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archaic capital punishment

In the following pages, I will discuss the history, debate, past and current public opinion, and how it applies to American ideology and opposing values.  Both sides have a fair amount of support and I have included direct quotes and paraphrasing from authors, celebrities, journalists, and ordinary people arguing both sides.  

The history of the death penalty goes back to the earliest civilizations where it was used to punish all sorts of crimes from robbery, to murder, to different forms of heresy.  In the United States it evolved to just punish murder, treason, and some cases of rape.  It has been an issue that has sparked a never ending debate that goes back to colonial times.  The general public traditionally supported the death penalty in a majority with only a few politicians speaking out against it (i.e., Benjamin Rush, Ben Franklin and later on Horace Greeley).  Once the U.S. gained independence, each state went back and forth in abolishing and reinstating the death penalty and methods of execution.  
The 1960s saw many trials concerning capital punishment cases that led to a ten year halt in executions.  In 1965, the American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLU) announcement of their anti-death penalty stance was a sign of things to come.  It was particularly important because the ACLU had always neglected to have an opinion on the issue because they believed it was not a civil rights issue.  They now determined that capital punishment was inconsistent with underlying values of a democratic system.  They explained that it discriminated against blacks and other minorities and did not comply with the eighth amendment of the constitution, in other words, it was cruel and unusual punishment (Vila, Morris:127).  The National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples Legal Defense Fund (NAACP-LDF) also began to speak out in the mid-sixties.  They agreed that the death penalty discriminated against blacks and launched a campaign against the death penalty around the same time.  The LDF poured its resources into aiding death row prisoners which tied up the capital punishment cases for years allowing them to achieve their goal of a moratorium on the death penalty (Vila, Morris:131).  From 1967 to 1977, there were no executions anywhere in the United States because of groups like these that rallied to oppose it, the particularly low public support of it, and a number of supreme court cases that decided in the favor of the abolitionist movement.
One crucial case was Witherspoon v. Illinois in 1968.  The supreme court ruled that prospective jurors who oppose the death penalty can not automatically be excluded from juries in possible capital punishment cases.  The court said that having jurors that oppose the death penalty is part of a fair, impartial jury as dictated by the Sixth Amendment.  Some dissenters claimed that people who were ethically opposed to the death penalty were biased because they would never vote to give the death penalty to people who deserved it.  Some historians say that this marked the first time that the supreme court was persuaded by public opinion against capital punishment.  The following statement was made by Justice Potter Stewart who spoke for the majority, In a nation less than half of whose people believe in the death penalty, a jury composed exclusively of such people cannot speak for the communityIn its quest for a jury capable of imposing the death penalty, the State produced a jury uncommonly willing to condemn a man to die (Gottfried:60).  Scholars and lawyers also thought this would be the end of capital punishment for good because the courts willingness to accept people who fundamentally opposed the death penalty, but this turned out not to be true because of details in the decision that allowed courts and legislatures to work around it.
The 1972 case of Furman v Georgia was seen as a complete victory for abolitionists at the time, but proved to be more complicated than it appeared.  It said that the death penalty, as it was administered, violated the Eighth Amendments because it was cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Fourteenth Amendment because it did not guarantee equal protection under the law (Costanzo:18).   The crucial part of this statement was ..as it was ... more

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Review Of Shakespear's "The Tempest"

Why is it that people fawn Shakespeare and have unreasonably high
    reguard for his works, including  The Tempest, and label them as
 immortal classics?  Indeed Shakespeares works had great significance in
the evolution of English literature,  but these works, including The Tempest
are mostly devoid of significance and literary value in the present day.  One
can expect to gain little educational benefit of the english language or
hightened apreciation for fine literature from the reading of Shakespeares
titles for reasons enumerate.  First of all, the colorful and sophisticated
metephoric vernacular style of the language utilized is archaic; even the
speech of intellectually refined individuals and other respected literary
works do not imploy of this rich style of speech.   The poemic composition of
The Tempest does not increase ones  ability to apreciate distinguished
literature because the refined and respected works of most other classical
writers are in novel form and thus differ highly from Shakesperian works in
the literary devices and mannerisms from which they are comprised.    
The Tempest was written in early seventeeth century England.  At this period
of history and country the English language was quite different from what it
is today in many ways.  First, standard, formal vocabulary was different at
this time.  An great expample is found in the line ...you bawling,
blasphemous, incharitable dog! (act 1 sc. 1, p. 9).  In this line, the word
incharitable is the modern equivalent of the word uncharitable.  The standard
dictionary word has changed prefixes somewhere througout the centuries.
Another thing that would have made a further gap between the vernacular in
the play and modern English is Shakespeares deployment of common language,
or slang (although I have no proof because I dont speak  sixteenth century
slang).  A pox o your throught... (act 1 sc.1, p. 9) and ...give oer...
(act 1 sc. 1, p. 9).  These phrases seem to be slang therms because they are
so deviant from there modern english equvalents, curses on and give up,
respectiveley. What value does learning the archaic vernacular give to the
reader.  Surely it does not increase thier word power or sophisticate thier
vocabulary, for nowhere, not even in among people of high intellecutal
refinement such as venerable college professers, is this dead language used.
Another distinctive trait of the vernacular used in The Tempest is the heavy
use of metaphor.  This use of metaphor is so heavy and outlandish that it
becomes extrodinarily difficult to interpret and causes the words to fall
into chaotic ambiguity.  In fact, it is not unreasonable to define the
language of the text as sophistry.  A great example of heavy metaphor in The
Tempest is the line O heaven , O earth, bear witness to this sound, / and
crown what I profess with kind event / If I speak true; if hollowly, invert /
What best is boded me to mischief.  I,  / Beyond all limit of what else  I
th world, /  Do love, prize honor you (Act 3 sc. 1, p. 95).  In modern
terms, this means:  Lord, bear witness to what I say, and bless my claim (to
this woman).  Let me be damned if I lie when I say that I love honor, prize
and honor you above anything else in the world.  The learning of this type
of heavy usage of metaphor would be justified if it were imployed in many
other respected classic works or in modern eloquent speech, but it is not.
 
Metaphoric speech outside of literature and informal speech is reguarded
as crude and unsophisticated in modern speech.    This is so because people
have come to reguard refined speech as being characteristic with the use of a
large vocabulary consisting of consise and sophisticated words.  
Even if the argument is made that one cannot gain much benefit in refining
their speech by reading The Tempest, Shakespeare aficianados claim that there
is value in the mechanics and devices common in literature which can be
learned from his works.  This is exaggerated, however.  The most valuble
literary device that can be learned from The Tempest is the metaphor.
However, as I said before, Shakespeare over uses this so much that his words
fall into sophistry.  A good example is the line Or that there were such men
/ Whose head stood in their breasts? (act 3 sc. 3, p.113).  I can make no
sense out of this whatsoever.  Another outlandish metaphor is Which now we
find / Each putter-out of five for one will bring us / ... more

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