Capital Punishment and Society's Views
“The question with which we must deal with is not whether a substantial proportion of American citizens would today, if polled, opine that capital punishment is barbarously cruel, but whether they would find it to be so in light of all information presently available.” -U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall
According to the American Society of Criminology, each year there are about 250 people added to death row and 35 executed in the United States. The death penalty is the harshest form of punishment enforced in the United Sates today. Once a jury has been convicted of a criminal offense, they go to the second part of the trial, the punishment phase. If the jury recommends the death penalty and the judge agrees, then the criminal will face some form of execution; lethal injection is the most common form used today.
Capital punishment is a difficult issue and there are as many different opinions as there are people. In H.L. Mencken’s “The Penalty of Death”, and Anna Quindlan’s “Execution”, both sides attempt to persuade the reader to the their viewpoint of capital punishment. However, after reading the two essays, I found Anna Quindlan’s “Execution” had a stronger argument according to the guidelines in Joseph Trimmer’s “Writing With A Purpose.”
Anna Quindlan had a more classic argument whereas H. L. Mencken’s argument resembled persuasion. Although both authors support the idea of the death penalty, Quindlan is more objective, showing both sides of the argument. Mencken talked too briefly about the downside, and when he did mention it, it was immediately dismissed, saying it was “plainly to weak to need serious refutation.”
Furthermore, I felt that Quindlan’s writing style was much more compelling than that of Mencken’s. Although Mencken has some good points in his arguments, he has no facts to back anything up.
In many essays, diction helps determine the quality of a piece. However, in this case, the big, “fancy” words make it harder to follow. Mencken sounds condescending, as if to say the reader isn’t on the same level as he is. Quindlan’s essay uses much more straightforward and understandable words and keeps the reader interested with clear points.
In Anna Quindlan’s essay, she speaks of having a conflict between her rational feelings, and her “gut instinct”. One example of this is when she states that she, in theory, does not think that people should be put to death. However, she later mentions her opinion would change if faced with being the parent of a...