Rhetorical Essay: Shame is Worth a Try
Dan M. Kahan’s “Shame is Worth a Try” was first published in the Boston Globe on August 5, 2001. In this essay, Kahan contends that the use of “shame” as a penalty of low level crimes is not only effective, but is an economical and humane alternative to imprisonment. It's difficult to ascertain who Kahan’s intended audience is. However, because he uses examples of shame being used as an alternative sanction around the country; “Drive drunk in Florida or Texas, and you might be required to place a conspicuous “DUI” bumper sticker on your car” (Kahan 574) I would venture to say that the public at large is whom he is possibly targeting. This is further reinforced by the fact that the author chose to at least "initially" publish the article in the Boston Globe, a local Massachusetts newspaper. Kahan competently uses contrast and comparison throughout his essay to illuminate a subject that otherwise might be ignored. Nevertheless he ultimately falls short of being convincing, mainly, due to his lack of usage, of relevant facts and figures. Kahan opens his essay with the basic question “is shame an appropriate criminal punishment?” (574). He then explores examples of its use in various jurisdictions. "Refuse to make your child-support payments in Virginia, and you will find that your vehicle has been immobilized with an appropriate colored boot…” (Kahan 575). Immediately after grabbing the readers attention with examples, Kahan presents a contrasting viewpoint. "Many experts, however, are skeptical of these new shaming punishments. Some question their effectiveness as a deterrent..."(Kahan 575). This further elicits the readers curiosity, bringing them to the heart of the issue. The author eloquently asks the question, “Who is right?” (575). He then goes on to use a logos style exploration, of both sides of the issue. Kahan's main claim is that proponents don't get that shame, can be as effective as...
Cited: Kahan, Dan M. “Shame is Worth a Try” Models for Writers. Ed. Rosa Eschholz.
Boston * New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, January 2012. 574-578 Print
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