Textual Analysis Final [Worthington]

In Milton Friedman’s open letter to Bill Bennett, Friedman is able to construct a fluid and concrete argument in which he explains to Bennett that decriminalizing drugs is the right approach and solution to the drug war being dealt with during 1989. Friedman is able to accomplish such an argumentative insightful idea, through his systematic structure that enables him to lay out his paper to use repetitive language, allowing him to control the emotion of the reader, while incorporating evidence to build upon his already credible claims, makes his open ended piece very persuadable to the reader.  


Although Friedman starts out with a commonly used quote, that in some stance reflects negatively to his literature background, he does a good job at putting the topic of, the fight against drugs, into the eyes of the reader that proclaims aspects of an ideal solution supported by Bennett himself, to be at fault. He uses very descriptive words in his short introductory rant that amplify strong propositions of the other side. Some word choices he uses to help generate an impact to the reader when reading opposed solutions are phrases like: “more jails” and “harsh penalties” (306). Friedman’s concluding sentence though, reinforces that the drug war cannot be won on such tactics, and uses claims referring to to our individual freedom and rights to earn trust with the reader. In a sense, he is luring them to his side by creating a bond with the reader before furthering his argument, this allows him to be heard more as readers are eager to read more about his own solution and approach to fighting the war on drugs.


Furthering Friedman’s letter, he transitions to making peace and agreeing with long term goals and societal beliefs that him and Bennett both share in common. He starts every sentence with “you are not mistaken” followed by dark descriptive claims that not only allow him and Bennett share belief too, but as a whole it also outlines the seriousness and severity of the war on drugs in our society, once again creating an emotional impact on the reader to feel empathy for such an issue. These feelings of empathy, sorrow, and intense tone, setup Friedman to roll out his argument. Starting with the third paragraph, he continues the same theme in word choice as he did with the previous paragraph. “Your mistake…” (306) Friedman says, this strong phrase stands out in this piece as he is directly telling Bennett and those who follow similar ideas, that their approach is wrong, and here’s why. This sets up Friedman to elaborate with supporting evidence on why he believes decriminalizing drugs is the solution. Once again, we see Friedman using a very repetitive vocabulary and tone throughout the third paragraph. The use of the word “illegal” is at the start of most sentences. Friedman economically rationales his reason for belief of decriminalization of drugs is the most effective effort to stop the war on drugs. Through his explanation of demand, the word “illegal” helps bring across a main idea to the reader. This word choice stands out to many as it is describing a non legal action, ultimately drug trade and use. Remembering that his solution is decriminalizing drugs, Friedman not only uses word choice to grab the reader, but he uses certain words like “illegal” to connect to a future point or main idea. The combination of these two methods not only is very effective, but shows that Friedman lays out his paper in a very structured way in that it all ties in together.  


In the second half of Friedman’s open letter he brings out denser material in which overall supports his main message. He draws on his past writings from 1972, and compares the drug problem from then to seventeen years later. He lists out claims that add heavy pressure to the reader, making them feel that the war against drugs is a serious issue and is worse and more prominent today, “ Today, also, the problem is far more serious than it was 17 years ago: more addicts, more innocent victims; more drug pushers, more law enforcement officials; more money spent to enforce prohibition, more money spent on circumvent prohibition.” (307). Friedman concludes these middle paragraphs with “what if” clauses, followed by answers. He sets up most of his page for this time, he has addressed the problem and why it is one, and then he describes drug related actions and events that could all have never of happened if decriminalization of drugs had been put in place years ago. In order to develop a well rounded argument, Friedman discusses a variety of social problems that have been affected, and would not have been if the decriminalization of drugs had been put in place earlier. Some of these problems that Friedman explains are ghetto crime, life and deaths of victims, and international policy. Given these three aspects, Friedman is able to expand his audience as people now have a variety of issues they can relate too or work with when trying to follow his argument as a whole. Along with his descriptions, his dramatizing language helps create a sense of imagery to the reader, creating a stronger message within his letter.


Friedman concludes his letter with a personal statement that paints a picture of what the future of our country will look like if decriminalization of drugs is not in place by detailed descriptions of the effects of the drug war. He reels in the reader’s attention with this concluding paragraph and makes them think of how they want to live and how our country wants to be looked upon, a very patriotic and thought provoking connection that Friedman is able to accomplish. Overall, Friedman lays out his letter in such a structure that enables his word choice, tone, repetition of themes, and credibility to grab the reader’s attention by creating an emotional connection, followed behind a thought provoking self reflection on one’s stance regarding the drug war and its path of resolution.

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