Rhetorical Analysis Final [Fahmy]

When Milton Friedman wrote “An Open Letter to Bill Bennett”, he used a variety of arguments to convince the reader that drugs are a major issue in the United States. He creates a strong emotional appeal to the reader, who in this case is Bennett, through the use of diction, pathos, and within the structure of the writing.

He included a strong use of diction throughout the letter to make the topic of drugs seem more prevalent to the current climate of the country and even more dangerous. Using words such as “devastating”, “evils”, “tragedy”, “disaster”, and “revolted”, he creates a strong emotional impact within the reader when they are read in conjunction with the topic of drugs. Due to the negative stigma against drugs, using such words create more of an impact. Friedman is using words with a strong negative connotation that leave a strong impression when read. He word choice also helps to demonize the drugs that are being mentioned and makes them seem very severe. Using the word “evils” when referring to drugs is a way to make them a terrible thing in the reader’s mind. This severity is used to emphasize the point he is making that there is a problem with these drugs that need to be addressed in our country.

The pathos of the overall piece helps to establish the tone of the writing as a plea to the emotions rather than it being a strictly factual based argument. While he still includes some facts, there is more along the lines of “This plea comes from the bottom of my heart” (Friedman, 2). Saying something with a strong message and connotation of emotion strays away from the standard arguments of strictly information. Another strong use of pathos and its appeal to emotions is in “Drugs are a tragedy for addicts” (Friedman,1). This shows how the drugs are truly detrimental to those who are addicted to them and how they need to be helped. By bringing up those who are most affected by drugs it makes the reader connect more to the heart of the issue rather than see it as happening to someone else. It gets rid of the distance that can occur in politics between those in positions of power and those that are the most affected by their decisions.

The overall structure of the letter is an important aspect as to how there is a strong emotional influence. By starting the letter with how there are many more problems within the drug crisis than Bennett is seeing, Friedman is establishing that it is a much larger issue than previously thought. This helps make an impact and create a reaction that appeals to morality. Friedman then goes on to mention how since he last wrote about this issue it has gotten much worse. With new drugs introduced to satisfy addicts’ demand, there are many more that must be dealt with. By bringing up his previous writing he is establishing himself as a more credible source. This helps to also include ethos into his argument and add another element that would help to persuade. By ending with ways that would help with the decriminalization of drugs and help those who are trying to recover, he appeals again to the morality of the reader. He is trying to establish that it is better to help those who need it, rather than put them in jail for their actions.

With all of these elements, the tone of the piece becomes one that is solemn and makes a call to action. Friedman is wanting there to be change with how drugs and their addicts are being processed through our government system. He uses the effect emotion has on a person to his advantage in making it seem immoral to not act.

Milton Friedman includes elements of diction, pathos, and purposefully structures his writing to appeal to the emotions of those who are reading it and calling them to act to help with the war on drugs. His emphasis through diction is used to vilify them in the eyes of Bennet. He created a strong emotional reaction to the information being stated and call to the principles of not helping those in need through pathos. It established a need to act in order to save those who have been affected by drugs. The structure lets these elements connect to one another and lets Friedman establish some credibility with being able to include his expertise on the subject.

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