What about.. ism?

Whataboutism does seem to be the latest fad amongst those attempting to excuse or downplay the behaviour of bad actors.


What’s the distinction between “Whataboutism” and asking what consistent rule is being applied rather than special case after special case?


As @orenwolf points out, whataboutism is deliberately used to distract from or derail the main topic of conversation or to avoid uncomfortable questions about a bad actor. Here’s the definition and history of the term from Teh Wiki:

In this case, the fallacy was used to avoid admitting “the fact that people in the past took things from other [trans] people, and that’s a thing to acknowledge, and maybe try to correct now.” In another case, it might be used to draw attention away from the bad behaviour of an individual who’s the subject of a thread rather than address it head-on.

A discussion thread on this site by its nature sets up a special case. People are welcome to agree or disagree with the contention as long as they address it and keep it on-topic and bring up other cases as points of direct comparison or contrast while still remaining focused on the special case. However, if they start saying the equivalent of “let’s talk about something else” because their contention is weak then it’s considered derailing the conversation. If they genuinely want to leave that conversation they can set up their own thread or request a fork (the mods are very gracious about doing this).


Exactly this.

From a mod perspective:

Nearly any topic can be expanded: a topic about a specific issue of bigotry, for example, could be expanded to ask about similar issues, issues affecting other races, even semantics of the term itself.

Because of this, the mods narrowly define topics when they are derived from Boing Boing posts.

Suggesting that a discussion about a movie involving transgender themes expanding to encompass every possible situation an actor could act in, for example, has nothing to do with the Boing Boing post. Worse, because the expanded topic essentially has no boundary, the now-expanded topic completely derails the narrowly focused discussion surrounding the original post.

Now, a great thing about Discourse is: any established user can split a topic off into a new one - if you want to discuss the plight of actors acting in a world where roles are given to the cultures, races, or lifestyles of the people actually portrayed, for example, then feel free! But understand that broad, overarching topics tend to be very difficult to follow in an online forum format.


That’s a very useful clarification. Thank you both!


but whatabout those who truly can’t act? Hmmmm? Hmmmmmmmmm?

(Whataboutism has been increasingly popular on Fox in the last 2-3 years) (And Tucker Carlson has been doing it, nay, perfecting it as an art form, since the Second Gulf War.)


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