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Rhetoric: “Cho Seung-Hui’s Killing Rampage” by Tao Lin Essay

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Updated: Apr 23rd, 2021


Miller-Cochran & Rodrigo explain that warrants are “ideas, concepts, and beliefs that connect reasons and evidence to the claim” (186). Yagelski & Miller discuss that “facts/statistics, personal experience, authority, and values are the commonly used types of evidence” (92). Lin uses facts, personal experience, and values. He derives statistics used in the argument from personal experience. He does not use authority such as expert judgment.

A strong point

Sympathy expressed by the public towards grieving families and Cho Seung will not avert future killing rampages. Lin argues that sympathy would not “effectively prevent future killing rampages” (par. 2). Sympathy does not affect the source of the problem. Lin explains that the source is found in areas that have been neglected. Lin uses an illustration where someone “signs a note causing someone to tell someone to press the button that launches the rocket” (“Context and Goals” par. 2). Sympathy in this illustration deals with the person that pressed the button. As a result of ignoring the sources of alienation, sympathy is ineffective.

Weak point

Lin makes a weak argument that a person who wants to reduce human suffering must avoid all mainstream media outlets. Lin proposes that one should ignore “all mainstream media, pretty much, any newspaper, and almost every website” (“Perspective” par. 1). When a person ignores all these media outlets, he/she is unlikely to be aware of suffering unless it happens only to them. Someone is unlikely to change what he/she is unaware of.

Logos on the argument

Lin uses an enthymeme on anger. Enthymeme uses a major premise and minor premises to conclude (Yagelski & Miller 84). The major premise generalizes that “anger means wanting to destroy something in concrete reality” (“Anger” par. 1). A minor premise suggests that “pain/suffering does not exist in concrete reality” (“Anger” par. 1). From the statements used by Lin, it can be concluded that “destroying people does not affect the existence of suffering” (“Anger” par. 1). Suffering from anger is an abstraction. It can only be reduced by eliminating intangible causes.

Lin supports his claims with warrants. Miller-Cochran & Rodrigo discuss that warrants are assumptions used to reinforce the credibility of claims (188). Lin argues that death can make him sad only if “it happened to someone whose concrete existence affected his daily life” (“Sympathy” par. 1). He follows the argument that by saying that “Kurt still exists for me as much as he did a month before he died” (“Sympathy” par. 1). This claim warrants that Vonnegut’s death does not affect his daily life.

Lin opposes general public sadness. Lin argues that “an amount of people felt automatically sad when Kurt Vonnegut died” (“Sympathy” par. 2). Lin does not find a connection of their suffering to the deceased. Lin argues that it is “due to the automatic acceptance of a pre-existing sort of guideline or suggestion” (“Sympathy” par. 2). Lin argues that people die every day. There is no difference between Cho’s killing or Vonnegut’s death to make the public mourning. Their sadness does not affect them because they cannot “resurrect Kurt Vonnegut to cure their sadness” (“Sympathy” par. 1). Similarly, it will not reduce future killings.

Lin uses a claim of policy to support his argument on the intolerance of art. A claim of the policy describes what ought to be done. Lin argues that one cannot claim without defining a context or goal that a book or a story is bad or good (“Intolerance of Art” par. 1). It would mean that the person “is the only one who exists and his/her opinion are facts” (“Intolerance of Art” par. 1). Lin argues that someone can “only like or dislike a subject when there is no context or goal” (“Context and Goals” par. 1). Lin discourages statements such as “your facial expression and voice are horrible, you have no talent” (“Intolerance of Art” par. 2). The argument appeals to what is right.

Yagelski and Miller discuss that facts are supposed to be supported with statistical figures (92). Lin argues that some people after watching “a PETA video, feel sad for 10 or 20 minutes” (“Consistency” par. 1). Lin generates the figures out of his experience. Readers who have a similar observation will find his argument more credible. Lin argues that “more than 33 people die each day” (“Perspective” par. 1). He uses this fact to try to show that all deaths are similar. Lin argues that a CEO who “does not increase investments for investors at a satisfying rate will be voted out” (“Perspective” par. 1). It is factual without numerical figures. Firms without high-profit margins are considered poorly run.

Types of appeals used by Lin

Lin uses pity to make his argument believable. An author may use “pity of their readers when they need to inspire an emotion related to their argument” (Yagelski & Miller 97). Lin expresses that he “cried in bed sometimes in college” (“Loneliness” par. 1). He uses this expression to make people understand how Cho Seung might have felt. He feels emotional for one person when he does not feel emotional for the other 33 who also died.

Lin appeals to the readers’ prejudice that the alienated individual has communication problems. Appealing to prejudice takes the form of using common belief (Yagelski & Miller 98). Lin argues that his “eyes might tremor, the voice might stutter, he might not feel in control of his body or face” (“Loneliness” par. 1). He mentions some of the responses associated with people with communication problems. Readers are likely to be attached to his narration as a result of appealing to prejudice.

Lin appeals to tradition using corporate view on profits. Tradition has to be supported with other facts to be credible (Yagelski & Miller 98). Lin recognizes that “media existence depends on viewership size” (“Perspective” par. 1). It is a strong argument because profits depend on the size of viewership. He strengthens his argument by the fact that CEOs are fired if they cannot sustain profits. The tradition becomes credible because it is supported by facts.

Lin uses the moral values that people hold about an outcome of life issues. Lin argues that he “feels capable of accepting whatever may happen to him” (“Sympathy” par. 1). It is a statement that calms the reader. He argues that “people can change things in concrete reality to reduce pain/suffering” (“Sympathy” par. 1). Morality requires people to act humanely to reduce suffering. He dismisses actions that “eliminate, isolate or quarantine anyone you feel is unlike yourself” (“Sympathy” par. 3). Such people ought to be helped rather than alienated. He uses justifiable moral values.

News coverage

The news coverage reports that one of the students “was taped soberly expressing shock and cognizance” (Stanley par. 2). This differs from Lin’s perception of an “automatic acceptance of pre-existing guideline” (“Sympathy” par. 2). Lin argues that people are shocked because they are expected to be shocked about such events.

The news coverage uses expert judgment that categorizes the event as “narcissistic injury” (Stanley par. 3). Lin does not use an authority in his argument. According to the article, other media outlets were referring to the killings as “senseless death-as-usual” (Stanley par. 4). Lin describes the killings as confusion caused by clichés. The reporters claim the killings are senseless. Lin argues that the sadness is senseless.

Lin argues that the media outlets can do anything to increase profits. The report claims that CNN posted a clip on the shootings which “recorded 1.8 million hits in a day” (Stanley par. 6). It leads to Lin’s argument about media outlets’ interest in the size of their audience.

Evaluation of comments

‘Pete’ argues that quantifying emotions only eliminates subjectivity. Lin argues that sympathy should be judged by the effect it has on reducing future killings. Pete argues that sympathy is an involuntary emotion (Lin “Pete” par. 2). It is not guided by choice. Pete uses authority in his argument about sympathy and emotions.

Lin emphasizes the use of quantification rather than media reports. MadisonGlass expresses his view with an expression of the suffering of one person multiplied by thirty. He concludes from this calculation that “mathematically, Cho made the wrong choice” (“MadisoGlass par. 6). MadisonGlass effectively uses opposing viewpoints.

MadisonGlass argues that ignoring all major media outlets is “elevating yourself to the level by which you are the authority” (“reply” par. 3). MadisonGlass recognizes that Lin despises authority. Lin relies mostly on reasoning. Using reasoning only with the support of facts and statistics can sometimes mislead (Miller-Cochran & Rodrigo 187).

‘Steve’ uses a fallacy when he supposes that Cho Seung-Hui was sexually abused (“Steve” par. 3). Lin argues that a story is just an imagination. Steve uses the tradition where people with imaginations of sexual abuse must have been sexually molested. Lin argues that “imagining something, drawing something is not doing something” (“Concrete reality” par. 2). Steve can link the characters in the play to Cho Seung-Hui’s real life.

Works Cited

Lin, Tao. Cho Seung-Hui’s killing rampage. 2007. Web.

Miller-Cochran, Susan & Rochelle Rodrigo. The Wadsworth Guide to Research. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2011.

Stanley, Alessandra. 2007. Web.

Yagelski, Robert & Robert Miller. The Informed Argument. Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Rhetoric: “Cho Seung-Hui’s Killing Rampage” by Tao Lin'. 23 April.

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