This is just a rough draft.
Get ready for the final version, some time next Monday!
What is Rhetoric?
By Daniel Triumph
Meet in the Forum
Conner: Isn’t the forum wonderful?
Plotus: No, I would much rather be in the arena.
Conner: Of course you would, you art noble. The arena seems to have lost most of its customers.
Plotus: Why do you think that is?
Twain: Why, the war of words is far more pleasing to the ear and mind!
Connor: Alas! For it is a good man speaking well who entertains the mass!
Plotus: A man speaking to the mass cannot be good.
Twain: Would you then accuse me?
Plotus: That is why I am here.
Conner: Under what law would you accuse our valiant entertainer?
Plotus: Valiant? This man spews conspiracy. He incites action, he incites violence. Were you not there when his followers set fire to the arena last month?
Twain: That was swiftly dealt with, and repairs made.
(A crowd of perhaps ten has formed with Connor to watch Twain and Plotus)
Plotus: And yet, were you not the root cause? Was it not you who stated that the arena should fall to the beauty of “a good man speaking well,” to a rhetorician?
(The crowd boos, attracting attention and growing by a factor of four.)
Twain: And I still maintain this position. A war of words is always preferable to a war that kills!
(Cheers, and the crowd grows three fold, to 120 people.)
Plotus: And yet again: you use your words to incite violence!
Twain: It is not so. I am against violence.
Plotus: So you would be against the wars that defend your own ability to speak so freely!
Conner: Well well, it seems that violence is seen as a noble pursuit by our good philosopher Plotus.
(Crowd gasps. Plotus nods.)
Plotus: Modus tollens! Modus tollens! Violence is only justified under very specific philosophical conditions.
Conner: And what are those? I think we should never kill. Killing is absolutely wrong. In the immortal words of Dave Mustaine: “Peace Sells, but who’s buying?” The military! The military is buying peace at the price of innocent lives!
(Crowd boos. Plotus scoffs.)
Plotus: You are ignorant if you assume those who die at the hands of our government are innocent.
Populace: Proof! Proof! Proof!
Plotus: I sneer! Would you let in the barbarians? To rape and pillage your daughters and homes? Truly disgusting!
Twain: I agree! I stand with the military.
Conner: So you both suffer from cognitive disarray! You say you are against violence and yet you support the army? You turn your back on your own argument? What sort of nonsense is this!
Plotus: The killing of the guilty is justified. The killing of the innocent is not.
Twain: And yet…how does one prove innocence or guilt? Who has such authority?
Plotus: The creator.
Conner: Hah, well he’d better speak up and call out Twain’s criminals. Come now, as Zeus, should the creator not smite the evil?
Twain: No no, side-track not. We have courts to decide these things.
Plotus: The courts that would kill an honest man like Socrates!
(The crowd is now over 500 men, women, and children.)
Conner: Yes, noble Twain, let us put your incitations aside and focus on this, you are a noble and you studied your laws. Why is it that a good man like Socrates was killed in the courts you so defend?
Twain: It was the failure of Athens, not the court.
Plotus: How dare you accuse a state! What cowardice!
Twain: And would you not accuse the Nazi state of electing a tyrant and killing its own people?
Plotus: You accuse Athens of Fascism!
Twain: Of course, the people of Athens censored their best whistle-blower. They put falsehood before truth. They did not take responsibility for their failures, just as Nuremberg cried executive orders, so did Athens cry execute innocent!
Conner: I think you are losing your audience to history, noble Twain.
Twain: What is a good man, if not one who speaks well!
Populace: What is to speak well!
Twain: Of course, it is to do as Plotus and Socrates do! To speak the truth! To take the responsibilities! You cannot blame your government, you cannot blame executive orders, you cannot blame anyone except yourself if you have done wrong. A good man speaks well; a good man speaks the Truth!
(Cheers. The crowd doubled in size during the speech.)
Connor: I hate to rain on your oration, yet you once again live in contradiction. You say you must take responsibility, and yet did you not just accuse all of Athens for the killing of Socrates?
Plotus: Ah yes, you can see now how the snake uses his rhetoric to fool the innocent. Tell us, you exonerate the courts that condemned Socrates but you condemn the people who exonerate Socrates!
Twain: (Dramatic pause.) Is it not true, Plotus, that there is no justice in an empty court? Is it not true, Conner, that a courthouse is naught but stone and mortar without its judge and jury? Put a murderer inside the empty court. Is justice served?
Conner: That’s a ridiculous question.
Twain: Then so too is it ridiculous to accuse the courthouse for the folly of the Athenian jury and court. I do not blame Athens, I was not nearly explicit enough in my speech. No, I blame everyone in the court room, and everyone who believed in Socrates who did not serve the jury and defend their hero! I accuse not the state, but every guilty individual within it.
Plotus: How can you do this?
Twain: Is it not the nature of national defense, to declare the barbarians guilty, and wage war? Of course, then, it is just to support the military!
Conner: And if they kill not barbarians, but innocents?
Twain: Than a good rhetorician must treat them each as guilty, as I have Athens.
(To Be Continued)