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10 Good Arguments

(Continued from EdWorld At Home)

10. Satire

One of the most basic forms of argument, believe it or not, is satire. How many times in a playground have kids made fun of something somebody has said or done?

Satire can take many forms, and its use in argument is tricky, because satire can easily fall into the logical lie of emotional language. Sharp satire – satire that really scores points against its target – can be, however, one of the most powerful and effective tools in argument.

Here’s an example of satire. First a little background: The estate tax is a tax that is charged when a person dies and leaves behind a large amount of property or money. It is not charged when a person leaves behind only a normal amount of property or money. Nevertheless, conservative politicians hate this tax and have nicknamed it the “death tax.”

On a recent episode of the HBO political humor show “Real Time,” a fake commercial began the show. It showed a series of obviously very wealthy young people. While showing one, the voice-over said that this “poor young man” had been expecting to inherit 7 million dollars, but after the death tax, he’d be lucky to get only 6.4 million.

In other words, this fake commercial used satire to make fun of the opponents of the estate tax by using the same kind of language and visual techniques that are used to do commercials for real charities.


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