Branding Citizens: The Logic(s) of a Few Bad Apples

  • Jennifer Wingard
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society book series (RPS)


This paper uses rhetorical assemblage to demonstrate how particular citizens are branded “bad apples” to protect state and economic practices that enable violence. This paper looks specifically at the media coverage of George Zimmerman (shooter of Trayvon Martin) and the Lt. Robert Bales (alleged shooter of 16 Afghan people) who are both deemed “bad apples.” The media contends that each man acted out of hyper-vigilance, racism, and/or mental illness, thus relieving the nation-state of any culpability in their actions at home or abroad. The paper, then, argues that the use of “the bad apple” occludes the neoliberal logics of personal responsibility, privatization, US exceptionalism, and protectionism that enable state violence inside and outside the USA.


News Story State Violence Neighborhood Watch Bare Life Affective Identification 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Wingard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

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