Thomas Szasz: Power Of Speech

623 words - 3 pages

In the selection written by Thomas Szasz, he describes his opinion on the power of speech and how the first person to speak is the first person to win. He says that the first person to define another is the victor, and the one who is defined is the loser. I agree with Szasz’s opinion to a certain extent because based on what I have read and have experienced, this is generally the case.
In the novel Invisible Man, after the narrator has chauffeured Mr. Norton around town he had been punished for the incidents that had occurred during the trip. Dr. Bledsoe punished the narrator by expelling him from the school though he wrote letters of recommendation so he would be able to get a job in New York, or so the narrator thought. Dr. Bledsoe wrote negative things about the narrator and asked each of the trustees to whom the ...view middle of the document...

The narrator denies being a member of the brotherhood because they had used him and he points out that they had used Ras as well. Ras tells the crowd to capture the narrator so he could be hung for treason. This coincides with Szasz’s opinion because like in the previous example, the narrator loses as a result of being too late to speak up. Ras was able to define the narrator as a traitor to the black race which allowed him to win in his argument.
During my younger years of life whenever my brother and I got into an argument or fight, whoever tattled on the other usually went free while the other was punished because we would stretch the truth, or just blatantly lie. After either party ran away from the conflict and told the authority, our parents, the story told would be very biased and personal responsibility would be removed to lower the risk of personal punishment. This exemplifies Szasz’s position perfectly in my opinion because it shows how he who acts first is he who wins the fight.
Speech is very powerful because so much faith and trust is put into what is said, especially when it does not conflict with any prior knowledge. This allows for more dishonesty to be told and allows one party to be defined by another assuming the defining party acts first. Szasz’s position on the struggle for definition seems to be correct as long as previous knowledge does not interfere with the definition being told. If one was to be told that another person was a thief, assuming that the person being told has no proof or existing belief that the accused thief is anything different from that, they are most likely going to believe the person who accused the other even without evidence. With all of this being said Szasz supports the belief that speech is powerful and that the first to act with it will be successful.

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