[KB] Warrantable Outrage

Edappel8@cs.com Edappel8 at cs.com
Wed May 28 16:40:23 EDT 2008

>From Greg Desilet, back from his holiday hiatus:

Hi Ed,
Very provocative! It gets me to scratching my head! Here's a response that 
grew out of a response to Herb (and Leslie) as well.
Herb, I like what you said in this post on the KB listserve addressed to 

tragically purifying nor comically correcting, the sectarian 

unequivocally and unalterably woos its Other. When tragedy kills and 

comedy critiques, the suitor charms. The evil enemy, which the comic 

transforms into a mistaken adversary, becomes a Beloved in the 

romantic's sight. The cultural ideal that goads the tragic and tickles 

the comic, personifies the romantic. Romantic sectarians identify not 

through victimage or criticism but through wooing--- irresistible beauty 

coupled with its Other outside the dominant frame.


It adds a new and interesting dramatistic slant to the issue regarding 
possible attitudes toward conflict and human relations. Leslie's comments on the KB 
listserve of May 21 about "epic romance" are an excellent second to your 
motion. The romantic frame calls to mind Wayne Brockriede's famous "Arguers as 
Lovers" article, which has had considerable influence on me over the years (Wayne 
was my advisor and mentor while working on my M.A. degree at CU in the mid '70s
). The range of attitudes for approaching argumentation and the attitudes for 
approaching conflict (conflict also the heart of drama as Burke notes) are 
closely analogous. The obstacles, opportunities, and problematics of both are 

However, the romantic frame establishes an orientation to the other that, as 
Brockriede notes, is not without its "ambiguities." When does "wooing" slide 
from "love" to "seduction" to "date rape" to "rape"? And thereby 
"objectification" and dehumanization of the other? Other questions: Should we (can we) 
maintain a rhetoric of "romancing" the opposition in the case of violent 
aggression, conflict, or war? 

Does Ed's post providing his re-write of Roosevelt's Dec 8 speech to Congress 
emerge as a possible candidate for a rhetoric of "romancing" the opposition? 
Indeed, what would a rhetoric of "romancing" look like in such a situation? 
What should it look like? Roosevelt's actual address reports the events and 
avoids demonizing language while initiating military mobilization. Should he have 
said something further to frame the conflict? In keeping with the metaphor of 
romance, should words like "rape" have been invoked to frame the nature of the 
experienced aggression? Having done so, how does one "romance" the rapist? 
(Brockriede's "Arguers as Lovers" offers little guidance in this instance, 
though it does suggest the downside of adopting the attitude of the rapist as an 
offensive defense). It's certainly a challenging and instructive exercise to put 
oneself in the position of President and attempt to figure out what ought to 
be said in such situations in order to properly motivate the citizenry while 
at the same time framing the opposition for purposes of minimizing the 
potential human costs arising from slipping into the "Iron Law of History" and 
scapegoating with a vengeance. How does such a rhetoric, with its attention to these 
complexities, avoid appearing as itself a kind of outrage to a wounded 
citizenry? Quite a challenge for the rhetorician and for leadership. But a challenge 
that no doubt needs to be met in a world full of weapons of mass destruction.

       Isn't that quotation attributed to Herb actually taken from Camille 
Lewis's article in the current KB Journal?  I think so.



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