Clarence Darrow: A plea for Mercy
Appeal for mercy is a speech that was issued by Clarence Darrow in 1924 on the case of Leopold and Loeb, who were the teenage sons of two rich Chicago families who were accused of kidnapping and killing another 14-year-old boy by the name Bobby Franks from their stylish Kenwood neighborhoods. Leopold Nathan was only 19 years while Loeb was 18 at the time of their arrest. The Chicago Newspaper termed to the case to be the trial of the century, and most Americans wondered what could have led to the two teenagers who happen to have everything that the society could offer, to undertake such a depraved crime (Kevin, 45). This research paper is a complete rhetorical; analysis of the speech that was delivered by Clarence Darrow called A Plea for Mercy.
Clarence was the idea that killing has taken place in many places as read and heard from media. Killing acts according to the speaker dates back to the times of civilization, as there were groups uniting to kill others. “Christian against Christian, barbarian uniting with Christians to kill Christians.
Anything to kill “Individuals have accepted the act in the society and taken it as the order of the day. In the Bible, children are taught in Sunday schools about the act of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for the tooth. This means that the society has accepted the act. The number of reasonable young people brought to court every day and charged with murder cases can prove this. Among them, some have been saved while others hanged to death (McKernan, 92). This also according to the speaker is also due to the presence of death tales at home playing ground and everywhere.
According to the speaker, every crime has a cause, the current killings evidenced in the U.S. is out of bitterness and hatred resulted from civil war crimes. The whole of Europe is undergoing similar experience according to the speaker, as it has followed every war. This has made teenagers to view life in a manner that is much different as when the war could not have been there. This means that all people listening to him had a share in promoting crimes in the society. He continues that, people have been using words and terms that have resulted in cruelty in places that love and kindness existed. Loeb ended his confession by saying,” I just want to say that I offer no excuse, but that I am fully convinced that neither the idea nor the act would have occurred to me had it not been for the suggestion and stimulus of Leopold. Furthermore, I do not believe that I would have been capable of having killed Franks.” (Leopold, 68)
The speaker reasoning was that “in this very court crimes of violence have increased growing out of the war. Not necessarily by those who fought but by those that learned that blood was cheap, and Human life was cheap, and if the State could take it lightly why not the boy?” The causes that have led to such crime include war as said earlier, education has its share, birth and many played a role in destroying the boys in question.
In his speech, Clarence emphasized the boys’ age. “He repeatedly stressed the ages of the boys”. This is because, before the war in Vietnam, the majority age that was being tried was 21 years. He stressed that there had never been a case in Chicago, where a plea of guilty of less than the 21-year boy had been sentenced to death. This kind of plea was designed to soften the heart of the judge John Cavalry, but also to mould public opinion, in a manner that could make the judge follow the precedent too huge an uproar. He explains that the boys now were not at large due to their age, and believed that, they will never be until they become grown-ups, where they will be able to reason and defend themselves.
The speaker enlightens the judge, prosecutor, media and other spectators that, it is the right of the judiciary to take care of the community welfare. If the community ends up benefiting from the hanging of the two boys in question, it is alright. However, he continues enlightening the audience that, the defendants’ family needs also to be considered. He leaves the audience to compare the bereaved family sorrows that had already happen and the defendants’ family sorrows yet to occur.
The speaker pleads the judge to have mercy to only and only Loeb and Leopold, he emphasizes that mercy needs not to go to those who will be left behind after hanging the boys or to any circumstance that might be or will be existing after the case (American, 3). He explains that charging the boys to spend the rest of their life in prison was an option if possible, as this will leave them with hopes that one day they might be released.
The speaker reasons in Housman stanza that, though the two boys have little hope as there s nothing left to them apart from darkness, considerations need to be placed on these lived with them, a life full of hopes invested in them, and those who have cared for them. Considerations also need to be given to these who feel sorry, are ashamed and are suffering because of the incidence. The benefits that the society will get after hanging the two boys need to be weighted upon the benefits that the family members will accrue if the two are given the second chance.
Hanging the two will never stop the crime, this is because, murder has been there since time immemorial till now, and it has been going on and on and it will continue till the end of the world. Instead of shouting for hanging the two, people need to think and come up with a way that can help stop the crime. According to the speaker, many killings have happened before, with even some being more horrible than that of the two boys, so whether the boys were to be hanged or taken to prison, according to him, more killing were still to happen in future.
He used the law to defend the teenagers. He explained that the law do not allow minors to make contracts or even marry without the consent of their parents. They are also forbidden from voting. With this, it means that law protects the minors, in the essence, that they have are not responsible. He was of the opinion that everyone was once young, so the best way of understanding what someone else is feeling is to in his shore.
Since the boys had been brought up in families that had hope in them, and everything they asked for was there, then there could be another reason that lured a young companion to his death (Bardsley, Par 5). When considering reasons that might have led to the murder, money, spite and hate are removed from the reasons due to their family background. The only reason that could be left out is that, they did as they could just do it to a spider or housefly for experience, or they were just made that way, or due to the immaturity of youth and inexperience. He used the law to fight for the rights of these who will be affected, if the two are hanged.
In the use of statistics, “I have heard in the last six weeks nothing but the cry for blood.” Clarence has emphasized that for a period since the case was brought in his attention, many sorrowful things have been happening to ensure that the two defendants have been hanged. He has also used statistics to show that crimes of violence the court have been on the increase. (Baatz, 69) “I know that in the last ten years four hundred and fifty people have been indicted for murder in the city of Chicago and have pleaded guilty… and only one has been hanged.” By following the precedence, the person who was hanged deserved it as he was on the bench whilst his victim was forty years of age.
Clarence was addressing a mixed up group of the audience; they included professionals and spectators. “The hot, stuffy courtroom held only 300 people, 200 of which were representatives of the news media. Only seventy spaces were allotted for spectators.”His choice of wards targeted the whole group of audience to feel the pains, think, and make the right decision. In his educative speech, he insisted that even if the two boys were hanged, the life of the death would not be restored.
When the speaker starts his closing speech with the low voice and assuring the court that he himself can’t move the trial somewhere else, nor has he had the powers to stop justice, shows that the mood of the speech was sorrowful in all dimensions. On the site of the deceased family, they were mourning for the death of their loved one, while the defendants’ side, there were tears due to the effects of inexperienced and ignorant childhood. He starts the speech very confident, as evidenced by his opening remarks. “We want to state frankly here that no one, in this case, believes that these defendants should be released or are competent to be.” This is because; everyone had an idea that, the two were to be excommunicated from the society. His confidence plays an important role in accepting the boys are guilty.
The rationale behind pleading guilty to ensure that the boys in question were saved from a jury trial, hence only a single judge could determine the fate of the case. If the speaker would have chosen not guilty based on the reason of insanity, they would have had a jury trial. Given the weight that the public has given the crime and the statements that were made by the boys, it was good for them to escape any jury. Since a jury would have a shared decision, it would have been easy for the boys to be sentenced death. Clarence considered that, with Caverly, there was a decent chance for the boys to plea on mental conditions and their youth age.
Clarence criticizes these who are for the opinion of hanging his clients, terming the decision as unthoughtful (Toms, 34). As those who are cruel will only approve this, this is because at that moment the matter looks simple to prove, the long-term effects the matter will bring to Chicago will be worse. More and more individuals who are human, hopeful and kind, and understands hence ask questions, not only to the poor boys in question but also about there own status will join hands and say no hanging the boys.
Clarence argues individuals to look for the ways of stopping blood shading so that normal feelings of man could resume. Defending this case to act otherwise, the speakers is not just defending the two boys, but for all girls and boys, all young people, and possibly, those who are old. In pleading this case, the speaker was “pleading for life, understanding, charity, kindness, and the infinite mercy that considers all.” This will help overcome the acts of cruelty with kindness and hatred with love. Hanging the two boys hardens the lives of all young people who are still ignorant and still live in darkness that all children regardless of born and the unborn pass through (Montefiore, 47). On the other hand, saving them eases the life of every child that may end up standing where the two boys in question stand. The speaker was for the opinion that this case determines the level at which cruelty and hatred control the people’s hearts. This will also determine the precedence that will be followed in future by other courts in administering justice.
The speaker concludes that this case has no similar weight attached by individuals in the country, to an extent of being called trial of the century by the media. It just needs to be treated like any other case. Individuals need to be treated equally, be it the reach or the poor. The greatest reward and hope if the speaker succeeds in this case, will not be saving the two boys, other than countless unfortunates who must tread similar road in their unknowing childhood, as the poor boys were facing at that particular time. This is because, it will mean that that was something that was done by the speaker to help to understand of human fraternity, that tempers justice with mercy and overcome hatred with love.