William F. May's Rising To The Occasion Of Our Death

2114 words - 9 pages

There are three key audiences of the text for William F. May's “Rising to the Occasion of Our Death.” The first audience, in this case, would be legislative organizations or lawmakers who have researched and studied similar cases regarding euthanasia. Since May was as an ethics professor at Southern Methodist University, his tone is decidedly intellectual. An uneducated individual would find it more difficult to read his essay; for example, in declarations such as “Advocates of active euthanasia appeal to the principle of patient autonomy,” May's syntax and tone is formal, informative, and utilizes heavy technical jargon (May 662). In other words, it is authoritative, and enables the audience to view him as a credible source due to his syntactical confidence. Other organizations, lobbyists, or lawmakers who are researching evidence on euthanasia would certainly benefit from reading his expert opinion on the matter. Moreover, his desire to develop a “judicious, regulated policy” is a certain acknowledgement that he is attempting to legally call for regulations on euthanasia (May 662).
The second audience that May is appealing to are conservative Christians, who are distinctively pro-life. As his article was originally published in well-circulated The Christian Century magazine, addressing this audience exposes members of May's audience who are unfamiliar with euthanasia to its technicalities by debating morality. His tone is similar to that of a sermon; instead of utilizing scientific facts or statistics, May chooses to exclude a logos appeal in favor of an ethos objective. He preaches on moral values about life and death, mentioning that “the best death is not always the sudden death” (May 662). According to May, preparation for death should be a right for terminally ill patients and their families. No one should be able to hinder the amount of time that they have to grieve; often, the anticipation of death is enough to heal any discord amongst family members and truly bring about a peaceful passing. May's reference to English anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer indicates that a family faced with the sudden loss of someone suffers from a “limitless grief” (May 662), conveying that this grief can be halted if we allowed terminally-ill patients to die naturally instead of actively euthanizing them. This moral-high ground tone emphasizes the sermon-like appeal, thereby strengthening May's connection with his direct audience.
The third audience, however, is perhaps the one that is most influenced by May's argument. Although May is persuading the audience to not accept active euthanasia, his explanation of the concepts and their impacts on terminally-ill patients is more informatory. Thus, the audience is most likely not knowledgeable about euthanasia, or they are impartial to the issue. If May's objective is to call his readers into action to disallow active euthanasia – “killing for mercy” – then these readers must be both informed and...

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