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Friday, August 23, 2013



Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers that attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.*

I recently posted a Cranky Saturday Opinion post where I thought my position was well constructed, cogent and convincing.  My argument included anticipated retorts and responded to them in kind.

I was convinced as I pressed publish that even the most staunch dissenters would agree with my point of view or at least would be unable to dispute it.

What I did not count on was a counterpoint which refers to an argument as just “so much rhetoric.” 

A particular commenter, one for whom I have much respect, started his rebuttal with, “Despite your rhetoric…”

Isn’t it funny how Rhetoric, an art of persuasion, has become a word to simply dismiss and trivialize an argument for which you have no real logical come back.

“Despite your rhetoric…”

“Interesting, but this is just so much rhetoric…”

“This is terrific rhetoric, but…”

All these retorts really mean is, “I have no reasonable response to the argument as you have presented it, but despite the clear persuasiveness of you position I will never waver from my stance, and I choose to ignore everything you say.  I cannot respond, but here are my tired old talking points anyway.  If you respond with more well thought out statements which make my position seem ridiculous it will just be more of the same old rhetoric.”

This use or of the word rhetoric is like waving the flag of ignorance.  I will not attempt to put a wedge into a closed mind that can so easily dodge logical discourse.

How can you not agree?   (That was a rhetorical question.)

*From Wikipedia


  1. I do agree. And not in a rhetorical fashion.


  2. Yes, it's hard to have a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

    I love the way politicians answer a question by saying, "Great question. I'm glad you asked that", then make a complete end run by going right back to their talking points.


  3. Was that a rhetorical question?

  4. some people just simply don't know how to bullshit. it's an art form.

    rhetoric ~ bullshit ... same difference except one sounds more dainty

  5. I think rhetoric only works when two people are having an honest exchange of ideas. Most people believe what they need to believe and are beyond logic or the benefits of true rhetoric.

  6. I guess I won't use that word on you!

  7. I had a college class called "Composition and Rhetoric," and I still don't know what rhetoric is. Despite your helpful diagram. It's one of those concepts I have a mental block about. Like "irony."

    Here's a dismissive expression used by a dissenter at the lunch table today: "That was blown out of proportion." Sure. No logical argument. We must be crazy for bringing up the topic. Let's sweep it back under the rug.

  8. Don't take it too personally, some people just don't like to have their frames of reference shaken.