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with racism in A Time To Kill And To Kill A Mockingbird

The movie based on John Grishams A Time to Kill is a Hollywoodized, modern-day version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Both movies employ many of the same themes and plot elements; but the former movie is one-dimensional and predictable while the latter is innovative and purposeful. The movie version of Harper Lees novel To Kill a Mockingbird is considered a classic film, whereas John Grishams adapted novel is merely another example of the money making efforts of Hollywood.
Some of the movies more prominent themes are the same.  Both focus on the family, particularly the role of the father. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Attacus, who is based on the father of author Harper Lee, is an upstanding parent. Not only is he an excellent role model for his children, but he takes time to talk to his children. He respects them as growing individuals, allowing them to call him Attacus, and explains important issues rather than discounting them. Jake cherishes his daughter more than ever when he compares her hypothetically to his clients victimized daughter Tonya. The power of the family institution is reiterated when Carl takes revenge upon the offenders who raped Tonya. These ties drive an otherwise socially conforming man into violating the sanctity of human life in cold blood without regret.
Another motivation that inspires his action is the personal degradation he must have experienced as a black man in a racist community that includes backwoods deviants, who look down upon the blacks in the community. Hate crimes appear in both movies, including hate-fueled riots, attempted lynchings, and the reappearance of the Ku Klux Klan. Other manifestations of racism were realized as well, such as injustice in the court system and the school system, where, in both movies, the protagonists children are continually taunted for being the progeny of a nigger lover.
The classic figure of the hero is at the forefront of the plot in each movie. Both lawyers put their lives on the line for the liberty of a client without expecting compensation. Attacus does so because he believes in justice and knows its the right thing to do, whereas Jake simply empathizes with his client, especially by projecting his daughter into Tonyas experience.  Either way, these men sacrifice themselves for the sake of others, a defining characteristic of heroes. Attacus especially is elevated in the mind of the narrator to a state of untouchable selflessness and courage. A few other characters with very heroic traits emerge. Boo Radley saves the children by fighting their attacker to the death at great personal risk even though these same children had feared him. He is a very mysterious character until this incident, which unexpectedly defines him as a hero. In one of the most striking scenes in A Time to Kill, a soldier jumps in the path of a bullet to protect Jake. When Jake learns this total stranger is permanently paralyzed, he is dumbfounded.
The basic plots of the two movies are identical: a white man commits rape but a black man ends up being prosecuted in a racially charged trial. The focus is on the defense lawyers struggle, and the movies climax during the closing statement.  The essential difference of plot is a juxtaposition: in To Kill a Mockingbird, an innocent man is convicted, while in the other, a guilty man walks. This reflects that more was at stake than simply one mans life in both cases. The formers result is much more powerful. This unrevenged injustice has potential to hold audiences in indignant shock and open their eyes to the harsh reality of racism.  This is the first of several discrepancies I will point out that favor To Kill a Mockingbird as the better film.
These juxtaposed outcomes of the trials can be attributed to two factors unrelated to the plot. First, it reflects our nations growing sensitivity toward stamping out racism. A black man prosecuted for a crime against a white person had terrible odds in the in the first half of the twentieth century. I understand Lees novel was accurately portrayed, but A Time to Kill, the movie, strays from John Grishams original at least with respect to the ... more

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Affirmative Action

Affirmative action works. There are thousands of examples of situations where
people of color, white women, and working class women and men of all races who
were previously excluded from jobs or educational opportunities, or were denied
opportunities once admitted, have gained access through affirmative action. When
these policies received executive branch and judicial support, vast numbers of
people of color, white women and men have gained access they would not otherwise
have had. These gains have led to very real changes. Affirmative action programs
have not eliminated racism, nor have they always been implemented without
problems. However, there would be no struggle to roll back the gains achieved if
affirmative action policies were ineffective. The implementation of affirmative
action was America's first honest attempt at solving a problem, it had
previously chosen to ignore. In a variety of areas, from the quality of health
care to the rate of employment, blacks still remain far behind whites. Their
representation in the more prestigious professions is still almost
insignificant. Comparable imbalances exist for other racial and ethnic
minorities as well as for women. Yet, to truly understand the importance of
affirmative action, one must look at America's past discrimination to see why,
at this point in history, we must become more "color conscious".
History Of Discrimination In America: Events Leading To Affirmative Action. The
Declaration of Independence asserts that "all men are created equal."
Yet America is scarred by a long history of legally imposed inequality. Snatched
from their native land, transported thousands of miles-in a nightmare of disease
and death-and sold into slavery, blacks in America were reduced to the legal
status of farm animals. A Supreme Court opinion, Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857),
made this official by classifying slaves as a species of "private
property." Even after slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in
1865, American blacks, other minorities, and women continued to be deprived of
some of the most elementary right of citizenship. During the Reconstruction,
after the end of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868,
making blacks citizens and promised them the "equal protection of the
laws." In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, which gave blacks the
right to vote. Congress also passed a number of civil rights laws barring
discrimination against blacks in hotels, theaters, and other places. However,
the South reacted by passing the "Black Codes, " which severely
limited the rights of the newly freed slaves, preventing them in most states
from testifying in courts against whites, limiting their opportunities to find
work, and generally assigning them to the status of second or third class
citizen. White vigilante groups like the Klu Klux Klan began to appear, by
murdering and terrorizing blacks who tried to exercise their new rights.
"Legal" ways were also found for circumventing the new laws; these
included "grandfather clauses", poll taxes, white only primary
elections, and constant social discrimination against and intimidation of
blacks, who were excluded form education and from any job except the most
menial. In 1883, the Supreme Court declared a key civil rights statute, one that
prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, unconstitutional. And in
1896, Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U.S. 537 [1896]), the Court declared that the
state of Louisiana had the right to segregate their races in every public
facility. Thus began the heyday of "Jim Crow" legislation. In Justice
John Marshall Harlan's lone dissent, he realized it was a mockery. He wrote,
" We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our peoples above all other peoples.
But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which,
practically, puts a brand of servitude and degregation upon a large class of our
fellow citizens, our equals before the law. This thin disguise of 'equal'
accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead anyone, or
atone for the wrong this day done." Not until sixty years later, in Brown
v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (347 U.S. 483 [1954]), was Plessy
overturned. Chief Justice earl Warren declared the unanimous opinion of the
court by saying: "We cannot turn the clock back to 1868, when the Amendment
was adopted, or even to 1896, when Plessy v. Ferguson was written." In
today's world, "separate educational facilities are inherently
unequal." This decision sparked racial tensions all across America. in
1957, President Eisenhower had to call federal troops into Little Rock,
Arkansas, after the state's governor forcibly barred black children from
entering white schools. In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested and fined, for not
moving to the back of a public bus, ... more

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