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

"International Law Targets American Soverignty" by Andrew C. McCarthy National Review

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

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