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The Good War: A Propaganda Perennial

For most people, capital punishment is one of the most inhuman, retrograde and atrocious ways of punishing individuals. Besides, this is a mode of penance that does not meet its intention of deterring a criminal from committing similar offences. In his article The Good War: A Propaganda Perennial, Fred Stenson uses rhetorical appeals to show the negative nature of capital punishment. In the second excerpt, Stenson presents a strong argument against capital punishment. Using the example of Canada, Stenson shows that the country has successfully gotten rid of this appalling mode of punishment because “it was not a deterrent” and killing others is not justified.

Canada has ratified a law against capital punishment because it is not deterrent. Similarly, Canada should apply the same reasoning when it comes to killing criminals of war and not just behave as innocent bystanders.  Politicians compare wars against people like Saddam Hussein to that of Adolf Hitler and that is not right. The wars today are not based on compassion but on hatred like beating up someone on the street just because he is behaving badly. The wars that took place before such as the war in Vietnam were justified because only the evildoers were killed.

A particularly outstanding aspect about this excerpt is the way Stenson applies rhetorical charm combined with facts that make up ethos thus giving the piece credibility. By quoting the way Canada has ratified a law against capital punishment, Stenson gives credibility to his excerpt. Stenson says that studies do not approve the use of capital punishment. He uses pathos by asserting that there is no need to kill people just because they have done wrong. In other words, there are better modes of punishing criminals so that they do not repeat the same mistake.

The use of pathos is closely connected to the tone that is assertive and convincing. The whole excerpt serves its purpose effectively as Stenson uses a calm and composed way of presenting his argument. However, I feel that Stenson would have made his argument stronger by showing the weakness of arguments supporting capital punishment. For instance, the idea that capital punishment deters criminal is negated in scientific studies. By quoting the scientific studies relating to the same, the argument is much stronger.

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