Bughouse Square Debates
This year's event began with a recitation of Walt Whitman's "I Sing the Body Electric." It was performed by three Chicago-area participants in "Poetry Out Loud," the Poetry Foundation's national poetry recitation contest for high school students.
The soapbox portion of the debates then unfolded as 12 speakers alternated on three soapboxes located throughout the park. Among the topics of discussion included: local production of agriculture, socialized transportation, decriminalization of prostitution, popular election of Supreme Court Justices, dogs at outdoor cafes, and the need for neighborhood sex shops.
The declared winner of the Dil Pickle Award was Ed Yohnka of the Illinois chapter of the ACLU for his speech "Why Defend the Offensive? The Importance of Free Speech." In defending the right of the Westboro (KS) Baptist Church to stage funeral protests, Yohnka drew the scorn of a few participants. He let them have their turn at the microphone, kept his composure, and seemingly won the argument.
The program ended with a voter slam facilitated by the Bread and Butter Forum. The participants were given 90-seconds to spout off about the topic of choice, immigration reform. The range of perspectives began with unencumbered borders to mandatory military service for incoming immigrants, even building a wall around Chicago to keep out immigrants from Indiana. Second City members added color commentary to the slam and brought audience members into the mix.
For more extensive coverage of the Debates, see the article in Sunday's Chicago Tribune or today's Washington Post. We hope to see you next year on the final Saturday of July for the next rendition of the Bughouse Square Debates.