ScriptTTS: Hello, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Text-to-speech and today I am accompanied by Rhett Devito, Auden Contexto, and Veefu Purposito. We will be having a panel discussion on Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. Our discussion will be guided by the quotes displayed on the screen that you all see above. This discussion will primarily focus on the exchanging of ideas.In order to have a thorough understanding of the letter, my producers decided to break the letter into different sections and have the experts discuss their thoughts on those specific sections. To start off the discussion, we will begin with the opening of the letter and end off at the part where Doctor King says I am here because I have organizational ties here. The quote will be displayed on the slide above. So, who would like to start us off by explaining their outlook on this section?Jason (Auden Contexto): I guess I will start us off because to best understand the letter, it is imperative that we understand the audience that King is directing his message towards. In the case of the letter, it is directly addressed towards eight white clergymen from Birmingham that were of various Judeo-Christian faiths. King wrote his letter in response to an open letter written by those clergymen, which criticized King and the SCLC for their activism. Although, the letter is esentially a counter to the criticisms made by the clergymen, they’re basically a medium that King uses to convey his message to white moderates and society. Additionally, in his initial message, King deliberately name-checks the eight clergymen which he later removes in the edited version of the letter that is featured in his book Why We Can’t Wait.Viphu (Veefu Purposito): King’s reason for removing the names is to show the significance of his ambition. The purpose of his statement was for universal justice and not a specific treatise on an Alabama city in the 1960’s. He explicitly crafts his statement so that it can have similar effects to the prophetic prison letters that were written by Paul of Tarsus and the ones included in the New Testament. Just like how Paul’s letters survived as an inspiration for posterity, King’s letter was meant to do the same.Wisely (Rhett Devito): It is worth noting that King lays down a Christian morality throughout the letter, something that would probably be less effective without the pretense of a direct address of the clergymen. Because of such an audience, King begins his letter with a evident lack of emotion and a particular focus on legalistic logic. King deliberately controls his tone to achieve his desired ends of changing hearts and minds. His attitude in the beginning demonstrates that the letter is not a personal expression of inner demons, but rather a deliberately constructed letter designed for the specific purpose mentioned previously. He refuses to take a high ground position in the first paragraph, and acknowledges the goodwill of the clergymen.King starts off by directly addressing his intended audience, which is the eight clergymen, with a respectful address of “My Dear Fellow Clergymen.” The purpose of this direct address is to indicate that King believes that the clergymen deserves an answer to their criticism. If he were to have a fiery tone, it would have created the opposite of his intended effect. In addressing the clergymen’s complaint that he is an outsider, King’s tone is especially measured and legalistic. Pay close attention to how he outline the SCLC’s organization structure. It is quite similar to how someone would present evidence to a judge. This method that King utilizes acts as challenge to the clergy so that they can prove that the issues they bring up relate to the SCLC’s actions. Thus, making his audience more inclined to listen to arguments they have not previously considered. That level headedness and restraint over a topic that means a lot to him is very impressive.TTS: Great responses all around. Let’s transition to the next section of King’s letter. The next section starts from paragraph 3 to paragraph 9. It begins with I am in Birmingham because injustice is here and ends off at too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue. Since Auden Contexto started us off, how about you give us your take on this section, Veefu. Viphu: King acknowledges the criticisms of the clergymen one at a time. He would often attempt to speak directly in their voice by articulating their concerns and questions. Consider when he asks, “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” This is his method at empathetic understanding and demonstrating that their voices matter. This attempt is a reflection of King’s theories that everyone is connected and it’s an effective method at arguing his point without explicitly stating it. In this section, King also makes his first challenge to the clergymen with the use of a moral sentiment which we know as “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The implication is that geographical boundaries are superficial and silly compared to the geographies of justice. The purpose of using this sentiment is that he wants his audience to confront his claim as a logical extension of reasoning because it is not something that the clergymen can easily dismiss.Jason: King’s discussion on interrelatedness is one thing to pay close attention to in this section. The assertion that Viphu talked about previously “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” refers to one of King’s most important philosophies: that the white man is a victim of discrimination same as the black is. This reference is to suggest that discrimination affects everyone acts more as a factual stipulation compared to a controversial argument. His direct criticism of the clergymen in where he questions why they do not show “concern for conditions” of racism is so that he can excuse them as being misled. That their morality is simply confused and suggesting that the “white power structure” is the one actively facilitating segregation. However, the responses from the clergymen indicates that there was some sort of peace between blacks and whites in Birmingham and that the harmony between them is purposely being disrupted by the demonstrators. This assumption is denied by King in his letter and he mentions that the protesters have been left no option.Wisely: Similar to the previous section, King’s tone continues to remain unemotional and logical. Even though nature of the content is highly emotional, King’s restraint is a skill to be admired. In order to support the validity of his assertions, he makes use of allusions that are hard to ignore. He allows the allusion to pose as a challenge. The allusion to Socrates function as an effective method for understanding his argument and the letter’s overall structure. Socrates illustrates the limitations in a person’s thinking through his questions, just like how King structured his letter around the criticism of others, and used undeniable truths(like the assertion that injustice is bad) to illustrate the shortcomings of their thinking.TTS: Splendid thinking guys. Now let’s proceed to the next section which begins at one of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely and ends at I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. Who will do the honors of starting this one off?Wisely: Unlike the first two sections, King reveals much more of the fire and passion that lies behind his mission. He still maintains the restraint that he had in the previous sections, but it is now coupled with an emotional tone. The passion is more distinct in the litany of abuses that blacks have suffered which he presents with logos and pathos. The examples that he lists are powerful and terribly tragic. He shifts from a broad example about how many African Americans live in poverty even though they are part of a prosperous society to an example of his daughter which is more personal.Jason: King’s focus on the interrelatedness of men is even more pronounced in this section. With this new section, a new philosophy is present in this part that is connected to its more pronounced use of emotional appeal. The boundary that separated his fiery diction from his logical approaches breaks down in this section. This suggests the philosophy that legal and moral worlds are no separate from each other. In order for mankind to reach a higher state, legality and morality must intersect. Which is why, politicians must be aware of moral concerns and moral leaders like the clergymen must interfere in legal concerns. It can’t be one or the other if the goal of the whole ordeal is justice.Viphu: Well, the section is more of the distinction between individuals and groups. King greatly believes in the individual’s ability to go above the prejudices and groups that surround the individual. One thing that he notes is that groups tend to be more immoral than individuals which is a direct attack on white society because it indicates to the clergymen that they are naive to believe that their personal goodwill can have an effect on bettering society. Furthermore, he argues against moderation which he expresses as a type of gradualism. He proves that the voice that cries “Wait!” to mean “Never” with his logical argument that is ground in a historical understanding. TTS: Great job! Since you guy are done with this section, we can go on to the next one. Section four is paragraph 12 to paragraph 18. It starts off at You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws and ends off at If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s anti-religious laws. I guess Auden will start us off again with this one.Jason: King primarily uses this section to defend civil disobedience. He first distinguishes civil disobedience from anarchy and he argues this by stating that he does not break the law for himself, but for his fellow man. Because he believes that everyone is interconnected, he is compelled to break an unjust law and suffer the penalty so that he can dramatize and illustrate its harmful effect. He then proceeds to defend civil disobedience with historical examples that range from secular to deeply religious. The examples challenges the clergymen to attack him for practicing his civil disobedience.Viphu: I feel that he attacked the clergy quite frequently in the section. An inherent attack was through the examples Jason mentioned previously because it indicates the clergymen’s evident simpleness due to the fact that they cannot distinguish between civil disobedience and anarchy. Their straightforwardness is attacked further with King implying that they, the supposed moral leaders, classify justice and injustice to be the same. Wisely: In my opinion, this section is mostly King’s introduction of the idea that moral concerns are reflected in laws because of his scrutiny of just and unjust laws. He states the former protects the man and can be applied to anybody. Whereas, unjust laws degrade the man and is limited to affect certain classes of people. He makes a variety of legal distinctions to illustrate his legal mind. He makes a distinction between what a real democracy and a fake system that restricts African Americans from voting. He also points out the difference between a law’s content and how it should be applied. In general, he clarifies on the topic of what it means to be a just and unjust law.TTS: Marvelous responses! Now for the next one which starts off with King saying I must make two honest confessions and ends with now this approach is being termed extremist.Jason: This section marks King’s release of his restraint. Compared to previously where he was overly calm, King feels more comfortable with making an immediate challenge to his audience. Additionally, the repetition “must” demonstrates that he is not persuading his audience to take action, but he is insisting them to take action.Viphu: In particular, King’s subject becomes more inclusive and abstract with his particular focus on time, extremism, and history. King starts to name the white moderate as his principal adversary which makes it known that he is no longer pretends that the eight clergymen makes up the entirety of his audience. The shift to a more general and conceptual focus confirms that the letter’s scope is not only limited to what is happening in Birmingham.Wisely: What I see is that his focus in this section is mainly on the nature of extremism. He takes the time to discuss on dangerous extremists such as a few members of the Nation of Islam to act as a warning to his audience that the individuals that are kept from pursuing action that is nonviolent will instead pursue the use of violence. He wants moderates to know that in order to avoid violence, they need to assist nonviolent action with its goal of justice. In a way, his approach to provoking actions is an indirect blackmail.TTS: Fantastic responses. Great job so far, we are nearing the end. The second to last section begins with But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist and ends with Was not Jesus an extremist for love.Jason: This section is characterized by King’s frequent use of a radiant tone of hope and optimism that is in no way undermined by his fiery pessimism. He considers that the brutality of slavery demonstrates that the ones that are oppressed will always persevere in their hope to create change. Instead of making a generalization on real heroes from the South, he specifically names them out. These include people like James Meredith, Rosa Parks, and many others. These heroes all share one thing in common, which is their race. Them being black are not a coincidence nor an accident. They were purposely chosen by King to suggest that his confidence does not only rely on his white compatriots.Viphu: Similar to the previous section, King continues to attack the clergymen and because of their religious backgrounds he uses the allusion to Calgary to help the clergymen understand the difference between King and the men that were killed for hateful extremism. Compared to the three men, Christ was killed for “creative” extremism and through this, he hopes that the clergymen will begin to admire King and his brethren. Coupled with his attack on the clergymen, King attacks the church for their lack of creativity and extremist spirit which he expresses as a danger.Wisely: I would consider this section of the letter to be very controversial and extreme. The reason for that is because King openly admits that he is proud to be an extremist, which is pretty frightening. He used this largely as a way to frighten his audience and capture their attention. He then proceeds to defend extremism with his allusions of famous figures of which he considers to be extremist. These range from religious figures such Jesus Christ to political figures like Abraham Lincoln. He makes an allusion to these figures because they all did not wait patiently and suffered, instead they stood up and demanded change.TTS: Great work guys. We can finally move onto the last section which begins with Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly and ends with in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.Jason: The way King ends off his letter is different to what one would expect it to end. The final argument that King ends his letter with is what he considers the post-script. Even so, the tone does not differ from how it is in the second half of the letter. This is because he continues to confront those that praise the Birmingham police, while they forget the courage of the protesters. This criticism adheres to the letters overall attack on moderation. The purpose of his language in this section is to shame his white moderate audience. He is very respectful to his audience and acknowledges that the way they perceive the protesters would have been different if they had the chance to see all the atrocities committed upon them. The conditional tense he brings up here allows his audience to dodge his complaints and absolve them from the blame.Viphu: King makes it known that the clergymen have supported evil for small reasons. He agrees that there was no violence shown by the police in public, but then he makes a distinction between the purpose and result of the whole ordeal. King’s ability to inform while maintaining a confrontational stance is incredible and assists in his distinction between justice and injustice. King blames the clergy for their failure to uphold both secular and moral terms by supporting his cause with “Judeo-Christian heritage” and “the Constitution and Declaration of Independence,” The attack he makes in this section is very similar to the ones that he made before, which is his attack on the clergy’s simplicity in thinking. He makes it known again that they cannot tell the difference between heroes and villains. His comparison of the real heroes of the south with the police who protects segregation is his way to classify the clergy as blind and ignorant. His message to them is that they value moderation, more than what they should value, which is justice.Wisely: Although, most people would consider King’s letter, a letter concerning race. King’s treatment towards segregation is a topic that can be considered very open and incredible. Throughout the letter, we see that King frequently stress the fact that all races are equal, but in a few cases, King discusses upon the separation between races. This demonstrates that his message is not only meant to inspire equality, but to also emphasize the connection that, regardless of race, all humans are connected. His focus is more on the push for universal justice and less on the circumstances that the African Americans live in. However, the uniqueness of each race is highlighted by the letter and it would be a mistake to forget this important piece of the letter. Accordingly, the purpose of this letter is not meant to incite the black community, but to admonish an audience that is in support of a system such as segregation. Ultimately, the letter’s main theme is an edict of the black man’s power and his hope that they will one day have the recognition they deserve. TTS: Well, I guess this is all the time we have folks. Thank you all for listening to our panel discussion on Martin Luther King Jr’s incredible Letter From Birmingham. I would also like to thank the three guests for their wonderful responses and I hope you all have a great day.