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Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Silent Debate


It seems there is nothing too outrageous or odd for television. One day, a producer for a cable TV network -- it doesn't really matter which one -- decided he was going to hold a debate. He contacted a young conservative and a young liberal, both prominent in their movements, who readily agreed to the debate. Not until they had signed the contract, however, did the producer reveal the terms of the debate: Neither of the debaters was to be allowed to say anything. They were to make their cases only through gestures and actions.

Even with the bizarre conditions, both debaters agreed to the debate. So, on the appointed day, they appeared in the studio, shook hands, the rules were announced, and the debate began.

The two young men stared each other down for a minute or so. Neither, of course, said a word.

Then the young liberal raised a single finger. Note to those of you who are thinking what I was thinking when I first heard this story: It was his index finger.

The young conservative regarded this for a moment, then raised two fingers in the shape of a V.

His opponent thought this over, then raised a clenched fist. At this, the young conservative immediately left the studio.

Later one of the network's junior reporters interviewed the young liberal. "Tell me what was going through your mind during the debate," he said.

"Well, I had to think for a second about what I could say in a silent debate," the young liberal said. "So, I held up a single finger. I was hoping my opponent would catch on to my meaning that there is only one course we can follow.

"He must have, because he flashed me the peace sign. So I held up my fingers, united in a fist, to show that we must all pursue peace together. He must have agreed that there was nothing more to be said, because he left the studio."

Later the reporter tracked down the young conservative and asked for his reaction.

"My reaction?" he fumed. "My reaction is 'Keep that guy away from me!' First he puts up a finger like he's saying, 'Don't mess with me.' So I put up two fingers to show him that if he tries anything I'm gonna get him back double. Well, he put up a fist like he was going to attack me, and I refuse to stay in the room with someone that violent!"


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