Marijuana Rhetoric: An Analysis Of The Rhetoric Of The White House Ondcp Website.

1919 words - 8 pages

The intensity of the drug debate is reflected in President George Bush's recent promise to lead a more aggressive campaign against substance abuse, ordering that resources be allocated to fighting so-called 'soft' drugs instead of concentrating on harder forms, such as marijuana and cocaine. At the center of the debate over marijuana is the issue of its legality, the main differences concerning its hazards, both to the health of an individual user and to society. A key contributor to the Bush administration's efforts to keep marijuana illegal is the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The ONDCP website's emphasis on marijuana's harmful social and healthful effects confirms that the very nature of the drug debate relies on the establishment of a cause and effect relationship, an argument that should be solved with empirical data. The stated goals of the ONDCP are to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing, and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences. An analysis of the rhetorical appeals used in the ONDCP website link on marijuana reveals that the White House policy on marijuana is not based on legitimate rhetorical appeals, and that the primary rhetorical aim of the ONDCP is not to persuade an audience of the illegality of marijuana, but rather to spin a political justification for the White House's war on drugs.The ability of the ONDCP website to succeed in persuading its audience must be measured by the audience to which it is directing those appeals. Individuals most likely to log on to the ONDCP website are looking for uncomplicated, factual information. They do not want to sift through pages of scientific or technical data, most of which is not easily understood by a layman, and are depending on someone else to make sense of that data. A visitor to the ONDCP website is already convinced that marijuana is harmful, and is primarily looking to enhance their understanding of those harmful effects. Logging onto the site of the primary advocate for marijuana illegalization, is like hearing only one side of the issue. A person relying on the conclusions of a secondary information source that is also a key figure in the debate must have a high degree of faith in that source. The ONDCP does not identify who that target audience is, but it can be determined by its strategic application and deliberate manipulation of the types of rhetorical appeals, pathos, logos, and ethos.ONDCP's appeals to pathos are a key to understanding the marijuana debate. The conversation surrounding the marijuana debate has much to do with the choice and the contextual presentation and the disparate meanings which people attach to those words. The the reader into a subconscious acceptance of its flawed arguments. The very use of the words illicit, abuse, dependency, and problem places marijuana in a negative light, and any argument on behalf of legalization would first have to counter these negative...

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