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Today's featured article
Today's Featured Article - I'm not a racist, but...
I'm not a racist, but... has long been considered one of the most powerful clichés in the English language. It has the power to define people, cultures, and determine some of the most powerful philosophies that the world has ever seen.
It is generally used in an argumentative situation, to make a point that could potentially be otherwise taken in a negative concept. Similar examples are "I'm not a sexist, but I don't feel women deserve equal pay when they are only truly useful 26 out of 29 days." The statement is often a precursor to "petitio principi" (Latin for "It is because I said so").
In modern society there is an aversion to making a statement that may be considered as politically incorrect. This disarming preface has become a cliche due to it's usefulness in stating what may be unpleasant or not politically correct. This statement is referred to by linguists as a "but-head" statement.
To truly understand the strength of this statement the individual words must be taken into consideration:
Recently featured: Cruel and unusual punishment
Yesterday's Featured Article - Cruel and unusual punishment
Cruel and unusual punishment is a platitude found in the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, was written to ensure that the new American nation would not suffer from the excesses of the former English overlords, such as drawing-and-quartering, death by torture (no matter how entertaining it was to contemplate it being done to Mel Gibson in Braveheart), or repeats of Mr. Bean.
That the Founding Founders in the execution-happy colonies would have written an amendment to ban executions entirely is so unthinkable that it has taken the finest minds in the United States to explain why it means exactly this.
Most uses of the Eighth Amendment in the U.S. court system therefore concern executions, the exception being the rare lawsuit to demand premium cable channels on prison televisions. In fact, no prisoner has ever been drawn-and-quartered or tortured in the United States at all. And slavery, the Alternative Minimum Tax, and Instant Replay in Major League Baseball are technically not even "punishments."
The Supreme Court, then, has had the task of understanding what the Founders could have meant by writing an Amendment that, on the surface, seems meaningless. In the American renaissance called the Great Society, it first occurred to the Court that the death penalty itself could be "cruel and unusual punishment."
As in most things, the Court advanced this "jurisprudence" gradually, first saving from execution only:
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