Or does it?

According to the Miriam-Webster College Dictionary (2003): Rhetorical means:

  • rhe*tor*i*cal \ri-ˈtȯr-i-kəl, -ˈtär-\ also rhe*tor*ic \ri-ˈtȯr-ik, -ˈtär-\ adj (15c) 1 a : of, relating to, or concerned with rhetoric b : employed for rhetorical effect ;esp : asked merely for effect with no answer expected <a ~ question> 2 a : given to rhetoric : grandiloquent b : verbalrhe*tor*i*cal*ly \-i-k(ə-)lē\ adv

Our friends at Canarypapers.wordpress.com posted on 9/9/08 : The Answer to Sarah Palin’s Rhetorical Question: Book Burning. The blog is partisan, and it may fall into the slippery-slope argument of censorship-first, fascism-next.

BUT – The discussion of what a ‘rhetorical’ question is entertaining. Here’s the gist of it: Rhetorical Questions are not meant to be answered, but to pursuade the listener to an opinion (as in definition b. above) So when Sarah Palin said that her asking the librarian about banning books was ‘just rhetorical’, how was she trying to pursuade Mary Ellen Baker?

The word Palin probably meant was ‘hypothetical’, but even banning books ‘hypothetically’ is unseemly.