32nd Ask Josh – A rhetoric-free world

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2008 at 11:03 pm

anonymous said…

question: what if there was no such thing as a rhetorical question?



Dear Anonymous,


A rhetorical question is most often used to express opinion or to make an accusation as opposed to the generally accepted function of obtaining information the question explicitly requests.  

Here are some scenarios that you might find in your everyday life if you had no concept of a rhetorical question.  The funny thing is, I realize that many of these examples are quite close to times in my life when people asked me a rhetorical question, and I just answered them anyway in my own smart-alecky way. 

Scenario 1 – Two Italian Mafiosos get in a fight because one almost hit the other in his car while crossing the street. 

Even though they are mafiosos, pretend that Mafioso 1 is speaking with a Brooklyn accent and Mafioso 2 is a British gentleman. Capiche?

Mafioso 1 – “Hey! Hey! I’m walkin’ here. Whats a madda wit you?”

Mafioso 2 – “The matter with me is mainly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen based.  The matter with the car I almost struck you with is mostly iron. What kind of a question is that anyway?”

M1 – “That question is an open-ended question.  I could have given you multiple choice, true or false, or some other type of question with options.  What were you born yesterday?”

M2 – “No.”

M1 – “Okay, just checking.”

M2 – “Nice suit. So did you get dressed in the dark?”

M1 – “No. I have a lamp in my quarters for getting dressed when there is no sunlight.”

M2 – “A lamp, you say?”

M1 – “No, a lamp, I said. I do not say lamp now.  I only said lamp. Why don’t you shut up?”

M2 – “I do not shut up for fear that if I were to close up all orifices that release pressure in my being, I could conceivably explode as the breakdown of chemicals within me produced gas and subsequently filled the limited space within me.  I am afraid that shutting up would be the end of me.”

Scenario 2 – A California “Valley Girl” meets Sasquatch.

Valley Girl – “Oh my gosh, what on earth are you wearing? I mean, totally. How do you find the courage to leave the house in the morning?”

Sasquatch – “My need for nutrients and food and my need to both love and be loved give me motivation to go outside. What’s your deal?”

Valley Girl – “Deal? Who is talking about a deal?”

Sasquatch – “We are talking about a deal.”

Valley Girl – “Oh, well, here’s the deal… I take the cards, and I shuffle them like so, and then I deal them out to each of us. And we totally just play cards.  Don’t you just totally love it?”

Sasquatch – “When I said I get the courage to leave my house because of my need both to love and be loved, I did not mean that I wanted to love cards or the idea of playing them.  So, in answer to your inquiry: no, I do not just totally love cards, neither do I love your deal.  Just who do you think you are anyway?”

Valley Girl – “I think I’m me. “

Sasquatch – “Oh.”

Scenario 3 – Romeo and Juliet without rhetorical questions. 

Romeo: “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?”

Juliet: “It’s my lava lamp. Romeo? Romeo! Is that you? Wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Romeo: “Hey, one question at a time.  Yea, ‘tis I. Where am I Romeo?”

Juliet: “I just asked you that.”

Romeo: “Well, I never gave that much thought.  I guess my parents were just into Italian names, and Romulus was already taken, and Remus sounded like some kind of a creepy uncle.  So Romeo just seemed to fit.  Wherefore art thou Juliet?”

Juliet: “That’s just who my parents wanted me to be.”

Enter Hamlet

Hamlet: “To be, or not to be? That is the question.”

Juliet: “Um, wrong play, Hambone”

Romeo: “And we know a question when we hear one, you don’t need to  tell us that it was a question right after you asked it.”

Juliet: “He’s right. Nevertheless, I will answer your stinky question: I would go with both.”

Hamlet: “Both?”

Juliet: (interrupts) “Yes, both.”

Hamlet: “How do you sleep at night?”

Juliet: “On my back, after a glass of warm milk, eyes closed, cucumbers on my eyes, unconscious.”

Romeo: “Hey, buster. What do you think you’re doing asking my girlfriend how she sleeps?”

Hamlet: “Your question is self-answering and therefore warrants no response.  Nevertheless, I…”

And you can see how it would get awfully frustrating, and quite redundant really, if we had not rhetorical questions.  Some questions should just go unanswered.

Have a questionable day.

  1. You have to be kidding me.How on earth do you think of these things Josh?

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