Bitzer's model of the rhetorical situation as examined through restoration rhetoric of the Posse Comitatus and the Republic of Texas

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dc.contributor.advisor Messner, Beth A. en_US Morris, Michael R. en_US
dc.coverage.spatial n-us--- en_US 2011-06-03T19:39:11Z 2011-06-03T19:39:11Z 2001 en_US 2001
dc.identifier LD2489.Z72 2001 .M67 en_US
dc.description.abstract This thesis examines Bitzer's model of the rhetorical situation by using it, in combination with elements of Bormann's fantasy theme analysis to perform a criticism of radical right rhetoric. First, it identifies the exigencies that give rise to the sovereignty rhetoric employed by members of the radical right. This analysis then determines whether the speech meets the needs of its intended audience. To accomplish this task, two websites are analyzed: the Posse Comitatus/Christian Identity website and that of the Republic of Texas, a secessionist, common law/sovereign citizen's site. These websites claim to be the official websites of the two organizations. The analysis is a generative analysis, combining Bitzer's model of rhetorical situation with aspects of Bormann's fantasy theme analysis. Through performing the analysis, weaknesses and areas for improvement in Bitzer's model will be identified.Sovereignty and common law rhetoric comes in many variations, but all revolve around a central principle - that there are two classes of citizenship. United States citizenship is conferred by the Fourteenth Amendment and is accepted by participation in programs such as social security (Nagle, 1996). This form of citizenship is subject to extensive regulation and taxation. However, sovereignty rhetoric focuses on state citizenship. This type of citizenship is conferred by common law and can be recaptured by rejecting U.S. citizenship. Advocates of sovereignty argue that state citizens are not subject to most federal laws and cannot be taxed by the federal government.Why study common law/sovereign citizen rhetoric? There is broad crosspollination among extremist groups, and sovereignty rhetoric is a consistent theme for many of these groups (Shapiro, 1995). For example, individuals convicted of abortion bombings have had militia ties, and tax protestors attend preparedness expos' (Tharp & Holstein, 1997). Likewise, events such as the death of Randy Weaver's wife in the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff, and the 1993 Branch Davidian fire are cited by extremists of numerous ideologies as evidence of a government conspiracy (Dyer, 1997).2 Furthermore, for every camouflage-clothed militia member, there are several amateur attorneys studying old law books, the Constitution and each other's websites in an effort to unravel the meaning of the "true" Constitution (Abanes, 1996).The Posse Comitatus and Republic of Texas websites are useful artifacts because they are clear examples of the types of rhetoric addressed in this study. The present incarnation of the Posse Comitatus merges Posse Comitatus and Christian Identity rhetoric, allowing exploration of the common law rhetoric of both groups through one website. While claiming not to be a militia website, the Republic ofI Preparedness expos offer survivalist training and equipment, firearms, ammunition and common law materials (Tharp & Holstein).Extremists are particularly fascinated by the date April 19, a date on which events ranging from the Revolutionary War to the Branch Davidian fire took place (Stern). In some circles, this date is called Militia Day and has assumed almost religious significance.Texas maintains at least three separate militias and features extensive discussions of common law and sovereign citizen rhetoric.To understand these groups, it is necessary to understand the exigencies that brought them into existence. Bitzer's model of rhetorical situation, with its focus on exigencies, is an excellent tool for understanding the social and economic factors contributing to the growth of these types of groups. However, Bitzer offers only limited insight into how the messages are spread and why people accept them. Bormann's fantasy theme method of analysis helps answer the questions of how the sovereignty/common law message satisfies the rhetorical and psychological needs of the group members.
dc.description.sponsorship Department of Communication Studies
dc.format.extent ii, 140, [78] leaves : ill. ; 28 cm. en_US
dc.source Virtual Press en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Right-wing extremists -- United States. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Government, Resistance to -- United States. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Rhetoric -- Political aspects -- United States. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Common law -- United States. en_US
dc.title Bitzer's model of the rhetorical situation as examined through restoration rhetoric of the Posse Comitatus and the Republic of Texas en_US
dc.title.alternative Common law rhetoric en_US Thesis (M.A.)
dc.identifier.cardcat-url en_US

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  • Master's Theses [5510]
    Master's theses submitted to the Graduate School by Ball State University master's degree candidates in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

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