America has always been grounded on social groups interests and focused on complying the individual needs. The fulfillment of the citizens’ needs by federal and state structures makes American policy. According to Hrebenar and Scott, “the number of participants in American group policies has significantly expanded” (11). But what if the social groups’ needs are dangerous? A good answer to this question is an essay by Idaho university professor Hampikian titled ‘When May I Shoot a Student?’ addressing numerous social, moral, and cultural issues.
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Greg Hampikian addresses the issue in the form of a letter to the chief counsel of the Idaho State legislature. This approach enlivens the work, makes it easy to read, more catchy, and appealing to the public, but the essay becomes less official and severe. Professor Hampikian responded to a controversial bill allowing students to carry firearms on campus.
In his letter, Hampikian raises the issue by sarcastically asking for practical guidance. Hampikian honestly writes, “I have a matter of practical concern” (1). He stresses the fact that the law influences numerous aspects of everyday life. The relationship between the students and the teaching staff is always rather peculiar; therefore, any debate concerning such a controversial issue will prove to be a contentious one.
Addressing the chief counsel with a direct, practical question, “When may I shoot a student?” (Hampikian). Professor Hampikian hints that his intentions are not serious. Hampikian humorously says that he is not helpless “Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned.” But as the narration develops, the language of direct address becomes more emotionally loaded. Forming opinion as an open direct address to the authorities, as well as the specific choice to describe the issue by numerous, real-life examples viewed at humorous and ironical angles, make the essay satirical.
Highlighting his ironical approach to the situation, Hampikian says, “The problem, of course, is not the drunken frat boys will be armed; it is that they are drunken frat boys.” By saying this, he enriches the text with at least two meanings. The first is that the problem is not the guns but the people. The second implied a controversial sense that we could not blame people when we provided them with every imaginable opportunity to misbehave.
To strengthen his position professor, Hampikian uses new arguments. One of them is “encouraging guns on campus makes so much sense” (11). Showing the advantages of having guns on campus, the writer introduces irony as an effective general strategy, having a good influence on the reader. Dealing with the counterarguments one by one is less beneficial, as it is easier to impress the reader with one strong argument.
The final words of the essay are saturated with restrained emotions. Using humor in the form of irony and sarcasm is appropriate when the author wants to restrain from criticism and to be openly rude and disrespectful. Hampikian chooses a humorous and easygoing tone in his essay. That manner of addressing the audience contributes a lot to the positive response to his essay. It is easier to perceive intricate issues in a humorous way.
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Generally speaking, gun-carrying laws have always been a stumbling rock of US politics. Touching upon numerous social, moral, and cultural issues influenced by the new law, professor Hampikian creates a vivid picture of reality and the changes it has to undergo under the influence of new law enforcement. By using sarcasm and not being negative professor Hampikian, makes his essay an enjoyable reading showing a good way to form an opinion on a tricky issue.
Hampikian, Greg. “When May I Shoot a Student?” The New York Times. 2014. Web.
Hrebenar, Ronald J., and Ruth K. Scott. Interest Group Politics in America. 3rd ed., Routledge, 2015.