Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Published: The Economist

Level of Difficulty: ***


Access the following interview on the program "Hard Talk", listen and then read Stephen Sachur's comments before you start dealind with the text. The link is:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26273051 (copy paste to access)
Then think about your own attitude to capital punishment and the reasons for the opinions you hold.


  1. In paragraph one, find a single word meaning “set free”.
  2. In paragraph two, find a single word meaning “previous”.
  3. What exactly is “this startling change”?
  4. The efforts to abolish the death penalty were considered a twin cause with the efforts to abolish slavery. The latter worked while the former didn’t. Why? ( Two reasons)
  5. In paragraph five, find a phrasal verb meaning to “abolish”.
  6. Find a word meaning approved in paragraph seven.
  7. In paragraph eight, find a single word meaning “firmly fixed”.
  8. In which areas of the world is the death penalty widespread?
  9. In paragraph nine, find a single word meaning “to encourage”.
  10. What does “this” refer to in the phrase “This has acted as a powerful spur to countries in Eastern Europe” in paragraph nine?
  11. In what way are present day war crimes tribunals different from past ones?
  12. What attitude of elected politicians may be considered surprising?
  13. What are the four basic arguments against capital punishment?
  14. What does “they” refer to in the phrase “they seem to have won their bet” in paragraph fifteen?
  15. The law concerning capital punishment in the US may be regarded as specially harsh since…………………………………………………………………………………………………..( Two reasons)
  16. How can the fact that the US is deeply democratic be an explanation for the above application?
  17. Is the argument that the death penalty is a deterrent justifiable according to the text?
  18. What does “this” in the first line of paragraph twenty one refer to?
  19. How is the conclusion that “a killer has to be very unlucky indeed to be executed” reached?
  20. In paragraph twenty two, the reason why the death penalty is not a deterrent is provided. State clearly what that reason is.
  21. What does “it” refer to right at the end of paragraph twenty two?
  22. What does the public seem to regard as an alternative to capital punishment?
  23. How exactly do most Americans see capital punishment?
  24. What does “the subject” in the phrase “the subject has tormented the Supreme court” in paragraph twenty five refer to?
  25. What example of inequity in the application of capital punishment is provided in the text?
  26. Do Harry Blackmun and Lewis Powell agree or disagree concerning the death penalty?
WRITING TASK: Make a note of the arguments for and against capital punishment in the text and write an argumentative essay for or against capital punishment.
This brilliant timeless essay arguing against capital punishment in the same way we teach our students to do should be done in conjunction with a similar essay out of “Psychology Today”, written by Gad Saad, Ph.D titled “Is the Death Penalty Barbaric?”(psychologytoday.com), arguing for capital punishment. The arguments and methods of refutation employed in each text should be analyzed and put on the board accompanied by plenty of discussion. The students should then be asked to write an argumentative essay using the arguments that have been noted. The whole activity will take the best part of three blocks.
  1. Release
  2. Prior
  3. For large parts of the world, capital punishment is now treated as barbaric and unjustified even for the very worst criminals.
  4. Even many liberal reformers who loathed slavery found the death penalty acceptable under the right circumstances. And unlike slavery, the death penalty has generally enjoyed widespread public support, as it continues to do today.
  5. Done away with
  6. Sanctioned
  7. Entrenched
  8. East Asia and The Middle East
  9. Promote
  10. Making an end to capital punishment a non-negotiable condition of membership.
  11. Many defendants at Nuremberg and Tokyo were hanged. That would not be thinkable today.
  12. Not one country has abolished the death penalty with popular support.
  13. Not an effective crime fighting tool, high profile miscarriages of justice , it is in conflict with human rights (cruel, inhuman and degrading), abolishing the death penalty is a way to make a decisive break with an authoritarian past, when governments used capital punishment not just to punish criminals but to get rid of political opponents.
  14. Politicians and judges
  15. America has even refused to stop executing those convicted as juveniles or the mentally retarded.
  16. Far more public officials – including police chiefs, judges and public prosecutors – are directly elected in the US.
  17. Not only has The US the highest murder rate in the industrialized world, but murder rates there are higher in the southern states where most executions occur.
  18. None has found good evidence for deterrence.
  19. The chances of a killer being caught, prosecuted, convicted and then executed
  20. These people are the least likely to be rational enough to calculate the consequences of their acts, or to be deterred by the prospect of execution.
  21. That many more innocent people would also be executed.
  22. Life imprisonment without parole
  23. For many Americans, capital punishment seems more a symbol of society’s indignation at the evil in its midst than a fair or useful weapon against crime.
  24. Applying it fairly and consistently.
  25. Rich, well-educated murderers rarely get a capital sentence.
  26. Yes they do.

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