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Propaganda in the Classroom
Propaganda Analysis Sheet

Analyzing Big Government

  1. What item are you analyzing?'s Gun Control Poster
  2. The message you chose to work with is transmitted via (check off all applicable categories)
__X__ written language _____ spoken language _____ music _____ other sound
__X__ image (photo, drawing, etc.) __X__ color _____ other visual _____ other _______________________
  1. The medium used to transmit the message is (check off the type that applies)
_____ book _____ magazine _____ newspaper _____ mail or e-mail __X__ billboard or poster
_____ TV _____ radio _____ film _____ CD, audiotape, etc. _____ other _________________
  1. Who authored the message?

  1. At whom is it targeted?

Americans fearful of Big Government taking away their "2nd Amendment rights"

  1. Is it commercial or non-commercial?


  1. In one clear, brief sentence, summarize the message with which you've decided to work.

You need guns to protect yourself against tyranny.

  1. Are there other propagandistic messages in this item?


  1. Is the author attempting to elicit a behavior or a belief?

Belief and Behavior

  1. Clearly state the behavior or belief the author wants from the target.

The author wants to reinforce the belief of those who already know that governments are tyrannical.

S/he wants these people to continue voting for and contributing to those who promise to protect their "2nd amendment rights".

  1. Does the message attempt to manipulate with emotion, reason or both?


  1. Describe how you think the manipulation works?

Red letters signal alarm.  The Government Agent pointing his automatic weapon at an unarmed man trying to protect a clearly frightened child, vividly illustrates the apparent perils facing an unarmed populace. 

The poster ignores most of the facts surrounding this particular situation - the Federal Government's need to enforce a court order to turn Elian Gonzalez (the child) over to his father after repeated attempts to negotiate the turnover were rejected by those holding the boy; the same people who had lost every legal challenge they'd filed in an effort to keep him.  For example, there is no acknowledgement that the situation was resolved peacefully, and that Elian  was photographed happily in his father's arms just a few hours later.  Neither is there any consideration of what might have occurred had the man apparently attempting to protect Elian had a weapon.  In fact, no one was injured or killed.  Would that have been the case had the protector been armed? Probably not, unless he was unwilling to use his weapon; and in that case what would be the sense in having one?

  1. Do you believe this item was successful propaganda?


  1. What evidence supports your answer to the last question?

Polls showed that information like that in this poster contributed to a conviction among the members of the Cuban community in South Florida to support George W. Bush over Al Gore in the presidential election that took place a few months after the events illustrated by this image.  Given the closeness of the outcome of the presidential race in Florida, this type of propaganda was clearly one of the factors that led to Mr. Bush's narrow Electoral College victory, and subsequent ascension to the presidency.

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original web posting: Sunday, December 30, 2001
last modified: Thursday, December 09, 2004