The problem of liberty and technology has been a pressing issue in the United States’ public life. While the Fourth Amendment formally protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, the CIA scandals of the recent years, based on spying accusations, show that in reality the Fourth Amendment does not work. As more and more revelations of data companies and government’s total spying on the U.S. public are getting publicity, it becomes clear that technology seriously compromises the basic liberties of American citizens and that the existing law does not work to protect Americans from virtual, rather than real, searches. Moyers & Angwin’s “No Escaping Dragnet Nation” and Slobogin’s “Is the Fourth Amendment Relevant in a Technological Age?” are two texts that examine the problem of the Fourth Amendment deficiency in protecting the privacy of U.S. citizens because of its irrelevance to the realities of the digital era. THESIS STATEMENT: Both texts have great persuasive power because they consistently use ethos, pathos, and logos as the authors establish their credibility, appeal to the emotions of the audience, support their claims with accurate evidence, and successfully refute opposing views.
For a start, Slobogin and Angwin’s arguments are strong because they successfully apply ethos. Slobogin establishes his credibility as an author by indirectly pointing out at his expertise as he repeatedly refers to his contributions to the research theme and his work on investigating the cases of privacy intrusion on the government part. For instance, Slobogin refers to the possibility of the general public attempting “to induce Congress and the president to take some of the steps [he has] outlined” or explicitly states his authorship of the scenarios provided in the article (Slobogin 60). Besides, he consistently demonstrates his deep knowledge of the legal cases that have historically led to contemporary violations. Likewise, the credibility of Julia Angwin, the speaker at Moyers & Company show, has been established with Moyers’ telling the audience about Angwin’s expertise and achievements: “the Pulitzer-prize winning reporter,” the author of two books Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance and Stealing My Space, and the journalist writing for The Wall Street Journal for as long as 13 years. Angwin herself points out at her exceptional expertise by referring to her experience of shunning Google and other online traps that could compromise her privacy. These uses of ethos make the arguments sound credible and make the audience trust the authors.
With regard to pathos, its effective use has enhanced the arguments of the authors of “No Escaping Dragnet Nation” and “Is the Fourth Amendment Relevant in a Technological Age?” Specifically, Moyers uses metaphors that impress the viewer through imagination. For example, he calls the massive surveillance “the bottomless ocean in which we now swim” (Moyers & Angwin). Angwin keeps being rather emotional throughout the show and uses relevant body language, which enhances her words (she smiles, frowns, and gesticulates, etc). In his turn, Slobogin uses pathos when he keeps asking rhetorical questions and keeps being personal in his scholarly text. Some examples are: “Who cares?”, “I can imagine …” (Slobogin 19; Slobogin 70). In this way, both texts capitalize on their use of pathos in making arguments against the utility of the Fourth Amendment.
Finally, the persuasiveness of both texts is enhanced through the use of logos. The authors use accurate evidence to support their ideas, such as Slobogin’s citing President Obama in Cybespace Policy Review and Angwin’s reference to a Supreme Court precedent among other things. Besides, both texts successfully refute the opponents’ objections: Slobogin cites the results of a blog survey that disprove the claim that public are not concerned about government surveillance. In her turn, Angwin provides evidence that CIA’s justification of their spying is irrelevant because in the mentioned cases they have used other ways to track suspects. Hence, the two texts are strong in persuasion because of their appeals to logos.
In conclusion, Moyers & Angwin and Slobogin effectively persuade the audiences that the Fourth Amendment is not relevant in the age of information and technology, and that a new law is needed that would protect the liberties of American citizens. The authors reach their aims owing to the use of ethos, pathos, and logos.
- Moyers, Bill, host, and Julia Angwin, guest. “No Escaping Dragnet Nation.” Moyers and Company, 14 Mar. 2014, billmoyers.com/episode/no-escaping-dragnet-nation/. Accessed 28 March 2017.
- Slobogin, Christopher. “Is the Fourth Amendment Relevant in a Technological Age?” Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change, edited by Jeffrey Rosen and Benjamin Wittes, Brookings Institution Press, 2011, pp. 11-36.