Argument about Violent Rhetoric Leading to Violent Action

  1. All forms of violent rhetoric leads to or causes violent actions.
  2. All violent actions are wrong and they should be prevented.
  3. Violent political rhetoric (e.g. putting crosshairs on a map) lead to the assassination attempt in Arizona.
  4. Violent music (e.g. Marilyn Manson) lead to the Columbine tragedy in 1995.
  5. Therefore, we should ban any form of violent rhetoric.

Perhaps Plato has something here: music and rhetoric will not be allowed in his Republic.


I don’t agree with the argument above.  But my point is that if you’re going to claim it was politicians’ fault for causing a political climate that was violent through their speech, it seems like you’re in the same camp as saying violent speech through music caused Columbine.  If you don’t agree with the argument above, which premise are you going to attack and why?

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
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2 Responses to Argument about Violent Rhetoric Leading to Violent Action

  1. thekillerj says:

    Good post. Blaming Palin and Manson for Arizona and Colombine, respectively, is ludicrous.

  2. Handsome Matt says:

    It’s easier to blame something then to admit that there is Evil in the world; that’s a scarier proposition then anything else. It opens a pandora’s box. Complete with personal responsibility, freedom of will, Good, Evil; basically all the questions everyday people don’t want to address.

    If a person was crazy or influenced by some outside source (double bonus if it’s a politician/musician/video game ‘I’ don’t like) then it can be explained away. And because there isn’t a direct link between Palin’s rhetoric and the shooting, then there isn’t really anyone to blame. So it ultimately falls into unexplainable chance, random chaos, that doesn’t affect how I sleep at night.

    I’m still safe from all manner of questions (and they’re answers) that would make me uncomfortable.

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