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RhetoricalAnalysisonWhenPrisonersProtest

OnJulyeighth2013,almost30,000inmatesinprisonsallacrossCaliforniawenton
strikebyrefusingmealsandeventuallysomeofthemrefusedtoattendtheirworkassignments.
Inmatesarecomplainingontheprisonsconditionsbuttheheartofprotestcomesfromwhatthe
inmatesbelievetobetheoveraggressiveuseofsolitaryconfinement.Thisprotestwaslargest
attendedprisonprotestinthestateshistoryinthatthesecondprotestrecordholderonlyhad
aboutaninitial6,000attendeesin2011.
OnJuly162013,WilbertRideauwroteanopinioneditorialontheOpinionPagesin
theNewYorkTimesinwhichhetitledWhenPrisonersProtest.Rideauisarenownedauthorin
hisworksontheAmericancriminaljusticesystemandtheprisonsystemforfourdecades.For
hiswork,hehaswonmanymajorawards,whichincludetheGeorgePolkAward,theRobertF.
KennedyAward,andthefirstAmericanBarAssociationSilverGavelevergiventoaprisoner.
HehasalsobeenmentionedinmanyhonorsforhismemoirInthePlaceofJustice:AStoryof
PunishmentandDeliverance.Rideauwriteshisopedtocalltoanyonereadingtojoinhiscause
toreformprisonconditions.
Rideauwriteshisopinioneditorialinforthepurposeofhisreaderstosupporthiscauseto
improvetheillqualityconditionsofprisonsacrosstheUnitedStatesandabroad.Rideautalks
abouttheriskthattheinmatesarepullingtoprotestandhowprisonlifemakeseventheeventof
protestingadifficulttasktoconductbetweeninmates.Hethenexplainsthecrueltyofsolitary
confinement,describinghispersonalexperiencesinsolitaryconfinement.Rideauproposesa
reasonablesolutiontotheproblemandconcludeswithhismainclaim.Rideausworkinvolves
goodintentionswithreasonableideas.AlthoughRideaumaylackdescriptionwhenusingethos,

hisopedWhenPrisonersProtest,iseffectiveandpersuasivebecauseRideausdescriptionof
theinmatescapabilitiesandrisksaslogos,thesympathyandfutureactioninsocietyaspathos,
andhisownexperienceswithsolitaryconfinementasethos.IwillcovereachtopicthatRideau
bringsupastheyappearchronologicallythroughhisoped.
Rideausbeginshisarticlebydiscussingtheprisonerspossessionsandintentions.
Rideaulogicallygivesthereaderatasteofaninmatespersonality,saying,Thetypicalinmate
doesntwanttrouble.Hehaslittletogainandtoomuchtolose:hisjob,hisvisits,hisrecreation
time,hisphoneprivileges,hisrighttobuytuna,ramenandstalebreadatinflatedpricesinthe
commissary.Helogicallyexplainsthateventhoughinmatesareriskingtheirprivileges;the
inmatesarestillcompelledtoprotest.Becauseoftheconditions,hereasonsthatprisonerswill
protestalthoughtheythemselvesruntheriskofloosingtheirprivileges,littleadvantagesthey
haveoverauthority,andtheriskofthepunishmentthat,hedescribesas,areonlylimitedonly
bytheimaginationoftheauthorities.
Rideauthenshiftsfocusonthestatesaggressiveuseofsolitaryconfinementandclaimsit
isthecruelestthingyoucandotoafellowhuman.ThissectionismainlyfocusedonRideaus
useofethosinsteadofthefirstsectionwhereheusedempathyandreasoning(logos)topersuade
thereader.Rideauusesethossuccessfullybyfirstreferringtohisownexperiencewithsolitary
confinementassupportforhissecondmainpoint.Duringhisexplanationofsolitary
confinement,hesuddenlyswitchestothirdpersonandrepeatedlyusesthesamestructured
sentence.Forexamplehewrites,Youloseyourabilitytomakesmalltalk,Youliveentirely
inyourhead,Youtalktoyourself,andYoubecomeparanoid.Thisiseffectiverelatedto
hismessageinthatheistryingtogivethereaderafeelingasiftheyareinsolitaryconfinement.

Hethencontinueshisuseofethosbyreferringtohisspecificactivitiesinsolitaryconfinement
andgoesfurthertogaincredibilitybynamingThomasSilversteinwhohasbeeninsolitaryfor30
years,andAlbertWoodfoxandHermanWallacewhohavebeeninsolitaryfor40years.
AlthoughnamingthesemengaveRideauthesupportthatsolitaryiscruel,thisisaweakeruseof
ethossincehedidnotgointodetailwhatthesemendidtodeservethispunishment.Healso
lacksdescriptionwhileusingethosagainbecausehedoesnotgivemoresolidevidenceofthe
crueltyofsolitary.Maybeincludingstudiesonsolitarywouldsupporthiscausealittlemore.
Rideauconcludeshisthoughtofthecrueltybyusingacombinationoftone,style,andlogosto
statethattheseprotestsarehappeningbecauseprisonauthoritiesabusepower.Hewrites,They
arevictimsoftheirowncensorship.
Rideauthenapproachesonsolutionstotheproblem.Heagainstateshisthirdmainpoint
rightoffthebat.Thismainpointstatesthatthelackofcommunicationbetweeninmatesand
prisonauthoritiesarethereasonwhyprotestsarise.Rideausuccessfullyuseslogostosupporthis
thirdmainpointbyreasoningthatinmateswillmakereasonablerequeststocounterthe
aggressiveuseofsolitary.Hethencorrectlyusesethostobackuphisreasoningbyreferringto
thesuccessfulnessoftheLouisianaStatePenitentiarybecauseofbettercommunicationbetween
inmatesandprisonauthorities.Beforemovingontotheconclusionofhiseditorial,Rideauslides
inpathosbystatingthatifcommunicationweretooccur,inmateswouldrequesteducationaland
rehabilitativeprogrammingforthoseinthemoreappropriatesolitarypunishment.Thisconnects
tothevaluesofpeoplethatwanttoseeprisonersrehabilitatedandbackintosociety.
Rideausconclusionparagraphismainlyfocusedonhismainclaim.Hismainclaimis
basedonhisuseofpathos.Themainclaimstatesthatweshouldallbeconcernedforinmates.
HewriteseveryyearmenfromCaliforniasPelicanBayandothersupermaxprisonsaroundthe

nationsarereleaseddirectlyfromthevacuumoftheircellsintofreesociety,toliveandwork
amongyouandyourlovedones.Thisisaverypowerfuluseofpathostobuildstrengthinhis
mainclaim.Heinvolvesintothesituationthevaluesofthereadersandeveryoneinsociety.
Overall,Rideausmessageinhisopedwaseffectiveinthatheusedsubpointstoback
uphisthreemainpointsbyusinglogos,pathos,ethos,andtoneandstyle.Whichinturn,support
hismainclaimthatisbackedbypathos.Toimprovesupportfromhisreaders,hewouldinclude
moresolidevidencetoethosonthementaleffectsofsolitary.Althoughsomepeoplemaynot
trustWilbertRideaubecausehehasbeenaprisonerformanslaughterfor44years,hisrelentless
worktoimprovethesituationthathehimselfhasexperienced,theawards,andpeoplehehas
influencedwithhisworkoutweighsthesuspicionofanygreatermaliciousactivity.