About This Site

Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
(What are figures of speech?)
Ask Figaro a question!

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    « Mad Ave's Sexy New Fantasy | Main | Down, Pluto. Play Dead. »

    Plus, We'll Pay for Your Flights

    al-qaeda_recruit.jpgQuote:  “You know you’re considered by Bush and his bunch of warmongers as nothing more than expendable cannon fodder.” American al-Qaeda member Adam Yehiye Gadahn.

    Figure of Speech:  belittlement, the anger trigger.

    An American terrorist appears on al-Qaeda’s latest videotape and urges U.S. soldiers to desert to the other side.  Aristotle would have recognized the cannon-fodder technique as a way to stimulate anger — one of the most persuasive emotions and a centerpiece of pathos, or argument by emotion.

    A person who desires something is especially susceptible to anger.  Frustrate his ability to assuage that desire, and you have an angry person.  The easiest way to stimulate anger, Aristotle went on, is to belittle that desire.  If you want a hospital patient to sue a doctor, for example, convince the patient that the doc neglected to take her problem seriously.  Most personal lawsuits arise out of this sense of belittlement.

    Keep in mind that Aristotle lived in a culture that resembles the modern street gang — macho, violent, and sensitive to any slight.  Disrespect an ancient Greek, or an ancient Greek’s woman, and you should be prepared to hop the next trireme.  But the modern young soldier desires much the same thing:  respect.  So Gadahn claims that Bush disrespects soldiers.

    While Gadahn makes a good attempt at a pathetic argument, it’s hard to persuade when you happen to be a terrorist.  To put it rhetorically, the man’s ethos sucks.

    Snappy Answer:  “And you’ll give me a free belt if I switch sides?”

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.