Kim Kardashian Deserves to Die

Kim Kardashian West is well-known as an American reality television personality, socialite, businesswoman and model. She was first introduced to the world in 2007 through a leaked sex-tape and since then has become a public figure who is famous for being famous. On October 2, 2016, while in Paris, Kardashian was tied up, gagged and robbed at gunpoint inside her hotel suite. The thieves, who have still not been caught, managed to escape with more than $14 million worth of jewellery. Having lived almost her whole life within the spotlight, she’s not shy of cameras but after this incident, Kardashian has taken a break from social media and has stayed out of the public’s eye. In this piece, I will be looking at four articles which were released in response to the news of the crime. The first, “The three worst kinds of reactions to the Kim Kardashian robbery”, is written by Rebecca Shaw and outlines the many different responses to the star’s ordeal. The second article, “Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint. Now she’s being mocked for it”, by Robin Givhan, portrays Kardashian as less than human; a brand, and thus demonstrates how “unreal” and “staged” the incident seems to many cynics.” The third article, “I wanted Kim Kardashian to die”, written by self-confessed feminist, Vanessa de Largie, discusses Kardashian’s influence over young girls and their body image. And the fourth article, “Is Kim Kardashian Lying About Getting Robbed at Gunpoint?”, by Paul Resnikoff, lists 13 “bullshit flags” about why the robbery doesn’t make sense.

In “The three worst kinds of reactions to the Kim Kardashian robbery”, Shaw starts off her article with a disclaimer. She is not a fan.

“Let me start by saying that I don’t watch ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ or associated programming… I also believe there are many reasons you can dislike and criticise the Kardashians… That is not the issue here,”

She clearly states that she has no relation whatsoever to Kim Kardashian or her life, and is neither interested nor attracted to her world of expensive jewellery and high fashion. Instead, she describes herself as “a human being that has empathy inside their bitter and worn out shell of a body.” By using sarcasm, Shaw attempts to demonstrate the severity of the issue at hand. She questions how it could be possible for people to possess so much hatred towards another human being, that they wish death upon them. She clarifies, “If you aren’t aware, empathy is this kind of feeling that should conceivably enter your body/brain when you are trying to understand and share the feelings of another person.” By specifying that, in a situation like this, empathy should most definitely be felt through the brain, and dumbing down such a seemingly obvious definition, Shaw implies those who reacted otherwise are emotionless and relatively stupid. She reinforces this implication with the use of a gif.

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Shaw’s principal claim is that much of the public have been very immoral in their reactions to the robbing of Kim Kardashian and while this is an evaluative claim based on a personal value judgement regarding Kim Kardashian’s right to live and the idiocy of those who think otherwise, I personally agree with her assertion. She uses rhetorical questions to drive her point home, grilling her readers about their morality, and it is at this point that her target audience becomes very clear.

“How does this not hit you on a humanity level? How are you not automatically filled with concern at how terrifying that experience must have been,” she asks, as if speaking to a young child. She appears to be targeting those who reacted in a way that implied Kardashian should have been killed. Shaw quotes a tweet by user @TheHouseOfWTF which said “Kim Kardashian was held at gunpoint in a Paris hotel. Man will be charged with not pulling the trigger and saving humanity for mediocrity,” to further prove how incredulous and unbelievable this kind of reaction is. In the first half of the article, Shaw tries to persuade her readers of the severity of their negative reactions by using sarcasm, child-like explanations and rhetorical questions which prompt her readers to questions themselves. The second half of the article explores three reasons behind the cruel reactions.

While Shaw emphasises that Kardashian is a person just like you or me and condemns the unforgiving nature of the responses, Givhan, in “Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint. Now she’s being mocked for it”, tries to justify them by portraying Kardashian as less than human. He describes her as “less a person and more of an idea, a personality, an icon, a scourge, a curiosity.” He reasons that every part of Kardashian’s life, from her fertility struggles to her extravagant wealth has been in the public domain, and as a result, she does not seem real.  While Givhan accepts that being robbed at gunpoint is a serious crime and issue, he convinces his readers that Kardashian’s unnaturally perfect life filled with “uncalculated truths” makes it seem to cynics as though nothing about her life is factual, and this robbery is just another staged, publicity stunt.

Givhan’s principle claim states that Kim Kardashian’s robbery is just one in a series of staged events that make up her life.  Once again, it is an evaluative claim, based on the idea that Kardashian’s life is too glamorous to be real. Givhan tries to emphasise his point by describing the hours and days before the robbery. He recounts Kardashian’s visits to fashion shows and expensive stores, wearing designer clothing and documenting everything on her social media but he fails to mention that this sort of public presence is her job. He demeans her by stating “Pretty much anyone interested could have plotted her entire day’s schedule via social media,” as if it is a bad thing, but as he mentions later on, Kardashian is a celebrity whose job is fame. Her sponsored twitter and Instagram posts are worth $10,000 – $25,000 each, and by flaunting designer clothing and making appearances at fashion shows and high-end stores, she is only doing her job.

Givhan specifically states that despite putting her life up on social media, this does not mean she “deserved to be robbed or should have expected such an attack.” But the fact that this sentence had to be written implies many people believe that by being such a public a figure, she should have seen it coming. This article is, on one hand, justifying the terrible comments on the basis of her being less than human for flaunting her fame and fortune, and on the other, stating that this is her job and career and she did not deserve to experience such a frightening episode with her fame as the reason. I feel as though Givhan wrote this article in an attempt to mediate the situation at hand and find a truce between those hating on Kardashian saying she deserved to die, and those who are appalled by such negative responses. The result, however, is a confusing and sometimes hypocritical mess.

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The title of my third article, “I wanted Kim Kardashian to die,” is pretty self-explanatory. Largie, just like Shaw, starts off with a disclaimer about not liking Kim Kardashian. But while Shaw is considerate enough to consider, “valid and thoughtful and reasonable criticism of the Kardashian phenomenon,” Largie describes her as soulless and contributing nothing to society. She is very emotive with her language using high modality terms to emphasise her distaste. “I have zero interest in anything without a soul,” she says, referring to Kardashian as a “thing”, not even worth humanising. Largie later refers to her as “Kimmy” an otherwise common nickname, used with a sarcastic tone in order for it to sound derogatory.

After a few offensive opening paragraphs, Largie delves into her principle claim that Kim Kardashian has a huge effect on body image and a secondary claim that people that have nothing to offer to the world, and make others feel inadequate are not worth living. While her first claim is relatively factual, her second is a vicious attack to this woman’s right to live. Largie questions,

“Where was the empathy for young girls who are made to feel inadequate because of the Kardashian tribe? And where was the empathy for young girls who have consulted with a plastic surgeon in order to conceive the nose, bosom or butt Kimmy insists are real?”

She then introduces data from a survey which revealed that “body image” was the number one concern for young people aged 11-24, and implies that this is due to a desire to attain a figure similar to that of Kardashian’s. However, body image is influenced by a multitude of factors, and while celebrities are of course included in this range of facets, it is not possible for Kim Kardashian to have influenced every single statistical figure. Largie argues that the “abundance of literature online” including a Wikipedia page with 14 easy steps to transform into Kim Kardashian is why many young girls have been made to feel inadequate.

I understand Largie’s argument to be an over-exaggeration of the idea of an eye for an eye. She is portraying Kardashian as someone with power and beauty, who uses this to influence youngsters subsequently causing them to view themselves in a negative light for not being attractive enough. Largie begs her readers for empathy for these young girls who are victimised by this seemingly perfect Kardashian clan. Largie likens Kardashian to a bully, implying she deserved what she got and more, in response to the harm she’s done to so many impressionable youth. What she fails to identify, is that Kardashian doesn’t necessary intend on negatively affecting people. She does her job as a public figure, confident and true to herself, not concerned about how her conviction to live her life affects others.

Largie asks a rhetorical question posed toward Kardashian, “When you offer so little to the world, is it any wonder that people react viciously to you when something tragic occurs?” It is interesting to see how stubborn Largie is with her secondary claim. She writes as if people are only entitled to their lives if they have something to give to the world in return. This is an unbelievably skewed and immoral world view that I, personally, cannot agree with.

The fourth article I have chosen, “Is Kim Kardashian Lying About Getting Robbed at Gunpoint?”, is an interesting look into the information about the incident, and why it doesn’t all add up. Resnikoff has compiled a list of 13 “bullshit flags” that he identified causing him to be sceptical about the attack.

His first bullshit flag delves into the fact that Kardashian was supposedly alone in her room at the time. However, in reality, Kardashian is always flanked by people, ready to jump into action if trouble arises. Resnikoff notes that Kardashian even bragged that her bodyguard was “always in (her) shot.”  If we disregard her bodyguards, bullshit flag 10 highlights the absence of Kardashian’s children. They were in Paris at the time, and their father was in the middle of a concert, so where were they? Bullshit flag 11 calls attention to the fact that although a Kardashian spokesperson said the robbers had locked her in the bathroom, it is not possible to lock a bathroom from the outside.

The whole article aims to claim that the robbery was completely fabricated and uses “evidence” to back the claim. However, whether it can be labelled a factual claim or not is subjective and related to the truth behind the so-called “evidence” presented.

It is interesting to compare the techniques used between these four articles to present their views and claims to their target audiences. The first article acts as an overview of the situation. It introduces the issue of the Kardashian robbery as a serious incident which must have been terrifying. Shaw reinforces that regardless of who Kardashian is, the fact is that she is a victim of a horrific crime and deserves empathy and understanding for experiencing such an ordeal. As if explaining to a young child, Shaw is repetitive and simplistic in her language, asking rhetorical questions to prompt her readers to self-reflect. The second article portrays Kardashian as a non-human entity.  Givhan refers to her as a brand and pushes the idea that since her life seems so staged, this robbery probably is too. However he also agrees that it was a horrific incident and for someone who was just doing her job, she did not at all deserve it. The third article is angry and harsh, blaming Kardashian for disillusioned youth who are concerned about their bodies, and emphasising that she was well-deserving of what she faced. Largie justifies her claims with data and tries to convince her audience that Kardashian is bad and that the world would be better off without her. The final article is a list of all of the little things that don’t add up when it comes to the story of the robbery. Taking a similar stance to the second article,  Resnikoff uses a “factual basis” to demonstrate how and why he believes the whole incident was staged. And successfully puts doubt into his readers’ minds. Even I was slightly swayed by his accusations.

The internet is a place where everyone has the right to express their opinions, and it is only through this sort of freedom of speech that we can learn about conflicting perspectives within the general public. The different methods of conveying one’s ideas and claims and the techniques with which authors try and convince their readers is always interesting to analyse and study and for such a public figure like Kim Kardashian, who has many fans and supporters, there is a lot to be said, and a lot that should, perhaps, remain unsaid.

The greyhound racing ban; Chasing people out of business

In July, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird announced that greyhound racing was to be banned in the state after a Four Corners program which exposed the prevalence of live baiting in the industry. The program also revealed that half of the greyhounds bred for racing were killed if they were deemed not competitive enough to participate in the racing. This raised many issues about systematic animal cruelty, and the legislation required to impose the ban was passed on 24 August.

Although most of the hard news items about this issue simply state and restate the plans of the government to ban greyhound racing due to these live baiting and animal cruelty claims, both of the chosen pieces highlight the way the ban will affect, not only the greyhound racing industry, but also the towns and small cities that revolve around it. Rather than appealing to popular opinion and ethical norms, these articles look more at the negative consequences that come with making such a big decision.

The two pieces, both written for The Australian, a right-wing paper, are very interesting in this regard. In “Greyhound racing banned in NSW: Dishies die for a twisted ideology”, Jack the Insider stresses that once the bans are in place, even more dogs, that have been bred for the sport will be killed because there will no longer be a reason to keep them alive. Similarly in “NSW greyhound racing ban: Employers worry their race is run”, Samantha provides insight into all the other industries that will be affect when one link out of the chain is removed. Jack states this is “the most disgraceful over-reaction by a government in living memory.” The two articles aim to present the view that this ban is unneeded and a rash decision on the government’s part. While Samantha provides examples and names people and industries affected in little anecdotes throughout her piece, Jack is more direct and scathingly honest about his reaction to the ban. Both of these articles aim to humanise an issue which has become very political. In the hopes of being “politically correct” by abolishing animal cruelty, the government has disregarded the livelihoods of thousands, and these articles attempt to inform the general public about the extent of the consequences of this racing ban.

Greyhound racing is rooted in history and in many countries, is an amateur sport played purely for fun. However in 7 countries including Australia, greyhound racing is a competitive sport, like horse racing, and betting is often allowed. When races are held, the dogs chase mechanical or artificial hares, as the use of live animals for bait was banned. However an ABC Four Corners investigation revealed that live animals such as piglets, possums and rabbits are still being used to train the dogs due to the delusion that this makes them better racers. This is known as live baiting.

Let’s first take a look at the article by Jack the Insider, “Greyhound racing banned in NSW: Dishies die for a twisted ideology”. From the very beginning it is obvious that Jack is sarcastic and aggravated by the government’s power to so easily turn the lives of so many people upside down. He says, “the lesson is unrestrained governments with a distorted political will can strip anyone’s life and livelihood away with the stroke of a legislative pen,” implying that even those with no interest in greyhound racing should beware of the government’s wrath and the ease with which it can impose decisions on the general public without much warning. This perspective that the government can very easily look down on us is once again reinforced in the last line of the article, when he states, “the salient lesson from this nasty episode of government intrusion is, if they can do it to them they can do it to you.”

However, Jack’s negativity towards the government is not the most important point here, rather his pleading with the public to realise that so many canine lives are at stake due to Mike Baird’s seemingly simple decision is what is most interesting. This decision was made without any proper investigation into the consequences that would follow and Jack begs his readers to understand this fact. “Baird and his Green mates could take a trip out to any owner’s kennels and see this for themselves but of course they haven’t and won’t. It’s much simpler to denigrate from a distance.”

Instead of only looking at government-presented facts about the industry, he humanises the issue by providing counter-arguments to the government’s claims. He says,

“It’s easy to demonise those who work and make a living out of greyhounds. The arguments go they are barbarians, who commit unspeakable acts of cruelty on their dogs and other animals…The majority of owners, however, love their dogs and take great care of them in much the same way as we take care of our own pets.”

Jack appeals to pet lovers and animal lovers and the general public when he highlights the false claims, “dubious facts and emotive language” used by the government to rationalise it’s crass decision. One of the main reasons for the banning of greyhound racing was the animal cruelty that was “discovered” to have been taking place. However, in banning greyhound racing altogether, many more puppy lives are to be lost. Most breeders own 6-7 dogs each which is too many to keep as pets once the racing has stopped. These dogs will thus need to be sold or euthanised. Amongst these dogs, many are preganant, but these puppies will also most likely be killed. An estimation of about 12,000 dogs are now on death row, but this number does not include the puppies that are not yet born, and the younger dogs who have been training for their chance to race.

Jack further appeals to the emotions of the public with a gruesome suggestion which serves as a reminder of the consequences of the decision to ban greyhound racing. He says, “My recommendation is that anyone who voted for this bill be required to sit down and watch the steady stream of greyhounds being euthanised and later be present when the piles of canine corpses are bulldozed into mass graves.”

Jack also briefly compares prohibition laws in America to the greyhound racing ban, suggesting that although an underground industry will probably not emerge as it did with prohibition, there will still be “a profound social and political fall out to come…” Dogs could be transported to neighbouring states where it is still not illegal in order to continue racing, and other forms of racing, such as horse racing, could come under fire for its animal cruelty and lack of abolishment, after this precedent forms.

The second article, “NSW greyhound racing ban: Employers worry their race is run”, by Samantha Hutchinson takes a different approach and uses anecdotes and numbers to appeal to its audience. It is a more factual approach as opposed to the first article which is more evaluative and judgemental. Samantha puts names to statistics and lists out butchers, farmers, vets, transport services, grocery stores and more who will all be affected to varying degrees once the racing ban comes into action. “The pet-food business, (…) in the NSW central west, turns over $2 million a year and employs 15 staff to supply kangaroo meat to greyhound owners statewide”, “The whole of regional NSW will feel the impact of the ban, and even a lot of people you wouldn’t expect to,” she writes, quoting Deputy Premier Troy Grant, who is against the ban.

Samantha’s article is made up of many quotes, giving insight into the many people who will be negatively affected by the ban. “Dubbo Greyhound Racing Club president Shayne Stiff said: ‘It’s not just like it’s the people who love dogs or race dogs who are the only ones doing business with the industry. This is a small town and everything, everyone is connected.’” She connects to the reader by allowing them to gain a better perception of the width and breadth of the consequences through the words of people who will be personally affected. And the fact that most of these people are not breeders, owners or dogs, highlights this desire to emphasise how widespread the effects will be.

“Twelve small and medium-sized businesses associated with, but not related to the track, rely in some measure on the industry, ordering anything from cleaning products to frozen party pies,” Samantha reveals, and structures her article in a way that each person she mentions is logically related to the next.

For example, Brian and Wayne Tink own a meat store for pets and the ban on greyhound racing will result in a reduction on dog-meat requirement, costing them about $10,000 a year. In turn, they will be spending less on transporting the meat from Sydney to Dubbo, meaning less money spent of petrol. Since their requirement for dog-meat, which is usually kangaroo meat, will be reduced, they will not need to cull as many kangaroos that plague farms with their diseases and infections. Thus the farmers and their cattle will also feel the effects. Thanks to this logical structuring, it is very easy to see the ripple effect consequences of the ban, and thus makes it easier to move an audience. Her argument appeals to emotion and facts at the same time demonstrating how banning an industry will affect the livelihoods of people who are not even related to it.

Samantha reinforces her point by ending her article with a quote from former caravan manufacturer John Kazarkis. He custom makes trailers for show-dog owners and is worried that once the greyhound trailers are discarded and hit the market, he’ll be out of a job. “You watch it, this ban will end up affecting businesses you never thought had anything to do with the sport,” Mr Kazarkis said.

It’s interesting to see that both of these articles express the same perspective and point of view using a different tone and method. While Jack is very argumentative and very obviously looks down on the government for their “rash” decision, Samantha is more cool-headed with her argument, calmly demonstrating the extent of the damage this ban will cause. Jack uses few statistics or numeric values but uses high modality language to make his point, while Samantha uses a more “show not tell” method to argue her perspective. There seems to be a lot of public outcry about the issue of the banning of greyhound racing, and these two articles provide a slight glimpse into the different ways people are expressing their feelings toward the matter.