Work In Progress 1

This speech assignment is an interesting one to me mostly because it is so vague. We have to find an artifact of civic engagement and talk about it for 3-4 minutes. I plan on writing myself some guide questions based on classroom discussions in order to make this speech. Some questions I have come up with are:

How does the artifact promote civic engagement?

Who would identify with the artifact? Who wouldn’t and why?

What argument is the artifact trying to make?

Is the argument implicit or explicit? Is it effective?


Thats what I have so far and I believe that I can talk about all those points and fit a 3-4 minute speech. I Wanted to find an artifact that was after WWII (because that seems to be the norm for propaganda and civic engagement artifacts) but I didn’t necessarily want a contemporary artifact so I found a gun control poster from 1981 that was formed in response to John Lennons murder. I liked the topic of gun control because the debate over it is pretty much the same and as alive today as it was in 1981. The poster lists stats of ¬†the number of handgun deaths in 1980 in other countries, then lists America’s total which is ¬†almost 100 times the others. Then it says God Bless America in a mockery of our national pride. The poster wants the viewer to assume that because America has more handgun deaths, that we need more handgun control. This is however a simple, yet great, logical fallacy. The poster compares U.S.A. to countries like Israel and Sweden, countries that have a significantly smaller population than the U.S. and therefore the “total number of handgun deaths” is an invalid statistic. It wants the reader to assume that because there are more handgun deaths, we are a more murderous country, which in fact is false. Just because handguns are more popular of a murder weapon here doesn’t mean that other countries have a smaller murder rate and that they are “better” than the U.S.

This propaganda poster is very interesting in the sense that at face value, it is intrinsically motivating. But just a small amount of thought into the numbers and the true argument that the poster makes, destroys its credibility and makes it for me, an ineffective poster. The purpose of the poster is simply to get people to support gun control laws and be more involved. I don’t think I will have any trouble with this speech aside ffrom the conclusion. Anyone have any suggestions on how to end it?

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