How conservatives use language to dominate politics.
Thanks for sharing that link. I’m teaching composition next semester with a political rhetoric theme, so the article provided some great information!
The Language War by Robin Tolmach Lakoff
This calls for more and larger effigy puppets and louder drums at protest rallies.
One could easily write a similar article about liberals. “paying for” a tax cut, “pro-choice”, “progressive”, “living wage” etc. Every group tries to linguistically construct a public sphere hospitable to their position.
Another part of of the problem has to do with the impatience current leftists have with the idea of comprimise. I recall that when I volunteered for Clinton, lefties I knew sneered because he was “centrist.” A lot of conservatives swallow Bush’s “centrist” rhetoric because they see that a lack of “pure” conservative rhetoric in the short run is good for them in the long run. In Clinton’s case, he blew it things like gay rights, but he also put through a lot of judge appointments that helped progressive causes. Progressive “purity” isn’t practical.
Barlow: Yes, liberals also use language for their ends, but the point is that they don’t do it as well, as consistently, or as structured as conservatives.
I want to hear more about this fellow who writes the “conservative’s guide to arguing the issues” book every year.
Wow, what a surprise that this guy teaches at UC Berkeley.
Come on people, if you are gonna be believe that language framing is a tool that is mastered only by conservatives, then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.
You’ve never bought a “pre-owned” car, ate a “juicy charbroiled” hamburger, or had a third trimester “abortion”? This kind of stuff is as much tied into semiotics as is everything else in our life. These kinds of informative articles are masturbatory.
Not to go off topic, but third trimester “abortion” isn’t like the others. Less than 1% of all abortions are performed after 20 weeks (5 months). They are, “extremely rare after 26 weeks of pregnancy.” And, “[v]ery few abortions are provided in the third trimester, and they are generally limited to cases of severe fetal abnormalities or situations when the life or health of the pregnant woman is seriously threatened.” [source: Abortion After Twelve Weeks Factsheet] So I imagine most people reading this thread, while they may have eaten burgers or bought used cars, haven’t had third trimester abortions.
Bobby’s point is still valid, though. This sort of manipulation through language has been going on basically since the dawn of time. This guy isn’t breaking new ground; he’s applying old knowledge to a current situation.
Or it could be that lately more people have voted against liberal political positions… just a guess.
But that’s the point, boysen. When a political constituency takes the initiative and frames the issues with their language, it gives them the advantage with regard to independent voters.
I know a lot of people who voted for Bush in 2000 because “Gore’s a liar.” Which I don’t think was true. But he allowed himself to be framed that way, and it hurt him in the long run.
Bobby, I do believe language framing in the context of the article is only mastered by conservatives right now. (And, yes, I’d love to hear about your bridge.)
What the professor is drawing attention to is the fact that conservatives in general have a more consistent and structured system of language framing. He’s not saying liberals don’t use language framing or that language framing is new, he’s just saying he’s going to help the liberals become more structured and systematic as a party.
So it’s not just coming up with good marketing speak (everyone does that already), it’s coming up with good marketing speak that can be used consistently across the progressive political spectrum.
In context or not, I believe that entire article was a demonstration of succesful language framing by a liberal. The fact that people are accepting it as fact is proof of that.
Or how about Clinton’s impeachment hearings? There’s a master at work. Or how about Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson on any day of the week? I know I shouldn’t go there… guilty pleasure :)
Meg, I understand your point about abortion, I personally think it’s wrong at any stage, but that’s a debate for a different day. The point I was trying to make is, at what point for the general “pro-choice” public is abortion just a euphemism for murder?
A coward mistakes oppression for peace.
This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.