Tags: michelle grattan

6 May 2007, Comments Off on Don’t say “Assault Weapon”, say “Household Firearm”

Don’t say “Assault Weapon”, say “Household Firearm”

Author: Helen

I’ve just bought George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant. Years late, as usual. I’m not far into it at the moment, but the book has had such a buzz on the internets, the central premise, that is, the idea of framing, is pretty well known.
Image from http://www.scribepub.com.au/Coming%20Soon/Elephant.html

The Australian edition is interesting, because it begins with an introduction by Julia Baird, relating the book to the Australian scene. I could certainly relate to this:

The Labor Party could heed this advice. It needs to engage more fiercely in the gladiatorial pit of ideas, instead of jogging around the mortgage belts choking on the dust of the Liberal candidates running miles ahead.
…Even allowing people who are strong on social values and cultural identity to be called elites (accepting labels similar to those used in America) is sloppy; the ‘cappuccino set’; ‘chardonnay socialists’; ‘chattering classes’; ‘latte drinkers’.
…It’s a language created by the right, and now frequently circulated by the left as they hasten to endear themselves to middle Australia by dissasociating themselves from the unfashionably socially concerned. [I would add “unfashionably environmentalist” to that, too.] They have lost both the moral and the material high ground…
…This is perhaps one of the most curious intellectual developments over the past two decades, as we have watched the left concede large areas of thought to the conservatives.”

I probably shouldn’t blog about a book I haven’t finished yet, but the idea of framing has really been sloshing around in my head due to the last few things I’ve posted on; the idea of emotion as instantly discreditable to any argument; the notion of the nuclear industry belonging to the people who make hard decisions, by which we mean they have more of the decision making mojo than their opponents, even though reducing energy use and starting up an industry of renewables might be an equally “hard decision”.
Just look at Michelle Grattan’s latest column in the AGE news today. Not only is the article called “Battle for the Battlers” (kudos for squeezing one of the Liberal party’s favourite framing words twice into a four-word title), it uses the word soft rather than swinging (which has rather louche, glamorous-sixties-with-martinis connotations) to describe vacillating voters who are a bit Green around the edges:

Labor needed to liberalise its uranium mining policy but the cost could be to send back home again some soft Green voters who had been considering Rudd.

“Soft”: It’s enough to send any self-respecting Geordie screaming into the arms of the most neoliberal, industry-friendly party he can find.

Back to the “emotion” thing. I think when Mike Rann sneeringly dismisses opponents of nuclear energy, he’s quite clear in his intention- he means unable to think clearly, and there’s a dogwhistle element of “girly, unable to appreciate weighty matters”, as well. In the recent debate between Sarkozy and Segolene Royal, Sarkozy tried to pin the emotional hysteric tag onto Royal – which she deflected quite expertly, as far as I can tell. En Garde, Ziggy!

But the conservatives, both on the Liberal and Labor side of politics, have been using emotion for all it’s worth. They’re just framing it very carefully, so that it looks as though they are simply the competent custodians of our safety and prosperity, and it’s the people they are manipulating who are doing the emoting. Some examples:

Tampa and detention centres: Frame: National security. The aliens and trrists are coming! Emotion: Fear.
Tasmania’s old growth forests: Frame: Standing up for the Workers. The greenies are going to put everyone out of work and ruin the economy! Emotion: Fear, anger.
The economy: Frame: The Liberal party is the only one which can manage the economy! Interest rates under Paul Keating oogabooga! Emotion: Fear, avarice.
Abortion: Frame: Murdering 100,000 babies a year, also, Girls gone Wild! Emotion: Fear, disgust.

I’m sure you can think of many more.

Post title from here.

27 Nov 2005, Comments Off on I R not impressed

I R not impressed

Author: Helen


As the rough IR beast slouches toward Canberra to be born, its supporters fall over themselves to find the most stupid historical reference or metaphor.

Here’s Peter Hendy of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It is a significant historic step, moving us form a horse and buggy 19th Century model of industrial relations, finally to a 21st Century model,” he said.

If only he’d paid attention to ‘Enry ‘Iggins,

a founding father of the constitution, a High Court judge and president of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The dereglated industrial relations environment of the 19th century, which he described as “rude and barbarous”, was replaced by a “new province for law and order”, the system of conciliation and arbitration.

…This legislation is the antithesis of the “law and order” that H.B. Higgins was addressing. Rather than introducing a new philosophy for the 21st century it is largely an attempt to return to the legal environment of the 19th century. As such, it is a recipe for the sort of uncivilised community that an independent compulsory conciliation and arbitration system, based on fairness to human beings, was designed to avoid.

In other words, it’s the exact opposite of the Chamber of Commerce spin.

Then there’s “one backbencher”, not named, who “likens the public’s fears about IR to the Y2K anxiety: “The public will hold their breath, wake up ó and find nothing’s changed.””

How many ways is the Y2K problem not like the IR reforms? Let’s just say that any programs or embedded automated systems which weren’t Y2K compatible, so the theory went, would either work or not work on January 1, 2000. You are not going to get out of bed on the day the IR reforms take effect and find everything has suddenly changed. It’s going to be a much longer process of attrition, especially for people already in jobs.

Judith Troeth is the chairperson of the Senate IR bill “enquiry”, as the Michelle Grattan article I linked to quaintly describes it. Here’s her “enquiry”:

“This is the height of hysteria Ö In 12 months’ time people will be wondering what the fuss was about because most people will simply keep what they’ve got.”

Come the next election, I hope, Troeth will be the first casualty.