Since the event of the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001, the issue ofterrorism has received a considerable amount of media attention. The recent bombings of Bali and Jakarta caused this media focus to be further intensified allowing much discussion and debate between commentators such as Andrew Bolt, presenting their view on possible motives for such terrorist attacks. “The Blast of Truth”, appearing in The Herald Sun on Thursday 7th August, 2003, advocates his blatant opinion on this issue with a contention that terrorism is not a war against “Australia or wicked America”, but rather against freedom. Bolt employs various persuasive techniques with the intention to sway the reader whilst clearly revealing his prominent stance on the fight for freedom as he puts it.
Throughout the article, the author adopts the use of colloquial language and begins his discussion with a sarcastic tone. This language is designed to generate a particular level of interest and creates an informal atmosphere. As the discussion progresses, Bolt reveals a much more authoritative and arrogant tone as he recounts his experience visiting Bali himself. With the mention of this background, he instils a sense of credibility into his arguments. Without this, the reader would not have an adequate amount of information, due to the lack of use of statistics, expert opinion or facts.
One of the most apparent persuasive devices Bolt exercised in the article was his use of emotive terms. On several occasions, it is evident that strong words were deliberately used in order to evoke strong emotional responses from the reader.
“as pieces of dead Indonesians are picked off the pavement”.
The disturbing and graphic words the author uses to portray his point of view enables the audience to paint a vivid picture of the scene he envisions in their minds. The overall effect of this device was that it appeared to dehumanise the victims, which proves to be effective to the extent that his attempt to create an overtone of disgust, in relation to the event, was successful. Although they may be seen as over-exaggerated, Bolt’s descriptive vocabulary was purposefully used to appeal to the reader’s emotions of compassion.
In addition to the appeals to compassion, many other emotions are aroused. This is conceived to try and convince the readers to take a sympathetic approach when forming their own opinions of the events as he depicts it.
This is demonstrated with the use of terms such as “Desperate people”, “Damaged Island” and the sympathetic plea he speaks on behalf of the Balinese, “Please we love tourists. We love Australians.
Please, tell them to come back to Bali. How else will we eat?”
Patriotism, justice, group loyalty, security are all examples of the emotional appeals that Bolt uses which are designed to manipulate the reader to respond to the issue of terrorism more emotionally, rather than rationally.
In a similar fashion, rhetorical questions are employed to engage the reader in thought and reflection about the emphasised points Bolt makes about the issue. He poses pleading, yet clearly sarcastic, questions to communicate the strength of his perspective.
Furthermore, the writer uses inclusive language with the words “we”, “our” and “us” to make readers feel as if they belong to a group. This promotes a feeling of responsibility thus an influencing the audience to take on his opinions as their own. Bolt establishes an authoritarian tone with the constant use of such a device.
The overall effect of “The Blast of Truth” was fairly convincing but because of the lack of actual evidence, other than his own personal experience, Bolt doesn’t present a very credible argument. However, he has written an effectively persuasive piece in which he manifests several influential techniques. The most evident of which was the tendency to connect with the readers’ emotional side. His attempt to sway the his audience to agree that terrorism is a war against freedom not “Westerners” resulted in a very one-sided discussion but in doing so, he allowed them to consider his point of view on the issue.
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