Empowering or Unhealthy: The media weigh in on plus-size modelling

By Amelia Chadwick z5016373 (H12A)

Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated (SI), a magazine perhaps more famed for the beautiful women of their ‘Swimsuit Edition’ than their sporting content, made headlines when they featured their first ever ‘plus size’ cover girl.

At an Australian size 16, Ashley Graham ‘made history’ as the curviest woman ever to receive the prestigious title of cover model for SI’s Swimsuit Edition; a feat met with overwhelming positivity and support from the media, sparking headlines such as: Ashley Graham Covers The ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swimsuit Edition Because #Progress’ (Refinery29), Ashley Graham Looks Amazing on the Cover of Sports Illustrated’ (New York Magazine) and ‘Sports Illustrated Makes History With Ashley Graham Cover’ (Bustle).

A topic of great social significance in the 21st century, many plus-size modelling advocates have long argued that increasing ‘body diversity’ in the modelling industry is essential for changing normalised perceptions of ‘unrealistic beauty standards’ (Kovar, 2009); which can be physically and psychologically damaging to girls and women and often lead to low self esteem, depression and eating disorders (Grabe, 2008).

With research on the issue becoming particularly loud in the past few years, the majority public opinion has largely shifted to reflect the negative findings on the matter and support for the ‘plus-size’ and ‘body positivity’ movements are at an all time high (Bazillian, 2016). The attitude is one that has also been largely adopted by the media, where issues regarding plus size models are generally approached supportively or objectively. However, with growing body positive movements encouraging the acceptance of all body types and the use of plus sized models becoming more ‘mainstream’, there have also been expressions of concern.

Several opponents to plus size modeling argue that using plus size models actually encourage obesity, claiming the more we include bigger models in mainstream media, the more ‘normalized’ having a larger figure becomes. In line with this view, plus size Sports Illustrated cover girl Ashley Graham has been criticized for encouraging ‘unhealthiness’ owing to her plus-size figure. Several public figures, including former Tory MP Edwina Currie, YouTuber Nicole Arbour (of ‘Dear Fat People’ infamy) and former Sports Illustrated cover girl Cheryl Tiegs, have all publicly staked claims that Graham is ‘obese’, ‘unhealthy’ and a figure generally detrimental to public health.

In seeking an inclusive insight as to the media portrayal of the plus size modeling trend, beyond just reporting on the ‘new feats accomplished in the movement’, I have chosen to analyze the way in which the media portrays plus size modeling as a healthy and positive movement, even in the face of criticism from public figures. In doing so I will examine articles addressing claims that plus size modeling supports an unhealthy lifestyle or encourages obesity, with reference to articles exploring comments made by Currie, Tiegs and Arbour about Ashley Graham.

 In analyzing media coverage on the matter I found number of articles, including (but not limited to) the following:

  1. Ashley Graham is beautiful, curvy and the picture of health – but is she really obese? (The Daily Mirror)
  2. There’s an ugly backlash against the plus-size model Sports Illustrated put on its cover (Business Insider Australia)
  3. Edwina Currie slams plus-size models and claims size 14 is obese and unhealthy (The Sun)
  4. Ashley Graham: Size 14 women are ‘obese and heading for diabetes’, says former Tory MP Edwina Currie (The Independent UK)
  5. Edwina Currie calls size 14 model Ashley Graham ‘obese’ in attack on curvy catwalk stars (The Daily Mirror)
  6. Cheryl Tiegs, Who Is Not a Doctor, Says Cover Girl Ashley Graham Is ‘Unhealthy’ (Jezebel)
  7. PEOPLE ARE CALLING THIS SIZE 14 MODEL “OBESE” (LOOK UK)
  8. Size 14? Edwina Currie says you’re obese (Metro UK)
  9. Cheryl Tiegs Doesn’t Think Sports Illustrated’s Fuller-Figured Model Ashley Graham Is ‘Healthy’ (US Weekly)

On quickly assessing the general ‘vibe’ of these headlines, we may note that the majority seemingly come to the defense of Ashley Graham and plus size models. Words like ‘slammed’ and ‘attack’ negatively assess the comments, making them seem cruel and unfounded. We also see a trend of positive evaluation directed toward Graham and plus-size models, with terms such as ‘curvy’, ‘beautiful’, and ‘curvy catwalk stars’ being used to describe the group. The frequent inclusion of ‘size 14’, which is the average dress size in UK and USA, is also noteworthy, as it serves to make the ‘criticisms’ seem particularly outrageous; implicitly conveying that it is ridiculous to suggest a woman of this ‘average’ could be obese.

For the purpose of analyzing the most prevalent media portrayal of this topic, I will refer mainly to two articles that have taken the majority stance: reacting defensively to criticism of plus-size models as ‘encouraging obesity’. Firstly I will examine a views journalism piece by Mallory Schlossberg for the Business Insider Australia titled ‘There’s an ugly backlash against the plus-size model Sports Illustrated put on its cover’. Secondly, I will look into a hard news piece: ‘Ashley Graham is beautiful, curvy and the picture of health – but is she really obese? by Rachel Dobson for the Daily Mirror. I will also make reference to a third article, in support of findings from my main articles: ‘Cheryl Tiegs criticises Sports Illustrated for ‘glamorising’ size 14 model Ashley Graham, causes enormous Twitter row’ by Olivia Waring for The Metro UK. By utilizing these varied sources, and addressing several matters regarding the proposed notion that plus-size models are ‘unhealthy’, I aim to illustrate how the media is generally supportive of ‘plus-size’ modeling movement, portraying the industry as having several perceived benefits on society.

Looking firstly into Mallory Schlossberg’s piece ‘There’s an ugly backlash against the plus-size model Sports Illustrated put on its cover’, we are able to immediately identify that the piece is not supportive of criticism against Graham or plus-size modeling. By describing the criticism as ‘ugly’ Schlossberg negatively evaluates the validity of the criticism, painting it in a disagreeable light and setting the tone for her article.

The article was published in the Business Insider Australia on the 28th February 2016, a publication generally noted for its professional and educated readership. The publication as such generally maintains a progressive stance on matters like plus size modeling and body positivity. It is thus understandable that in her opinion piece, Schlossberg addresses her audience as though they agree with her positive view on plus-size modeling, taking the viewers agreement for granted from the lead:

‘When Sports Illustrated announced that curvy supermodel Ashley Graham would be featured in its annual swimsuit edition, there was a lot of positive feedback.

After all, Graham would be the first truly plus-size woman to be featured in its pages.’

Here, Schlossberg addresses Graham’s cover as though it is something deserving of positive feedback. She uses the phrase ‘After all’ to imply that Graham being the first plus-size model to be featured in Sports Illustrated is indeed a feat worthy of positive reaction. We might identify here that the author is assuming the readership already shares her worldview (that the increased integration of plus sized models into the mainstream media is a positive thing), and thus does not require convincing with justifications as to why it is positive. She then goes on to address the criticism of Graham:

‘Still, despite the celebration surrounding Graham’s success, some vocal outliers have criticized Graham.’

A negatively geared characterization of Graham’s criticizers as ‘outliers’, depicts opponents to plus-size modeling as an outcast group. She implies this group falls outside the general social norms embraced by most, who have reacted to Graham’s accomplishment with a ‘celebration of Graham’s success’ – strengthening her portrayal of plus-size modeling as something to be embraced.

Introducing Teig’s comments, Schlossberg describes them as ‘lambasting’; a negative evaluative term that suggests the author finds her comments overly harsh. The author then addresses one of Tieg’s main claims:

[for a woman to be healthy] your waist should be smaller than 35…That’s what Dr. Oz said, and I’m sticking to it’

Schlossberg counters this claim by trivializing the integrity of her source, TV doctor Mehmet Oz by saying his ‘…credibility has been called into question’. She supports this claim by hyperlinking to a supporting article about Oz titled ‘Half the things the most powerful doctor in America recommends don’t seem to be supported by science’. In doing so, Schlossberg is able to externally justify her refute and imply it is widely known Oz is not the most ‘credible’ source.

Schlossberg then issues an appeal to facts in a bid to expel notions put forth by Tieg that plus models can’t be healthy as well as ‘plus-size’, and will ‘suffer in the long run’:

‘The joke’s on Tiegs, though, because when Graham appeared on “Good Morning America” in November alongside a size 2 model, several tests revealed that both she and the thinner model had healthy blood pressure, HBA1C, and LDL levels. They both were in good shape, too.’

This appeal to fact employs scientific proof as evidence of Graham’s physical fitness, dispelling Tieg’s claim that plus-size women are not healthy. Informing the readership that both of the models exhibit healthy test results despite their difference in body shape works to support Schlossberg’s central claim that ‘healthiness and ‘plus-sizeness’ are not mutually exclusive’. In utilizing ‘fact’ Schlossberg also makes her opinion seem more credible than Tiegs, who ‘the joke’s on’ – a phrase implicitly attacking Tieg’s character, suggesting that in Tieg’s attempt to make Graham look bad, she has only reflected poorly on herself.

Schlossberg then goes on to dispel criticism by Nicole Arbour that suggests plus size women cannot be athletic (and thus, healthy) by informing readers that Graham is athletic, despite being plus-size:

‘Arbour denounced Sports Illustrated for putting Graham in a “sports magazine that celebrates athleticism,” but Graham works out. A look at Graham’s Instagram page proves that’s true.’

In support of this claim Schlossberg presents the above Instagram image as evidence. Not only does this image serve as visual support for Schlossberg’s claim that Graham is athletic, and by default healthy, but the inclusion of the original caption serves to portray Graham as promoting such traits in others. An example of this promotion of health may be identified in the use of the hashtag ‘moveyourbody’ – a tag presumably included by Graham to encourage others to partake in exercise.

The strategic inclusion of this particular image and caption implicitly conveys the positive influence that Graham, and other plus models, can have on the health of others even in their day-to-day life. In solidifying further the implication of Graham as a positive health role model, Schlossberg includes a quote from Graham in which she explicitly outlines that being a plus size model doesn’t mean she promotes obesity.

“There’s a [size] double 0 now. It’s a little scary on both spectrums of weight. I’m not a promoter of anorexia. I’m not a promoter of obesity. I think we have to promote women to be healthy at every size as long as they’re getting off the couch and moving their body,” she said to Ellen DeGeneres.”

By quoting the model being criticized Schlossberg adds another layer of characterization, wherein not only are plus-models viewed as ‘healthy’ themselves, but they are also portrayed as wanting to promote health to others; as is supported by the inclusion of Graham’s quote ‘We have to promote women to be healthy at every size’.

 In the hard news article Ashley Graham is beautiful, curvy and the picture of health – but is she really obese?’ for UK tabloid-newspaper The Daily Mirror (29/2/16), Rachel Dobson also writes on the criticism of Graham and plus-size modeling as ‘encouraging obesity’ – this time in relation to criticisms by former UK MP Edwina Currie. Unlike Schlossberg, who refuted the validity of criticism with counter argumentation and factual claims, Dobson maintains an objective news style throughout her article (with the exception of the odd evaluative term), allowing her strategically curated ‘expert’ opinions to do all the convincing for her. She begins:

Edwina Currie has caused a storm with her comments about the 29-year-old model from Nebraska – but experts say the former MP has got it all wrong’ [Lead/Grab]

‘She’s [Graham] beautiful, curvy and the picture of health…Most women would kill to look like the 29-year-old from Nebraska.’

 ‘Yet former Tory health minister Edwina Currie, on BBC Breakfast on Sunday, accused her of being obese, and said Ashley was in danger of becoming diabetic, and even of developing dodgy knees and hips. She was panned for her opinion but defiant Edwina told the Mirror that showing pictures of plus-size models is encouraging obesity.’

Like Schlossberg’s article, from the outset of her article Dobson suggests the unpopularity of Currie’s view (‘she was panned’) and divergence from social norms and opinions (‘most women would kill to look like the 29-year old’) that Currie’s views on Graham represent, implicitly suggesting she must be wrong about these opinions if they are so disagreeable to ‘most’ people.

The article promptly dives into exploring a range of oppositional responses from several ‘experts’ who reject Currie’s view. Firstly the article introduces commentary by Natasha Devon, Ashley’s friend, [and] former model…who now advises the government on mental health and body image, and runs charity [sic], the Self Esteem Team’.

Devon’s areas of expertise, outlined by Dobson as being ‘mental health’ ‘body image’ and ‘self esteem’, are all areas very publically recognized as being linked to the adverse affects of the modeling industry—making her ‘expert’ opinion on Currie’s claims seem particularly credible to the reader. Her quoted material directly refutes Curries claims of plus as unhealthy, saying:

 “Human bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, and models like Ashley provide much needed diversity on our high streets. There is no evidence to suggest that plus-size models make us eat and eat and try to gain weight. But models who are size zero can act as a trigger for girls vulnerable to eating disorders.”

 “We need to teach our children that there is not just one way to be healthy. Bodies come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes and, with the right food and exercise, they are all healthy.”

 The constant reiteration of human bodies as ‘coming in all shapes and sizes’ tied with the idea that you can be healthy in any one of these, is something made very explicit in quotes by Devon, who argues: “you can be a size 14/16 and eat healthily and exercise regularly, or be a size zero and be healthy’. Dobson also includes a quote from Devon in which she rebuts claims by Currie that plus models encourage obesity, by issuing an appeal to fact and comparison:

There is no evidence to suggest that plus-size models make us eat and eat and try to gain weight. But models who are size zero can act as a trigger for girls vulnerable to eating disorders’

Here, Dobson advances an argument that there is no evidence as to any detrimental health impacts of plus-models, whereas slim models encourage poor health habits. This inclusion implies plus-models are a beneficial addition to the modeling world as they remove pressures from ‘vulnerable’ girls who have been lead to idolize slenderness. The author then includes a quote from Devon directly accusing Currie of being not credible:

“Edwina Currie’s comments are ill thought out. She doesn’t have a great track record in what she says and I wonder if she’s said this to be inflammatory.”

Through the inclusion of this quote, the author substantiates an ad hominem argument against Currie, in which she remains ‘impartial’ as it is not explicitly her opinion given. By leaving it to her third party sources to question the credibility and ‘track record’ of Currie, Dobson is able to simultaneously lowers Currie’s perceived credibility and heighten the integrity of her experts – whom are all too familiar with Currie’s past ‘inflammatory comments’.

Dobson also mounts an argument against Currie’s claim that plus models cause obesity, referencing Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, who campaigns to get the government fighting the obesity epidemic’. As an expert who, owing to his job title, is presumably very knowledgeable on the obesity epidemic, the inclusion of his outright statement that ‘Edwina’s comments are ridiculous,’ and that ‘Pictures of Ashley are not going to entice an women to become obese,’ further substantiate an ad hominem argument against Currie’s credibility. These inclusions also seemingly aim to put to rest claims that plus-size models and the obesity epidemic may be linked, relying on Fry’s opinion that plus-women will not ‘entice’ women to become obese – despite a lack of factual justification.

Outside of utilizing the quotes of experts to substantiate an argument that plus size models are indeed healthy; Dobson includes multimedia to implicitly reinforce this.

The above video of Ashley Graham working out is inserted in the post towards the end of the article. Like Schlossberg’s article, the content has been sourced from Graham’s social media account, however it’s location in the article has little relevancy to the text above or below. Instead the video, which shows Graham performing an intense work out, serves to visually remind people nearing the end of the article that indeed plus models are inarguably fit and healthy—because isn’t athleticism is the ultimate demonstration of these traits?

Following suit with the trend to include content from social media in order to reinforce a message, in her article Cheryl Tiegs criticises Sports Illustrated for ‘glamorising’ size 14 model Ashley Graham, causes enormous Twitter row’ for The Metro, Olivia Waring lists various tweets from the public’s response to Tiegs comments. In doing so, Waring reinforces the lack of progressiveness of Tieg’s comments by way of third-party opinion and advances an ad hominem argument against Tiegs and her ‘right’ to comment:

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-10-54-10-amscreen-shot-2016-11-03-at-10-50-25-am

As with the first two articles, the inclusion of numerous disagreeing third-party opinions (this time in the form of tweets) again enforce the notion that Tiegs’ comments are not in sync with socially normative opinions on the matter, and thus should not be agreed with. These inclusions work to position readers to agree with the ‘majority’ opinion, without Waring having to explicitly state her view.

The author then discredits Teig’s suggestion that plus models are unhealthy because ‘your waist should be smaller than 35 [inches]’ and states that Graham’s waist is in fact, below that size anyway:

‘Tiegs – the first woman to appear twice on the cover of SI’s swimsuit issue – is apparently unaware 28-year-old Ashley’s waist size is actually 29.5 inches.’

Including this fact, despite the questionable nature of Tiegs’ suggestion that ‘waist measurement directly correlates with health’, is particularly telling as it suggests even though Tieg obviously thinks otherwise, Graham even meets the cutoff for her numerical standard of ‘health’.

Waring proceeds to end the article with an appeal to comparison wherein she insinuates that even ‘Barbie’ (a doll that has historically represented only the ‘ideal body’) has already embraced the body diversity movement, while Teig’s opinions situate her as lagging behind the progressive majority of ‘21st century’ thinkers:

‘Come on, Cheryl. Even Barbie’s already adapted. It’s time to join the 21st century.’

Ultimately, the aforementioned articles have provided just a small sample of the media’s positive portrayal of the ‘plus-size movement’. On a whole the media seemingly portrays the trend as something to be considered ‘progressive’ and ‘perfectly healthy’, often implying the trend has significant benefits on society (such as a positive influence on health and body image). By focusing on these three articles, which specifically address criticisms of the movement as promoting ‘obesity’ or ‘an unhealthy lifestyle’, we have been able to garner a more insightful look into how deeply engrained this positive and supportive stance really is. While Schlossberg’s views article relies much on factual appeals to portray plus-size models as healthy role-models, it also encompasses much strategic quoting to discredit criticizers and position readers to view their critiques as being outside of the social norms. This is a theme common across the articles, and both Dobson and Waring also utilize quotes to suggest opposition to the movement is not socially acceptable. While Dobson’s piece was on a whole ‘objective’, the utilization of three expert opinions and strategic quoting resulted in an article which skewed readers to understand the expert opinions as being more credible, and thus to adopt their view that ‘plus modeling and health are not mutually exclusive’, and that the movement encourages a healthy lifestyle.

 

REFERENCES

ARTICLES ANALYSED:

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/ashley-graham-sports-illustrated-backlash-2016-2

 http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/ashley-graham-beautiful-curvy-picture-7467150

http://metro.co.uk/2016/02/26/cheryl-tiegs-criticises-sports-illustrated-for-glamorising-size-14-model-ashley-graham-causes-enormous-twitter-row-5719980/

ACADEMIC REFERENCES:

Grabe, Shelly, Janet Hyde, and L. Monique Ward. “The Role of the Media in Body Image Concerns Among Women: A Meta-Analysis of Experimental and Correlational Studies.” Psychological Bulletin 134.3 (2008): 460-476.

Effects of the Media on Body Image by Allie Kovar, Vanderbilt Univeristy, April 30, 2009: https://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/2009/BodyImageMedia.htm

OTHER REFERENCES:

https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/268636/edwina-currie-slams-plus-size-models-and-claims-size-14-is-obese-and-unhealthy/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/ashley-graham-model-14-plus-size-edwina-currie-a6901141.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/edwina-currie-calls-size-14-7457140

http://jezebel.com/cheryl-tiegs-who-is-not-a-doctor-says-cover-girl-ashl-1761419577

http://www.look.co.uk/fashion/ashley-graham-called-overweight-by-edwina-currie-and-cheryl-tiegs-210872

http://metro.co.uk/2016/02/29/size-14-edwina-currie-says-youre-obese-5724178/

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/beauty/face-body/study-claims-plussize-models-may-contribute-to-obesity-epidemic-and-unhealthy-lifestyle-choices/news-story/9742de8fb4ef04633b2a67681bf5d376

Media Analysis 2 Proposal – Amelia Chadwick (z5016373), H12A

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The topic I have chosen to analyse for this assignment regards a young Australian couple who both have down syndrome (Taylor Anderton 21, and Michael Cox  25) , and the question of whether they should be allowed to follow their dream of having children together.

Much controversy was stirred following the appearance of the engaged couple on Australian Story, where they expressed a strong desire to have children (four to be exact)– much to their parents concern.

Both sets of parents expressed a strong apprehension about this desire, and neither think they should have children. This belief brought into play talks of sterilisation and commentary by the PWDA  (People with Disabilities Australia) who think they should be allowed to.

I will be analysing two articles which present opinionated commentary on the couples desire to have children and the opinions of the parents. Specifically I will explore two oppositional stances adopted in 2-3 opinion pieces:

  1. Supporting the parents opinion they SHOULD NOT be allowed to have children (two articles yet to decide which to use)
  2. Supporting the PWDA outlook that they SHOULD be allowed to have children

PAYING THE PRICE: BALI DUO AND THE DEATH PENALTY.

 

Amelia Chadwick.

The debate surrounding death sentences awarded to infamous drug smugglers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan of the Bali Nine proved one of the biggest and most divisive controversies addressed by the Australian media in 2015. After spending the best part of a decade behind bars for attempting to smuggle 8.3 kg of heroin from Indonesia to Australia, the two men were executed on 29th of April 2015, following several unsuccessful appeals and even pleas for clemency from the Australian government. In the lead up to their execution, we saw the rekindling a debate that has raged on for decades.

 

This debate of course, was the divisive question of whether capital punishment is indeed a fitting penalty for any crime, regardless of how severe the crime may be, and whether in fact anyone should have the right to enforce such a severe punishment in the first place. Though outlawed in most parts of Australia since the mid twentieth century, Australia’s strong opinions against the punishment were solidified decades later in 2010, with the passing of legislation prohibiting the re-establishment of capital punishment by any state or territory in Australia. One article expressing similar sentiment to such an opinion is Bali nine duo executions: Two wrongs don’t make a right’ by Madonna King of the Sydney Morning Herald (March 5 2015). The article, published one month before the execution, claims the duo ‘do not deserve to die for their actions’ because of the overly severe and ‘immoral’ nature of the penalty. Though a large proportion of Australians might agree with King, there is an alternate, less popular argument suggesting the duo ‘do deserve to die for their actions’. One such article in favour of the latter view is ‘OPINION: ‘Bali Nine ringleaders deserve to die’ by Adam Davies of the Sunshine Coast Daily (28th Apr 2015). Published only a day prior to the executions, Davies’ article is interesting as though the author disagrees with capital punishment he argues the right of a country to have it’s laws respected.

 

Both articles maintain a largely ‘flag waving’ mode of addressing readers, with each article assuming the average reader is sympathetic to Chan and Sukumaran, and accepting they disagree, on some level, with the Indonesian government’s choice to enforce the death penalty. King assumes this view is shared between herself and her readers, and as such she works not to persuade, but rather to solidify the reader’s ‘existing opinion’. On the other hand, Davies, who also assumes readers align themselves with King’s outlook, attempts to persuade readers away from their existing opinions, and instead to consider, by way of much counter argumentation, why the men may deserve the punishment.

Firstly, on examining King’s article we are able to establish almost immediately the author’s vigorous disagreement with the forthcoming execution, and indeed her disapproval for the death sentence as a form of punishment. The title of King’s piece Bali nine duo executions: Two wrongs don’t make a right’, makes use of a familiar adage that is loaded with connotations of morality. The phrase is a cue that sees readers who are familiar with the Bali Duo piecing together the author’s view that capital punishment is ‘wrong’, before even reading the first sentence.

It is obvious from early on that the article is of a largely evaluative nature, with the use of evaluative terms such as ‘crude’, ‘immoral’, ‘inhumane’ and ‘murder’ serving to assist in delivering assertions based largely on opinion from the outset. Thus, we are able to discern that King’s article is dependant more on her personal conclusions than actual argumentation.

King’s central claim is that Andrew Chan and Myuran should not be executed because capital punishment is wrong and ‘immoral’ which she denotes reasonably explicitly throughout the article:

‘The execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran has so many flaws it’s hard to know where to begin. Should it be with the crude and immoral legal rule of a state to sanction a killing?’

King begins by claiming that the execution of the duo has ‘so many flaws’ she doesn’t know where to begin, justifying by way of ethical appeal that the ability of a government to carry out capital punishment is crude and ‘immoral’. Without explicitly defining this contentious term, it is evident that King feels her readers are already in agreement with her as to what is or is not ‘immoral’. In reality, the boundaries of morality are subject to much debate, and are usually dependent on personal values and religious beliefs. King does not justify her labelling of capital punishment as ‘immoral’, and thus it is evident that she assumes her readers share the worldview that it is unquestionably ‘wrong’.

King’s anecdotal opening sentence also helps to establish her sense of morality:

‘Forty years ago, as a young child, my mother warned me that two wrongs never made a right. My elder brother had lashed out and hit me, and I was quick to gift him a return biff.

This weekend I’ll pass on the same counsel to my own daughters, now aged 10 and 11, but it won’t be a backyard scrap that the advice will be based on.

It will be the egregious, stomach-turning decision by a neighbouring government to murder two young Australians.’

This analogy likens the Indonesian sentencing of the Duo to her childhood-self returning a ‘biff’ to her brother. In doing this, King implies that the adage ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’ applies to both scenarios, which can be considered a false analogy. The analogy is false in the sense that it is perhaps disproportionate to suggest that the advice given to two small siblings in a tiff should apply to the sentencing of grown men who have committed a felony.

Making her views on the immorality of the death penalty clearer still, King utilises the word ‘murder’, a term loaded with strong negative moral connotations, rather than the word ‘execute’. Factually, the latter term is the correct way to reference the killing and by adopting criminal terminology, King implies the penalty is less of a punishment and more of a crime itself.

I feel sick writing this; sick to the core that Indonesia, a country I have both donated to, and visited, would carry out an injustice so grievous as the slaughter of two men who have shown the world the value of rehabilitation.

Here King portrays the men as shining examples of ‘men who have shown the world the value of rehabilitation,’ and in an appeal to consequences, she insinuates the men could have served as positive examples to others, had they been granted clemency. This paragraph also contains the fallacy of distraction, where King unnecessarily states Indonesia is ‘a country I have both donated to, and visited’; an inclusion that only serves to detract from the issue at hand. This inclusion may also be considered non sequitur, because counter to what the author implies, Australia’s humanitarian efforts should not have any bearing on the sentencing of criminals in Indonesia.

King goes on to claim that the executions will have no impact on the drug smuggling trade, and shifts blame for the crime onto a third party. Exasperated by the many ‘flaws’ associated with the executions, she asks rhetorically:

‘Should it be the ignorance attached to the view that Chan and Sukumaran’s death might save some other teenager from making the same mistake?’

It won’t. Drug smuggling will continue and those who roped Chan and Sukumaran into their drug ring are still free to watch someone place a sticker over their hearts, in the dead of night, before a line-up of Indonesian police officers take aim, and shoot them dead.’

King infers here that there will be no result positive enough achieved by execution, to justify the killing in the first place; an appeal to consequences that refutes the idea that the executions will deter others from acting in a similar manner to the duo. This of course is not necessarily the case, and one would assume the threat of execution would certainly act as a deterrent to teens considering smuggling drugs. Furthermore, the use of terminology such as ‘ignorant’, the depersonalisation of the fictional teen as just ‘some other teen’, and the blunt conclusion that ‘It won’t [save anyone]’, conveys sarcasm and suggests that King believes ‘others’ who don’t agree with her (and by association her readers) are plain ignorant.

King shifts blame from the duo onto those who ‘roped’ the pair into their drug ring; despite the fact Chan and Sukumaran were the ringleaders of the Bali Nine. She uses an appeal to emotion, attempting to anger readers by suggesting the unfairness of the fact the ‘ropers’ are ‘still free to watch someone place a sticker over their (Chan & Sukumaran’s) hearts, in the dead of night, before a line-up of Indonesian police officers take aim, and shoot them dead’. The evocative and detailed way in which she describes the forthcoming executions serves to further intensify the emotion evoked by the scenario. King continues:

‘Perhaps they’ll also watch the television news, and see the tormented look in the eyes of Chan and Sukumaran’s parents who will be told when their children have just 72 hours to live.

Either way, I hope those drug lords rot in hell – of natural causes.’

Here, King uses appeal to emotion in an attempt to evoke sympathy for the ‘tormented’ parents of the ‘children’ that the ‘drug lords’ roped into the drug ring. By establishing characters (the villainous ‘drug lords’, the vulnerable ‘children’ and the helpless ‘tormented’ parents) the narrative is more relatable to the average person. King then reiterates her disapproval for the death penalty, asserting that not even the real ‘drug lords’ should be subject to such a harsh penalty: ‘I hope those drug lords rot in hell – of natural causes.’

In his article, Adam Davies also expresses his aversion to capital punishment. However, unlike King, Davies separates his personal opinion from the majority of his argument, arguing that ‘Despite our personal beliefs, Indonesia has a right to enforce it’s own laws, and as such Andrew Chan and Myuram Sukumaran should be executed’. His article functions in a largely evaluative manner, offering personal opinions on the controversy and refuting many of the arguments voiced by opposition. He still however, uses negative language to emphasise his subjective views on the matter, resulting in an article is divided between opinion and genuine argumentation.

Upon introducing the topic, Davies makes immediately clear that he is speaking to those of an opposing view:

‘You would do well to steer clear of watching any breakfast television given the lather we have worked ourselves up over the execution of two drug smugglers.’

Despite using the term ‘we’, which usually implies the author considers himself part of a collective, the way in which Davies employs the word actually serves to distance himself from a wider group of Australians. His use of ‘we’ addresses Australians on a whole, but his recommendation to steer clear of ‘breakfast television’, a purveyor of popular opinion, suggests from the outset that he is addressing the reader with an ‘outsider’ perspective.

Davies then begins addressing why the men should be punished in accordance with Indonesia’s strict rules:

‘Opinion is split whether Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran deserve to die.

They knew the law and the consequences that came with breaking those laws.

But they decided to carry out their crime with a blatant disregard of those laws none-the-less and they got caught.’

Here Davies emphases the fact the men were aware of the illegal nature of their actions and the consequences their actions may have brought about. He appeals to people’s concern for legality, stressing the fact they acted criminally, and were aware of the illegal nature of their actions – inferring they should thus be held accountable with the designated punishment.

He goes on to claim people are unreasonably worked up by the situation; suggesting that by the public’s reaction, one would think they might prefer a scenario in which the men were never caught and the penalties never issued.

‘What if they managed to get their eight odd kilos of smack into Australia?

Would we have cared as much as for the thousands of families their drugs would have ruined?

I am guessing not.’

Outlining the alternative to the duo being caught, Davies counters the idea that ‘everything may have been better off’ had the pair had not been apprehended, by issuing an appeal to consequences. In his appeal he claims that the apprehension of the smugglers was indeed serving a greater good, by stopping the drugs from ‘ruining’ thousands of families. Given the dramatic nature of the claim, one might understand this particular claim as a potential example of the slippery slope; that is, to claim that if these two men had not been apprehended that thousands of families would have been ruined seems somewhat a stretch.

Davies soon after addresses rather explicitly his central claim, that though we may not agree with the punishment, the country in which the crime was committed have a right to penalise the men in accordance with their laws.

‘There are many Australians banged up in jails across the world but we do not hear much about them.

Granted, the majority are not facing being hauled out in the middle of the night, lined up and shot dead for their crimes.

But at the end of the day that is the law in Indonesia and it has every right to carry out punishment as it sees fit.’

Davies acknowledges that the men are in an exceptional circumstance, and it is natural for the citizens of a country free of capital punishment to be alarmed. He places emphasis on the process of the killing, ‘hauled out in the middle of the night, lined up and shot dead for their crimes’, which gives insight as to the authors personal perspective on the punishment, seemingly that he is sympathetic to the opinion of the reader. However, Davies soon after dismisses his personal opinion, implying despite his beliefs that ‘at the end of the day that is the law in Indonesia and it has every right to carry out punishment as it sees fit’.

In rebuff to the popular opinion the duo were rehabilitated, as was addressed in King’s piece, Davies had this to say:

Sure the drug smugglers may have been rehabilitated, but most people would be able to pick up a paint brush or find God if their lives depended on it.

Sure after spending the best part of a decade banged up in an Indonesian jail they have learnt their lesson.

But irrespective of all that . . . they are still two drug traffickers.

Ultimately we are only up in arms about their looming execution because they are Australian – let’s be honest with ourselves.

Davies emphasises it is human nature for people to do whatever it takes to survive, in the case of the duo, this being ‘rehabilitation’. In an example of an appeal to authority, Davies dismisses the credibility of the duo by calling them by their crime, ‘the drug smugglers’, rather than by name, and suggests their rehabilitation cannot necessarily proven because they are untrustworthy.

Davies continues by asserting that despite their supposed rehabilitation, the men ‘are still two drug traffickers’, and goes on to stakes a claim that the only reason we care about the execution is ‘because they are Australian’. In this claim Davies appeals to the reader’s to ethical and legal concerns. The claim sets about making the reader feel guilty for their outrage, and begs the question ‘why should we put Australian’s above the law?’. From this claim we can catch a glimpse of the authors underlying warrant and worldview for the argument: that all people must follow the law.

An analysis of these two oppositional articles reveal two very different kinds of argumentation directed at the same readership. King’s piece argues to solidify what she believes to be the existing opinion of her readers, employing a rant-like style of argumentation. On the other hand Davies, who also addresses a readership with worldview similar to King’s, attempts to persuade the readers away from their existing opinions to share his worldview. Both authors employ effective argumentative tactics to convince their readers of their view, however, despite their oppositional views on whether or not Indonesia should enforce the death penalty, both address the same general argumentative points in order to convey their message.

Links to articles:

http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/opinion-bali-nine-ringleaders-deserve-die/2621728/

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/that-thinking-feeling/bali-nine-duo-executions-two-wrongs-dont-make-a-right-20150304-13v13g.html

Views Journalism Analysis 1 Proposal: Amelia Chadwick H12A

 

– The topic or subject area of the views-journalism items you are proposing to deal with in your 1st written assignment:

 The topic I have chosen to analyse for this assignment is the media coverage surrounding the lead up to the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran of the Bali Nine.

  • Specifically, I will explore the two main oppositional stances commonly adopted by the media during the period:
    • a) Supporting the decision of the Indonesian government to apply the death penalty
    • b) Condemning the decision of the Indonesian government to apply the death penalty

– The headline/title/name etc of the items  (or a brief designator if a broadcast item) and information on where and when they were published/broadcast:

Article #1 Title: OPINION: ‘Bali Nine ringleaders deserve to die’

Article #2 Title: Bali nine duo executions: Two wrongs don’t make a right

– One paragraph summarising what you believe are going to be your primary conclusions – i.e.what you anticipate will be the main point of your intended article.

  • The main point of my article (as I understand it to be at present) will be to analyse these two very negatively geared articles (with oppositional stances) as to whether Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran of the Bali Nine ‘deserve to die’ (note: this is not ‘deserved’, as the articles are from the media coverage prior to their execution).
  • Though both articles address readers with the assumption they do not support the Indonesian Government’s decision to follow through with the death penalty, the first article attempts to persuade readers that the decision was ‘fair’, as the two men are criminals who ‘knew the law and the consequences that came with breaking those laws’. On the other hand, the second article takes an oppositional view, describing Indonesia’s follow-through of their law as an ‘egregious, stomach-turning decision by a neighbouring government to murder two young Australians’,
  • My aim is to analyse these two arguments and evaluate the similarities and differences by comparing claims, justifications and warrants, and taking into account how their arguments are shaped by different world views and ingrained opinions.