Textual Analysis – Final [Etherington]

Rhetorical analysis refers to breaking up a piece of literature into multiple parts and then uses those parts to try to persuade or entertain a certain position/view-point. Within the article Selzer addresses Aristotle early on mentioning stating “Aristotle was at pains to describe audience (understood as actual listeners) in his Rhetoric, where he detailed the kinds of strategies likely to compel particular types of auditors and readers, -“. Selzer makes it clear that one key part of rhetorical analysis is that it is used to compel some form of argument in order to persuade an audience.

In “An Open Letter to Bill Bennett” written by Milton Friedman, the author uses ethos, pathos, and logos throughout his writing in both context and word choice to further press his ideas and thoughts toward the subject of drug criminalization in the United States. The basis of Friedman’s thoughts towards the efforts and ideas of -at the time- President Bush and Bill Bennett, is that they have the right ideals in mind and are correct in their stance of anti-drug use and how it is tearing apart the nations society; however Friedman highly disagrees with the actions his fellow republicans are proposing in order to fight the drug war.

Friedman writes “[Bill Bennett] are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society” (pg. 306). Friedman goes on to discuss how it is the criminalization of drugs that has caused the increase in illegal drug use, and goes as far to say that if drugs weren’t illegal, crack never would have been created. He references back to the years of alcohol prohibition and to an article he wrote seventeen years prior to this letter to address how the world has changed and make some form of parallel between drugs and alcohol.

Friedman’s word choice eloquently allows him to express ethos, pathos, and logos effectively to further push his opinions and passions regarding the drug war onto Bill Bennett through writing. By the use of words like cherish and devastating, Bennett propose’s a sense of pathos, also known as emotional appeal. Through his word choice he is able to express how he feels toward the war on drugs and the tactics proposed by his fellow republicans. He expresses his anger and distrust in the system’s efforts through his use of language, which can further persuade his audience into developing the common belief that what Friedman believes is true and more helpful than what his republican counterparts are proposing. Through the use of words such as monopolize, criminalize, and prohibition, Friedman attaches these words to his expression of ethos – ethical appeal.   Through words such as prohibition, he can trace his argument not only to the standard that drugs are prohibited in the United States, but also references the prohibition of alcohol which caused a large increase in the American crime rate during its illegality period in the early twentieth century. Friedman also references an article he had written about seventeen years before his current letter to Bill Bennett. Through his choice of words and through his references to history and his previously written article; it further proves that Friedman is a reliable source whose opinion can be trusted. Through words such as “decriminalizing”, Friedman further expresses himself through a more logical appeal. He routinely references the word ‘decriminalization’ or ‘decriminalizing’ because in Friedman’s educated opinion, decriminalizing would be a stronger effort to end the war on drugs than to place more money and forces toward fighting the drug war. Through his word choice Friedman does a good job persuading his audience that there are better and more efficient ways to fight the war on drugs.

Although he is a part of the republican party, he seems to slightly sway away from his republican brother’s ideas and strategies toward some major social issues within the country. Although he doesn’t forwardly state his political beliefs and doesn’t outright claim his disinterest in his fellow republicans, it is clearly shown through his writing that he’s on edge with their ideas.

Through specific word choice a writer has the power to change his means of interpreting and delivering a specific message or form of opinions. Although pieces of literature in general depict a writers views and opinions, word choice truly makes a piece of writing impactful and allows the author to make a further connection with his audience.

Rhetorical analysis in “An open letter to Bill Bennett” can be broken into numerous parts all retaining the central idea that there is a better way to combat that drug war. Through his word choice throughout this piece of literature, Friedman truly conveys his thoughts and opinions strongly.

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