Research Proposal

People from different countries are soaked in different cultural atmospheres, we are born to be taught by our parents in different ways. Therefore, as we gather together today in this world valley and exchange ideas every day, we do notice that we may have different value and standard toward some issues.

The analysis of how empathy plays its role in different aspects of people’s lives in my blog sequence shows that different scenarios provide people different standard for decision making, and different levels of understanding enables people to make decisions accordingly as well. So from a globalized view I’d like to take some insight in how culture as an unique feature that people from different countries possess will mediate their own expressions of empathy. The specific question I would like to ask is “Would people who share different cultural and moral background express empathy differently?” I’ll focus my research on both sides of this topic, which is if so, how exactly would background differences affect people’s empathy; and if not, are there any papers support this point.

Possible Scholarly Sources:

  • Park, J., et al. “Empathy, Culture and Self-Humanising: Empathising Reduces the Attribution of Greater Humanness to the Self More in Japan than Australia.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 51, no. 4, 2016., pp. 301-306doi:10.1002/ijop.12164.Link
  • Luo, SY, et al. “Interaction between Oxytocin Receptor Polymorphism and Interdependent Culture Values on Human Empathy.” SOCIAL COGNITIVE AND AFFECTIVE NEUROSCIENCE, vol. 10, no. 9, 2015., pp. 1273-1281doi:10.1093/scan/nsv019.Link
  • Chung, Rita C., and Fred Bemak. “The Relationship of Culture and Empathy in Cross‐Cultural Counseling.” Journal of Counseling & Development, vol. 80, no. 2, 2002., pp. 154-159doi:10.1002/j.1556-6678.2002.tb00178.x.Link
  • Ditto, Peter H., and Spassena P. Koleva. “Moral Empathy Gaps and the American Culture War.” Emotion Review, vol. 3, no. 3, 2011., pp. 331-332doi:10.1177/1754073911402393.Link
  • Lorié, Áine, et al. “Culture and Nonverbal Expressions of Empathy in Clinical Settings: A Systematic Review.” Patient Education and Counseling, 2016.doi:10.1016/j.pec.2016.09.018.Link
  • Aaker, Jennifer L., and Patti Williams. “Empathy Versus Pride: The Influence of Emotional Appeals Across Cultures.” Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 25, no. 3, 1998., pp. 241-261doi:10.1086/209537.Link
  • Hollan, D. “The Definition and Morality of Empathy.” EMOTION REVIEW, vol. 4, no. 1, 2012., pp. 83-83doi:10.1177/1754073911421396.Link

Empathy: The Guarantee of Rationality.

Empathy has been widely acknowledged as a certain kind of attitude generated from the inside of ourselves toward other human beings on some issues in our daily life. It has been a long time since scholars and researchers first introduced this concept, yet no precise definition can be drawn on this broad attitude. Though we may not able to write down a specific and Omni-agreed definition on empathy just like other laws had been written on the codex, we still apply this attitude smoothly and unconsciously in multiple aspects. However, we’ve found out that empathy mostly plays its role under circumstances in which people’s opinions are somehow biased, and I would conclude its role in such scenarios is to keep us rational. In this introduction to my blog series, I will state my own understanding toward empathy and then focus on two specific cases in which lacking of empathy makes us irrational on decision-making and,of course, proper empathy keeps us rational on decision-making.

In my very first post of this blog post sequence, I summarized an essay written by Adam Morton about his version of definition on empathy.By doing this I aimed to point out this kind of interpretation of empathy could not be applied in our daily life so I provide my version of interpretation instead. Douglas Hollan raised his definition of empathy in his book The Definition and Morality of Empathy which I consider to be the most thorough one among others’. Hollan states that understanding the reasons and motives for a person to perform an act is the most essential thing we have to do to empathize with him or her(Hollan). I incorporate Hollan’s definition with my own understanding of empathy to conclude that in order to be considered having empathy in a person, all we have to do is to try to consider based on his or her logic and to adopt his initial motivation to perform an act. To show this, I summarized an article written by Adam Morton and pointed some flaws in his version of definition on empathy in my post.From my analysis, Morton’s definition of empathy is too narrow and specific which makes the ideas he further proposed in his article seem to be vague and distorted. While Morton’s version of empathy makes sense only in scenarios he has set in his article, I’d say Hollan’s version of empathy is more likely to be the one that we apply in our daily life. (Blog Post 4 link provided below.)

(Does Morton raise a right definition of empathy?
http://blogs.rochester.edu/feelinggood2/2016/10/20/3052/)

The first case I want to analyze happens in today’s virtual world, and it’s a great example to show how lacking of empathy can blindfold our eyes of rationality. The 21st century is also known as the digital age,while in which the bloom of social media platforms has made everything more accessible than before, it makes everything more intense as well. When I try to analyze how empathy plays its role on the Internet in my blog post 5, I found that the anonymity and the lack of non-verbal information we have on other people have made us more aggressive and possess less empathy toward other people online. I raised an example about the massive attacks toward a Korean pop star who claimed she gained her success all through her own talent but was proved later that she actually achieved her success through taking some advantage of plastic surgery(Guancha.cn). The outburst of attack was not actually due to her faking success, but because people feel conceived, and thus feel like being hurt and they have to fight back. Once people’s empathy level has gone down to this point, they would make surmise about the subject due to the lack of further profile about the subject which generally misleads them to consider the subject as vicious, thus comes the aggressive attacks. So the role of empathy online is to make sure that we are reasonable and rational to make decisions, while from this example I conclude that lacking empathy and understanding toward others can be devastating online. (Blog Post 5 link posted below)

(We tend to be more outrageous when we’re online.
http://blogs.rochester.edu/feelinggood2/2016/10/25/we-tend-to-be-more-outrageous-when-were-online/)

In my blog post 6,I focus on two of Harper Lee’s novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman to analyze how empathy keeps the main character rational toward a biased issue. Many say that Harper Lee portrays a righteous character Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird to demonstrate the empathy for the Black and the opposing voice for racial segregation, but they fail to find a consistent Atticus Finch in Go Set a Watchman(TKM). The main idea is that Atticus has changed into a racist because he states some prejudicial expressions about the Black, like “backward” and “sub-people”, and refuses to let them acquire certain rights that the White has(GSW). My understanding is that though Atticus’s attitude on the Black seems to be changed drastically, his empathy towards them makes him decide rationally every time so Atticus hasn’t changed at all. The empathy that Atticus possesses in To Kill a Mockingbird encourages him to hold a righteous standpoint to defend for an African-American, because he understands how unfair it was for an innocent person stuck in a biased situation like that so he felt like defending for him was a rational choice(TKM). And the empathy that Atticus possesses in Go Set a Watchman enables him to take the position that his daughter may not understand because he understands that keeping the Black from things they were not yet capable of managing was the rational choice which brings real benefits to everybody. So from this case I conclude empathy makes us overcome the biases and make our decisions rationally. (Blog Post 6 link provided below)

(Atticus Always Stays the Same.http://blogs.rochester.edu/feelinggood2/2016/11/03/empathy-understanding-makes-us-rational/)

Overall I adopt Douglas Hollan’s definition of empathy to consider different scenarios. My analysis through out my posts demonstrates that empathy enables us to know reasons and motives for a person to do a thing and be able to feel how he or she feels so that we can understand the situation better, which allows us to overcome certain biases inside the scenarios to rationally make decisions every time.

 

Work Cited:

 

Hollan, Douglas. “The Definition and Morality of Empathy.” EMOTION REVIEW, Jan 2012,vol. 4, no. 1, 2012., pp. 83-83 doi:10.1177/1754073911421396.

 

“South Korean Pop Star Nose Collapse.,The Watcher a,
2016,www.guancha.cn/broken-news/2016_08_25_372437.shtml, Accessed 24,Oct 2016.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird, Directed by Robert Mulligan, Performances by George Peck,Mary Badham,Phillip Alford, Universal International, 1962.

 

Lee, Harper. Go Set a Watchman: A Novel, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, NY, 2015. 236-253.

Atticus Finch Always Stays the Same.

To many the story of To Kill a Mockingbird demonstrates an upstanding lawyer Atticus Finch honestly defends for all people who are in need of help regardless of any prejudice(TKM). The story stands as a milestone of people fighting for eliminating racial discrimination. As for Go Set a Watchman it continues the story of To Kill a Mockingbird but it tells more from Jean Louise Finch’s,Atticus Finch’s daughter, perspective. Interestingly, many people have found out after reading Go Set a Watchman that there seem to be some major changes in Atticus Finch’s values and his upright points of view toward racial issues. From my perspective, though Atticus Finch casts a lot of unsound comments on African-Americans in the argue with his daughter at the near end of Go Set a Watchman, Atticus’s reasons and empathy inside his heart has never changed(236-253).

I’ll start by discussing the seemingly changes happened to Atticus in the book Go Set a Watchman. Back when Jean Louise was still a little girl her father defended without hesitation for a Black man suffered from the bias that could kill him. Though the black man was still framed to death after Atticus’s appealing and reasonable final statement, Jean Louise saw the whole thing and regarded her father as a hero for defending the weak, and she also remembered the sentence “equal rights for all, special rights for none” which affects her whole life(TKM). But in Go Set a Watchman we find out that Atticus not only attends the citizen’s council which aims to prevent African-Americans from getting certain rights, but also explains his action as attending the council to protect the White’s last defense against Negro’s invasions. Atticus explains himself by claiming Black people do not have the right to earn their rights because they are not only backward but also unable to control themselves(237-243). The words like “backward” and “invasions” and Atticus’s claim makes Jean Louise as well as us shocked, shocked about how a previous honest to god righteous person who believes everyone is equal turns into a seemingly prejudicial person who would express racist’s comment like categorizing some people as “sub-people”(GSW 242). Though his comments and terminology conflict with the previous Atticus’s in To Kill a Mockingbird, I’d say his empathy toward African-Americans has never changed. In To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus understands the unfair situation the Blacks are in and decides to do something to help, this empathy enables Atticus to stands out and challenge the overwhelming racial discrimination at the time. It makes him do something “right” for the Black(TKM). In Go Set a Watchman, however, Atticus’s understanding toward the Black provides a fair and true(though not sounds good) profile about the Black. Though his actions may seem unreasonable, knowing these facts about the Black urges him do something “right” for the County(GSW).

Personally speaking, the reason why Atticus does all these seemingly racial discriminating actions is that he starts to consider the situation from a new perspective, which is the development of Maycomb County. Atticus’s comments on Black are harsh but those are the ugly truth, and Atticus’s opinions of preventing Blacks from voting or ruling are mean but they are true because the Black are just not responsible or educated enough for those duties at that time(GSW 243). Atticus’s precise insight and understanding toward the Black keep Maycomb County functioning and developing in good order which, in turn, provides everybody including every African-American living in it a better life. So Atticus’s terminology may change overtime, but his empathy toward the Black has never changed.

Jean Louise softens her view at last for her father makes her see that this is what Maycomb needs(GSW 278). I do as well because it takes me the same long time to understand how a great man possesses and persists along a faith inside his heart, even though he might be misunderstood at the surface, even by his loved ones.

 

Work Cited:

Lee, Harper. Go Set a Watchman: A Novel, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, NY, 2015. 236-253.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Directed by Robert Mulligan, Performances by George Peck,Mary Badham,Phillip Alford, Universal International, 1962.

We tend to be more outrageous when we’re online.

1Korean pop stars nowadays are famous not only for their solid singing and dancing skills, but also widely known as receiving plastic surgery in order to become phenomenon. Though this is already a kind of common sense to many people, we all feel extremely shock when the news of South Korean pop star Lim 2-2Na Young has been brought in limelight. Back in August 2016, Lim was attending a live show Produce 101 on a famous channel in South Korea. In order to fully introduce this well-known celebrity, the host of the show did a full recall of Lim Na Young’s 5-year career as a popular figure. Lim fought so hard on her path 3to her dream that when she finally made it and look back on her own experience, she couldn’t help but crying out on the live show. As all the audiences and the host were touched by her experience, Lim tried to stop crying by sniffing and pressing her nose. But this unconscious move had resulted in her nose collapsed entirely. Everybody on sight was severely shocked and embarrassed, for they all know for sure at that time that she did not fight all on her own talent to success but with some help of plastic surgery(Guancha.cn).

Though as I mentioned above that plastic surgery see  ms to be the must-have feature that South Korean pop stars possess, comments on this news (including pictures) about Lim still exploded on various social medias.The public still can not take the huge gap between the hard-fighting and honest-to-god figure that the host has portrayed about Lim and the real Lim who uses technology to fake her face to gain more attention from public. People started to question that besides her face, what else did Lim fake about herself, her education level? her family background? Or more severely, her own inspirational fighting experience? People’s comments have gone so intense that it took Lim herself so much effort to clarify this event by trying to state that she once had an accident which injured her nose badly and she had to receive the plastic surgery to recover her face. But this detailed explanation seemed to further worsen the public opinions. As a result, Lim Na Young’s career as a pop star was heavily affected, for she was refused on multiple deals because her company considered her as a “questionable public figure”(Guancha.cn).

I took some special insight in why the public react so extremely about something which seems to be the pretty obvious one. People’s comments firstly exploded on some formal medias in South Korea, then they suddenly became aggressive attacks on social medias such as Facebook. From my perspective I’d say that people have the opportunity to say things online which they do not dare to say in real life, for they speak anonymously on social media. L. Mark Carrier holds the same view as I do in his book Virtual Empathy: Positive and Negative impacts of going online upon Empathy in Young Adults. He claims that the displacement of face-to-face conversation by online chatting or activities may cause people to act more hysterically than they do in real life(Carrier). This can account for why there’s a sudden attitude switch of people’s opinions from formal media to social media. Furthermore, Carrier points out that the lack of non-verbal information conveyed online makes people easily to lower their empathy level and less likely to consider the subject as their own kind of beings, which further leads to their outrage towards a subjective matter(Carrier).

I totally agree with Carrier on his point. It makes perfect sense that Lim would receive her plastic surgery after the accident(though we do not know if it was true), but people tends to feel that they were conceived because she did not gain her position totally by her own effort as she described. So there came the outburst of attacks from the public regardless of what was the “truth”,or whether we may try to understand what really happened and try to empathize with her.

 

Work Cited:

Carrier, L.M , et al. “Virtual Empathy: Positive and Negative Impacts of Going Online upon Empathy in Young Adults.” COMPUTERS IN HUMAN BEHAVIOR, vol. 52, 2015., pp. 39-48 ,doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.05.026.

 

“South Korean Pop Star Nose Collapse.,The Watcher , 2016,www.guancha.cn/broken-news/2016_08_25_372437.shtml, Accessed 24,Oct 2016.

Does Morton raise a right definition of empathy?

In the article Empathy for the Devil the author Adam Morton mainly argues about the point that people take a kind of quite different kind of empathy toward another person’s atrocious act. He elaborates his ideas by firstly claim that we as morally sensitive people have limited capacity to empathize people’s atrocious actions even though we consider that we can fully understand them(Morton 319). Morton uses a large amount of space to elaborate this idea by sticking to distinguish the inherent differences between understanding “why” a person does something and understanding “how” this person does this thing. He argues that though we normally can understand the reasons or motives for a person to perform an atrocious act thus we can feel how he feels inside his heart, this is not real empathy after all. At this point Morton introduces an important concept called “barrier” to explain that we,as outsiders, may fully empathize with that person only after we break this “barrier” insider our heart to fully understand how on earth at the end he makes this atrocious act happened(Morton 320). At the bottom part of his article Morton claims people normally confuse the feeling of empathy with pseudo-empathy, indicating that though we usually think we can empathize a person actually, we understand nothing about it at all(Morton 327).

While Morton argues his point with clear logic and reasoning, I found myself doubted about his very definition of what composes “empathy”. Morton argues that people may easily grab “why” a person does something but normally fail to truly understand “how” he performs his final act. And according to Morton this is not real empathy at all. But for me I don’t think that if I wanted to fully empathize a person for killing someone who cruelly hurt his loved ones I had to be willing to perform the killing as well. I tend to say that I know how hurtful it feels if my significant other was cruelly assaulted, I can feel the stabbing pain inside my heart and I’d say that killing this psychopath is a reasonable act. But I don’t have to feel that I want to pull this psychopath out of his grave to kill him again to be called having “real empathy” with this person as Morton suggested. Douglas Hollan suggests the same definition of empathy as mine in the author reply of his book The Definition and Morality of Empathy, in which he states that understand “why” a person feels in his heart and “why” he intends to do the thing he does is the most essential point of being empathized with the person(Hollan). Hollan admits that currently there are multiple confusions about what should be defined as “empathy”. Though we have to be familiar with varieties of empathic expressions all over the world to come to a thorough definition, we only have to stick to the very basic point of empathizing another person. And that is understanding the reasons and motives for a person to perform an act is all we need to be empathized with him(Hollan).

Morton’s argument of in order to have real empathy in a person we should break our inner barrier to understand “how” a person performs his act at last seems somehow fetched and distorted to me, it makes readers feel vague and disordered about the empathy that we apply in our every day life. After viewers read my disagreement I believe they can have a more clear overview on what is empathy: it should be defined as a broader and more straightforward daily attitude rather than a too narrow and specific classification.

 

Bibliography:

Hollan, Douglas. “The Definition and Morality of Empathy.” EMOTION REVIEW, Jan 2012,vol. 4, no. 1, 2012., pp. 83-83 doi:10.1177/1754073911421396.

Morton, Adam.“Empathy For The Devil.” Empathy: Philosophical and           Psychological Perspectives, edited by Amy Coplan and Peter Goldie, Oxford University Press, 2011, 318-330.

How justice fails to be fully promoted in A Time To Kill – Edited

For many, the movie A Time to Kill depicts a great lawyer Jake Brigance tries his best to serve and defend justice for a black man Carl Lee Haily, whose daughter was cruelly raped and seriously injured by two white guys and he killed them afterwards just before they were about to be on court(TK). Carl Lee was proved innocent at last and set free due to Jake’s touching and unique closing statement on court, in which he walked the jurors quite sentimentally through the horrible and inhumane torture little Tonya, Carl Lee’s daughter and the victim of this insult, has been through(TK). While many claim after watching this movie that justice finally prevailed at a time when racial discrimination was so intense, I’d say justice has not been fully served in this film. I’ll focus on how Jake Brigance’s final statement on court fails to coordinate with the definition of Justice. To elaborate I’ll mainly talk about what is the difference between “what is understandable behavior” and “what is legal behavior” and about the inherent limitations in Jake’s statement itself.

Serving justice,in its own legal definition, can be viewed on small scale as administering fairness among different parties or people. But apparently in Carl Lee’s case not everyone is treated fairly. Regardless of what Carl Lee’s daughter Tonya has been through and what it means to her father, Carl Lee, a civilian rather than a proper law enforcer has basically no right or power to punish the guys who committed the horrible crime himself. Carl Lee is acquitted at last, so it basically means that his action,which is basically and fundamentally murder and slaughter, is approved by the jurors; then from this point of view it would be acceptable if one of the dead white guy’s father shoot Carl Lee to death and still would be proved innocent for his action because he simply kills the killer of his son. But if we took the position of an ideal juror which Nussbaum would call it “Judicious spectator”, which implies we are perfectly out of and able to see the situation clearly without being affected by any emotions other than pure rationality(72), we would be clear that the action of killing should be punished under any circumstances no matter what. Wrongdoings must be evaluated by Laws and killer must be punished by Law enforcers after all. Basically speaking, the dead white guys’ parents were not fairly treated from this perspective because the killer of their sons haven’t been punished, therefore justice was not served on court.

An understandable reason would never turn the dead alive, and Law is the only way we make their families get fair compensation. When comes to such extreme circumstance, people tend to follow their will to do things, because they think they have just cause.But Law does not allow people to kill others according to their own will. But here comes the ambiguous part, that people claim we don’t have to follow the Law strictly because Law is just a reflection of people’s willingness so in the case like this we may use humanitarianism as measurement to consider more for the weak rather than depending purely on Constitutions.The lawyer Jake actually uses this strategy in the film. Instead of fighting the prosecutor with hard evidence, Jake Brigance emphasizes in his closing statement only how hurtful this experience must be for a parent so we can’t say Carl Lee is guilty for his action(TK). But I’d say we have to stick to the Law that was established because it is the thing which we all agreed upon to use to keep our society functioning perfectly and keep the fairness among everybody. So it might be reasonable for a father to act like this when his daughter was insulted, but it is not legal after all. And again it is totally unfair and therefore unjust for the dead’s families that Carl Lee go away without being punished by the Law.

Then I will talk about Jake’s closing statement itself. I find it very touching after hearing all his words, but I also find it incomprehensive for a proper closing statement on court. Instead of providing his strongest point to compete with prosecutor’s points, Jake uses pure emotional language to tell the jurors a horrible experience. He can actually tell the hard evidence with emotions to make his point stronger, but he uses all his sentiment, which makes me think of an idea proposed by Martin L. Hoffman in his paper about “Victim-impact statement and empathy bias”(252). Empathy plays a great role in court decision making process,it makes us feel what the victim feels so that we can make more suitable decision according to it. But empathy could play its role correctly if and only if we had fully understood its limitations. The “Victim-impact statement and empathy bias” demonstrates how the heartbreaking statement that victim made would affect judge and jurors’ decision largely because they will be moved so much by the emotional attachment with one person that they will neglect many rational features,like evidence and essence of Law, when they come to their final decisions(Hoffman 253). In this case, the defendant’s lawyer Jake Brigance tells an experience that no one can tolerate. Since the jurors are all white, he even uses the sentence “now imagine she’s white”(TK) to make them feel more emotionalized that most of them were brimming with tears at last. Under such emotionalized mood, I don’t think the jurors consider rationally about this case when deciding.Without considering the essence of killing, they all tend to think about their families, their children. So the final decision is totally unjust for the prosecutor’s families because no one is considering the fairness that they deserve to have.

Though I’m arguing in this article that justice was not prevailed on court, on a scale that is larger than interpersonal matters, justice can be viewed as the mutual agreement of everyone concerned.It is the Black’s concern that they deserve to be viewed equally, and Jake Brigance’s closing statement makes the society start to think more about what is right for different colored people since he successfully makes all the white jurors from a place where racial discrimination is so overwhelming feel involved with a black man. From this perspective I’d say justice,at least the idea of justice, is successfully promoted on this large scale. But for the court arguing, the decision is undoubtedly unjust for the two white guys’ family.

The Court should be the most just place one can ever find on this planet, because it represents authority and fairness. It’s like a perfect scale, a scale to measure who should be protected and who should be punished. And the weight on the scale should never be affected by things other than the Grand Constitution itself. Empathy, however, is like smaller weight on the scale that makes the balance even more precise. But too much empathy would ruin the balance as well. Many agree today that involving empathy as a measurement on court will bring more humane and accurate decision since jurors can feel as the victim or the prosecutor feels, and they may understand the situation more clearly. But Jake Brigance’s closing statement clearly put too much empathy weight on Carl Lee’s side so that Carl Lee finally walks away from killing two people. Thus I hereby conclude justice is not fully promoted in the movie A Time To Kill.

 
Works Cited:

A Time To Kill,directed by Joel Schumacher
Warner Bros. Pictures,1966

Hoffman, Martin L., “Empathy,Justice and the Law”, Empathy:Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives,Ed. Amy Coplan,Peter Goldie, Oxford University Press,2011,252-253.

Nussbaum, Martha C. “Rational Emotions”,Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life, Beacon Press,1997, 72-77.

How justice fails to be fully promoted in A Time To Kill

For many, the movie A Time to Kill depicts a great lawyer Jake Brigance tries his best to serve and defend justice for a black man Carl Lee Haily, whose daughter was cruelly raped and seriously injured by two white guys and he killed them afterwards just before they were about to be on court(TK). Carl Lee was proved innocent at last and set free due to Jake’s touching and unique closing statement on court, in which he walked the jurors quite sentimentally through the horrible and inhumane torture little Tonya, Carl Lee’s daughter and the victim of this insult, has been through(TK). While many claim after watching this movie that justice finally prevailed at a time when racial discrimination was so intense, I’d say justice has not been fully served in this film. I’ll focus on Jake Brigance’s final statement on court to elaborate my idea, about what is the difference between “what is understandable behavior” and “what is legal behavior” and about the inherent limitations in Jake’s statement itself.

I’ll start elaborating my point by firstly mentioning Carl Lee’s action. Regardless of what Carl Lee’s daughter Tonya has been through and what it means to her father, Carl Lee, a civilian rather than a proper law enforcer has basically no right or power to punish the guys who committed the horrible crime himself. Carl Lee is acquitted at last, so it basically means that he is innocent of killing two people who insulted his daughter; then from this point of view it would be acceptable if one of the dead white guy’s father shoot Carl Lee to death and still would be proved innocent for his action because he simply kills the killer of his son. But it’s not acceptable after all. There is no such thing in modern Laws says that if some one did a horrible thing to me, and if it was bad enough then I would have every right to do whatever I consider is right to him.Wrongdoings must be evaluated by Laws and killer must be punished by Law enforcers after all. Basically speaking, the dead white guys’ parents received unjust treatment from this perspective,because the killer of their sons haven’t been punished.

As I mentioned above that a reasonable thing to do doesn’t necessarily mean it is legal, and if it is not legal, then justice was never served. When comes to such extreme circumstance, people tend to follow their will to do things, because they think they have just cause.But Law does not allow people to kill others according to their own will. So here comes the ambiguous part, that people claim we don’t have to follow the Law strictly because Law is just a reflection of people’s willingness so in the case like this we may use humanitarianism as measurement to consider more for the weak rather than depending purely on Constitutions.The lawyer Jake actually uses this strategy in the film. Instead of fighting the prosecutor with hard evidence, Jake Brigance emphasizes in his closing statement only how hurtful this experience must be for a parent so we can’t say Carl Lee is guilty for his action(TK). But I’d say we have to stick to the Law that was established because it is the thing which we all agreed upon to use to keep our society functioning perfectly and keep the justice among everybody. So it might be reasonable for a father to act like this when his daughter was insulted, but it is not legal after all. And again it is totally unjust for the dead’s families that Carl Lee go away without being punished by the Law.

Then I will talk about Jake’s closing statement itself. I find it very touching after hearing all his words, but I also find it incomprehensive for a proper closing statement on court. Instead of providing his strongest point to compete with prosecutor’s points, Jake uses pure emotional language to tell the jurors a horrible experience. He can actually tell the hard evidence with emotions to make his point stronger, but he uses all his sentiment, which makes me think of an idea proposed by Martin L. Hoffman in his paper about “Victim-impact statement and empathy bias”(252). Empathy plays a great role in court decision making process,it makes us feel what the victim feels so that we can make more suitable decision according to it. But empathy could play its role correctly if and only if we had fully understood its limitations. The “Victim-impact statement and empathy bias” demonstrates how the heartbreaking statement that victim made would affect judge and jurors’ decision largely because they will be moved so much by the emotional attachment with one person that they will neglect many rational features,like evidence and essence of Law, when they come to their final decisions(Hoffman 253). In this case, the defendant’s lawyer Jake Brigance tells an experience that no one can tolerate. Since the jurors are all white, he even uses the sentence “now imagine she’s white”(TK) to make them feel more emotionalized that most of them were brimming with tears at last. Under such emotionalized mood, I don’t think the jurors consider rationally about this case when deciding.Without considering the essence of killing, they all tend to think about their families, their children. So the final decision is totally unjust for the prosecutor’s families because no one is considering for them.

Though I’m arguing in this article that justice was not prevailed in the film because I think Carl Lee’s acquitting at last makes dead’s family receive no justice, from a different perspective, Jake Brigance’s closing statement makes the society start to think more about what is right for different colored people since Jake successfully makes all the white jurors from a place where racial discrimination is so overwhelming feel involved with a black man. I think this is the justice that the Black should receive at the time—to be considered. But for the court arguing, the decision is undoubtedly unjust for the two white guys’ family.

The Court should be the most just place one can ever find on this planet, because it represents authority. It’s like a perfect scale, a scale to measure who should be protected and who should be punished. And the weight on the scale should never be affected by things other than the Grand Constitution itself. Empathy, however, is like smaller weight on the scale that makes the balance even more precise. But too much empathy would ruin the balance as well. Many agree today that involving empathy as a measurement on court will bring more humane and accurate decision since jurors can feel as the victim or the prosecutor feels, and they may understand the situation more clearly. But Jake Brigance’s closing statement clearly put too much empathy weight on Carl Lee’s side so that Carl Lee finally walks away from killing two people. Thus I hereby conclude justice is not fully promoted in the movie A Time To Kill.

 

 

 
Works Cited:

A Time To Kill,directed by Joel Schumacher
Warner Bros. Pictures,1966

Hoffman, Martin L., “Empathy,Justice and the Law”, Empathy:Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives,Ed. Amy Coplan,Peter Goldie, Oxford University Press,2011,252-253.

Mr. Brigance’s closing statement

In the movie A Time To Kill ,the defendent’s lawyer, Jake Brigance has to denfend for the poor father Carl Lee Hailey whose daughter was cruely raped and injured by two white adults,while Carl Lee killed those two cruel guys on his own hand. Surely Jack Brigance has used more than one strategy to compete with the prosecuter, but facing the overwhelming unfair treatment to the Black, Jake at last chose not to use his long-prepared statement draft but to try to make the jurors feel what Carl Lee felt by telling them a story.

Jake Brigance makes the jurors imagine a scenario in their haed. He walks them through the whole process which little Tonya has once been through. He specifically emphasized each movement during the process—that how those two animals tore her clothes off, how they tied her up and beat her again and again; how little Tonya screamed helplessly and how badly she’s been ruined at last. I can tell that this tragedy happened on a pure and innocent little girl walking happily on the way back home for dinner has made all of the jurors started to feel a little bit uncomfortable at this point,since some of the juror are frowned. Jake continues his story quite emotionally by emphasizing how those guys feel indifferent about ruining the girl, how they treat this sin as a “Practice target”.Mr. Brigance actually knows that it is impossible for him to fight for a Negro on such case in the south fairly with hard evidence and reasons, so what he is doing is shifting the anger to those two bastards instead of Carl Lee Hailey and make them empathize the poor father. In order to accomplish his goal Mr. Brignance changed the scenario abruptly in his last sentence which says ” Now imagine the girl is white”. All of a sudden the shocking faces appeared all over the court because all of a sudden every white indicidual feels included.

Carl Lee Hailey has been proved not quity at last. I think it is surely because of Jake’s scenario has arouse jurors’ empathy in little Tonya as well as in Carl Lee Hailey. Beside the overwhelming racial descrimination toward the Black at the time, I think why many people and jurors initially think that Carl Lee Hailey should be sentenced to death is that no other people except Carl Lee himself can understand why he did it,instead, those outsiders tend to judge Carl Lee’s action without considering his motive. People can’t generate empathy in Carl Lee because they are just like a reader of a story and such tragedy has never happened to themselves before. But the great lawyer Jake Brigance has successfully make people believe that they may never understand Carl Lee even though they try to put themselves in his shoes,but considering the pain and abuse that little Tonya has gone through may happen to every one of their own children,suddenly everyone feels like he or she is in this situation. It works amazingly well and every juror was moved and shocked after Jake’s statement.

As Jake’s teacher said before, this case is quite a special one. No matter Carl Lee Hailey was proved guity or not guity at last, it’ll have quite an impact on people’s view at the time. So I think though Jake Brignace’s scenario aimed to make jurors feel empathy for Carl Lee, it works even better to make all people presented in court,all people in the scociety feel empathy for the Black, and make them see the unjust treatment the Black have received now and then. Once people have known the fact, it becomes much easier for them to put themselves in Carl Lee Hailey’s shoes.

Works cited.

A Time To Kill, directed by Joel Schumacher

Warner Bros. Pictures,1966

The defence

Long ago since the creation of Constitution, the place of the court has always been undebatable. Yet throughout my whole career life I’ve never seen a case so rash and so unmeticulous like this.Lack of medical evidence raised by third party, lack of the formal interrogation done  by enforcers, this case has been brought directly to the court to be a total farce and to be someone’s redemption for his or her own guilt. It makes me wonder again and again what is the real purpose behind all this, and what is the real reason that can account for all today’s shoutings and hysterical quarrels exploded on the court.So let’s start again and see what is really going on.

Tom Robinson, a negro, had his left-hand hurt badly during an accident when he was just a boy. The only functional hand he possesses now is his right. However, our poor Ms. Mayella was beaten seriously on her right face which suggests she was actually beaten by a man who is left-handed. Furthermore, the official testimony from our sheriff indicated that the guy who beats and “probably” rapes Mayella was once grabbing her neck and trying to choke her, however the traces on her neck, as we may see, show that the perpetrator has to have both hands on her neck to cause such serious injuries.Beside the unquestionable evidence mentioned above, countless flaws and contradictions exist in prosecutors’ statement. The most confusing and unreasonable part of Mr. Ewell’s statement is that why didn’t he run to the doctors at the very first place when witnessing his own daughter was that seriously injured. This action makes me doubt the reason for him to call Sheriff is not his instinct but is a planned move. So Tom Robinson can’t be proved guilty by prosecutors’ testimony, what is behind all their anger?

It’s guilt.It is Ms. Mayella’s guilt for kissing a young and strong black man.It is Ms. Mayella’s guilt annoys her that she wants Tom to disappear. She felt sinful for wanting a black man due to our distorted social trend nowadays—that the Blacks are black because they’re inferior people. Now I urge all of you in this court to consider why is Tom different from us? He needs food as we do too, he needs to sleep at night as we all do too, and he thinks in his head like all we do too. He is a human as we all do, but the reason we can’t accept his “sorry” for a white lady is just he’s black. Why? Why in god’s name would we praise out ancestors every day for declaring independence while forgetting that there’s a belief in their heart that shouts ” All men are created equal” ! Gentlemen, as the greatest levelers that directly demonstrate justice, as the weights that would be put on the scale to make it balance, I urge you to consider both the hard evidence that is presented in court, and the rightness of our values today. I urge you to put down the bias and strange beliefs that once rooted in your heart and think rationally. I urge you to think twice, let’s bring Tom home.

Summary about the article

In the article Empathy,Justice, and Law, the Author Martin L. Hoffman has discussed mainly about how empathy works on individual and how empathy plays a significant role in Law-establishing. He first provides his definition on affective empathy and then shifts to elaborate how this works on a single person — what our inner mind movement would be when we have witnessed something bad happened on others and how do these progresses in our mind form up when we are still a child. After provides several stages of how we would be affected by others’ distress and how we develop our own empathy system, Hoffman uses people’s extremely strong empathetic reaction toward those who suffer from unjust treatment as a connection in his article to link empathy to decision making in Supreme Court Room.  After Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin has prepared people for the dark side of the world, the segregation of the Black and White students in school challenges people’s understanding of the fairness. Hoffman states the example of how empathy makes judges consider the injustice and hurtfulness of “separate but equal” policy and finally decides to include the Black to school with white students. He then strengthens empathy’s role by giving the example of allowing women to have complete right to control their mind and body, which in the case is the decision to allow abortion. But then he also points out that there are fragile parts of empathy too in decision making such as people will tend to be more inclined to those who share close relationship with them and that will often swipe out justice and fairness from their decisions.Then after discussing about the drawbacks of empathetic bias in court, that is  whether we should let jury hear the distressful victim’s statement because it is so emotional that would probably affect the judge’s decision, Hoffman comes to a conclusion. He states that empathy as a role in court room and in Law-establishing is extremely important but not good enough.Though it indeed lays the path for us to understand what is needed to make a through decision, the way to make it perfect should be understanding the vulnerability of empathy and eliminating the bias that will exist when empathy goes too far.