Styles of Writing-Discussion: Literary Criticism - 74295

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Assignment 2: Discussion

Discussion question responses should be at least 150 words. Your responses to your peers' writing should be a good paragraph in length and should include specifics from the text to make a point.




The Language of Argument begins by emphasizing the importance of knowing and winning over one’s audience. Discuss how well Peter A. Brown achieves this in his essay “Restoring Perspective: $1000 for the Prom is Immoral.” Do you feel Brown is addressing you? Explain why or why not. Provide some examples of his tone, word choice, or illustrations to support your response.

In a second paragraph, discuss how well Mitchell Farnum achieves the purposes of knowing and winning over his audience in his essay “Color Me Pro-Choice.” Do you feel Farnum is addressing you? Explain why or why not. Provide some examples of his tone, word choice, or illustrations to support your response.


 $1,000 for the prom is immoral

October 21, 2005|By Peter Brown, Sentinel Columnist

My new hero is the principal who canceled his school's senior prom, not just to prevent underage drinking and sex at post-event parties, but to make the kids and parents consider how they spend their money.It is the best recent example of an authority figure standing up to both the culture of conspicuous consumption and of rights without responsibilities.

When teenagers, or for that matter adults, think it is the norm to spend $200 on tennis shoes, $250 on blue jeans and $5 on a cup of coffee, it's no wonder our society has lost its sense of perspective.What Kenneth Hoagland, the principal at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, N.Y., did in refusing to accept the excesses of the prom, which he rightly labeled "an exaggerated rite of passage that verges on decadence," was demonstrate common sense.

His willingness to uphold his Roman Catholic school's values, even at the cost of alienating students and their parents, is an example for not just other educators, but for everyone in this society.After all, you have to break some eggs to make an omelet, and in making his decision he certainly went against the accepted norm in one of the nation's most affluent counties.But the lavishness of the prom culture to which he said "no," unfortunately, is the norm in most middle-class communities, too.

Here in Orlando, for instance, I know a parent who this month spent $500 for her daughter's homecoming dance, a much lower-key event than the prom."No" is a word that parents, educators and public officials across the country ought to learn to pronounce.

Hoagland rightly thought that there is something innately wrong with students spending $1,000 or more on their prom outfit, flowers, limousines and the rest. And that didn't count the cost of the post-prom parties -- at beach houses or "booze cruises" -- that students attended where the use of alcohol and the lack of supervision created "a time of heightened sexuality in a culture of anything goes," as he put it. Kellenberg High School, he said, "is willing to sponsor a prom, but not an orgy."

And, not backing down, Hoagland put the blame squarely where it belongs."Over the years parents have become more active in creating the `prom experience,' from personally signing for houses for a three-day drug/sex/alcohol bash, to mothers making motel reservations for their sons and daughters for the after-prom-get-togethers."

One group of students, obviously with parental help, had contracted to rent a house in the Hamptons, a swanky summer playground for the jet set, for 36 unsupervised hours at a cost of $20,000.

Last March, Hoagland warned the students and parents who organize the post-prom bashes to clean up their act. It did no good; the spring prom for the class of 2005 was just more of the same. afterwards, school administrators decided to scrap next spring's prom, but did not tell anyone until September, when they made their decision public.

Now, it is easy to applaud Hoagland for trying to stop those activities that are blatantly illegal -- underage drinking and drug use. Discouraging, or at least making more difficult, teenage sex is also high on the public-acceptance meter, even in places like Long Island. But, here is what Hoagland did that made me admire him so much: He took on the culture of affluence that is part of the environment, not just there but in most of this country.

In Uniondale, where Hoagland estimates the average income of his students' families to be $100,000 or more, at least the people have the money. Unfortunately, the mentality he refused to tolerate also shows its head in many less affluent areas, too. "There is a root problem for all this, and it is affluence. Affluence changes people. Too much money is not good for the soul. Our young people have too much money," said Hoagland.

"Most people think of sex and murder when they hear the word morality. But here is a morality of money. The bad use of money or wealth in any form is immoral," he told the parents in announcing the prom cancellation.

Later, in an interview, he got to the significant part: "We don't discuss often enough how money changes you. Now, even if you are in a situation where you can afford certain things, the question we should ask ourselves is, should I spend my money on that? We don't ask that question enough."

"Is it appropriate for a 17-year-old graduating from high school to spend that much" on a dance?

Brother Hoagland didn't think so, and neither do I.

How about you?


Color Me Pro-Choice

Mitchell Farnum

I don't spend a lot of time with homosexuals, chain-smokers, feminists, porn-buyers, atheists, vegetarians, or problem drinkers—but when the issues get legal, I am with them. I am pro-choice.

I think adults should have options.

I want options. I want my Marriott room to have a Gideon Bible and porn movies. Let me decide if I want to buckle my seat-belt, or drive to 11:00 Mass, or swing out to the dog-track. Let me send my kids to public school or to Holiness Tabernacle Academy. I may invite Jews and blacks to join my private club, but don't tell me I have to accept orientals or women or somebody's cousin. It's my club.

I don't like people with oppressive theories. They come around telling everybody what to do. Local 7–11's shouldn't sell Playboy. Poor women can't have abortions. Nancy Cruzan should stay hooked to that machine for another seven years. Consenting adults must go into their bedrooms and behave sensibly. Who needs this crap?

I want to make choices, even dumb ones. If I buy my Big Mac with the large order of fries (and extra salt), that's OK. If I don't buckle my seat-belt, so what? If I smoke a pack or two a day, leave me alone! I've got my rights. And among them is the right to take the consequences of what I do. Man, it's my life!

Also, let me believe what I want to. You're hearing from a man who subscribes to the National Enquirer and the Sun. So the evidence is shaky about UFOs and the Shroud of Turin and vitamin E and the Kennedy assassination? So what? If I want to believe dramatic theories, that's fine. (Tomorrow I may send off $15.95 for a talisman containing Lourdes water.) And you're free to believe your theories. If you want to think Elvis is dead, that's your business.

All this freedom is for adults who can take care of themselves. With people who can't, OK, let's pass laws. I don't mind rules that protect kids and AIDS victims and neurotics and wheelchair people and the homeless. I want laws in areas where we're all helpless—those protecting the environment and the purity of foods. I can live with traffic regulations and some antigun laws. I want ex-cons and psychopaths to have trouble buying a gun, but don't tell me I can't buy one.

Summing it up, I don't like meddling people. Spare me from censors and pro-lifers and gay-baiters and temperance advocates and anti-smoking Nazis and anybody who would enforce prayer or “political correctness” in the schools.

But don't get me wrong—I'm not some antagonistic nut. I love a lot of things—babies, Heineken beer, golden retrievers, Willie Nelson, my wife, the Atlanta Braves (with all their faults), and the Roman Catholic Church (with all its faults). And if you want to be Baptist or agnostic or gay or vegetarian, great! If you turn on to All My Children or Guns N’ Roses, hey, that's fine with me. It's a big world, friend. Enjoy yourself.

Just stay off my back.


cite link

Larry W. Burton; Daniel McDonald. The Language of Argument, 12th Edition., 2007. South University. Web. 26 July 2013 <>.


Solution Description


Mitchell loses in straight sets

The two articles in question are Peter A.Brown’s  “Restoring Perspective: $1000 for the prom is immoral” and Mitchell Farnum’s “ Color me Pro-choice”.

First, let us discuss Brown’s article “Restoring Perspective”. I have never heard of Peter A.Brown before and  if this is the kind of stuff he churns out, then I’ll say “Thank you Go