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Rhetorical Analysis: Watson and Rifkin

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    Jeremy Rifkin, an American economist, writer and public speaker, is founder and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends (FOET). In his article, “A Change of Heart about Animals,” published in the Los Angeles Times (2003), suggests that animals are more like humans in the sense that they are capable of feeling emotions as well as comprehending concepts much like we’ve never expected. He supports his claim by providing a series of statistics, facts and rhetorical questions, all of which have a strong appeal directly to logos and indirectly to pathos.

    Also, Paul Watson, in his essay “Loving Nature with a Gun,” (2006) addresses the topic of animal treatment. The Canadian animal rights and environmental activist and former Sierra Club National Director aggressively argue that the Sierra Club, an animal and environmentalist organization, is portraying an inappropriate and hypocritical image of the corporation. Watson relies on a strong appeal to pathos in the form of personal opinion as well as logos presented as statistics to support his main claim. Both Rifkin and Watson address the topic of animal treatment.

    Rifkin and Watson both use pathos and logos to support their claims however, they do so in contrasting ways. In my rhetorical analysis of the essay’s I will examine these strategies in both texts, make connections between the two works, and I will show how Rifkin’s essay clarifies Watson’s and was ultimately more effective. First I will talk about a very important term in Rhetoric, the logos appeal. Logos, which is the appeal to logics, provides hard to debate and solid evidence. Although it is present in both the authors’ essays, it is more frequently addressed in Rifkin’s piece.

    For example, the author states, “Studies on pigs’ social behavior funded by McDonald’s at Purdue University have found that they crave attention and are easily depressed if isolated or denied playtime with each other. The lack of mental and physical stimuli can result in deterioration of health. ” (Rifkin 16) In this particular statistic Rifkin is suggesting that animals may have more emotions than most people might know of that could just as well play onto the overall health of the animal.

    The author uses many examples that reference a credible source such as The European Union, the German Government, the journal Science, Harvard and 25 other U. S. law schools as well as Purdue University in this case. Citing a second source from a prestigious university such as Purdue adds credibility to his argument and informs the audience of further research found in support of his claims. On the other hand, Watson uses logos not to inform the audience like Rifkin does but to attack the Sierra Club.

    He states, “I wonder how many Sierra Club members realize that the club is offering a grand prize of an all expense paid trip for two to the Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge. The value of the prize is $12,200… I notice this sick little excursion was never brought to the Board of Directors for approval. ” (Watson 13) Here Watson’s use of logos references himself for credibility, as he is part of the Board of Directors. He wants to expose this non-profit organization to the public on what it is actually doing with donated funds, especially since it contradicts the purpose of the corporation.

    Following this further, it is clear Rifkin’s examples of logos provided him with more credibility than that of Watson because he took it to the next level by referencing a second and well-known source. Whereas, Watson’s essay only offered himself for his only source as evidence which came off slightly opinionated. Watson may have had bias remarks to aid in his appeal to logos but when incorporated into his argument it made the author’s pathos appeal undeniable. Pathos is the appeal to emotions. Watson relies on this strategy far more than any other found in his essay.

    He uses vulgar language when expressing his disgust toward animal cruelty such as, “It was a goddamn embarrassment to discover…” (Watson 13) and, “Hard to believe, but, the Sierra Club is actually spending donated funds to send some sadistic bastard up to Alaska to kill a grizzly or whatever else he stumbles upon. Yep, that’s the way to protect nature – shoot it. ” (Watson 13) The author uses these words to intensify the severity of the issue and to influence the audience to believe how wrong and hypocritical it is that member of the Sierra Club are actually participating in hunting and angling.

    Later Watson states, “Many, like Vice President Dick Cheney, like their victims helpless therefore they patronize canned hunts and safaris parks to snuff out defenseless captive animals. ” (Watson 14) This statement is a strong appeal to pathos because it associates someone who is of higher authority and even serves on our government. It gives the audience an unpleasant image of our leaders of America participating in the cruel death of such helpless victims only for fun. Watson wants the audience to feel just as angry and betrayed as he is.

    Similar to Watson, Rifkin does have many pathos appeals yet they are subtle and indirect. They tie into his logos appeals and he therefore relies on the two equally to support his main claim. One prime example of Rifkin’s pathos appeal is the following: “Scientists have long believed mourning for the dead is the real divide. It’s commonly believed that other animals have no sense of their mortality and are unable to comprehend the concept of their own death. Not necessarily so. Animals, it appears, experience grief.

    Elephants will often stand next to their dead kin for days, occasionally touching their bodies with their trunks. ” (Rifkin 16) In this quote, because Rifkin is reporting the words of a scientist and doesn’t actually incorporate any of his own or others feelings here, immediately the audience will recognize a logos appeal. But upon further diagnosis of this claim and with death being such an excruciating idea, this easily will have an effect on the reader’s feelings and emotions.

    In fact, in the beginning of this quote, Rifkin states that most people don’t think animals will be grieved by the loss of others. To find out that animals can grasp this immense concept and be upset by it too, Rifkin is hoping to change the way the audience thinks about animals by letting them know, they do feel and think in very similar ways to humans. Both authors’ appeal to their audience’s emotions, but they chose to direct their examples into different emotions. Watson was very aggressive, angry and frankly, negative while Rifkin was neutral for the most part with a positive and playful side at times.

    In Conclusion, Rifkin and Watson both address the topic of animal treatment and cruelty but do so in very different ways. Rifkin’s piece was well organized, provided a wealth of credible information and had a consistent examples of logos and pathos that complimented each other throughout the essay. On the contrary, Watson’s essay was full of strong appeals to pathos, although not always appropriate and less appeals to logos. Watson’s essay focused heavily on his own heartbreak and attempt to provoke the emotion of the reader.

    So much so his grief and anger were unmistakable but the original problem as well as the Sierra Club itself went unexplained. Yet, Rifkin supplied a wealth of research and statistical evidence while at the same time applying these concepts to the audience’s own reactions and feelings. For this reason, I believe Rifkin’s essay clarifies what Watson’s back round ideas and therefore more effective. A reader with not much knowledge in the conservation of wildlife will not know exactly what the Sierra Club stands for or the problem in them having a hunting outreach program.

    It would only result in an overload of unexplained emotion and possibly offense. But, when taken into consideration the audience and place of publication, I find both essay’s to be very suitable. Taking a comparative look at both of the essays, Watson wrote a very emotional piece with little explanation to the scenario he addressed. However, the animal rights activist article was posted on his own web page where most likely fans of his and other readers interested in the topic of animal negligence.

    My understanding is that these readers are probably not new to this material and Watson probably felt comfortable displaying his emotions so strongly. Rifkin’s essay in relation to his audience and publication was appropriate and effective as well. This article was published in the Los Angeles Times where readers from all across the country with equally different views will be reading it. Therefore this more professional article was well suited for the widely known newspaper. Ultimately, I believe Rifkin’s argument was more effective.

    Not only was it better suited for a large audience, his neutral pathos appeals allowed the audience to have a more original reaction of their own. Of course, Rifkin was hopeful to change the audience’s misconceptions about animals and get them the respect they deserve but never did he relate any part of his argument to his own frustration about the topic like Watson mistakenly did. It seems immature to me as a reader that the whole of his argument was based on the uproar of him finding out that the Sierra Club was illegitimate.

    It was more of a diary entry than an effective, persuasive essay. Maybe Watson’s friends and fans can relate but friends or not, a good point needs good reasons as to why. Watson’s essay left the reader with many “why” questions and any reader, experience with animal rights/treatment or not, would consider Rifkin’s more convincing. Works Cited Rifkin, Jeremy. A Change of Heart about Animals. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Times, 2003. Watson, Paul. Loving Nature with a Gun. http://www. seashepherd. org/, 2006

    Rhetorical Analysis: Watson and Rifkin. (2018, Feb 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/rhetorical-analysis-watson-and-rifkin/

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