Bullying’s long history in American politics doesn’t make it right. I just re-read the About page and remembered that this blog’s focus is on standing up to political bullying of progressive Americans. Because some posts refer to conservatives or radicals, I’m going to make clearer that Framology’s opponents are not conservatives or even radicals by revising these terms to bullies, political bullying, etc. in past posts. It will take a little while, and if I miss some, I’d appreciate it if you would point them out.
As stated in the About page, America has always had a range of political opinion, and that’s as it should be. I wouldn’t want Americans to all believe alike.
But bullying fellow Americans to advance political agendas is wrong. And the only way to end political bullying and create a more civil politics is to stand up to it without bullying in return. Framology’s role is to help progressive Americans find the words to confidently do this.
What is political bullying? Here’s the beginning of a list:
Using deception intentionally to advance one’s goals
Using law, police or military power, intimidation, or other means to take away the basic human rights of others
Attributing evil motives to others without evidence
Perverting political or judicial processes to serve the narrow interests of a party, religion, socio-economic group, or other faction instead of the country we all love
What do you think of this list? What’s missing? Do you think some should be removed?
Everybody knows what pro-business policies are: low taxes, low minimum wage, less regulation, reduced ability to sue corporations, “right-to-work” laws (a topic for another post), etc. We “know” this because that’s what business lobbies usually want.
But these policies should be known as pro-management, not pro-business. That’s because they give management more power and money while depriving workers and the community.
But businesses also need workers:
Educated workers who can do their jobs with a minimum of training
Healthy workers who can come to work each day and do their best
Loyal workers who feel valued by their employers
Prosperous workers who can not only pay their bills but patronize their own and other businesses.
Businesses also need customers. In Economics 101, I learned that demand means the desire for a product or service plus the ability to pay for it. That means the community must prosper, not just management. People can’t patronize businesses without money. (And yes, this is related to the triple bottom line.)
And when we don’t trust a business or industry, we don’t want to support it. Wise government regulation of business helps create that trust.
So real pro-business policies would sound like this:
Strong support for public education to create an educated workforce
Strong public health efforts and ready, affordable access to health care, including preventive health care and mental health care
Support for workers’ work-family balance with family leave, child care, and so on
Support for living wages so the workers, community, and its businesses can thrive
Support for government regulations that give people confidence in business.
Do you think pro-management is a good reframe of pro-business? What might be better?
Called “An act concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage,” the bill would have prevented government agencies from compelling individuals and religious organizations to provide employment, employment benefits, and most any product or service to anyone involved in a gay marriage or civil union or even the celebration of one. Arguably, it also would allow businesses and religious organizations to refuse service to anyone involved in a gay relationship.
Calling such bills religious-freedom bills is Orwellian because they would take away freedom. They are about domination, not religion. They would empower people and organizations to deny basic human rights such as engaging in commerce and participating in the community. That’s unneighborly, un-American, unchristian, and unacceptable.
Besides, in a free society, our freedom depends on respecting the rights of others. If we can call discrimination an act of conscience, why couldn’t others do the same to us?
As George Lakoff has pointed out, bullies* use Orwellian language when they know their position is weak. I think Framologists should expose their position’s weakness and the true nature of such legislation by framing them as, perhaps:
The Freedom for Me but Not for Thee Act
Another LGBT Discrimination Act
The Anti-Marriage Act
The Marriage Inequality Act
The Marriage Discrimination Act
The Golden Rule Violation Act
The Religious Hypocrisy Act
Of these, the first and the last two are my favorites. Whatever we call them, it’s important to avoid calling such legislation “religious freedom” bills because they are not. What do you think Framologists should call them?
My high school social studies teacher liked to distinguish freedom and license. Freedom, he said, is exercised with responsibility while license is doing what you want without considering how your behavior affects others.
The distinction matters. As pointed out in an earlier post, for example, the extreme position that firearms sales should not be regulated in any way is a demand for license, not legitimate exercise of rights. Rights imply responsibilities. Ownership of something as dangerous as deadly weapons calls for (at least) responsibility and accountability for their safe storage and use.
Another reason it matters is that it is the basis for much ideological conflict. From its very beginning, Americans have held different ideas about freedom. In American Nations, Colin Woodard points out that the Yankees of New England have long held a Germanic view of freedom:
that all are born free,
equal before the law,
with rights that must be respected.
By contrast, the settlers of the Virginia Tidewater sought to create a Greco-Roman-style republic. In the Roman view of liberty, most people were born unfree. “The Roman republic was one in which only a handful of people had the full privileges of speech (senators, magistrates), a minority had the right to vote on what their superiors had decided (citizens), and most people had no say at all (slaves)” (pp. 54-55).
Because I believe that America should be a land of freedom for all, to me liberty for the few without accountability amounts to license. It should be framed as such.
When opponents cry for liberty, we should ask:
Is the liberty they want for everyone or mainly for a privileged few?
If it’s for the few, how will the many hold the few accountable for their actions?
If the few wouldn’t be easily accountable, then the demand is for license, not responsible freedom.
What do you think? Is this an appropriate use for the concept of license?
As with so much about framing, I learned about tax relief from George Lakoff. Though it’s only two words long, it says a lot. As he explains in a 2003 interview:
The phrase “Tax relief” began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush’s inauguration [in 2001]. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for “relief.” For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add “tax” to “relief” and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain.
He proposes a different way of thinking of taxes: as the dues we pay to be Americans and to enjoy the freedom, privileges, and infrastructure that comes from paying the dues. Although I used to resent paying income taxes, this viewpoint completely changed my view of taxes, and the more Framologists frame taxes properly, it will change many others’ perspective.
Dr. Lakoff explains tax relief in this video. The first part introduces framing, and the discussion of tax relief begins at 3:20.
Another way to think of taxes came from a financial advisor’s lecture. He said he’s glad to pay more in taxes because it means he made more money than last year! Why shouldn’t paying taxes be a source of pride?
As I understand last week’s court decision that overturned the FCC’s net neutrality rules, Internet service providers (ISPs) now can slow down or block access to any website they choose.
As pointed out in this On the Media story, ISPs’ interest in this power likely is to be able to charge other companies more money rather than trying to silence blogs such as this one. For example, Comcast might try to charge Netflix or Amazon more money to use its network.
But there’s nothing to stop them from squelching online speech.
Would Americans accept it if the US government claimed the power to slow down or block any website it chose? This illustrates George Lakoff’s principle of the conservation of government: that less government regulation means that corporations decide. In this case, it’s the big ISPs.
On the Media also points out that net neutrality has never applied to mobile Internet access, just home in-the-wall connections. But it should apply to any Internet access.
I’ve also heard net neutrality called Internet freedom. I think that’s better way to frame the issue because it makes clearer that freedom is at stake: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of commerce, at a minimum. While accurate, neutrality doesn’t carry that moral punch.
Another potential phrase is online equality.
How do you think Framologists should talk about equal bandwidth access?