• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • Derailing

    June 1st, 2009
    derailing, ism, poltics
    I've been thinking a good bit about discrimination, privilege, race, and the discussion there of after reading through a lot of SF/Fantasy discussion on the subject. (First "Cultural Appropriation Debate of Doom", then "RaceFail", now "MammothFail". One entry point: here) This is not at all a central issue, but it worries me the way people use the word "derail" in these discussions. For example, someone may say "it's not really about race, it's about class". This restatement could be issued by:
    • a person arguing in good faith who really believes that the problem under discussion is actually caused by class
    • someone emotionally unwilling to accept critisim (of themself, a friend, an author they like) and reaching chaotically for any line of argument to use in defense
    • a person who not only does not want to discuss race but wants to prevent substantive discussion on the topic from taking place

    The standard response to something that looks like this is to denounce it as 'derailing' or 'silencing'. The problem is, while a dismissal like that is a good response to the third motivation and an ok response to the second, it removes the first without consideration. Making a position off limits like this limits the discussion unnecessarily.

    [ There are other things that also get called "derailing", such as a response of "but I have friends who are X" to "your comment indicates prejudice against X people", and I'm not trying to talk about these here. That sort of "derailing" is dealt with in detail in Derailing For Dummies. Most of these are clearly not useful things to be doing. ]

    For an example of how the use of this term can be problematic, look at the discussion of derailing for dummies over at the f-word. The original article calls it "derailing" when women who choose to act in a traditionally female manner are told they're not making a true choice because of internalized sexism. Then a commenter calls it "derailing" when feminists are described as objecting to women acting in a traditionally female manner. By applying the term to argument instead of manner it becomes just an insult.

    Comment via: facebook

    Recent posts on blogs I like:

    Be less scared of overconfidence

    deferring to markets • deferring to experts • deferring to low-information heuristics • why they fail • blindness to outliers • what to do instead

    via benkuhn.net November 30, 2022

    Corncob Dolls

    I went to a farm and at the farm I got to see a corncrib and the corn that had fell out of the corncrib that no one wanted I got to use my fingers to take off the corn kernels and once the cobs were empty I put them in a bag and then once I got back to the…

    via Anna Wise's Blog Posts November 7, 2022

    Light Switch

    When I got my loft bed it was just so annoying every morning to have to get out of bed, climb down the ladder, turn the light on, and climb back up, just so I could see stuff. I decided to make a string for my light switch because I really wanted to be abl…

    via Lily Wise's Blog Posts November 7, 2022

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact