Home » (Criticisms and Critiques) » A Criticism. Of Contemporary Rhetoric.

A Criticism. Of Contemporary Rhetoric.

In contemporary rhetoric, word choice is now paramount because no one can tolerate arguments that are more than a few sentences long. The rhetor relies on the power of connotation to match the prejudices of the audience. He has lost almost all hope of leading the audience stepwise to a conclusion that may seem strange or have no likeness to its favorite premises. He does not dare introduce a new premise unless it sounds and feels like the old one. His questions conform to the audience’s conclusions. The rhetor falls back on the feelings carried with words: with this audience he loves equality, with that one he loves freedom, with none does he point out how these two exclude and compete with each other.

We Americans cannot tolerate an attack on our prejudices long enough to be shown that our prejudices are unworthy; we must be duped into changing our minds by those who wait to see when we nod our heads.

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