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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On rhetoric

I am constantly amazed that those who claim Republicans would institute a theocracy in this country show a blithe indifference, if not outright moral suppor, to the real theocracies in world. Perhaps our rhetoric is starting to catch up with us?

Dictionary.com presents the following definition of rhetoric:
(in writing or speech) the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast.
Going one step further, we find the definition of bombast as:
speech too pompous for an occasion; pretentious words

Now, when Alec Baldwin suggests that someone should kill Representative Henry Hyde most reasonable people in the United States recognize that Baldwin is using overblown rhetoric and that he doesn't mean it. At least I'm pretty sure he doesn't mean to be taken literally.

Other political rhetoric in the United States follows similar tones - on both sides of course.

On the other hand is Mr. Ahmadinejad, president of nuclear-aspirant Iran. In a speech last October, he said, "As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map." Now here's the problem as I see it. I don't think Mr. Ahmadinejad's words are rhetoric - as the word is defined. I am not sure that the "wiped off the map" term is, in his mind, an "undue use of exaggeration" nor do I think the words are "bombast." I don't think the folks at the very top, that is, the world "leaders", are treating the statement (and others like it) as rhetoric, but I wonder if the average Joe can tell the difference anymore.

A scary thought is that the rhetoric in the United States has become so overblown, and perhaps the most overblown over the most trivial issues, that we can no longer detect true danger when it is spoken about directly and forthrightly.

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