I’m jarred today. Thrown off. Wasn’t expecting to feel this way the day after a presidential election. Last week, I witnessed my least favorite baseball team claim their first World Series victory in over a century. Today, I mourn something even more important than millionaires playing a ballgame in a field of green.
Today, I worry about what I do.
When Clinton’s opponents were concerned that she “hated coal” and was going to “destroy coal families” I had a mental reaction. If the scientists she trusts express that the coal industry is harmful to our society and planet–and that we ought to seek out alternative power sources–then perhaps we shouldn’t see any change in the coal mining industry as an attack on coal families or workers but rather that it was done out of the concern for the health of all living things on this planet.
In short, should we actually see the coal industry come to a close, it doesn’t mean that those people are incapable of working/living elsewhere, right? It’s not like she’s wanting to put them in prison for some arbitrary but sensationalized reason, right?
Then today, as I was discussing some techniques to writing arguments, I had an epiphany. First, the lesson involved what are known as the three ethical appeals. The Latin terms are “ethos,” “pathos,” and logos.” These are techniques of rhetoric that are meant to appeal to the ethics, the intelligence, and the compassion of the reader/listen/viewer. Successful arguments, I posited in class, combine all three in the course of the speech/essay, etc.
Then it occurred to me. That’s not absolutely true.
I think I added on that, though it is not common and rather unprecedented at that level, that perhaps someone who clearly lacks knowledge of one or all of these techniques can successfully get through to an audience.
Someone who uses sentence fragments and nonsensical patterns of thought can successfully get through to an audience.
Someone who can insert loaded language, harsh, demeaning words on virtually any topic can successfully get through to an audience.
Someone who can make unverified claims about, well, whatever is on his/her mind at that moment can successfully get through to an audience.
Someone who can invent words on the spot and continue speaking as if everyone should understand this never-before-uttered word can successfully get through to an audience.
Someone who can lie, mix up information, get dates wrong, mock those with physical handicaps, speak basely, and falsely claim that he has more money, more friends, and regular-sized hands can successfully get through to an audience.
Someone who can just talk without notes, preparation, or general tact can successfully get through to an audience.
And not a small audience, mind you.
An audience of over 120,000,000 people.
A hundred and twenty million people.
That’s roughly 24 Cubs World Series Parade Rally Events. Combined.