I was talking to The Stranger’s Josh Feit yesterday afternoon, and he was little worried. The folk at Town Hall had moved the Sims v. Hutch debate upstairs into the big room –apparently to accommodate the camera crews — and Josh was concerned that the audience might look embarrassingly small in the thousand-seat auditorium. “What if only twelve people show up?” he asked me. I assured him that I’d be there to make it a baker’s dozen.
As it turned out, I barely got in. A large, raucous crowd filled the auditorium, including an enthusiastic cheering section for Hutcherson’s Antioch Bible Church. I’d never seen so many queer people in one place… and there were a lot of gays and lesbians there too. This was one, pumped up crowd… more like the audience you might expect for a superstar comedian than a political debate. And judging from the audience reaction, The Stranger may have stumbled upon the greatest debating act since Timothy Leary v. G. Gordon Liddy.
They were loud, they were passionate, they were in your face… and that was just the audience. A steady wave of cheers, jeers, hisses, catcalls, laughter and groans rolled across the audience towards the dueling orators on stage. Both men received several standing ovations from their admirers. Both men seemed to genuinely enjoy the fierce debate.
This was politics the way it should be: raw, energetic… and entertaining. If all political rallies, all political events, all political debates were as much fun as this, we’d have 95 percent voter turnout… we’d have the nation’s youth clamoring to get involved. Politics wouldn’t just be more fun… it’d be downright cool.
Anyway, I’m not going to get into the details, but Michael has great coverage over at BlatherWatch, Will throws in a few pithy observations of his own, and the Seattle P-I does its darnedest to make the whole affair sound typically boring. I’m told the Seattle Channel shot the event, and if you get the chance, I highly recommend watching for yourself.
I’ll just sum up the Battle in Seattle by saying that I thought Sims kicked Hutch’s ass. (But then, I’m biased.) The topic was gay civil rights, and Hutch and his “church folk” wanted to make it a theological debate. It’s not, and Sims wouldn’t bite.
I’d love to see both men get a chance to hone their rhetoric by going at it a couple more times, but if all Hutcherson has to back up his public policy is the Christian Bible, then he really doesn’t deserve having his public profile raised any further… and Sims shouldn’t help him raise it.
I doubt many minds were changed last night, but it sure was fun. And that’s something you don’t often get to say about politics.