Use of Pathos in Writings on Torture

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Torture is a loaded word. It conjures images in a readers' mind of any number of horrors, physical and mental. Many writers rely on this reaction and use pathos in their articles to illicit a strong response in their audience. Pathos is an emotional appeal used to gain sympathy and trust from the audience and works for people of all intellectual levels. It often casts the author or characters in a story as an Everyman, easy to identify, and therefore see eye to eye, with. In my opinion, the more an author is able to create a personal connection to torture, the stronger their argument becomes. Strong emotions create a more appealing argument for an everyday audience. Michael Levin's “The Case for Torture” uses a few moments of pathos to convince the audience of the potential benefit of torture. He poses several scenarios of terrorists planning attacks on large numbers of innocent people and then asks, “If the only way to save those lives is to subject the terrorist to the most excruciating possible pain, what grounds can there be for not doing so?” Even if you don't agree with him, he urges the reader to “face the question with an open mind.” By doing this, Levin uses pathos as well as ethos to present himself as a nice guy who's not unreasonable. Though his argument is different from Levin's, Andrew Sullivan tries a similar approach in his article, “Bush's torturers follow where the Nazis led”. The article demonstrates a clear use of pathos from the beginning. Sullivan begins with some personal information about himself, showing that is is one of the regular people. His imagery is subtle but powerful. By implying that the government's behavior is in some way akin to the Nazis, he conjures up a powerful imagine in the readers min... ... middle of paper ... ...Oct. 2008 . Ortiz, Sister Dianna. "Mr. President, stop the torture!" US Catholic Magazine Online. July 2004. 26 Sept 2008 news_iv_ctrl=1341&abbr=usc_&JServSessionIdr001=anotsvvjc1.app45a> Ortiz, Sister Dianna. "Speak Truth to Power Defender – Interview with Dianna Ortiz." Speak Truth to Power. 26 Sept 2008. . 26 Sept 2008. Sullivan, Andrew. "Bush's torturers follow where the Nazis led." Times Online. 7 October 2007. 23 Sept 2008 andrew_sullivan/article2602564.ece> Porter, Henry. "America's Dirty Torture Secret." The Guardian. 10 Sept 2003. 1 Oct 2008 .
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