Commentary | You Are Here: Karate chops and boxer shorts at the SSMU debates

Despite the high-minded talk, debating isn’t about right or wrong answers. It’s about making your opponent look bad. I say this with the shameful authority of a reformed high-school debate champion. People will use the cheapest arguments, so long as they’re believable. That’s why competitive debates remind me of public arguments with a significant other – the only difference is that the people watching have scorecards, and there’s no chance of makeup sex.

That bloodsport mentality is why I quit my high-school debate team. It’s also why I’m writing this from the SSMU executive debate – being a rhetorical gladiator isn’t fun, but watching other people argue can be very entertaining. Debates are daytime talk shows for those of us without cable.

But that’s not what I’m seeing right now. All of the candidates are unbearably civil: they’re not even making eye contact with their opponents, much less going for the throat. So far the only thing they’re competing at is butchering the French language. It’s all very underwhelming, and my editor is yawning on the other side of the room. His boredom is contagious. I can even feel myself sinking into a vegetative state as I write thi…

Scratch that. Someone just showed the crowd his underwear. And this time it wasn’t Jake Itzkowitz.

One of the VP Internal candidates is giving his closing statement in boxer shorts, and doing a surprisingly good job of it. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising. After all, the VP Internal doesn’t have to be the next Abe Lincoln – they just need to keep the beer flowing at Frosh, OAP, and SnowAP. When you need someone to throw a party, you don’t choose a smooth-talking politician. You choose the Irishman with an election sign taped to his crotch, and a cartoon leprechaun mooning you from his lab coat. And that man is Kevin Chambers, U4 Engineering.

But there’s more to Chambers than boxer shorts and a smutty lab coat. He’s a man with a vision for the future: a jungle gym on lower field, a t-shirt launcher built by engineering students, and “Japanese-style cubby hole nap stations” in the Shatner building. Chambers also shares my desire for ferocity in campus politics: he believes that executives should be chosen by paintball tournament. Here’s an excerpt from a brief interview with Chambers, where we discussed some of his qualifications:
McGill Daily: So, do you think you can out-drink the other VP Internal candidates?
Kevin Chambers: Come on, I’m both Irish and an engineer.

MD: Fair enough. Now your paintball idea was good, but the SSMU budget probably won’t cover the equipment. What about a knock-down, drag-out, bare-knuckle brawl with the other candidates – how would you do in that situation?

KC: They’d all be on the ground in less than a minute.

MD: That’s pretty cocky…

KC: I’m a black belt in karate.

MD: [Whistles in awe.]

I’m not writing to endorse a specific candidate, but rather to emphasize the importance of martial arts and boxer shorts in this election. Especially the latter – The Daily occasionally prints a photo of a certain SSMU executive without pants. This year, let’s pick one who doesn’t wear a thong.

Bernard Rudny’s columns, as brilliant as they may be, do not necessarily reflect the opinions or position of The McGill Daily’s editorial board. He can be reached at bernard.rudny@mail.mcgill.ca.


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