Rifkin - Sample Rhetorical Analyses
1. STRATEGY OF USING ANIMAL NAMES
In “A Change of Heart About Animals,” a 2003 editorial published in the Los Angeles Times, Jeremy Rifkin argues that new research calls into question many of the boundaries commonly thought to exist between humans and other animals, and as a consequence humans should expand their empathy for animals and treat them better. To support this argument Rifkin points to studies suggesting that animals can acquire language, use tools, exhibit self-awareness, anticipate death, and pass on knowledge from one generation to the next.
One strategy Rifkin employs to build the argument that animals should be treated more like humans is his subtle use of animal names when introducing data. When he offers new research about the problem solving abilities of New Caledonian crows, for example, Rifkin cleverly describes how “Abel, the more dominant male…stole Betty’s hook” in order to obtain a better feeding tool (Rifkin). Rifkin, of course, could have chosen to ignore the bird’s test-subject names – which in all likelihood, were arbitrarily assigned by lab technicians and remain of little importance to the conclusions of the experiment – but by including them he bestows a human quality to the animals beyond what the data suggests. He repeats this technique twice more to the same effect, once when introducing “Koko, the 300 pound gorilla,” who displays close-to-human intelligence and an impressive sign language vocabulary, and again when describing an “Orangutan named Chantek,” whose use of a mirror displays human-like self awareness (Rifkin). Surely the data alone make the argument that animals are, by turns, capable of human qualities of problem-solving, communication, learning, and self-awareness. By offering the names of the test animals, though, he imbues them with greater individuality, personality and dignity. Giving the animals human names invites readers to think of them in terms usually...