Brock University

Defending the Indefensible? Power, Society and Critical Discourse Analysis

As George Orwell pointed out over 60 years ago in Politics and the English Language, political speeches are oftentimes about defending the indefensible. In politics, difficult policy decisions invariably have to be made but it does not necessarily follow that the decisions made represent the correct and proper course of action. This session is meant to re-focus attention to this fact. What is the connection between language use and the social and political contexts in which it occurs? How do social actors use language to defend their position? What effect does language use have on marginalized groups? How are power relations created and re-created through language use? These are just some of the questions that this panel hopes to address. I am looking for papers that analyse talk and text from a variety of perspectives and using a variety of methodologies. Papers that focus on newspapers (or media in general), political speeches, blogs, editorials, etc. as well as other key genres is especially encouraged.

Session Organizer: James Baker, MUN, jbaker@mun.ca

 

“Can’t you at least die with a little dignity?” The Right to Die Debates and Normative Dignity

Daniel Burnier, Université d'Ottawa, dburn100@uottawa.ca

Au cours des dernières décennies, le droit de mourir est apparu dans les pays dits développés comme une des questions sociales et politiques les plus controversées, mobilisant un nombre important d’activistes et d’acteurs sociaux, sollicitant les politiciens et les tribunaux. Au Québec, la législature provinciale a formé la « Commission spéciale sur la question de mourir dans la dignité » dont les membres ont été chargés d’examiner cette question. Dans leur rapport de 2012, la Commission a recommandé la légalisation de l’ « aide médicale à mourir » comme un soin approprié en fin de vie. À partir de quelques exemples provenant des témoignages écrits et oraux récoltés par la Commission à différents endroits de la province, cette présentation s’intéresse aux batailles sémantiques, aux énoncés prescriptifs, aux diverses stratégies discursives visant à imposer une vision de la dignité en fin de vie. Cette présentation remet également en question la supposition normative que « mourir dans la dignité » soit nécessairement synonyme d’une « bonne mort ».

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Narrative and Mythopoesis: Canadian Conservative Storytelling in the Age of Crimmigration

James Baker, CSA; CPSA , j_baker@nf.sympatico.ca

As George Orwell pointed out over 60 years ago in Politics and the English Language, political speeches are oftentimes about “defending the indefensible.” In politics, difficult policy decisions invariably have to be made but it does not necessarily follow that the decisions made represent the correct and proper course of action. This paper is meant to re-focus attention to this fact.

While the Conservative Government argues that Bill C-31: Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act is aimed at refugee reform and designed to target “criminal middlemen,” I argue that their approach is actually aimed at restricting refugee asylum, despite the fact that it is an internationally recognized treaty right. Expanding upon Theo van Leeuwen's (2008) mythopoesis, I argue that the Conservative defense is wholly illegitimate and designed to protray asylum seekers are criminals.

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