Founded in September, 1986, the Manhattan Chowder & Debate Society is a specialty Toastmasters International club. It specializes in teaching debate techniques to its members. It also demonstrates to guests and prospective members the benefits and pleasures of debating.
MCDS meets on the second Thursday of each month at Euro Cafe (formerly Starstruck Restaurant), 738 8th Avenue (between 45th and 46th Streets), upstairs. There is no meeting fee; guests are welcome. If you want meeting or membership information, you can write firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (212) 678-2892 or (212) 788-5388.
Unlike regular Toastmasters clubs, MCDS meets monthly, allowing its debaters much time to prepare. Like regular clubs, a typical meeting of MCDS has three parts: impromptu debating, prepared debating, and evaluation.
Before the main event of the evening, members and willing guests enjoy an impromptu debate on a whimsical topic. Some memorable chowder session topics include "Resolved: That royalty is better than democracy," and "That New York City should adopt the cockroach as city mascot." Even when having fun, debaters work together as teams. They plot together before the debate and defend each others arguments during it.
During the main event, teams of two or three debaters square off. The affirmative team advocates adopting the resolution; the negative team advocates its rejection. The topics that they debate have been chosen by all members attending previous meeting. Each debater gives a constructive speech in which supporting arguments are presented and buttressed with evidence, and contrary arguments are rebutted. Like lightning, the soul of debate is CLASH!
Direct clash between debaters and their arguments happens during cross-examination, after every constructive speech. With their questions, they try to expose weaknesses in their opponents' case. For many members, cross-examination is the toughest challenge in debating and the most rewarding skill when they master it. At the end of the debate, a member of each team summarizes its case and makes final rebuttals.
Finally, everyone hears from the judges, who also serve as evaluators, about the strengths and weaknesses of each debater's performance. As in a regular Toastmasters meeting, judges use the same instructions and forms as debaters to guide them. And, everyone hears the chief judge announce the winning team.