use, misuse and cynical manipulation of language in common and specialist speech and writing

How Dare You Call Me A *ist

I see it all the time, both online and off – Person X writes/says something, Person Y says “gee, what you just said/did was kinda *ist” and Person X comes back with “how dare you call me a *ist” (or Person Z butts in with “how dare you call X a *ist”) .

But behaviour is never a fully accurate reflection of character. Bad habits we engage in unthinkingly don’t necessarily make us generally bad people or even generally thoughtless people, but this tends to be the reaction to having those bad habits challenged as marginalising behaviours – that the challenger is calling us a bad person.

The point is that this one particular act that is being criticised has problematic cultural assumptions embedded within it, and those problematic cultural assumptions are what need to be challenged.

Two headlines

Eva Cox in The Conversation: Tony Abbott: a confused, conservative sexist, but not a misogynist.

Milanda Rout in The Australian (paywalled): Feminist insists Abbott no misogynist.

Quelle surprise.

Fallacy Watch: No True Klansman

I may have contributed to a new term for a rhetorical ploy we see more and more. Here’s how it happened – I’m rather proud of this coinage, but wonder whether we may be reinventing the fallacious wheel. Is there an already apt term in rhetorical jargon?

Retro Hoyden: “Feisty Olympians defy the odds”

Despite being born with the use of both legs, many of these bipedal athletes inspire us with their commitment and guts. Having typically learned to walk around the age of one, these amazing Olympians don’t let their lurching two-phase locomotion hold them back. Thought they may look unwieldy to the naive eye, as viewers their movements soon look natural to us. We can see their grace and nimbleness shine through.