By Chelsea Damico
“Hippies and Drugs”, an excerpt from Skip Stone’s Hippies A to Z, is a classic example of how authors can influence the way people think and feel through persuasive writing. Stone himself witnessed the counter culture first hand, and his own personal experiences drive the paper home to its audience. In an attempt to make the reader understand hippies and what they stood for, Stone delves back to even the earliest memories from his childhood. The issues the author discusses throughout the article are matters that have been heavily debated for the last several decades: politically, socially and for medical purposes. Skip Stone is calling out to voters, politicians, and activists to call to arms, in a sense, in order to make the changes the author deems necessary in order to create a more perfect society. With the use of the author’s own personal experiences, direct quotes from well-known people, and background information about the topic, the author really does an excellent job at informing the reader, and making himself believable.
Using a personal experience in any periodical, paper, or non-fictional novels, makes the author seem more credible. Real life involvement is far more hands on, and people tend to believe the writer more when they have actually had the experience at hand. When the author uses his words to paint a vivid picture of what was happening during the time period, the reader can relate better to what the author is discussing. Stone makes good use of this. The reader then becomes inclined to trust what the author is saying, especially if they cannot relate to the subject matter. Stone talks about his personal experiences with drugs, and provides a more realistic stand-point that the reader could not find in a reference book, such as an encyclopedia. He goes on to describe a very normal childhood that lacks the dysfunction that is often associated with drug use. Without having the trust of the reader, an argument has no substance, and becomes meaningless. This is a very important component of the argument, and Stone used his experiences with drugs to his benefit in this article.
Quotes from famous artists, politicians, and musicians, are sequentially placed in between each paragraph in a very obvious manner through the entire article. Stone most prominently quoted musicians, explaining how LSD and marijuana allow creative juices to flow. Jim Morrison, Jefferson Airplane, and the Beatles were some, to name a few. The music that was popular during the counter-revolution demonstrated how widely accepted illicit drug use was during this era. Stone also quoted Timothy Leary, an LSD shaman. Throughout the article, the quotes emphasized the themes of the paper; a great rhetorical strategy. The use of the quotes from well-known people back up Stone’s argument, and in turn makes his article much more persuasive.
Stone gave background information to give a better understanding on the subject of his ideas. The use of background information is a great tool to draw the attention of the readers into real life facts, which give the backbone and structure to Stone’s arguments. Stone explains how the pharmaceutical boom and advances in technology, which came at the end of World War II, was accompanied by massive advertisement campaigns. Commercials told the American people that now any sort of ailments they suffered could be cured by popping a pill. Want to lose weight? Take a “diet” pill that contained amphetamine, which was essentially speed. One of Skip Stone’s major themes throughout the article was hypocrisy. How could a medicinal herb, such as marijuana, be considered dangerous and harmful, while pharmacists nation-wide wrote prescriptions like it was going out of style? Stone and many others felt that the medicinal uses of marijuana, and the industrial uses of hemp, far overshadowed the negative outlook people had on it. The information that was given to the audience by Stone himself helped him better explain the counter-culture to the reader, who may not know anything about the topic.
Hippies A to Z contained a collection of articles describing all aspects of the counter revolution through the eyes of Skip Stone. Although the author used some past experiences, he mostly wrote about his ideas to inspire logical thinking in the minds’ of his audience. The author asks that the reader throw away any radical preconceived notions that they might have had, and take another look at the laws surrounding illicit drug use in American. The extensive background information given by the author only boosted his credibility with his audience. Of course, quoting musicians, and other pop-culture icons, could not hurt the Stone’s argument, either.