Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Major Persuasion Paper Rough Draft

I emailed it to everyone. Check your inboxes.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

PETA: Imagery

In the case of PETA, I feel like they have the right and the responsibility to show the "real world" of animal cruelty. Not only is it strong support for their cause, but people have the right to know what happens especially within international brands and eateries.

Personally, I cannot watch much of any of the movies on their website. Its a harsh reality that bothers me enormously. But knowing that, I should watch more, but choose not to for my own sanity.

People like me know the lengths that PETA goes to demonstrate their point. It is clear and effective and at times hard to watch. Knowing that, individuals who wish not to see it should just choose not to go to their site.

PETA has the right to show reality and the truth behind animal cruelty. It is socially responsible, just, and worth of our applause. They are uncovering problems with our society's treatment of living creatures. It is somewhat extreme, but I believe necessary to get peoples' attention and education the public of the magnitude of our own actions.

Although I have always wondered where the group gets its footage from...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

MPP 2: Op-ed

When "Fair Trade" is Not

Fair trade certification classifies over 180 different products. From bananas, to cut flowers and coffee, the organization TransFair USA certifies products that were grown in safe working conditions and sold by the farmers at a fair price. Although it is an honorable concept, the "fairness" of fair trade is questionable.

The fair trade system has not been appropriately scrutinized. The classification of fair trade itself connotates a positive and just system; after all, who would want to buy something called "exploitation coffee?" Most businesses boast their involvement with fair trade and the ethics of their products with the certification. However, a little digging produces a starkly different reality.

In theory, the customer pays a little more for fair trade products so the farmers can gain more financially. In truth, it doesn't work as smoothly or ethically as one would assume. To receive certification, farmers must navigate accreditation bureaucracies and make unnecessary sacrifices. For instance, despite cultural and personal objections, farmers must give up their small business status and join cooperatives, just to be candidates for the fair trade stamp of approval.

"Its like outlawing private enterprise," said Dan Cox, former head of the Speciality Coffee Association of America.

Since co-operatives are mandatory, many African farmers, organized along tribal lines, are excluded from even pursuing fair trade status. And even within co-ops, there is overwhelming evidence of leadership corruption and worker abuse. Annual inspections by fair trade certifiers fail to even check the farmers' wages.

What's more troubling is the irony of fair trade products being sold at infamous discount stores such as Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart chain seems to epitomize everything that the fair trade movement is working against: Wal-Mart's poor treatment of its own workers, its anti-union stance, and accusations of sweatshop issues. Selling "fair trade" anything at Wal-Mart is an oxymoron. Nevertheless, TransFair has approved three of Wal-Mart's house-brand coffees as fair trade certified.

The problem with including Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, and other big businesses, is that they prefer importing the "fair trade" items from big plantations. They would rather to continue their relationships with mass producers than taking the traditional route of identifying small farmers and purchasing directly from them.

It has been called "fair trade lite" by some and rightfully so. "There may be reforms, but it is a kindler, gentler, version of of the same old thing and fall short of what some of us are advocating," said Rink Dickinson, the president and co-founder a company committed to buying only from farmer-run co-ops.

TransFair sets different standards in the certification of fair trade plantations. But the very fact that plantations (repressive symbols of Euro-American colonialism) are now considered "fair trade" should be appalling. Many overseas plantations are still owned by their original rich white European colonizers. Plantation owners got where they are by exploiting the land and people in developing countries. The bottom line is, farmers need the chance to move forward. Repressive history shall not be repeated, especially disguised as something ethical and fair.

TransFair needs to go back to its roots and make their decisions on good motives, not business profit gains. Fair trade was started to benefit the farmers and should continue to work toward the good of developing countries. Whether Americans like it or not, we are active in the world of unjust trade and impoverishing practices. Fair trade certification must guarantee more than a marketing technique that clears our consciousness. The values and principles behind this movement need to be fully incorporated into the organization, its certification process, and decisions regarding fair trade distribution. Trade can be fair, but only under a new definition of justice and ethics. Let us work toward that goal together, fully aware of the impact our buying habits have on people around the world.

Responsible Motherhood

From my perspective as a female and someone who hopes to have children some day, I that both 1. entering the military when you have children or 2. having children when you cannot support them are not good decisions from a parenting standpoint. Although Applebaum made a strong argument for a preferential treatment of single mothers and maternity benefits for women serving in the military, it is hard to fathom the justification of such a preference when part of the job description includes serving in the war and being deployed for lengths of time. It is commendable that women are now joining to serve the country and attempting to support their children in a non-traditional manner, but it is not a good career for either fathers or mothers who want to raise their children and be there for them in the future. The very nature of a military occupation makes it a questional occupation for both fathers and mothers, and especially single parents. Sticking to a safer job would be ideal in the situation of parenting. I was somewhat upset that Applebaum took such a stereotypical view of mothers and females. She didn't take into account the hardships faced by military fathers and seemed to overemphasize the motherly instincts.

Most people would also agree that parents should budget to ensure they can support their potential offspring. In the case of Nadya Suleman, she is neither a competent mother nor a responsible one. She has obviously overstepped the boundaries in female rights to reproduction. It is upsetting because she has seemingly single-handedly made a joke of women's right to choose.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Grant Writing: Letter of Intent

The Human Rights Initiative is a Seattle organization that addresses issues of human rights and promotes racial, ethnic, and religious diversity. We are located in the Greenlake neighborhood in Seattle, Washington and serve citizens of King County. The organization was established shortly after September 11th in response to racial profiling and hate crimes.

The Human Rights Initiative hopes to have a community event where local children and citizens can learn about other cultures and meet refugees and people from various backgrounds. The costs involved would include materials for kids' interactive activities, the rental of a location to host the event, and transportation and other associated reimbursements for volunteer performers. We are hoping to host the event in a central location such as downtown or Key Arena, which would be accessible to a greater number of local residents.

To the Human Rights Initiative and American citizens in general, there is a substantial need for acceptance and cultural awareness education, especially among young adults and children. As a result of September 11th and fears that followed, certain communities, especially Middle Easterners, have been ostracized and misrepresented by the media. We hope to counteract the negativity and work to...

Grant Writing: Idea and What to Do

In the same arena of torture and interrogation, I would want to focus on human rights and the the public perception of foreigners, especially people who may look like the suspects in recent terrorist attacks. Once the public an associate and accept people who may look like the perceived "bad" guys, people will grow to be more understanding toward those communities. I would propose to have public lectures about Islam and events to share Middle Eastern culture. I think it would be especially beneficial to target a younger audience and have events at some of the local elementary-high schools. When students and others can appreciate and befriend people like this, the public's tolerance and compassion can grow. Potentially in the future, there would be no distinction based on religion or appearance. If kids learn when they are young, torture and inhumane interrogation techniques may no longer be an issue for America. I also believe that with efforts like this, the image of responsible and accepting Americans will grow out of it.

Minor Persuasive Paper #1

Part I:

On the topic of fair trade my credibility will be questioned, so I need to explain my authority on the matter. To prove good sense, it would be best for me to explain my background at Starbucks and the close relationship that the company has in supporting fair trade. Based on the “insider” view that I provide, I can prove that I am informed and knowledgeable on the issue and controversy behind fair trade products (especially coffee) and have done my homework.

To establish my good character, I would cite the positive things that professors and employers have said about my personality. More importantly, since fair trade addresses issues of international affairs and justice, I would highlight my credential as an international studies major. Especially since I am interested and advocate for the issues of developing countries, pointing out that fact would help boost my credibility.

My final work will primarily be a way to inform the my readers/viewer. In order to demonstrate goodwill, I will try to present factual information and demonstrate the importance of fair trade. I will use ethical means of persuasion.

Part II:

Shachar Erez:
http://psdblog.worldbank.org/psdblog/2006/01/what_is_fair_tr.html#comments

Peter James:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/alex_singleton/blog/2008/02/23/the_poverty_of_fairtrade_coffee


The first emotionally effective post was on the Private Sector Development Blog by the World Bank Group in response to the question “What is Fair Trade for?”. Shachar Erez advocates for fair trade and targets a very broad audience . The argument is emotionally persuasive because Erez devotes most it to the principles behind fair trade. Erez points out that the gains from fair trade certification are more than monetary. The post starts with the statement: “I ask myself, ‘What kind of world do I want to live in, and how can I make that possible?” Erez honors fair trade by stating that it is “justice,” not charity. The larger issue behind fair trade is respect.

Erez also uses enargeia to raise the readers’ emotional intensity. He/she encourages people to imagine being a farmer. The farmers’ economic limitations are described in detail. Tragic outcomes such as a forced move to city slums or illegally immigrating for work also tug on readers’ heartstrings. In the end, the obvious ethical choice for everyone, he/she argues, should be fair trade.

Another post was in response to a journalist article written on the blog of British newspaper The Telegraph. The original article “The Poverty of Fairtrade Coffee” was written by Alex Singleton. In a particularly effective anti-fair trade post, Peter James describes a world where farmers are “thrown to the wolves.” Like Erez, James uses enargeia, but in this case, to depict the distributor-controlled food chain and current world of globalization. He claims that governments have rejected farmers and instead favored free trade. Those farmers in the developing world are left poor because they lack the technology required in the world distribution system.

James employs pejorative language to criticize fair trade. He said says fair trade is “fighting the inevitable” and “hopelessly na├»ve.” The efforts of fair trade are described as “misguided.” Since it is written for ethically minded shoppers, the argument is especially effective since it attacks the “brand name” of fair trade by highlighting its misleading advertising and propaganda.

Both posts appeal to basic human principles and values that most people share. For instance Erez makes the argument for the justice and respect that comes with fair trade. James, on the other hand, makes a negative association with fair trade and demonstrates how consumers have been deceived and violated. They also use pejorative language to criticize their opposition.

The posts are effective because they address issues brought up by the opposite point of view. Erez acknowledges that some people consider fair trade charity, but is quick to point out why that opinion is wrong. Both authors recognize opinions that are contrary to their beliefs, but then they use it to enhance their own argument. Erez and James try to appeal to people who would initially disagree with their attitudes toward fair trade. Erez tries to address a general audience with and frames it as a human rights issue. James works with the internationally concerned group and attempts to prove the inefficiency of the fair trade system.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Seattle School Board Superintendent

Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson,

I wanted to personally send you a letter addressing aspects of your school closures which I respectfully disagree with. I understand the budget concerns and issues with funding and money, however I cannot fathom that it is in the city's interest to consolidate and close schools. The school board's function and ultimate responsibility is to provide for the appropriate education to students regardless of their socio-economic background, race, religion, or performance level.

As a public school student myself, and someone who volunteers as a tutor within the school setting, I recognize the difficulty in addressing each individuals' needs. However, for the city to neglect or disregard students in any circumstance is irresponsible and unacceptable. The school closures and consolidations are proof to some that Seattle is putting education on a back burner. In times like these, schools and young students need to be a priority.

Families, especially in minority and underprivileged communities, feel as though they have been abandoned by the one thing promised to them. Education is their ticket to a better life, a stable job, and the American dream. At the same time, families with resources are not willing to jeopardize their children's potential to a failing school system. The loss of the public's confidence and trust may be the worse loss of them all.

The damage has been done and with your proposal's passing not much more has to be said. I would just advise that the fallout is not far away and we are all hoping to salvage what is left.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

College Humor Review

College Humor is a surprising find. Even the skeptical (myself included) can appreciate the fresh humor of the site turned TV show. What began as a personal website has grown into an entrepreneurial comedy brand name. Their target audience, male college students, is apparent. Although some videos can be vulgar and involve sex humor and alcohol, if you can get over the initial shock you will probably appreciate the smart humor.

Much of their content parodies American culture and college realities. The laugh factor is brought on by the truth that they point out and mock. In one video, “Honest College” it is set up like a TV promotion for a university. However in it,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

MAP Claim

Although torture is often framed in a moral context, it is more important to work with the issue from a legal angle. As various precedents and recent rulings have made clear, the importance of torture and eradicating it lie in laws, executive orders, and lawsuits filed on behalf of the victims.

Various lawyers have commented on and written about the issue of torture. Their input is valuable. However, it is ultimately the legal dimension that makes all the difference...

Debate Response

I am impressed with general knowledge I gained about the Alaskan Way viaduct just from the short debate. I honestly have not kept up with the issues and am fairly uninformed on the plan. But after hearing each side, I favor building the viaduct. I think the economic issues were the most persuasive factor in my stance.

I originally didn't support this side, but examining the current economic down turn that we are experiencing, this is an issue that needs to be addressed, both for short term and long term economic health. The government needs a plan to provide jobs for people and improve the infrastructure long-term. I envision this tunnel acting on a small-scale in the same way FDR's New Deal responded to the depression.

Initial costs will be high, but I that is to be expected for a project this size. There are costs and payoffs and at this point we need to take whatever will be best both long-term and short term.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Major Analysis Paper

Torture and America’s Role

Torture and American interrogation techniques have dominated recent international news. The way the American government responds will shape domestic and foreign perception on the morals underlying the American military and justice systems. The U.S is held to high international expectations, but still tries to maintain its domestic affairs and protect American citizens. While the U.S. tries to balance national security and respect for human dignity, the question is asked, how far is the world’s superpower willing to go? By some standards, American treatment of detainees has already crossed the line. Torture is an unavoidable discussion because it is a worldwide issue. America’s decision ultimately has the ability to shape an international audience and the world’s understanding of what is acceptable and what is not.

The persuasive appeal is highly emotional on both fronts. Since a democratic process will largely impact the county’s decision, much of the information and articles target the general American population. On one side, groups call for the government and military to abide by international laws, respect the rights and dignity of all people, and uphold American ideals of liberty, freedom, and justice. These arguments tend to be targeted toward a liberal audience since they are more sympathetic to issues of social freedom. The opposition emphasizes the severity of the security predicament and encourages “advanced interrogation techniques” as a last resort to protect the American way of life from terrorists. This reasoning resonates with a conservative crowd because most conservatives advocate a strong military and more forceful international policy.

Until September 11th, the question of torture was a non-issue. In 1992 Congress passed the Torture Victims Protection Act, which allows a torture victim to sue the torturer in U.S. courts regardless of where the act occurred. More importantly, America signed onto the 1949 United Nations Geneva Convention that prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners captured in war. The Geneva Convention was also incorporated into the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice and federal criminal liability was established for violations (Bullard, 15).

However, with the “war on terror,” a “new paradigm” emerged. This new fight is against Islamic extremists, terrorist who attacked the World Trade Center on September 11th. People believe the U.S. is fighting a new war and needs to make exceptions to save citizens and protect the country. Executive power was expanded and detainees could be designated as terrorists by presidential fiat (rather an status review by a tribunal). If designated as such, the prisoner is denied habeas corpus, the right to contest their detention, and have the potential to be maltreated. When information on Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons and the CIA’s secret detentions and deportations was released, the international community turned their back against America and condoned our practices (Bullard, 15).

The proponents’ rhetoric crafts a world where the alternative to torture is death. Reality for the group closely resembles the work of the Counter Terrorism Unit from the TV drama “24.” It is do or die for America and the time bomb is ticking. Everyday is a scramble to save the world from certain death by the terrorists (Mayer).

Much of their stance toward torture is grounded in a hierarchy primarily valuing security, national interests, and authority. Proponents assume there will be “collateral damage” in this War on Terror and in their view suspected terrorists should not be excluded from the deaths and injuries. Sam Harris, in his article “In Defense of Torture,” stated, “Accidentally torturing an innocent man is better than accidentally blowing him and his children to bits.”

Since proponents assume detainees possess valuable information, which threatens American’s well being, it is easy to justify the means that extract it. They present torture as a last resort. It is reserved for the terrorists who are knowledgeable and well connected to plans of destruction. “There is no other way to find out what these terrorists are plotting and planning,” said Marc Thiessen in “The Moral Basis for CIA Interrogations.” Interrogations are only used on individuals withholding unique information.

Considering the threat that terrorism poses and the potential for certain untold disaster, proponents hail the restraint of the program. They claim the CIA uses the “least coercive methods necessary (Thiessen).” It is asserted that the program is limited. The small-scale of torture is cited as only three detainees were subjected to waterboarding (Thiessen).

Proponents include “enhanced interrogation techniques” in their world of ethical and necessary precautions. It is a choice that is not preferred, but a forced choice based on the American predicament. In their view, torture is the future of war and conflict. “If we are unwilling to torture, we should be unwilling to wage modern war (Harris).” Torture is simply unavoidable.

Characters who act in the proponents’ world epitomize the differences in each side’s approach to terrorism. Opponents are criticized for their lack of action and naivety in trusting “radical pacifism (Thiessen).” “There seems no question that if all the good people in the world adopted Gandhi’s ethics, the thugs would inherit the earth (Harris).” In this world, the opponents are foolish and cowardly. Not only are they unwilling to take on the threats, but the population will suffer because of it.

Proponents, on the other hand, are the heroes working actively to prevent a crisis. The interrogations are properly applied to fulfill moral purposes. They work with the notion that it is better to risk a terrorist’s life before putting someone innocent in danger (Harris). Torture is used as a last resort to get the necessary information in order to “protect society and the lives of the innocent (Thiessen).”

In short, today’s modern warfare calls for new techniques, among them advanced interrogation methods. In the name of national security and the interests of innocent people everywhere, torture is the less of two evils and currently the best option available to the American military. As long as the practice is restrained, limited, and for a moral purpose, it is necessary and ethical (Thieesen).

In contrast, opponents perceive a world where the U.S. is in a moral dilemma. All the morals that the country has held true were dashed with the torture allegations. In the opponents’ view, the notion of torture is a moral issue, a struggle for the “soul of the nation (Horton).” American ideals and values that the country was once admired for are now signs of hypocrisy. In this reality, the question is raised to the citizens, “Is this really who we are (On Torture)?”

As with the proponents, values and morals dominate the opponents’ discussions. However, their value hierarchies differ substantially. Opponents disagree with the favor militaristic reasoning of their counterparts. Instead they regard the ideals of humanity, integrity, and honor as the most important when framing this debate.

Opponents hold the view that torture is immoral; they also compliment it with evidence that it is ineffective and counterproductive. In the article “Challenging Torture” by Scott Horton, he outlined the false intelligence that has resulted from interrogations. Al-Libi, while being torture, claimed that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction. Opponents imply that many of the challenges America is facing are a direct result of the mistake to torture. In the opponents’ world, people are now in more danger than before. The article “On Torture and American Values” claims U.S. soldier who are captured now have a higher risk of being tortured themselves. Al-Qaeda has also benefited with a boost in their recruitment numbers.

Considering the moral wrongdoings that are associated with torture, religion influences the opponents’ worldview. According to Anglican priest John Donne, torture is a moral sin. He said of tortures, “They therefore oppose God in his purpose of dignifying the body of man…mangle this body, which is the organ in which God breathes (Horton).” His clear, clerical, anti-torture stance calls on the faithful to have the courage to eradicate it.

The proponent characters in the opponent’s world highlight the worst of the war hawk tactics of recent years. President Bush and his administration are viewed and criticized for acting out of line and barbarically. “Some of their methods- simulated drowning, extreme ranges of heat and cold…had been classified as torture for decades by civilized nations (On Torture).” In this world, most of the blame is put directly on the former president. His administration is described as unaccountable, “hidden in the shadows and have manipulated the levers of power to shield themselves from public scrutiny and from accountability in any form (Horton).”

The opponents’ characters are the only hope for America’s redemption. They work to salvage the U.S.’s reputation on the international scene. American morals and ideals need to be restored in the public and governmental realms. These untainted individuals in the opponents’ view have the lofty goal of redefining American justice and making sure this mistake is never repeated again.

As explored above, torture is seen as a moral issue and one that questions the very essence of the American spirit. Not only has the U.S. been accused of disobeying international law, but also our own military and judicial systems are called into question. “Clinging to the administration’s policies will only cause further harm to America’s global image and to our legal system (On Torture).” Torture is an issue that begs to be corrected for all the world’s citizens.

To again reiterate the other end of the spectrum, defendants of torture assert that stronger methods are authorized in order to combat the threats the country is facing now. To uphold American citizens’ right to life, the military is morally obligated to interrogate detainees when conditions warrant it.

However, the textual arguments seem to contain contradictions. Harris claimed that even if the tortured confessions were unreliable, the U.S. should continue to use interrogation methods in the “chance that our interests will be advanced.” If it is a one-in-a-million shot, is there any justification or defense of torture? It seems as though this argument should have been considered irrelevant.

In addition, Thiessen’s justification based on Just War Theory was a stretch as well. Three of the six conditions for Just War Theory are debatable in the case of torture, among them: there must be a serious prospect of success, all other means of putting an end it (war) must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective, and the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The Just War Theory is a poor use of rhetoric.
Thiessen’s hard-line stance for torture can be a turn off for the undecided population. As President Bush’s former speechwriter, his political ties and close association to the administration discredit his ethos. CIA torturers are “American heroes” Thiessen claimed in a separate instance (Khanna). It would be beneficial to his argument to recognize the opposing side and strategically temper the degree of torture he advocates.

For opponents of torture, to paraphrase, the issue is largely a moral one. U.S.’s image, ideals, and the world’s faith in us are all in question. In order to revive the American spirit, torture must be eradicated so real justice can prevail.

Nevertheless, the expert testimony of Darius Rejali in Horton’s article produces a rhetorical fallacy. Rejali’s position on torture is summarized as follows, once torture becomes a practice authorized “by law in some circumstances it spreads very quickly, and ultimately the prohibitions against torturing citizens could not be sustained (Horton).” It is a slippery slope in that it claims one action will lead to another and another, having a significant impact. The fallacy does not allow for middle ground on the issue of interrogation of detainees verses the country’s own citizens.

Horton’s argument remains strong based on his background and ethos. As a New York attorney known for his specialty in human rights law and the law of armed conflict, Horton’s qualifications this piece enhance his ethos. The fact that he recently led a number of studies investigating the abuses for the New York City Bar Association make it more probable that people will seriously consider his points and overall stance on torture.

The issues surrounding torture are still relevant due to recent administration and presidential changes. President Obama holds torture in a critical and unconstitutional light compared to President Bush’s approval of the tactics. The recent policy changes enacted by Obama would be one place to enter the conversation. The issues surrounding the Guantanamo Bay closure and what to do with detainees at the facility could be explored from multiple angles.

It was only days after inauguration that President Obama issued four executive orders, which aim to close the detention center, construct new a legal policy for terrorism detainees, and end the CIA’s “enhanced interrogations.” From the date of the executive orders, January 22, 2009, CIA interrogators are no longer authorized to use any techniques not listed in the Army Field Manual. The manual was rewritten in 2006 to emphasize its compliance with the Geneva Conventions and U.S. laws banning torture (Ackerman).

With all the changes that have come, President Obama has not entirely opened the torture conversation. In a recent torture accusation case, his administration argued for the preservation of state secrets. Previously, concerning the same case, the Bush administration contented that the case should be dropped It was argued that the very act of discussing it could threaten national security and international relations. The similarities that the current administration shares with Bush’s legal stance have upset opponents of torture who were hoping for a more open system (Schwartz).

At this point in history, torture and its continuation is uncertain. Each appeal can help shape national decisions on this serious topic. The issue of torture must be discussed, debated, and decided for America, our future, and the lives of the people on both sides of the interrogations.

Major Analysis Paper: Bibliography

Ackerman, Spencer. “Ex-CIA Official: Torture Ban a ‘Great Leap Forward.’” The Washington Independent. 22 January 2009. Accessed 1 February 2009.
< http://washingtonindependent.com/26918/obama-torture>

American Civil Liberties Union. 19 November 2008. Accessed 31 January 2009.

Bullard, Alice. Human Rights in Crisis. London: Ashgate, 2008. Accessed 29 January 2009.

Harris, Sam. “In Defense of Torture.” The Huffington Post. 14 October 2005. Accessed 15 January 2009. < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/in-defense-of-torture_b_8993.html>

Horton, Scott. “Challenging Torture.” Harper’s Magazine. 4 February 2008. Accessed 28 January 2009. < http://harpers.org/archive/2008/02/hbc-90002305>

“How to Manual Found in Al Qaeda Safe House Shows Disturbing Torture Methods.” Fox News. 27 May 2007. Accessed 1 February 2009.

Ignatius, David. “Stepping Back From Torture.” The Washington Post. 16 December 2005. Accessed 2 February 2009.

Khanna, Satyam. “Radical Right-Wing Agenda.” Think Progress. 26 January 2009. Accessed 1 February 2009.

Mayer, Jane. “Whatever it Takes.” The New Yorker. 19 February 2007. Acccessed 30 January 2009.

McCarthy, Andrew C.. “International Law Targets American Sovereignty.” The National Review. 9 December 2004. Accessed 27 January 2009.

“On Torture and American Values.” The New York Times. 7 October 2007. Accessed 31 January 2009.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. War. 28 July 2005. Accessed 10 February 2009. Stanford University.

Schwartz, John. “Obama Backs Off a Reversal on Secrets.” The New York Times. 9 February 2009. Accessed 10 February 2009. < http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/us/10torture.html?hp>

Thiessen, Marc. “The Moral Basis for CIA Interrogations.” National Review Online. 27 January 2009. Accessed 29 January 2009.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SU by Alex LaCasse

Alex LaCasse, junior journalism major, appreciates the small, intimate feel of SU’s environment.

“It is easy to find your niche,” LaCasse said.

As opposed to large state schools, SU has an established mission statement and outlined goals of its education. Many students come here because of that, he explained.

“I like how the campus shares the same values and ideals,” said LaCasse. “Things like social justice and community service are important here.”

SU seems to share this mentality and LaCasse is proud to be part of that.

“We have established who we are and what we’re about.”

SU D-1: Chreia

Isocrates believes that one's initial plunge into the unknown, something new, may be a challenge. However, he would argue that the pay off is worth the effort.

This saying applies to the case of Seattle University's move to back to NCAA Division 1 athletics. It has been years since SU Men's Basketball has taken on the likes of Cal-Irvine, Louisiana Tech, and Loyola Marymount, so it is understandably an uphill battle for the team. The odds are stacked against the newly kids on the block.

Steve Kelley's article on Redhawk basketball outlines the challenges that SU sports are bound to stumble on, but also highlights some success that the team has already had. The hardships have already strengthened the team and their spirit.

But with the upcoming game against the UW Huskies on March 3, their hopes may be momentarily dashed. This battle in Seattle may be too much too soon for the SU squad...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Major Analysis Paper

Torture and America’s Role

Torture and American interrogation techniques are the human rights debate of the century. The way the American government responds will shape domestic and foreign perception on the morals underlying the American military and justice systems, because the U.S is held to high international expectations, but still tries to protect its citizens first. While the U.S. tries to balance national security and respect for human dignity, the question is asked, how far is the world’s largest superpower willing to go? By some standards, we have already crossed the line based on our treatment of detainees. Torture is an unavoidable discussion because it is a worldwide issue. America’s decision has the ability to ultimately shape an international audience and the world’s understanding of what is acceptable and what is not.

The persuasive appeal is highly emotional on both fronts. Since a democratic process will largely make the decision, much of the information and articles target the general American population. On one side, groups call for the government and military to abide by international laws, respect the rights and dignity of all people, and uphold American ideals of liberty, freedom, and justice. The opposition emphasizes the severity of our predicament and encourages “advanced interrogation techniques” as a last resort to protect our way of life from terrorists.

Until September 11th, the question of torture was a non-issue. In 1992 Congress passed the Torture Victims Protection Act, which allows a torture victim to sue the torturer in U.S. courts regardless of where the act occurred. More importantly, America signed onto the 1949 United Nations Geneva Convention that prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners captured in war. The Geneva Convention was also incorporated into the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice and federal criminal liability was established for violations.

However, with the “war on terror,” a “new paradigm” emerged. This new fight is against Islamic extremists, terrorist who ruthlessly attack our way of life. People believe we are fighting a new war and need to make exceptions to save citizens and protect ourselves. Executive power was expanded and detainees could be designated as terrorists by presidential fiat (rather an status review by a tribunal). If designated as such, the prisoner is denied habeas corpus, the right to contest their detention, and have the potential to be maltreated. When information on Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons and the CIA’s secret detentions and deportations was released, the international community turned their back against America and condoned our practices.

Defendants of torture observe that “collateral damage (Harris)” is bound to occur. In war, casualties on both sides are unavoidable. Furthermore, Harris claims that targeting specific people of interest is more beneficial than killing innocent civilians. “Accidentally torturing an innocent man is better than accidentally blowing him and his children to bits (Harris).” Thiessen, in his article, observed that the CIA program is limited and restrained. Only three detainees were subjected to waterboarding, asserting the fact that the CIA uses the “least coercive method necessary (Thiessen).”

Despite the evidence that the truth is negated during torture confessions, if there is a chance our interests will be advanced, it need only equal the “chance of such occasioned by the dropping of a single bomb (Harris)” to be justified. Similarly, arguments make it clear that interrogations are only used on individuals who have unique information and are withholding information (Thiessen). It is a last resort, reserved for the terrorists who are knowledgeable and well connected in the plans of their organizations. “There is no other way to find out what these terrorists are plotting and planning (Thiessen).”

They argue that “enhanced interrogation techniques” are ethical and necessary in limited circumstances. Thiessen defends the use of CIA interrogations under the Judeo-Christian tradition of “Just War” theory, where there are circumstances under which war is permissible and necessary, and ways it can be ethically conducted. Harris sees the situation as a forced choice. Drop bombs and potentially harm many or target one individual and save the others. According to some, this is the future of war and conflict; torture is simply unavoidable. “If we are unwilling to torture, we should be unwilling to wage modern war (Harris).”

Defendents craft opponents of torture as naively following “radical pacifism (Thiessen).” “There seems no question that if all the good people in the world adopted Gandhi’s ethics, the thugs would inherit the earth (Harris).” Instead they assert that the interrogations are for a moral purpose. Despite the common objection to torture based on the morals, Harris urges readers to separate the violence from one’s idea of torture. In his perspective, it is better to risk a terrorist’s life before putting someone innocent in danger. Torture is used as a last resort to get the necessary information in order to “protect society and the lives of the innocent (Thiessen).”

In short, today’s modern warfare calls for new techniques, among them advanced interrogation methods. In the name of national security and the interests of innocent people everywhere, torture is the less of two evils and currently the best option available to the American military. As long as the practice is restrained, limited, and for a moral purpose, it is necessary and ethical.

In contrast, others claim the U.S. has a double standard with torture. Americans, the “good guys,” are allowed to employ torture tactics, but we forbid it from being used against our citizens. Torture is “by its nature, contagious and corrosive (Horton).” If it is allowed in some circumstances, it will spread and its prohibition could not be controlled.

This side claims the battle over torture is a moral issue, a struggle for the “soul of the nation (Horton).” The issue raises the question for the rest of the nation, “Is this really who we are (On Torture)?” America’s image was severely tarnished in light of the torture accusations and to many close allies U.S. policy is doubted more than ever. American ideals and values that we were once admired for are now signs of our hypocrisy (On Torture).

Both texts classify the torture tactics as Bush administration policy. They clearly outline the fact that the acts that occurred constituted torture, not simply interrogation. “Some of their methods- simulated drowning, extreme ranges of heat and cold…had been classified as torture for decades by civilized nations (On Torture).” Most of the blame is put upon President Bush. They describe his administration as “hidden in the shadows and have manipulated the levers of power to shield themselves from public scrutiny and from accountability in any form (Horton).”

Advocates against torture describe the false intelligence that results from interrogation. Horton outlines the evidence taken from al-Libi. While he was tortured, he claimed Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction. They go on to observe that the use of torture endangers the lives of Americans captured by enemy forces and helps in al-Qaeda’s recruiting (On Torture).
Lastly Horton explains the role of John Donne’s clerical anti-torture stance. From Donne’s position as an Anglican priest, he believed that torture is a moral sin. He said of tortures, “They therefore oppose God in his purpose of dignifying the body of man…mangle this body, which is the organ in which God breathes (Horton).”

As explored above, torture is seen as a moral issue and one that questions the very essence of the American spirit. Not only has the U.S. been accused of disobeying international law, but also our own military and judicial systems are called into question. “Clinging to the administration’s policies will only cause further harm to America’s global image and to our legal system (On Torture).” Torture is an issue that begs to be corrected for all the world’s citizens.
Both positions emphasize the urgency and strong implications that are associated with torture. America’s decision will ultimately reflect our culture’s values and morals. Advocates on either side believe the U.S. will set a precedent; the whole world is watching.

Defendants of torture agree, to combat the threats the country is facing now, harsher methods are authorized. To uphold American citizens’ right to life, the military is morally obligated to interrogate detainees when conditions warrant it.

However, the textual arguments seem to contain contradictions. Harris claimed that even if tortured confessions were unreliable, the U.S. should continue to use interrogation methods in the “chance that our interests will be advanced.” If it is a one-in-a-million shot, is there any justification or defense of torture? It seems as though this argument should have been considered irrelevant. In addition, the justification based on Just War theory was a stretch as well. Three of the four conditions for Just War Theory are debatable in the case of torture, among them: there must be a serious prospect of success, all other means of putting an end it (war) must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective, and the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The Just War Theory, used by Thiessen, is a poor use of rhetoric as well.

For opponents of torture, the issue is largely a moral one. U.S.’s image, ideals, and the world’s faith in us are all in question. In order to revive the American spirit, torture must be eradicated so real justice can prevail.

Nevertheless, the expert testimony of Darius Rejali produces a rhetorical fallacy. Rejali’s position on torture is summarized as follows, once torture becomes a practice authorized “by law in some circumstances it spread very quickly, and ultimately the prohibitions against torturing citizens could not be sustained (Horton).” It is a slippery slope in that it claims that one action will lead to another and another having a significant impact. It does not allow for a middle ground on the issue of interrogation of detainees verses the country’s own citizens.

However, the argument surrounding torture is still relevant due to recent administration and presidential changes. President Obama holds torture in a critical and unconstitutional light compared to President Bush’s approval of the tactics. The recent policy changes enacted by Obama would be one place to enter the conversation. The issues surrounding the Guantanamo Bay closure and what to do with detainees at the facility could be explored from multiple angles. Furthermore, at this point in history, the continuation of interrogations is uncertain, and each appeal can help shape national decisions on this serious topic. The issue of torture must be discussed, debated, and decided for America and for our future.


Bibliography

Harris, Sam. “In Defense of Torture.” The Huffington Post. 14 October 2005. Accessed 15 January 2009. < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/in-defense-of-torture_b_8993.html>

Horton, Scott. “Challenging Torture.” Harper’s Magazine. 4 February 2008. Accessed 28 January 2009. < http://harpers.org/archive/2008/02/hbc-90002305>

“On Torture and American Values.” The New York Times. 7 October 2007. Accessed 31 January 2009.

Thiessen, Marc. “The Moral Basis for CIA Interrogations.” National Review Online. 27 January 2009. Accessed 29 January 2009.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Narrative (in progress)

There was once a day when America was seen as home of the brave and the protector of the week. America had high morals, many friends, and the trust of the world. There were “bad guys” and America fought them off. Then one day ...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Think B4 You Speak" Campaign

The campaign “think b4 you speak” is artistic because of the celebrities that are featured in it. When stars speak, their message tends to draw people in and hold the audiences attention more. I think for some teen girls, the use of Hillary Duff is especially artistic. But I think there are better actors/celebrities that would be more popular now.

For the effect, I think it does raises the awareness that popular phrases such as “that’s so gay” can be offensive to people. The line “when you say that’s so gay, do you realize what you say?” flows well and is quick to bring the point across. It seems

In the realm of truth, it is a good rebuttal to the normal nature of the phrase. It portrays teens in various situations that they would realistically find themselves in. It works well in describing how someone could respond when someone says something like “that’s so gay.”

Lastly, ethically the commercial helps to open the conversation that was previously a one-sided one. Only recently people have begun to realize the prevalence of phrases that hurt LGBT students. It helps to even out the balance of power between the norm and LGBT rights and

Minor Analysis Paper #2: Part 1

Argument/Counter Argument

"Challenging Torture" by Scott Horton Harpers Magazine http://harpers.org/archive/2008/02/hbc-90002305

"International Law Targets American Soverignty" by Andrew C. McCarthy National Review
http://www.nationalreview.com/mccarthy/mccarthy200412090815.asp

In the article “Challenging Torture,” Scott Horton claims that the U.S. has a double standard with torture. Americans, the “good guys,” are allowed to employ torture tactics, but we forbid it from being used against our citizens. From his take, torture is “by its nature, contagious and corrosive.” The battle over torture is a moral issue, a struggle for the “soul of the nation.” In addition, Horton noted the religious significance related to torture and the power that sermons have in advocating for change.

Horton uses the warrant of ethos in the expert testimony of nationally renowned torture and interrogation expert Darius Rejali. However, most of Horton’s support came from examples. With a substantive warrant, he examined the Roman Empire ancient use of torture in association with the Bush Administration’s policy. The Romans had even more restrictions against torture than the U.S., but acknowledged that it was ineffective. Horton also discussed the recent prevalence of torture on TV. He associated Americans’ changing morals being reflected on the TV shows especially Fox’s “24”. On 24 “good” Americans are rightfully torturing terrorists to save the US citizens from another terrorist catastrophe.

In contrast, Andrew C. McCarthy’s article, “International Law Targets American Sovereignty,” argues that the ideals set forth by NGOs (such as the International Committee of the Red Cross) are outdated and too lofty for the terrorism that America is facing now. McCarthy claims that the international community’s “idealized vision of U.S. obligations is often importantly different from our actual obligations.” He believes that we should primarily follow our Constitution and consider our self-interest first. After all, he believes that international laws “chip away at the sovereignty and democratic self-determination.”

McCarthy writes from a position of great expertise. He is a former Assistant United States Attorney of New York and has led terrorism prosecutions. Thus his authoritative position grants him an ethos warrant with the audience. Substantive warrants are utilized to disassociate international law and the American Constitutional law. He finds international law to be troubling because it is uncodified and based upon assumptions from various treaties, judicial rulings, etc. Furthermore, vague descriptions classifying torture as “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” can be interpreted in different manners depending upon the culture and country. McCarthy uses substantive warrants to associate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment with the international ban on torture.

Minor Analysis Paper #2: Part 2

Value Heirachies

In “Challenging Torture,” Scott Horton’s argument rests on the fact that the public needs to play a role in advocating for change. Horton presents the fact that torture does not work and that there are issue of torture remains severe. His points rely on the public’s perception that torture is a moral issue. Horton also assumes that the actions of the government reflect on the morality and image of the American people. His values specifically targets include humanity, integrity, questioning government authority, and courage to do what is right. Horton would rank responsibility, honor, and respect above preventative concerns, national security, and heroism. On the topic of torture, he employs the loci of quality. He specifically emphasizes democracy and integrity that are closely associated with the underlying principles of America. Horton’s argument centers on preserving and protecting the “soul of our nation” and our understanding of ourselves as accountable, ethical Americans. He also utilizes the loci of existent with the example of John Donne’s sermon. Through it, he urges preachers and the “community of the faithful” to address the ethical problems with torture.

Andrew C. McCarthy in his article, “International Law Targets American Sovereignty,” takes time to explain that the interrogations performed by the CIA do not constitute torture. His argument also relies on the fact that the war on terrorism requires different tactics than have been previously used. His ideas rely on the audiences’ perception that every country and organization (including NGOs) set policies based solely on their own agendas. In addition, he believes the audience considers American interests and national security second to none. The values McCarthy holds true are independence, self-reliance, and sovereignty. He would put national security, authority, and democracy above international relations, law-abiding responsibility, and respect. McCarthy also utilizes the loci of existent. He sees the threat of having our actions limited by international law equivalent to a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Thus he urges the U.S. to “push back” and reexamine the laws we are willing and not willing to follow. Furthermore, he urges the American government to not agree to new international commitments. In addition, he applies the loci of essence. He describes the core values of America as independence and the importance of acting preventatively to protect our interests. U.S. agreement to international regulations contradicts our principles as Americans.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hook-Up Culture

In his article, “Hook-Up Culture,” Jack Grimes takes a very sexist approach in the argument. It is from a male perspective and fairly sterotypical. Although it probably sets the female audience off,it is very represenative of the college culture today. Take frat houses, sororities, and college parties for example. Girls and guys fall into specific gender roles and seem to embrace them. In this respect the perspective he comes from is reflective of our sad college reality.

Beyond initial shock, I believe he makes a strong argument concerning the detachment that has formed between sex and love. His description of love and the emotional aspect of sex are relevant and important to raise. In light of the changes that the college love scene has seen, Grimes went into detail on the importance that sex has for people not only physically, but also emotionally. Most people would agree with his assumptions of love and sex.

He then goes on and pinpoints the problems with causal sex and the contradiction of “sexual liberation.” The intimate fulfillment that people expect to find with hooking-up is ultimately leading to the downfall of love and people’s faith in attachment. Again, his argument centers on relevant ideas central to the cultural surrounding casual sex. It was especially important that he raised the notion of sexual liberation, as it is being used as a defense.

He leaves room for a rebuttal at the end, where ultimately it is up to us to decide what happens to the culture. Whether we will remain causal or bring the importance back to the act of sex. In pinpointing problems with the sexual liberation angle, he also opened up the other side’s defense. He was able to engage his opponents in a larger conversation.

At SU, I have noticed many of the points he raises. But I think to describe our generation as a “hook-up culture” is somewhat of an overgeneralization. I appreciated his argument in the name of love and intimacy. In highlighting the importance of love in sex, I think he is able to target the real importance of sex and why it should not be wasted or given freely. It was very good explanation of the direction the campus love scene is moving. Like his harshness or not, I believe it is part of the reality we are in.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Celebration

The energy and hype surrounding the inauguration of President Obama will not be forgotten. A reported one million people turned out to watch the inauguration from the National Mall. Hundreds of thousands more packed Pennsylvania Avenue to watch the parade. There has not been this much excitement surrounding an incoming president since Ronald Regan. And even then, online viewers and TV watchers are expected to put the Obama inauguration over the top.

For the millions who braved the cold, or viewed it in class, the inauguration of this man drew people to tears and inspired generations. Everyone from the African American families to young professionals, the average citizens who have recently joined the political frenzy should be praised. An estimated 38 million people in all simultaneously watched President Obama take the oath of office.

People must be given credit for their newly found political awareness.
Even overseas audiences are giving America a second chance. Eleven million Germans watch the inauguration, with high numbers also in France and Britain. People in Palestine are hoping Obama will be their key to peace.

Young generations are finally joining the political sphere as well. The Disney Channel had a “Kids’ Inaugural: We are the Future” concert and BET and MTV were among the 17 networks that broadcast the event.

Citizens, voters, and American children are the factor influencing the change in American policy and appointing the president. The excitement is contagious and we have caught the craze. People are to be praised for their role and enthusiasm in democratic process.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Aesthetic Imperative

Virginia Postrel makes the claim that aesthetics and design have penetrated every aspect of our lives. And for good reason, we are naturally visual. She claims that style is Incorporated into areas even where the function of the product use to be at the forefront. Although some aesthetics are set in a specific cultural or personal context, they function on subliminal, psychological levels and target our emotions.

The entire first introduction paragraph to our twenty-first century world Postrel uses various overexagerated examples to explain our obsession with how things look. Through it she explains and emphasizes our current value on and priorities associated with the visual. Postrel uses expert testimony from David Brown (former president of the Art Center College of Design) to support the claim that we are biologically aesthetic. She utilizes other designer, theorist, and peer testimony (grocery shopper, writer) to emphasize these points. In addition Postrel cites the title sequence to Seven, colors in women’s fashion, and computer examples, among others.

Concerning warrants, Postrel uses substantive warrant to disassociate aesthetics with what others might generally consider it. Instead she uses it to describe the design-centered world that we live in and our obsession with how things appear. Postrel associates buying power with aesthetics. More broadly, substantive warrants are used to build the associations with her world where people expect “vacuum cleaners and mobile phones to sparkle, designer coffee, nail salons, and trees in our parking lots” and reality, where most of the statements do hold. Ethos is used where the authority of the argument lies in the expert testimony. With pathos, she glowingly describes Starbucks, and shoppers describe their experience shopping and their ability to choose.

I agree that the visual/tactile is a good thing. I am a person who is drawn to “pretty things,” clean designs, and the ability to choose between colors, looks, etc. The point she addressed in tempering the aesthetic is very important in my mind. Although I will buy novel cute new product that addresses an issue or person like Obama, I am always reminded how easily I can be persuaded. I have been told that I am the shopper all the stores love, and I am trying to work past that

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Westbro Baptist Church Response

From what I can understand, the Westbro Baptist Church is homophobic, anti-Semitic, against America, anti-Islamic, against Catholics, racist, etc. etc. They are vehemently anti-American namely because they believe that people are supporting homosexual relationships. Since most of their hatred is taken out on gay and lesbian people, they think that soldiers are dying in Iraq because God is punishing America for our acceptance/tolerance. As it is pointed out in various cases, the “church” is more about hatred than loving and hardly preaches anything substantial. Their main thread is “God hates ______.”

Their congregation is made up of an extended family starting with founder Fred Phelps. On one sight it stated that two of his grandkids and followers of the church said that they didn’t want people to convert because they wanted them to die in Hell. So perhaps the single family will just carry on the religion.

It is hard to even respond to this group. I have watched a documentary about their lives and pickets and everything is so offensive, I don’t know if I could rationally speak with them. The journalist tried to confront Mr. Phelps’s daughter about contradictory statements or how the organization could be a church, etc. but she was completely unwilling to discuss anything contrary to her limited beliefs. It would be very difficult to address these issues if the other party is completely unwilling to listen.

There is absolutely no room for discussion in this situation. In the documentary, the followers egged on people who confronted them. The Westbro group would just yell derogatory slurs or phrases of “God hates.” I do not believe someone could persuade anyone from this group otherwise. It is sad because I know a lot of the members were probably brainwashed this philosophy since they were born. They might not know any better or believe the world could be any other way.

I believe that people have a right to expresses what they hold as true. However Westbro does it in such an offensive way it is hard not to get angry. To hold rallies saying that they are happy someone died at that person’s own funeral is not only obnoxious but also intrusive. To publically condemn people to hell and insult entire populations in public in unacceptable as a practice.

Minor Analysis Paper #1: Part 1

Torture Summary

Issues surrounding torture and its use have been circulating since the news of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay surfaced years ago. Much of the controversy is over defining torture and distinguishing or associated it with the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that are used by the CIA. A government’s stance on this issue reflects how their citizens and international community view them and how they are defined as people. It in many ways torture is an ethical argument; character and values are judged. Everyone tends to agree that future is at stake in this debate.

In discussions of torture, one controversial issue has been the ethical aspect of torturing. On one hand, the Bush administration has selectively defended its use of “enhanced interrogation techniques (described by some as torture)” on the grounds of national security and saving Americans from future attacks. That side argues that terrorists abuse POWs and citizens, so terrorists should constitute a category that is not covered by international and human rights laws. On the other hand, the UN vehemently bans torture under any circumstance. Its convention against torture defines torture and internationally opposes any “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Others, through religious organizations, oppose the use of torture from an ethical/Christian moral standpoint. Thirty-six religious leaders through the National Religious Campaign Against Torture united to end torture in the US. Others believe that torture is necessary. They believe that it is justified to sacrifice a few extremists’ comfort to save a disproportionate number of people. My own view is that torture under any circumstance is unethical and should not be allowed, especially by America.

Minor Analysis Paper #1: Part 2

Article: “In Defense of Torture” by Sam Harris
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/in-defense-of-torture_b_8993.html

Sam Harris in his editorial “In Defense of Torture” insists that torture is necessary in circumstances where inaction jeopardizes a greater number. He reminds us that in any war “collateral damage” is unavoidable. The emphasis is placed on the fact that by targeting a specific class of suspects/terrorists other innocent people are saved that would have otherwise been caught up or killed in the conflict. Confessions of the tortured may be false, he admits. However, any information that would save potential victims is in our interest. Harris supports reaffirms that the misapplication of torture should be less troubling than that of collateral damage.

For it: This article presents a strong argument in favor of torture. Upfront Harris admits that torture is neither an ideal situation nor something to be misused. However, in my opinion, the strength of the piece was in the choice readers are presented with: should innocent civilians suffer before militant prisoners are subjected to harm? The example of Iraq and Afghanistan illustrate the discrepancy between the millions who have died in crossfire as compared to the few terrorists and suspects who have had their rights protected in detention centers. As Harris explained, the judgments society places on torture are based solely between associated with the close contact between the people. People don’t want to feel like they are getting their hands dirty.

Against it: In his argument, Harris stated, “if we are unwilling to torture, we should be unwilling to go to war.” To me, he has the entire situation confused. Torture of innocent people is the worst possible side effect of war. Granted, some intelligence and lives probably have been spared. However, even Harris admitted that torture has tarnished the America’s international image. While he downplays the importance of distance in torture compared to collateral damage, I find it to be one of the most important aspects. The scariest aspect is that the torturers would be empowered. At that point, what kind of society do we live in?

Rhetorical situation: Sam Harris is a noted author. He wrote the editorial in October of 2005 when many of the details surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and its abuses were being discovered. At that time there were a disproportionate number of critics compared to supporters. He wanted to express a favorable opinion of torture to a largely hostile public. Harris admits that it is hard to take a pro-torture stance. In many ways, I think his readers questioned his character and values. He was careful to note that he supported limited and controlled torture as well. I would classify the Huffington Post to as a reputable newspaper. I recognized that it was an editorial, but Harris’s background added credibility to his article. His books and expertise on the conflict of religion led me to reconsider what he was expressing in the article. I found myself evaluating the article in a new light after reading about his qualifications as somewhat of a religious authority. It helped in his favor.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inauguration Significance

The 2009 inauguration of Barrack Obama highlights for me a change in young political activity. This is the first election I could vote. It marks the end of the first and only year I intently followed politics. To many, myself included, it will be the first time we will watch an inauguration in full.

Many people believe that one vote doesn’t matter. And after the 2004 “Vote or Die” campaign, where Paris Hilton and other celebrities choose not to vote after urging the young American population to, casting a ballot seemed like a joke. This is the first time in my life that I truly believe that the people have spoken. My generation has made a conscious political decision. Probably for the first time since the Vietnam War, there is the belief that we have the power to change the government and shape the future of our country for the better.

Daily Assignment #1