11.07.2014

On Whataboutery

Recently, I’ve noticed many tsk-tsking posts on social media claiming that it’s shameful to talk about trivial things when there are terrible things happening in the world.

This attitude is related to the belief that matters of lesser urgency are not worth considering. For instance: you shouldn’t bother worrying about, say, art in schools, because it doesn’t really matter anyway on account of climate change.

A friend who has a PhD in Rhetoric tells me that these are examples of the fallacy of relative privation. The Wikipedia entry for this fallacy notes the British neologism whataboutery. I can’t imagine a better word for it.

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