Annotated References for Capital Punishment

credits to BBC Ethics Guide for the image

Apart from the relative concern on the general public’s safety and the relative significance of capital punishment to such, the author also explored the effects of capital punishment to the safety of the law enforcers and found put that contrary to old notions, capital punishment did not alleviate the atrocities and violence committed against the members of the police force. Bailey (1982) likewise mentioned no deterrent factor has been proven in the light of police killings and other violence committed against them.

The author tested the hypothesis for and against deterrence by gauging public reactions and subsequent criminal behaviors during periods where the administration of capital punishment and the debates that usually occur with it were communicated to the general public by means of print media and television. Bailey (1990) concluded that such knowledge of the execution or suspension of capital punishment does not prominently figure to the statistics on crime and thus could not be called to be an effective crime deterrent.

The author explored the results of a study on the deterrent effect of capital punishment inCaliforniafor the period of 1910 to 1962. The results, were however inconclusive and in spite of this, the state has continued to adopt the policy for capital punishment in the guise of crime deterrence. The author viewed this as most unfortunate – particularly in the event that lives are being doomed to death without ensuring that the ends for which such means are carried out were adequately met.

The author explored the dynamics of crime committed in theUnited States of Americathroughout the course of history, and how the increasing atrocities may have resulted to the growing need for a more rigid implementation of a punishment system. The development of crime would result to a better understanding on the operating principles and philosophies on crime prevention and deterrence. The factors affecting criminal behavior such as the media and public opinion likewise merited a lengthy discussion.

The book is an account of the evolution and issues surrounding death penalty in theUnited States. Apart from the deterrent effects of capital punishment, the author pointed out the dangers of a “brutalizing effect,” that is the tendency to create a culture of retaliation instead of forward looking justice and deterrence on states that opted to repay violence with equal violence and killings. The author likewise reviewed literatures on deterrence and brutalization and concluded that such measures overlap significantly on major areas. Because of this, while deterrence may effect capital punishment, its brutalizing effect could not be wholly undermined.

The authors sought to refute one of the most celebrated arguments and studies for the deterrent effect of capital punishment. For Bowers and Pierce (1975), Professor Erlich presented certain data inadequacies on his study which have lessened the integrity of the conclusions he then presented. The methods which Erlich employed in order to examine the critical variables on his previous study were evaluated and later on proved to have invalidated his conclusion. His data treatment and analysis were measured for validity and reliability and the authors concluded that such were insufficient for Erlich to have concluded that capital punishment is indeed an effective deterrent to crime.

The article is an evaluation of major econometric models employed in assessing the deterrent effects of capital punishment to crime – the most notable of which are the models proposed by Becker and Erlich. Both studies supported the deterrence hypothesis through the use of econometric modeling of crime and punishment. However, Brier and Fienberg (1980) adhered that there were considerable flaws in the empirical support presented by Becker and Erlich; as such could not be called fully reliable to prove the deterrence hypothesis.   

The authors assessed the consequences ofOklahoma’s judicial proceedings and its decision to return to the practice of capital punishment. The study revealed that though its deterrent effect are still highly debatable, brutalization figured more prominently – particularly on murder and homicides. The trends have been very observable on such offenses. While the brutalization effects appeared high on individual crimes, the disaggregation of data only confirmed these findings, making the brutalization trend observable even on a much general perspective.

The authors have explored the series of capital punishment executions and homicide rates onUnited StatesandCanadaand concluded that the conduct of death penalty does not have considerable effects on the murder and homicide rate annually. Thus, prior studies may have only used and abused available empirical evidences in order to prove the veracity of the deterrence hypothesis without examining the general aggregate data in the national sphere. As such the deterrent effect of death penalty in particular could not be conclusive in the light of national statistics and on comparative findings with other nations such asCanada.

The book provided a framework of understanding the principles and philosophies pf the abolitionist movement of death penalty in the United States of America. The author presented an overview of the struggle of the era and the symbolic implications of death penalty in the American culture and society. Through this, the reader is afforded with a general background of the prevailing rules and principles as well as areas of improvement in the struggle to promote life and liberty.

The authors sought to refute the notion that capital punishment has a deterrent effect to criminal behavior by presenting an argument that adopted the basic principles of deterrence. The article expounded that the quality of life, a criminal spends in prison has a more significant deterrent effect to crime rather than capital punishment. Through this, the authors sought to debunk the myth of deterrence in the face of capital punishment and even in the mere prospect of death.

The author explored the arbitrariness of capital punishment and its detrimental effect to the conduct of actual justice. The author shared the same belief with US Justice White in saying that death penalty could not achieve its deterrent effect because of its arbitrary quality, its randomness and the manner for which executions takes place. Because of this, while the courts may be ideally conceive as the greatest leveler of the land, it is still – ironically an institution which fosters discrimination and arbitrary sentencing, the gravest cause of which is the cold-blooded taking of an individual life.

  • O’Malley, Sean. “Capital Punishment Is Not a Deterrent.” Current Controversies: Capital Punishment. Ed. Mary E. Williams.San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2000. Opposing ViewpointsResourceCenter. Gale.09 Feb. 2010

The article talked about the myths of capital punishment and its considerable violation to the Christian values of the sanctity of human life. While the judicial points of view varied in the course of events within history, the Church remained to be a staunch advocates for life and social justice – hence the abandonment of a principle that seeks to deter crime by revenge and violence. The author likewise adhered that a state that uphold the principles of capital punishment as a deterrent measure undermines the value of life and liberty, which it had sworn to protect.

The authors likewise sought to refute Erlich’s findings on the deterrent effect of capital punishment to criminal behavior. Erlich’s study a few years ago has been a groundbreaking literature for proving that capital punishment indeed has a deterrent effect on crime. Nonetheless, the authors contended that the employment of a time-series model and the time when the study was conducted by Erlich do not provide a stable ground for arriving to such conclusion and was potentially limiting in terms of possibly exploring other facets of the policy on capital punishment.

The publication discussed the evolution of capital punishment in the American context and the divergent opinions that formed upon its infrequent enforcement. Data were likewise presented in order to point out how capital punishment has been employed to the disadvantage of black persons – in that it also discriminates harshly and often without sufficient ground or reason. Thus, while it fails to achieve the deterrent effect that capital punishment sought to achieve, it highlights discrimination and other racist conflicts in the American criminal justice system.

The author adhered that the erosion of the church influence on the affairs of the state – particularly after the Reformation period has ended its struggle, contributed to the promotion of death penalty and in conceiving such as an effective deterrent to crime. What the states which have adopted it do not realize, is that the administration of death penalty has profound implications on the value laden principles of democracy and discrimination. The author believed that with the abandonment of such values, retribution and therefore vengeance, rather than deterrence is promoted.

The author talked about the moral scruples surrounding the battle against the administration of death penalty. According to Stevenson, death penalty is rooted on the principles of anger and hopelessness – a useless retaliation for something that was lost beyond recovery, and a reinforcement of an eye for an eye doctrine, which for him, was very un-Christian and inhumane in almost all aspects conceivable. By enforcing death penalty, the offenders’ respective family was likewise victimized, and suffer undue social stigma. Because of this, the cycle of retaliation and injustices continues.

The author explored the dynamics of capital punishment in the cultural, economic and political life of the Americans. The author compared the “killing state” to a juridical Frankenstein – which in the process of seeking deterrent ways even in employing violent measures eventually created tendencies for further atrocities and the disintegration of values. The terror inflicted upon the consciousness of the victims were sought to be transferred – not only to the offenders but to their families who had to face the dire consequence of having a family member publicly executed.

The authors explored the dynamics of pro-death penalty sentiments and the issues that might have nourished or disrupted such sentiments. Their study revealed that because death penalty sentiments on theUnited States of Americarest upon their conception of justice and hence more morally founded rather than utilitarian. The authors likewise revealed that such pro-death penalty sentiments could easily be replaced by a pro-life measure if the sympathizers would be assured of swift and fair justice – such as the infliction of life imprisonment without parole and verified knowledge that death penalty is not an effective deterrent to crime.

The book explored the reasons why the United States of America continue to tinker on the prospect of capital punishment when almost all advanced European countries have ceased its implementation. The author believed that this is mainly due to the distrust of the people in the deterring capacity of the judiciary and not on mere utilitarian grounds. Aside from this, racial discrimination continues to prominently figure in the arbitrariness of criminal justice system, which forms the basic assumptions favoring death penalty.

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The Psychosocial Origins of Prejudice

Credits to Targeted Individuals for the Image

Fishbein (2002) defined prejudiced attitudes as irrational, unjust or intolerant dispositions towards other groups and are often accompanied by stereotyping (p. 38). He likewise contended that people’s evolutionary heritage has been susceptible to such prejudgment against members of other groups. Furthermore, Allport (1979) adhered that prejudice arises from prejudgment when one refuses to acknowledge facts that are contradictory to one’s pre-established beliefs.

While socio-political and biological explanations have provided many reasons for the prevalence of prejudice and discrimination, it would also be worth taking into account the normative and psychosocial explanations for such behavior. As human beings tend to define themselves in the context of group membership, their inner motivations and their own moral assumptions, it would be helpful to look at and examine these areas in the light of further understanding the nature and dynamics of prejudice and discrimination.

Several evidences may be able to prove the veracity of Fishbein’s (2002) claims. Available historical documents tend to indicate how past prominent figures possess such self-righteous notions of one’s group, and which has undeniably left an enormous consciousness of the civilizations that followed the examples and theories of these prominent figures. One of the most influential ancient philosophers – Aristotle divided the human race between the civilized Greeks and the Barbarians; David Hume and Immanuel Kant both asserted of the inherent inferiority of the Negroes; the Holy Roman Empire became the epitome of superior race and governance, further marginalizing other groups and cultures that it has conquered; the flourishing organized religions – such as Christianity and Islam presented salvation in the context of believing and unbelieving; and the ancient Judaic practices were founded in the belief of God’s preference to Israel over the “Gentile” nations (James, 2008).

The divisions brought by these distinctions have fostered ethnocentric attitudes of the people. Such attitudes were even encouraged by governments in almost all states of the world – where the most self-effacing effort to be cordial with foreign nations became an excuse for persecution due to betrayal or treason. As a matter of fact, the Holocaust during the Nazi era utilized such ethnocentric ideals – in the guise of patriotic sentiments, in order to justify their claims for dominance and annihilation. In theUnited States of America, the predominant notions of white superiority became the rational claim for slavery, and in spite of efforts to combat the worst forms of discrimination and racism, skin-color prejudices remain to be a major issue in the nation’s political, economic and social sphere.

True enough, the worst forms of discrimination stemmed from such prejudicial biases: in the past, people with mental illness were persecuted and shunned, due to beliefs that they were possessed with unclean spirits, or that because of their mental incapacitation, they are likewise devoid of feelings, and thus could not qualify as a human being worthy of decent treatment; women had to fight in order to exercise their political rights – feminist movements had to spring in order to combat machismo in almost all aspects of daily life, due to the early belief that men – owing to their physical prowess and perceived intelligence, were stronger beings than women. Indeed, while President Barack Obama has become the beacon of racial justice and racial equality, we have yet to see a female President of theUnited States of America.

Nonetheless, prejudices are commonly discussed in the context of racial disparity for it has been one of the most prevalent sources of pre-judgment notions – particularly among the Western culture (Devine, Plant & Blair, 2001: 198). This was basically due to the aforementioned discussion on Nazi dominance and Negro slavery, and the impact of such events to the social consciousness of the people worldwide.

Perhaps, there could never be a fictional literature that would provide deeper meaning to the effect of prejudices and stereotypes than Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eyes (1970). Racial prejudice has been the core theme of the novel, and the main character struggled to be free from being a victim of the society’s prejudicial opinions by adopting the same perspectives for which she was scrutinized. This only goes to show how prejudicial notions adopted through socialization could provide an enormous impact to individual consciousness and development.

One of the classic theories on prejudice adhered that prejudice is actually a personality disorder, characterized by authoritarian and righteous opinions of oneself. Like John Locke, Allport (1979) adhered that a person is born tabula rasa – that is a blank sheet, and is therefore not prejudiced. However, upon learning, socialization and experience, prejudgments were gradually acquired. As the individual refuses to acknowledge the influx of facts that are incompatible with his/ her own preconceptions, s/he becomes prejudiced. This personality disorder seeks to undermine the real value of equality among beings and adopts a false sense of identity and self worth – that is basically in conjunction to his/ her perceived inferiority of the others. Allport (1979) further mentioned that to a certain extent, as prejudice leads to stereotyping, it eventually becomes a “convenient scapegoat” for the problems confronted by the group and the individual. For instance, a feeling of community insecurity might be easily attributed to the presence of a substantial number of minority groups in the area – even when there is no concrete evidence of such assumption. Those in the majority would then regard the minority group as the threat or the source of conflict. Nobody is spared in this assumption – even children.

Scapegoats have originated from the ancient Hebrew tradition depicted in the Book of Leviticus in the bible (Lev. 16:1-22, New International Version). The Israelites purged their sins by an offering of a beast – commonly a goat. They believe that their sins transfer from this offering and hence they are free of sins, and hence guilt once more (Stephan& Stephan, 2000: 35). Thus in the same manner as one group blames the other for their own setbacks and mistakes, due to the prejudicial notions of superiority, they are “purged of guilt” and become utterly blameless for the unfortunate events that may have transpired. This course of action was labeled by Sigmund Freud, on his famous account on psychoanalysis and defense mechanisms as “projection” – an adaptive defense mechanism that aims to point out the blame, and hence the aggressive behavior towards the others.

Though prejudice may result to some minor personal discomfort, such feelings may escalate to resentment, avoidance, discrimination, physical harm and ultimately, extermination (Fishbein, 2002). In order to address this, the society must be cognizant of the sources of such discomfort and prejudices and look at the possible explanations or rationalizations that people usually employ in the formation of such pre-conceived notions. Devine, Plant, and Blair (2001) discussed these rationalizations as a theory of integrated threat, which the majority groups may feel towards the minority. These threats may be realistic or symbolic, inter-group anxieties, or composition of negative stereotypes (Devine, Plant & Blair, 2001: 200). The dominant group may feel threatened for the increasing number of the minority, thus regarding them as competitors to the limited resources and opportunities in their respective communities. They may also feel – within the realm of their moral consciousness that they are right, and that the values presented by their counterpart group are incompatible with the values that they uphold. In this particular instance, it would be difficult to assert the values of equality and human dignity, because their perceived “rightness” is already founded on their own conception of morality.

On the other hand Lawrence Blum (2002) defined prejudice and discrimination into two basic referents: inferiorization and antipathy. Like Allport’s assumption, Blum (2002) suggested that prejudices are largely made in order to emphasize one’s superiority over the other, and in providing such emphasis hostility and hatred become the resulting factors.

Right now, with the increasing awareness of the social constructs of the major perils of prejudices and ethnocentrism, institutions become more conscientious in their policies and course of actions. Principles of non-discrimination were applied to workplaces and minority groups were gradually provided with increasing rights to be afforded with welfare services, similar to the majority group. However, the stream of consciousness remains. With the passing of cultural and social heritage comes an imminent desire for superiority and self-righteous predispositions. Though prejudicial biases are gradually earning its just merits as social taboo, covert actions and thoughts against members of the “other” group are becoming increasingly rampant. Color-blind ideals are said to be one of the very foundations of such covert prejudices and discriminations, notably in the lines of ethnicity and skin color. Increased conscientization efforts may prove to be effective. However, as long as self-interests and preservation remain to be the paramount concern of humanity, prejudices would keep on becoming an “inherent” aspect of humanity and society.

References

Allport, Gordon. The Nature of Prejudice. MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979

Devine, Patricia G., Plant, E. Ashby & Blair, Irene V. “Classic Contemporary Analyses of Racial Prejudice.” Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Intergroup Processes. Ed. Rupert Brown & Sam Gaertner. MA: Blackwell Publishers, Ltd., 2001

Fishbein, Harold D. Peer Prejudice and Discrimination: The Origins of Prejudice. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2002

James, Michael. “Race.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 28 May 2008. Accessed from www.plato.stanford.edu, 05 February 2010

Kinder, Donald R. & Sears, David O. “Prejudice and Politics: Symbolic Racism versus Racial Threats to Good Life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 414-431 (1981). American Psychological Association. Accessed from www.issr.ucla.edu, 05 February 2010

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye.New York: Vintage Books, 2007

Stephan, Walter & Stephan, Cookie White. “An Integrated Threat Theory of Prejudice.” Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination. The Clarent Symposium on Applied Psychology.New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2000.

Journal of a 16 year-old Victim of Incest

raped

credits to Tulisan Murtad for the image

This is a seven days journal entry of a 16 year-old victim of incestuous rape. Her perpetrator – her own father was already sentenced to jail. Her mother has been dead for years, and she lives with her 21 year-old brother (Paul) and 12 year-old sister (Mary) in their old house. She is experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and her psychologist – Kathy, guides her through the process of overcoming it.

Monday Night

Dear Diary,

I was so scared. I was doing our weekly groceries earlier when I saw him. I knew it was him. I felt sick and threw up all over the floor. The manager tried to hold me and assist me but I felt sicker and the revulsion that surfaced from the pits of my stomach was one that I could no longer control with good manners. I threw up a lot more. When I look up, I saw his figure – he drew closer to me for he seemed to grow curious. When I looked again, I realized that it was not him, just a shopper with his height and built. Still, I was scared. Peter brought me home. He had to leave his work in the nearby restaurant early to bring me home. He assured me that I do not have to be scared anymore because Father was already in prison, but even that could not bring me much consolation. He might escape. Even if Peter is taller than he is, he might not be able to protect me. After all, he was not able to protect me before.

Tuesday Night

Dear Diary,

I had an appointment with Kathy earlier. I told her that I followed her advice in writing a journal. She seemed pleased. I told her of the incident yesterday and my hardening resolve to not to do the groceries anymore. Paul should be able to figure doing the groceries without my help. He doesn’t seem to be that scared of Father. Kathy said that Paul might find it hard – with his job in the restaurant but she did not press further. That’s what I like about Kathy. She doesn’t force me to do things that I really don’t want. She often points out the things that I did and challenges me – like why should I believe that Father would be able to escape. She also taught me to think of pleasant thoughts whenever I am on the verge of being sick all over again. Hopefully, that would be helpful next time.

Wednesday Night

Dear Diary,

I burned the couch. I could not stomach seeing it. I always feel dirty when I see it and I was afraid before because I know Paul would be extremely angry. But he’s not here today and Mary was in school. I felt like I was transported back in time. Being always alone with that hideous couch brought back memories that I have been trying to forget. I have made people around me – especially Paul and Mary, to believe that I have forgotten everything. I believe that I did – but that couch was such a nuisance. It was difficult but I was able to manage to push the couch outside the house without even touching it that much. I poured petrol and started a fire. Good thing that our neighbors are far-off; they would not be alarmed by my actions. But even if they are near, I really don’t care. I stopped caring for a long time that the word itself seemed foreign to me. After burning the couch, I took a bath. I scrubbed really hard and I soaped my entire body a dozen times. I felt dirty after touching the couch. I felt refreshed, but not entirely clean.

Thursday Afternoon

Dear Diary,

Paul nearly hit me when he went home today. He was angry and he looked at me so badly that I fled to the bathroom and took a bath once again. He knocked at my room after a while. He asked me to come out – because he knows that I would never let him in. He cooked pasta for lunch and even asked if I’d like some salad. He told me that we would have to endure sitting on the floor while watching TV because he has to raise some money to buy a new couch. I told him that he’s getting unpredictable and maybe he needs to see Kathy too.

Friday Morning

Dear Diary,

I had a nightmare. I am so upset that I could not write.

Saturday Night

Dear Diary,

Paul treated me and Mary to the movies. I got spooked because it was dark. It did not occur to me that the movie house could be that dark. I felt unprotected so I begged Paul to take me home. We just watched DVD instead. Watching was difficult because we do not have a couch. But I guess its okay too.

Sunday Afternoon

Dear Diary

Mary went to attend the Sunday service and Paul is on his job in the restaurant. I made some cereal for myself and fried some hotdogs. I ate outside on the porch. Sometimes, I feel even more secure when I am on the porch than inside my room or even in our house. Sometimes, I could not abide being inside without Paul and Mary around. Good thing the weather is fine. Maybe I’ll ask Paul to transfer the TV in here.

References

Adams, Kenneth (1991). Silently Seduced: Understanding Covert Incest.Florida: Health Communications, Inc.

Barlow, David (2002). Anxiety and Its Disorders: The Nature and Treatment of Anxiety and Panic, 2nd edition.New York: theGuilford Press.

Foa, Edna B. & Andrews, Linda Wasmer (2006). If Your Adolescent has an Anxiety Disorder: An Essential Resource for Parents.New York: Oxford University Press

Ford, Emily, Leibowitz, Michael R. & Andrews, Linda Wasmer (2007). What You Must Think of Me.New York:OxfordUniversity Press

Kirschner, Sam, Kirschner, Diana Adile & Rappaport, Richard (1993). Working with Adult Incest Survivors: The Healing Journey.New York: Brunner/ Mazel, Inc.

Noyes, Russell Jr. & Saric, Rudolph Hoehn (1998). The Anxiety Disorders. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Crime and Poverty

End Poverty to Stop Crime. Credits to filipspagnoli.wordpress.com for the image

Like poverty, crime is a social phenomenon. It affects a substantial segment of the population and inflicts damage to the morale of the people. By taking into consideration how crime becomes directly proportionate with the poverty rate in a given neighborhood or community (Becker, 2001), one could thus assume that aside from the obvious relationship of both problems, crime stems from the pitfalls of poverty: those left with bitter survival options resort to property crimes, and those who commit the worst crimes imaginable might be due to the desperate situations some people find themselves in.

By taking into account the basic requisites for survival, poverty undeniably pushes a person to desperation, hopelessness and apathy. By being hopeless, one becomes alienated with the given set of social expectations and resorts to trying to fulfill one’s needs at all cost. Survival – being the primary consideration, must be effected at all cost. How could one try to find the logic in the moral backwardness of stealing when one sees his/ her children starving? How could one try to find rationality in obeying the law when in doing such, one condemns himself/ herself and his/ her family to a life of lowly aspirations – of perpetual struggling to make both ends meet, of falling in line to the mercies of welfare and other people, of working 12 hours a day in the streets, obtaining nothing but a few dollars so the family could have something decent to eat in the evenings?

Individual responsibility, however, runs contrary to this statement. By placing crime within a larger social construct, the notion of free will is undermined. A person – no matter how poor s/he might be is gifted with the similar capacity to work hard and do his/ her best to elevate his/ her situation. Yet though this may be the case, sufficient evidences thrive on stating that while the capacities are similar, the conditions afforded by the society are not necessarily equal to people of diverse social status. Public and private hospitals, public and private education, and subtle segregationist policies were all monuments of these blatant differences. So while character development might be a significant intervention for crime prevention, poverty alleviation is certainly as important.

References

Becker, Gary S. (2001). “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach. Journal of Political Economy: 169-217. Accessed 02 April 2010 from www.ww.uni-magdeburg.de

Dantzker, M.L. & Hunter, Ronald D. (2006). Research Methods for Criminology and Criminal Justice: A Primer. Ontario: Jones and Bartlett Publishers

*See other post related to poverty

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Sophie in “Sophie’s Choice”

Meryl Streep plays the role of Sophie in an adaptation of William Styron's novel, "Sophie's Choice."

Sophie’s Choice (1982) was a movie adaptation of a novel with the same title. It talked of Sophie – the main character, in the perspectives of a confidant and observer – her friend Stingo. Sophie was a Polish survivor from the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War – and her traumatic experiences, including the choices that she had to take brought her in the throes of a passionate love-hate relationship with an equally unstable “biologist,” whom she regarded as her “savior.” Sophie had post-traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder which had resulted from her sufferings and moral failings, which she perceived as the cause of the atrocities that she had witnessed, perpetrated to the people that she most loved. Her most prominent symptom was that of avoidance; she had repressed all her painful memories in the past, not only in an effort to survive, but more importantly, in a struggle to get over from the guilt that she was experiencing. She tried to numb herself, through a physically dependent and masochistic relationship with her partner, who has been revealed in the latter part of the movie to be a paranoid-schizophrenic.

Sophie did not see herself as a victim of the events that transpired in the camp. Rather, she attributed all her misfortunes to her faulty decisions in life – her refusal to translate Gestapo documents in an effort to save her children, yet was not so, her failure to steal the radio that the Resistance badly needed, and ultimately, her decision of allowing her daughter to be exterminated by the Nazi soldiers in an effort to save her son. Sophie did not recognize the aggression of the larger system which led her into such violent crossroads with both losing ends. She bore all the guilt and the fact the she had been unable to see her only surviving child after the war seemed to her – a testament to the “follies” on her decisions.

Sophie was aware of her problem. She was in fact actively forgetting her guilt through the lies that she concocted. Her lies about her father and her struggle to mask her pains by engaging in a violent relationship proved of her self-reproach. She was aware that years after the war, she was still suffering the agony of the terror of the time when she was led to make a choice. Yet, she did not have the violent enmity that other people would have directed towards the Nazis. She just felt that all of her misfortunes were very much deserved. She received no psychological treatment, only empathetic listening from her friend, Stingo – who was at that time also coping with his own emotional battles.

The Holocaust is a grim period in the history of nations. I believe that Sophie’s character and the movie in itself depicted it appropriately. The Nazis were undeniably guilty of several atrocities to the Jews and to the people who, at the very least were suspected of betraying them. Though filled with complexities and strange turn of events, I believe that Sophie’s character successfully depicted the struggles of one with post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly in the given period. Her final choice – of going back to her partner Nathan and their consequent suicide attempt reflected her final effort of self-recrimination. She did not “atone” in this sense, for in her anxious thoughts, she knew that no action from her was necessary to bring back everything that she had lost. Rather, she punished herself, precisely for this powerlessness, and for a guilt that was so massive, kept on streaming on the surface of her consciousness, in spite of efforts to submerge them through the lies that she had made.

References

Pakula, Alan (Director and Producer). (1982). Sophie’s Choice. (DVD). Lions Gate

Wilson, John P. (2001). “An Overview of Clinical Considerations and Principles in the Treatment of PTSD.” Treating Psychological Trauma and PTSD. New York: The GuilfordPress

A Review of Relevant Articles on Teaching Practices

Image credits to The Freire Project

  • Trigwell, Keith, Martin, Elaine, Benjamin, Joan & Prosser, Michael (n.d.) Scholarship of Teaching: A Model. The Australian Scholarship in Teaching Project. Retrieved from www.clt.uts.edu.au This paper is a study of the merits of scholarly teaching in universities. The authors believe that the banking method of education no longer contributes to the learning of post-secondary students, considering the maturation of their cognitive capacities and faculties for learning. The authors believe that through providing a transparent medium to transmit how learning is made possible, educators could gain insights and modify their teaching strategies in order to achieve not only learning, but its useful application to everyday life. Through the praxis method, action-reflection-action, relevant aspects of the subject matter are further explored, and the students could gain fruitful experiences in the process of reflection, inquiry, evaluation, documentation, and communication.

    I share the authors’ belief in this paradigm. A student must not be regarded as a mere vessel for which information and ideas are conveyed – but rather, as a being with an advanced cognition and critical thinking skills. I believe that a student should be allowed to determine the purpose of his/her subject area and become an active participant in the development of the lesson, rather than a mere recipient of knowledge. However, it is also necessary for the teacher to be equipped with various theoretical perspectives of the subject matter that he/she is teaching. He/she must also possess an open mind for him/her to effectively facilitate the flow of discussion in class.
    For scholarly teaching to succeed, one must consider not only the information, but the implication of such to other disciplines, the teaching approach adopted, and the way concrete facts are communicated.
    Nonetheless, the study was yet inconclusive. Thus, the focus of continuing research must go along with evaluating teaching outcomes and the short-term and long-term impact of scholarly teaching on the students’ learning.

    White, Connie. (18 September 2007). Technology and Best Teaching Practices. Lakeview Academy. Accessed 20 January 2010 from www.aategroup.wikispaces.com 

    The paper talked about the “Ten Best Teaching Practices” by Donna Walker Tileston and how technology could be harnessed in collaboration with these teaching practices in order to maximize learning. Like the first article, this paper reveals that conceptual learning has been long gone and that students are no longer benefiting from rote memorizations of time, dates, and places, all of which do not relate to their everyday lives. White (2007) added that re-teaching should be done in the preferred modality of the learner — that is, in the modern times, through the use of information technology.
    The approaches that the author has expounded upon may be applicable for elementary and high school students, whose attention spans cannot hold so much lecture and discussion for subjects that they may not have sufficient interest in, particularly in the areas of literature or history. However, I believe that there is a need to re-examine the method in the context of university learning, as the use of information technology may tend to limit interactive person to person spheres, where experiential learning takes place, and where students get to become active participants in the development of the subject being discussed.
    It is perhaps already high time for educators to explore the facilities of e-learning and strive to replicate what has been achieved by online games that receive the dedication and commitment of several students. Though this may not be an easy feat, a further analysis of the reasons why children become hooked on online games could be done and the resultant principles used in the practice of teaching. Through the purposeful combination of work and play, children would gain further insights on the subject area being taught, which would probably benefit them in the long-term and not just on the coming exams.

    Thomas, Carolyn M. & Thomas, Matthew A.M. (2009) Early Childhood Care and Education in Zambia: An Integral Part of Educational Provision? Early Childhood Care and Education: Worldwide Challenges and Progresses, Volume 11. Accessed 20 January 2010 from www.tc.columbia.edu

    The paper talked about the “ironic adoption” of the global pursuit of Education for All of the Zambian government, which incorporates Early Childhood Care and Education for pre-primary school students in the face of gross budgetary deficits in providing accessible and quality education for those in elementary and high school. The authors maintained that Zambia should not have embraced the early childhood education reform movement without the necessary evaluation of the current educational provision to which it is already committed.

    While this is true, I believe that the paper has neglected to consider that the adoption of the ECCE program in Zambia is in fact not the problem. Rather, the issue lies in the lack of state’s commitment to uphold the quality of education for the Zambians. It is rather unfortunate that the Zambian children would not be able to enjoy pre-primary education because of budgetary deficits when several pedagogical methods and teaching strategies could have made pre-school education an enjoyable and rewarding learning experience for Zambian children of pre-school age without necessarily incurring the “exorbitant cost of education.”

    I believe that the authors based their assumptions on certain measurable indicators that are used in other progressive nations and not within the context of Zambian communities. I sought to include a review of this article even if it did not directly discuss teaching practices in order to emphasize the significance of such pedagogical methods in communities with poor resource conditions. Indeed, pre-school education could be undertaken with the community’s involvement with only a meager amount of assistance from the national government. Communities could be able to adopt a pre-school and participate in the decision-making, administration, and employment of teachers in their own community. Apart from this, the teaching strategies need not be based on Western methods, but rather on traditional and indigenous practices, using native languages to maximize learning on the part of the children. Pedagogical practices are a crucial part of the students’ learning — one that does not need expensive budgets but creativity and resourcefulness on the part of the educator and the promotion of joint responsibility between the government and the people. In this way, Zambia would not have to deprive itself of the right to Early Childhood Care and Education and suffer the dire consequences of ignorance.

    Drummond, Tom. (2002). A Brief Summary of the Best Practices in Teaching: Intended to Challenge the Professional Development of All Teachers. Accessed 20 January 2010 from www.webshares.northseattle.edu

    Drummond (2002) summarized the best teaching practices for university learners in this paper. The best teaching practices include lecture practices, group discussions, thoughtful questions, reflective responses to learners, rewarding learners’ participation, active learning strategies, cooperative group assignments, establishing goals to grade connections, modeling, double loop feedback, and fostering learners’ responsibility.

    Like the previous articles, Drummond espoused that the best learning method is one that creates a healthy sense of atmosphere of communication and interaction among the learners and the educator. Apart from this, Drummond further emphasized the need to foster the learner’s responsibility in order to make him/her understand that his/her personal development would be the prime benefactor of the subject matter being discussed.

    As a future educator, I believe that I must be able to gain full cognizance — not only of the subjects that I would be teaching but also the methods for which ideas and knowledge would be best conveyed. After all, the goal of education is not just to merely transmit knowledge but also to impart to the learners a sense of responsibility for the body of knowledge that has been obtained. Through the aforementioned teaching methods, the learners would become the central character of the teacher-student relationship instead of the educator. In this way, there would be an active pursuit of knowledge and meanings could be ascribed to relevant themes and concepts. Hence, these relevant themes and concepts would not be treated as mere pieces of information to be placed in one’s memory but as a vital piece of wisdom that is inculcated on one’s understanding and awareness. Educators have a big responsibility in the molding of the consciousness of youth. Because of this, they must be able to formulate innovative and critical strategies directed toward human development and personal growth.

    References 

    Drummond, Tom. (2002). A brief summary of the best practices in teaching: intended to challenge the professional development of all teachers. Retrieved January 20, 2010 from http://www.webshares.northseattle.edu

    Thomas, Carolyn M. & Thomas, Matthew A.M. (2009). Early childhood care and education in Zambia: An integral part of educational provision? Early Childhood Care and Education: Worldwide Challenges and Progresses, Volume 11. Retrieved January 20, 2010 from http://www.tc.columbia.edu

    Trigwell, Keith, Martin, Elaine, Benjamin, Joan & Prosser, Michael (n.d.) Scholarship of teaching: A model. The Australian Scholarship in Teaching Project. Retrieved January 20, 2010 from http://www.clt.uts.edu.au

    White, Connie. (18 September 2007). Technology and Best Teaching Practices. Lakeview Academy. Retrieved January 20, 2010 from http://www.aategroup.wikispaces.com

The Treaty of Versailles and its Inevitable Results

German students protest against the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1932. Reaction to the treaty after World War I marked the beginning of modern historical revisionism. Credits to Getty Images and Cristen Conger

            “Are ideals confined to this deformed experiment upon a noble purpose, tainted, as it is, with bargains and tied to a peace treaty which might have been disposed of long ago to the great benefit of the world if it had not been compelled to carry this rider on its back? (Henry Cabot Lodge, 1919)

Indeed, this was an apt description of the parodies of the peace treaty of Versaillesafter the First World War. While powerful nations such as Britain, France, Italy, the United States of America, and Germany sought to establish a treaty that would finally bring peace to the war-torn countries of Europe, each force was still subdivided by vested interests that have no direct intimation to the pursuit of peace. Hence, the treaty itself became a testament of conflicting interests – of each nation’s effort of trying to outmaneuver each other from gaining much. However, the Treaty of Versailles carried the weight of a uniform goal: to crippleGermanyto the point where it could no longer summon the courage and capacity to become a military threat among the nations of the world. Thus, in this pursuit of peace and justice, the offending nation has to be condemned; one has to bear the guilt of atrocities, and pay for war reparations. Instead of working on common avenues of peace, the leaders of the nations worked on ensuring that their respective interests as dominant forces of the world were well represented.

For George Clemencau ofFrance, the crippling of Germany’s capacity to wage another military exercise is of prime importance. Thus,FrancewantedGermanyto exhaust all of its resources into war reparations.Francedemanded for more aggressive measures for support than any other countries involved in the treaty. Clemencau wished to regain the Alsace-Lorraine territory which Germany has taken control after the Franco-Russian War of 1871. This was vital forFrance; Alsace-Lorraine is wealthy and highly-industrialized. It would undeniably strengthenFrance’s force as a country in Europe and significantly reduceGermany.Francelikewise demanded to separate the Rhineland and Ruhr fromGermany, thereby diffusing forces into small partitions which later on would be impossible to wield for invasion and domination.

Yet, according to Trachtenberg (1999), the demands of Francehave far deeper subtexts if taken into account the strengthening of alliance between Britainand the United States of America. These demands were actually not geared to establish French superiority over Germany, but rather to work out arrangements that would enable them to deal with their great neighbor across the Rhine on a more equal basis (Trachtenberg, 1999). While it may be unacceptable or even border to being preposterous to suppose thatFrance was seeking an alliance withGermany after the ravages that has been committed on French soil, an exploration of such possibilities may be needed in order to understandFrance’s political stance in the face of the Treaty of Versailles.

David Lloyd George ofGreat Britainhowever, has his own personal beliefs aboutGermany(Boemeke, 1998). As a politician, he knew that he must reflect his countrymen’s clamor for justice againstGermany. However, he also knew that he must be able to instigate measures to curtail the ascent of Marxist thoughts inRussia– a greater and more powerful threat to the stability of his nations and to other European countries as well. He wanted to utilizeGermanyas a pawn that could prevent the spread of communism. Because of this, while he spearheaded the writing of the treaty, he likewise wanted to ensure thatGermany’s forces would only be weakened and not totally supplanted. Hence, he supported reparations but to a significantly lesser extent thanFrance. He also wanted to make sure thatFrancewould not be able to gain ascendancy as a powerful force in Europe out of the gains thatFrancewould be getting fromGermanyfor war reparations.

Britaindemanded the control ofGermany’s African colonies as war reparation – a stark contradiction toFrance’s equally ambitious demands. By strategically cripplingGermanywith its colonies, it would cease to be a military threat. Yet, it would retain its capacity to bounce back and accomplish significant economic gains for itself. In this manner, Lloyd George would be preventing the institution of another conflict byGermanyand at the same time hinderingFrancefrom gaining dominance over the countries inEurope.

United States of AmericaPresident Woodrow Wilson likewise played a significant role – not only in the Treaty of Versailles but also to the immediate aftermath of war – of Germany’s “inconceivable” defeat and the push for peace talks and settlements. Wilsonsubmitted his “Fourteen Points” and urged for the establishment of League of Nations, an assembly that would address future conflicts between countries in order to prevent another war from happening again. Like Lloyd George,Wilson did not want to drastically crippleGermany for fear of French domination. He also wanted to continue the states’ trading relations withGermany and prevent the spread of Russian Bolshevism to countries that could wield the necessary force to uphold it – the most notable of which wasGermany.

At this period,Italyentered the Treaty in order to claim control overFiume, as its due reparation for joining the war and fighting with the Allied Forces. ThoughItalydid not have a significant contribution to the waging of war compared toFrance,Great Britainand theUnited States, the Italian government’s failure to obtain Fiume led to various struggle in the country, and eventually to the taking control ofItalyby Benito Mussolini.

Germany, however, insulted with the alleged violation of its honor under the Treaty of Versailles.Germanywas forced to sign and acquiesce to the severe conditions in exchange of freedom from foreign dominance.Germanysuffered much loss for its acquiescence, and the people felt betrayed by President Wilson of theUnited States. The supposedly “peace settlement” was transformed into a rash dictate in the economic, social and political policies ofGermany. Indeed,Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” became only applicable to the right of countries to self-determination – to the point of weakeningGermanyand its former allies.

It was said that this fury led to the establishment of Nazi rule inGermany(Trachtenberg, 1999).Germany’s oppression in the face of the unjust conditions provided by the Treaty became a powerful political propaganda that fueled Hitler’s ascendancy asGermany’s despotic ruler.

Historians believed that such conflicts that ultimately led to the Second World War may have been prevented if only Britain and America negotiated a formal military alliance with France, instead of instituting measures to thwart their perceived “France’s ambitions to gain dominance in the entire Europe” (Trachtenberg, 1999). Justice may have been fairly delivered if not one country was condemned and tried for a previously decided fate. WhileGermanyhas played a significant contribution to the ravages of war, it was fueled by other nations as well, which became parties to the prolongation of conflict and further atrocities. Thus, the settlement should have been based upon the principle of “equality and community of sacrifice” (Trachtenberg, 1999) – a common effort of reconstruction, founded upon the true essence of peace and restoration.

References

Boemeke, Manfred, Feldman, Gerald and Glaser, Elisabeth. The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years.Cambridge: German History Institute, Washington and CambridgeUniversityPress, 1998.

Duffy, Michael. Henry Cabot lodge on the League of Nations, 12 August 1919. 22 August 2009. Accessed 25 January 2010 fro www.firstworldwar.com

The Avalon Project. The Versailles Treaty, June 28, 1919.YaleLawSchool: Lillian Goldman Law Library. 2008. Accessed 25 January 2010 from www.avalon.law.yale.edu

The Treaty of Versailles.ColbyCollege. (n.d.) Accessed 25 January 2010 from www.colby.edu

The Treaty of Versailles. History Learning Site (n.d.) Accessed 25 January 2010 from www.historylearningsite.co.uk

Trachtenberg, Marc. Versailles Revisited.University ofPennsylvania. 27 December 1999