The Meaning of “Debate”

Most of you will know Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” sketch.

    M:  No you did not.
    A:   Yes I did.
    M:   No you didn’t.
    A:   Yes I did.
    M:   No you didn’t.
    A:   Yes I did.
    M:   No you didn’t.
    A:   Yes I did.
    M:  You didn’t.
    A:   Did.
    M:  Oh look, this isn’t an argument.
    A:   Yes it is.
    M:   No it isn’t. It’s just contradiction.
    A:   No it isn’t.
    M:  It is!
    A:   It is not.
    M:  Look, you just contradicted me.
    A:   I did not.
    M:  Oh you did!!
    A:   No, no, no.
    M:  You did just then.
    A:   Nonsense!
    M:  Oh, this is futile!
    A:   No it isn’t.
    M:  I came here for a good argument.
    A:   No you didn’t; no, you came here for an argument.
    M:  An argument isn’t just contradiction.
    A:   It can be.
    M:  No it can’t. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
    A:   No it isn’t.
    M:  Yes it is! It’s not just contradiction.
    A:   Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.
    M:  Yes, but that’s not just saying ‘No it isn’t.’
    A:   Yes it is!
    M:   No it isn’t!

    A:   Yes it is!
    M:  Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.
    (short pause)
    A:  No it isn’t.
    M:  It is.
    A:  Not at all.

I think that it is fair to say that a “debate” requires, at the very least, that the participants take contrary positions.

Given that Robert Spencer and Anjem Choudary believe the same thing about the nature of Islam, how will they possibly fill an hour and a half?

I hope that there are a few music breaks.