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Dilution of Terms

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
I suspect this is going to be largely stream-of-consciousness and not necessarily fantastic fodder for debate, but as P&D has been as dead as a doornail lately it might be worth a shot.

I've become cognizant of a rhetorical tactic - it's likely always been there but once you pick up on something you start noticing it everywhere - which seems to be prevalent, though not exclusively so, amongst ostensibly liberal commentators on political issues: the seemingly deliberate miscategorisation of an issue in an attempt to lend it more weight and ultimately, I'm guessing, make refutation and disagreement seem absurd and/or in poor taste.

I started noticing this with how ready people were to deem behaviour or action as 'racist'. Most recently I remember reading an article about 'microaggressions' towards people of mixed race. I then watched a debate unfold on Facebook concerning the article and there was an uproar at the 'racist' nature of the examples of 'microaggressions' given. While some examples were clearly racist, others weren't; some were offensive, some naive and a few merely clumsy. I pointed out, being careful to offer the qualification that I did think some example were racist, that asking clumsy questions about a mixed race person's hair wasn't 'racist' - the most trivial example I can remember. I got butchered. Being a white male seemed to particularly count against me. The irony wasn't lost on me.

I've noticed the same with a number of topics: racism; feminism; sexism, politics, etc. People want to label something as 'fascist' when it's clearly not; people want to label something as 'sexism' when it's not (I went through the first five pages of Everyday Sexism with my girlfriend the other day and we couldn't find one actual example of sexism - it was all grim shit that had happened to women, if you take it all to be factual account).

Has anyone else noticed this? And has anyone noticed how quick to ire people are when you mention it? Does anyone else think, as I do, that this detracts from the very real examples of these phenomena that are out there?


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I have noticed it too and its prevalent. Annoyingly and perhaps most dangerously it isn't because of a big conspiracy. If it were then I think I could understand it (not saying that it is right).

    I think it comes down to people putting information into their heads and then repeating it verbatum without any care for what the 'actual' meanings of certain terms are. IE: just repeating mistakes made by another, over and over. Leading to the mistaken assumptions that so many people in so many places are doing bad and wrong things, when infact it might be as simple as someone just not understanding something.
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