English 100, Sky line College
Paper # 2 Analyzing Arguments
Some serious criminal offenses are punishable by death, most often violent homicides where it is determined by the jury that the convicted offender lacks remorse. Capital punishment, commonly referred to as the death penalty, remains controversial and has been outlawed in some states. H. L. Mencken as well as Anna Quindlen both write about the most controversial subject of the death penalty. While Mencken’s the penalty of death writing contained many facts, on the other hand Quindlen's essay "Execution," has many different aspects. She uses facts, and also her own judgments, and different testimonies. Some facts that she used would be the Ted Bundy story and the many aspects that she throws into it. One judgment that she made would be that she doesn't believe the deterrence is what proponents seek from the death penalty. She gets a lot of her testimony, statements from the Bundy case. The difference between an eyewitness and expert testimony is huge. An eyewitness does have facts, but they are very scattered and usually misplaced. Whereas an expert testimony is true facts and usually from doctors, lawyers, or experts in the topic being questioned about, the main reason why it seemed that Quindlen had a hard time picking her side on the topic, would be all her own opinions on the topic. Most of the things she talked about coming back to what she thinks should happen or what shouldn't happen. Mencken speaks satirically in the essay as an upstanding citizen patriotically supporting his country’s justice system while, also patriotically, offering helpful suggestions to improve it. The syntax is kept simple and many colloquialisms and clichés are used to give the speaker a personal, conversational voice. Mencken writes mainly for the pro-death penalty audience, as this “patriotic” perspective is exaggerated to the point where it mocks these advocates. This tone is achieved through exaggeration, such as the first “argument against capital punishment” that is discussed, saying “that hanging a man…is degrading to those who have to do it and revolting to those who have to witness it” (Mencken). Mencken does not mention the obvious arguments against the death penalty, such as a person’s right to life, instead exaggerating the American priority on a person’s own comfort. Also contributing to the sarcastic, mocking tone is euphemism, such as the repeated use of “katharsis” as a blatant replacement for “revenge”. I think when it came down to it Mencken's article was the more effective of the two. This is because Mencken asserts every member of society, has a particular function, regardless of how unpleasant his or her jobs may be; the job needs to be completed. Mencken writes, “It may be quite necessary to society for all that “(444). Mencken is saying that various types of employment are uncongenial. Nonetheless, they are necessary for a given society to function effectively and efficiently. Mencken compares the unwelcomed job function of a hangman to that of a plumber, priest, soldier, and garbage-man and didn't base anything on his own opinion which was something Quindlen did a lot. Quindlen's essay identifies what are, judgment, eyewitness testimony, and expert testimony. A judgment she made was she doesn't believe the deterrence is what proponents seek from the death penalty. She is basically an eyewitness just because an eyewitness does have facts, but they are very scattered and usually misplaced. I think why she had a hard time picking her side on the topic was because she was saying what they should and shouldn't do. Giving out her opinions, but not really knowing which to choose out of those. While I was reading Mencken's argument there was a certain emotion I felt which the word katharsis was when he says "a school boy disliking his teacher, deposits a tack upon the pedagogical chair; the...
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