Shock rhetoric

David Robert Nelson

Abstract

Social movements create a public perception of themselves through rhetorical messages and demonstrations. In order to gain the public's attention, some radical groups use any rhetorical means necessary, including offensive remarks and conduct. Groups, such as the Westboro Baptist Church and Bash Back!, rhetorically challenge the boundaries of prudence. The purpose of this study is to identify, depict, and provide insight regarding shock rhetoric. This study will compare protest methods, visual imagery, and language choices used by Bash Back! and the Westboro Baptist Church. This dissertation helps illuminate why and how groups or individuals use shock rhetoric.