Tuesday, March 07, 2006

On Wingnut Framing and Other Stray Thoughts

Someone today (Alterman?) pointed out that the Iraq war or occupation has no official name in the media. We don't call it Iraq WarII or Iraq Occupation or anything, really. The absence of a name is part of naming, too, because it is difficult to perceive the process as a war if it is not called one. It is difficult to perceive it as anything much if it has no name. That the Iraq WarII or the Iraq Invasion doesn't have a real name is not an accident, I believe. It is part of careful wingnut framing, because the namelessness of this thing helps their arguments.

It is not a long lateral move from this one to ask whether the whole South Dakota abortion outrage isn't actually helping the wingnuts, too. Do you notice how we now talk about what kind of a raped woman would deserve an abortion? We should be saying that these radical religious critics are nutcases and not worth talking about, but their framing is catching on, like a bird flu virus, and suddenly we are all quite voluntarily inventing ways of defining the women who are worthy of reproductive choice, and all these definitions are narrower than the current federal law. I have been especially guilty of doing that. I tend to fall into framing traps all the time.

The "other stray thoughts" in the headline were added to let me go on for a while longer without anything much to say, but I do have something else to say, though of little interest to anyone outside Echidne, and it has to do with my own framing choices. I don't frame things very strongly, and that hurts the messages I want to get out. I could write more fiercely, easily, but then I'd make more untrue assertions, so I have decided to stay on the gentle side of things. But it has its costs, and one is that I don't get as much debate going as I'd like to. Maybe an experiment in stridency is called for.

In other news, it is a beautiful spring day and you should go out and sniff the air.