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Rhetoric redefined

By Debra Dobbins

The word “rhetoric” has caught a bum rap. No longer is it considered a disciplined way of using specific words and carefully honed logic to put forth an intelligent argument.

Now it means overblown, often inflammatory language, which is how Jim Spehar uses it in his column today. In the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, Spehar comments on the political climate we now need to create with words and, of course, actions. Spehar humorously refers to himself as “a recovering politician whose rhetoric sometimes reflects that handicap.”

You can find his entire column in today’s print edition or e-edition.

As a microcosm of society, each school also has a climate created in large part by the language used within it. Students, is the language in your hallways, classrooms and lunchrooms strengthening civility in your school or eroding it? (No, that’s not a rhetorical question. I’d be pleased to receive answers.)

One final question: In our civil discourse is it time to bring the original meaning of “rhetoric” back?

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