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La Pierre Vs. Harris: Strategies Showdown Essay

2207 words - 9 pages

In the tragedy of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, shooter Adam Lanza murdered 20 children and 6 teachers. Some people look at this event as a terrible tragedy because it struck them emotionally that 20 children had died. Others look at this event as a tragedy because it is rare, one of kind freak accident that definitely does not happen every day, or even years. According to nces.ed.gov, the chance of a random shooting to occur at any elementary school in the U.S is 1 in 88,962, and the chance of any elementary school child getting killed is roughly 1 in 23 million. This is less than the chance of hitting a jackpot for an average lottery which is at 1 in 15 million. Wayne LaPierre, who is the National Rifle Association’s vice president, addressed the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in his speech “Transcript of speech on Newtown Shooting.” In his speech, he uses an excessive amount of pathos to arouse his audience emotionally, and uses strong language with aggressive demeanor to convince the audience to agree with him. On the other hand, Sam Harris, an author of bestselling books and had his work discussed in major journals such as New York Times and Scientific American wrote the article “The Riddle of the Gun”. In this article, he provides many statistical values and facts to neutralize people’s feelings towards the shooting. In this paper, I will compare each writer’s strategies and explain their effectiveness. In both articles, LaPierre and Harris effectively utilize a variety of strategies such as compare and contrast, pathos and logos, but overall, Harris does a better job of relating to a broader audience.
\ In LaPierre’s speech, he uses pathos as his main strategy to convince the audience to stay on his side. Pathos is commonly used when the author or speaker wants his audience to feel the same emotions he is feeling, whether or not they agree on the actual topic. LaPierre often uses pathos to heat up the emotions of the audience, a good example of this when he states “we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it” (65). To maximize the effect of pathos, rather than using bad guys and criminals, LaPierre uses words like “monsters” and “predators” to provoke fear. Doing so creates a sense of urgency among his audience that something must be done to save these little children and that is exactly what LaPierre aimed for as he later proposes a solution for this problem. LaPierre’s choice of words such as “monsters” and “predators” definitely helps to contribute success in his use of pathos as it effectively demonstrates the danger their children faces. However, the reason why his pathos works extraordinarily well is because of the audience, who are made of NRA’s supporters and victims of the Newtown shooting. In other words, the audience basically would have agreed with LaPierre despite what he says as long it is what they want to hear which is putting down the...

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