Rhetorical Analysis

https://twitter.com/JanineTurner/status/397685758619705344

Rhetorical Analysis of A Generation of Robots — What Godless Schools Create posted by author @Janine Turner found at @knownolimitz

 

 

Janine Turner is a devout Christian, who is an active member in the religious freedom movement, as well as a main-stream media personality. Turner, along with many others, feels that injecting religious teachings into the public school curriculum would help the nation’s youth become more compassionate, have higher ethical standards, and in general be better equipped to deal with the trials and tribulations of modern life. In her post A Generation of Robots — What Godless Schools Create she is so bold as to suggest that we as a society have for all intense purposes done the youth of this nation a great disservice by not allowing the freedom of religion to be incorporated into current scholastic curriculums.

There is a strong community of persons in this country who follow various and highly differentiated religions. In the United States Christianity, in all its various denominations, seems to have the largest and most outspoken following. There is a growing population of Christians who feel that their rights to religious freedoms are being stripped away from them systematically by our government. Turner is obviously one of these people. She also appears to be a person who is both passionate and convicted to her faith, as is evidenced by some very bold statements made by her in her post. It is fairly evident what Turners message is to her audience from the articles title alone, “What Godless Schools Create”. To ensure that there is no question about the context of her message she clearly states her thoughts in the very first sentence, “We need God back in the schools.”(Turner, 2013, para. 1).

Turner takes several strategic angles on her readers to evoke a very specific response, a sort of call to action plea. She plays on human emotion by trying to make you believe that there is a correlation between these supposed restrictions to openly and freely practice religion, and a her theory that  today’s adolescents lack in morality, ethics, soulfulness, and the ability to effectively cope in the ever and rapidly changing society around them (Turner, 2013). As a matter of fact Turner fills the first one-third of her post with very well-chosen words to try and create a sense of a socially collective guilty conscience by playing to both ethos and pathos. She does not feel that there is any point in educating our children without including religious teachings. She wants you to believe that all we are doing is, “Spitting kids out of America’s school system like new cars from an assembly line – robotic, scientific empty vessels.”(Turner, 2013, para. 1). She continues on to go even so far as to say that we are “doing a great disservice to our nation’s youth, and our nation in general” (Turner, 2013, para. 3).

Turner is very well organized in respect to achieving her goal of getting people to join her in becoming active and push for this type of religious and scholastic reform. She transitions quite nicely from ethos and pathos to a combination of ethos and logos with nice timing. She then actively and directly makes her call to action by rallying the troops with, “It’s time for those of us who believe in freedom of religious discussion in schools to stand tall and take action.”(Turner, 2013, para. 4).  With that statement she leads her readers into the time honored religious argument of what exactly the founding fathers intended for the nation in the first amendment; Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Most of these arguments are based on “their” own interpretation of the constitution and the bill of rights. As a general rule these very devoted persons, or groups, tend to believe that “their” interpretation of these historical documents are in fact the correct interpretation of what the founding fathers intended for the population of this country. Turner is no exception as evident by her statement, “Just because the Supreme Court keeps making erroneous decisions about the separation of church and state” (Turner, 2013, para. 5). Her intention is to gain emotional momentum by insinuating that followers of religion are being denied their very most basic liberties, and any interpretation contrary to hers and collective religious groups is misguidedly twisting the true meaning of our forefathers.

Turner bolsters her emotional charge by almost creating a sense of anger and hostility toward our ruling bodies for denying her target readers their constitutional rights. After taking her shots at the Supreme Court for being incapable of deciphering the “true” meaning of the first amendment she takes it to the next level. In a full on assault, filled with emotional energy aimed toward making us believe that the youth of America have been done a great injustice, she slams the Supreme Court. She would have believe that, “Our founders knew that upon this freedom to exercise religion, and the unparalleled importance of a faith of one’s choice, rested the cornerstone for not only life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but for the survival of republicanism itself.” and that, “ the Supreme Court ripped faith, an intrinsic freedom, and a vital coping skill, from our children’s developing years … nine Supreme Court Justices, single handedly took away the very essence of human spiritual development, and a basic constitutional right, from our children.” (Turner, 2013, para. 8&9). I have no doubt that these words would in fact stir emotions and have a person who shares Turners beliefs in an uproar and become involved. Throughout her post Turner has carefully chosen charged wording and loaded phrases. She has also organized them in such a way that she feels will achieve her objective and elicit action from within her target audience.

As Turner pushes her idea of freedom she frequently tries to relay a sense of religious equality in her quest, but her continual use of “God”, in the midst of otherwise well worded pleas, and creates a transparency that reveals what I believe to be her underlying objective of getting Christianity into public schools. Turner played her words well and tugged at her Christian reader’s sense of duty and to the fundamental responsibilities as citizens to protect, nourish, and provide our youth with the tools needed in adulthood to be fully functioning individuals. But she creates a somewhat paradoxical message in her enthusiastic attempt to draw the response of the united masses. Turner implies that she is pushing for freedom and active practice of “all religions”, but yet at the same time she implies a freedom for those who have no faith or religion. She creates this direct conflict of interest in the midst of her push for religious practices within the school setting when she is  expressing her opinion that our judicial system has no right to deny a person “from any faith or no faith”, to practice openly (Turner, 2013, para. 4).

While Turner suggests an argument for religious freedom of any faith her opening sentence very clearly states her underlying purpose, “We need God back in the schools.” (Turner, 2013, para. 1). When I hear the word God I do not correlate it with the beliefs of the Native Americans religions, Buddhists, Islamists, Hinduists, Taoists, modern Pagan followings, or any other practicing religion that predates Christianity by thousands of years, I form a direct notion with Christianity. From her choice of wording I do not feel that she is being totally honest about her concept of religious freedom for all faiths and religions.

I applaud Turners convictions and commitment to her faith. And I am sure that her heart felt call to American Christians will stir some to action through her use of personally biased rhetoric. I do however find her very judgmental assessment of younger generations, and those of us who are products of the public school systems, both tasteless and personally insulting. I find it sad to think there are persons in this world who assume morality and compassion will lack without religion! If I were to believe the context of these words, I would mistakenly perceive that the social and moral values of this society are sliding into the abyss of damnation because we failed to provide its youth with values based on religious ideation.

I like many persons I have worked alongside while caring for the sick, injured, and dying in our society must be compassionate, soulful, and ethical anomalies found within the non-religious robotic human population that learned scientific principle, the principles that allow individuals of our species to live longer and fuller lives. I also find her concept of religious freedom and idealism of religion to be self-centered, egocentric, and severely lacking in justification and rationality. I agree with Turner that one should be left to their own beliefs in regard to religions or faiths, but it should be practiced within a cohort of persons capable of making their own decisions and judgments that electively choose to congregate. Not practiced within the setting of public schools where attendance of young impressionable minds is mandated by the government.

 

References

Turner, J. [Janine Turner]. (2013, November 4). A generation of robots – what Godless schools create [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://pjmedia.com/blog/a-generation-of-robots-what-godless-schools-create/

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