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Rhetorical Analysis of William Cohan’s Article "Get Real, Lower Drinking Age to 19"

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William Cohan, in the article, “Get real, lower drinking age to 19, ” thought he would argue why the drinking age should be brought down and what things need to change in order for that to happen. Cohan argues that if they are going to lower the drinking age to 19 or even 18 there should be more strict rules. The author uses studies from colleges/ universities to show why there should be more strict rules when it comes to drinking.

Cohan begins building his credibility with reputable sources, citing convincing facts and statistics, however, in his attempts to appeal to readers, he fails to show the counterargument which weakens his credibility and ultimately diminishes his argument. Cohan does not do a very good job of make his case creditable with the experiences of people he uses in the article, because he uses people who deal with underage drinkers that would be against lowering the drinking age. Yes, colleges are very important to this article, but he doesn’t get the experiences from colleges that don’t have such a high number of underage drinkers. Cohan starts right away talking about what happened with Duke lacrosse players that were drinking a lot when allegations of rape came up.

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The author uses post hoc or false cause at his accusation of the players that alcohol caused whatever went down that day, even though there was really no trail and they were found innocent. He follows his argument with a study done by Aaron White, which states that Duke medical center had about 40% freshman that admitted to underage drinking. Cohan sure uses great citing convincing facts and statistics to try and make his case. Sure he states a lot of percentages, yes they are really relevant but don’t really paint a full picture. He likes to state numbers but doesn’t say out of what they are, or what the other side does when not drinking.

Throughout his piece, Cohan uses many strong sources that strengthen his credibility and appeal to ethos, as well as build his argument. Citing a study by Aaron White, then an assistant professor at the Duke University Medical Center, College and university presidents, and student stories. Citing these sources boosts Cohan’s credibility by showing that he has done his homework and has provided facts and statistics, as well as expert opinions to support his claim. Cohan also uses personal examples from students living on campus who dealt first-hand with the problem. Adding to his ethos appeals, Choan uses strong appeals to logos, with many facts and statistics and logical progressions of ideas. He points out facts about how many times students have needed medical attention due to alcohol. The statistics he uses are a few of many that support his claim that it is a substantial and real problem that there should be more strict rules in place. The details and numbers build an appeal to logos and impress upon the reader that this is a problem worth discussing.

Along with strong logos appeals, he effectively makes appeals to pathos. His introduction is full of emotions and phrases that create a sympathetic image; “It’s been eight years since a black exotic dancer in Durham, North Carolina, accused three white Duke University lacrosse players of rape, sexual assault and kidnapping at a party. ”


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