On an only semi-related to this post note: I found it interesting, last year, for my Politics and Policy class that we had to read a NY Times feature article all about George Lakoff’s theories, yet we never got to read George Lakoff. This surprised and disappointed me, as I really would have liked a good excuse to read Lakoff. Not that I need one, per se, but it does force my hand.


As many of you already know, and as I blogged about a couple of months back, Plan B, otherwise known as the Morning After Pill or Emergency Contraception (EC) is now available over the counter. Depending on which editorial, news outlet, or blog you read, will depend on the language used. For example, in my blog, you’ll note the frequent use of the term “War on Sex.” In some more, *ahem*, religious or conservative literature, you might see “Pro-Abortion,” or “abortifacent” used frequently. The terms “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life” are simply too PC and friendly to describe what is going on in our polarized society.

Yet, really, we’re not as polarized on this issue as those framing it would have us believe. To quote the character of Harriet Hayes on Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60, “I have no problem with premarital sex. In fact, it’s probably the only kind of sex I’ll ever have.” For those of you who don’t watch the show, Harriet portrays an evangelical Christian who is also a comedian.

It underlines my point: Most people who are “Pro-Choice” believe that abortions should be safe, legal, but a last resort – and that education, access to contraception, and access to health care and support networks for those who DO decide to carry the child to term. Most people who are “Pro-Life” support all of these things as well, they just believe the abortion part is wrong.

Except, now, the framing has gotten so out of control that you either love to kill babies or you hate sex. I don’t think most Americans feel either way. Yet, as the mantra goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Hence, why framing is so powerful politically. However, policywise, it can be detrimental. Instead of driving two opposites toward a compromise, it pulls two issues to the polar ends, making it impossible to find a compromise. Then, as a result, the two factions fight continue to fight it out. No one ever wins, because the other faction will fight harder when it is kicked down.

Plan B was a little victory for the “Pro-Choice” faction. So, now the “Pro-Life” faction will strike back – in fact, it already has, with the new South Dakota law practically illegalizing abortions. This law could end up in the court, and if the court overturns Roe v. Wade …

… you see how this framing can cause even the most middle of the road voter to panic. And panic is hardly an efficient way of making policy and encouraging citizen participation.

I wonder if Lakoff would agree?