Don’t answer that. It was a rhetorical title. Is it just me, or does everyone get annoyed with rhetorical questions? If you already know the answer, and the person asking already knows the answer, then why does this moron even bother to ask the question? What is he or she hoping to accomplish? What would they do if you actually answered it? Has anyone noticed that, including this one, I’ve now asked five consecutive rhetorical questions? Are you wondering if I intend to write an entire post rhetorically? The answer is no. While rhetorical questions have a useful place in writing, it is my opinion that rhetorical questions have very little usefulness in real life. The places we are most often tortured with inane rhetorical questions seem to be college classes, work trainings or seminars, and in meetings at work. For me, there are two specific types of people who at times seem deserving of some sort of physical retribution for their handling of rhetorical questions. I believe that there should be some type of competency test and licensing procedure before one is allowed to walk freely spouting rhetorical questions. Don’t you agree?
The first type of person who just drives me batty with their inappropriate use of rhetorical questions is the person who actually expects and waits for an answer to what should be a rhetorical question. For example:
Boss: “Well team, I hate to say it, but for our department to remain financially viable and avoid lay offs we are either going to have to work harder to increase our profit margin or we will soon find ourselves on the unemployment line. So what’s it going to be? Work harder or unemployment?” (Question is followed by 30 seconds of silence) “I said people, what’s it going to be? Work hard or unemployment?”
Group of employees: (tremendously unenthusiastic response coupled with arms folded and eyes rolling) “Work harder.”
The second type of person who deserves a good, swift punch to the forehead is not the person asking rhetorical questions, but the person who insists on responding to them. These doormats have such low self-esteem that they revel in their ability to come up with the correct answer in front of what they imagine is an impressed audience of their peers. For example:
Teacher/Instructor: “In the 2000 presidential election, possibly due to some voting irregularities in the state of Florida, George Bush won the electoral college vote despite not having a larger number of popular votes than Al Gore, and we all know how that turned out don’t we?”
Student: Yes. The war in Iraq is this generations’ Viet Nam, gas prices are out of control, and inflation is on the rise!
When I am elected President, or Sexiest Man Alive, whichever comes first, I intend to pass a law legalizing the punch to the forehead as the appropriate response to anyone who asks an unnecessary rhetorical question or who unnecessarily answers a rhetorical question. Speaking on behalf of all men however,I would like to inform women that there is one rhetorical question that is always O.K. and will never result in a punch to the forehead, and we all know what that question is, don’t we?