The Parse

Parsing the stupidity

Branding the GZM

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Apparently a decision was made at the Washington Post to lend journalistic support to building the Ground Zero mosque.  Today the paper provides some branding advice to the mosque’s builders:

Calling the proposed Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan a “Ground Zero mosque” stirs up a far more passionate response on either side of the issue than calling it “an Islamic cultural center and mosque in Lower Manhattan.” …

Doesn’t “Mosque at Ground Zero” sound more like the sort of thing that could get opponents like Newt Gingrich to declare the project “a political statement of radical islamist triumph”?

Politicians, revolutionaries, editors and advertisers have long understood the power of a single word to recast and reframe an issue to explosive effect.

And of course, in typical left wing media fashion, the story goes on to focus almost exclusively on examples of when conservatives have supposedly employed linguistic weaponry to shape issues and win debates.

By calling the estate tax the “death tax,” conservatives broadened a narrow debate over the obligations of wealthy families into a question of taxation for all. …

Is it fair to label someone who opposes abortion “pro-life” when doing so suggests that an opponent is “anti-life”?

These are the questions that biased journalists ask themselves when they’re sitting around the newsroom.  It apparently doesn’t occur to this particular writer whether or not it’s fair to label someone “pro-choice” when doing so suggests opponents are “anti-choice.”  In fact, the pro-abortion movement has probably been more successful in using language to shape the issue in part because “pro-choice” doesn’t itself allude to abortion.  Pro-choice about what?  The color of carpet you want in your living room?  The term comes across as some vague notion of liberty and autonomy — and who would be opposed to that?

The Post ironically notes that, “Journalists, at least the ones still obligated to neutrality, have tried to dance around loaded phrases for years. … Calling anything a ‘reform’ or ‘progressive’ initiative implies that the reform is necessary or that opponents are regressive.”

Yes, I’m sure the neutrality loving journos at the Post were constantly asking themselves whether they should use the word “reform” to describe Obamacare.


Written by The Parse

August 20, 2010 at 12:22 pm

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