Bring Back Foolishness, Corporal Punishment Essay, Research Paper
Bring Back Foolishness
Jeff Jacobys essay, entitled Bring Back Flogging was, in my sincere opinion, poorly constructed. There are numerous instances where I felt that he had either not supported his premises with valid information or had negated his support in later sentences.
The essay begins by drawing forth images of Puritan punishment. He cites two instances of punishment, which were particularly torturous and radical in nature. He then draws a comparison between this inhumane punishment and imprisonment by stating with irony that, Now we practice a more enlightened, more humane way of disciplining wrong doers: we lock them up in cages. His use of the word cages was an attempt to vilify the enclosurement of human beings and to compare this treatment of human beings, to the caging of other animals. Although his position is clear from the first glance at the title, he poses us with a dilemma, he immediately denounces his acceptance of imprisonment with his use of irony and at the same time he proposes a solution which he has radicalized. This early attempt at discounting imprisonment by comparing it with an extreme form of the punishment he is proposing, simply leaves the reader with a negative feeling towards both forms of punishment rather than bolstering his view.
The third paragraph of this essay is primarily concerned with persuading the reader that the rate of imprisonment is on the rise, and that this form of punishment is now the form of choice in the United States. He cites the statistic, 1.6 million Americans are behind bars today. That represents a 250 percent increase since 1980, and the number is climbing. Lets look at this piece of information and analyze the value of such a statement. Foremost, he says 1.6 million Americans the key word here is Americans. Most readers of U.S origin in my opinion take this word Americans to mean people whom live in The United States. The truth of the matter is that the word Americans refers to those people whom live on either of the American continents. This means that Canadians, Mexicans, and Colombians are among those whom can be polled for this statistic. This statistic turns out to be misleading, when it is obvious that he is implying that these 1.6 million people are in U.S. prisons. Another flaw in the presentation of this statistic is that there are no sources cited which lend credibility to the information.
Jeff Jacoby seems accustomed with using words as tools for undermining that which he opposes. By using the word cage frequently, he ascribes a negative connotation to the act of imprisoning people. He successfully taunts us with images of defenseless animals locked within inhospitable quarters, and hopes that the image will fuel the readers probable fear of human rights violations. Another statement within the fourth paragraph, which I see as an attempt to fool people, is when he says, Crime is out of control, despite the deluded happy talk by some politicians. This sentence come out sounding as if it were a fact, when in actuality it is his opinion based on feelings rather than data. I also see an attempt to discount the authority of politicians by calling them deluded. Again there is an absence of support available for either of these two opinions.
To add to this debauchery, he cites another misleading statistic in the last sentence of the paragraph. He declares, Fifty-eight percent of all murders do not result in a prison term. Like wise 98% of all burglaries. What does this statement conjure up within your mind when you read it? It draws a picture of a convicted felon/murderer happily leaving the courtroom free to go. Is this the reality of the statement? Let s think half-heartedly about the first sentence. Pay attention to the word murders , this implies that there is a murderer, and to be called a murderer in a court of law, you have to be convicted. This is an example of over simplifying statistics, which are actually complex. In accordance with the wording, this statistic could include those who were found innocent of the crime or those cases where there are no indictments! Of course the percentage would be high. I m not even sure if the use of the word murders is valid.
Jeff Jacoby has thus far twisted many forms of support for his premise. Still there are many more traps, appeals, and misleading statements to cover. One of these appeals comes to us from John DiIulio, a Princeton criminologist. About three of every four convicted criminals are on the streets without meaningful probation or parole supervision. First of all the use of the word meaningful completely removes this statement from the realm of fact, and into the realm of feelings and opinion. We are supposed to be dazzled and distracted by the Title of this man and his use of percentages. Let us not forget that this is not a percentage based on fact, or even necessarily a poll of opinions. It is the criminologist opinion, and ethics and philosophy are not his fields of specialty, criminal behavior is. Therefore his opinion on this matter is no more relevant than yours or mine.
This next opinion of Jeff s made me laugh when I read it. He is obviously UN-enamored with youthful people. I quote, If young punks were horsewhipped in public after their first conviction, fewer of them would harden into lifelong felons. First of all, the phrase young punks is not an intelligent way of convincing young voters that flogging is more effective than imprisonment. Why didn t he simply combine the words he used to describe adult cons (convicted felons) with the word young to create the phrase, young convicted felons ? This special treatment of youth implies his distaste for them. In addition it seems as if he believes that our culture would be conducive to children being publicly flogged. With all the school shootings lately, maybe he should consider the changes to our youth that have occurred in the last 100 years.
Near the end of his column, Jacoby begins to grow desperate for support. This is illustrated in paragraph eight. He brings up the topic of gun control and speaks more or less against gun control fanatics in this paragraph. I feel that this was an attempt to sway gun owners to his argument, and conversely, this issue has no place within this column. In addition, he closes his column by saying that the Puritans sanctions in relation to punishment were humiliating and painful, but quick and cheap. Maybe we should adopt a few. I find it humorous that he feels quick and cheap are foremost qualities that punishment should adhere to.
In conclusion, I felt that this column was written as a piece of trickery. It was devised to fool average people into agreement. I also felt that anyone with mild intelligence and critical reasoning skills could easily punch an incalculable number of holes in his arguments. So, did he achieve his goal? I believe that this piece of writing could easily win over half of the U.S population, but that doesn t speak well for his writing necessarily. If I haven t made it obvious enough, I disliked this column, and hope he can be more sly next time.