June 25, 2008

Framing the Issues

George Lakoff was on KQED's Forum today to talk about his latest book. He discusses how conservative metaphors are shaping the frame used our debates. He says we need to recognize that these metaphors are very strong in our culture and influence much of what the society can imagine is possible.

From this week's Justice Department Inspector General's report about the way applicants for the DOJ were chosen under the Bush administration is an excellent example of Lakoff's thesis regarding how conservatives talk about law and justice:

In the November 29 e-mail, in voting no for another candidate McDonald also noted, among other things, that the “essay also states that she wants to work for DOJ to ‘have more of an impact on the judicial system.’ DOJ’s purpose is not to impact the judicial system but to enforce the law . . . .”

In the same e-mail, McDonald found another candidate questionable because of the candidate’s grammar, writing style, and grades, but noted: “In her favor, she refers to wanting to work for DOJ to fulfill her goal of ‘enforcing the law.’ Leftists usually refer to achieving ‘social justice’ or ‘making policy’ or anything else that involves legislating rather than enforcing.”

Lakoff makes the point that framing is necessary, but we need to understand what it means and to apply critical thinking to understand what is being used as a frame. In fact, the word "framing" has been corrupted by marketing - framing is valid for how we understand the world, but it has been used to propagandize the discussion, not to enlighten.

Do listen to the interview.

Posted by Mary at June 25, 2008 12:44 AM | Philosophy | Technorati links |