Ethical Speaking Essay Assignment

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Speakers often use manipulative, exploitive, or dishonest methods when attempting to persuade their audience concerning their views. It is important that we, as the listener, determine if these methods are being used and to critically evaluate the message being shared. Speech may be protected by the Constitution, but as a society, we need to question the ethics of some speech performances.

When people try to persuade individuals to do something or believe something that might deviate from their normal value system, they frequently justify their persuasion using various devices. They might…

use false, fabricated, misrepresented, distorted or irrelevant evidence to support arguments or claims.
intentionally use unsupported, misleading, or illogical reasoning.
represent yourself as informed or an “expert” on a subject when they are not.
use irrelevant appeals to divert attention from the issue at hand.
ask the audience to link their idea or proposal to emotion-laden values, motives, or goals to which it is not related.
deceive the audience by concealing their real purpose, by concealing self-interest, by concealing the group they represent, or by concealing their position as an advocate of a viewpoint.
distort, hide, or misrepresent the number, scope, intensity, or undesirable features of consequences or effects.
use “emotional appeals” that lack a supporting basis of evidence or reasoning.
oversimplify complex, gradation-laden situations into simplistic, two-valued, either-or, polar views or choices.
pretend certainty where tentativeness and degrees of probability would be more accurate.
advocate something which they do not believe in.
In addition, speakers use labels in order to elicit emotional reactions or to limit the listener’s connection with the group being discussed. Labeling allows the audience to draw often erroneous conclusions and disparaging attitudes. Biased words are those that subtlety implies that a person or topic should be perceived in a specific manner. The biased attitude that a speaker might have can be reflected by the language they use in order to alter the listener’s perception.

Choose a speech from sources such as or YouTube that is intended to be persuasive (The Westboro Baptist Church, Alex Jones, even John Oliver are all speakers that might provide an interesting analysis). Evaluate the speech that you have selected through the lens of the suggested methods listed above. You will need to listen carefully, not only to the words that are used but also to the tone of the speaker.

The paper that you will write must be three FULL pages, Times Roman, 12pt font, 1.5-inch margins on each side, and 1.5 spacing between lines (no double lines between paragraphs). Three references are the minimum (not including the text), but the more that you research, the greater chance you will have for a better paper. Any references that you cite must be on a separate reference page and cited correctly in-text (APA). (Do not include a title page).

The first half of your paper should include an explanation of what the speech is about, who the speaker is, and what is the situation/occasion. The second half should include a thoughtful analysis of how ethical the speaker was given their language usage. Identify those words or phrases intended to influence the audience either negatively or positively. This is a college-level paper and should write with careful attention to grammar and punctuation.


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