This article delves in deeper to what we call many extremist groups lately: terrorists. Some very radical groups employ the same types of violent activities that other terrorist groups use to get what they want. The author of the textbook we are using this semester, Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility, seems to assert that any type of physical action, from protests to violent outbursts, constitutes coercion and not persuasion. I wouldn’t say that is the case for protests, where the audience still has the ability to consciously make a choice. It may not be an easy choice, but a company can choose to ignore striking workers, if it wants, and still find ways to survive.
The difference comes to the introduction of tactics that leave the other party with no plausible choice between actions. Technically, an animal lab that has been vandalized by an extremist group could ignore the violent act and continue on as normal, but how long would it last? Would people still want to work there, what is to prevent the same action from being taken again? It becomes the only safe choice to shut down the lab. If you hear about a choice that is “life or death,” do we often hear of someone choosing death?
Not all groups that we think of as “extreme” necessarily rely on definitive coercion. PETA, for example, uses very strong, but none-the-less persuasive methods to advocate for animal rights. They don’t use physical violence, and while some of their imagery and literature may make you squeemish, you can still look away and go on with your day, if you so choose, without fear of retaliation. This is the difference between groups using persuasion, and groups using coercion.