ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Whitey’s Olympics: The Discourse Of Discrimination In International Sport

logo  2002-1Sports and politics are popularly held as discrete, though sometimes overlapping, domains (Edwards, 1973; Hartmann, 1996; Hoberman, 1997). In contrast to the popularly held notion that sport is not, and should not be, political, Burstyn (1999) argues that sport is in fact central in dominant political and social systems. She adopts the term “sport nexus” as a cipher for the “multibranched transnational economy” surrounding Jhally’s (1984) “sport-media complex,” which articulates sport with “the mass media, corporate sponsors, governments, medicine, and biotechnology” (Burstyn, 1999, p. 17). In this paper, I further develop the claim that sport is, indeed, a political spectacle by examining the performative dimensions of two major grassroots Olympic boycott movements begun in the United States. The purpose of my investigation is to illustrate the ways in which grassroots U.S. Olympic boycott rhetoric advances a complicity theory of discrimination that, in conjunction with theories of social justice, has the potential to inform broader human rights campaigns.

Originally proposed as peaceful competition among individuals from many nations, the Olympics have evolved into nationalist spectacles (Guttman, 1992; Hulme, 1990). Grassroots U.S. American boycott movements in Olympic history, such as the Jewish boycott of the 1936 Berlin Games and the Black boycott of the 1968 Mexico City Games, offer critiques of Olympism, nationalism, and racial essentialism that contribute to a complicity theory of discrimination. I analyze the discursive strategies at work in the two boycott movements from a rhetorical perspective informed by McGary’s (1999) “theory of collective moral liability” (p. 87). I assert that the discursive strategies of the boycott movements are consistent with a social justice framework because they draw attention to social, political, and economic complicity in discrimination and provide a forum through which people can address their implication in, and moral liability for, discriminatory practices and policies.

In the past decade, communication scholars have shown increasing interest in social justice research. Much of this recent work argues that social justice is a marginalized concern in the discipline and focuses on applied case studies and the difference researchers can make in the lives of others (e.g., Frey, 1998; Frey, Pearce, Pollock, Artz & Murphy, 1996; Pearce, 1998; Pollock, Artz, Frey, Pearce & Murphy, 1996). Wood (1996), however, interprets social justice broadly and argues that publications across the field demonstrate a commitment to the dismantling of social injustice. This study contributes to the development of social justice research within the field of rhetorical and media studies, and illustrates the ways in which discourse analysis can contribute to the development of material and discursive responses to social injustice. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Arguments Of Victims: A Case Study Of The Timothy McVeigh Trial

logo  2002-1When the sun arose over Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, occupants and nearby residents of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building experienced the horror of a bomb blast that killed 168 and injured 500 members of their community. Following a lengthy trial, the jury convicted Timothy McVeigh of the bombing. After hearing thirty-eight victims testify about the impact of the bombing on their lives and that of their loved ones, the jury sentenced McVeigh to death. The victim’s arguments, called victim impact statements (VIS), convinced jurors that McVeigh should receive the death penalty rather than life imprisonment. Federal legal authorities executed McVeigh on June 11, 2001. This essay:
1. explains the origin and history of victims’ arguments in the courts in the United States,
2. describes this type of argumentation as a distinct genre of legal discourse by using Mikhail Bakhtin’s explanations of content, stylistics, and speech plans, and
3. discusses the implications of the study for research about legal argument.

1. Origin and History of Victims’ Arguments
Victim impact statements are a unique genre of legal argumentation. The use of victims’ arguments in the McVeigh trial evolved as part of a two-decade struggle for victims’ rights in the United States (McDonald, 1976; Carrington & Nicholson, 1984; Roland, 1989). This struggle began in the late 1970s and achieved legislative success with the 1982 Victim and Witness Protection Act. Temporary setbacks in victims’ rights took place when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Booth v. Maryland (1987) and South Carolina v. Gathers (1989) that victims’ impact testimony was unduly prejudicial to jurors because it could not be refuted by the defense and because defendants generally did not know who their victims were when they committed their crimes. In 1991 the victims’ rights movement gained new momentum when both of these decisions were overturned in Payne v. Tennessee. Even more voice was given to victims in 1994 through The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which permitted both the use of the death penalty and VIS in federal trials.U.S. v. Timothy James McVeigh (1997) was the one of first federal capital cases to be tried under this statute.
Victims (often with the assistance of attorneys) justify the death penalty for a defendant because of the suffering they have experienced as a result of a crime. Some VIS are presented to the judge in the form of written arguments; others are read to jurors by a court official. Still others are both written and presented orally to the judge and jurors. In general, victims state their names, describe economic losses or physical injuries, identify changes in their physical or psychological well being, and/or explain the general effects of an offense (Schneider, 1992). The arguments from victims provide evidence about “any harm, including financial, social, psychological and physical harm, done to or loss suffered” by a victim at the hands of the accused (Victim and Witness Protection Act, 1982, 32). Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Empowering Activism: Hortatory Arguments In On-line Environmental Networks

logo  2002-1Abstract
Calls to action in environmental on-line networks reveal hortatory persuasion tactics used in new media discourse. Arguments of empowerment found in such electronically linked communities as environmental news digests, and email listservs of environmentalist groups, invoke a proactive audience. Hortatory elements of argument distinguish communication aimed at persuasion of beliefs and attitudes from arguments that are calls to action. Environmentalist discourse of on-line networks emphasizes the urgency of environmental crises, by placing blame and responsibility on humanity. Particularly in an era of civil society connected by global networks, hortatory arguments are crucial rhetorical devices for effective environmental social movements.
Globalization has pervaded the human experience. Indeed, in this media saturated world, it is difficult to ignore the interconnectedness of global events, ideas and cultures. As economic integration and political transformation influence international relations, individuals are responding to globalization through their own activities. “The study of argumentation is experiencing – and in turn reflects – many senses of the globalization concept…. The globalization of communication, and particularly of the Internet, has made questions about the influence of culture perhaps even more important than is usually recognized” (Klumpp, Hollihan, and Riley, 2001). A civil society is emerging as individuals identify and actualize common bonds, forming coalitions across traditional state and institutional boundaries (Wapner, 1998). One of the ways this is happening is through the creation of networks based on information and communication technologies (Keck and Sikkink, 1998). Some of the most prolific of these communication networks are environmental advocacy networks. The argumentation strategies of groups who communicate their positions on these networks are unique because they exhibit qualities of hortatory rather than simply descriptive discourse. These networks are distinct from informational or traditional news sources because they present environmental news as calls to action. This paper is a case study of several environmental news digests and email listservs of environmental groups and explores what the arguments of these networks tell us about how globalization is changing argumentation practices. I am interested in what the hortatory arguments of environmental on-line networks reveal about how technology affects the intent and purpose of arguers.

From the Latin, hortari, to encourage, exhortation can be broadly described as “the use of rhetorical means to encourage ongoing moral reformation or, more immediately, to encourage morally significant action on the basis of common experience, conviction or hope” (Avram, 2001, p. 279). Marked by strong urging, encouraging or inciting, hortatory discourse attempts to persuade the addressee to do something or to act in a certain way – to fulfill commands given by the arguer. In this way, exhortation is different than mere persuasion, which is rhetoric used to simply convince an audience of some truth (See Herrick, 1998). As a goal of argument, action is significant because it requires more of a commitment than simply changing beliefs; it induces people to demonstrate – publicly and visibly – their commitment. Hortatory arguments ask their audiences to act on their convictions, rather than just attesting to them. This takes resources: effort, energy, money and time, all of which present obstacles in persuading people toward action.
Black (1965) addresses exhortation, which he describes as that discourse in which the “stirring of an audience’s emotions is a primary persuasive force” (1965, 142). Action is prompted by strong emotional impetus. “The power of exhortation lies, first, in its capacity for evoking intense emotion, and second, in its capacity of legitimatizing the emotional experience with appropriate convictions” (Black, 1965, 45). The dual nature of hortatory persuasion illustrates Aristotle’s notions of ethos and pathos. The elements of the hortatory arguments of these environmental networks are distinct, yet they are interrelated as the convictions based on ethos and the emotional obligation of pathos are warrants for each other. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Metaphor And Argument In: Ernesto Che Guevara’s “Socialism And The New Man In Cuba”

logo  2002-1It is difficult to overstate the symbolic significance of Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Latin America. One may doubt Fidel Castro’s eulogistic characterization of him as the “model of a human being who does not belong to our time but to the future,” “one without a single stain on his conduct” (quoted in Anderson, 1997, 741). After all, Che died a martyr for the ideals of the Cuban Revolution, and the coincidence of Castro’s personal and political interests with Che’s canonization may be taken as an indictment of his motives in such statements. Less easily dismissed, however, is the astonishing extent of Che’s influence outside of Cuba. Rivaled only, perhaps, by José Martí, Che has become emblematic of socialist revolution, guerilla warfare, and lived commitment to political ideals. His fame is by no means limited to Latin America: A survey of U.S. university students taken the year after his death found Che to be the figure with whom most identified, more so than with any North American political figure or other media personality (A special kind of rebellion, 1969, 70-71). Around the same period, when students in Paris took over their dormitory in a social protest, they named the building “Che Guevara” for the same reason, Julio Cortázar (1969) would later write, “that leads thirst to water or man to woman” (94). Nor has this influence diminished with time. Biographer Jon Anderson (1997) writes of his surprise at discovering the veneration lent Guevara in contemporary contexts ranging from Burma and El Salvador to the Western Sahara and Muslim Afghanistan (xiv).  Indeed, this and other indications confirm Mary-Alice Water’s (1994) opinion that Che’s socialist perspectives and lessons regarding political power have acquired an even greater relevance in the years since his death.

This essay considers the lasting achievement of Che’s (1965) essay, “Socialism and the New Man in Cuba” (Socialismo y El Hombre Nuevo en Cuba). Widely regarded as his most famous work (e.g., Anderson, 1997, 636; Castaneda, 1997, 304), the essay advances Guevara’s conception of revolutionary ideology and the role of the individual. Following its publication in March of 1965, it was to become the central text of the international politics of the revolutionary left in the sixties (Taibo, n.d., 510), and its central figure, the “New Man,” would achieve lasting recognition as a Marxist political ideal. In this essay we argue that the success of the essay in significant measure is owing to the rhetorical virtuosity with which Guevara combined abstract political theory and familiar conceptual metaphor. We will demonstrate through a careful reading of the text that an epistolic framework enabled the articulation of three major metaphorical systems: Journey, Construction, and Oppression. These metaphors function within the text not as simple heuristics or explanatory aids, but as literal instantiations of Guevara’s political theory. In what follows, we will consider not only the metaphors and their function, but also the ethical implications of such argument by analogy. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2002 – Arguing From Facts To Duties (And Conversely)

logo  2002-1Introduction
One of the most controversial issues about arguments involving deontic and ethical matters is whether statements of duty or right can be inferred from statements of fact, and conversely. Most analytical philosophers have inclined to give a negative answer, alleging that duties or rights are not implied by mere facts (or the other way round), and hence that no combination of facts can imply a duty or a right, and no combination of duties or rights implies a fact.(*)
Not everybody has agreed, of course. Searle (1969) famously tried to derive duty assertions from factual assertions involving promises, but his interesting attempt has tended to be regarded as a failure owing to an equivocation on the meaning of promise. Geach also defended the connection between facts and duties in certain sense.
Most philosophers in the analytical tradition have regarded deontic utterances either as not conveying any real assertion (noncognitivism) or at most as conveying a very special sort of assertion, whose content would really have nothing to do with the content of factual assertions (separatism). Noncognitivism claims that deontic assertions are not real assertions. They lack cognitive content, and are only expressions of emotions, exhortations, or complex utterances which at least in part convey a non-cognitive message which does not depend at all on what is true or exists. According to separatism factual utterances stand for states of affairs which either exist (in this world) or not, whereas deontic utterances, if true at all, would express a peculiar kind of entity – a duty or a permission – whose existence (or whose obtaining) would be independent of the existence (or obtaining) of facts or states of affairs. Read more

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ISSA Proceedings 2002 – The Rabbit In The Hat: Where Do Dialectical Rules Come From?

logo  2002-1It is my guess that what most of us identify with the Pragma-Dialectical theory is the set of  rules for Critical Discussions, or as they were originally styled, the “code of conduct for rational discussants.” (1984: 151)  I think these rules individually, and as a set, have a great deal of intuitive plausibility in their favour. Therefore, in this essay, I propose to look at the rules and ask where they come from, what it is that justifies them, and how they hang together?

By way of historical background, we should recall that the first rules for argumentation were not developed in Amsterdam. Some have found rules of argumentation in Aristotle’s Topics; the Medievals had stylized, rule-governed games of disputation (Rescher 1977: 1-2); Whately, in the nineteenth century, explicitly relies on rules of argumentation in his discussion of  ad hominem arguments (Hansen 1995: 405-06).  More recent but less well-known authors have also proposed rules of argumentation. One interesting set of rules is found in James Johnson’s Logic and Rhetoric.  Johnson defined ‘argumentation’ as the kind of rhetoric “which tries to convince us of a certain point of view or attitude.” (Johnson 1962: 143) Since the activities of convincing and the discovery of facts are independent endeavours we are surprised to see that a few pages later the function Johnson ascribes to argumentation is “to discover the truth, that is, to establish facts.” (Johnson 1962: 147). Johnson apparently belonged to that benign age in which it was thought that once the facts were made plain, conviction was inevitable.

James Johnson’s ten “elementary ground rules,” lightly edited, are these:
J1. Be sure that your statements are accurate representations of what you really think. [Unless your words assert clearly the opinions you hold, you cannot convince anyone of your point of view nor can you test and confirm that view for your own benefit.  Say what you believe.]
J2. Define the areas of agreement and disagreement between yourself and those whose views you oppose. Do not waste time arguing over things you are really agreed upon.
J3. Never, never argue about established facts. Look them up in one or more authorities.
J4. Be sure you know whether the argument is founded upon differences of opinion concerning causation, obligation, evaluation, or generalization. [The evidence you present to support your view must be determined by the nature of the disagreement.]
J5. Summon up from memory, collect from reliable sources, and compare from common experiences between yourself and your opponent all relevant data or evidence, not just evidence to support your point of view. [You are supposed to be finding out facts, not humiliating an enemy.]
J6. Keep yourself emotionally detached and stay cool. [Lost tempers do not win arguments. The tone of your voice or your written composition must stay moderate and composed. Remember the Biblical injunction, “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”]
J7. Examine all evidence thoughtfully and objectively. [Use what you know about the principles of logical order to arrange and evaluate all information pertinent to the issue.]
J8. Stick to the issue or question under discussion. [… Failure to do so can result in a fallacy such as ignoring the question, ad hominem or begging the question.]
J9. Do not appeal to the emotions of your opponent or your readers when you find yourself being tested intellectually. [… It is a fallacy to appeal to pity, or fear, or patriotism, or “just plain folks.”]
J10. Reach whatever conclusions seem justified by the evidence calmly considered. If you think the evidence insufficient, then postpone your decision until more evidence is available.
J11. If you decide your original decision was wrong, admit it and accept the right one. [No one loses face by admitting his mistakes.] (Johnson 148-49) Read more

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