Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Peculiar Institution

A Peculiar Blog...okay a sub-par blog.

     For this blog the aspect of the death penalty being a catharsis for society is the issue I would like to discuss.  Many societies has public executions for that reason. Rome had gladiator combat, feeding people to the lions, France had the guillotine, biblical era societies had stoning, or today in Afghanistan. This was to quell any tension, or blood lust, as society had. While the public execution may have been in place to set examples and keep order, this may have evolved into the catharsis release for society, like the Hunger Games.

     In modern times, we still view the death penalty as catharsis. Yes we do no actually want to see the execution, but the trial, because the trial determines the sentence. In my life, I have encountered many who, upon hearing of a awful murder, murder-rape, etc. wanted themselves to hurt the individual who committed the crime. Their desire for their perceive just judgement increases if the suspect gets away. Look no further than the first O.J. Simpson trial, or the a Casey Anthony trial. Upon hearing and seeing these crimes, people wants someone to die. The idea that that someone could murder a child and still breathe seems unjust to them, that is why many turned to the Casey Anthony. That is why the idea that the death penalty as a catharsis for society makes sense.
    I could sue this in my class  to connect it to my students lives. How many of them had a friend who was cheated on, or done wrong by a close friend, strangers, former boyfriend or girlfriend? How many of them wanted something to happen to that person, and when something did happen, how many thought "serves them right."  I would ask how they felt if they found out that boyfriend or stranger etc. actually didn't do anything wrong and was a mistake, how would they feel then?  I would also try to connect it to the question of should society use the death penalty as a release? Is it healthy? Is it human? can society have catharsis at the expense of a potentially innocent person? How can society experience catharsis if the procedure takes decades? Which is more humane, the quick procedure to end a life thus keeping someone rotting away in a cell, or the prolonged procedure to give the system a chance of finding out they have the wrong person and releasing him/her?

On a side note, I know my analogy is not exactly correct, but I would come up with a better one as I prepare the lesson for my class.

Section 2:
 I am going to tackle question number 4, regarding how the christian countries seem to have the death penalty. I spoke of this a little bit in the BBB session but perhaps I can create something a bit more coherent in this blog.
     I think part of it comes from what Danielle said in the BBB. Maybe it is a coincidence that Christianity is part of the overall culture that features the death penalty. Also, if one were to look into the bible, there are numerous cases of Jews and Christians doing the exact opposite of what they are suppose to do.  They are, after all human. Therefore a Christian living in a culture that features the death penalty, may not like it, but may still support it, because of their human side. To sum it all up: Christians, like everyone else, are hypocrites, myself included. Just because someone is a Christian, that does not mean they will live up to the standards they have to live up to because they are human. The church supported crusades one the basis of "Just War."  Christians served in the roman army, some killing other men, and hated doing so. To me it is the earthly vs heavenly pulls on the conscious.
     On another level, while we are a nation founded on Judea-Christian values, we do not have a government designed for one faith; there is no state or "official" religion. If I were to speculate, if Christians opposed to the death penalty rose up and set forth laws banning the death penalty, citing religious beliefs, and even using the cruel and unusual punishment found int eh constitution, there would be many who would see it as an attempt of Christians to rule by theocracy. That is not to say  the opposite could happen; the reaction could be all well and fine. Obviously there are many holes in this instance , but it is just one scenario.
     I can go on and on about why a Christian may support the death penalty, or not be against it, but this is not a theology class, and if I have to go into metaphysics and other such things I might be getting a little bit off topic /sarcasm. I think it comes down to what Danielle said about Christianity being one aspect of the culture that has the death penalty.

Let me know if you agree, disagree, do not care, or think I am a right wing christian fanatic who has an altar of Ronald Reagan holding an assault rifle, with Jesus carrying a with an American flag ,in his closet....what? have I said too much?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Devil is in the Details!

Section 1:

     The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  What I am talking about is about the notion of home ownership linked to the American Dream. Modern American dream theory, or perhaps 50’s to early 00’s, is that the American Dream  is the house with the white picket fence, a dog named sparky, and that rascal neighbor child who will eventually date your daughter creating  hilarious sitcom material and run on sentences. Next thing you know, policies start being implemented to put people in homes because everyone should have a home.  Firms start bundling mortgages, I will skip over the complicated process of doing so but the Learning Object and the visual video history found in the resources section provide good information on how the process works,  enabled this to happen.
       Fast-forward and you have the entrenched entitlement philosophy where Wall Street is trying to out due Fannie and Freddie, corruption in government and Wall Street, promoting bad predatory practices so people can get into homes, even if they cannot afford it, in exchange for votes, and thus the perfect storm is born. That is what I find interesting about the section. An idea everyone thinks is good, home ownership.  While the idea of property ownership, and its status in society, was something to be attainable in the founding of the country, there is a reason why the phrase “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Property” was changed to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” It’s a more realistic outlook, not everyone at the time, and today in regards of home ownership, can or should have property. Also happiness creates a better, optimistic, view that invokes feelings of freedom than the idea of property.
      What we can do with this in the secondary social studies classroom, is to compare modern views of what is “the founding spirit of America” with what the founders actually said. We can have students compare past politicians and economists expressing home-ownership and the American Dream with the founding ideas expressed by the Founding fathers, even the letters between two founders who did not agree with each other. We can also use this to teach students to think critically, as the idea of the “American Dream” had no origins within the foundation of the country.

Section 2:
     To answer question number 4. No. So long as there is corruption and greed in Washington and Wall Street there will be another crisis. In addition, when those who helped cause the crisis, or who blundered through it, are writing the bills to prevent it, my faith in the bill's ability to do anything positive is no existent. We had regulatory committees full of people who benefited from Fannie and Freddie, who got friends and loved ones in jobs, who lambasted the regulator, people who have gone back and forth between these companies to Washington and back to these quasi-governmental companies.  When the blind lead the blind, we are likely to fall into a hole. 
     In addition, even if these safeguards are placed in, there are chances that the very preventatives we place may end up causing another crisis, or prolong the crisis making a bigger crisis; unintended consequences.   We cannot stop all crisis from happening, what we can do is adapt correctly, and respond correctly, to the ones that we face. 
     The way our economic system is set up, there will be booms and busts as the market fluctuates. There have been times when things have crashed, 1920. The response was to let the market correct itself and we got the roaring 1920s. It crashed in the 1930s, where some say our response to the 1930 crisis, not letting things work out itself,  prolonged the Great Depression. then again that was a different time, each crisis is different. as much as history repeats itself, the details are not always the same. 
      In today's age, we all want control, we do not like chaos, or what we perceive as chaos. That is why the idea of controlling the market to get the booms without the busts, having cake and eating it too, is a temptatious idea. This is a fallacy because  you can have a controlled economy and it will have crisis. The prolonged crisis of those tends to be an inward collapse.
      In conclusion, we cannot control life. Sometimes bad things happen. We as a society have to let go of the idea that we can control everything, that there is no risk in life, that we can have our cake and eat it too. You cannot have the good times without the bad. Therefore there will be another crisis. How we respond to it will be key to how it is remembered. It is easy to remember the crisis gone wrong, rarely do we remember when the crisis went right.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Discussing Controversial Issues: Four Perspectives  on the Teacher's Role
by Thomas E. Kelly


   The section I want to discuss here is found on page 14 3rd paragraph under the critique section of Neutral Impartiality. In that section she brings up critiques of the neutral impartiality approach. One is that the teacher should express their view because it encourages and promotes critical thinking within the class. It explains that the teacher's influence over the class is rather small , and that students will resent a silent teacher.   I kind of disagree with that assertion. From my experience, when a teacher starts to express their view, students will tend to gravitate toward the teachers view because they are "the expert," especially if it is a teacher they like. If a student opposes the teachers view, unless they are "that vocal student," they will remain silent because they either want the teacher to like them or not jeopardize their grade.
     This happened from personal experience as a student.There was a discussion in class about healthcare, the teacher stated his view, next thing you know more people supported his view. It might not have even been a conscious decision on the students part. 
    Even if the teacher does not beat the student over the head with their belief, the simple fact that student know where the "expert authority stands" effects the discussion. Those who oppose the teacher view point are at a disadvantage because the other side now has the teacher. 
    The way I can see partiality working is if the students , as a whole, are very outgoing and confident, and mature, perhaps in a upper level college discussion. Even then there is that risk of doing more harm to a discussion than good.
    Personally, I am in the Committed Impartiality camp. The critique of resentment does not really go well with me because I tended to enjoy a teacher playing devils advocate, explaining that they will argue both sides to get us thinking. When that same teacher, from my example, played devil's advocate, it was a great discussion, he would play both sides encouraging us to think for ourselves. I had a philosophy teacher who, when answering a students objection to a philosophers view, would answer them from the philosopher's argument, even if he disagreed with the argument.
     Committed Impartiality works because it encourages the students, from both sides, to really defend their position and question why they believe what they believe and if they can defend it. Regarding the criticisms, what can improve Committed Impartiality  is if the teacher explains that they will play devil's advocate not because  they like sick and twisted discussion games, but to encourage the students to think critically.