Links to rhetorical tools:

Here are links to the rhetorical tools used in this class:

Schemes & Tropes -- Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca -- Fallacies

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The BLM Analysis - Persuasion and Social Movements Book

#BLM Analysis – Persuasion and Social Movements Book

Chapter 3 – Spreading Awareness of the Issue (Racism)

In the words of Wil Linkugel, R.R. Allen, and Richard Johannesen: “A problem is not really a problem to an audience until they perceive it as such…”

Until awareness of an issue is present in the minds of the audience, they will not see a problem.

What is the iconic line in The Matrix? “There is no spoon.” In a way, the audience that is unaware will see a spoon and say that there is a spoon present. Only when they become aware that the spoon is not really there or is an illusion do they say that there is no spoon.

That is the primary job of social movement groups. They are not seeking attention or publicity for the celebrity status or “just for the Hell of it.” They seek understanding that there is, indeed, a problem and the group attempts to bring this knowledge to the masses. The goal is to make society aware there is a problem, or that “there is no spoon.”

The Black Lives Matter are not fighting the police and are not out to kill whites. They are struggling to bring awareness that racism still exists in American society, and that there must be change to resolve this issue. (There is escalation of this racism within the police force, as evidenced by the increased uses of deadly force against black suspects and citizens.)

Chapter 4 – Between Social Unrest and Enthusiastic Mobilization

The Black Lives Matter movement has roots and rumored origins from the Ferguson events (the shooting death of Michael Brown, and the civil unrest and mistrust between the black citizens and the police force). 2014 and 2015 were some of the biggest years for the movement, where Stage 1 of Genesis became Stage 2, Social Unrest.

Videos leaked, comments exploded, riots ensued, and more lives were lost. The movement grew like wildfire, and attempted mass recruitment and public awareness of the injustices of blacks murdered by police.

Now, it is 2017, and the mainstream media is losing interest in the civil unrest of black protests against police brutality and murder, in favor of covering the political tensions following the election of now President Donald J. Trump. The Black Lives Matter had lost the major outlet of news coverage, but they continue to spread the messages of injustice thanks to social media. Now, they stack between Stages 2 and 3, Social Unrest and Enthusiastic Mobilization, respectively.

At Stage 2, they continue to recruit and agitate the public, outraged at the injustices of police officers slaying blacks while on the beat. At Stage 3, they see an underlying issue within the social and political systems of the U.S., and attempt to bring these issues to light.

If more support was given to the BLM movement, then they could be at Stage 3 fully, with Stage 4 (maintenance) in the works. Unfortunately, most of the public is becoming bored or growing tired of these messages – Stage 4 is in jeopardy. Unless the BLM movement can find a way to plug the hole and fill the gap, they may lose more ground and their ship could sink entirely.

I am not saying that the BLM movement is already doomed or has been doomed from the start (the latter is not true), but I am saying that they are in trouble. If they cannot adapt or find a way to reinvigorate the public’s interest in their message, then their cause could become caput and their voice would be lost.

Chapter 6 – The Social Reality

The Black Lives Matter movement speak and act to gain public recognition of the social reality of America, to interpret it on multiple perspectives, and to take action (with just cause to take said action).

First, they need to spread awareness. If they make empty claims, the movement would be dismissed as attention seekers and as a publicity stunt; they would be considered “hollow” for lacking evidence or instances of proposed injustice. On the flip side, if their claims have evidence or impact, then society will see this possibility and begin to question itself. Is there another reality within our own reality? Is there a reality co-existing in another reality, which some people are aware of and others are not?

Second, the movement seeks understanding. Denial of this other reality is a common reaction, or the society may not necessarily see the impact of this other reality, or worst of all, they may say “that is not my problem.” The Black Lives Matter’s claims are fruitless is they do not convince people that there needs to be change, so they spread awareness first and then follow-up with understanding. They ask society to look at the issue from difference perspectives and views. A police officer killing a black civilian does not have the same impact on a white civilian as a black civilian, so understanding this difference is key!

Once awareness AND understanding are achieved, the Black Lives Matter movement can strive for the third step – action. It is important that this action is justified, has a goal, and has means to achieve it. Taking action simply to take action is a fallacy – it is Begging the Question in a physical manner.

When the actions are appropriate:

The action is justified, as that black suspects and civilians are being targeted by police for unnecessary or excessive suspicion, and they are often met with excessive force for minute things or mistakes. In the worst cases, police gun down black suspects and citizens without proper reasons to do so (resisting arrest or fleeing is not a reason to shoot a suspect).

The action has a goal. The marches and the protests are not merely done for the sake of it, but to bring more awareness and give justice to those whom were killed by police. Any unrest the Black Lives Matter causes does not have a secondary objective that strays from the cause. Protests and riots of the movement may involve looting, but looting is not the goal nor it is the intention. Looting is an unwanted by-product of protests and riots, and to make it the goal would distract from the goal of justice for the black lives that were slaughtered by police.

The actions has means to accomplish the mission and to achieve a goal. The Black Lives Matter movement has resources – namely people and social media outlets – to spread their message and achieve their goals. With enough push for change and proper utilization of their available resources (and possible resource expansion), the BLM movement could succeed in their mission to end police violence against black citizens and use appropriate force on ALL suspects.

On a final note, I would like to point to a book I have been reading for SOCI 232 – Social Problems (with Dr. Castro). The book is Social Problems, by Joel Best. In this book, Best lays out the process of social groups and movements in a social problems process. The process goes something like this:

Claimsmaking → Media Coverage → Public Reaction → Policymaking → Social Problems Work → Policy Outcomes

I believe that the Black Lives Matter have shifted across the spectrum of the social problems process throughout its struggle. I may appear to be repeating my point with Chapter 4, but I would like to add that BLM at one point had Public Reaction in their pocket and was attempting to go towards Policymaking. Unfortunately, it seems that the BLM did not have any people in Congress or other policymaking institutions to help them achieve new policies, nor were they able to convince others policymakers of their struggles. They appear to have failed to penetrate the policymaking bodies, at least for now. They also have lost a lot of their media coverage, as news networks have moved on to other topics (like the Presidential Election of 2016) over the struggles of blacks against racism in the police force.

The saving grace appears to be Twitter and other social media platforms. Without those prospects, the BLM could already be history as a movement with potential that faded away. The BLM movement is still alive, but from face value, it appears they have fallen back into the Claimsmaking process with strives toward Media Coverage and Public Reaction.

The question remains if BLM will recover and regain its lost ground; however, what is certain is that the movement is not dead. It could be argued that it is on the brink, but it is still in the game as of now. For now, BLM is still an entity, and it will continue to spread the word of “#Black Lives Matter” until it succeeds in the mission to end police brutality and murder of black people, or until the movement dies completely (which is unlikely). 

Friday, April 28, 2017

BLM analysis tables

Video #8: Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Red Herring
Police released a video of Michael Brown (the victim of the shooting in ferguson) committing armed robbery (1:26-1:40) This is unrelated to the cause of the shooting, as it shows previous criminal activity, not the reason for the shooting itself.
Could be an ad hominem fallacy or ridicule (quasi-logical argument) until backed up by evidence (which it mostly is)
John Oliver’s argument paints the officials at Ferguson as incompetent in handling the case, often making a joke of it.
Establishing the Structure of Reality
Hierarchically Arranged (the evidence seems to escalate in severity and scale, from isolated incidents and poorly worded comments to broad reaching national policy)

Mentions the number of african americans on the police force.
States that police stop more blacks
Mentions the case of Henry Davis (4:44-5:22)
Then extends it to the county (5:22-5:58)
Focus shifts to police militarization (6:53-12:46) which he connects back to Ferguson.
The “bring it” quote (13:02-13:49)
Governor of missouri mandating a curfew. (13:49 - 14:53) Framed as a child like punishment.
Quasi-logical Argument
Flips the script (14:49 - end)
If the police want to be patronizing and institute a curfew the we should take the police’s “new toys” away until they don’t shoot unarmed black men.
Based on the structure of reality

A (which is bad) interacts with other variables to create D (which is worse).
Basic argument is: unnecessary power + an inability to properly handle that power + an inability to view african american citizens as humans worthy of respect = racialized police violence.
Overall, John Oliver, sandwiches a solid argument between two fallacies (partly as joke, but with an element of persuasion to them). In light of the evidence, the two fallacies seem less fallacious. The justice fallacy even gets applause, rather than laughter, for the audience.
BLM in not mentioned, but Oliver’s message is in line with theirs. I think he chooses not to mention them because how the organization is portrayed by their opposition may turn people away from his points.

Social Media  #8: MillennialAU

MAU is a student lead organization. They attempted to raise money for a legal fund. No real argument seems to be made, though the focus is clearly on students and person to person involvement through twitter. A statement could be made about the appearance of closeness the reader has to the organization. They are speaking to individuals and urging individual action. Many of the images felt very normal and informal, with students clustered together or posing for the camera, so involved in protests, and only one depicting police. It felt very focused on colleges and college students, which is quite appealing and makes the movement seem down to earth and relatable.  
Facts/truths (Supposed) used to highlight a double standard

A hasty generalization is implied, that the majority of white students involved threatened lives and that the majority of black students went on strike. It would not be surprising if some (on both sides) deviated from this simplification, though the lack of nuance may be the result of the limited format of twitter.

There is also a use of anaphora in this tweet as well with the phrase “______ students don’t like something they ______” being repeated in 2 of the 3 lines.
MAU retweeted
“Black students don’t like something and they went on strike.
White students don’t like something and they threaten lives.
We violent though.”

This article is a response to criticism leveled toward BLM.

Makes the argument that because we can tie BLM to other civil rights movements then BLM is legitimate and the shared criticism is illegitimate.
The author uses criticism to tie back to previous civil rights movements.

Makes the argument that BLM and other protests are being suppressed.
Mentions anti-protest laws being passed.
Seems to claim that such a bastardization is based on a straw man representation of BLM is a hate group. Points out the fallacy in order to discredit the criticism against the movement.
Makes an argument against the “all lives matter” bastardization of the hashtag. Claims that BLM is painted as a hate group.

(the words “what happened” are repeated multiple times in the article)
Continues to repeat the question of “what happened” to BLM and offers multiple theories on why the organization is not as visible as it once was.
All in all this is pretty in step with the “herstory” page on the BLM website.

#BLM Analysis Table

Press# 15: Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering
Rhetorical Device, Fallacy, Perelman
Rhetorical device:
“I don’t think any of us could have imagined how tiny cameras would allow us to see, time and again, injustices perpetrated, mostly against black people, by police officers. I don’t think we could have imagined that video of police brutality would not translate into justice, and I don’t think we could have imagined how easy it is to see too much”
The use of “I don’t think’ repeatedly is interesting because it makes it seem as though the author is becoming tired, frustrated, and fed up with the same events happening. And at the end of “I don’t think,” she uses either the word “we,” or “us” as if she can speak for an entire marginalized group of people. Not only is she angry, but the ones she is speaking for as well, who might can’t voice their opinion in article style. 
   Appeal to consequences
“Charges might be brought against the two officers involved, but, as history both recent and not shows us, it is rare for police officers to be convicted in such shootings.”
The hope with this statement is to see justice, but the author kind of reminds the audience of America’s history with crimes like this one. The author makes sure that we don’t forget the long history of America without directly stating exactly what she means, because she knows that she doesn’t have to explain something society tends to forget.
    Premise Modifiers:
“The video that truly haunts me is from a news conference with Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Alton Sterling’s oldest child, a 15-year-old boy, who sobbed and cried out for his father as his mother read her statement. If the video of his father’s death feels too familiar, the video of this child’s raw and enormous grief must not.”
Since the author reminds us previously that this has happened before on numerous occasions, this case feels just like the others.

Video# 6: A City Reacts: State of Emergency - Ferguson, Missouri (Dispatch 10)
Rhetorical Device, Fallacy, Perelman
Rhetorical Device:
    Angle- Eye level
The interviews of the different people throughout the video during Ferguson hearing
Nothing really in the video is shown from high or low angles, as if they want us to see and feel the emotions that are happening.
   Emotional Appeal
As the hearing is going on, we get to see and listen to others thoughts on the matter. This is important because the video was shot at the time the Ferguson hearing was going on. Each interviewee, was angry at the state at which their city was in, and angry that yet again another shooting has happened. A lot of them were there for support because one person said, “it could’ve been my son or nephew.” It captures the audience attention by making sure we’re paying attention to the live action.
    Premise Modifiers:
The interviews
I feel because this video was captured during the time of the hearing and interviews were being conducted of different protestors, I feel as though getting the people’s reactions made the video more personal to others across the country who may have been feeling the same way. It’s possible that the interviews were raw (meaning you can tell they weren’t acting for the camera) Since this was raw footage it makes the audience at home watching supporting, feel a connection and understand.

                                                                                                                                                                        Social media#2 Instagram: Looked at the 3rd picture posted and the caption
Rhetorical Device, Fallacy, Perelman
Rhetorical Device:
    Color- High         Contrast
3rd picture posted
Although it’s a picture of a woman, she is wearing a dashiki, which is made up of different bright colors. Behind her are bright colors as well.
   Appeal to emotion
“Feminist, fat, queer blogger Jessica Hipolito reminding us all that the resistance of Black people is not new. It comes from a deep history that we must not forget and always be connected to our inherited power as we struggle for freedom. #BLM2BRA #BlackWomenLead
The caption itself identifies with the picture, and the caption first describe the woman that is shown speaking giving her physical attributes to try and make us feel a connection with her. Also, describing the long history America has had.