Friday, March 25, 2011

Activity 3: Analysis of Letter by Tim Yap (23)

When writing his letter to the congressman, Mr John Simmons applied the 3 rhetoric techniques: ethos, pathos and logos to persuade him to vote for stricter control of guns.


Mr Simmons applied pathos by appealing to the emotion of the congressman by saying to him:
"I have been so impressed with your past voting record..."

Mr Simmons praised the congressman by expressing his great impression of his past voting record, and then gave him a motivation, which was:
"...and I am hoping that you will continue to make excellent decisions on behalf of your state."

Mr Simmons had put a stress on the congressman, which was to continue making good decisions. The congressman would be at a loss if he didn't comply with the desires of Mr Simmons, as that would cause Mr Simmons to stop supporting him and change his impression of him.

Next, he briefly introduced himself "...as a concerned parent who lost a child to a gun accident...".

Obviously, as anyone can understand, losing a child would be a most tragic and sad event. Here we can see Mr Simmons is trying to get the congressman to have sympathies for him as he is now in a low-down state, and give him the feeling that he should help him.

Then, to finish his first paragraph, he states the purpose of writing, which is :
"I am writing to urge you to support the gun control legislation that will be on the November ballot."

So, Mr Simmons had already acquired the willingness of the congressman to help in the first opening paragraph.



Next, in his second paragraph where he describes the overall problem guns causes to the country, he applies ethos by simply giving precise statistics on the deaths of people caused by guns
(...according to the F.B.I., approximately 60 percent of all murder victims in the United States in 1994 (about 16,000 people) were killed with firearms...)
as well as the money cost for medical care and such.
(In 1985 (the latest year for which this particular data is available), the cost of shootings--either by others, through self-inflicted wounds, or in accidents--was estimated to be more than $14 billion nationwide for medical care, long-term disability, and premature death)

By giving seemingly accurate numbers (and a FBI source), Mr Simmons had given the congressman a good impression of his knowledge on gun problems, making him a trustworthy person to listen to. Note he didn't simply use wild claims, like "hundreds die from gunshots" or "guns waste loads of money" as they are very exaggerated and not specific. He was simply stating facts.

In his third paragraph, Mr Simmons starts to go deep by stating a particular problem, which is that a victim of a robbery or assault is more likely to die from a perpetrator with a gun than with another weapon or none. He states how criminals can easily obtain guns due to the lack of stricter control. He also adds of the increased likelihood of committing suicide with the ownership of a gun.

We can see here that he applies logos as well as ethos, to reason out the truthfulness and gravity of the dire situation of criminals, guns, and suicide.


Next, in his fourth paragraph, he rebuts a common 'rightful' reason for owning a gun, which is for self-defense. Here, again, he backs up his claim with statistics and facts:
( This is the explanation given by 20 percent of all gun owners and 40 percent of all handgun owners contacted for a household survey conducted in 1999. However research has shown that a gun kept in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a member of the household, or friend, than an intruder. )


Next, he shows that the gun is being exploited at home in domestic fights and squabbles, rather than defending oneself against an intruder, continuing the rebut in the previous paragraph. He uses ethos once more to convince the congressman of the shocking statistics of
justified homicides, which is as he says:
(A study of 743 gunshot deaths by Dr. Arthur Kellermann and Dr. Donald Reay published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that 84% of these homicides occurred during fights in the home. Only 2 of the 743 gunshot deaths occurring in the home involved an intruder killed during an attempted entry. The evidence revealed in the Kellermann study is consistent with data reported by the FBI. In 1993, there were 24,526 people murdered, 13,980 with handguns, yet only 251 justifiable homicides by civilians using handguns.)

Here, we can see that he has now introduced a new alibi: Dr Arthur Kellermann and Dr Donald Reay for the statistics.

Finally, in his penultimate paragraph, Mr Simmons explains his highest cause of requesting his support in stricter gun control. He gives a horrific account of how his own son got killed by a gun and shows the danger of guns falling into the wrong hands.

Mr Simmons ends with applying pathos to express the injustice of the murder to the congressman. And again, he places a stress on him, that if he does not support the stricter control of guns, more of these horrible murders will occur, and the victims' blood will indirectly be in his hands. He just simply asks:
( Do you want to be responsible for supporting legislation that would make more such incidents occur?)

And in his ending paragraph, Mr Simmons uses logos to powerfully reason out how the loose control of guns is threatening the rights of US citizens. He concludes that:
( I believe in our rights as citizens of the United States, especially the right to LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are unquestionably threatened by making it easy for the common citizen to buy a gun. Please, please vote for stricter laws.)

And to end off the letter, he gives the basic formal greeting.


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