Difficult to hear amid the sniping

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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A rhetorical question, employed effectively, is a tactic used to encourage discourse and consideration on behalf of the party at which it is directed. It suggests a depth to an argument that may not have been previously considered, or highlights the fallacy of what may have been offered previously, and whether offered sincerely or facetiously is an efficacious and intelligent way to supplement a position that has already been clearly stated.

As with many weapons employed by the uninitiated, it poses a danger. It proves itself the enemy of the discourse that democracy holds so dear, and instead becomes akin to the childhood tactic of placing one's fingers in one's own ears to avoid discussion that could - and indeed, should - encourage consideration on a topic that may require many viewpoints to be fully realized.

When the passionate zealots from either side of the abortion debate are sniping at each other it is difficult to listen. As someone with a clear viewpoint but a dispassionate approach, I believe I identify with the majority. However, it remains difficult to process the forces of rhetoric when they are directed by such poor generals.

Those poorly phrased, one-line questions posted over the past week in this paper are the product of those whose ammunition of ideas runs so low that they can muster only a pathetic volley using a device they can scarcely operate. They do little to sway those who might be undecided on their argument; the errant shots whiz by, certainly being heard, but as harmless as though they were never fired at all.

It would be an opportune time to suggest that those employing such devices review their reasons for doing so, and in turn to suggest that they remove their proverbial fingers from their ears. However, it remains entirely possible that it's not where the fingers are stationed that is the inherent cause of the problem, but that perhaps it is where the cranium is wedged that is the source of their predicament.

As such, I fear these poor devils are beyond the aid of intervention.

Liam J. McKenna,


Geographic location: Charlottetown

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