A pair of Utah high school seniors lost a debate round because they read quotes from Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro and clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson, who were deemed “white supremacists” by the judge.
Layton High School senior Michael Moreno and his debate partner, whom The Daily Wire will not name, were participating in a round with a topic relating to immigration. The specific topic of the round was “Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reduce restrictions on legal immigration.” Moreno and his partner were arguing in the negative, meaning they were arguing against the other team’s plan to reduce restrictions on legal immigration.
Instead of arguing in the affirmative, Moreno told The Daily Wire, the other team read a “slam poem” about how terms like “legal” and “illegal” are dehumanizing. In documents provided to The Daily Wire, these students quoted from numerous professors critical of assimilation and the notion that immigrants must act American to live “the good life.”
“Promises of citizenship and the ‘good life’ force non-normative subjects into a slow death, working towards the unbelievable goal of the American dream,” the students said.
Moreno and his partner responded by arguing the other team did not actually articulate a position. The structure of this debate allowed for the affirmative to propose a plan and then have the negative argue against that plan. Since the other team did not propose solutions to reduce restrictions on legal immigration, Moreno said, his team had nothing to argue against and claimed this was unfair.
“We argue that this is bad for debate as it’s unfair to us, that we came here as the negative to argue against substantially reducing restrictions on legal immigration, not their slam poem,” Moreno said.
The other team, during the cross-examination section of the debate, said Moreno and his partner could not talk about fairness because they were “white males.” Moreno said he then speed-read through quotes from Shapiro and Peterson pertaining to identity politics. He specifically cited comments Shapiro made at the University of Connecticut on January 24, 2018, where he said: ‘Evil things are still evil even if I’m a white well-off religious man and good things are still good even if I’m a white well-off religious man …. My identity has nothing to do with what is right or wrong.”
Moreno also quoted Peterson saying, “It goes along with this idea of class guilt; Because your group membership is the most important thing, if your group at some point in the past did something reprehensible – which of course every group has done – then you’re de facto responsible for that.”
At this point, Moreno began recording the debate, and posted the video to YouTube with the faces of the other debaters blurred. The judge ended the round after Moreno’s quotes from Shapiro and Peterson, as the other team continued to affirm that they had no standing as “white males.”
The judge, who before the round told each team not to be racist, claimed Moreno and his partner’s “evidence” and “saying things like ‘your identity doesn’t matter’” were actually racist. The judge then joined the opposing team in claiming it was Moreno and his partner who turned the debate into a discussion of “identity politics” and claimed Shapiro and Peterson are “racists.”
After another 10 minutes of this kind of back and forth, the judge said Moreno and his partner lost the round.
Moreno then spoke to the tournament directors, who both work for Arizona State University (The Daily Wire will not name them as they did not respond to a request for comment). These two affirmed that the team has a “legitimate gripe” over their treatment, but that Moreno and his partner were there to debate for that particular judge, and their arguments failed to persuade him, whether he was impartial or not.
“I think you are totally right that [the judge] overstepped a little bit by stopping the debate and deciding, but I also think it’s incredibly obvious that – regardless of how many ways you try to couch this argument in front of that judge – the bar for the other team to respond to it was going to be so low that the argumentative content that you chose, the strategy that you chose, for that judge and for his stated philosophy, was a poor choice on your part,” one of the directors tells Moreno in the video.
Neither of the directors responded to a Daily Wire inquiry about what is going on in the debate community that allows one side to just yell “racism” and end the debate.