Comparing Two Articles Essay
Boom! Suppose a terrorist in custody has hidden a bomb in a very populated city, it is scheduled to go off in an hour and he is the only one that knows the location. He will not disclose the location unless his outrageous demands are met, it would be left to the assumption there is only one option left to save millions, that is, torture. Although this invented instance is effective it is just one tactic to get a readers attention and agreement.
In the two essays, “Yes, It Should Be “On the Books”” by Alan M. Dershowitz and “The Case for Torture” by Michael Levin, being evaluated, the authors use not only this technique but also many others to persuade the readers to take on their views. Dershowitz uses real examples to support his points and is direct on where he stands on the matter, but sometimes he seems a little pushy and cold. Levin on the other hand fascinates us with his hypothetical cases while griping the reader’s attention throughout his essay, but assumes agreement on the reader’s part and uses tactics of fear to persuade.
The styles of both essays differ greatly just as much as the personas and methods of persuading do, but the purpose of both essays are very similar, which is to persuade the audience to accept that torture is permissible under certain circumstances. These topics will be discussed and evaluated while ethos, logos, and pathos are being emphasized. And this will be done in order with article 1 then article 2. Ethos is appeal based on the character of the speaker and Dershowitz’s persona is easy to read.
The title, in article 1, “Yes, It Should Be “On the Books” by Dershowitz is direct and to the point. It is easy to see where he stands in the matter of torture with a simple “yes” and he goes further to say, “It Should Be on The Books” meaning through a carefully designed judicial procedure. This is a strong and effective title because you know what the article is about right off the bat. Another great example of Dershowitz ethos is in his introduction.
Dershowitz begins with addressing the subject of torture but another author as well, “ Professor Phillip Heymann and I share a common goal: to eliminate torture from the world, or at the very least to reduce it to an absolute minimum”. This is a strong introduction not only does he keep the reader interested with a very strong statement but he also backs it up by involving a “professor” into his beliefs which adds to his knowledge and credibility.
Again, it is easy to see where he stands and he goes further to explain, “ The real disagreement between us seems to be whether the use of torture would be worse if done in secret without being incorporated into our legal system-or worse if required a warrant issued by a judge”. By letting the reader know there is a disagreement and a conflicting side adds to his persona knowing he can be trusted to give you all views makes it easier to believe his view. These examples show how powerful Dershowitz is at being direct with the reader.
Dershowitz is good at using historical facts and real examples to prove reason within his logic. Dershowitz brings in the legal historian John Langbien and quotes him as having shown, “ that there was far more torture in medieval France than England because in France the practice was left to the discretion of the local officials, whereas in England they required an extraordinary warrant, which was rarely granted”. By using a carefully designed judicial procedure torture would be minimized just like in England.
This real example/fact helps add to his reasoning why it “Should Be on The Books” and does a great job of showing the reader how this system would work. Another exceptional example of Dershowitz logos is when he mentions off the book accounts mandated by President Nixon, President Reagan, President Eisenhower, Kennedy and goes on to say, “ the road to tyranny is paved by executive officials authorizing actions which the deem necessary to national security, without subjecting this actions to the check and balance of legislative approval”.
He wants the reader to associate the off the books accounts with tyranny by doing so he makes those presidents look bad and strengthens his argument that it should be on the books. These real examples and the use of historical figures are effective at getting the reader thinking logically about the argument. Dershowitz comes across cold and pushy. He makes it easy to pick up on this rhetorical appeal. He mentions a case that happened in 1984 where a couple of concerned police officers tortured a kidnapper until he disclosed the location of the victim.
After this example he says, “ these police officers where not prosecuted. Under my proposal, no torture warrant could have been granted in such a case. ” This quotes makes him seem cold and detached especially since the instance involved a child; this hurts this argument because the majority people would want to do whatever it takes to save a child. Dershowitz, “ I insist that any extraordinary steps contemplated by a democracy must be done “on the books”. Dershowitz tone has changed a bit now he is “insisting” which sounds pushy as if he knows he right.
He goes on to say democracy, which includes everyone in a democratic nation in turn brings everyone together as a whole. This would make the reader feel that this is the right view to be taken if they are in a democratic nation. His coldness and pushiness are a definite negative to his article in deters the reader from becoming emotionally involved. Levin’s persona is quick and hard hitting with hypothetical examples denotes his apparent argument. Levin begins his article like this, “ it is generally assumed that torture is impermissible, a throwback to a more brutal age.
Enlightened societies reject it outright, and regimes suspected of it risk the wrath of the United States”. This was a great way to draw the reader in especially one that lives in the US; it would have been great if the rest article agreed with this but it doesn’t. He continues to say in one swift line, “I believe this attitude is unwise”. Shock value is what Levin is aiming for and he gets it and the sequence of sentence structure is evidently effective. The problem with is seems the reader is getting toyed with, like a game of tug of war.
He clearly let the reader know where he stands but the way it was done took away from his credibility. Like most of Levin’s article mostly supported by hypothetical cases that assume agreement from the reader so is his logic. One of Levin’s cases goes like this, “Americans would be angered to learn that Roosevelt could have had Hitler killed in 1943- thereby shortening the war and saving millions of lives- but refused on moral grounds. In the same way, if the police can by torture save those who would otherwise die at the hands of the kidnappers or terrorist, they must”.
Levin is really sure of himself and the claims he makes, he uses logic in scenarios that would lead the read to easily agree to what he says. By starting out with Hitler, one of the most hated men in history, and saying he could have been killed to save millions put the reader in a quick agreement. Then he lowers the scale to say police and kidnappers to save a few. Clearly it a completely different case, but if the reader already accepted the first case then its is easier to accept and agree on the second.
This is a very clever ruse to get the reader on a slippery slope. Fear is great tactic that not only draw in a reader but also draws their support on their view and this is Levin’s specialty. Levin believes torture is morally mandatory and he says, “ Moreover, these situation are moving from the realm of imagination to fact”. By saying morally mandatory he is putting emphasize on the readers morals; suggesting it’s the right thing to do and the readers in turn question this themselves.
He uses a tactic of fear to get his point across by stating they are moving closer to fact, which suggests some impeding doom. By using the tactic of fear and impeding doom its speeds up the process of agreement and it forces the reader to pick a side very quickly and by calling out their morals its obvious to the reader that the only right choice is his choice. At the end of the article Levin leaves with this statement, “Some day soon a terrorist will threaten tens of thousands of lives, and torture will be the only way to save them.
We had better start thinking about this”. This is a very powerful statement to be left to the reader its almost as if the reader will be the one having to make this decision themselves. This statement is also an exceptional way to leaving the reader wanting more. Two articles with the same resolution; torture should be permissible under circumstances. Both articles are intriguing both the effectiveness of each is conclusive. Dershowitz is clear direct and to the point.
He has strong ethos and logos but his pathos lack any humanism and empathy that the readers need. On the other hand Levin is great at grabbing and keeping the audiences attention by using his hypothetical cases. His writing was interesting and was very skillful at showing his persona and connecting hi pathos greatly, but lacked logos. Hypothetical cases while effective are no substitute for real cases. Each author had strengths and weaknesses but still presented a good case.