Telegraph- On one side of the stage were three of the brightest students from one of America's top Ivy League universities. Sitting just yards away for the high profile debate were not peers from Yale or Princeton, but three men convicted of violent crimes such as manslaughter who are currently incarcerated at the maximum security Eastern New York Correctional Facility.
It was a debating contest like no other - and despite arguing for a motion that they firmly disagreed with - the prisoners defied the odds and beat their Harvard opponents to cheers from the audience.
The three inmates, Carl Snyder, Dyjuan Tatro and Carlos Polanco, were tasked with arguing that public schools should be allowed to turn away students whose parents entered the US illegally.
The inmates impressed the judges by suggesting that if public schools turned the students away, non-governmental organisations or wealthier schools could step in and provide better education to the children in any case.
“They caught us off guard,” Anais Carell, a 20-year-old student told the Wall Street Journal, adding how impressed the Harvard students, who are the current national champions, had been by their opponents.
Hey Harvard, suck it. With your high IQ scores and fancy education. Street smarts, ever heard of them? They are only like the most important thing to have when entering into a debate. Maybe leave the library for more than 5 minutes a day and you won't get outmatched wit for wit by a bunch of felons. Why anyone would expect Harvard students to be good at debating is actually beyond me. Arguing isn't about what you know, it's about being able to convince people of what you think. It's not about being right, it's about sounding right. A bunch of Harvard students, that have undoubtedly always been brighter than their classmates, have never had to worry about sounding right, because they have always been right. As far as I am concerned, the greatest characteristic you can have as debater is not actually knowing anything. You can be way more creative when you don't have to worry about silly things like facts and knowledge. Debating is a tool that best serves people who are constantly wrong. We need it to make ourselves sound smart. It's the ultimate equalizer. We have to be able to talk ourselves out of the holes that we dig ourselves with our lack of intelligence.
These are prisoners we are talking about here. They have had to justify every stupid they have ever done that ended up with them getting put behind bars. You don't just decide to be a murderer one day. You commit a bunch of other crimes along the way that lead to murder, and the only way to get away with those crimes is to be an influential speaker. These guys probably have debates in their own head every day where they convince themselves that they are innocent. Talk yourself into believing that you didn't kill another human being, and everything else after that is smooth sailing. Persuading some judges that it's a public school's right to turn away illegal immigrants? That's child's play when you have your livelihood and anal virginity threatened on a daily basis. You really want to teach these Rhode's Scholar's how to debate then throw them behind bars for a day or two. That'll really test their ability to think on their feet. Until then it's back to the drawing board Harvard debate team, because word play beats hard work every time.