Rhetorical Rules

“What makes you think that I haven’t done this already??”

This is a fine example of a rhetorical question and it is also unacceptable in my view.
So why is it so unacceptable to me? Simple. I think it is a very clever way to cloak
our thoughts, expectations and aggression so that we do not have to be accountable for them. Worst of all is that there will be a lot of people unaware of the dangers of such rhetoric and how their aggression is hidden even from themselves.

What he is really saying is:
“Why are you prejudging me?”
The irony here is that by thinking and saying this he is doing the same thing that he is accusing the other person of.

For example, if we agreed to be accountable and not to use rhetorical questions,
then instead of saying “What makes you think…??”, you would simply say:
“It seems to me that you think I haven’t done (this) because of (that)”.
This allows me to see what and why you think and to respond accordingly.

“Why don’t you do it this way instead of that?? Would also be changed to
“I think you should do it that way because of this reason”. Then we can have a simple debate and compare of your reasoning verses mine.

“Don’t you think…??” Yet again more rhetoric that tries to bypass accountability.

I think that people that endorse the use of rhetorical questions feel no need to share their reasoning with anyone else or even themselves, and can have a tendency to act as a despot
when they feel threatened.

Now, of course I believe that the people that will scoff at this post will be the endorsers of such rhetorical questions and other rhetorical devices. But those that know the tone associated with: “What makes you think….?”, “Why don’t you…?” and “Don’t you think…?” will be aware of the angst and confusion it causes them and will appreciate the peace of mind that an agreement to hold each other to account, will bring.

Its my view that what starts out as a spark of aggression, unless extinguished, can quickly be fanned into a raging bushfire.

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