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non-verbal means of communication

I see choices as the key concept of rhetoric. Accordingly, where the choices are arbitrarily pared down or eliminated, rhetoric begins to disappear. This may very well be the most ominous tendency of the new rhetoric. But I can see why the tendency has developed. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Violence is essentially wordless, and it can begin only where thought and rational communication have broken down. Any society which is geared for violent action is by that fact systematically unreasonable.” People are likely to resort to coercive, non-rational, even violent tactics to gain their ends when they feel that the normal channels of communication are ineffectual or unavailable. It is significant that the ones who have most often resorted to these coercive tactics have been the dispossessed, the disenfranchised in our society -poor people, students, minority groups -people who do not have ready access to the established channels of communications. As The Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (New York: Bantam Books, 1968) puts it, “The frustrations of powerlessness have led some to the conviction that there is no effective alternative to violence as a means of expression and redress, as a way of ‘moving the system'” (p. 205). As I say, I can understand why some people in our society resort to gut responses, but I become apprehensive when I see people abandoning the reasonable and reasoning approach in situations where their freedom or their welfare is not at stake.