11.30.2005

notes on rhetoric

(more and more, i find myself straying from the usual content of this blog, that i might point out things that pique my interests...)

a few moments ago, i read the article "Demonstrators out in force for abortion case." given my interest in language in general, and rhetoric specifically, i took note of the various terms (non-proper) used in description of the two groups of "demonstrators" in question (with shared terms in parentheses):

group #1:

(demonstrators)
abortion supporters
(activists)
abortion-rights supporters

group #2:

(demonstrators)
protestors
(activists)
anti-abortion rights activists


now, i recognize i am not raising a new observation, but i was struck, especially considering the article's brevity, by the colors painted on both groups. it is less than difficult to discern that those belonging to group #1 are painted as supportive and pro-rights, where those belonging to group #2 are painted as protestant (lower-case "p") and anti-rights.

my views aside, this is subjective (and therefore sloppy) journalistic writing, but such writing is only symptomatic of a deeper problem: as the labels used in the article have become accepted in the abortion debate, emotional values had been placed on both groups, weighting the discussion, and hampering any future interchange of ideas takes place. regardless of which "side" is right (though the idea that such a dichotomy were actually possible is laughable), rhetoric (journalism included especially, because of its highly public nature) that is emotionally-laced has no place in public discourse (though the idea that it will ever be so removed is equally laughable, indeed).

sadly, there is a great deal of anger and pain built up on both "sides" of the discussion, and i doubt the rhetorical wrinkles will ever be ironed out completely. further, the thought comes to me that if i had any readership to speak of, i have no doubt it would shrink as a result of this post, however innocuous the ideas contained therein.

my point is this: it is never to late to try; rational discourse, the calm, reasoned exchange of ideas never hurt anyone.

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