A common thought is that argument is easy, and anyone can make an effective argument just by shouting louder than the other person. On the news, the Internet, and even in person arguments have dissolved into attacks on a person’s character, and screaming at one another. People engaged in arguments often build up straw men just to tear them down and feel superior. The idea of civil discussion and debate seems like it’s a long past relic of an ancient age.
A well constructed argument depends on some rhetorical concepts to be valid and effective. One of those major concepts is the idea of ethos – or credibility. It harms the speaker’s credibility when they decide to just screech wild emotions into the void; nobody can take a speaker seriously when they don’t have knowledge about the subject they are speaking on. In all honesty, rhetoric is a subject that should be introduced in High School as part of a well rounded, liberal arts education program. Stop teaching to the test and forcing students to learn subjects that aren’t going to benefit them in the future, and instead equip them with the ability to think critically and make their own educated decisions. Raise a generation of thinkers and I think that society will see a drastic change back to sanity and civility.