We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Violent Rhetoric?

By Mark Wollacott
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Violent rhetoric is defined as any form of speech or discourse that uses violent terms and images. Rhetoric is an ancient form of argumentation dating back at least to ancient Greece and Rome. Public speakers or rhetoricians try to use rhetoric to persuade listeners to agree with them or their point of view. Violent terms and images have been used by some, like Adolf Hitler, to inspire violence, or violence can be a byproduct of the speech itself.

There are several means by which rhetoricians make violent statements. In ancient times, such rhetoric was either performed in a public place on the stump, in the forum, or within a political chamber such as the curia in Rome. Rhetoric and discourse can also take place in the written medium. Examples include the use of pamphlets and books.

In the modern world, violent rhetoric not only takes place at rallies and speeches, but in the homes of millions, if not billions, of people. This is because the major political speeches are often caught on camera or radio. Not only that, but if someone makes an inflammatory speech, the rhetorician’s words will be broadcast across the world and their impact amplified.

There are several motives for using violent rhetoric. The most common reason is to get noticed. If a politician says something violent and inflammatory, his words will be repeated more often and will be discussed on radio, television and in the papers. This spreads the words and the person's name. These kinds of speeches may appear rhetorical, but they are not intended to persuade people; they are intended to gain publicity.

Another reason for violent rhetoric is that it motivates the base. The base is the core set of voters who are very unlikely to change their vote. Many politicians believe that winning elections is not about convincing swing voters, but about getting their existing base to come out and vote. Violent rhetoric makes people’s blood boil; it motivates people to vote against what is being denounced and it increases prejudice — all of which are good for the rhetorician.

Some rhetoricians, however, want there to be violence. These speeches, such as the Red Army’s Ilya Ehrenburg telling his troops to “kill the German” or Hitler’s rants against dissidents and Jews, are designed to have a deliberate effect. There are countless examples of violent rhetoric with the intention of causing violence against another element of society or against specific people. The speeches of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe are an example. In his speeches, he urges people to crack down on opposition supporters and to seize the land of white farmers.

Aristotle believed that rhetoric was designed to persuade people to take up a particular course of action. It is, therefore, not surprising that some people who hear violent rhetoric will do exactly what the rhetoric called for. There are often two reasons for people to do violence as set out in rhetoric. First, the person knows that his or her action will be condoned. Second, the individual is lacking mental brakes that pull most humans away from violence.

When violent rhetoric causes actual violence, the politicians who spouted the inflammatory words are often the first to distance themselves from the violence itself. Words have a power over people and rhetoric is designed to persuade people to a certain course of action. Public speakers and politicians should, therefore, not be surprised that their violent words are met with actual violence.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.