Argument Essays #2
(Using at least 3 Sources)
Webpublished with Student Permission
Online Handout, WR 122, Winter 2002
Jonathan Ball (2001): "Medical Revolution" | Nathan Creese (2002): "The Changing Hands of Segregation"
Gita Dombrowski (1999): "Environmentalism" | Andrew Elster (1998): "Society of Chickens"
Adam Fargher (2002): "A Single Administration and District...Maybe?"
Crista Harrison (2001): "Free Love: Free from What?"
Jenny L. Miller (2002): "Andrea Yates: Is Capital Punishment the Answer?"
Darlene West (1999): "Welfare: Abuses by Government and Recipient Need to Be Stopped!"
WR 122, Prof. Agatucci
26 February 2001
Marijuana has been an illegal drug in the United States since the 1930's. Before this, it was a plant that was highly used for its industrial, medical, and spiritual value. But at the beginning of the century, it was thrown into the group of Class 1 drugs, meaning that it had a relatively high rate of abuse, and was not accepted to have any medical value. This class of drugs also includes such illegal drugs as LSD and heroin. When misused marijuana can have negative effects on the brain and, when its popularity of misuse grew, it was seen as a threat to society. Our nation saw it as the "gateway drug," fearing that it led young people to use of more dangerous drugs. According to The Columbia Encyclopedia, marijuana, having over 400 known chemicals, can affect motor skills and, in some cases, cause the user to become paranoid. It has also been known to affect the reproductive system, in some cases lowering sperm count in males. It can also lead to developmental difficulties in the fetus stage of a growing child. When young people abuse marijuana, it can affect their short-term memory and comprehension. It can also cause lung damage in heavy users ("Marijuana"). However, most of these negative aspects are fairly rare. For the most part, marijuana can be seen as a relatively safe drug when not abused. Even the AMA (American Medical Association) feels that our national negative attitude toward marijuana is based on misinformation. When marijuana was being debated in court in the 30's, Dr. James Woodward, who was both a physician and an attorney, testified on behalf of the AMA. He claimed that the whole fabric of federal testimony was tabloid sensationalism, yet the government succeeded in making marijuana illegal for any purpose, ignoring the fact that it had an incredible medical value (cited in Herer 28).
For over 3,500 years, cannabis has been one of the most widely used plants for medicines. The cultural diversity of its use ranges all over the world, including China, India, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam of Omni magazine (September 1982) claims that if marijuana were legal, it would replace ten to twenty percent of all pharmaceutical prescription medicines (based on research through 1976). He also estimates that forty to fifty percent of all medicines could contain some extract from the cannabis plant when fully researched (cited in Herer 33). Yet our society has tabooed this useful plant as a threat to our youth and society as a whole, and deemed it as the gateway drug. It was made illegal in our country early this century, and although it had been commonplace in many societies around the globe for millennia, our nation suddenly took a severely negative attitude toward the plant for any purpose. Our society must take away that prejudice rooted in the early century and reexamine the facts about marijuana as a useful remedy for countless illnesses.
One of marijuana's most direct beneficial results is seen by the glaucoma patient. Glaucoma is a disease that attacks the eye and slowly takes the patient's vision completely. Most doctors prescribe pills or eyedroppers to reduce pressure in the eye caused by the disease. If this is not helpful, surgery is the next step taken. According to studies done at numerous medical schools, such as Harvard, UCLA, Medical College of Georgia, and the National Eye Institute, marijuana smoking could benefit 90% of our 2,500,000 glaucoma victims, and is two to three times as effective as any current medicines for reducing pressure in the eye (cited in Herer 37). Because the traditional ways of relieving the patient's symptoms are sometimes painful and ineffective, some patients resort to the use of marijuana. One such patient is a man by the name of Bill Barrett. He had seen his mother suffer from the same disease that was now attacking him. He went with the doctor's advice for a while and used prescription medications, but these had dangerous side effects such as slowing down the heart, and the possibility of causing it to fail completely. After his illness progressed significantly and surgery was in the near future for Bill, he began to use the illegal alternative, and was incredibly pleased with the results. "I remember the first time I went in for an examination after smoking marijuana. My doctor thought a miracle had happened. My pressure had gone down [significantly] since the last time I'd seen her." (quoted in Zimmerman 61). His doctor was so amazed that she began working with him to monitor the effects marijuana was having on his pressure. At the end of ten years of following his progress, she claimed that if marijuana were legal, she would have prescribed it for him, yet our own government prohibits scientists to even study these uses. Another illness that is sweeping our nation and affecting millions of people around the world is cancer. Although some types of cancer are treatable and people can recover, it takes intense treatment. One of the treatments involves chemotherapy. The problem with chemotherapy is that it has many negative side affects, such as nausea and loss of appetite. At times, these side effects can be more distressing and debilitating than the cancer itself. The nausea has been known to be so extreme that a patient will spend hours vomiting and dry heaving. Some patients have even broken or fractured bones in the process. Patients have even been known to accept death over the painful process of recovery (Zimmerman 30).
Before the studies of medical marijuana was banned in 1976 (Herer 34), its therapeutic uses were studied with positive results by the government. These studies demonstrated marijuana's usefulness in reducing nausea and vomiting along with stimulating the appetite. It was also proven to promote weight gain, which is also a difficult task with chemotherapy patient (Zimmer and Morgan 17). According to Dr. Thomas Ungerleider, the former leader of California's Marijuana for Cancer research program, "Marijuana is the best agent for control of nausea in cancer chemotherapy." (quoted in Herer 37). Instead of taking the government scientist's word for it, let us look at a story from a real cancer victim. Her name is Jo Daly. She discovered she had cancer of the colon, and it was already in phase IV. She went through emergency surgery which took her ovaries, uterus, part of her colon, and some lymph nodes. This surgery was followed by six months of chemotherapy. She struggled with all the side affects of the treatment, in addition to a severe fever after her first treatment. She suffered indescribable pain, along with the inability to sleep and eat. She tried many drugs to battle these side effects, but each one only seemed to bring on another side effect. Among these drugs were Compazine and Ativan. After this pain went on for several days, she decided to try marijuana. "This time I closed the door to my room and lit up a marijuana cigarette that had been given to me by a friend... Within a half an hour, the fever subsided... no vomiting, very minor nausea-and I actually ate a sandwich later on that evening. I slept well for the first time since I could remember." (quoted in Zimmerman 35).
Cancer and Glaucoma are only two of the many illnesses that marijuana can help to alleviate, including AIDS, arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, epilepsy, migraine headaches, and many more. Our own government's DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) judge ruled through extensive testing that "marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." (quoted in Herer 35). But still, our government continues to ignore this evidence and force countless patients to either suffer or break the law just to get relief. This injustice needs to end. Our government and society need to reexamine the facts revolving around marijuana as a medicine, and at least allow organizations to further look into its legalization for medical purposes.
Baum, Dan. Smoke and Mirrors. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1997.
Herer, Jack. The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Van Nuys, CA: Hemp Publishing, 1995.
"Marijuana" The Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth ed. 2001. http://www.bartleby.com/65/ma/marijuana.html. (2/24/01).
Roulac, John W. Hemp Horizons. White River Junction, CA: Chelsea Green Publishing Company. 1997.
Zimmer, Lynn and John P. Morgan. Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts. New York: The Lindesmith Center, 1997.
Zimmerman, Bill, and others. Is Marijuana the Right Medicine for You? New Canann, CA: Keats Publishing, 1998.
© Jonathan Ball, 2001
Wr 122, Prof. Cora Agatucci
Essay #2 - Final Revised Draft
13 March 2002
The Changing Hands of Segregation
In 1963, a man stood in front of 250,000 people and spoke of a dream. “Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning” (King). Martin Luther King, Jr., was the leader toward the abandonment of racism and segregation in the United States. His words are now taught from the beginnings of elementary school to the depths of college discussions. Although the “I Have a Dream” speech and the march on Washington happened twelve years before I was born, at twenty-six I can easily visualize the black and white video showing Dr. King’s passion as he spoke to a quarter of a million people filled with different races and cultures. I, a young Caucasian male, deeply mourn the death of Marin Luther King, Jr., because his beliefs could have gone even further to assist the country’s learning process about leaving racism and segregation behind.
Under the teachings of Elijah Mohammed, Malcolm X targeted all whites and blamed them for all the drug abuse, prostitution and poverty that existed in the African American culture. Malcolm X preached that white people were the man devil and segregation was the only answer to solving the problems of the black race, and even migrating the whole race back to Africa and establishing a new society. After Elijah Mohammad abandoned Malcolm X, he went to Arabia and learned that an individual’s actions told more about a person than the color of their skin, He came back to America after his trip saying: “I am not a racist…In the past I permitted myself to be used…to make sweeping indictments of all white people, the entire white race, and these generalizations have caused injuries to some whites and perhaps did not deserve to hurt. Because of the spiritual enlightenment which I was blessed to receive as the result of my recent pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca, I no longer subscribe to sweeping indictments of any one race. I am now striving to live the life of a true Sunni Muslim. I must repeat that I am not a racist nor do I subscribe to the tenets of racism. I can stat in all sincerity that I wish nothing but freedom, justice, and equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people (Malcolm X). He then changed his name from Malcolm X to Malik El- Shabazz. Soon after the creation of Malik El- Shabazz, he was assassinated and his death left a shortcoming to the growth of our nation.
I believe that we have made long strides in treating our black brothers and sisters as equals. I do not see a color, but I see character and personality just as I see in all people of all ages. I am sure however that me using the words “our black brothers and sisters” would not be accepted by a lot of African Americans simply because I am a twenty-six-year-old Caucasian. In the same form, it is not acceptable for me to go to the clothing store and purchase jerseys with the name brand FUBU, which is a brand of clothing that is specifically targeted for black people. The name FUBU stands for “for us by us” and according to its creators for us by us means for blacks by blacks.
When FUBU first hit the market the athletic apparel was a fresh new style with a bright and a new look. I knew FUBU stood for “for us by us,” but I thought of it in more of an x generation kind of standpoint. Later people told me that I should not be wearing that name brand of clothing because it was only for black. I didn’t care: the style was irreplaceable and I thought the racist statements would be a fad that would just go away with time. Time just opened my eyes to FUBU’s advertising, which is basically sustained by BET (Black Entertainment Television) and never used any white models for their clothing line. I soon began to see the light. Now I have given away the most beautiful baseball jersey I have ever owned to Stacey Crenshaw, who happens to be a twenty-nine-year-old male black day care provider and best friend of mine for ten years. I interviewed him and asked him if he thought FUBU was only for blacks. He said, “FUBU started off in the hood, came up in the hood, and now it is worn by the hood.” I then asked him if he was ever offended by me, his long-term friend, wearing FUBU. He replied that he knew that I did not see things in a racial way. Jokingly he said, “Man, can’t we just have some things to ourselves?” Although I laughed and the way he put it was funny, I am sure that the mentality of that statement is taken a lot more seriously through most of the African American culture. Not wanting to share because of the color of someone’s skin is racism.
Disgusted with the entire idea of a brand of clothing being designed and targeted for one race I began to see other things. Racial slurs toward white people from black comedians like Chris Rock offend me, and I am offended that I cannot wear the same clothes. Yet I do not say anything because I am afraid to be looked at as a racist. I know in my heart that I am no such thing. The stereotype of being a racist because my great grandpa was a racist is unacceptable to me. My great great grandpa probably did cocaine like it was tobacco because it was legal. Does that make me a new and improved crack head even though I never touched cocaine my entire? That is how I feel about racism. I never knew what racism was until someone told me that white people used to hate all other ethnic groups. I never knew that racism would affect me until I bought a FUBU jersey.
Imagine Jay Leno slamming the culture of African Americans; he would be kicked off NBC and ruined for life. Yet somehow with the Chris Rock show we just kind of nod our heads and smile as he slams Caucasian American culture. This difference is a new change of racism and segregation. As time moves on and racism has begun to change hands, I am now the one who needs to sit at the back of the bus and drink from a different water fountain.
It seems that segregation is starting to take a new turn. The African American culture has now started to separate itself from the rest of America. What started as the revival of a beautiful culture has erupted to social segregation and words of hatred from blacks toward whites. If only all black people could look back on Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech that said, “I have a dream that one day…little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and little white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers” (King 3). What once started out as a movement to earn African Americans civil rights can now be used as a way to defend myself against black racism toward whites. It seems as though it is a price to pay until time can show that this new segregation is also bad for the ultimate goal of ridding the world from the hatred of racism.
African Americans and all ethnic groups will have a hurdle to keep their racism strong. Racism cannot defeat the growing number of interracial babies. Interracial human beings are the ones that can say, “What do I care my mom is white and my dad is black. My grandma is Mexican and my other grandma is an American Native. I can drink at any fountain. I can wear any type of clothing. I see all races as members of my family.” America used to be a melting pot because it was a place where different people, from different countries, and different races may all live together in harmony. America’s new melting pot is the birth of a new generation supporting a lot more interracial babies. A Washington editor of a Harpers article that originally appeared in New York Times wrote, “Ending racial segregation by class might –just might- bring about and end to race itself in America. It is certainly worth a try” (Lind 645)
It used to be a big deal during the times of integration what boat you came from. Who was German, Jewish, Italian, or Irish? Now nobody really seems to care about a white person’s heritage. They are now simply Americans, because we have mixed up all those heritages to a forgettable point. The original melting pot has melted. The new melting pot is the task of forgetting what race we are. Imagine the day when it is common for someone to say, my grandma was a quarter African American and my grandpa was a quarter Mexican American.
For twenty thousand years human beings lived segregated. I can’t see the ultimate desegregation of all races simply disappearing in forty years. It depresses me to know that things could get a lot worse before they start getting better. White people have begun to learn to start treating everyone as equals. Time will offer a period when other ethnic groups will have to take notice of their racism and segregation toward white people. In the end time will be the true cure, for twenty thousand years from now America will be one race, Americans.
Crenshaw, Stacey. Personal Interview. 24 February 2002.
King, Martin Luther, Jr. “I Have a Dream.” Congressional Record, 88th Congress, 109.12 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1963), pp. 16241- 16242. Rpt. “Martin Luther King, ‘I Have a Dream,’ 28 August 1963”; Douglas Archives of American Public Address, Northwestern University, 1197-2002. http://douglas.speech.nwu.edu/kingb12.htm [accessed: 5 Jan. 2002]
Lind, Michael. “The Beige and the Black.” The New York Times 16 Aug. 1998 Rpt. The Aims of Argument: A Rhetoric Reader. Eds. Timothy W. Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. 3rd ed. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 2000. 642-645.Malcolm X. (Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) "Letter from Mecca." The Pilgramage to Makkah.
http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/malcolmx.html [accessed: 1 March 2002].
© Nathan Creese, 2002
Wr 122, Dr. Agatucci
Argument Essay #2
12 February 1999
To write something truly original on environmentalism in any of its forms is a task of difficult measure. The environmental movement, as it is often called, is no longer a movement, but a way of life for many. Among those with whom it is not a major priority, it seems that they are at least aware of their implications, and make basic efforts to minimize their effects on our ecosystems. How is it then that we continue to lose species and habitat at such alarming rates, when it seems that there is only a fraction of people responsible for the largest damages? I propose that those most often behind the greatest of ecological disasters are large corporations, with a seemingly endless desire for the eternal profit. So how do we hold groups or individuals responsible for their actions? The answer lies in a series of responsibility, starting at the most basic link, that being the responsibility of one's own actions.
H. Patricia Hynes states in her short essay "Beyond Global Housekeeping," "[There is] dramatic evidence that environmental protection is not working and cannot be left to government agencies and small numbers of activists" (230). With this she makes a very valid point for a society that often leaves the most important issues to be dealt with by other "officials." This leads to the issue of personal responsibility, and one's personal stewardship of the Earth. We as a society can no longer afford to trust the actions of officials whom we may no little about, and may not have even voted for. Take for instance a very at home incident in the Crown Pacific-Forest Service land swap that was sealed this summer. Evidence suggested that we were not getting anywhere near the value of land that Crown-Pacific was getting. Furthermore it became clear that Crown-Pacific intended to develop or log most of the land acquired in the deal (the major portion of this land was set aside as prime recreation land, with the intention that it never be developed). Too many times we sit and idly watch the news on our TV, and maybe we voice a complaint there in the comfort of our chair; but how many can say they were there at the meetings asking for a detailed appraisal of the monetary values of both sets of land, or a outline of what Crown-Pacific plans to do if they acquire the land? How many petitioned for a non-Forest service based environmental impact study of the Pelican Butte Ski Area proposal; or who petitioned our governor for a complete impact study of dumping the New Carissa at sea? The list continues on, and these are only local issues, all taking place within our state.
To hold one's self-accountable for each action that is made is a feat utterly admirable in todays ultra-high paced society. In a world where an ability to make an instantaneous decision with little thought of the implications, is many times the norm, the issue of personal responsibility becomes clouded. Add to it the pressures of family and the basic needs of self preservation, then pile on that a little of ones vice's, and you have created a situation in which it is difficult to even find a logical starting point for change. Where then does one start when one makes the decision to become "eco-friendly?"
The decision to become eco-friendly starts with the recognition of one's own bad habits. For instance the most probable one is laziness. This can take forms such as not taking the time for recycling or not buying minimally packaged goods. Wasted paper, unnecessary use of water, and non-necessary consumption of energy are also common examples of simple changes that once compounded together can make for large changes all from a single person. However the recognition of bad habits is in of little use until a desire is expressed to change them. When this recognition is made then one can begin the process of changing ones behavior. The way that one's change is realized is very personal, and to suggest a single method would be foolhardy. There is however one thing that will permeate every approach, and that is education. The methods for educating oneself are quite numerous, and can range from reading books and literature, to getting a Ph.D. in environmental science though the latter is most often done as a career choice.
What turns one from action-less to activist? It is knowledge of oneself as merely a piece in a web of such complexity that it is currently beyond the scope of our understanding. It is this self-knowledge, which interestingly enough is the most often cited reason for non-environmentally conscious decisions. When the Union of Concerned Scientists issued their "World Scientists Warning to Humanity," they stated, "Uncertainty over the extent of these effects cannot excuse complacency or delay in facing the threats" (217). Their report serves as an example of a great educational tool. It can not be dismissed as extremist, due to the fact that 1600 scientists--including 102 Nobel Prize Winners-signed the document. The number of research based articles entering the mainstream has definitely grown over the years. This has made the status of the environment inextricably linked to everyday actions that involve our manipulation of it. For instance there is hardly a development that occurs today without the objections of at least some portion of the people.
In her essay, "The Environmental Movement: A Skeptical View," Virginia I. Postrel states that, "The ideal is of an Earth that doesnt change, that shows little or no effects of human activity. Greens take as their model of the ideal society the notion of an ecosystem that has reached an unchanging climax stage. 'Limits to growth' is as much a description of how things should be as it is of how they are" (223). Her view of environmentalism is that "greens" are against growth of the human species at all. This however is not the case for the majority of people who compose the environmental middle ground. The Sierra Club and Audubon Society are comprised of a great many individuals who wish to find more sustainable ways in which to coexist with the environment around them.
The idea of environmentalism is an ancient notion. It has unfortunately been often replaced with the capitalist commerce ideal of money is everything. One can hope that as people find they can have the money they desire without the destruction of species and habitat. It can be foreseen that if we do not recognize our link to the habitat to which we have done elaborate construction to separate ourselves from its inconsistencies, then the foundation that supports our basic needs will continue to collapse until? Until we as citizens realize that we have a moral obligation to protect that which supports us; the question is, do we recognize that to be the money in our pockets, or that which provided the soil to grow the cotton and wood that is used to make our money?
Hynes, H. Patricia. "Beyond Global Housekeeping." Ms. Magazine July/August 1990: n. pag.
Rpt. Aims of Argument. Eds. Timothy W. Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. 2nd ed.
Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1998. 230-234.
Postrel, Virginia. "The Environmental Movement: A Skeptical View." ChemTech August 1991: n. pag.
Rpt. Aims of Argument. Eds. Timothy W. Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. 2nd ed.
Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1998. 221-228.
Union of Concerned Scientists. "World Scientists Warning to Humanity." Rpt. Aims of Argument.
Eds. Timothy W. Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. 2nd ed. Mountain View, CA:
Mayfield Publishing Co., 1998. 216-219.
© Gita Dombrowski, 1998
WR122, Dr. Agatucci
Argument Using Sources, Essay #2
January 13, 1998
Society of Chickens
Gone then is the
absolute importance of man,
gone the sanctity of his life, and the meaning of it.
--Matthew E. Connolly
It pushed and strained against its tenebrous world. Weak and wobbly, the chick slowly emerged from its shell. Like cookie cutters, each baby chick was identicalfuzzy and yellow. Except for one. One chick had a little brown spot on its side. This difference marked its fate. Ominously, the other chicks gathered around. Peck, peck, peck, each chick pecked and pulled at the little brown spot. The elimination of the brown fuzz left the pink skin showing. Without hesitation, the chicks began another onslaught of pecking. They mercilessly stabbed their beaks into the chicks side until blood ran and they continued until the baby chick collapsed--bloody, beaten, and dead. The barbaric nature of chickens causes them to lash out against anything they view as being different, a deformity, or a threat. Are we any better than they?
For some time there has been a movement to grant death to those who want it. Voluntary euthanasia appears to be a noble idea, but is morally harmful to this nation. Euthanasia, like all morally harmful practices, will always degenerate from its purported idealistic beginning.
The terms "voluntary" or "active" euthanasia does not allude to the people who have requested that life support be withheld when their heart stops beating. Rather, I am referring to the people who are at the end of their ropes, depressed, and are wishing to end their existence. They may or may not be suffering in a hospital bed, but they want to be killed. They do not kill themselves, but a doctor "assists" them in the process. Because a doctor is actively euthanizing the patient, it is referred to as assisted suicide.
Who can set a price on a human life? The unfortunate consequence of euthanasia, in any form, is the cheapening of human life. The specialty of our lives is devalued when we take it upon ourselves to decide who is fit to live and who is better off dead. The Hemlock Society, an organization that advocates voluntary euthanasia, argues for the dignity of the patient when advertising assisted suicide. Dignity does not come from killing oneself. Our dignity comes from the fact that we were created in the image of God and are special creatures of his handy work (Genesis 9:6). "He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things and hath determined the time before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation For in him we live and move and have our being " (Acts 17:25-28).
Contrary to the claim by supporters, euthanasia does not make death easy. Euthanasia brings with it burdensome decisions that were not there before. As Matthew E. Conolly, a professor of medicine at UCLA, put it, "Then what about those precious people who even to the end put others before themselves? They [founders of Hemlock] will now have laid upon them the new and horrible thought that perhaps they ought to do away with themselves to spare their relatives more trouble or expense." (Conolly, 67)
In stark contrast to the selfishness of the euthanasia movement is the famed nun, Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa gave her life for the poorest and most desolate people in Calcutta, India. She devoted all her time and energy to helping the sick and dying. Nothing stopped her. Not even the deadly diseases that she worked among. Mother Teresa died the epitome of compassionan example to us all. Have we learned anything from the selfless testimony of her life? When we look at the old, the sick, and the disabled do we see someone to love or someone whose "dignity" would best be salvaged by euthanasia? William F. May, a professor of ethics at Southern Methodist University, says, "The community, moreover may need its aged and dependent, its sick and its dying, and the virtues which they sometime evincethe virtues of humility, courage, and patiencejust as much as the community needs the virtues of justice and love manifest in the agents of care." (62) Death is inevitable and we will always have the sick and the disabled. It is the existence of these people that gives us the opportunity to exercise love and compassionqualities, which set humans apart from animals. An essay written by Sidney Hook argues that euthanasia is compassionate. Sidney Hook was a philosophy professor at New York University and an octogenarian at the time of his writing. Professor Hook very vividly describes the pain that he suffered from congestive heart failure. Hooks case for euthanasia argues for the release of the suffering into death.
"To some extent, my views reflect what I have seen happen to the aged and stricken who have been so unfortunate as to survive crippling paralysis. They suffer, and impose suffering on others, unable even to make a request that their torment be ended," says Hook (65). Euthanasia, however, is not a compassionate way to end their suffering. The executive director of the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force, Rita Marker, observes that, " about a quarter of patients killed by overdose take longer than three hours to die, often in extreme pain." (ctd. in Sillars 20) Lethal injection is used in the Netherlands for such an occasion. However, in Oregon there is no such provision for lethal injection (20). What does the Hemlock Society recommend in such a circumstance? They advocate suffocation with a "good quality plastic bag." (20) " The best size is about 19 inches by 23 inches, wrote Hemlock Society cofounder Derek Humphry in a 1994 letter to The New York Times." (qt. in Sillars 20) Is this compassionate and dignified? Professor Conolly states that, "Experience with hospice care in England and the United States has shown repeatedly that in every case, pain and suffering can be overwhelmingly reduced. In many cases be abolished altogether. This care is not easy. It demands infinite love and compassion." (68) Is not this a better way to care for the patient?
Doctor-assisted suicide erodes away some of the moral values of our society. Active euthanasia cheapens human life, opens the door for undue pressure on the patient, and exchanges our compassion with indifference. Future generations watch the values and politics of the generations proceeding them. The values compromised by the first generation are tossed away by the second. Legislation supporting euthanasia has opened the door and ushered in dangerous and radical views. The euthanasia movement is a downward spiraling path of selfishness.
At the mere mention of Adolf Hitler one envisages the tired huddled masses of the old, the deformed, and most importantly the Jews. All were marched mercilessly to their death by Hitlers plan for the superior race. He did not begin by killing everyone that he deemed inferior, at once. That would have been too difficult. He started out as all tyrants doone subtle and deadly step at a time. As professor Conolly said, "Adolf Hitler showed with startling clarity that once the dam is breached, the principle somewhere compromised, death in the end comes to be administered equally to all " (67) In the words of the American Author, George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (qtd. in Hirsch 56) History is in the process of repeating itself.
Physician-assisted suicide is already accepted legally in Holland and is progressing to the next step. "The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that euthanasia advocates there have begun arguing that in certain circumstances doctors should neither require nor seek the consent of mentally competent patients before they kill them."(Stetson 18) One doctor euthanized a nun because "she was in excruciating pain but her religious convictions did not permit her to ask for death." (18) Even more startling was an incident involving a patient with advanced breast cancer. She "explicitly said she did not want to be euthanized" (18). Why did her doctor kill her anyway? "It could have taken another week before she died. I just needed this bed," he said (18).
Robert Latimer, a Canadian farmer, was convicted of second degree murder last December for killing his daughter. Roberts twelve-year-old daughter, Tracy, had cerebral palsy and he decided to end her suffering. In October of 1993, while the rest of his family was in church, he put Tracy in the cab of his truck. He then proceeded to pipe the exhaust into the cab and watched her die. Surprisingly, the judge only gave him a one-year jail sentence and one year confined to his farm. Canadian law requires a life sentence with no parole for ten years in second degree murder cases, but Latimers jurors thought that was cruel and unusual punishment. Mr. Latimers light punishment reflects a growing sympathy towards euthanizing those who suffer from disabilities. Jim Hughes, an activist for the disabled, said, "Its a sick world when killing is called compassionate and punishment for killers is called cruel" (qt. in "Convicted"7).
Even in our nation euthanasia is progressing. For instance, Hallmark has released a line of suicide cards intended to "console a person whose loved one killed himself" (Veith 25). These cards "make what is horrible seem nice, socially acceptable, and more common" (Veith 25). Also, Oregon was recently subjected to an impassioned debate over repealing doctor-assisted suicide legislation. Both sides offered compelling arguments, but the advocates of euthanasia came out the winners. During the debate, the proponents of assisted suicide proposed some "safe guards" to prevent euthanasia from being misused. The safe guards were the requirements of both an oral and written request and a waiting period. However, since the Hemlock society was successful in keeping the Oregon legislation, they are applying pressure to increase the scope of the doctor-assisted suicide. Faye Girsh, the Executive Director of Hemlock, said, "A judicial determination should be made when it is necessary to hasten the death of an individual whether it be a demented parent, a suffering severely disabled spouse or a child" (qtd. in Rahm 2). The Director of the National Right to Life Committees Department of Medical Ethics, Burke J. Balch, commented,
The first legal assisted suicide under Oregons law has yet to be publicly reported, but the Hemlock Society is already casting off the "safeguards" it so loudly touted during the debate in Novembers referendum campaign over its potential repeal. It should be noted that Girshs statement endorses the killing not only of those who are "terminally ill" but also just "chronically ill" - which in Hemlocks definition undoubtedly covers people with permanent disabilities. Then, Hemlock drops the requirement that euthanasia be voluntarily chosen by a competent adult. The agenda of the euthanasia movement is now in the open for all to see; not respect for individual choice, the slogan with which they deceived the people of Oregon, but elimination of those whose "quality of life" does not meet Hemlocks standards. (qtd. in Rahm 2)
As Professor Conolly said, "Our modern tragedy is that man has turned his back on God, who alone can help, and has set himself up as the measure of all things" (69). When the absolutes of God are ignored on a moral issue, anything goes. Euthanasia is no exception. As society sinks continually into deeper depths of selfishness, the more drastic euthanasia will become. We are already killing the very young and now we want to kill the very old and the deformed. There will never be a logical place to stop euthanasias deadly progression. Baaaaawk bawk bawk bawk bawk bawk.
Conolly, Matthew E. "Euthanasia Is Not the Answer." The Aims of Argument; A Rhetoric and Reader. Eds. Timothy W. Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. Mountain View, CA.: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1998. 6669.
"Convicted Fathers Sentence Light." Life In Oregon FebMarch. 1998: 7.
Hirsch, Kett, and James Trefil. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988.
The Holy Bible. King James version, 1611.
Hook, Sidney. "In Defense of Voluntary Euthanasia." The Aims of Argument; A Rhetoric and Reader. Eds. Timothy W. Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. Mountain View, CA.: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1998. 6465.
May, William F. "Rising to the Occasion of Our Death." The Aims of Argument; A Rhetoric and Reader. Eds. Timothy W. Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. Mountain View, CA.: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1998. 6263.
Rahm, Cindy. "Implementing Assisted Suicide." Life In Oregon FebMar. 1998: 2.
Sillars, Les. "Death on the March." World Dec. 1997: 18.
Stetson, Brad. "I Just Needed this Bed." World Jan. 1998: 18.
Veith, Gene Edward. "For Suicide Send a Card." World Feb. 1998: 25.
© Andrew Elster, 1998
WR122, Dr. Agatucci
Essay #2 Final Draft
6 March 2002
A Single Administration and District…Maybe?
After heading east from Portland [Oregon] on Interstate 84, sixty miles later one will come upon the city of The Dalles. From there, one can head south on Highway 197 and take a scenic tour of Wasco County. Being a large county, a number of schools inhabit the area. However, the major ones are Chenowith Middle School, The Dalles High School, Dufur School, and South Wasco County School. The Dalles High School and Chenowith Middle School are both located in The Dalles. Dufur School is fifteen miles south of The Dalles and South Wasco County School is around 30 miles south of Dufur. These four schools each has its own district which is run by its own administration. A proposal has arisen called Measure 33-37, and if passed, it would create a new single county district consisting of Chenowith, The Dalles High, Dufur, and South Wasco County Schools. One chief administration would run this large district instead of four different ones. This main administration would consist of chosen members from the four different school administrations. The schools would then be divided up into local committees made up of community elected members. These committees would have no official authority and must submit to the chief administration. This Measure 33-37 is not only a bad idea, but also a waste of time for a plethora of reasons.
One of the major problems with this proposal is the lack of power that the schools would have. If a school wanted to get anything done, its local committee must contact the main administration, which would then approve or disapprove the plan or suggestion. South Wasco County School board chairman Dennis Ross hit it on the money saying, “The schools must first talk to the big administration to find out what to serve for breakfast and when they can mow the lawn.” The local committee of the school would need to plan a meeting, the chief school board would need to be brought together, and then a majority vote would take place in order to pass the improvement or suggestion. It would be an enormous hassle to get anything accomplished in the schools.
In accordance with a school's lack of power, the smaller schools will especially be the underdog because of the loss of local representation. Chenowith School Board Chairman Jeff Stranz explains, “This measure…only removes more control from the local communities” (Lemons and Spatz A1). Ross feels the same way: “Consolidation [of the schools] would remove local decision making. The school is such a part of the community…if you take that out, it would make a big impact on the community. You’re taking the heart out of here” (Lemons and Spatz A7). The loss of local representation means that Dufur and South Wasco County, the smaller schools, will be outweighed by the two bigger schools who have more local representation. Bill Douglass, COCC Sports and Recreation Director, adds, “The majority of the money will be spent on The Dalles because it’s the big dog.” Being the big dog also means the majority of the good teachers will more than likely end up there because of the larger student body.
The primary idea behind this measure is to save the whole county money, which should leave more funds for buildings, teachers, and programs, in turn creating more educational opportunities for students. Some solutions for saving money include paying a single administration instead of four; a single, countywide bus barn; and a specialized teacher instructing at all of the schools instead of one per school. However, there is no guarantee that these proposals will save money. This is another important reason that Measure 33-37 is a bad idea. The money saved from paying a single administration would be used up when school staff and teachers salaries are increased all over the county. A countywide bus barn would have to be built or the one in The Dalles would need to be enlarged to hold the county’s buses. The drawback of having the bus barn in The Dalles is that a lot of the saved money will be spent on transportation because it’s such a big county. “Merging of the bus barns will cost a lot because transportation is so expensive,” says COCC Mazama Gym supervisor Rich Carpenter. Finally, using one teacher at four different schools puts a lot of stress on that teacher. That teacher’s salary will more than likely need to be increased enough so that he or she will continue to teach and not quit. This will use up more of the saved money.
If this single district forms and ends up costing the same or more than the original four districts, then this entire process was a pointless waste of time. To show the importance of the proposal, the supporters of Measure 33-37 are comparing Wasco County’s school districts with neighboring Hood River County’s consolidated district. Since merging their districts, Hood River County is allegedly saving $879,349 a year compared to the total combined costs for the four Wasco County School Districts (Lemons A5). Tom Rinearson, South Wasco County School District Superintendent, reran the numbers for Hood River County and found that they are saving $779,349 instead of $879,349 (Lemons A5). That is a $100,000 difference! This shows that the supporters of the measure are using inaccurate evidence and that they are just making some rough estimates. Ken Onstott, The Dalles School Board Chairman, summed the whole idea up nicely by stating, “There’s just a whole lot of questions that haven’t been answered. Just jumping off a cliff into the middle of this…seems a little premature” (ctd. in Lemons and Spatz A1). Jeff Stranz considers Measure 33-37, “an attempt to fix a problem without grasping the unintended side effects” (ctd. in Lemons and Spatz A1). Finally, Stan Ashbrook, Dufur School Board Chairman, captures the pointlessness of Measure 33-37 by stating, “there hasn’t been any kind of financial analysis done. You can’t just take a few months and throw it out there” (ctd. in Lemons and Spatz A7).
The bottom line is that Measure 33-37 must not be passed. It would give the smaller schools a lack of power and a loss of local representation. If a school wanted to accomplish something they would have to ask the chief administration, making improvements around the school an enormous hassle. With regards to the single district saving money, it would be very difficult because of the surplus of school expenses. Once again, this proposal is a terrible idea and a waste of everyone’s time.
Carpenter, Rich. COCC Mazama Gym supervisor. Personal interview.
27 Feb. 2002.
Douglass, Bill. COCC Sports and Recreation Director. Personal
Interview. 27 Feb. 2002.
Lemons, Nancy. “County School
ballots to arrive soon.” The Dalles
18 Feb. 2002: A1, A5.
Lemons, Nancy and Dan Spatz.
“School Measure Brings Debate.” The
Dalles Chronicle 19 Feb.
2002: A1, A7.
Ross, Dennis. South Wasco County
School Board Chairman. Personal
Interview. 25 Feb. 2002.
© Adam Fargher, 2002
Wr 122, Dr. Agatucci
Essay #2 (Argument Using Sources)
23 March 2001
Free Love: Free from What?
During the 1960’s, American young people fought for what they called “free love” and “sexual freedom.” They declared--through protests, direct rebellion against authority, and large gatherings such as Woodstock—that they had the right to do with their bodies whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted and with whomever they wanted. They claimed that it was a natural right that was unjustly restricted by the social and moral codes of the time. After a bit of a struggle, those young Americans gained their sexual freedom, but what are the ramifications of that freedom? Now, because of that fight for sexual freedom, sex has become, in many cases, a reckless, pleasure-grubbing fling that is consistently inconsiderate of the medical, lifestyle, and emotional ramifications it causes. In view of the rising number and frequency of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the number of out-of-wedlock births (and abortions), and the emotional state of those who practice so-called “free love,” I feel it necessary to argue that abstinence, not sex, before marriage is the key to true sexual freedom.
If for no other reason, the words “sexually transmitted diseases” should be enough to cause a person to stay abstinent until marriage. According to Drs. Werner and Sharon Hoeger, authors of Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness, “[s]ex lasts only a few minutes. The consequences of irresponsible sex may last a lifetime. And in some cases, they are fatal” (327). This goes for STDs, too. In the United States alone, STDs have reached epidemic proportions. It is reported that 25% of all Americans will contract at least one STD at some point in their lifetime and “each year more than 12 million people are newly infected with STDs.” There were more than 74,180 new cases of AIDS in the US just in 1995 (Hoeger and Hoeger 319). This is not to say that STDs occur only because of “free love,” but studies do show that the rate of increase and frequency of STDs has risen since the 1960’s and the sexual revolution.
Research and logic have also shown that STDs are transferred more “effectively” among those with multiple sexual partners. Picture this: a man sleeps with a woman and she contracts an STD from him. She then sleeps with another man and passes the STD to him. He goes and sleeps with another woman and the STD is passed to that woman. But don’t forget. The first man has also already slept with other partners, as have the first woman and the second man. This cycle is a horrific chain that can only thwarted if people choose to wait for sex until they are in monogamous relationships. This cycle is perfect for the reproduction of the bacteria being passed, but I don’t hear Americans chanting, “SAVE THE CHLYMIDIA!”
While some people say that these are risks they are willing to take, they forget to recognize the social effects of their behaviors. AIDS, the most dreaded of the STDs, cost the Federal Government about $10.4 billion in 1994. According to Drs. Hoeger and Hoeger, as of 1993, “the annual U.S. health-care cost to care for an HIV-positive individual who had not reached the AIDS stage was approximately $5,150…to treat an individual who had developed AIDS was about $32,000…and the average cost from the onset of AIDS until death was $85,333…. The direct treatment per person would average $121,383” (326). These figures add up to be more than $30.5 billion to treat the reported 253,448 cases of AIDS in December 1992, which doesn’t include the cost if all of the estimated 1 million HIV infected people in the US develop the AIDS virus (Hoeger and Hoeger 326).
These statistics alone should cause anyone to be abstinent until marriage. However, STDs are not the only health and social risks involved in the ramifications of “free love.” Two words: bastard children. It’s a harsh reality, but also very true. According to “Trends in Teen Sexual Behavior”, an article detailing the effects of teen sex, by Douglas Besharov and Karen Gardiner, teenage mothers make up more than 30% of all out-of-wedlock births. “Between 1965 and 1994, for example, the number of [out-of-wedlock] births increased almost fourfold, from 49,000 to 253,000.” These figures show that there is now a generation of children growing up in mostly one parent, welfare homes. Not only that but “about the same proportion of white and black unmarried adolescent mothers go on welfare within one year of the birth of their first child” (Besharov and Gardiner). Each of these illegitimate children costs the government billions of dollars a year through welfare programs of many kinds. This in turn costs the taxpayers money, which means you. And it’s not just monetary costs that are valid for argument. There is a social cost to our structure and strength as a country as children are being raised by almost equally inexperienced, uneducated children. This doesn’t even account for those out-of-wedlock births in college students and other young adults.
STDs and out-of-wedlock births are both very strong reasons for support of abstinence before marriage, but an equally strong reason is that of emotional damage. I had a friend in high school whose long time boyfriend pressured her into having sex with him. Previous to this experience, she had been adamantly against premarital sex, but when he told her how much he loved her, she decided it was okay. After the fact, however, he dumped her. She told me how awful she felt and how much she wished she hadn’t done it. What if she had conceived and given birth to his child? As a consequence of his pressuring and her giving in, she would have had to live with the emotional, monetary, and social consequences of hers and her boyfriend’s actions for the rest of her life. As it is, when she does get married someday, she’ll carry with her the experiences from an unfaithful relationship.
According to Drs. Hoeger and Hoeger, “Sex in the early stages of a relationship is not the product of love but is simply the fulfillment of a physical, and often selfish, drive. A loving relationship develops over a long time with mutual respect for each other” (327). They also state that the promiscuity of “free love” does not lead to trusting, loving, and lasting relationships (327). This mutual respect can be proclaimed in many ways, the most significant of which is the marriage ceremony.
In the marriage ceremony, a man and woman stand together before their friends, family, and an officiator (religious leader or judge) and declare their commitment to be each other’s only partner for life: partner in bed and partner in living.
Respect in a relationship can also be shown to a person’s future partner by abstaining from sex even before they meet that partner. It shows a great amount of care and love on a man and woman’s part for their spouse if they wait until the marriage bed to sleep with anyone other than the person they plan to spend their life with. This is the kind of respect and mutual commitment that Drs. Hoeger and Hoeger are talking about. It is also a great way to reduce the risk of infecting each spouse with another person’s STD, which is another show of respect.
The benefits of abstinence are numerous. According to Gracie Hsu, author of “Revolt of the Virgins,” the positive outcomes of abstinence from premarital sex include the following: greater sexual satisfaction in marriage, an enduring marriage and no regrets over past partners. She reported that “the 1994 University of Chicago study Sex in America found that the people most satisfied with their current sex life are monogamous, married couples.” Along with those findings were quotations from couples surveyed by the Family Research Council, which found that those married couples who believed sex outside of marriage to be wrong had the greatest sexual satisfaction out of everyone studied (Hsu).
Many people argue that abstinence from premarital sex is an ideal that is not practical nor one that can be reached. I would have to ask them, “Why?” Why is it that when the facts plainly state the destructive ramifications of “free love” and the benefits of “marital love,” people continue to make irresponsible choices in their sex lives and sexual partners? That irresponsibility affects everyone in our society, not just those involved.
Others argue that if they really love another person and it’s a mature relationship, it is okay for them to sleep with that person. I would tell them then, go ahead, have sex with them…after you marry them. If you truly love them and want to be with them forever, stand before your friends and family and a religious leader/judge and make known your commitment to be together forever. Then you’ll know for sure that the other person loves you as much as you love them and that you are the one they want to have as their partner for life.
So, what is “free love” free from? It may be free from moral and societal rules, but it leads to a prison of costly STDs, a generation (and many to come) of bastard children, and deep emotional scars for everyone involved. Abstinence is an ideal, but practicing it today carries hope for real sexual freedom in a future marriage relationship: a relationship free from disease, battered emotions and broken hearts; a relationship in which each partner is committed to the other heart, mind, AND body.
Maybe, through careful reconsideration of “free love,” abstinence will become popular again and today’s generation can change the effects of their parents’ decisions for the sake of generations to come.
Werner W.K., and Sharon A. Hoeger. Lifetime
Physical Fitness & Wellness. Englewood,
CO: Morton Publishing Company, 1998.
Gracie S. “Revolt of the
Virgins.” The World and I
12 December 1996: 48. NewsBank.
Home Computer. http://infoweb.newsbank.com/ (17, Feb. 2001).
Key word for search: “abstinence.”
[COCC Student]. “Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Freer.” Student paper written for the class “English Composition” at Central Oregon Community College. 4 May 2000. Used as an idea base/starting point for this paper and with spoken permission of student.
© Crista Harrison, 2001
Of related interest:
The Effectiveness of Abstinence Education Programs in Reducing Sexual Activity Among Youth [.pdf]
Population and Reproductive Health (United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA] and the Development Gateway Foundation)
Jenny L. Miller
WR122. Prof. Agatucci
Final Draft Essay #2
4 March 2002
Yates: Is Capital Punishment the Answer?
On the morning of June 20, 2002, 37-year-old Andrea Yates, a postoperative nurse and wife, emotionlessly drowned her five children--Luke, 2; Paul 3; John, 5; Mary, 6; and Noah, 7--in the bathtub of her home. After the tragedy was over she wrapped up four of the children in sheets and left the infant floating in the bathtub. Yates first called the police and then she called her husband, a NASA computer engineer, to tell him that something happened to the children. Was this woman mentally sick?
She was sick. In fact, a thousand pages of psychiatric documentation prove that she was out of her mind due to a severe illness called postpartum depression. It started in 1994 after the birth of her first son, Noah. She was hearing voices and having visions of stabbing, but she blew them off (Parker). As she gave birth to more children, the depression worsened as she tried to commit suicide twice by overdose and once by attempted self-mutilation with a steak knife. These acts finally landed her in the hospital in June of 1999 after the birth of her fourth son. The doctors diagnosed her with major depression with psychotic features and treated her with Hardol, an anti-psychotic medication used for severe cases (Parker).
According to Paul Appelbaum, President-Elect of the American Psychiatric Association, “About 10 to 20 percent of new mothers are diagnosed with postpartum. And 1 or 2 out of 1,000 will experience psychosis with that depression. A part of that psychosis might include auditory hallucinations” (Oglesby). He further explains, “Women might hear voices that tell them to harm themselves or their babies or they might hear voices that say that the baby is possessed by the devil and they have to kill the baby to kill the devil” (Oglesby). Christy Oglesby, a CNN reporter, states that women who experience postpartum depression have a 50 percent chance of receiving it again during further pregnancies. This woman’s medical history alone was a cry for help; where was the medical rescuing that she needed?
Psychiatrists have documented that Rusty, Andrea's husband, was said to be a bit controlling and a firm believer in biblical scriptures that convinced him they should have as many babies as nature would allow (Parker). He is a strong contributor to her illness. Andrea did not have support or understanding from her husband; meanwhile the red light warns no more children, but nobody seemed to be listening. Furthermore, Rusty was not concerned with watching her signs of abnormal behavior.
For those who don’t know, insanity is a legal term, not a medical one. It has been used in the court of law for centuries to excuse people because of their mental problems in the matter of their criminal history (Parker). In Texas, capital punishment is used to solve capital offense cases. But across America the belief in preserving human life at all costs is what our society stands for.
Andrea Yates is being charged with one count of capital murder. The Yates murder case is a different crime case. She is mentally ill. So does she deserve capital punishment as a solution for the terrible tragedy she underwent by drowning her five children?
Michael Perlin, a professor at New York Law School, believes the odds are against her if she pleads innocent by reason for insanity. Perlin says, “It is used in one-quarter of one percent of all felonies and is successful in one-third of those one-quarter, which gets us down to one-twelfth. And in 90 percent of those, the prosecutor and defense agrees” (qtd. in Parker). Laura Parker, a reporter for USA Today, argues that, “Yate’s execution propelled a tragic family murder case into the vortex of a public debate about mental illness, sanity and the appropriate use of the death penalty”, after Harris County Attorney Chuck Rosenthal’s decision to seek capital punishment as a means for her punishment. Amber Young, a student writer for Aims of Argument, also believes in the death penalty, stating that capital punishment is society’s means for self-defense.
In other words, capital punishment is good for the better of our society only when it is used for individuals who cannot be helped. She gives an example, Ted Bundy, a serial killer, who was imprisoned and given the death penalty to protect society from his madness. As a result before his death, he declared, “ My world is a cage,” and he described it as, “ The cruel metamorphosis that occurs in captivity”, Young quotes. Young explains that many prisoners would prefer death than life imprisonment. Andrea Yates will ultimately suffer her own consequences without the help of imprisonment alone as she begins to heal from the terrible tragedy she underwent by killing all of her children. Another point Young quotes, “ Many people will readily or reluctantly admit to their willingness to use deadly force to protect themselves or their families from a murderer” (35). By the same token, Yates was protecting her children from the murderer depression; the devil that she believed took over their lives. Therefore, she was acting in self-defense.
Like Andrea Yates, many women suffer from severe depression after having children. For Andrea Yates, suffering from postpartum depression was undoubtedly the case. She had a six-month old baby, so all of the evidence points to postpartum depression. So, why am I in favor of her life over her death? Because I think there are other avenues for calming nationwide emotional upheaval over her case. Unmistakably this incident devastated America, but if it weren’t for Andrea Yates and a few others like cases, where would millions of new mothers are certainly not coming forward and discussing their secretive similarities of behavior. Alternatives for the death penalty are medication and major psychological treatment or life imprisonment with medication and psychological treatment. Either way, the death penalty does not cure ongoing disease shared by millions by killing one woman. Rather it feeds the problem by not giving notice to such a terrible epidemic shared by all of humanity.
In conclusion, alternatives to capital punishment would be more humane in treating Andrea Yate’s illness. The positive way to look at her case is that it will draw many women, men and family members out from behind closed doors and talk about the issue. As a result, more extensive research can be conducted for poor suffering women like Yates. Ultimately there is a huge cry for help and our nation needs to hear it starting with her. She was the valedictorian of her high school and a postoperative nurse for eight years before she married. Doesn’t this tell you she is clearly not a murderer, but rather suffering the terrible repercussions of the murderer itself, severe depression?
Oglesby, Christy. “Postpartum Depression: More than ‘Baby Blues." [Web page.]
CNN (June 27, 2001). Retrieved March 3, 2002, from the world wide web:
Parker, Laura. “Psychotic, But Is Andrea Yates Legally Insane?
Houston Mom Who Drowned Her Five Kids Will Find It Tough To Prove.” USA Today (September 9, 2001). Retrieved February 28, 2002, from the world wide web:
Young, Amber. “Capital Punishment: Society’s Self-Defense.” In Aims of Argument: A
Rhetoric and Reader. Eds. Timothy Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. 3rd ed. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 2000. 31-35.
© Jennifer L. Miller, 2002
WR 122, Dr. Agatucci
17 February 1999
Welfare: Abuses by Government and Recipient Need to Be Stopped!
When I was a small child, my father put me in trashcans throughout Central Park to reassure me that I was garbage, and my mother found humor in his behavior. Most of my childhood was spent in houses and apartments that were near the neighborhood bars. My parents main income came from welfare and the community churches. Being raised in an abusive poverty-stricken home, I know first hand what it is to be poor and what it takes to climb out from the grips of poverty. Ive seen many abuses of welfare, but I have also seen and experienced the governments vituperative strong arm towards the poor. The welfare system is far out of control, and both the government and its recipients are to be blamed; the abuses within the system need to be overhauled for it to become more successful and less burdensome. There arent any easy answers to prevent the poverty rate from rising, but we can help improve conditions.
Though I give God the credit of all my success, I did use welfare to help pull me out of my scurrilous situation and impoverishment. Coming from a dysfunctional home, that lifestyle followed me into my adulthood. After a childhood filled with abuse, I married abusive men; I was following a pattern. My first step was to stop marrying precarious men, and that was a challenge in itself. But for me to become free from my dysfunctional past, I had to take a mighty and abrupt leap. When I filed for divorce from my second husband, my childrens biological father, I had zero income and nobody to help me but God himself.
During my first 30 days as a single mom, I had to depend on town welfare (this is offered in the New England states) for food and rent. Meanwhile, my landlady sold the house I was renting, and I was given an eviction notice from the new landlord. I applied for section 8 certificates (a government grant that supplements housing cost) in several towns, but the waiting list on all of them were one or more years. My problem was I had the money for first months rent, from the town welfare, but not last months rent for a new apartment. I went to the town welfare for some additional assistance. But instead of helping me to pay the last months move in cost, the town wanted to pay for foster care for my children and put me into a homeless shelter. I found an apartment in a high crime area; these apartments were low-income projects, and loaded with cockroaches. But it was either taking this apartment or turning my children over for foster care, and I chose keeping my children of course and making the best of it. I applied for Aid for Dependent Children (AFDC), and went back to school to get my high school diploma and a word-processing degree.
Life in the projects was an experience Ill never forget. Most everyone that lived in the 200 plus apartments did receive AFDC, and I saw a lot of fraud while I was living there. There were single moms that were substance abusers, and they prostituted for their habits. These same women were selling their food stamps to buy drugs while their children went hungry. I met women that were supporting abusive men with their welfare checks, and women that had three, four and more kids by different men to collect larger grants from AFDC. But on the other hand, I knew women that babysat, take odd jobs and/or sold cupcakes to help make ends meet or to help them buy Christmas presents for their children. These ladies did not report these earnings to the welfare department. If they had reported their extra incomes, the state would have deducted funds from their small grants. But on the same token, these women could have lost their grants or gone to jail for not reporting their earnings; I believe this is self-defense and not fraud.
Uncle Sam has too much financial control, and there are bureaucratic officials dictating lives within our family units. The government defines poverty income levels, and these definitions "are too low and do not realistically reflect the cost of raising a family today " (OHare 246). Ive seen at first hand women losing their children because they cant pay a light bill, dont have enough money to pay their rent, or need a last month deposit, such as I did. The government finds it more appropriate to pay for foster care than try to help keep the family unit together, but women and men who have records of substance abuse and prostitution didnt seem to be bothered much by children services. It seemed to me that the state was more liberal with those who needed to have their children put into foster care than with the loving parents, which were trying their best. In Connecticut, five welfare moms were arrested and convicted for not claiming extra earnings that ranged from $25 to $60 during the year I lived in the projects; all of these Moms went to jail for 30 days. The ladies involved were babysitting to make extra money for Christmas, but the state called it fraud.
Though there are many people who misuse the welfare system, most women only stay on welfare for a short term: "50 percent of recipients are off AFDC after one year, two-thirds after two years " (Lovern 276). I believe the welfare recipients that either abuse welfare or live on government assistance as their permanent income are those that come from dysfunctional homes, such as I; this belief comes from my own personal experiences. Coming from abusive poverty stricken homes, one loses self-esteem and forebodes inertia. These individuals hopelessness becomes their reality, and many of them go without an education and run with crowds that will pull them down further into a slump. Some social workers, educators, and children services can be more harmful than helpful. Though there are good private programs in aiding these individuals, our churches and communities need to address these problems even more so than relying on the government for all the answers.
There are many politicians who havent the slightest conception what it is to be poor, trying to design a welfare reform. The liberals want to raise taxes to cover all the expenses, and the conservatives want to end the benefits. While all this fighting is going on within our political arena, the poor are still oppressed and Americans continued to be burdened. We need to put an end to all this lunacy!
Welfare reform is a strong issue within our country these days, and I believe we need to overhaul the entire system. We need to end big government and remove the financial control the government has on its people, because the governments control is getting out of hand. For an example, Theresa Funiciello, a New York State legislator, wants to guarantee an income, according to household size, to everyone in this country (290); this is out and out communism. Can one imagine such a fate for our country? Our churches and communities need to take back the burdens of the poor from the government. Our forefathers were able to pull their own weight, and I know we are more capable of doing the same today. Those welfare recipients that have records of drug/alcohol abuse or prostitution should not be allowed to receive direct benefits. We need to give more medical and psychological help for those addicted to drugs or alcohol, and then we need to educate them as well. Our tax dollars should be invested into education, housing, medical, and childcare for the poor, and these benefits should be designed to help reduce the burden of poverty. Todays welfare programs are not designed to help lift its recipients out of poverty; the welfare programs are "geared to sustain the poor" (OHare 251).
Education should be on the top of the list for assistance. After I completed my education, I was able to find work as an executive secretary, and I climbed the ladder in my company. Education with the help of God has changed my life. Welfare grants and food stamps should be given freely to those who are seeking an education and training for skills to go out into the work force. The more educated a person is the more beneficial that person becomes to himself or herself and to society. But many single parent homes still need some kind of assistance.
We need to concentrate on giving aid to single parents, such as section 8 certificates and safe and affordable childcare. If we take away grants from the larger group of abusers that I have previously mentioned, there would be more money to help the working single parent with these extra benefits. When I finally completed school and went back to work, I would not have made it without a section 8 certificate or the affordable childcare with the YMCA. Even after I had been promoted twice, my pay was still a mere $8.29 per hour. This was hardly enough for me to pay the entire $550 per month rent that was on my small two bedroom apartment and then plus childcare of $90 per week. With the help of the rent and childcare supplement, I was paying $130 per month for rent and $15 for childcare, and I was able to support my children. These supplements are like a second income for the unfortunate single parent, especially for the single parents that do not receive child support.
Our government needs to reform the welfare system, but first we need to see where the problems lie before reform can be successful. Welfare benefits should be given out as a safety zone for those who are getting an education, to those that have lost their employment, the disabled, mentally handicap, and to the elderly, and not to the substance abusers and prostitutes. We need to discourage women who get pregnant for AFDC investments; when there is a pattern of such behavior, the money grants should be discontinued and only resumed for two years if the parent goes to school. There should be other benefits to help supplement the single parents one income; this will help encourage more single parents to work. Most of all, I believe we need to listen to the suggestions of the poor and single parents; these people are more qualified to reform our welfare system than a politician that has never seen the so called "wrong side of the tracks."
Funiciello, Theresa. "Ending Poverty as We Know It." Imprimus Tyranny of Kindness 1993. Rpt.
Aims of Argument. Eds. Timothy W. Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. 2nd ed. Mountain View, CA:
Mayfield Publishing Co., 1998. 290-298.
Lovern, Beth. "Confessions of a Welfare Mom." Imprimus 1990s. Rpt. Aims of Argument.
Eds. Timothy W. Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. 2nd ed. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield
Publishing Co., 1998. 271-276.
OHare, William P. "A New Look at Poverty in America." Imprimus September 1996.
Rpt. Aims of Argument. Eds. Timothy W. Crusius and Carolyn E. Channell. 2nd ed. Mountain View,
CA: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1998. 246-256.
© Darlene West, 1999
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