Rhetoric Used for Evil

Within the first few chapters of our textbook, I noticed a common theme discussed regarding the fact that rhetoric can be used for both good and evil. Within today’s society, specifically in America, I connect the idea of rhetoric with negative connotations tied to today’s world of advertisement. Advertising is all about the deliberate use of language to result in a certain outcome. Although many advertisements today use images that spark emotions of lust, want, and need, many advertisements also use language in a way that sparks similar emotions. Many companies create ads using strategic language in a way that will entice potential buyers and it can be argued that using rhetoric in this way can be considered more of an evil approach than a good one. Most advertisements are using rhetoric in a way that aim to persuade the viewer or reader and make them believe they need or want the product being advertised.

The idea of ethics in rhetoric can come into play while talking about advertisements in America today. Throughout their strategic use of rhetoric in their ads, many companies can avoid mentioning the negative side effects of their drug, or the unexpected costs to come after buying their brand of car. These purposeful exclusions of information can back up the idea of rhetoric used for “evil” instead of good. Especially in the twenty first century, the world of advertising has seemingly escalated into what can be argued as being an unethical industry. The industry casts a negative light on rhetoric because of how it uses it to manipulate the public.

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One thought on “Rhetoric Used for Evil

  1. Overall, I believe that rhetoric is a positive tool, however there are instances in which rhetoric comes with a negative connotation. In the text, rhetoric is referred to as evil because of its ability to flatter an unsuspecting listener into agreeing with something through manipulation. I agree with Nicki that rhetoric is a huge component of advertisements. The whole purpose of an advertisement is to convince a consumer to buy a certain product. Thus, ads must use persuasion and communicate in a clear and concise way in order to accomplish this task. I also believe advertisements can be manipulative and leave out information. Another manipulative technique of advertisements that particularly bothers me is when commercials for a drug list all the side effects and risks at the end. They often rattle them off so fast that it is nearly impossible for the listener to make out what is being said. This example demonstrates a time when rhetoric is definitely used in a negative way to try and manipulate an audience.

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