November 29, 2004

Falwell-Style Framing

Cynthia Burack has a scholarly analysis of the rhetorical frames used by the Christian Right. Lots of insights here, but the keenest is that Christian conservatives have had a great deal of success invoking variations on the harm principle in their "moral values" crusades. When Jerry Falwell declared that 9/11 was our national punishment for tolerating homosexuality, he obviously went too far, but he also had the right general idea:
[B]y hewing to a harm principle-like argument, the Christian Right avoids the identification of its cultural politics with mere outraged feelings. This is so because the framing of preventing harm to the nation does not immediately evoke the punitive motivations sometimes associated with the Christian Right. A second, related, point is that the Christian Right benefits from affirmatively identifying with concern for its own minority membership.

Finally, because the harm principle only justifies coercive intervention to prevent harm to innocent bystanders, many Americans might well identify it as a principle that supports basic respect for individual rights, if not value pluralism.
Ah yes, the old "framing value-intolerance as value-pluralism" trick. Astounding. George Lakoff is sort of out of his league here, no?
-- Brad Plumer 12:40 AM || ||