Liberty and security

Interesting article in the latest issue of Critical Discourse Studies points to contradictions on a website created by the US Department of Justice to convince citizens of the need for increased security in order to save their freedoms:

This article reports the critical discourse analysis of, a website constructed by the US Department of Justice, with the expressed intention to explain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. The analysis reveals a four-part deductive argument that asserts the Act’s ability to preserve liberty while enhancing security. Discursive themes appealing to governmental responsibility and authority, national security, individual liberty, historical consistency and legislative efficiency and efficacy support the argument’s claims. Despite claims of ‘educating citizens’, the site’s discourse is more similar to propaganda than education, relying on one-sided emotional appeals and fallacious logical propositions. The discourse constructs subjectivities of the government as protector, the American citizen as innocent and terrorists as a foreign menace, in an attempt to preclude dissent of the USA PATRIOT Act specifically, and the US Government’s terrorism efforts generally. As such, this discourse functions hegemonically to produce what Foucault has termed ‘docile bodies’.

Maria A. Simone (2009) Give me liberty and give me surveillance: a case study of the US Government’s discourse of surveillance. Critical Discourse Studies 6(1): 1-14.

Simone’s notion of government-as-protector taps right into the Strict Father and Nurturant Parent model proposed by George Lakoff, which draws on the metaphor of the Nation-as-a-Family (which for him is conceptual metaphor, but which I have tried to argue elsewhere operates on the level of discourse rather than cognition).


One Comment to “Liberty and security”

  1. October 26, 2010 at 6:00 pm Agree there may be more races in play than we can see from here right now – GO FOR IT!!!! We are heirang from lots of other places of the battles being waged and we are PROUD of all those battling!

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