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The Ultimate Controversy: Argument Essay

panmit 3 / 5  
Feb 25, 2009   #1
Hi! I'm currently in 9th grade honors English, and my essay topic is "should juveniles be tried as adults or minors?".

This is my introduction paragraph:

The Ultimate Controversy

The term "justice" ...

The term "justice" defined in the dictionary is the quality of being just, righteous, equitable, or lawful. In February, 2008, a fellow American citizen was brutally murdered for practicing his freedom of rights. Rebecca Cathcart of The New York Times reports, "In recent weeks, the victim, Lawrence King, 15, had said publicly that he was gay, classmates said, enduring harassment from a group of schoolmates, including the 14-year-old boy charged in his death." Never the less, wearing feminine attire, deliberately puts Lawrence in an uncomfortable position; which will consequently make him a social outcast with other boys at the school. If found guilty, Brandon McInerney, who is being charged as an adult with premeditated hate crime, will face 52 years to life in prison. But is trying Brandon as an adult rather than a juvenile the right decision? This is a prominent controversy that encompasses United States courtrooms today; whether or not minors should be tried as adults. For years, the government clearly follows the policy "that no crime shall go unpunished", but will this guiding principle be the same for today?

An adolescent's judgment is partly based on the environment of their domestic life as well as normal uncontrollable behavior through the emissions of raging hormones. Brandon McInerney's father, who was recently arrested while being tried with two felonies, unconsciously sets an example for his son, saying that it is all right for committing illogical dreadful crimes based on hate. By living in this unsustainable environment, Brandon will not be able to gain the necessary skills to cope and maturely deal with situations which will surely emerge through various parts of his life. In spite of a child's ability to control their emotions during rough disputes, spontaneous reactions in their bodies may make irregular, volatile responses. Dr. Jay Geidd, chief of the brain imaging in the child psychiatry branch at the National Institute of Mental Health reports, "hormones...attributed the intense, combustible emotions and unpredictable behavior of teens to this biochemical onslaught." Brandon McInerney, as well as other juveniles, has a brain chemistry that makes them more likely to take risks and to be unable to fully understand the consequences of his actions.

At some point in time, society will have to assume that whether at the age of 14, or 21, a person is now capable of being responsible for his actions. Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center reports, "Unfortunately...society has not matured at the same rate." Some people are responsible and morally developed at the age of thirteen, while some adults at age twenty-six, are struggling to exhibit noble conduct and act based on their morals. Brandon needs to understand in order to be morally fit in a society, he must learn how to deal with the demands of life and learn how to be resilient against harassment and embarrassment. He must always consider in mind that there is always hope encompassed in rough times.

Even though having a sociopath father, and raging hormones, Brandon overlooked the most important treasure he possesses, his heart, his mind, his body, himself. Everybody can tell him anything that comes to their mind, but Brandon has the power to accept it or not. Anti-violence officials are diligently putting their time and their own money to help improve the environments of the juvenile offenders, by instituting organizations, such as the "Boston Gun Project", which will reform juveniles into more precautious young adults, who will be able to adjust with the demands of life, but these teenage offenders lack the perseverance to achieve their goals. Several minors are just plainly giving up because they are afraid to fail. No matter how many times we assist the violent offenders, it is up to them if they want to change and live in a superior society, where there is plentiful peace and integrity.

Ultimately, Brandon McInerney and all juveniles who carry out premeditated and hate crimes must be tried as adults. A lesson needs to be taught to all juveniles who participate in these heinous acts and that mean's very real punishment, prison time. All minors who are capable of conducting mature actions must be able to accept full responsibility. In order for minors to fully enter the adult world, they must take that one stride, in which they can not only accept positive feedback from their superiors, but are also willing to accept constructive criticism and admit they are wrong; for which they will accept their punishment in a optimistic way. Once a minor fully comprehends and develops this principle, they will then live a pleasant, prosperous life.

Be sure to add any comments as to your desire.
Can you please, if there is any, give me advice on how to increase my vocabulary, to make my paragraph sound more sophisticated.

everesha - / 1  
Feb 25, 2009   #2
okay so here is what you do i have to write an essay about how drugs are bad for you so you ask your self questions how can drugs affect your body lungs what kind of thigs or diseases do to you so ask your self some questions do you think that juveniles be tried as adults or minors go back an underline some more imporant stuff
OP panmit 3 / 5  
Feb 25, 2009   #3
You have an excellent point.

This is just my intro,

my teacher just told our class, that our argument needs to be based on the murder of 2008, between the two kids in oxnard.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Feb 26, 2009   #4
But is trying Brandon as an adult rather than a juvenile the right decision? This is a prominent controversy that encompasses United States courtrooms today: whether or not minors should be tried as adults.

For years, the government clearly follows the policy "that no crime shall go unpunished." --that is not the point, the point is the kind of punishment.

Hey, you are doing great, and your opinion counts just as much as mine, but I have to say I SO disagree! It just seems downright goofy to me that we establish (for very good reason) different ways of trying kids vs adults, and then proceed to try kids as adults when the crime is especially severe. It just makes no sense!!! It's like saying, "We need to increase minimum wage to accommodate the rising cost of living, but if the rising of the cost of living speeds up too much, then nevermind." Well, that is a bad example. It's not that I don't think there should be severe punishments for heinous crimes; I'm just saying that if it is appropriate to hold children to a different standard, then it is inappropriate to change our minds according to the crime.

Why make a policy that kids will be tried differently at all if we are going to be wishy-washy about it?

I also think you should take that stuff about Brandon out of the intro paragraph (everything from New York Times reports ... to... the right decision? and put it in the second paragraph, where you are supposed to give support for your argument.

Good luck!!!
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 5, 2009   #5
At some point in your essay, you will have to deal with the root cause of the issue, which is that people don't all mature at the same rate. If everyone under eighteen lacked the ability to make adult moral judgments, then there would be no doubt that young offenders should never be tried as adults. However, eighteen is an age picked arbitrarily by the government, and there are fifteen year-olds with a much higher capacity for moral reasoning than some nineteen year-olds. The general reasoning behind prosecuting young offenders as adults for serious crimes is two-fold. First, if a teenager shoplifts or commits vandalism or gets into a drunken fight, its probably due to his being a teenager, but if he kills someone, he presumably knew beyond any doubt that what he was doing was wrong. Second, if, say, a sixteen-year-old is convicted as a young offender, he can get out at eighteen (or twenty-one, or whatever the law is in the country where he was convicted). But he's still likely to be a danger to society. In fact, a sixteen-year old who commits premeditated murder is probably a sociopath who will always be a threat to society. Also, the idea that childhood extends through adolescence is relatively new -- it used to be commonplace for thirteen year-olds to be considered adults, and to be married off by their parents.

On the other hand, research has shown that teenagers have brain chemistry that makes them more likely to take risks and to be unable to fully understand the consequences of their actions, which is a counter-argument you are going to have to deal with if you want your essay to be convincing.

Good luck.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Mar 6, 2009   #6
Awful, Some questions are not possible to answer... Some stuff just remains ugly. Anyhow, I don't think I will ever understand the logic of establishing two sets of standards based on age and then making exceptions based on severity... I don't even know how to say what I am trying to say... if kids are to be held to a different standard, then they should be held to a different standard. Trying kids as adults seems downright goofy to me, because it defeats the purpose of establishing 2 standards.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 7, 2009   #7
Yes, that is a common argument against trying young offenders as adults. What I was trying to say was that the standards get violated in cases of severe crimes because those standards are essentially arbitrary. There is no reason why the age separating young offenders from adults couldn't be 13, or 16, or 17, or 21, or anything in between. The number is picked at random, because at some point we need to assume that most people who have reached that age are capable of being held fully responsible for their actions. But, not everyone develops at the same rate. Some people are very responsible and morally developed at thirteen. Some people are still struggling with that at twenty-six. If the age was based on some scientific fact about when people become mature enough to take responsibility for their actions, if the standards were objective, instead of arbitrary, then you would be right -- it would make no sense to have two sets of standards and then to ignore that difference when crimes were very severe. As it is, because the standards are not objective, but arbitrary, when a crime is very severe, prosecutors look at the individual who committed it to see if which side of the line he personally falls on, because they know that just because he falls into one category doesn't automatically mean that he really belongs there.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Mar 8, 2009   #8
Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I guess you are right. It never occurred to me that there is a limit to the importance of that arbitrary cutoff at 18 or whatever but that there is no limit to how heinous a crime can be. No no, what I really mean is, there is a limit to how much we can punish someone, but there is no limit to how heinous a crime can be.

Some people are convicted of crimes that warrant multiple death sentences, but all we can give them is one, of course. Sean's post made it occur to me that a child that commits a crime might deserve a penalty that is beyond the scope of what penalties can be imposed on a child... but that does not even sound right... Ah, even now as I type this, I'm not sure, actually... for some things, there is no right answer.

Still, it seems to make our justice system look silly if we have exceptions to that rule, however arbitrary its age cutoff is! I mean, can we also try retarded people as non-retarded people? Ha ha...
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 9, 2009   #9
Only in Texas :-) And I'm pretty sure there is a more PC term available now. I think "mentally disabled?" I know for a short while they were pushing both "exceptional" and "special," but I respected the English language too much to use them.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Mar 11, 2009   #10
Right on! The point is, in retrospect I realize that I was "exceptionally special" when I was a teenager, so I really have trouble stomaching the sight of prosecutors pushing for trials of minors as adults...
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 11, 2009   #11
I can't resist -- I assume you never killed anyone while you were a teenager, and so were not in any danger of being prosecuted yourself. Of course, for all I know, you might have a long juvenile rap sheet, in which case, I concede your point. :-)
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Mar 12, 2009   #12
I plead the fifth!

Seriously, though, as a teen I was mentally challenged in the sense that I lacked worldly wisdom, and that's got to count for something in court! No, wait, that is not even the point I am trying to make. What I mean is... punishment is a necessary evil, and the lowest among the three main methods for operant conditioning (beneath positive and negative reinforcement), and judgment itself is a necessary evil. It's all compensatory evil. Bad stuff. So, when kids get involved, well, if there is ever a time for using mercy and rehabilitation, it's when the offenders are teenagers.

The brain does not even finish developing until about age 20!!
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 12, 2009   #13
I always thought punishment was a form of negative reinforcement, though a quick check of wikipedia tells me that this is merely one view in a very muddled field. Apparently the terms reinforcement and punishment are far more hotly debated than I had realized. Learn something every day, I guess.

What do you mean by "judgment itself is a necessary evil?" I can see the idea of punishment as a necessary evil, since punishment generally consists of doing something to someone that would be considered evil if it were done to an innocent person. However, we view it as necessary because we have to have some way to control people who ignore the rights of others. However, judgment is the process of distinguishing between good and evil, and so permits us to avoid evil. Presumably, that which allows us to avoid evil would be a good, not an evil itself?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Mar 13, 2009   #14

Great question! I stand by my assertion that judgment is a necessary evil. I am a big fan of Eckhart Tolle, who names "nonresistance to the present moment" as "the most powerful force in the universe." Explaining that one is beyond the scope of this post, but I'll also mention that I am a big fan of Jon Kabat Zin, who explains looking at something in a meditative way as looking at it without letting the mind pass judgment on it. I am also a big fan of Jesus, who said, "Judge not!"

I see judging is a necessary evil, because, as a quasi Buddhist I see all this superficial mind activity as the source of trouble in the world. No busybody rant in the head means no running around getting in other people's business. Going beyond judgments of good and bad is the essence of the nonduality taught by the Buddha.

The Bengali poet Rumi wrote something like:

"Beyond all notions of good and bad there is a field. I'll meet you there."

Even if this is not all just a dream, the inevitability of death means that... it may as well be a dream! Judgment is what we do when we should be quiet-mindedly experiencing the present moment. Judgment is "necessary" for survival, but "evil" in the sense that it gets in the way of the bliss that keeps us peaceful. Judgment is an inexact, imprecise, imperfect process, but it is used to control others, and that alone qualifies it as evil.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 13, 2009   #15
It is difficult to live quietly in the present moment when someone is punching you in the face. Besides, if you don't believe in judgment, you cannot say that judgment qualifies as an evil, as that is in and of itself a judgment. Avoid holding contradictory beliefs, for to deliberately holding beliefs that you know to be contradictory is itself an evil (I can say this, because I firmly believe that judgment is a good, and so there is no contradiction).
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Mar 14, 2009   #16
That's why it's a necessary evil! I understand what you mean, but the term "necessary evil" is not used to cast judgment on anything.

The term "necessary evil" is, in itself, a little contradictory. When we apply that term to something, we mean to ironically say that we are judging it as evil while simultaneously acknowledging that it is necessary. It is contradictory even in itself, because you can't very well call somebody "evil" for doing what is necessary.

So, I am not calling judgment "evil," just inconvenient. A necessary but irksome thing to have to do. It is true that even a devout meditation practitioner must use judgment.

The need to judge is one of the many things that constantly get in the way of our practice. Same as when someone is punching you in the face. Heh, heh. When something gets in the way of my practice, I have to give is a whirling spin kick and slap an arm lock on it, maybe twist its ear. That's a necessary evil, too! :)
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 14, 2009   #17
In that case, you are on more solid ground, though I still view judgment as a good thing, requiring us to apply the strictest standards of rationality in pursuit of discovering the good.

btw, Mehul, you absolutely don't need to get anywhere near this abstract in writing about whether or not young offenders should be tried as adults.
OP panmit 3 / 5  
Apr 1, 2009   #18
Finished Essay Ultimate Controversy

How is my essay now. In my argument, I used Logos, Pathos, and Ethos.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Apr 1, 2009   #19
"Ultimately, Brandon McInerney and all juveniles who carry out premeditated and hate crimes must be tried as adults" I don't know that you have succeeded in showing this in your essay. The counter-arguments you present in second paragraph seem stronger than your own arguments.

"Brandon McInerney, as well as other juveniles, has a brain chemistry that makes them more likely to take risks and to be unable to fully understand the consequences of his actions" If this and the fact that he had a horrible role model in his father are the main reasons why he committed his crime, then how do you justify your thesis? You go on to say "All minors who are capable of conducting mature actions must be able to accept full responsibility," but this is directly contradictory to your earlier point, in which you explain why Brandon wasn't fully responsible for his actions.

You can fix this in one of two ways. First, you could change your thesis, and argue that Brandon shouldn't have been tried as an adult offender. Second, you could introduce stronger arguments for your existing thesis, if you passionately believe he deserved to be tried as an adult. The first approach is easier, in that it requires little more than rearranging paragraphs and rewriting transitions, but the second would probably be more worthwhile as a learning exercise. If you go with the second option, here are some points you could use:

1. Punishment is meant to act as a deterrent -- the punishment must fit the severity of the crime, which can only happen at the moment if the offender is tried as an adult. (You sort of touch on this already, but you could make the point more forcefully.)

2. Punishment is also about protecting the public. A son of a sociopath who has committed murder at 14 is likely a sociopath himself, and at the moment, we have no way of curing sociopathy. Letting him back out into society at 21 would therefore put innocent people in danger.

3. While he might not have understood the moral implications of his actions as well as an adult would have, he surely knew that violent acts are condemned by society, and that murder is generally viewed as morally and legally wrong. Thus, he still chose an immoral course of action of his own free will, and should be held accountable for it. The fact that, as a teenager, he was more likely to take risks or to ignore consequences for his actions doesn't matter, because we don't expect people to refrain from murder merely because they are afraid of the legal punishment. We expect them to do so because it is wrong.

Good luck.

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