Essay # 2 Assignment
You will have a few choices of focus (Misinformation/ Hate Speech) so you may choose the topic that you prefer. You will need to be logical, not reactive. Having an informed opinion is part of our goal in this class, thus we read things we might not already know about or have thought about prior to these readings. You will need to sustain solid reasoning throughout your essay to support your thesis. Never make assertions that you cannot support with textual evidence. That said, your first job is to read all the relevant articles well. Remember that emotion and/or generalization does not make for well-reasoned analysis. Be sure your arguments can hold up in “the real world” and are informed by the nuances of our topics. You will also draw from real world news that supports your point of view, but it’s vital that you know the source is reliable and that you cite all sources on your MLA Works Cited page. It is best to choose one specific example in our news today to support your argument and to stay focused on that in your discussion, as opposed to drawing from too many other things. Be intelligent. Show depth to your understanding of the texts and issue at hand.
What is an argumentative essay overall?
The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.
Argumentative essay assignments may call for research of previously published material on the topic or gathering information about your topic in a means that is appropriate to it. As always, you want to use reliable academic sources not things like Wikipedia or Google. Argumentative assignments may also require research by which the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that she/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning. For our purposes please use the sources you have been provided to support your claims and be sure to cite them. As mentioned, you may use 1 external source so that you can make use of an example from recent world events in your analysis. Note: Check with the librarians about how to be sure your sources are valid.
The structure of the argumentative essay is held together by the following.
1. A clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs at the end of the first paragraph of the essay.
In the first paragraph of an argument essay, students should set the context by reviewing the topic in a general way. Next, the writer should explain why the topic is important or why readers should care about the issue. In your introduction, briefly summarize the assigned articles. Be sure to mention the authors, titles, and specific arguments of each author. Lastly, students should present their thesis statement. For our purposes, the thesis is what you want to address about the issue you are writing about. What would you like the person you are writing to do about it? What do you want them to believe by the end? It may be a call for some sort of action or awareness about your topic.
2. Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion.
Transitions are the glue that holds the essay together. Without logical progression of thought, the reader is unable to follow the essay’s argument, and the structure will collapse. Transitions should wrap up the idea from the previous section and introduce the idea that is to follow in the next section.
3. Body paragraphs that include claim, evidence, and analysis.
Each paragraph should be limited to the discussion of one general idea. This will allow for clarity and direction throughout the essay. In addition, such conciseness creates easy readability for one’s audience. It is important to note that each paragraph in the body of the essay must have some logical connection to the thesis statement in the opening paragraph. Some paragraphs will directly support the thesis statement with evidence collected during research. It is also important to explain how and why the evidence supports the thesis.
However, argumentative essays should also consider and explain differing points of view regarding the topic. Students should dedicate one paragraphs of this argumentative essay to discussing conflicting opinions on the topic. Rather than explaining how these differing opinions are wrong outright, students should note how opinions that do not align with their thesis might not be well informed or how they might be less useful.
4. Evidence to support the thesis (whether factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal).
The argumentative essay requires well-researched, accurate, detailed, and current information to support the thesis statement and to consider other points of view. Some factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal evidence should support the thesis. However, students must consider multiple points of view when collecting evidence. As noted in the paragraph above, a successful and well-rounded argumentative essay will also discuss opinions not aligning with the thesis. It is unethical to exclude evidence that may not support the thesis. It is not the student’s job to point out how other positions are wrong outright, but rather to explain how other positions may not be well informed or up to date on the topic.
5. A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided.
It is at this point of the essay that students may begin to struggle. This is the portion of the essay that will leave the most immediate impression on the mind of the reader. Therefore, it must be effective and logical. Do not introduce any new information into the conclusion; rather, synthesize the information presented in the body of the essay. Restate why the topic is important, review the main points, and review your thesis.
6. A complete argument
Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If I were to discuss the cause of World War II and its current effect on those who lived through the tumultuous time, there would be a beginning, middle, and end to the conversation. In fact, if I were to end the argument in the middle of my second point, questions would arise concerning the current effects on those who lived through the conflict. Therefore, the argumentative essay must be complete, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to its intent or argument.
7. The five-paragraph essay (3-5 pages)
A common method for writing an argumentative essay is the five-paragraph approach. This is, however, by no means the only formula for writing such essays. If it sounds straightforward, that is because it is; in fact, the method consists of (a) an introductory paragraph with thesis (b) three evidentiary body paragraphs that may include discussion of opposing views and (c) a conclusion. Often students reserve the second to the last paragraph for opposing views, but they want to come back to their own points by the end of the essay to show that what they are arguing is the best approach to the issue.
If We Silence Hate Speech, Will We Silence Resistance?
By Erik Nielson
The New York Times
Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and most other major internet distributors took a bold step this week when they all but banned content from Infowars, a website run by the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The tech companies cited their policies against hate speech for their decision, rather than the trafficking in fake news by Infowars.
It’s tempting to applaud this move, but we should be wary. While Mr. Jones’s rhetoric is certainly repugnant, mounting pressure from the political left to censor hateful speech may have unintended consequences, especially for people of color.
That’s because “hate” is a dangerously elastic label, one that has long been used in America to demonize unpopular expression. If we become overzealous in our efforts to limit so-called hate speech, we run the risk of setting a trap for the very people we’re trying to defend.
History offers countless examples. Consider black nationalists of the 1960s and 1970s. Impatient with the lack of progress for African-Americans after the civil rights movement, leaders like Malcolm X routinely inveighed against white America using inflammatory rhetoric. He had no trouble expressing animosity toward the “white devil,” and he contemplated violent resistance.
That put him in the cross hairs of law enforcement, most notably J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I. Of course, the FBI spied on many other so-called black radicals. Under Hoover’s Counterintelligence Program, groups like the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers were subject to routine surveillance, harassment and even violence. Hoover’s justification? He labeled them hate groups. It was a cynical but effective way to turn the tables, framing them as antagonists in the centuries’ long struggle for racial equality.
Hoover is gone, but the tendency to label black radical organizations as hate groups persists, even among groups with more admirable intentions. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist and hate organizations across the country, makes the dubious claim that nearly 25 percent of the 954 “hate groups” they follow are “black nationalist” groups.
There’s no question that black nationalists often argue for racial separation or that many have engaged in bigotry. But it’s false equivalence to label black nationalists and white supremacists alike as hate groups. Doing so ignores the centuries of racial terror that gave rise to black nationalism, as well as the power imbalance that keeps it alive. And it gives a powerful tool to people who want to silence radical perspectives. They can call these viewpoints hate speech.
Take, as one example, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, a Palestinian-led initiative that endorses a series of nonviolent measures to end Israel’s systematic oppression of the Palestinians. As it has gained traction in the United States, in large part because of support from prominent African-American intellectuals and organizations, state and federal lawmakers have increasingly tried to shut the movement down by accusing it of hate speech.
The New York State Senate, for example, recently passed a bill that would prohibit from receiving public funds “student organizations that participate in hate speech, including advocating for the boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel and American allied nations.” Meanwhile, Congress (with support from many Democrats) has been trying to criminalize the movement for years.
If people engaged in a boycott can be silenced, even criminalized, for discriminating against the group they accuse of discrimination, we begin to see how problematic it is to punish “hate” speech. It can devolve into the politics of choosing sides, and that is usually bad news for people who lack political clout to begin with.
Black Lives Matter would know. A movement formed in response to police violence against African-Americans, it has been accused by law enforcement officials, and even some state legislators, of being a hate group, despite the fact that it renounces violence and welcomes allies from all walks of life.
By accusing Black Lives Matter of peddling hate, politicians effectively turned the tables on the movement, allowing lawmakers, in some cases, to strengthen protections for the police. Since 2016, several “Blue Lives Matter” bills have been enacted across the country, many of which seek to add police as a protected class covered by hate crimes laws. Following this logic, Black Lives Matter’s opposition to police brutality is a kind of hate itself, from which the police require additional protection. Yet killings by police officers are increasing while line-of-duty deaths of police officers are decreasing.
It is difficult to imagine a more ridiculous outcome. But it speaks to one of the most serious perils of limiting speech: a measure to protect minority perspectives can instead be used to further marginalize them.
Despite this, a significant number of young Americans, especially young Americans of color, believe that hate speech should be limited by the government or on college campuses. In addition, some scholars have recently argued for legal restrictions on hate speech.
But how would stronger limits on hate speech affect progressive protests against white supremacy? What would have been the fate, for example, of the historic Million Man March in 1995, an event organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan? The Nation of Islam is a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, and Mr. Farrakhan has openly made anti-Semitic comments for years. At the same time, the March was a landmark effort focused on uniting black men in the face of widespread inequality and racism.
What about the equally historic Women’s March in 2017, after it was revealed that some of the event’s most prominent organizers had ties to Mr. Farrakhan? Or that they openly revered Assata Shakur, a black revolutionary who was convicted (albeit questionably) of killing a police officer and is now on the F.B.I.’s list of most-wanted terrorists? Predictably, they have been accused by some of embracing hate, yet they organized one of the most significant protests in United States history.
If we allowed these voices to be silenced on grounds that they promote hate, we’d find ourselves scrambling to defend the radical poets, musicians, filmmakers and other artists who have pushed the boundaries of expression into what could arguably amount to hate speech, but who have done so from the vanguard of social and political protest.
That almost certainly explains the response from the music industry when Spotify announced its decision to stop promoting artists who engage in hateful speech or conduct. A number of people, including representatives from Kendrick Lamar’s record label, Top Dawg Entertainment, expressed concerns that such a policy would lead to censorship and threatened to pull their music from the service.
Within weeks, Spotify reversed course, noting that its policy was “vague.” But by silencing Mr. Jones on its platform, it’s not exactly clear where Spotify is drawing the line.
And that’s the inherent danger in attempting to limit something like hate. It can be so broadly defined that our efforts to counteract it will be broad, too.
If that happens, we risk silencing the voices and perspectives we can least afford to lose. That’s not a triumph over hate. That’s falling victim to it.
By Lisa Feldman Barrett
July 14, 2017
Imagine that a bully threatens to punch you in the face. A week later, he walks up to you and breaks your nose with his fist. Which is more harmful: the punch or the threat?
The answer might seem obvious: Physical violence is physically damaging; verbal statements aren’t. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
But scientifically speaking, it’s not that simple. Words can have a powerful effect on your nervous system. Certain types of adversity, even those involving no physical contact, can make you sick, alter your brain — even kill neurons — and shorten your life.
Your body’s immune system includes little proteins called proinflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation when you’re physically injured. Under certain conditions, however, these cytokines themselves can cause physical illness. What are those conditions? One of them is chronic stress.
Your body also contains little packets of genetic material that sit on the ends of your chromosomes. They’re called telomeres. Each time your cells divide, their telomeres get a little shorter, and when they become too short, you die. This is normal aging. But guess what else shrinks your telomeres? Chronic stress.
If words can cause stress, and if prolonged stress can cause physical harm, then it seems that speech — at least certain types of speech — can be a form of violence. But which types?
This question has taken on some urgency in the past few years, as professed defenders of social justice have clashed with professed defenders of free speech on college campuses. Student advocates have protested vigorously, even violently, against invited speakers whose views they consider not just offensive but harmful — hence the desire to silence, not debate, the speaker. “Trigger warnings” are based on a similar principle: that discussions of certain topics will trigger, or reproduce, past trauma — as opposed to merely challenging or discomfiting the student. The same goes for “microaggressions.”
This idea — that there is often no difference between speech and violence — has stuck many as a coddling or infantilizing of students, as well as a corrosive influence on the freedom of expression necessary for intellectual progress. It’s a safe bet that the Pew survey data released on Monday, which showed that Republicans’ views of colleges and universities have taken a sharp negative turn since 2015, results in part from exasperation with the “speech equals violence” equation.
The scientific findings I described above provide empirical guidance for which kinds of controversial speech should and shouldn’t be acceptable on campus and in civil society. In short, the answer depends on whether the speech is abusive or merely offensive.
Offensiveness is not bad for your body and brain. Your nervous system evolved to withstand periodic bouts of stress, such as fleeing from a tiger, taking a punch or encountering an odious idea in a university lecture.
Entertaining someone else’s distasteful perspective can be educational. Early in my career, I taught a course that covered the eugenics movement, which advocated the selective breeding of humans. Eugenics, in its time, became a scientific justification for racism. To help my students understand this ugly part of scientific history, I assigned them to
When Is Speech Violence?
debate its pros and cons. The students refused. No one was willing to argue, even as part of a classroom exercise, that certain races were genetically superior to others.
So I enlisted an African-American faculty member in my department to argue in favor of eugenics while I argued against; halfway through the debate, we switched sides. We were modeling for the students a fundamental principle of a university education, as well as civil society: When you’re forced to engage a position you strongly disagree with, you learn something about the other perspective as well as your own. The process feels unpleasant, but it’s a good kind of stress — temporary and not harmful to your body — and you reap the longer-term benefits of learning.
What’s bad for your nervous system, in contrast, are long stretches of simmering stress. If you spend a lot of time in a harsh environment worrying about your safety, that’s the kind of stress that brings on illness and remodels your brain. That’s also true of a political climate in which groups of people endlessly hurl hateful words at one another, and of rampant bullying in school or on social media. A culture of constant, casual brutality is toxic to the body, and we suffer for it.
That’s why it’s reasonable, scientifically speaking, not to allow a provocateur and hatemonger like Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at your school. He is part of something noxious, a campaign of abuse. There is nothing to be gained from debating him, for debate is not what he is offering.
On the other hand, when the political scientist Charles Murray argues that genetic factors help account for racial disparities in I.Q. scores, you might find his view to be repugnant and misguided, but it’s only offensive. It is offered as a scholarly hypothesis to be debated, not thrown like a grenade. There is a difference between permitting a culture of casual brutality and entertaining an opinion you strongly oppose. The former is a danger to a civil society (and to our health); the latter is the lifeblood of democracy.
By all means, we should have open conversations and vigorous debate about controversial or offensive topics. But we must also halt speech that bullies and torments. From the perspective of our brain cells, the latter is literally a form of violence.