Critical Response to the Article: RSL Must Back Pokies Reform

Date:  2021-06-15 10:28:46
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The article, RSL Must Back Pokies Reform appeared in the 13th November Issue of The Australian Financial Review. Two days previously, the nation had celebrated Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the day on which hostilities were ended in the Second World War. The day is used to mark one of the most important military days in Australia, topped only by Anzac day which celebrates the union of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Alan Stokes is the writer of this article which targeted the general populace of Australia. Arguments presented are clearly aimed at taking advantage of peoples sentiments so soon after celebrating the military heroes to push for gambling reforms. The specific issue addressed in the article is the prevalence of poker machines in clubs where the veterans and serving members of the military meet to interact and for relaxation.

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To understand the strength of arguments made in the article, an evaluation of the three classifications of arguments was conducted. The major claims made on various points in the discussion were probed to generate a highly insightful and grounded opinion. Aims of the writing were also evaluated, and the influence they had on the writers integrity to the premises of the topic under discussion. The focus of the article is quite clearly indicated to be convincing the readers to support the call for the Returned and Services League (RSL) to regulate poker machine use in premises flocked by members, (Soule Whiteley & McIntosh, 2007).

The argument presented in the article is good, even outstanding, at casual glance. It is therefore anticipated that it was highly effective in convincing low-involvement readers on the ideals provided, (Park, Levine, Westerman, Orfgen & Foregger, 2007). This is informed by the highly emotions-oriented method of reasoning which utilizes issues of immense concern to readers, who are also Aussie citizens. Arguments made in the article are based mostly on pathos, seeking to convince readers on the issue of gambling via emotional appeals, (McCormack, 2014).The flaws are only perceptible on deeper reading, and they fall into the category of logical reasoning. Therefore, the article can be said to be very strong in pathos, average on ethos, and challenged in logos.

Pathos makes the basis for the whole article, transcending through other features of argument; ethos and logos. The first part of the paper concentrates on establishing a rapport with the readers through detailed restatement of shared cultural heritage of the Remembrance Day and the national pride it inspires. The logically challenged statement on the relationship between poker machines and their promotion of gambling issues is also a feature of the less analytical pathos argument. Continued use of words such as gambling problems keeps the readers hooked to the arguments, and primes them to accept the reasoning put forth. At the conclusion, a strong emotional argument is also presented, with reference to Anzac conventions of companionship and protection of the vulnerable. A strong case of emotional conviction is particularly identifiable here, by making the military staff the susceptible ones, and arousing in the reader the compunction to remedy the situation.

The argument made on poker machines that they; foster a culture of problem gambling, (Stokes, 2010) is incomplete and low on logic. It is not a proven fact that pokies induce addiction to gambling, nor is it true that all gamblers are problematic or addicted. Yet this is the notion made by this particular statement which clearly requires further development. The statistics on problem gamblers need to be presented, and the qualifying factors for addiction to develop also put into consideration. Another logically challenged statement that appears in the article identifies that restrictions on ATM withdrawals and bet limits will not destroy the freedom of choice. The fact that restrictions are being done on betting clearly implies that decisions on gambling, in terms of amounts and the format, are being curtailed.

Logos are however used very effectively in the third paragraph to present the figures of pokies revenues and contrast them with the number of Aussies who have ore-existing gambling issues. Again the combination is done with pathos, which are more likely to convince readers, with the repeated mention of gambling problems in relations to pokies.

An ethos shortcoming of the article appears in the second paragraph too, with the contradictory statement; moral obligations the RSL rightfully and responsibly carries. (Stokes, 2010). In context, the statement is fallacious and misleading as it appears in a part of the essay where the writer is calling to question the conduct of the RSL. The counter-argument to this statement can be made that were the RSL carrying out its moral onuses as required, the need for the article to pressure it into doing what is right by the ANZAC would not be there.

Effectively made ethical arguments appear in the sixth paragraph closing addressing the views of the spokesperson of clubs against pokies reform. The writer states of the representative that he views the societies as business entities and not charitable organisations to whom tax breaks are eligible (Stokes, 2010). A perfect case of character assassination, the writer manages to completely discredit any views that could be made by the person in future. Others include the attention given to soldiers, part-time soldiers, and unpaid health workers in the military. The establishment of the writers character as a caring and concerned person endears him to readers and boosts his credibility, and thus the credibility of his arguments, (Floyd-Lapp, 2014).

Overall, the article was found, on critical evaluation, to have flaws that are easy to ignore on casual reading. The phenomenon conforms to Park, et al. (2007) ideas on how readers attain meaning from content depending on the depth of mental evaluation engaged in. Pathos are found to be the dominant features of argument in the article, which enables the writer to establish a connection with readers. Ethos is used to a certain extent to establish the writers credibility by making him relatable and in touch with readers values. The logos part of the argument is found to be mostly lacking, indicated by quite a number of logically incorrect statements. On the whole, the article achieves the objective of convincing readers to support the call for stronger action by the RSL in gambling reforms.


McCormack K. C. (2014) Ethos, Pathos, and Logos: The Benefits of Aristotelian Rhetoric in the Courtroom, Washington University Jurisprudence Review, Vol. 7, Issue 1,

Floyd-Lapp C. (2014) Aristotle's Rhetoric: The Power of Words and the Continued Relevance of Persuasion, Young Historians Conference, Paper 12,

Soule D. P. J., Whiteley L., & McIntosh S. (eds.) (2007) Writing for Scholarly Journals: Publishing in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Electronic Social Science, Humanities and Arts Review for Postgraduates, (eSharp),

Park H. E., Levine T. R., Westerman C. Y. K., Orfgen T. & Foregger S. (2007) The Effects of Argument Quality and Involvement Type on Attitude Formation and Attitude Change: A Test of Dual-Process and Social Judgment Predictions, Human Communication Research, Vol. 33, Issue 81102, DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2007.00290.x

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