Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Dove's Been Shot, and the Olive Branch, Snapped


According to George Lakoff,

Language always comes with what is called "framing." Every word is defined relative to a conceptual framework. If you have something like "revolt," that implies a population that is being ruled unfairly, or assumes it is being ruled unfairly, and that they are throwing off their rulers, which would be considered a good thing. That's a frame.
After reading the New York Times article, Obama on the Spot as Rulings Aid Gay Partners, I felt anxious, as if our whole economy hinged on this one decision.

Then, it occurred to me that the reason for my uneasiness was not grounded in reality, rather, the framing of this issue produced my anxious response. Right off the bat, before the reader even knows what it is that's specifically going to be disputed, he is told this "gay" issue is the most sensitive social and political issue of the day, and not only that, it places Obama "in a tight spot". Everyone knows the "tight spot" refers to the economy. It's as if his decision, regarding whether health insurance benefits will be extended to same-sex partners of federal employees, might just transform this nation into a third world country.

Of course, this is nothing new. The right wing, long ago, framed the gay rights issue with neoconservative divisive terms and hollow appeals to tradition that reinforced their position. This effectively limited political discourse on this subject to the arbitrary moral boundaries that they defined.

Instead of allowing individuals to take in the overall content of the issue and decide for themselves, conservatives understood that frames, can be very powerful as they focus the person who is receiving the information on one or two values, many times, creating a visceral reaction in that person, thus hijacking his ability to reason. The news media's responsibility is to present information, as much as possible, without imposing bias. It's not possible to eliminate frames, nevertheless, it is possible to reframe this issue in such a way that creates more balance.

President Obama made a promise to fight for gay rights, and was voted into office, after having made that promise. Why is that promise, all of a sudden, a divisive issue? While it's understood that President Obama wants the support of as many people as he can get regarding his policy to jump start the economy, he has an obligation to keep his promises regardless of threats made by conservatives.

Previously, I blogged that President Obama might be taking a page out of President Lincoln's book. At first he tries to resolve the issue at hand - the economy - in a reasonable and cooperative manner, in hopes that his opponents will respond in the same way. Fully realizing his opposition may snap the extended "olive branch" in half, his initial peace offering should be enough to unite the people behind him, thus giving him the fresh impetus required to tackle the structural changes that must take place for our economy to function in the 21st century.
"Mr. Obama has broad discretionary authority to find ways to ameliorate some of the more blatant examples of discrimination.” -- Richard Socarides, a New York lawyer who was an adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay issues
The dove's been shot, and olive branch, snapped. Time to move on.

2 comments:

Anonymous,  11:53  

Do you type with a cock in your mouth by any chance?

Roth's stepchild 11:53  

I try not to make a habit of it.

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