Many people do not fully understand how censorship still occurs today. They think of censorship as a relic of a bygone era and do not realize how it continues to affect contemporary society, despite the Internet and most democracies allowing for free speech. In Nick Cohen’s You Can’t Read This Book, Cohen persuades the audience that censorship is still a relevant issue. Cohen appeals to the audience’s values and uses the rhetorical mode of scene narration in order to convince the audience that there should be very few limits on free speech.
Cohen appeals to Ethos through comparisons in order to convince the audience that censorship should not occur. For example, he compares Jamaat-e-Islami, the organization that started protests against The Satanic Verses, to both communists and Nazis when he is discussing the reaction to the publication of The Satanic Verses. According to Cohen, Jamaat’s founder “combined his version of a ‘purified’ Islam with European totalitarianism. From the communists he took the notion of the vanguard party, which would tell the masses what they wanted, regardless of whether the masses wanted it or not, and vague notions of a just future where all would be equal. From the Nazis, Jamaat, and its partners in the Arab Muslim Brotherhood, took the Jewish conspiracy theory. They explained that Muslims were weak because they were victims of the plots of sinister Jews” (Cohen 14). The audience already believes that the actions of both the Nazis and the Communists were wrong. Therefore, by comparing Jamaat-e-Islami to these groups, Cohen can persuade the audience that their actions were wrong as well. He explains that they took their belief...
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...irst-person narration, including dialogue, to appeal to Ethos, specifically to build credibility. His use of scene narration proves that he has personal experience with the issue, which makes him more credible to the audience. This appeal to Ethos allows him to persuade the audience that free speech should have few limits, and people should take action against censorship, because Cohen proves that he has personal experience with censorship.
Cohen persuades the audience that free speech should have few limits through comparisons that appeal to the audience’s values and scene narration that makes him credible to the audience. He is able to convince the audience of censorship’s continued relevance and motivates them to take action against unjust laws and practices. Using these methods, he makes the audience aware of the ways in which censorship can affect all of us.
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