The Philosophical Society held their weekly debate on Thursday night, with the motion: This House Would Meet Bigotry with Violence. Before the debate I was feeling slightly torn as to which side I was on, however I left the debate without a doubt in my mind that I firmly oppose the motion.
The debated started with Ross Maleny speaking for the proposition. He seemed to be quite against the liberal point of view that peace is the answer to all life’s challenges, claiming that liberals have an “incessant need” to defend everyone’s right to free speech, even neo-Nazis.
Umang Kalra spoke first for the opposition and made an excellent speech in which she mainly discussed the need for nonviolence in India. She proclaimed that, “the only way for humanity to move forward is if we place these principles [laws, peace, and justice] above us.”
Jack Synnott spoke for the proposition stating that we “must develop tactics to destroy home grown movements,” even if the solution to ending the hate of the American alt-right and neo-Nazis “isn’t pretty”, but the need for action is urgent and peaceful protest is not going to end the rising fascist movements.
Xavier Bradley took an interesting argument for the proposition by quoting none other than Adolf Hitler himself in saying that even Hitler claimed that his movement could have been prevented if those against him acted and fought sooner. Bradley urged that violence is the only reasonable answer under the present climate to stop the rise of another Hitler like movement.
Kate Kleinle stole the show with her passionate and well argued speech stressing that the motion was this house “would meet bigotry with violence”, and not this house would meet violence with violence. She claims that one cannot promote virtues such as peace and justice while also preaching that violence is the answer to bigotry.
Kleinle said that, while a pacifist, she would meet violence with violence if it came to that, but she would never “incite bloodshed”. She got an audible gasp from the audience at her statement that “you cannot paint a masterpiece in your opponent’s blood,” telling us all that the path to a brighter and more peaceful future does not begin with punching every supposed bigoted person in the face.
A fascinating and well argued debated ended with the house voting to oppose the motion.