Theme and Variations

As an attempt to illustrate the framing of discourse through use of viewpoint and language in mass media content, I took an article from the New York Times [19] and tried to rewrite it a few times, changing strategic items but leaving it overall as close as possible to the information presented in the original. (I also figure it is a bit of an homage to my rights under "fair use" to take copyrighted material and "riff" on it in order to attempt some social commentary--alternatively, to use it in a classroom setting, for "instructional" purposes.)

Original | I | II | III

 

Original

"Ashcroft Defends Antitterror Plan and Says Criticism May Aid Foes," By Neil A. Lewis, The New York Times, December 7, 2001. Accessed online: http://www.nytimes.com/22001/12/07/politics/07CIV.html
Link to full-text of article

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 In forceful and unyielding testimony, Attorney General John Ashcroft today defended the administration's array of antiterrorism proposals and accused some of the program's critics of aiding terrorists by providing "ammunition to America's enemies."

Emboldened by public opinion surveys showing that Americans overwhelmingly support the administration's initiatives against terrorism, Mr. Ashcroft told the Senate Judiciary Committee, "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists."

He said that people who were hoping that the kind of attacks that occurred on Sept. 11 would not be repeated "were living in a dream world." Holding up what he said was a training manual for Al Qaeda, Mr. Ashcroft said that "terrorists are taught how to use America's freedoms as a weapon against us."

The Democratic critics on the committee were careful in their questioning and most laced their remarks with some support for the administration, even for the proposal thought to be the most controversial, the establishment of military tribunals to try terrorists. But they also sought to show the potential for abuse raised by the broad scope of the presidential order on tribunals and called for more Congressional involvement in drafting such initiatives.

Senator Russell D. Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who has been the Senate's most resolute critic of the administration's antiterror proposals, quickly took on Mr. Ashcroft over his testimony that criticism of the administration "gives ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends." He asked the attorney general if the series of Senate hearings culminating in today's session was somehow aiding the enemy.

Mr. Ashcroft blandly replied that he welcomed the Senate hearings as proper oversight. "We need reasoned discourse as opposed to fear- mongering," he said. "This is the place where reasoning and discourse take place."

 

I.

Washington, Dec. 6--In forceful and unyielding testimony, Joe Citizen today criticised the U.S. Administration's array of antitterrorism proposals, and accused some of his critics of aiding terrorists by providing "ammunition to America's enemies."

Emboldened by public opinion surveys showing that some Americans are questioning the administration's initiatives against terrorism, Mr. Citizen told the Senate Judiciary Committee, "Threatening peace-loving American citizens with loss of our civil rights is only aiding terrorists."

He said that people who were hoping that the kind of attacks that occurred on Sept. 11 would not be repeated "were living in a dream world" if they believed that sacrificing civil liberties would achieve an end to terrorism. Holding up what he said was alleged by the State Department to be a training manual for Al Qaeda, Mr. Citizen said that "terrorists are not using America's freedoms against us, they are using our blindness to the pain in the world beyond our borders and our refusal to consider our role in it, as weapons."

The Democratic party members on the committee were careful in their questioning and most laced their remarks with some support for the administration, even for the proposal thought to be the most controversial, the establishment of military tribunals to try terrorists. But they also sought to show the potential for abuse raised by the broad scope of the presidential order on tribunals and called for more Congressional involvement in drafting such initiatives.

Senator Russell D. Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who has been the Senate's most resolute critic of the administration's antiterror proposals, quickly responded to Mr. Citizen, citing Attorney General John Ashcroft's testimony that criticism of the administration "gives ammunition to America's enemies, and pause ot America's friends." He asked him whether it was possible that the series of Senate hearings culminating in today's session was somehow aiding the enemy.

Mr. Citizen replied that he welcomed the Senate hearings as proper oversight. "We need reasoned discourse as opposed to fear-mongering," he said. "This is the place where reasoning and discourse are supposed to take place."

 

II.

Washington, Dec. 6--In forceful and unyielding testimony, Attorney General John Ashcroft today defended the administration's array of antiterrorism proposals and accused some of the program's critics of aiding terrorists by providing "ammunition to America's enemies."

Emboldened by public opinion surveys showing that some Americans do not support the war in Afghanistan, a spokeswoman for a group of Afghani refugees responded to Ashcroft's testimony. "To those who believe that bombing the innocent will end global terrorism, our message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists."

She said that Americans who were hoping that the kind of attacks that occurred on Sept. 11 would not be repeated "were living in a dream world" compared to the lives of Afghani citizens who experience terror daily and have dealt with war, violence, starvation and fear for twenty years. Holding up what she said was a traning manual for Al Qaeda, she said that "terrorists are taught how to use America's violence against third-world nations as a weapon for their cause, if not their actions."

The Democratic critics on the committee were careful in their questioning and most laced their remorks with some support for th eadmnistration, even for the proposal thought to be the most controversial, the establishment of military triubunals to try terrorists. But they also sought to show the potential for abuse raised by the broad scope of the presidential order on tribunals and called for more Congressional involvement in drafting such initiatives.

Senator Russell D. Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who has been the Senate's most resolute critic of the administration's antiterror proposals, quickly took on Mr. Ashcroft over his tesitmony that criticism of the administration "gives ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends." He asked the attorney general if the series of Senate hearings culminating in today's session was somehow aiding the enemy.

Mr. Ashcroft blandly replied that he welcomed the Senate hearings as proper oversight. "We need reasoned discourse as opposed to fear-mongering," he said.

The Afghani spokeswoman answered with visible emotion. "This is the place where reasoning and discourse must take place."

 

III.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 In forceful and unyielding testimony, Attorney General John Ashcroft today defended the administration's array of antiterrorism proposals and accused some of the program's critics of aiding terrorists by providing "ammunition to America's enemies."

Jane Law, an attorney for the ACLU, invited to testify in the session, responded by asking Mr. Ashcroft how restricting the Constitutional rights and the privacy expectations of U.S. citizens was providing ammunition.

Emboldened by public opinion surveys showing that Americans overwhelmingly support the administration's initiatives against terrorism, Mr. Ashcroft told the Senate Judiciary Committee, "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists."

He said that people who were hoping that the kind of attacks that occurred on Sept. 11 would not be repeated "were living in a dream world." Holding up what he said was a training manual for Al Qaeda, Mr. Ashcroft said that "terrorists are taught how to use America's freedoms as a weapon against us."

Ms. Law replied that the most devastating weapon against Americans was the use of "patriotism rhetoric" and "scare tactics" to convince them that ceding their rights as citizens was the only way, or even an effective way, to protect them against terrorism.

The Democratic critics on the committee were careful in their questioning and most laced their remarks with some support for the administration, even for the proposal thought to be the most controversial, the establishment of military tribunals to try terrorists. But they also sought to show the potential for abuse raised by the broad scope of the presidential order on tribunals and called for more Congressional involvement in drafting such initiatives.

Senator Russell D. Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who has been the Senate's most resolute critic of the administration's antiterror proposals, quickly took on Mr. Ashcroft over his testimony that criticism of the administration "gives ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends." He asked the attorney general if the series of Senate hearings culminating in today's session was somehow aiding the enemy.

Mr. Ashcroft blandly replied that he welcomed the Senate hearings as proper oversight. "We need reasoned discourse as opposed to fear- mongering," he said. "This is the place where reasoning and discourse take place."

Ms. Law answered. "I fervently hope so."

 

Introduction | The Propaganda Model |The Picture Today| Conclusion | Notes | References