2nd annual Great Debate focuses on civil disobedience

Christina Suttles

Focus On The Future held its 2nd Annual Great Debate Thursday night, where six students passionately debated the effectiveness of civil disobedience.

Poet and author Basheer Jones, the debate’s moderator, kicked off the evening with slam poetry followed by light-hearted humor.

Two teams were each given a total of 22 minutes to argue a controversial issue. The topic of the night: Is it ever excusable for a person to break the law to ensure his or her civil rights?

The affirmative team argued for using civil disobedience to break the law. Their argument centered around the difference between a law and a right. Members of the team used examples such as the civil rights movement, women’s suffrage and other strong civil cases in an attempt to illustrate how using civil disobedience has helped to end discriminatory laws throughout history.

“When is it necessary to break the law to ensure civil liberty? And I will tell you: when the law and practice makes your human rights nonexistent,” said Latabia Johnson, freshman electronic media production major.

The negative team used similar cases and examples but in an opposing context. It argued that chaos has never led to anything other than chaos, and that fighting for human rights is always lawful under the United States Constitution. Their stance was that it isn’t necessary to break the law to obtain these rights.

“I’m not saying that injustice doesn’t exist; however, injustice is exactly what it sounds like: injustice,” said Anthony Imes, a sophomore communication studies major. “We live in a just society, and if something is perceived to be injustice, we have the courts and elected officials that we put into office to work toward providing equality for all Americans.”

After nearly an hour of deliberation, the judges named the affirmative team champion.

Focus on the Future believes educating, involving and unifying students creates a well-balanced college experience. The group encouraged students to get involved in future debates.

Contact Christina Suttles at [email protected].