Rhetorical Analysis Final [Short]

When writing an argumentative excerpt it is effective to use rhetorical devices. In Milton Friedman’s (1989) essay, “An open letter to Bill Bennett”, Friedman includes many devices to influence his reader about decriminalizing drugs. He uses strategies like ethos and pathos but also includes diction and imagery to try to persuade his reader that decriminalizing drugs will bring a significant halt to the drug war.

Friedman starts off his essay by saying “more police, more jails, use of military in foreign countries, [and] harsh penalties for drug users,” (Friedman, pg.306) will not be effective. Friedman uses a run-on sentence about police, jails, and military policy to give an effect of how they keep piling on enforcement but have no success. Yet in the next paragraph Friedman acknowledges the fact “that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric,”(Friedman, pg. 306). Instead of going straight into his argument about decriminalizing drugs he accepts that drugs are “ruining the lives of many young people”(Friedman, pg.306). Friedman also says how what Bill seeks to achieve with the end of the drug war is what “the majority of the public…seek to achieve.” (Friedman, pg.306) Friedman’s ability to understand the views of Bill Bennett will be much more effective in his argument.

Throughout the next few paragraphs Friedman uses an a lot of pathos and imagery to try and connect with his reader, Bill. Friedman believes that Bush’s expensive policy of extra police, jails, and harsh repressive penalties are not only powerless against the war on drugs, but are actually making the drug war worse. Friedman “wrote in 1972 on “Prohibition and Drugs.” (Friedman, pg.307) which was deliberate in his letter so that he can assure his reader that he is credible. He believes that if the U.S. had no drug prohibition then crack would not have been created which devastated thousands of lives. Friedman appeals to the emotions of the audience when he talks about all the lives that were effected by crack. The application of emotion fits perfectly with his argument that if drugs were not outlawed then other worse and cheaper drugs would not be created.

Friedman continues to appeal to the emotions of his readers by stating how “Columbia, Bolivia, and Peru would not be suffering from narc-terror, and we would not be distorting our foreign policy because of narc-terror”(Friedman, pg.307). Friedman’s image of innocent people being effected by drug lords and cartel could be very touching to the reader. This image invokes emotion in his readers which he can use to persuade them to take his side on decriminalization.

The appeal to emotion and imagery are pertinent throughout the rest of the essay. Friedman proposes a better allocation of money. Putting the money toward new treatment and rehabilitation centers for drug addicts instead of toward enforcement. This statement could persuade his readers to agree with him, because the thought of helping addicts rather then just putting them in jail seems more humane and appealing. Another attempt at appealing to his readers emotion is near the end of his except. When Friedman says “[t]his plea comes from the bottom of my heart”(Friedman, pg.307) he is trying to expose himself and make himself become more personal with the reader. He does this so that he can emphasize how important this topic of decriminalizing drugs is, and hopefully persuade his reader to think the same.

Lastly, Friedman ends his letter by saying “shooting down unidentified planes ‘on suspicion’ can be seriously considered as a drug war tactic is not the kind of United States that either you or I want to hand on to future generations.”(Friedman, pg.307). His final appeal uses imagery of the U.S. casual shooting down airplanes just off of suspicion. This can stir up the emotion that if we continue on this path of drug war it will effect the generation after us. Bill might have kids so reading this it could be especially powerful and persuasive because he wants his children and grandchildren to have a good life.

Everything considered, Friedman use rhetorical devices in “An Open Letter to Bill Bennett”, are very compelling. Diction and imagery, along with the use of ethos and pathos to create an effective argument about decriminalizing drugs.

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