Rhetorical Analysis Final [Uluc]

In the United States alone there are hundreds and thousands of drug related crimes being committed every year. These crimes have resulted in spikes of violence in society and the deaths of many innocent people. Bill Bennett, former drug czar for the senior Bush administration, strongly believes in making and keeping harmful substances such as cocaine illegal. He believes it will make drugs less easily accessible and thus decrease addiction and drug related crimes in the U.S.

Milton Friedman in his writing “An Open Letter To Bill Bennett”, expresses his opposing thoughts to those of Bennetts. Friedman believes that criminalizing people that use drugs is not the answer to decreasing drug abuse. In his letter he states “IIlegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.” (p3). Friedman is explaining to Bennett that the illegalization of drugs is the reason drug lords make more money, law enforcement becomes corrupt, and the reason that law forces are running out of resources to fight other crimes. Illegal or not, drugs will always be accessible to those who want them.

In the beginning his letter, Milton Friedman uses repetition. He repeats “You are not mistaken” to emphasize his awareness of the devastating effects drugs have on our society. This also makes his statement “Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore”(pg3) all the more powerful.           What he means by this is, sending people to jail over drugs and making them illegal is resulting in an increased usage of drugs. People want things more when they know they can’t have them, its human nature. Also, making drugs illegal has made having them in possession far more valuable to drug users.

Next, Friedman makes a bold statement in saying “Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, “crack” would never have been invented…” He is essentially blaming the government for the invention of cocaine. When other drugs became illegal, their value went up causing them to get expensive. A cheaper alternative for these drugs was cocaine.

Friedman uses logical appeal when he addresses “narco terror”. People in Colombia, Bolivia and Peru are living in fear of drug lords and the dangerous powers they posses. He goes on to mention that alcohol and tobacco cause many more deaths in users than drugs do. Friedman explains it is a lot easier to legalize drugs and regulate them, than to completely ban their usage. He uses the example of how we currently regulate the use of tobacco and alcohol. Our system works because alcohol consumption is not seen as a major problem to society. Drugs could be that way too if they weren’t demonized.

Milton Friedman uses more logos when he reveals that sending people to jail for drug use is not effective. He states “Moreover, if even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to the users could be dramatic.”(pg9) He’s right suggesting drug users have a higher chance of recovering when sent to rehabilitation centers instead of hostile prisons.

Near the end of his letter, Friedman surprises readers by using strong pathos. He states “This plea comes from the bottom of my heart.”(pg10). Friedman uses such strong emotional appeal because he wants to get his message across. He is reaching out from the “bottom of his heart” to show the reader this is something very important to him. In order to reduce drug related crimes and deaths, the legalization of drugs in neccesary.

Finally, Friedman presents a powerful call to action in writing “Decriminalizing drugs is even more urgent now than in 1972. We must recognize that the harm done in the interim cannot be wiped out, certainly not immediately. Postponing decriminalization will only make matters worse, and make the problem appear even more intractable.”(pg8) He is not only suggesting that drugs be legalized, but he goes as far as claiming it is “urgent”. He believes this should no longer be postponed. Friedman utilized strong logical and emotional appeal in hopes of persuading Bill Bennett to legalize drugs and change the self-destructing path our society is on.

Works cited:

  • “An Open Letter to Bill Bennett” By Milton Friedman

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