three derails - a summary of newer, advanced derails
September 7, 2014
i think, in recent times, i”ve given names to three derails. so i”m mostly putting them altogether into this post.
1) the ‘competing callout derail”
i explored this one in a blog post way back in february. the structure of the derail is that oppressed person 1 calls out oppressed person 2 on an axis of oppression that they do not exprience.
in response, oppressed person 2 calls out oppressed person 1 on an axis of oppression they do not share.
it shuts down any discussion bc it is usually considered bad form to deny a privilege when talking with someone u oppress. and, bc nuance is difficult, rather than each claim being considered on its own merits, usually the 2nd callout has the effect of eclipsing the first, thus reframing the discussion, thus derailing it entirely.
this is a really REALLY difficult situation to resolve because it can be the case (and often is) that BOTH callouts have merit. and it is this fact (or the possibility of it) that really works to prevent any further discussion.
2) the ‘logical fallacy derail”
this derail (like a bunch of other derails) relies on ignoring context and applying the rules of a irrelevant context to the current discussion (here we are talking the classic rules of logic and/or rhetoric).
something a lot of ppl don”t realize is that a text like derailing for dummies lays out the ACTUAL rhetorical rules for discourse and debate within non-academic (or what most would consider ‘informal”) contexts. like on social media sites like tumblr. these are fairly broadly accepted community rules that we (often) invoke as a way to make discussion within the community productive and possible. of course, there are also unarticulated norms that are partially informed by other contexts and things we”ve learned.
in these contexts, dismissing a person”s argument/claims on the basis that they use a logical fallacy is a derail. by focusing on the form, rather than the substance, of the argument you are shifting focus. it is exactly like dismissing a person”s claims bc they have typos (or, like me in this post, aren”t bothering to follow normative punctuation and grammar). the fact that this post has spelling errors and typos all over the place has zero bearing on whether or not what i say is true.
3) the ‘oppresion olympics” derail
as i just wrote in reference to Jared Sexton, invoking ‘oppression olympics” in a discussion is a derail. it is a silencing tactic. As Sexton writes:
The Oppression Olympics dogma levels a charge amounting to little more than a leftist version of “playing the race card.” [Sexton 47]
That should make the derail seem obvious enough, since it should be self-apparent that using a tactic lovingly employed by right-wing conservatves is,in general. A BAD THING.</p>