Archive for March, 2012

The section in The Rhetoric of Agitation and Control on the United States’ involvement in the Middle East since 9/11 is short, but possibly the most interesting part of the whole book. Prior to reading the section I did not know about some of the protests and how early they started. That is particularly surprising to me because I lived through 9/11 and the “War on Terror” that followed and did not live through the Civil Rights Movement which I knew more about. I was surprised to learn ANSWERS organized a protest in Washington D.C. and San Fransisco only 18 days after the events of 9/11.

I was also surprised at the effectiveness of the rhetorical tactics used in that early time. ANSWERS knew the United States and George Bush planned to go to war to retaliate and wanted to prevent the retaliation. I think they were bold and took a huge risk to protest war only a couple weeks after the attack, I would have been worried about the backlash from millions of citizens who wanted to see payback for the deaths of friends, family, and fellow American citizens. The organizers of initial protests and subsequent protests were also extremely smart about how they protested. I think the locations they chose in the hearts of big cities have shown they may have been the smartest protestors yet. They did not achieve their goals, but the U.S. was seemingly bound to go to war with nothing stopping that. The locations of protests and use of digital means also resulted in protests worldwide being larger than ever in some places. The peacefulness of the protests also showed how thought out from a rhetorical standpoint the protests were. The protestors wanted their voices heard and their views expressed, but did not just want to rebel and get attention through violence.

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Kony 2012

Posted: March 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Today in class we watched then discussed the Kony 2012 video made by Invisible Children Inc and directed by Jason Russell. The video has been extremely successful as a rhetorical device to create awareness and a sense of urgency in millions of Americans, especially young Americans with time, energy, and ambition. I found an interesting part of the video and accompanying campaign to be the political campaign styling associated with the shirts, stickers, posters, etc. I have decided to look at that approach to rhetoric.

Kony 2012 is certainly not the first movement to use this tactic to get the attention of Americans. One example I know of is Car and Driver’s Save the Manuals! campaign. While I am not in any way comparing the goals of a semi-parody campaign to get manufacturers to keep building manuals to a movement to bring a war criminal to justice, the rhetorical strategies employed are comparable. Both make effective use of logos to capture the eye of someone who glances at a sticker or shirt. This first step is critical to get a person to think about the cause the symbol represents. Just like a Presidential election, a viewer will be compelled to research the topic and formulate their own views while becoming educated.

Both Invisible Children Inc. and Car and Driver created catchy slogans/titles to their campaigns. They did so as a solidification rhetorical agitation technique. Both “Kony 2012” and “Save the Manuals” are memorable, short, and elicit a sense curiosity towards the movement. When a person looks into the campaigns, they find a clean website and/or video along with well thought out and action inspiring arguments.

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"Save the Manuals!" logo from Car and Driver

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Kony 2012 from Invisible Children Inc.

The main difference between these campaigns is the seriousness of the Kony 2012 and the sarcastic approach to the Save the Manuals movement. The debate of which is a business and which is not (a Kony 2012 Action Kits costs $30 while a Save the Manual one costs $15) is a can of worms I think is best left closed for now.

This week’s blog will discuss a topic from the book currently being read, The Rhetoric of Agitation and Control by Bowers et. al. Chapter 2 of the book is a good summary and description of the steps of rhetoric a group goes through to make changes in society. Strategies of agitation explained are given in a generally progressive order. The strategies are petition, promulgation, polarization, nonviolent resistance, escalation/confrontation, Gandhi and guerrilla, and revolution. Polarization is the agitation strategy I feel most compelled to blog about. With my group’s White Paper, polarization could be an extremely effective approach to getting changes made. Our social issue is human trafficking, a huge issue in Atlanta specifically.

Polarization may not be an effective topic when two views on an issue are popular and morally aligned with the dominate morals in society. An example of this is how taxes should be set for incomes. Some people believe taxes would be best set high for those with high incomes, others believe those individuals should have low taxes so they have that money to employ others. Polarization could just divide opinions and not convince the public to take your side.

In a case such as ours polarization may be the most effective approach. If a person decided they felt human trafficking was ok, they would be shut out and denounced by the rest of society. We, as humans, also have morals that human trafficking and abuse is wrong. To polarize people, a statement could be made along the lines of “By ignoring human trafficking, you are essentially approving it.” People’s emotions will cause them to not want to approve it and will be compelled to do something to stop it. The approach of polarization in rhetoric has potential to be the most useful agitation strategy is applied in the right situation.

Persuasion and the Internet

Posted: March 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

                Today’s discussion in English centered on persuasion online and with technology. I believe persuasion, the internet, technology, and all of their connections to the Internet are deserving of a blog post. Depending on what way persuasion online is examined, the Internet can be a great tool and medium for persuasion, or online can be a terrible way to persuade others with rhetoric.

                The way the Internet and users online have huge potential to persuade is through the vast diversity of users. To me, awareness is the first step of persuasion. Before a person is convinced to take the perspective of a rhetorician online, the person must know of the issue. Millions and millions of people access the internet frequently, so it is an inexpensive way to put something out in the open for large amounts of people to see quickly.

                An issue I see with the Internet as a means for persuasion, and the downfall of online persuasion is actually convincing a person to take a view or change views on a topic. Part of the key of people seeing so much content online, and how content reaches so many people through the Internet is the speed at which most users go through webpages. Many users spend hours online clicking through websites, photo galleries, etc. This way they see a lot and could learn of what you are trying to convey, but not take interest. Getting a person’s focus on an issue without speaking in person or somehow grabbing their attention enough to invoke deep consideration is extremely difficult online.

                In general I think the Internet is a tremendously helpful tool in persuading individuals. Simple explanations and pictures may convince some; however, the main feature I see is raising awareness of thousands of people easily in hopes they will look further into other individuals’ arguments and focus on what is being said.