, not because they thought abortion a grave topic, but because the case seemed insubstantial. Alcohol, the consolation of the vanquished, soon exacerbated bad feelings.

Hannibal, a former high school champion, paraded to the front of the room when the time came for floor speeches and proceeded to deride Cato for running a ridiculous case, calling it a debacle and a waste of time. No wonder outrounds were losing audiences, he said—the disgrace of these sorts of antics were to blame. For the most part, the audience composed predominantly of Harvard students by this point did not take the upstart’s harangue in good part. He staggered angrily back to his seat after several minutes on this theme, and the entire round was ruined. The rebuttal speeches almost couldn’t help but be awkward and hollow following the novice’s condemnation.

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