Reading In Logical Analysis Essay, Research Paper
A FEW KIND WORDS FOR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Hosea L. Martin
Hosea Martin’s article on affirmative action aims to defend the practice of hiring
people not just on their qualifications but by their race as well. He does so by using his
own experience in the work place along with some personal, unsupported opinions of his
own regarding hiring practices and education. Martin also attempts to defend affirmative
action programs as being fair and non-discriminatory by emphasizing that “every single
one of us…had been hired for reasons beyond our being able to do our jobs.” (Martin qtd.
in Hicks, 219).
Martin begins by trying to explain how no one is actually hired on their
qualifications in this “meritocracy”. Everyone has an unfair advantage in some way. This
is his own personal opinion on how and why certain people are hired. His mediocre
attempt to justify the hiring of a person of race over that of a truly qualified person is
based on his perception that “just about everybody…got special consideration for one
reason or another”(220). He also makes reference to the “right” schools. If the “right”
school means picking a white-Anglo Harvard graduate with a Ph. D. over an African-
American University of Florida graduate holding the same degree then the distinction
between the two candidates is obvious. People who want to succeed at the highest levels
in our society work hard their entire lives to get into the “right”schools. This gives them
an advantage over others not because of the color of their skin, but because they have
shown the willingness and aptitude to get ahead. They have already proven their worth.
Martin uses, as a means to support his argument of unfair advantages, his
experience in the Army as a clerk wherein he typed a series of application letters for an
officer who was being discharged. He asserted that the officer did not receive a job on the
basis of his qualifications but on the fact that he belonged to a certain fraternity. The
implication here is that there was something wrong or even laughable about hiring him
because “…he was a member of Phi-something fraternity.”(220). Many people join
fraternities and sororities not to engage in keg parties every Friday night, but to be able to
“network” after graduating from college. There are also many fraternities that are
academically based such a Phi Theta Kappa here at BCC, of which I am a member.
Organizations such as this look good on a transcript and sometimes are even the deciding
factor in admission to graduate school. To compare a persons race or circumstance of
birth to being an active and voluntary member of an organization is patently absurd.
Using this experience as a premise for argument is even more so.
Lastly, Martin touches on the subject of education. In his article he presents only
one statistic,~ the percentage of minorities enrolled in medical school in 1980 (10%) as
compared to 1960 (5%). These statistics do not however show the percentage of those
who actually graduate. It is a proven fact that students who are not properly prepared for
postsecondary education and are admitted on the basis of race or gender do not fare as
well as truly qualified white students. Robert M. O’Neil, attorney and Vice President of
Indiana University, published a study of white law students vs. black ones. The study
conducted by Professor George N. Stevens in conjunction with the Association of
American Law Schools Bar Examination Study Project, carefully observed 1,042
minority students during their three years in law school and when taking the bar
examination (68). According to Stevens’ findings, “154 minority students were dismissed
for academic reasons ~ a rate higher than that for white-Anglo students…167 students
simply disappeared…and 100 of these [minority] students withdrew voluntarily during the
three years”(qtd. in O’Neal 69). Stevens goes on to report that out of 408 graduates who
took the bar examination “only 56% of blacks passed”, and that “the success rate was
about half that of regular students” (qtd. in O’Neal 69). From this study we learn that
admissions by race does not necessarily ensure success for minority students.
Martin goes on to claim that affirmative action is not only beneficial, but that “the
disproportionate number of blacks out of work…[is] enough evidence that the policy isn’t
taking jobs away from whites”. This may be true of the work place but Bakke v. Regents
of the University of California (1978) proves that reverse discrimination does exist in our
education system. Bakke, a white man, was denied admission to medical school despite
the fact that his grades and test scores “were significantly higher than those of several
minority students who were admitted.”(Newton qtd. in Hicks 222). Accepting unqualified
students to a medical school is not as Martin says “[a] tremendous benefit to
society”(220). After using affirmative action to his own benefit, Martin presupposes to
write an “educated” and “insightful” article by using not fact but conjecture to prove his
ill-researched and unsupported argument in favor of the continuing use of affirmative
action programs in the work place and then again in education.
THE PENALTY OF DEATH
H. L. Mencken
Henry Mencken’s article on the death penalty is quite original due to the fact that
it does not oppose the death penalty for either moral or constitutional reasons. In fact,
Mr. Mencken does not oppose the death penalty at all. He sees and understands the need
for revenge, or as he words it, katharsis, in our society. He is also aware of the people
who are most deserving of the death penalty His basic objection is to “…our brutal
American habit of putting it off so long.”(Mencken qtd. in Hicks, 83).
Mr. Mencken begins his article with two basic objections to our system of final
justice,~ that capital punishment is “…a dreadful business, degrading to those who have to
do it…” and “…useless, [as it] does not deter others from the same crime.”(81). In his first
argument, Mencken sets out to compare the work of the hangman to that of a soldier or
garbage man. All are distasteful jobs, but are necessary in our society. In many ways they
all keep our streets safe and clean.
Secondly, Mencken attempts to attack that stance that capital punishment is a
deterrent to crime. His point, if any, falls short here, but opens the door for him to discuss
his own theory of the Aristotelian term katharsis. He describes it as “…a salubrious
discharge of emotions, a healthy letting off of steam.”(82) In other words, revenge. His
explanation for the need of revenge reiterates the age old “But if injury ensues you shall
give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth…”(Exodus 21:23). People, more so victims,
want to see the criminal suffer as they have suffered. By giving these examples, he makes
his point well, but his vocabulary sends the reader in search of a dictionary.
On the point of suffering, Mencken agrees that the criminal should suffer, but also points out that only certain murderers should suffer the death penalty. Here I do not agree. The willful taking of a human life for reasons other than self-defense or defense of home and country, is in no way justifiable whether it be one life or ten lives. Mencken refers to “ordinary homicides”(83), but gives no example of one. What makes a homicide “ordinary”? Is the woman who poisons her husband for his insurance money any different from the man who shoots a cashier and two bystanders while he is robbing the local gas station? Both have taken a life for their own gain. Both are “openly defiant of all civilized order”(83). Both should suffer the ultimate penalty as did serial killers before them such as Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy.
Bundy spent a good ten years on death row before finally being executed in Sparky, Florida’s now defunct electric chair. Mencken is opposed to the time these criminals spend on death row. He describes the wait as “horribly cruel”(84). To blame are the attorneys for these death row inmates. He feels that it is a ploy “in order to get his money (or that of his friends)”(83). Again, I do not agree with him. Although a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean is a good start, they are not all to blame for our judicial system of appeal. Most states in this country, as well as other nations around the world, guarantee an automatic appeal upon sentence of death. The appeal process unfortunately is a long and arduous one. The United States Supreme Court alone “receives some 7,000 cases for review annually, and the number is increasing rapidly.” (Harr 65). The lower courts of appeal, both state and federal, receive even more. With the amount of appeals loading our dockets, the time an inmate spends on death row is expected to be excessive.
Mencken feels it is not necessary to make these men suffer through a prolonged stay on death row. What of the suffering of their victims? Were they all granted a speedy and painless death? I doubt it. The only objectionable part of a murderers stay is not the fact that he must suffer months or even years while awaiting his execution, but the burden on taxpayers to pay for his room and board during that stay.
Although Mencken’s article is very well written, it leads the reader to believe that he is a staunch supporter of the death penalty, when in fact he is very middle of the road. He believes in the reasons behind capital punishment, but not the means by which it is carried out.
DON’T BLAME CRIME ON JOBLESSNESS
In his article about the relationship between crime rates and unemployment rates, David Rubenstein, not only sets up arguments both for and against this theory, but also breaks them down with well researched statistics and language that the reader can understand.
Rubenstein opens this article with a modern day example of crime in an urban area where employment rates are generally found to be low. Using as his example is the South Central Los Angeles riot of 1992 started by the minority population in that area. He sets up an argument for the correlation between crime and unemployment rates by quoting the California Assembly Special Committee. They agreed with the Kerner Commission of a generation ago, emphasizing that “economic opportunity [was] a major cause of the riots and the high crime rates in South Central Los Angeles.”(Hicks 48). He goes on to support this statement throughout the first two paragraphs of the article, agreeing that “the coincidence of crime and unemployment in places like South Central Los Angeles seems to confirm their connection. And it makes sense motivationally.”(48)
His line of reasoning makes sense as one would think that the greater need for money due to unemployment would motivate someone to criminal behavior.
However, the rest of the article goes to disproving this theory. In the body of his work, Mr. Rubenstein puts forth a great deal of research spanning the decades since the turn of the century. He begins with the correlation of age to crime. If crime were an economic motivator than the “limited job options would mean more to a man approaching
30 than to a teenager.”(48) Since the conviction rates for boys and single men who do not have the responsibility of supporting a family are significantly more than that of a married man, then economic factors really have no place in the crime equation. Also, women “are invariably less prone to crime than men” even though today they are still paid only about 75 cents to every $1.00 earned by a man.
Rubenstein goes on to disprove the theory of economic background affecting crime by bringing up crimes such as rape, drug addiction and homicide which are not “profit oriented crime”(48). There is no economic benefits to these such crimes and even petty crimes such as street muggings will likely find “the perpetrator [in jail] before he equals a year’s income from a minimum wage job.”(48).
Through his research, Rubenstein follows the rise and fall of all crime rates since the turn of the century and how, if at all, they are affected by the nations economy. During most of the Great Depression, one of the most devastating times in american history, employment rates were at their lowest. However, during the darkest time of this period “1935 [to] 1940, the murder rate dropped nearly 40%.”(49) Again in the early 1960’s, when unemployment rates were high, crime was at an all-time low. By the end of the decade these statistics completely reversed themselves. “As the economy revived, so did the crime rate.”(49)
David Rubenstein’s article about the relationship, or lack there of, between crime rates and unemployment rates is, in my opinion, extremely well researched, thought out, and worded in a way that the reader can understand without running for a dictionary. It is truly an insightful and educational article until he reaches his closing paragraphs. Here Rubenstein begins to compare the crimes occurring in places such as South Central Los
Angeles to a 1960’s “neighborhood in San Francisco [who] had the lowest income… highest unemployment… least education… [the most] substandard housing…tuberculosis”, so on and so forth.(50) The little California town referred to was Chinatown. This to me was not a good basis for comparison, especially when Rubenstein states that “…in 1965 there were only five persons of Chinese ancestry committed to prison in the entire state of California.”(50). This statement does not support his theory pertaining to economic background as here he is comparing two different ethnic backgrounds and/or neighborhoods. At the end Rubenstein fizzles when he could have gone out with a bang.
HANDGUN BANS: FACTS TO FIGHT WITH
Don B. Kates, Jr.
The right to gun ownership in the United States of America , guaranteed by the
2nd Amendment of our Constitution, has been a controversial and much debated issue
in the 20th century. Don B. Kates, Jr. attacks the views of those in favor of gun control
in his extremely informative article on the subject. Although lengthy, Kates’ article sets up each individual argument for gun control and then masterfully shoots each one down with well researched and often chilly statistics.
Although a staunch supporter of 2nd Amendment rights, Kates does not take the stand of the enthusiastic gun owner toting a bumper sticker proclaiming “Guns Don’t
Kill People, People Do”. He looks at it from an intelligent and informed angle. Though hard research and the support of many experts in the criminology world, Kates provides the reader with a new way to look at gun ownership and the benefits of ownership as
a deterrent to crime.
Kates begins with the definition of a murderer. As he puts it, most gun control advocates would have one believe that persons who own guns to use in the defense
of their homes and family are common murders. They would have one believe that
“…the typical homicide offender is just an ordinary person” with “no previous criminal record”(qtd. In Kates 52). This uninformed opinion, however, is not true as Kates sets out to prove. F.B.I. records show that “two-thirds of all of murders to have previous felony conviction records”(52). When looking at the history of some other murders “[their] prior violence may have been directed against relatives or acquaintances”(52), thus providing
a pattern of violence. For many reasons these prior acts of violence go unrecorded.
Their inclination towards violence is the reason behind their murders, not the fact that they own a handgun. A person with a penchant for violence towards a family member or
friend can just as easily murder that person with a knife, their hands or even with the kitchen frying pan.
Kates goes on to show even more inaccuracies in the research of gun control advocates who use the “tired old line about gun controls working in Europe and Japan.”(52). Many age old gun control laws in England and Germany were imposed
to “prevent the assassinations and political terrorism”(52-53) that once riddled their respective countries, not as deterrent to every day violence. The propensity for violence in England is far lower that in America, proved by the fact that murders committed by knives and those committed with no weapon at all are significantly less than those committed in America.
Kates illustrates the fact that many European nations, such as Switzerland and
the State of Israel, require gun ownership, yet their violence rates are very low in comparison to that of America. He also briefly touches on the difference in the violence rates of America and that of Japan. Kates, however, considers this to be an obtuse comparison, due to the fact of “…our vastly different culture and heritage and our substantial ethnic heterogeneity.”(53) Kates substantiates his theory of cultural differences here by citing the fact that “Japanese-Americans, with full access to handguns, have a slightly lower homicide rate than their gunless counterparts in Japan.”(53) Basically Kates reaches the conclusion that stringent gun control policies in foreign
states do not affect the amount of violence that occurs, but that “the strong correlation
with racial and linked socio-economic variables suggests that the underlying deterrents of the homicide rate relate to particular cultural factors”(British government publication qtd. in Kates 53).
Further on in the body of Kates’ article on gun control, he refuteates the belief that gun owners are lulled into a false sense of security when they believe that they can defend their family and home. Surprising statistics and interviews with prisoners prove that gun ownership by the average citizen is in fact a deterrent to crime. Many police departments advocate the ownership of guns by the private citizenry because they know that they can not adequately provide safety for their entire communities. In fact, cities such as Miami, Chicago and Cleveland, more criminals are shot and killed by citizens than police. Furthermore, evidence of private ownership of handguns being a deterrent to crime
comes from criminals themselves. Kates borrows facts from an interview conducted
by the Social and Demographic Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts in which prisoners state that:
(1) they and other criminals tried to avoid victims they
believed may have been armed and that (2) they
favor gun prohibition because, by disarming the victim,
it will make their lives safer without affecting their
access to illegal guns.(55)
Kates further proves this point by using statistics from the Orlando Police Department. The city started offering women courses in the use of handguns to defend themselves against rapists. Not only did Orlando’s rape rate go down by 90%, but also by another 9% in outlying towns.
Next, Kates attacks the gun control advocate stance that “Guns are five times deadlier than the weapons most likely to be substituted for them in assaults where firearms were not available”(qtd. In Kates 58). Kates points out that these advocates lack to differentiate between the types of guns used, and that a criminal would automatically turn to knife if a handgun were denied him. With more research and statistics, Kates proves that when denied a handgun, the average criminal “will turn to a sawed-off shotgun or long rifle.”(58) If handguns were to be outlawed and if “50 percent [of criminals] used shotguns or rifles, there would actually be an increase in assault-related deaths by as much as 300 percent”(58). Also more accidental deaths occur in this country from long rifles as opposed to handguns.
Lastly, Kates cites a chilling example of how private ownership of a gun by law abiding citizens could have prevented a horrific event. In graphic detail, he describes the abhorrent attack on three helpless women who, in their own home, “were held captive [for 14 hours while being] raped, robbed , beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon each other and made to submit to the sexual demands of [their attackers].” The police had failed to respond to two calls made by two off the women and they were left defenseless in their own home. An ensuing lawsuit against the city failed as the courts held that “a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection to any particular citizen.”(qtd. In Kates 59) This graphic illustration drives home the need for the 2nd Amendment and its theme that “…the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”(US Constitution, excerpt from 2nd Amendment).The Constitution further establishes to “insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings
of Liberty to ourselves…”(US Constitution) When taken literally it is in fact the governments responsibility to provide for its citizens and to protect the ideals behind the Constitution. It is the governments responsibility to hold up the right of the average citizen to protect home and hearth by means of owning a hand gun.
In Don B. Kates, Jr.’s conclusion to his article, he stresses the need for informed opinions on gun control laws and opposes the moral conjecture of those opposed to the 2nd Amendment. All in all, he has put forth an extremely informative work backed up by well-researched statistics and graphic portrayals of what could and does frequently happen in our violent society.
Harr, Scott J. and Hess, Karen M. Constitutional Law for Criminal Justice Professionals.
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company. 1998. 65.
Hicks, Stephen and Kelly, David. Readings For Logical Analysis. New York:
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1998. pp.47-50, 51-60, 81-84, 218-21.
Kates, Don B., Jr. “Handgun Bans: Facts to Fight With”.Guns and Ammo Annual.
Los Angeles: Petersen. 1984. pp.4, 6, 8-11.
Martin, Josea L. “A Few Kind Words for Affirmative Action.” The Wall Street Journal.
April 25, 1991. op-ed page.
Mencken, Henry L. “The Penalty of Death.” Prejudices, Fifth Series. New York:
Alfred A. Knopf. 1926
The New American Bible. New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1971.
O’Neil, Robert M. Discriminating Against Discrimination. Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited. 1985. 68-69.
Rubenstein, David. “Don’t Blame Crime on Joblessness.” The Wall Street Journal.
November 9, 1992. op-ed page.