28 October 2013
Manipulation or Persuasion?
Robert Blecker’s “With death penalty, let punishment truly fit the crime” was printed on CNN August 22, 2013. In this article Blecker has a hard time drawing a line as to when capital punishment should be enforced. He uses many controversial topics that are attached to the death penalty to make the reader question their own belief on the death penalty. This article also questions the methods in which the United States uses for capital punishment. It makes the reader ask questions in their head such as, are some of these methods essential to the execution of a criminal? Lastly, this article questions the prison systems and the process in which the regulate prison life for criminals. Blecker composes this article with many premises, which are not backed up, to manipulate the reader to agree with his thoughts on capital punishment. When first skimming through the article it seemed like Blecker was completely against capital punishment by the way he started the first paragraph. The reader will then notice that he is merely just exemplifying both arguments. Blecker first approaches this article using an opposing viewpoint from his own. The opposing argument Blecker starts out with is the perspective of the abolitionists, or a person who favors the abolition of any law or practice deemed harmful to society (Dictionary). Blecker goes into his own devious ways by tricking the reader that sometimes it is constitutional to enforce the death penalty using these harsh examples, “Even if that person burned children alive, massacred a dozen strangers in a movie theatre, or bombed the Boston Marathon” (Blecker, Paragraph 1). Blecker mocks the abolitionist’s viewpoint, which in this context helps his argument. The mocking of the abolitionists helps strengthens his argument, because it ridicules the idea that no matter how vicious the murder of one or more individuals may be they ultimately do not deserve the death penalty. This concept works in a way that it helps persuade the reader by using an emotional appeal. It reaches towards the reader’s emotions and brings to thought the death of many but refuses the death of one who caused all the hurt and pain. Blecker then uses a brief sentence to show that the other opponents believe that, “the worst of the worst of the worst deserve to die” (Blecker, Paragraph 1). This sentence is self-explanatory and works in this context to where Blecker doesn’t need to use manipulative strategies to get the reader to believe him. Pharmaceutical companies are caught in the middle of the debate about whether lethal injection should be used as a form for capital punishment. Blecker elaborates on pharmaceutical companies and their role in the execution of convicted criminals sentenced with the death penalty. He then points out that pharmaceutical companies refuse to supply the drugs to the correctional department. Blecker makes it known to the reader that we do not know if they stop supplying these drugs because of economic repercussions, or if they completely oppose capital punishment by lethal injection because of moral stances. This point helps his argument because he is manipulating the less educated individuals by avoiding answering the question. This point also hurts his argument by tiptoeing around providing an accurate answer to this question. After the first couple paragraphs Blecker leads into how capital punishment is fair, but the use of lethal injection is not. There are many instances where he explicitly explains that lethal injection is not just because we treat the death of a criminal similar to the passing of a loved one. Blecker throws in a personal experience that helps him gain credibility. He states, “While witnessing an execution in Florida, I shuttered. It felt too much like a hospital or hospice” (Blecker, Paragraph 8). This gives him support to back his argument that lethal injection is compared to medicine and adds more comfort to the execution when it should more fit the crime. Blecker transitions to the concept of using a firing squad to execute a criminal. He then mentions that in the firing squad, some of the shooters are loaded with blanks. None of the shooters are aware if they have a live bullet or a blank. This eliminates the shooter from feeling responsible for the criminal’s death. Blecker shows his frustration with societies inability to take responsibility for the punishment of criminals. This strengthens his argument because it brings more examples of different styles of executions in the United States. This also helps the reader understand that Blecker is well educated on the topic of capital punishment, which in all increases his believability. In the last few paragraphs he shows his perspective on the inabilities of the prison systems to justifiably punish the criminals. He argues that people with worse crimes have a better life in prison than those who have committed petty crimes. Using the improper structure of the prison systems is another way Blecker manipulates his readers. He uses this paragraph to express that the criminals in maximum security get the most comfortable living with the best jobs, source of contraband, and hustles. On the opposing side the criminals with only petty crimes get preyed upon daily. This helps his argument by expressing again that the cruelest criminals have not only the most comfortable arrangements, but also a more comfortable way to receive the lethal injection. In Blecker’s last sentences he hopes that abolitionists successfully get lethal injection abolished. This weakens his argument because it shows the reader that he is not firm the debate for or against the death penalty. He also, reiterates his point that justice must be served for the victims by killing the criminal. Blecker believes that in due time the population will find a constitutional way to properly execute those who deserve the ultimate punishment. Blecker finishes his argumentative article by saying, “Rest assured, when we can only achieve justice by killing a vicious killer, We, the people will find a constitutional way to do it” (Blecker, Paragraph 16). This last sentence weakens the entire article because it gives makes the reader question as to why Blecker wrote this article in the first place. He lays out many important arguments in the body of his article and persuades the reader in what to believe but he never offers any solution. A flawed part of Blecker’s argument would be leaving out some major details that tie into capital punishment. He only discussed two of the five major ways there are to execute criminals. However, the other approved methods of execution such as hanging, electrocution, and gas chamber are rarely used. A point where he could have strengthened his article is by offering an alternative way of executing a criminal. Offering different methods of execution would have helped Blecker strengthen his argument by figuratively bringing more knowledge to the table. In conclusion, Blecker only brings to light a problem without offering a solution. Possibly this was done with the purpose to help entice Americans to come up with solutions to the capital punishment problem themselves. Also, one could say that he is not one hundred percent behind his beliefs. There are points throughout his article where he offers some support to the opposition. This should be taken lightly however, because one could argue that he does this to make fun of his opposition’s viewpoint. It is left to the reader to decide exactly what he meant. Blecker expressed many ideas in his article that he backs with excellent support. He also offers experiences and thoughts that allow the reader to connect on an emotional level. This allows him to construct an article that is able to manipulate the reader to agree with him on the idea of capital punishment. Furthermore it brings to light multiple ideas that are constantly being over looked for the fear of expressing one’s beliefs within American society.
"Abolitionist." Dictionary.com. Random House Inc, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. .
Blecker, Robert. "With Death Penalty, Let Punishment Truly Fit the Crime." CNN. Cable News Network, 22 Aug. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. .