Essay on AIDS: Mary Fisher Speech Analysis
Mary Fisher, an American HIV/AIDS activist delivered the speech, “A Whisper of AIDS” on August 19, 1992 at the Republican National Convention held in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Mary Fisher is a mother of two children and the daughter of Max Fisher, a wealthy Republican fundraiser. Her audience at the time of the speech was the Republican Party, the United States Nation, and those affected by the HIV/AIDS virus. Fisher is speaking to educate and spread awareness about the disease. Fisher provided details how the HIV/AIDS affected both the people who contracted the disease and their families on the people who were living with the disease and their families.
I don’t have any personal experiences to relate to the disease. I selected this speech because I respected Fisher for what she did. She wasn’t blaming anyone for what she was going through and she owned her disease. Fisher wasn’t afraid to sacrifice herself, her kids or her family to help others know that they are not alone and we all need to pull together to fight against the HIV/AIDS virus. Mary Fisher relied on ethos, logos, and pathos to appeal to her audience so they would take this disease serious, find a way to prevent the spread any further and appeal directly to those affected by HIV/AIDS.
In her speech, Mary Fisher talks about how the HIV/AIDS disease has become a crisis that needs to be addressed immediately. HIV does not infect certain stereotypes; anyone can contract the disease. People who have the disease should not be treated differently. Mary believes HIV/AIDS patients need to be supported and compassion should be given to them. Her belief is that with the spread of awareness, we can prevent the spread of the disease.
Mary Fisher uses ethos to begin her speech, “Less than three months ago at platform hearings in Salt Lake City, I asked the Republican party to lift the shroud of silence which has been draped over the issue of HIV and AIDS” this lets the audience know that she has delivered her speech to important people. Her credibility is already won by being announced as the daughter of wealthy, important figure Max Fisher. “I would never have asked to be HIV-positive, but I believe that in all things there is a purpose.” By being infected by the disease, the audience can trust that the information she is delivering must be true.
Throughout her speech, she appeared focused, determined and compassionate about the disease. She was not intimidated by the large crowd she faced. The tone of her voice was calm but serious, so the audience paid attention. Lastly, to persuade the audience further Fisher includes the support she has received from President Bush Sr. and his family, “they have embraced me and my family in memorable ways.” If the President of the United States has your back then so should everyone else.
Mary Fisher continues to persuade her audience with logos to show simply how much AIDS is impacting us, “Two hundred thousand Americans are dead or dying. A million more are infected. Worldwide, forty million, sixty million, or a hundred million infections it will be counted in the coming few years.” This alarming statement instills fear on just how bad the disease is. AIDS is infecting people we would have never thought could contract the disease, “The rate of infection is increasing fast among women and children.” Shock and fear can also be felt because women and children aren’t supposed to get this disease. The value of their lives is important or are held to a higher standard. Isn’t that how we put humans in order women, and children always in front? She reasons with them to act now because “despite it all the epidemic which is winning tonight.”
Fisher also uses pathos to provoke emotions from the audience. “Littering its pathway with the bodies of young men, young women, young parents, and young children,” visualizing dead bodies is not something anyone wants to see. This statement makes you feel guilty that if you do not act now then you could be responsible for many lives. To improve her argument, she identifies how families can be torn apart from their parents by this disease. “If it is true that HIV inevitably turn to AIDS, then my children will inevitably turn to orphans.” To create fear in the audience, she tells everyone that they are not safe despite who they are, or where they live. No one can hide from HIV/AIDS. “There is no family or community, no race or religion, no place in America that is safe.”
Towards the end of her speech, she appeals to the ones who are living with the HIV/AIDS virus by letting them know they do not have to hide, be ashamed, or scared because they are not alone. Finally, she once again uses her kids to obtain sympathy by stating, “I will not hurry to leave you, my children, but when I go, I pray that you will not suffer shame on my account.” Fisher makes you feel sorry for her, and those kids because the reality is they may no longer have a mother.
Mary Fisher effectively used ethos, logos, and pathos to deliver an emotional plea to her audience that night. Her goal to spread awareness of the HIV/AIDS was successful because she was able to change some people’s hearts and beliefs about the disease. The evidence was clear when some people in the audience could be seen wiping tears from their faces. By her not being ashamed of being an HIV positive person, helped spread the word to others with the disease, that they can come out of hiding like her. Mary Fisher made a successful argument that the HIV/AIDS virus is serious because her being the face of it shows it can happen to anyone. Her argument was lacking reliable resources to the exact numbers of HIV/AIDS patients and how they affected society. Adding specific numbers and sources could have improved her argument.
Fisher, Mary. “A Whisper of AIDS.” American Rhetoric: Mary Fisher -- 1992 Republican National Convention Address ("A Whisper of Aids"), 1992, www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/maryfisher1992rnc.html.