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Mary Fisher’s 1992 National Convention Speech

On August 19, 1992, the Republican National Convention was held in Houston to nominate the President for re-election. The day was also remembered for the eloquent speech of political activist Mary Fisher, who called on party members and all concerned listeners to support her and stop silencing the spread of HIV. This essay is intended to analyze Fisher’s speech for verbal constructions that she used to make her address more convincing.

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As a daughter of a post-Holocaust Jewish rights advocate, Mary Fisher was prone to political activity. Fisher was married twice, and both times ended in a divorce. In 1991, she was informed that her second husband, Brian Campbell, was HIV-positive and gave her the virus (Fisher, 2012). This news was an occasion to start a future political and public career. After the largest Michigan newspaper published a biographical history of Fisher, she was invited to speak at a conference in front of Republicans in 1992. She will then establish an international fund to help HIV-positive people. In recent years of political life, Fisher has been educating the people of Africa about HIV prevention.

Mary Fisher’s persuasive speech in front of Republicans allowed the author to gain the trust of his listeners. It is enough to hear this speech once to understand the seriousness and concern of woman intentions. It is possible to analyze her address through specific methods of persuasion that came from the Aristotelian times of Ancient Greece. According to the classification of the famous ancient thinker, any argument can be divided into three groups: pathos, logos, and ethos.

The concept of the logos unites statistical information, the sequence of presentation, and verbal techniques. It is enough to start studying the text of Fisher’s speech to realize that she is using this belief technique. She talks about millions of cases of infection with the virus and provides a statistical forecast of the number of HIV patients in the next few years (EIUPublicSpeaking, 2015). In this part of her presentation, the activist addresses a more rational part of the audience, to ensure interest in the topic under discussion. Such strategies can often be used to increase the impact on the audience.

Later on, we can see that Fisher focuses not on the rationality of information but on the emotional level. By appealing to the listeners’ feelings, the woman can influence their opinions and get the support she wants. With the help of pathos, moods and emotions of the opponent are brought to the fore, and a call to fear shows the best result (Pearson, Nelson, Titsworth, & Harter, 2012). Fisher makes the public feel emotionally uncomfortable when he mentions the Holocaust and Nazi permissiveness. In one sentence she stirs up public fear: “…If you believe you are safe, you are at risk” (EIUPublicSpeaking, 2015). Pathos often makes the audience feel that they are personally interested in the information provided and is, as a rule, a catalyst for action.

Finally, the speaker’s credibility with hundreds of Republicans is built on a method of persuasion, such as ethos. To encourage the audience to act and stop hiding HIV, Fisher begins by acknowledging that he is HIV-positive. This is not a coincidence, but rather a way for listeners who are far from the topic to see in the speaker a person who is closely connected to the disease. In this case, she can be trusted and listened to.

Methods of persuasion were invented thousands of years ago, but even today, they do not lose their relevance. Using them correctly in your speech, as political activist Mary Fisher did in 1992, people can influence the public’s decision to support the idea. It is incorrect to use one particular method instead of seeking integration on the edges of a rhetorical triangle. In such a case, the presentation of the proposed idea will be the most effective and will have the desired result.

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EIUPublicSpeaking. (2015). Mary Fisher A Whisper of AIDS 1992 [Video file]. Web.

Fisher, M. (2012). My name is Mary: A memoir. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Pearson, J., Nelson, P., Titsworth, S., & Harter, L. (2012). Human communication. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Humanities.

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