Bill Moyer, ALEC and Rhetoric

Posted: September 30, 2012 in Piano


Rhetoric (Photo credit: monojussi)

I want to type a short blog entry about Bill Moyer’s show on the political organization ALEC.

I want to focus on the subject of rhetoric as it is evident in Mr. Moyer’s story.  “Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations,” according to WIKI.

What is relevant here is the object of rhetoric. A speaker is using discourse to produce a desired end; the education of the listener. The speaker has prescience: knowledge about how the rhetoric will shape the listener’s understanding.

As it applies to Moyer’s piece on ALEC, we have the case of a group of interested actors who offer model legislation for consideration by legislators. The models are rhetoric. Where rhetoric sometimes uses false logic and misstatements of fact, a listener might accept the rhetoric as true and not be inclined, or able, to discern the falsity in the rhetoric.

When this happens, you end up with a legislator who believes the message is true and factual. That legislator has been duped, and is completely unaware that the original speaker intended the listener to become duped.

What rhetoric influences your beliefs about the world, politics, and current events?

If you discovered that a popular notion was based on false information, would you abandon your beliefs, even if it seemed that everyone else you know was unwilling to do so?

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