Analysis/ Synthesis Essay
For many of us, argumentative ideas become the background for self-expression. Talented analysts, writers, and professionals publicly express their viewpoints and try to persuade the rest of the nation in the rightness of their moral and ethical (or legal) approaches. We are still unable to perfectly well determine the ethical, moral and cultural limits of porn, and Susan Brownmiller has produced an interesting essay on the topic. We may take freedom of speech as the right to express racist attitudes, and this is the point Charles R. Lawrence III makes in his work. I will compare the writing techniques of both authors, as well as their viewpoints on the discussed issues. I think that ethical issues will always be the matter of concern for the whole society, but the point is whether we are able to properly utilize the legal instruments we have at our disposal. Both authors were trying to resolve moral conflicts; this is why these works deserve to be analyzed in more detail.
In her work Let’s Put Pornography Back in the Closet, Susan Brownmiller tries to objectively evaluate the relevance of the First Amendment to determining the social, cultural, ethical, and moral limits of pornography. Brownmiller actually creates a historical insight into the freedom of speech and its connection to porn. “It’s amazing to recall that in 1934 the question of whether James Joyce’s Ulysses should be banned as pornographic actually went before the Court” (Brownmiller). The author suggests that the major historical court decisions in terms of pornography have not answered the question of what pornography really is: “the Court came up with new guidelines that it hoped would strengthen obscenity laws […] what it did in actuality was throw everything into confusion” (Brownmiller). In her work, Brownmiller emphasizes the sophistication and complicatedness of modern criteria for identifying pornography. She does not vote against pornography in general, but stresses that in the search of what pornography is, “the courts, after all, will be the final arbiters” (Brownmiller).
In Debates over Placing Limits on Racist Speech, Charles R. Lawrence III links the First Amendment and freedom of speech to possible racist claims and racist speeches in our society. Lawrence’s work is similar to that of Brownmiller in that he does not see the clear moral and ethical borders of racist expression. He is confident that the American nation misinterprets the First Amendment provisions, and he is concerned by the fact that “the incidence of verbal and symbolic assault and harassment to which blacks and other traditionally subjugated and excluded groups are subjected” (Lawrence III). As Brownmiller, Lawrence also takes up a historical survey of the discussed issue: he views the case of Brown v. Board of Education as the landmark in connecting speech to racism. Lawrence does not accept the ideals of equality and freedom of speech unless they are supported by “those who would fight racism”. On Lawrence’s opinion, we are the ones to stop racist speeches: “if we fail this, victims of hate speech must rightly assume that we are on the oppressor’s side” (Lawrence III).
Analyzing effectiveness of writing techniques
The use of proper and appropriate writing techniques is critical to convey the main idea of any creative work. From the viewpoint of the writing techniques, it is interesting to objectively evaluate whether Brownmiller and Lawrence III were able to deliver their messages to the readers. To start with, Brownmiller makes special emphasis on the use of adjectives and metaphors, to increase the force of her argument. As a result, her article turns into a call for legal and ethical fairness when it comes to determining the pornography criteria: “an array of dehumanized, choppedup parts of the female anatomy, packaged like cuts of meat at the supermarket” – the author brilliantly and briefly delineates how she personally views pornography (Brownmiller). The female body, which Brownmiller frequently sees “stripped, bound, raped, tortured, mutilated and murdered in the name of commercial entertainment and free speech”, only aggravates the whole situation with pornography. The reader finds himself in the extremely stressful environment, and if one already cherished positive attitudes towards pornography and naked female bodies, Brownmiller evidently tries to change these attitudes. Simultaneously, in his verbal attack Lawrence III emphasizes the word “racist”: in his essay, this word is used 16 times. The author was trying to make this word the center of his discussion, and he has actually succeeded in it. Moreover, frequent use of this word creates an impression of even worse situation with racism in our society.
While both authors mostly use the same writing techniques and wording, the structure of their works is different. Brownmiller starts her article with the sentence, the meaning of which will accompany the reader until the very end of the reading process: “Free speech is one of the great foundations on which our democracy rests” (Brownmiller). In this way she initially links the reader to the central meaning of her writing, and in the process of reading one will constantly return to this very passage to make necessary conclusions. Lawrence III uses a different structural approach, and puts the same central sentence in the middle of his essay: “Freedom of speech is the lifeblood of our democratic system” (Lawrence III). In this way, Lawrence creates a kind of an introduction for those who are not familiar with the subject. Thorough choice of wording makes both works extremely powerful in expression. They catch the reader’s attention, and this is probably the critical feature of both essays.
Responding to arguments: Brownmiller and Lawrence
Both works create an impression that our society will never resolve the issues of pornography and racism. For both authors, their works highlight their attitudes towards life in general, and their personal experience, in particular. I may only partially agree with both. In terms of Brownmiller’s argument, I don’t think that the problems of pornography are as serious as Brownmiller depicts them. The irritation which Brownmiller feels, and which is obviously caused by the existence of pornography, accompanies her each word and expression. I think that the author has to be more objective in her evaluations, and to discuss certain benefits of pornography for the society. She seems to contradict herself: as she tries to deny the bias of feminist approaches towards porn, she is evidently a feminist herself. I don’t think that porn should cause as much anger and unilateral hatred as we find between the lines of Brownmiller’s essay.
I certainly agree with Lawrence III in that we are not able to properly determine the limits of speech freedom in our society. The problem is that we interpret vague legal norms for our benefit. This is why live in the constant confrontation with those who use freedom of speech to protect their racist speeches. We need to discourage people from producing hardcore porn and delivering racist speeches to the public. We must create Legal means of such discouragement. In this way we will bury any attempts to break morality even before they are accomplished. Otherwise, we will continue the empty struggle against the consequences of immoral and unethical (but not illegal) acts.
In their works, Brownmiller and Lawrence III were trying to attract mass attention to the issues which are still relevant to our society. Although the authors have imposed an increasingly subjective view on these issues, the validity of their claims is doubtless. The discussed works certainly deserve attention of those who need more objective look at either the role of porn, or the position of racism in our society. However, if studied separately from the works of other authors, these essays will hardly create a truly objective picture.