Monday, October 24, 2011

Freedom of Speech. Period.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This paragraph is what the author, Joseph Farah, uses as the basis for his argument about Free Speech. Mr. Farah conveys the points of his article through the careful use of rhetoric. His excellent diction conveys his points succinctly and is able to convince even the most vocal opponents that his points are valid and should be acted upon.

The author has carefully chosen his audience after much consideration of the arguments and rhetorical tools available to him. The goal of a targeted audience is so that his words will reach the greatest number of people possible. He has chosen to target the religious conservative base of the American people to help him accomplish this goal. The religious conservatives are a group of people that always hold strong opinions and are very difficult to sway to one opinion or another. With this specific audience as his target, he is able to bring many impassioned arguments to the paper while targeting the largest audience possible.

When the author places the First Amendment at the very beginning of the paper, he is insuring that this is the first thing that the reader sees. This is a carefully calculated tactic. When the author quotes the First Amendment, the readers develop an immediate trust because of the perceived validation given to the paper by said document. The Bill of Rights is one of the most unquestionably revered documents in American and even world history, so when the author uses it, it brings an immediate validation to his words. People do not want to question something that they see as validated by the Bill of Rights of the United States of America. With this at the head of the author’s paper, he can proceed with less caution than would usually be used in approaching a touchy subject because he has a great perceived validation backing him up. This first point the author makes ties him to the conservatives. The conservatives will see the First Amendment quoted and instantly support whatever is stated in the paper.

In the first paragraph of the author’s paper, he invokes strong language. He states: “for the life of me, I cant figure out what’s so difficult to understand about these 45 words-most of them only one syllable.” In using this carefully worded diction, the author calls into doubt the validity of people who say that the First Amendment is a complicated document that needs to be interpreted. Using this phrase makes the reader doubt the opinion of those who say that there are limits to what the First Amendment covers. The first thought that most readers will have when reading this paper is “that’s true. Why are Americans making it so complicated? It is a simple, all encompassing document. Why are there so many complicated interpretations?” So in his first 3 lines of diction, the author has already drawn into question the validity of First Amendment detractors.

The next thing that the author does is direct the attention of the reader to the fact that certain basic freedoms are not given to us by governments, but by the grand Creator of the universe. With this example, he draws in the sympathies of all Christian people in the United States. By pointing out that these rights were given by God, and not by man, the author adds a religious backing and validity to his claims that will immediately gain the unquestioning support of the Christian community. This was an excellent move by the author because the majority of the United States of America is a Christian community. Also, by drawing in the largest community in the United States, the author has also drawn in the most support at the same time. With the kind strong religious backing that we are talking about, there is no way that anything he says would be contradicted.

Another way Mr. Farah wins over his readers is by telling them that the government is trying to take away their rights. The author takes a random upcoming senate vote that is in all likelihood going to fail, and blows it way out of proportion. One thing that we know is that when Americans feel that their rights are being threatened, they come out angry and in force. This misdirection by the author is very likely to give the super-conservative Americans a reason to get very upset with the government. Even though there is no real threat, they will still come out in force. No conservative American will stand aside when their rights are being threatened. The author knows this and uses this knowledge to inflame the public’s opinion. He takes this unimportant vote and uses it to instantly get the conservative Americans on his side. These Americans would not dare to go against him or his diction when he is defending their rights.

One other thing the author does is to draw the elected leaders of the country into doubt. He asks the question: “Could it be that our elected leaders have simply failed to read the First Amendment lately? Could it be they don’t understand those simple words?” With these two simple phrases, the author instantly puts the blame on the ignorance of our elected leaders. Since there have been many problems and doubts with our elected leaders recently, this is an easy scapegoat to target. The author draws people into doubt very well. Throughout the author’s paper, he always is very effective at placing blame on the target that will potentially win the most support. The problem that this can lead to is the lack of trust in our elected leaders. Without trust and support, elected officials cannot pass new laws or enact new processes, which could help our country. This is a major danger in losing respect in our elected officials.

The diction techniques used in the author’s paper set him up to be believable no matter what he said. His diction is so effective that even if he were completely lying, he would be believed. Using the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States of America and tying God into its writing gave such a perceived legitimacy to the author’s arguments that it became almost impossible to argue against him. While I applaud his audacity in making it almost impossible to ignore his arguments, I am not fully convinced that it was the best way to argue his point. For many of the author’s audience, the emotional arguments are not going to have any sway. They will feel that there is too much emotion is his arguments, and not enough logic. What compels me to listen is cold, calculated logic. If the author had used calculated logic along with emotional arguments, I believe that he would have convinced a greater number and a wider range of people, not just the religious conservatives.

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