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Effective propaganda almost always works below the level of consciousness,
leaving its target feeling a powerful urge or belief that s/he "knows" is true;
a position that s/he is certain was arrived at completely on his/her own.
It never encourages discussion, thought or exploration, unless such a tactic is
deemed useful in manipulating the target into a desired action or belief.
The propaganda pieces below express two basic positions in the gun control
debate. I believe their designers hoped to trigger immediate emotional
responses in those already holding similar ideas.
To print an image, click on it. It will open in a new browser window.
Use your browser's print command to print it from there; then close the
standalone window, being careful not to exit your browser program.
Here is a suggestion for presenting these images to
Suggestion for using the
propaganda pieces shown above
- Print one of the images. (To print an image, click on it. It will
open in a new browser window. Use your browser's print command to print
it from there; then close the standalone window, being careful not to exit
your browser program.)
- Make a copy of it for each student in your class. Distribute the copies.
- Ask your students to complete a Propaganda Analysis
sheet for the image you distributed.
- After all have had an opportunity to complete the sheet, lead a discussion
where your class attempts to reach a consensus response to each item on it. (Here
my analyses of the GunTruths poster and
the Coalition mailer.)
- Repeat the process for the second image.
- After you've discussed both pieces, you might want to have your class take
an overall look at the gun control debate as represented by these two items.
For example, it seems clear to me that gun control opponents see any
regulatory proposal as leading inexorably to confiscation of all weapons owned
by individuals. On the other side, the gun control organizations are
proposing what seems to be relatively limited regulation of handgun sales and
military issue combat weapons; nothing even remotely approaching weapons
Fear seems to motivate both sides - the pro-gun
side fears its members will be unable to protect themselves from criminals and
tyrants; while the pro-gun control side fears the death, injury and pain its
members see stemming from easy access to handguns and "assault" weapons.
As long as these fears go unaddressed, I am unable to see the rift ever
closing - both sides will simply continue shouting
past each other, never beginning the communication necessary for successful
- If you and your students want to continue to explore the argument over
guns, proceed to Dueling Facts.
return to the Face-off Over Guns page
return to the Propaganda in the Classroom page
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original web posting: Tuesday, January 1, 2002
Sunday, January 08, 2006