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Value of Life - Book Report/Review Example

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Value of Life

Younge's argument is overly reliant on emotional appeals, as evidenced through his strategy of argumentation. He begins his argument with an image of Brandon browsing through video games at a store, thereby emphasizing the extent of his ordinariness as a 16 year old American teen. His interests and hobbies are those of any other teenager; he likes to hang out with his friends, play video games and go out with girls. By projecting this image of Brandon, Younge is negating law enforcement's counter-image; the image of Brandon as a gun-wielding and violent gang member whose murder is, thus, justifiable.
Younge's language and word choice are as deliberate as is his strategy of argumentation and, indeed, is similarly motivated by the goal of negating law enforcement's justification of Brandon's killing. It is, thus, that he begins his story with language which invokes violence, juxtaposed against an image of teenage ordinariness: "Brandon Martell Moore left the world in a shower of bullets followed by deafening silence. Brandon, 16, was looking at video games" (Younge, para. 1). The phrase "shower of bullets" seems at odds with the word "video games," in the sense that the reader would expect the first to be associated with one involved in a violent activity or pastime, and not with one who was engaged in as benign and as innocuous a pastime as browsing through video games. This is not the only example of biased word choice and paradoxical juxtapositions as, a little later on Younge mentions that Brandon "had never been in trouble with the law before. But the man who killed him had" (Younge, para. 3). The language is deliberately stark and the words are simple. Yet, the image they convey is a highly complex one, indicating as they do that the supposed criminal has a clean police record while the representative of law enforcement, the shooter whose killing of Brandon was deemed justifiable, did not. Such language and juxtapositions are expressive of a world in which values and judgments have become quite perverse.
Even though both strategy of argumentation and language tend towards bias and the over-use of emotional appeals, the argument is an inherently ethical one. In other words, emotional appeals are balanced out by ethical appeals. This is evident in the very nature of the author's thesis, which is that America regards the death of poor, minority group youth as just another incident, hardly with remarking upon and most probably justified. This thesis seeks the exposition of the callousness of racism through the humanization of one of its victims - Brandon. Certainly, many black youth are gang members but, some are not. Equally certain is the fact that some are violent but many are not. Gary Younge wants his audience to keep this differentiation in mind, to remember Brandon as the young teenager who told jokes, had several girlfriends, liked to hang out with his friends and enjoyed playing video games. By recalling him in these terms, the question becomes how can the shooting of this young teen in the back, in broad daylight, ever be regarded as a "justifiable homicide" (Younge, para. 5). The answer is that America has lost its way, is trapped in a "moral vacuum" (Younge, para. 9). By emphasizing this, Young is appealing to his audience's ...Show more

Summary

Some correlate the value of life with race, rather than with personal attributes and character traits. It is, thus, that the death of a poor inconsequential black youth may be disregarded by law enforcement, the public and the media while the death of a middle-class, white youth may be mourned as a national tragedy…
Author : lboehm
Value of Life essay example
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