Rhetorical Charms: The Promise and Pitfalls of Humor and Ridicule as Strategies to Counter Extremist Narratives

H.L. Goodall, Pauline Hope Cheong, Kristin Fleischer, Steven R. Corman
Abstract

In this article we provide a brief account of the uses of humor, in particular satire and ridicule, to counter extremist narratives and heroes.  We frame the appeals of humor as “rhetorical charms,” or stylistic seductions based on surprising uses of language and/or images designed to provoke laughter, disrupt ordinary arguments, and counter taken-for-granted truths, that contribute to new sources of influence to the globally wired world of terrorism.  We offer two recent examples of how the Internet in particular changed the narrative landscape in ways that offer potent evidence of uses of humor to remake extremist heroes into objects of derision.  We also caution those who would make use of humor as a strategic communication device to take into account the negative side effects and unexpected consequences that can accompany such uses.

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http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/goodall-et-al-rhetorical/365

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