Rhetorical Analysis Final [Mumford]

Milton Friedman speaks to a number of audiences in this letter. Although it is a letter specifically to Bill Bennet, it is an open letter, and therefore has a much larger audience than just Bennett. Because of this, Friedman must use tactics to convince any possible reader that his argument is correct. He does this by establishing himself as a trustworthy speaker, speaking to the emotions and empathy of those listening, and also explaining the logic behind his plan. By appealing to all possible audience members with these different tactics, his argument is as effective and convincing as it could be.

Friedman uses an interesting tactic by opening an argument about drugs with a quote about Jesus Christ. However, knowing Bennett’s background as a professor of philosophy and religion, Friedman catches his attention right away by speaking to something so intimate. This is using both ethos and pathos, as talking about Christ is likely to make Bennett give him some credibility, and it also engages Bennett’s personal feelings through acknowledging this spirituality and morality, and how that can relate to the war on drugs. Friedman doesn’t jump into attacking Bennett’s point of view, knowing that would make him defensive and unwilling to listen. Instead, after getting Bennett’s attention using pathos in the opening paragraph, Friedman acknowledges his point of view. He gives him credit, which almost works counterintuitively, as Bennett is then more likely to do the same.

Friedman continues to use pathos throughout his argument by speaking about society and the world as a unified army against this drug problem, and by being extremely genuine in the way he begs for support. Friedman recognizes that to be successful he needs unity, and he uses it to his advantage. The entire letter, he uses “we” and “our,” and talks about society as a whole. He doesn’t speak at Bennet, but rather strives to find common ground. Friedman also uses pathos when he uses phrases such as “from the bottom of my heart” and quoting Cromwell saying “I beseech you.” These make him sound genuinely concerned about the problems, and that what he has to say is somewhat of a last option. His argument becomes urgent, and makes Bennett feel like if he doesn’t take it seriously, then things will escalate to where nothing can be done. Finally, he uses pathos by enforcing a sense of social responsibility on his audience. He discusses the thousands of innocent victims who have been killed or punished in some way because of the drug laws, people suffering in South America, and the murderous tactics of drug pushers. Friedman opens his audience’s eyes to the uncomfortable consequences of the laws, and brings out their empathy for the innocent suffering of many people. These uses of pathos unite his audience in his argument through humility, acknowledgement, and recognizing how concerned he is, convincing them that they need to support his claims.

Although Friedman does use pathos a lot, he mixes this beautifully with logos. He knows that he is speaking to an educated man, and that feelings alone cannot convince him, but that mixing emotion and practicality is what sells his argument. By comparing the problems of drug laws to what happened with the prohibition of alcohol, his argument begins to make much more logical sense. If hard drugs had never been regulated instead of criminalized then crack wouldn’t exist, there wouldn’t be as much strain on foreign affairs with South America, and saved money from jails could be used to assist those struggling with addictions. These logical arguments sell his point of view by proving that the economic and social benefits of decriminalizing drugs are far better than the problems that the laws had been causing. Finally, he speaks to Bennett’s reputation by bringing in the future generations. Friedman is able to convince him that if things don’t change, he will be failing the people to come after him. By showing his concern for the topic through pathos, Friedman gains interest and acknowledgement, but he really convinces his audience through juxtaposing this passion with relatable and understandable logic, because it simultaneously speaks to the moral and practical sides of anybody reading this letter.

By intertwining pathos, logos, and a hint of ethos, Friedman is able to unite the whole audience in his cause, establish himself as a worthy speaker, make logical assumptions about how changes would benefit society, and appeal to the morality of anybody reading this letter.

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