Core Value 1. My work demonstrates that I used a variety of social and interactive practices that involve recursive stages of exploration, discovery, conceptualization, and development.
In my original Definition Argument, I attempted to define the circumstances surrounding perpetrators of school shootings that could be considered predictors of such tragedies. However, as my professor pointed out, I failed to distinguish between socially isolated, bullied, and mentally ill people who committed school shootings and the millions of those who haven’t. Following the professor’s feedback, I did some deeper research and found that, in fact, the notion of mental illness as a predictor for school shootings was based widely on myth. Furthermore, I found that there is no evidence pointing to a “common profile” of school shooters at all. I then decided to address these facts in my Definition Rewrite, in which I redefined the red flags that could predict school shootings as simply unknown.
Core Value 2. My work demonstrates that I read critically, and that I placed texts into conversation with one another to create meaning by synthesizing ideas from various discourse communities.
In my Definition Rewrite, I delved into the discussion of what causes school shootings and how we can prevent them. A very popular belief, present in that discussion and prevalent especially among gun-rights advocates, was that mental illness is the root cause of school shootings. In other words, mental illness is a “red flag” that needed attention via treatment and intervention. The main argument behind my Definition Rewrite sought to dispel that notion by analyzing data we have on the background of school shooters, what constitutes a mental illness that is an accurate predictor of violence, and how it has been a counter-productive solution. The idea that there is, in fact, no knowable “common profile” of school shooters is sure to be seen as counterintuitive by many, and will definitely add a new idea to the often-heated conversation.
Core Value 3. My work demonstrates that I rhetorically analyzed the purpose, audience, and contexts of my own writing and other texts and visual arguments.
I intended for my Rebuttal Argument to have a wide audience, consisting of anyone who cares about reducing school shootings; anyone who knows it can happen to them and their children. Most of all, however, my primary target audience was people who have their reservations about a media culture that doesn’t talk about the school shooter. Many people on the opposing side of my argument would argue about a lack of “hard proof,” freedom of the press, and the many supposed “benefits” of reporting on school shooters. Gun-control advocates reading my argument paper may already be comfortable with the idea that it’s a desire for fame and notoriety that perpetuates school shootings, not mental illness or some “common profile” of school shooters. On the other side, however, gun-rights advocates may finally doubt their original positions after reading my refutations to their favorite arguments. Most importantly, neither side of the debate will feel antagonized or as if they owe any concessions.
Core Value 4: My work demonstrates that I have met the expectations of academic writing by locating, evaluating, and incorporating illustrations and evidence to support my own ideas and interpretations.
In my Causal Argument, I supported with evidence the argument that mental illness and other circumstances aren’t red flags as well as the argument that media sensationalism is a primary cause for school shootings. I used data that highlights the lack of any common trait among previous offenders. As evidence of fame-seeking shooters, I provided evidence that several school shooters were classified specifically as fame-seeking school shooters. I backed that up the idea that even more could be influenced by news coverage of shootings with studies about the copycat effect. To give the phenomenon some credibility, I gave a brief history of how the copycat effect has had its impact on other types of tragedies. Some reports I used specifically found a high correlation between the number of tweets about a school shooting and the likelihood of that incident being copied in the future.
Core Value 5. My work demonstrates that I respect my ethical responsibility to represent complex ideas fairly and to the sources of my information with appropriate citation.
My Rebuttal Argument certainly demonstrates ethical responsibility in analyzing data from sources. When I supported my premise (that media sensationalism causes copycat shootings) with evidence that school shootings are inspired by previous incidents, I acknowledged that it wasn’t “hard proof” to blame news stations like CNN or social media platforms like Twitter in particular. However, I did make it a point that a high correlation and an abundance of evidence of the copycat effect would absolutely make suppressing news coverage of school shootings worth the try. It’s important to not force the proof on one’s audience in a situation in which likelihood is all we can suggest, while still giving the evidence we have some merit. Otherwise, we completely misinterpret the intentions of the studies that provide such evidence.