The problem is that emotion and rhetoric are both more or less dishonest in discourse, the former intrinsically and the latter practically. This is not to say that emotions are negative, only that because they are dynamic and the truth is static,(1) emotion-based reasoning is guaranteed to be false at least part of the time. Rhetoric, on the other hand, does not have to be dishonest, but because it is designed to manipulate and convince those who, as Aristotle pointed out in Rhetoric, "cannot take in at a glance a complicated argument, or follow a long chain of reasoning", it usually has to be at least somewhat in variance with the complete truth because it is primarily designed to appeal to the emotions rather than reason.
Consider the NYT editorial written by a nurse advocating gun control. Note that I'm not at all interested in a discussion of the pros and cons of gun control here, so don't get distracted by that, but rather considering whether the argument being presented is dialectical or rhetorical in nature.
With the hope of presenting the issue of guns in America in a novel way, I’m going to look at it from an unusual vantage point: the eyes of a nurse. By that I mean looking at guns in America in terms of the suffering they cause, because to really understand the human cost of guns in the United States we need to focus on gun-related pain and death....The entire piece is nothing but rhetoric and emotion from start to finish. It is also profoundly dishonest and manipulative. Let's consider a few of the salient points from the dialectical perspective:
[W]e need to stop talking about gun rights in America as if they have no wrenching real-world effects when every day 80 Americans, their friends, families and loved ones, learn they obviously and tragically do.Many victims never stand a chance against a dangerously armed assailant, and there’s scant evidence that being armed themselves would help....
A trauma nurse I know told me she always looked at people’s shoes when they lay on gurneys in the emergency department. It struck her that life had still been normal when that patient put them on in the morning. Whether they laced up Nikes, pulled on snow boots or slid feet into stiletto heels, the shoes became a relic of the ordinariness of the patient’s life, before it turned savage.
So I have a request for proponents of unlimited access to guns. Spend some time in a trauma center and see the victims of gun violence — the lucky survivors — as they come in bloody and terrified. Understand that our country’s blind embrace of gun rights made this violent tableau possible, and that it’s playing out each day in hospitals and morgues all over the country. Before leaving, make sure to look at the patients’ shoes. Remember that at the start of the day, before being attacked by a person with a gun, that patient lying on a stretcher writhing helplessly in pain was still whole.
- The writer is looking at the issue from the eyes of a nurse. Why? What can a nurse say about a macrosocietal issue that a statistician cannot? Nothing, except for an appeal to emotional authority, which in this case turns out to be a false appeal because the woman isn't even a trauma nurse! She has little more experience of gunshot victims in trauma rooms than anyone else, moreover, her emotional authority as a nurse has nothing to do with the many victims who are dead at the scene and never go to the hospital.
- Who on either side of the debate talks "about gun rights in America as if they have no wrenching real-world effects"? No one. In fact, the relatively small number of daily deaths attributed by gun deaths are about the only ones that are ever discussed in terms of their effects on the survivors. Her point would be much more applicable to daily deaths by falls in the bathroom, traffic deaths or lethal attacks by meerkats.
- Contra her baseless assertion, there is considerable evidence that being armed often helps people avoid being victimized by assailants, armed or otherwise, and ironically, the only way for the average individual to have any chance against dangerously armed opponent is to embrace the very concept she is attacking.
- She spends three out of 13 paragraphs talking about shoes and then makes a personal request of the reader. Why? Because she has constructed a naked appeal to female solipsism. She is attempting to get the reader to imagine an emotional connection between the gunshot victim writhing helplessly in pain and themselves, and to encourage them to use that connection as a basis for the leap to the irrational conclusion that gun control could somehow prevent them from ever experiencing that pain. The rhetorical message is "support gun control or you will find yourself in the trauma room".
- The response is written from the perspective of a rape victim. Her emotional authority is considerably greater, and more solipsistically powerful, than that of a nurse who doesn't even see the trauma victims about whom she is writing.
- The writer describes how powerless she was to defend herself from her unarmed attacker, her terror and outrage at her violation, and how afraid for her life she was when she was being victimized. She describes how awful it was to realize that the police were not there to protect her, and how long it took before she saw a single officer. She talks about the fear she still feels, every day, when going to the gym or the grocery store.
- She then describes how she went to a gun range and how powerful and confident she felt when she was firing the gun, and how she doesn't feel afraid anymore as long as she has her gun in her purse. She regurgitates some statistics about how many times guns are used to scare off rapists and home invaders.
- She spends three paragraphs about how she has a whole new social circle at the gun range, how much fun it is to make new friends there, and mentions how she is involved with a handsome man she met there, complete with a sly remark about what a big gun he has. The rhetorical message is "oppose gun control, buy a gun, and you will meet handsome men, because if you don't, you will be raped and murdered at the grocery store".
(1) Comparatively static relative to emotional fluctuations, if you wish to be more precise. Don't even think about bringing up quantum mechanics or Heisenberg; if you're tempted to do that, then you're perfectly capable of following the argument without being a pedantic ass about it.