The Death Penalty DebateWritten by Peter Kennedy
While death penalty has been utilized for centuries, we continue to debate morality and efficacy of this punishment. Many people argue that death penalty acts as a deterrent to potential murderers, terrorists, and other violent criminals. However, others find death penalty completely incompatible with ethical standards of modern civilization. Although some states have since outlawed practice, US remains one of few democracies to maintain capital punishment.
The term “capital punishment” originates from Latin word “caput,” which means head. Capital punishment, therefore, was a punishment reserved for serious crimes that warranted decapitation. Such serious crimes, referred to as capital offenses, are generally limited to treason and murder in U.S. However, in different legal systems of foreign countries, death penalty may be given for a lesser crime, like robbery. The most common modern methods of execution are electrocution and lethal injection. These methods are seen as more humane than previous methods, which included use of a firing squad, burning at stake, crucifixion, decapitation, hanging and gassing.
Even with these more “humane” treatments, many people have trouble justifying taking of human life – no matter how heinous crime. The death penalty, opponents argue, is immoral. They ask, “How can government condemn killing by killing?” To these critics, death penalty is ultimate betrayal of human rights and it has no place in our society. Furthermore, they argue, criminal proceedings are fraught with human error, causing innocent people to be executed. Finally, opponents of death penalty argue that capital punishment is not an effective criminal deterrent.
The Affirmative Action DebateWritten by Peter Kennedy
Affirmative action is one of most controversial political issues facing America. Most often, affirmative action assists disadvantaged groups by improving placement in higher education and employment, and term is most often conceived as a program to improve standing of African Americans. People take several stances on issue, supporting their opinions with various justifications, such as need for equality and natural competition. Although it was created to help advance position of disadvantaged peoples, some view affirmative action as an unfair, and even prejudicial, force in our society.
Institutionalized in 1965 by Johnson administration, Executive Order 11246 required that federal contractors "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." The 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act, both during Johnson’s tenure, helped to ensure equal treatment of African Americans in 20th century.
While Johnson administration institutionalized affirmative action, struggle for equality actually began a century earlier with passage of important legislation. In late 1860s and early 1870s, 13th, 14th and 15th amendments respectively abolished slavery, guaranteed African Americans citizenship and voting rights. The 1866 Civil Rights Act helped to ensure property rights for African Americans.