In Mary Fisher’s A Whisper of AIDS speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, she highlights one of the more grave challenges the world has been facing, and that is the comeback on HIV and the AIDS virus. Fisher’s speech addresses her own account with the virus as well as the mindset and understanding of this virus on a national as well as a global scale. Fisher highlights the conspiracy theories on this virus as well, and urges her audience to take into account that this disease can affect anyone; there is no preference as to who can contract HIV/AIDS.
On this note, being that HIV/AIDS has no specific type of individual on whom to attack, the issue surrounding this speech is the fact that a lot of individuals are cognizant as to how serious of a matter AIDS really is, and have been negligent to talk about it. A lot of individuals have put a wall of mendacity around their minds that limits the virus to everyone but their selves. The issue is also the stereotypical mindset of most persons towards those who have contracted HIV and/or the AIDS virus.
Fisher highlights this issue in the 6th paragraph of her speech: “We may take refuge in our stereotypes, but…HIV asks only one thing…Are you human? ” This is to say that stereotyping someone with HIV is to stereotype one’s self because both individuals fall under the category of human beings. Most individuals refuse to take the necessary precautions in order to refrain one’s self from contracting the disease, and this goes hand in hand with the mindset that it can never be one’s self that is affected.
One can support this notion by referring to paragraph 12 of this speech, in which, the author states: “…If you believe you are safe, you are at risk. ” In other words the author is saying if one knows that he or she is at risk, he or she makes it a prerogative to be cautious in order to remain safe. Fisher’s prerogative in this address is to highlight the extent to which the AIDS virus is being undermined, and that if the situation is not dealt with rashly – and carefully – then the entire matter may collapse on a world that was negligent to it.
To support this, note paragraph 5: “We have killed each other with our ignorance, our prejudice, and our silence. ” Other evidence is found in paragraph 9, wherein Fisher states: “My call to the nation is a plea for awareness. If you believe you are safe, you are in danger. ” Fisher is saying that in order for the individuals of the nation to become aware of this epidemic, those who are in authority – those leaders within the nation – must play their part and be willing to address the issue to remove the veils of misunderstanding from over the eyes of the people.
On the same note, Fisher has the task of removing the tension from the crowd and finding a level of understanding or common ground between herself and the audience. The author establishes this common ground by using words such as “we”, usage of accounts for what she and her family go through given her condition, and comparing and making a connection between herself and those who would be considered nothing like her in terms of race, standards and background.
For instance: “Though I am white and a mother, I am one with a black infant struggling…in a Philadelphia hospital… I contracted this disease in marriage…I am one with the lonely gay man sheltering…from the cold wind of his family’s rejection. ” This example appeals to those who may have went through the same struggles as she has in terms of disease and fighting for one’s life. In a way, although Fisher offers a sense of connection between herself and her audience, showing confidence in the fact that she – as well as those she is addressing – may be able to beat this disease, her statements in paragraph 6 offer a sort of rebuttal.
More so her statements offer a kind of breakage in hope: “We may take refuge in our stereotyping, but… HIV asks only one thing of those it attacks. Are you human? ” This statement is clearly stating that because every individual is human, everyone is at risk of contracting this disease especially if one does not take the major precautions to be safe. Correspondingly, in making these precautions a greater issue, we must look at Mary Fisher’s appeal to logic in her speech, and this can be found in paragraphs 2, 3 and 9 respectively.
In paragraph 2 Fisher gives the audience a rough account of the number of persons infected with the HIV/AIDS virus who are either dying or have become deceased (i. e. “Two hundred thousand Americans are dead or dying. A million more are infected”). Paragraph 3 brings to light the fact that though as a human being one may be stereotypical in the matter at hand, AIDS on the other hand is not, and that is something on which to ponder: “AIDS… does not care whether you are Democrat or Republican…whether you are black or white, male or female, gay or straight, young or old. In other words, AIDS is a disease that strikes at whoever is open to it, and that is the entire human population. Looking at paragraph 9, the speaker states “We must be consistent if we are to be believed. ” This means that one cannot falter on making others aware of the hazard at hand, or be a hypocrite to call yay for the movement but nay to acting on it: “We cannot love justice and ignore prejudice”. On the same note of appeal, Fisher also gives an emotional perspective to persuade her audience.
An example of these emotional appeals is found in paragraph 14 where she gives an account of the solid foundation her family has given her in the struggle over her HIV positive status. Another example of this emotional appeal can be found in paragraph 18 where, through her own emotional stance on the outcome of the future of her kids, Fisher appeals to the audience in a favorable light to make them think about their own children or those around them who might face the exact situation as her.
Additionally, we can see throughout the speech that the speaker is hammering hard on the fact that a lot of individuals are scornful and judgmental towards those with HIV/AIDS. Fisher makes it a point to destroy this ethos because it is basically drawn from lack of knowledge on the matter, and arrogance to find out all about it. Fisher does this throughout her speech but mainly it is seen in paragraph 16 where Fisher says that those with the virus should not be ashamed but those who make it a point to break them down: “…it is we…who should feel shame…who tolerate ignorance and practice prejudice…who have taught you to fear. Another example of this destruction of ethos can be seen in paragraph 15, in that, Fisher makes it known that those who cry in silence because of oppression from being HIV/AIDS positive are doing so because of the arrogance of others. In addressing the nation’s prejudice, Mary Fisher in turn builds a positive ethos for herself. She has also done this by addressing the matter at hand with firmness, but compassion and belief that the nation can comeback this disease.
By Fisher’s language throughout the speech she is calm and informative while being very persuasive without showing aggressiveness or anger, but graver attitude to the situation. Grave is the issue, therefore grave should her topic be, and the topic “A Whisper to AIDS” stands out. The title of Mary Fisher’s speech is significant to its context, in that, what she is speaking on is a “whisper” of hope to those with the HIV/AIDS virus, stating that they are not alone.
To counteract Fisher’s “whisper”, her plea is full on cry for change throughout the nation and the mindset of the peoples, and what they pass on to those around them. The topic is also relevant to society in that AIDS is rampant and out of control but no one really talks about the matter, it is brushed over or shunned. AIDS is a real matter that Fisher has brought to terms and hopefully the nation shall do its part to comeback the negative ethos of those prejudices towards it.