The Penalty of Death
The death penalty is very much one of society’s necessary evils, one that can never be clear cut
or completely supported. Since the beginning of time, the words “an eye for an eye” have been taught
to us, most of us since childhood. One has to think, if that philosophy was good enough for God, it has to
be good enough for us all, right? Is that a fair statement in today’s society?
In writing this article, Mencken voiced his opinions on many aspects of the death penalty. In
covering ethos, pathos and logos, Mencken unfortunately did not do a great job applying ethos. The
definition of ethos is to be convincing, to be an authority and credible. I did not think the author did any
of these adequately enough. Considering the article was mostly opinion based, he did not prove himself
as an authority on the written topic. He did however do a much better job applying pathos. I feel he
used humor throughout the article to appeal to the readers emotions. His ability to actually use
humorous verbiage on such a “heavy” topic could actually play in his favor and perhaps sway a reader to
see his point of view. Again, I think the author failed to apply logos. There were no solid reasons given
throughout his argument, only his onions. If the author was hoping to convince a reader to agree with
his point of view, he should have or could have achieved this more effectively by using logos. Logos has
been viewed as Aristotle's favorite and could actually be the key point to winning any argument or
proving the intended point effectively.
Mencken chose to cover two hot points of the death penalty upfront. He discussed “frying and
gassing” (p 524) and also the “dreadful business” (p 524) of those having to be involved. His choice to
use the words, “frying and gassing “(p 524) was a bit risqué and on the edge. Mencken also goes on to
say that his point of the occupation being a dreadful...
References: Mencken, H.L. “The Penalty of Death” The Purposeful Argument, A Practical Guide. Ed. Patricia Bostian and Harry Phillips. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012. Pg. 524-526, Print
Please join StudyMode to read the full document