Analyzing “Death and Justice”

Length: 5 Pages 1255 Words

If your own flesh and blood were brutally murdered, would you want the culprit to live the rest of their life in a cell, or be forced to meet the same fate your innocent loved one did? This is the question that former New York City mayor, Edward I. Koch, addresses in his 1985 article, “Death and Justice”, which was printed in The New Republic, a magazine that generally publishes articles dealing with controversial political issues. Koch claims the death penalty is just and defends his statement by using his former public service as ethos, strong language and concrete examples as pathos, and by disproving capital punishment rebuttals as a means of developing logos. Because the readers of this magazine are usually actively involved in political issues, Koch does not have to “soften up his paper.” He is aiming to prove a point, and the politically sound readers are not going to be scared away by concrete examples and strong language. Appealing to pathos, this article is very upfront and immediately reveals the authors standing on the matter. In the first paragraph, he gives rather absurd examples of convicted murderers pleading for their lives. Robert Lee Willie (who raped and murdered an 18 year old woman) said that, “ Continue...


The category or issue is capital punishment. Additionally, before he was mayor, Koch spent 22 years in public service as a district leader, councilman and congressman. Once again, Koch appeals to emotions of the readers by using a real-life example. In conclusion, it takes a knowledgeable individual to write a paper that holds such weight and packs as much punch as "Death and Justice. He continues with the issue of barbarism and relates the death penalty to radiation therapy. Koch defends his stand by stating popular reasons for opposition to the death penalty and uses logical reasoning to disprove them. Throughout the essay, Koch maintains a very serious and almost dark tone. By Koch being the mayor of New York City when this was written, he already has an established base of ethos. But they insisted it is not the method of execution, "It's the death itself they consider barbaric. The pure ridiculousness of cold-blooded killers claiming killing is wrong makes the reader question anti-capital punishment views. Koch balances ethos, pathos, and logos in correlation with a strong tone and a non-offensive, yet straightforward style. Logos is developed further in the seventh paragraph. "...I have sometimes been the subject of emotional and outraged attacks by voters who find my position reprehensible or worse. He treats this as a very serious issue, which it is.