Propaganda Guidelines: Appeal to Pity vs. Appeal to Practical Consequences

This is the another in a series of Coaching Tips pointing out important distinctions made in the new Propaganda Guide. This one deals with Appeal to Pity and Appeal to Practical Consequences in Section D.

Appeal to Pity can resemble Appeal to Practical Consequences. Dire results will befall the person or group that is the object of the pity. (I’ll fail the course, lose my job, be evicted from my apartment, or children will starve, my mother will not get the operation she needs, and so on.) However, with Appeal to Pity, I ask for pity on me or on a person or cause I favor. With Practical Consequences, I argue that the listener should do or not do something based on the consequences for the listener. (You’ll lose your job, your health will improve, our city will have better leadership.)

Example of Appeal to Pity rather than Appeal to Practical Consequences
Senator: “If we don’t pass this emergency Defense Department budget bill, our troops in the Middle East will have to get by with less food and water. Their tanks will run out of gas in the desert and those manning the tanks will be picked off like flies.”
Comment: The senators will be far from the danger zone—the dangerous consequences will not affect them.

Example of Appeal to Practical Consequences rather than Appeal to Pity
Democratic Senator to his fellow Democratic Senators in a private meeting: “If we don’t vote for more money for the troops in Iraq, we will pay the price at the polls in November.”
Comment: This senator argues for what is best for the political future of himself and his listeners.

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