Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Rhetoric of a Killing

This is it! The last  post of the semester for Rhetoric and Civic life….we have conquered the multimedia project this week and made it to our last post. This week I would like to throw my input in on the rhetorical situation that the Trayvon Martin killing has created.  The slaying of the seventeen year old Martin has split the nation and caused an uproar about everything from gun control to racism. The background to the incident is that George Zimmeran, a Hispanic neighborhood watchman with a tendency to call 911 a lot, drew down on seventeen year old, un-armed Trayvon Martin with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and killed him after running home him down. There is much that surrounds this incident so I am not going to post my opinion, I just want to show the rhetorical effect it has.
Riot have erupted after the shooter, Zimmerman claimed self defense. People across the country are infuriated that seventeen year old Martin was killed. Many think it was because he was an African American and he just looked “the wrong way”.
Politicians have seized the kairos of the situation to push for gun control and to advocate for their own personal policies that they want to see placed into law. A tragic event like this is the perfect trigger for politicians to try to enact legislation.  The symbol of Skittles and a container of ice tea along with a hooded sweatshirt have been the symbol of Trayvon Martin’s unfortunate death.
Representative Bobby Rush took special care to use the kairos of this situation by donning a hooded sweatshirt to make a statement about racial profiling in America. Rep. Rush used the sweatshirt to show that anybody can where a hooded sweatshirt whether they are black or white and that does not make them a killer or criminal.
The killing of Trayvon Martin goes to show how rhetoric whether involving crime, guns, or racism can get the people of this country upset and ready to take action. This event also shows that even the highest echelons of government will act after an event at a local level occurs.


"A Guide To The Trayvon Martin Killing | TPMMuckraker." TPMMuckraker. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2012. <>.
"Rep. Bobby Rush's Hoodie Moment Recalls His Own Family Tragedy : It's All Politics : NPR." NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2012. <>.
the. "Lawyers: Zimmerman whispered 'punks' before shooting Trayvon Martin -" - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2012. <>.


  1. Yes, there is so much that has been said (and that still will be said) about Martin's death, and I'm glad that you tapped into the visual rhetoric of the hoodie. Even the picture that is widely circulating of him has been chosen purposefully.

    It's a tragedy, for certain.

  2. Choosing to wear his hood up did make a huge statement. You took a good, rhetorical approach to looking at this issue.