Unspeakable Conversations

1155 words 5 pages
Critical Reading: “Unspeakable Conversations”

Could the killing of an unborn disabled child be considered acceptable in today’s society? Selective infanticide is a very controversial topic that many have argued about over past years. In her article “Unspeakable Conversations” disabilities activist and lawyer Harriet McBryde Johnson demonstrates her viewpoint on this issue. She writes this article as a story, with herself being the narrator. It follows her journey as she feuds with Peter Singer, a Princeton University professor, who has an opposing perspective regarding the killing of unborn disabled children. With this in mind, Johnson reveals her point of view using the strategy of a Rogerian argument and the rhetorical elements of
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This is also her way of giving voice to the people who do not have the ability to make a difference on this issue. Furthermore, her vast knowledge of her disability gives the credit that can provide evidence for the argument being presented throughout the article.
In the article, McBryde Johnson also vastly appeals to the audience’s pathos or emotions. She does so by discussing her disability in detail, how people treat her, and her struggles in her journey to Princeton. Also, she makes the audience feel sympathy for her when describing the physical aspects of her disability. McBryde Johnson says, “At this stage of my life, I’m Karen Carpenter thin, flesh mostly vanished, a jumble of bones in a floppy bag of skin” (2). This gives the audience a sense of her life, and makes them compassionate towards her and more eager to hear what she has to say. But as you can see by her picture, she makes herself sound worse off than she truly is. She intends these descriptions to make people feel sorry for her. By describing her disability in this manner she is wallowing in her own self-pity. She also explains how people often gawk at her because of her oddly slumped-over shape and large powered wheel chair. This may be the case, but she does not give people enough credit. She feels everyone stares at her, but this is her point of view and attempts to make it the audience’s as well. This causes the


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